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Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara
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Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  104 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
"One day this child shall hold the very heart of our family in the palm of her hand," predicts Granny on the day Darcy Heart O'Hara is born in a cottage on Derry Lane, in the town of Pobble O'Keefe, in County Kerry, Ireland.

Darcy grows up to be a noticer, delighting in the small beauties all around her: a dew-covered spider web, castles in the clouds, a shiny wooden rosary
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
An Irish family is evicted from their home during the potato famine and forced to emigrate to America. It's a sad story, but with a message of hope that they might be able to create a new life for themselves. Through it all Darcy reminds them of the small beauties, like little seeds of hope, around them, and she surprises them with something special from home once they reach America. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is charming despite its depressing subject. Recommended, especiall ...more
Lisa Vegan
Apr 11, 2009 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a lovely immigrant story and/or historical fiction story
Recommended to Lisa by: Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This story deeply touched me. It’s of a young girl and her family who must emigrate from Ireland to America during the potato blight of the 1840s. This is a historical fiction story, though there is an author’s note at the end that gives a true account of a much shorter episode of a similar story of a famous American.

Darcy is wonderful! Very likeable! Her small beauties can remind all readers that they can look for solace in the smallest things.

The story is both incredibly sad and wonderfully u
Mar 06, 2012 L12_tomj rated it it was amazing
Darcy O'Hara is an 8 year girl living in a idealized Irish family life complete with a loving sibling, father, and grandmother in a wooden and stone farm house in the village of Pobble O'Keefe, and Darcy enjoys many pastoral joys of wandering in the cow pastures of a small farm. On her adventures, she collects butterfly wings, a pebble, and flowers, and puts them in hem of her dress for safekeeping. That life is soon imperiled when in 1848 excessive rains puts a blight on the family's potato cro ...more
Aug 10, 2009 Brianna rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful book! It is about a family in Ireland in 1845 who struggle through the potato famine, Darcy Heart O'Hara is taught to recognize and appreciate "small beauties" in life. I won't give much more info because the ending is so touching I would not want to spoil it.

There is also an Author's note at the end that talks about how this story was based on a real family...which just happened to be Henry Ford's family (yes the auto maker)

Great read for children and adults!!!!
Mar 15, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
This fiction everybody book is loosley based on the Henry Ford's family's immigration story. A beautifully written story has detailed and touching illustrations. A real tearjerker that explains how one family was affected by the Irish potato famine. Great read aloud for older students, especially those with a little bit of background knowledge.
Lauren Kiser
May 09, 2017 Lauren Kiser rated it it was amazing
This book has beautiful illustrations and it really does a good job of telling the story of an Irish family being forced from their home.
Christy Whitaker
Oct 11, 2012 Christy Whitaker rated it it was amazing
This historical, yet fictiional work features a young girl named Darcy. She is an imaginative little girl growing up in Ireland. After the famine hits, she is forced to move to America with her family. Before she leaves her homeland, she collects tiny trinkets to have as keepsakes of her home. Upon reaching America, she feels out of place in this strange land. She pulls out her collectibles and allows her family to share in the memories of home. These trinkets- stones, feathers, parts of a heart ...more
Olivia Lagore
Darcy Heart O' Hara is a young girl growing up in Ireland during the time of the potato famine. Darcy has a special gift - she is able to see the "small beauties" in her homeland, the little things like a special pebble or a flower, and the bigger things, like they way her family is happiest when they are gathered around the hearth, listening to their grandfather tell stories. When Darcy's family must leave for America, it is Darcy who holds the memories of their life in Ireland and brings them ...more
Emily Wright
Feb 22, 2015 Emily Wright rated it it was amazing
Personal Response: This book was very interesting even as an adult. The inside look of an immigrant girl from Ireland and her life is very detailed and gives children a view into life as an immigrant. I personally enjoyed the different illustrations and even learning a few things about Ireland.

- Read aloud for a lesson or enrichment
- This would be great book to read for students who are learning about immigration or other countries. It could give a different outlook on family relation
Feb 06, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it
On the night Darcy O'Hara was born, her father danced a jig in the firelight of their small cottage. Very few kids ever think about what people were doing when they were born.

Now children were as plentiful in Pobble O'Keefe as the chickens that roosted in the thatched roofs ... But Darcy was different. She was a noticer. She stopped to notice small beauties wherever she went.
As soon as I read that, I knew the story had promise. I respect and value people who are observant, who notice things arou
Jasmin Garcia
Oct 23, 2012 Jasmin Garcia rated it it was amazing
Darcy Heart O'Hara is an eight year old little girl filled with imagination. Darcy grows up in Ireland and grows accustomed to collecting various items that she finds interesting throughout her home. But due to an excess amount of rain her family's potato crops are gone to waste and are forced to move to America or face famine. As her family becomes aware of their new surroundings and start to become homesick, Darcy brings out her trinkets, allowing them to reminisce of their old life. "Small Be ...more
A class unit a few years ago was a study of immigration and I took my class to New York City to visit the places there that would give them direct insight into that experience, like the Tenement Museum and of course, Ellis Island. I wish I could have had this beautiful book at that time, to be an inspiration in our research. This is the story woven around a young Irish girl who saw her ‘small beauties’ in the everyday things like a round stone or part of a butterfly wing and castles in the cloud ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is such a lovely, yet heartbreaking tale - it's hard to put our reaction into words. I love the way that Elvira Woodruff and Adam Rex rendered that period in history, with all of the hardship, poverty and privation that the Irish experienced during the Great Famine.

The narrative is so emotionally engaging and draws the reader into the story. And the illustrations are simply amazing. The author's note explains the origins and inspiration for this story, which is fictional. We really appreci
Writing Lesson - topic selection
After reading this picture book, students could write about an object of importance to them. Students could also write about what "not everything worth keeping has to be useful" means to them.

Reading Connection - This picture book would make a nice companion story for the chapter book Rules by Cynthia Rylant. The heading for one of the chapters in Rules is "Not everything worth keeping has to be useful." This so relates to all of the little "beauties" Darcy colle
Becky H.
Apr 22, 2008 Becky H. rated it it was amazing
Darcy enjoys the small beauties all around her from the castles in the clouds to a shiny wooden bead. Life is about to change when the potatoes turn bad in Pobble O’Keefe, Ireland. Darcy and her family must leave Ireland forever. On their journey to America Darcy is able to comfort her family with the small beauties of home that she has saved and collected in her pockets. This moving story is illustrated with beautiful, realistic oil paints by Adam Rex and is sure to please the eye of those who ...more
Lillian Cristina Loys
Oct 31, 2013 Lillian Cristina Loys rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fab-40-final
Genre: Historical Fiction
Grade Level: K-2
Awards: None

How to use in a classroom:
This book is about a little girl who's family's crops are washed out by the rain and is forced to move to America or her family will face famine. When the family begins to feel homesick, she brings out her collection of small things she had collected back home, this small items help the family reconnect emotionally with their old home. As a follow-up activity, I would have the students bring a few small items from hom
Feb 11, 2013 Melissa rated it it was amazing
This was a charming story of a girl observing the best things in life while the potato famine and her family's forced immigration to America. She collects small tokens of her homeland and they bring her family close together in the end. It as has simply lovely illustrations that bring the story to life.
Lori Hannon-theaker
Feb 09, 2016 Lori Hannon-theaker rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Ms. Woodruff for years and I grab up as many books on Irish history as I can. This story was heartbreaking yet so touching. The power of beauty and memories as seen through the eyes of young Darcy will warm the hearts of readers. A great story to spark discussion of Irish immigration.
Sung Baick
Feb 03, 2011 Sung Baick rated it it was amazing
This is a fiction book that was inspired by the true story of Henry Ford and his family. It's about an Irish family who immigrated to the United States. The little girl finds small beauties wherever she goes and at the end, those beauties are what kept the family strong together. This would be a great book for a lesson on Ireland or maybe even Henry Ford (taking a break from cars).
Gabriela Rosas
Jun 24, 2014 Gabriela Rosas rated it really liked it
this book was really good it is about an Irish family who immigrated to the United States. The little girl finds small beauties wherever she goes and at the end, those beauties are what kept the family strong together.
We can view life as nothing but work and strife, or we can stop and notice the small beauties around us. A great text to share with students and then send them on a hunt to find small beauties in their own environments.
Mrs. Brandt
Highly recommended as a read aloud for the 4th grade Immigration Unit! This is one of those rare picture books that works well for all grades. The younger students might take away a slightly different message than the older students, but it is lovely no matter what part you remember
Feb 27, 2008 Taylor rated it it was amazing
Lovely drawings and a moving story about Irish immigrants. This book is a good reminder that not everyone looks at the world the same way... and that other views, even when we don't understand them, are very important.
Sweet tale of one family's emigration from Ireland during the potato famine. Young Darcy, ever the optimist and dreamer has a lovely collection of found objects that prove to be the key to holding on to the memories from "home". Don't miss the author's note at the back.
Mar 27, 2012 Tessa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-books
This was a great book for studying the Irish potato famine and emmigration, which we ended up studying right around St. Patrick's Day this year. This book was wonderful for children when learning about a tough topic.
Rebecca Honeycutt
Part of my research on Adam Rex's earlier work. His realistic illustrations are gorgeous, but (unsurprisingly) they show the most verve in the book's more imaginative moments.
Oct 01, 2012 Mslogar rated it it was amazing
A very touching story about a little girl and learning about "things" that are the most important.....
Jun 04, 2012 Shelli rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Story of a families struggles in Ireland during the potato famine. The youngest child taking notice of small moments and trinkets with her to America, and sharing those memories with her family.
This book was amazing. It is great for teaching about immigration or emigration or the Irish Potato famine.
Apr 29, 2013 Deborah rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A touching story of Irish immigration (big picture) and of paying attention to the little things in life (small picture). What small beauties do we collect and share?
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Well-known for her popular children’s stories, author Elvira Woodruff had a long route to becoming a writer. In fact, one of her first jobs after leaving college was driving an ice cream truck. She has also worked as a receptionist, a janitor, a window dresser, a gardener, a shop owner, an assistant librarian, a waitress, and a storyteller. After working for several years in the children’s room of ...more
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“Tis a big ocean that will soon be between us," Granny whispered, a tear rolling down her wrinkled cheek.” 0 likes
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