It is the late 1880s and the Great Famine has ravaged Ireland. The potatoes are black and rotten, and the people have nothing to eat. Eily, Michael and Peggy are alone in their cottage. Their parents went out in search of work and food, but never returned. Now the children must fend for themselves. Desperate to avoid being sent to the workhouse, they set out on a journey to find their great-aunts. On their journey they encounter the devastation caused by famine people scrabbling for food, abandoned children, soup kitchens, beggars, disease, wild dogs, death. Led by twleve year-old Eily, the children use all their strength and ingenuity to survive and find their way to Castletaggart.
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Marita Conlon-McKenna is one of Ireland's most popular children's authors. Her other books include The Blue Horse, No Goodbye, Safe Harbour, and In Deep Dark Wood.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Excerpt from Chapter 1
The air felt cold and damp as Eily stirred in her bed and tried to pull a bit more of the blanket up to her shoulders. Her little sister Peggy moved against her. Peggy was snoring again. She always did when she had a cold.
The fire was nearly out. The hot ash made a soft glow in the gloom of the cottage.
Mother was crooning quietly to the baby. Brid get's eyes were closed and her soft face looked paler than ever as she lay wrapped in Mother's shawl, her little fist clinging to a piece of the long chestnut-colored hair.
Bridget was ill—they all knew it. Underneath the wrapped shawl her body was too thin, her skin white and either too hot or too cold to the touch. Mother held her all day and all night as if trying to will some of her strength into the little one so loved.
Eily could feel tears at the back of her eyes. Sometimes she thought that maybe this was all a dream and soon she would wake up and laugh at it, but the hunger pain in her tummy and the sad ness in her heart were enough to know that it was real. She closed her eyes and remembered.
It was hard to believe that it was only a little over a year ago, and they sitting in the old schoolroom, when Tim O'Kelly had run in to get his brother John and told them all to "Make a run home quick to help with lifting the spuds as a pestilence had fallen on the place and they were rotting in the ground."
They all waited for the master to get his stick and shout at Tim: Away out of it, you fool, to disturb the learning, but were surprised when he shut his book and told them to make haste and "Mind, no dawdling," and "Away home to give a hand." They all ran so fast that their breath caught in their throats, half afraid of what they would find at home.
Eily remembered. Father was sitting on the stone wall, his head in his hands. Mother was kneeling in the field, her hands and apron covered in mud as she pulled the potatoes from the ground, and all around the air heavy with a smell—that smell, rot ting, horrible, up your nose, in your mouth. The smell of badness and disease.
Across the valley the men cursed and the women prayed to God to save them. Field after field of potatoes had died and rotted in the ground. The crop, their food crop was gone. All the children stared—eyes large and frightened, for even they knew that now the hunger would come.
Eily snuggled up against Peggy's back and soon felt warmer. She was drowsy and finally drifted back to sleep.
"Eily! Eily! Are you getting up?" whispered Peggy.
The girls began to stretch and after a while they threw off the blankets. Eily went over to the fire and put a sod of turf on the embers. The basket was nearly empty. That was a job
Both girls went outside. The early morning sun was shining. The grass was damp with dew. They didn't delay as it was chilly in their shifts. Back in the cottage, Mother was still asleep and little Bridget dozed against her.
"Is there something to eat?"
"Oh, Michael, easy known you're up," jeered Eily.
"Go on, Eily, look, have a look," he pleaded.
"Away outside with you and wash that grime off your face and we'll see then."
The sunlight peered in through the open cottage door. The place is dusty and dirty, thought Eily.
The baby coughed and woke. Eily took her and sat in the fireside chair as Mother busied herself. There were three grayish leftover spuds. Mother sliced them and poured out a drink of skimmed milk from the large jug. It was little enough. No one spoke. They ate in silence, each with their own thoughts.
Michael began to talk...to ask for...but changed his mind. Time had taught him a lesson.
The first few times he had asked for more, his father or mother had lifted the wooden spoon and brought it down on the palm of his hand. Later, his pleas had been met by a sadness in his father's eyes and his mother bursting into tears. This he could not take on top of the pinches and squeezing of his two sisters. Things were better left unsaid.
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Descripción O Brien Press Ltd, Ireland, 2001. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Donald Teskey Ilustrador. Language: English . Brand New Book. The first book in the famine trilogy Under the Hawthorn Tree is Ireland s top selling children s book and a classic for young readers worldwide. Ireland in the 1840s is devastated by famine. When tragedy strikes their family, Eily, Michael and Peggy are left to fend for themselves. Starving and in danger of the dreaded workhouse, they escape. Their one hope is to find the great aunts they have heard about in their mother s stories. With tremendous courage they set out on a journey that will test every reserve of strength, love and loyalty they possess. Also available on DVD. Nº de ref. de la librería AAZ9780862782061
Descripción Estado de conservación: New. Brand new copy. Ships fast secure, expedited available!. Nº de ref. de la librería 3UBDHI00041U
Descripción O'Brien Press Ltd 1998-01-03, 1998. Estado de conservación: New. Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatch time is 24-48 hours from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Nº de ref. de la librería NU-GRD-00534545
Descripción O'Brien Press Ltd, 1998. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Nº de ref. de la librería mon0000319481
Descripción O'Brien Press, 1996. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería EH9780862782061
Descripción O'Brien, 2001. Estado de conservación: New. 2001. Paperback. The first book in the famine trilogy Under the Hawthorn Tree is Ireland's top selling children's book and a classic for young readers worldwide. Set during the Irish famine, it follows three children as they travel across the country to find their family. Illustrator(s): Teskey, Donald. Num Pages: 160 pages, 17 black & white illustrations. BIC Classification: 5AJ; YFT. Category: (J) Children / Juvenile. Dimension: 195 x 129 x 13. Weight in Grams: 122. . . . . . . Nº de ref. de la librería V9780862782061
Descripción Estado de conservación: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST0862782066. Nº de ref. de la librería ST0862782066
Descripción O'Brien. Estado de conservación: New. 2001. Paperback. The first book in the famine trilogy Under the Hawthorn Tree is Ireland's top selling children's book and a classic for young readers worldwide. Set during the Irish famine, it follows three children as they travel across the country to find their family. Illustrator(s): Teskey, Donald. Num Pages: 160 pages, 17 black & white illustrations. BIC Classification: 5AJ; YFT. Category: (J) Children / Juvenile. Dimension: 195 x 129 x 13. Weight in Grams: 122. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Nº de ref. de la librería V9780862782061
Descripción OBrien Press. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. New copy - Usually dispatched within 2 working days. Nº de ref. de la librería B9780862782061
Descripción The O'Brien Press 1990-09-01, Dublin, 1990. paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería 9780862782061