Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dear Canada: A Sea of Sorrows by Norah McClintock

Dear Canada: A Sea of Sorrows: The Typus Epidemic Diary of Johanna Leary
by Norah McClintock
Scholastic Canada Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-4431-0710-5
Suggested Ages:
Buy from Indigo

Description: In the midst of the Irish famine, Johanna flees one disaster only to land in another.

After a massive potato famine strikes Ireland, thirteen-year-old Johanna Leary flees to Canada with her family.

But typhus and other illnesses plague the "coffin ships," so named for the staggering number of immigrants who died enroute. One by one Johanna loses the members of her family first her baby brother on the journey over, then her mother in the Grosse Isle fever sheds where sick passengers are quarantined when they reach the port of QuГ©bec, and her father soon after. Johanna has only her brother Michael left when she sets foot on Canadian soil.

When her brother is mistakenly told that she too has died, he sets off to find their uncle "somewhere in Canada," leaving Johanna to face a new life in a strange land... totally alone.

A Sea of Sorrows captures a dreadful time in history for those desperate, impoverished Irish families who hoped to make Canada their home. Johanna's incredible journey of survival is told with insight and sensitivity by master storyteller Norah McClintock

The Good Stuff
  • Intriguing heroine - well developed character for the time period
  • Another one where I cannot lie -- I was totally bawling my eyes at time
  • Really impressed with these series from Scholastic - they really do give kids a glimpse into the lives of everyday people during various periods of history. So much more relevant and interesting than just memorizing dates and facts about history
  • Perfect for class discussions on prejudice
  • Scholastic website for each of the titles in the series have bonus content including activities and teaching resources 
  • Encourages kids to learn more 
  • thoroughly well researched
  • Sensitively written 
  • As mentioned in previous review - these books make history relevant to the intended audience as they are written in the words of kids their age and their thoughts and experiences which make the reader relate to 
  • Extremely realistic

The Not So Good Stuff
  • A tad repetitive
  • May be a struggle for sensitive readers with the harsh reality of small children dying
  • Made me miss my wonderful Irish neighbor in Bolton even more

Favorite Quotes/Passages

 "Just thinking about sizzling sausage makes my mouth water, even though I have never eaten it.  Sizzling is such a fine word. I think anything that sizzles must taste delicious."

"I knew for myself that the sheds were filled with many decent people who had never needed any charity until they were forced to watch their loved ones dies of hunger."

"Da had always supposed that everything would be different across the ocean. But I am beginning to think that things are a misery for the least fortunate no matter where they may find themselves."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read

  • A must have for all middle school libraries
  • would be a good addition to classroom collections as well
  • fabulous for middle school history classes - like I also mentioned in previous review - history teachers please remember to stop focusing so much on dates and facts and deal more with what we can learn and how these events effected people  - far more important
  • Good for reluctant readers too

4.25 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review


  1. I got this one too, but my sensitive daughter may not want to read this one with me. I think I will also be bawling as I read it.

    1. it does have a hopeful ending but so much death and tragedy