Feed the Children First: 
Irish Memories of the Great Hunger


Starred review, School Library Journal, March 2002

*LYONS, Mary E., ed. Feed the Children First: Irish Memories of the Great Hunger. 48p. photos. Reprodus. Bibliog. Web sites. CIP. S & S/Atheneum. 2002. RTE $17. ISBN 0-689-84226-0. LC 00-049606

Gr. 4-8—This beautifully crafted work combines first-person accounts of Ireland’s potato famine, the Great Hunger of 1845-1852, with artwork that recalls those times. Following a concise, informative introduction, the brief selections speak of the people and the land before the Great Hunger, the potato blight and subsequent starvation and illness, the poorhouse, soup kitchens, relief works, eviction, and emigration. They bear witness not only to unbearable suffering, but also to the humanity, dignity, and endurance of a people. Almost all are Irish voices, stories handed down through the families of survivors. Although no photographs of the Great Hunger exists, Irish newspapermen traveling through the country made sketches, and painters later used the theme; full-color reproductions of many are perfectly paired with the selections, as are a few photographs from a later famine. The attractive layout makes effective use of white space. The whole is a fine accompaniment to Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s Black Potatoes (Houghton, 2001) and Patricia Reilly Giff’s novel, Nory Ryan’s Song (Delacorte, 2000), as well as powerful testimony to the suffering of famine victims worldwide.—Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA

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