Synopses & Reviews
"CLA Children's Book of the Year Award shortlist, 2009
Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People 2009 finalist
Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards shortlist, 2010
Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice, 2009AStarred Choice"
Kit Byrne's family is a strong one, but their strength and unity are being severely tested, as life becomes more and more desperate in 19th century rural Ireland. Lord Fraser is the wealthy landowner, from which the Byrne's and many other families rent their lands. When the potato blight hits, the farmers can no longer make their payments much less produce food for themselves, and the cruel system has no mercy as Lord Fraser wields an iron fist, driving families from their homes and burning their cottages.
Kit's dreams are now dashed as her family experiences a series of tragedies, and as she undergoes a daunting event that tears her away from her family. With her father dead, she must fight for survival and help her ailing mother and siblings escape Ireland for good.
This story is a glimpse into the tragic events of the Great Hunger, the famine that devastated Ireland, forcing thousands of impoverished families to seek better livelihoods outside of their homeland.
, the sequel to the Governor General’s Award winning novel Greener Grass
, follows Kit Byrne and her friend Mick O’Toole after fleeing famine ravaged Ireland. Across the Atlantic a notorious “coffin ship”, through quarantine, and into the heart of North America, the two displaced teenagers endure storms, epidemics, and discrimination. Desperate to find her family in the New World, Kit is willing to sacrifice everything, even her love for Mick, to reunite the remaining orphaned Byrnes. Jack and Annie are out there somewhere and Kit will not stop searching until she finds them, until her family is together again. The original Wild Geese were Irish soldiers fighting outside of Ireland, but the term later came to encompass all expatriate Irish. People fighting for survival a long, long way from home. People like Kit. This is her Wild Geese
The third book in the series follows the adventures of Jack Byrne, brother of Kit, as he seeks independence from his sister in the lumber camps. Jack works as a cook's helper but is always yearning for the glory of working with the loggers. Full of confidence, the inexperienced Jack tries his hand at logging only to have his attempts end in a tragic accident for himself and another logger. Circumstances soon find Jack alone and injured in the wilderness. Memories of his past come rushing in as he struggles to survive his guilt over his past and survive the hardship of the woods with only a stray wolf cub for a companion. Jack comes to understand that he must own up to all of his past mistakes if he truly wants to become the strong man he yearns to be.
About the Author
' Praise for Greener Grass
"Pignat\'s writing is strong and detailed, bringing to life historical events in a personal and tangible way. . . For its good writing, its keen perception of human emotions and its incredibly accurate portrayal of An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger), this is definitely an addition to any \'must read\' list of young adult novels.
-- CM Magazine
In this sequel to Greener Grass (Red Deer Press, 2009/VOYA June 2009) Kit Byrne heads to America. The year is 1847, and Kit is a teenage girl (and wanted criminal) disguised as a boy, and traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. In a series of trials and tribulations to rival Job’s (Kit will later compare herself to that biblical figure), she runs from pursuers, sickness, and loss, trying desperately to find, and then keep, her remaining family. Along the way, she will lose almost everything before she finds a new place in the world. Kit’s problems seem endless, and if Caroline Pignat did not document the actual history of Irish immigrants to Canada in her afterword, one might have been tempted to say they were unbelievable. The facts are there for all to see, however, and many of the secondary characters are real people who Pignat researched quite thoroughly. Everything that happened to Kit could easily have happened to an immigrant of her age at that time. So with that in mind, this is a fine book, more engaging than the earlier title if for no other reason than more happens to Kit sooner. In this volume, Kit is always an active participant—she is not simply observing her family and neighbors. A historical novel, a young adult coming-of-age tale, an adventure yarn, a story of faith and love, all of these describe Wild Geese and will draw a wide audience. —Beth Karpas. VOYA
It is 1847 and the great famine has hit rural Ireland. Told through the eyes of young Kathleen Byrne, Greener Grass is the story of a family’s daily struggle for survival. It is a poignant tale of suffering, desperation and faith at a time when thousands were forced to uproot their families in search of a better life. Loosely based on accounts of famine survivors, this gripping novel illustrates the daily strife of 19th-century farmers. The strength and willingness of the characters to help each other in the face of extreme hardship is inspirational. The author’s impeccable attention to detail explicitly conveys the stench of the potato blight, the blandness of watery cabbage soup, the sobs and screams of the workhouse and the desperation of trying to feed a hungry family from the hardscrabble dirt. This eloquently written piece of historical fiction is on my list of essential reading for Intermediate history students. - Andrea Murik, OCT, is a Special Education resource teacher at Angus Morrison Elementary School with the Simcoe County DSB. '