PPBF: Small Beauties

Today's PPBF is based on a true story that will touch your heart ... and just might move you to tears!

Title: Small Beauties
Author: Elvira Woodruff
Illustrator: Adam Rex
Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Date: September 12, 2006
Suitable for: grades 2-5
Historical Fiction
Themes: immigration, empathy, grandparents
Brief synopsis: A keen noticer, Young Darcy collects small beauties in the hem of her skirt that serve as important mementoes of the life she left behind when her family emigrates from Ireland.

Opening page: On the night Darcy O'Hara was born, her father danced a jig in the firelight of their small cottage. It was what Fathers did long ago, in Ireland, in the cottages of Derry Lane in the townland of Pobble O'Keefe.

Read a review at Curled Up With A Good Kids' Book {here}.
Compare and contrast with Ziba Came On A Boat. 
Find Activity Guides at TeachingBooks.net {here}.

Why I like this book:  Even though it's kind of long and incredibly sad, this treasure's rich text will help children to see that life is not always easy (that, in fact, it's often very trying and tumultuous) as they journey with Darcy through her farm's spoils and her families eventual departure from the only land she's known.

Use it as a springboard for talking about culture and heritage.
Encourage them to find our where their ancestors came from 
and how and when they arrived.
Let students research their lineage and share it with the class.
Have them make a class tree or a flow chart to show who's who.
Find out what other ways they'd like to present what they've learned. Costumes would be fun ... a recipe swap maybe?

Finally, find out what small beauties your students would take (and why!) if they were going to be leaving for parts known or unknown.

When I listened in on Mrs. German's reading the other day, 
I did hear a second grader remark, "This is a long book." And she was right. But it's well worth the wait as the author does a beautiful job of bringing her reader to a peaceful resolve in the final pages.

 Since Mrs. German is actually leaving us to go and care for an elderly relative in another state, listening to her tell her students that she connects with the book because each and every student in her class is one of her very special "small beauties" was especially difficult emotionally. And we'll miss her terribly, just like Darcy longs for the grandparents that she left behind.

Check out this book; I predict you'll be glad you did.
I'm so grateful to Susanna Hill for maintaining this wonderful resource and I wish her well at her upcoming workshop!

Don't forget that you've still got a few days
to register for a chance to win a copy of
What's Under Your Cape? at the Teachers' Lounge blog {here}.


  1. Wow. I've read many of Elvira's books and it's nice to see this other side of Adam's work. It sounds like an amazing read. Thank-you.

    1. Oh, Joanne, thanks for your comments; my pleasure! It was serendipity that I was walking by that classroom just as Mrs. German was about to read this beautiful but haunting tale.

  2. The cover is beautiful and your telling of Mrs. Germa's reading makes me want to cry too! I'll be looking for this one!

    1. Thank you, Julie. Mrs. German's second graders were so shocked that the two adults in their classroom were having such a tender moment ... like really? The teacher made the counselor cry?? And she's only moving to Indiana, not Ireland. Phew!

  3. What a beautiful selection. Is it historical and based in the 1850s when so many of our families immigrated from Ireland to America ? I love immigration stories as they are relevant to the immigrations today.

    1. Yes, Pat, you are correct ... the blight strikes in 1845 and they are forced to find another homeland. I think you will LOVE this selection!! Thanks, as always, for stopping by the Corner!

  4. Oh my! This is right up my sleeve. I love historical fiction. Will look for it in my library today. Love your review and so want to know what happens. Thank you so much for sharing this and the tender moment you witnessed in relation to the story.

    1. I'm happy that we could introduce you to a new title. It really is a lovely book despite the despair.

  5. What a lovely cover! Quite different from what I've seen before from Mr Rex! He is really quite talented. This story sounds excellent and your story about Mrs German adds a lot to whole post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Rhythm. It truly will be so very different without her in our second-grade hallway next school year.

  6. Love the poetic language in that first page - and the wonderful story that sems to be in its pages. LOVELY.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!

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