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Wildflower Girl
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About the Author

Born in Dublin in 1956 and brought up in Goatstown, Marita went to school at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Mount Anville, later working in the family business, the bank, and a travel agency. She has four children with her husband James, and they live in the Stillorgan area of Dublin. Marita was always fascinated by the Famine period in Irish history and read everything available on the subject. When she heard a radio report of an unmarked children's grave from the Famine period being found under a hawthorn tree, she decided to write her first book, Under the Hawthorn Tree. Published in May 1990, the book was an immediate success and become a classic. It has been translated into over a dozen languages, including Arabic, Bahasa, French, Dutch, German, Swedish, Italian, Japanese and Irish. The book has been read on RTE Radio and is very popular in schools, both with teachers and pupils. It has been made a supplementary curriculum reader in many schools and is also used by schools in Northern Ireland for EMU (Education through Mutual Understanding) projects. It was also filmed by Young Irish Film Makers, in association with RTE and Channel 4. This is available as a DVD. Marita has written more books for children which were also very well received. The Blue Horse reached No. 1 on the Bestseller List and won the BISTO BOOK OF THE YEAR Award. No Goodbye, which tells of the heartbreak of a young family when their mother leaves home, was recommended by Book Trust in their guide for One Parent Families. Safe Harbour is the story of two English children evacuated from London during World War ll to live with their grandfather in Greystones, Co Wicklow and was shortlisted for the BISTO Book of the Year Award. A Girl Called Blue follows the life of an orphan, trying to find who she really is in a cold and strict orphanage. Marita has also explored the world of fantasy with her book In Deep Dark Wood. Marita has won several awards, including the International Reading Association Award, the Osterreichischer Kinder und Jugendbuchpreis, the Reading Association of Ireland Award and the Bisto Book of the Year Award.

Reviews

Gr 5-8-- Historic validity and a dramatic writing style work together here to create an engrossing and realistic tale. This sequel to Under the Hawthorn Tree (Holiday, 1990) focuses on 13-year-old Peggy O'Driscoll as she makes her way to America from Ireland after the Great Famine that left her an orphan. Just as the earlier book depicts the hardships of the time, this one offers an honest picture of the problems of immigration. And while it gives readers solid historical background, it also serves up a well-written story with characters who, although somewhat stereotypical, are believable. Passage to America is being offered, and Peggy takes advantage of it. She arrives in Boston with no place to go, but soon finds her way to a home for young girls. She ultimately goes into service to a wealthy family, and it is here that her life in America begins to take shape. Readers will feel the enormity of her decision and the pain of leaving loved ones behind. All the complications of embarking on the journey become clear. The dismal conditions in steerage and the relentless seasickness can almost be felt through Colon-McKenna's sharp prose. High-quality historical fiction.-- Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

'As gripping a story as the original, embracing not just a sense of place -- Ireland -- but a sense of time and history Conlon-McKenna has crafted this book ... not a word, spoken or unspoken, or an emotion, is wasted. Pace and style keep the pages turning, and you are filled with a sense of wanting more at the end. Highly recommended.'

-- Books Ireland * Books Ireland *

'The same good strong writing as is evidenced in Under the Hawthorn Tree'

-- The Sunday Tribune * The Sunday Tribune *

'Peggy's a survivor, but there's little sentimentality. The hardship, fear, and loneliness are always there, as well as the promise of something better.'

-- Holiday House US Reviewer

'Marita Conlon-McKenna has obviously done her research properly, and the authenticity, together with a lively story, makes the book a pleasure to read.'

-- Historical Novel Society

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