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Nory Ryan's Song by Patricia Reilly Giff

Nory Ryan's Song (2000)

by Patricia Reilly Giff

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This is a story of the great potato famine of Ireland in ?? This is the story of Nory Ryan and her family. In the beginning, Nory lived with her two sisters, one brother, and Grandpa. Her dad was off in another town making money for the family. Throughout the story, her family and friends move away because of the family. In the end, Nory also moves to America.

Personal Reaction:

I enjoyed this book. It was very heart wrenching, however. I cannot imagine what all those people went through. Even though we face hard times, we can still get food from other people. In Ireland, though, no one had food.

Classroom Extension Ideas:

1. Use the book as an intro to teach the children about The Great Potato Famine.

2. Use the book to teach the children about helping the needy. Help and encourage the children to have a food drive the whole week. ( )
  JessMaeC | Apr 1, 2013 |
Interest/Reading Level: Grades 5-10

Nory Ryan is teenager living in Ireland during the great potato famine mid-19th century. Her mother (Mam) is deceased; her father (Da) is a sailor working away from home, and her grandfather (Granda) takes care of the family. The Ryan’s rent their house and land from an English nobleman. He is in the process of taking back his properties as people cannot pay their rent. Times are very tough as the famine has taken food off of everyone’s table resulting in people fleeing the country. Nory’s oldest sister, Maggie, is one who leaves for Brooklyn, NY, USA in search of a better life. Maggie promises to get settled and send for the rest of the family. Celia, Nory’s next oldest sister, leaves the homestead to find Da. Nory takes care of her younger brother, Patch, and is a good neighbor to those in need. Granda takes a job away from home in hopes of earning some money to keep things together until Da returns. Nory is resourceful and trades what she can for food to keep Patch and herself alive. An old woman healer, Anna, teaches Nory her ways of using herbs and plants to heal the ills of neighbors. It is up to Nory to be resourceful to survive. Will Nory and Patch find Da and Celia? Will Granda return with money? Will the family ever be together again under one roof. The ending is a surprise.

Have an interest in Irish history this was interesting to see from the viewpoint and perspective a 12-year old girl. The west coast of Ireland can be brutal with the inclement weather and the potato famine only made a tough life harder. The beginning of the book provides a glossary with Gaelic/Irish words which helps the reader to feel the characters language. For years, I’ve used the word fuafar (means disgusting) and found it amusing as it is used as a descriptor for many situations. Anna, the old healer, finishes Nory’s fuafar shawl so she can take it with her to American. This is a very sweet scene giving Nory something very Irish and reflective of Anna so Nory does not forget her roots. Nory is a strong, female character that is inspirational and a testament to the will to live at all costs. She is fiercely protective of her family and those she loves. Not a bad theme for today’s middle school student. I did like the book although a tad sad. ( )
  malydon | Apr 27, 2012 |
Nory is unlike any 12 year old I have ever met. She works hard to help her family and shows how important they are to her. Good book for middle school childern to learn about hardship and hunger.
  Hannah1990 | Dec 12, 2011 |
This narrative was written more for pre-teens than adults, however I found it quite interesting. The language is simply, but that does not detract from the impact of the words.

The novel is written from the perspective of a young girl at the beginning of the Irish Famine, just before the blight begins to affect the potatoes. You see her struggling to take care of her family in the place of her mother - who died in childbirth - and her father who is off trying to earn them money. You see her trying to find food to feed her siblings, to find money to pay the Englishman for the rent. It's heartbreaking reading about their struggles, particularly when you know about all the people who die later in the famine, and when you realize that the whole situation was completely preventable.

The novel is quite short, and it ends before her family sets out for America, which happens in the sequel. Further, it was written in the style of The Giver, another classic youth book. As I adore The Giver (recently read - review pending!), I cannot give a higher recommendation than that.

If someone is looking for a quick read, or some basic information on the Irish Famine, I would certainly recommend this book. ( )
  mrn945 | May 15, 2011 |
A beautifully written childrens book about the Irish Potato Famine. Ages 8-12.

Back Cover Blurb:
' Three steps, then I eased the door open. Outside it was bright as day. The moon was up, full and white, throwing sharp shadows away from me. I heard thunder somewhere, though, and the air was damp and heavy.
Nighttime belonged to the sidhr, so I was afraid to take more than a few steps, but it was far enough. The potato stalks leaned against each other, limp and wet, the leaves shapeless and drifting.
I pulled up the edge of my petticoat to cover my nose and backed against the wall of the house. My throat felt thick. In my mind was Granny Mallon's voice, 'Without potatoes we will starve to death.' ' ( )
  mazda502001 | Jan 27, 2011 |
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First words
Someone was calling.
"Nor-ry. Nor-ry Ryan."
I cupped his cheeks in my hands, kissed his tiny nose. "You will remember something, when you are an old man like Granda." I said it slowly, each word above the noise of his crying. "You will say that your own Nory sent you because she loved you. You will say that no one ever loved you more."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440418291, Paperback)

Life is hard for poor Irish potato farmers, but 12-year-old Nory Ryan and her family have always scraped by... until one morning, Nory wakes to the foul, rotting smell of diseased potatoes dying in the fields. And just like that, all their hopes for the harvest--for this year and next--are dashed. Hunger sets in quickly. The beaches are stripped of edible seaweed, the shore is emptied of fish, desperate souls even chew on grass for the nourishment. As her community falls apart, Nory scrambles to find food for her family. Meanwhile, the specter of America lurks, where, the word is, no one is ever hungry, and horses carry milk in huge cans down cobblestone streets.

As Patricia Reilly Giff writes in her note to the reader, the Great Hunger of 1845 to 1852 was a tragic time for the Irish. Enough food to feed double the population was sent out across the sea, while an indifferent government ignored the starving masses. More than one million of the eight million people in Ireland died. Nory Ryan's Song, a fictionalized account based on this terrible era in history, describes the heroic struggles of one girl who refuses to give in to hunger, exhaustion, and hopeless circumstances. Young readers may have heard of the Irish Potato Famine, but they won't truly understand it until they meet Nory. Giff is the author of many beloved books for children, including the Newbery Honor Book Lily's Crossing and the Polk Street School series. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:39 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When a terrible blight attacks Ireland's potato crop in 1845, twelve-year-old Nory Ryan's courage and ingenuity help her family and neighbors survive.

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