Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O’Hara
By Elvira Woodruff
Illustrated by Adam Rex
Knopf Books for Young Readers, September 2006
Darcy Heart O’Hara is one of the many children who live in the cottages of Derry Lane, in the Irish townland of Pobble O’Keefe, in the year 1845. She’s one of the many children who gather at the hearth to listen to Granddad’s hushed voice as he spins tales of moonlit glens and fairy queens.
But Darcy is special. She’s a noticer.
Wherever she goes, Darcy recognizes the precious things around her: A tiny flower, a butterfly wing, a spiderweb covered with sparkling dew. Even as the potatoes are rotting and the money is dwindling, Darcy can’t help but gaze at the golden buttercups in the field.
But when Darcy’s family can no longer pay the rent, they’re forced to leave Pobble O’Keefe forever. And soon, it’s up to Darcy to find a way to bring the small beauties of home across the wide ocean to America.
From author Elvira Woodruff and illustrator Adam Rex comes a touching story of courage, family, emigration, and one young girl’s gift for noticing – and sharing – the small beauties of the world.
Praise for Small Beauties:
“From the cover portrait of a sweet-faced child holding a rosary bead to the scene of the girl’s tearful parting with her grandmother, this wrenching picture book pulls out all the stops of the emigration story…Woodruff’s simple, poetic storytelling combines with Rex’s illustrations in charcoal, graphite pencils, and oil to present the drama through Darcy’s eyes, including the rubble of the family home after eviction, the journey across the ocean and, always close-up, the little but important things: a pebble, a flower, a hearthstone chip.”—Booklist
“Woodruff subtly captures the lilt of Irish dialect, inviting reading the text aloud. Her smooth and descriptive prose takes readers along on the O’Haras’ journey, capturing joyful times when her father danced a jig in the firelight and Granddad spun tales in the glow of the peat fire…Rex’s mixed-media earth-tone illustrations are extraordinarily evocative, offering touching scenes with expressive faces and deep emotion. Rich in detail of the Irish landscape, the art gives a deeper understanding of this powerful story.”—School Library Journal