Cover image for Katie's wish
Katie's wish
Hazen, Barbara Shook.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Soon after Katie wishes for her potatoes to disappear during dinner, a potato famine ravages her native Ireland, forcing her to leave for America.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 59602.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Katie can't stand to look at another plain old potato, so she wishes them away. And soon after, a rot begins to spread across the fields of Ireland. As the potato crops wither and more and more people get sick, Katie believes she's at fault. Even when Grand Da agrees that she and her cousin should join her father in Boston, Katie still feels guilty about having wished the potatoes away.

Inspired by her own heritage, Barbara Shook Hazen has spun this poignant tale of the Irish potato famine. Caldecott Medal winner Emily Arnold McCully brings it to life in graceful, tender watercolors.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS^-Gr. 2. Katie says she's sick of potatoes, boiled and boring at every meal, and she wishes they'd go away. But when the potato crop turns black and famine comes to Ireland, she feels afraid she caused the trouble. True to the viewpoint of one small child, Hazen brings the history close: the hunger, the evictions, the strength of family. Katie's mother is in heaven; her father is in America, and when he sends for her, she travels with her older cousin across the stricken country, survives the crowded ships, and arrives in America, where Da holds her "heart close." As in McCully's 1993 Caldecott winner, Mirette on the High Wire, and her other picture books about young girls in history, the beautiful impressionistic watercolor paintings set the sturdy child against the background of the times. The interior scenes are dark and troubled, but the suffering is distanced; even with the blight, the Irish landscapes are filled with light. In words and pictures, the narrative shows the hardship and the hope. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hazen (The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark) humanizes a pivotal moment in Irish history in this picture-book look at Ireland's potato famine (1845-1850). Although her grandparents and other relatives provide good care for Katie, she longs for her mother, who has died, and her father, who has migrated to America, where Katie hopes to join him. And Katie wishes there were more to eat than plain boiled potatoes: "I wish they'd go away," she mutters at Sunday dinner. Katie's "wish" seems cruelly granted when the potatoes in all Ireland begin to rot and people begin to starve and contract serious diseases. Certain that her remarks caused the famine, Katie's guilt weighs heavily, even when she learns she is finally to take passage to America and her father. Da's comforting actions and words upon her arrival help Katie heal. Hazen's ambitious tale skillfully envelops key historical elements and Irish phrases, but a few abrupt jumps and unexplained plot points disrupt an otherwise smooth narrative flow. While McCully's (Mirette on the High Wire) Katie, freckled and red-haired, doesn't always look the same from page to page, the mottled watercolor depictions of the rugged Irish countryside and literal huddled masses aboard ship will transport readers to another time and place. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Katie's ma is dead and it's been two Christmases since her da left Ireland for America, leaving her with her grandparents. When the child wishes that the "plain-boiled and boring" potatoes on her dinner plate would disappear, she is certain that she caused the "pratties" to turn black and rot, seemingly overnight. It's the mid-1800s, and potatoes are the primary source of sustenance for the poor Irish population. Katie and a cousin then make the long journey to join her father in America. This expressive and realistic text tells the story of the girl's guilt as well as the hardships of the times, including hunger, illness, family separations, and the unfairness of the class system. While the earth-toned watercolor paintings reflect the suffering, they are brightened by green landscapes, blue sky and sea, colorful bits of clothing, and the cheerful orange-red of Katie's hair. The opening illustration is evocative of Vincent van Gogh's The Potato Eaters. Her arrival brings with it a joyful end to her ordeal. Readers will be comforted by her realization that her careless words did not and could not cause the terrible troubles.-Shelley B. Sutherland, Niles Public Library District, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.