Monday, July 11, 2011

How The Finnegans Saved The Ship

We've been plowing through books lately and they have all been so incredibly good, but this one was so fun I just wanted to share it incase someone is looking for a really good read.

This year our schooling will cover American history, so to fill the cap with Australian history we've been reading lots of great Australian historical fiction. So far we've loved them all and have really enjoyed seeing Australia come to life in this manner.

I picked up How The Finnegans Saved The Ship from a local used book shop. The story is about an Irish family that is choosing to migraine to Australia in the same year that the Titanic sunk.

The only way, at that time, to get to Australia would have been by boat. We meet the Finnegans as they are boarding their own the Anna Maria. Mrs Finnegan is distraught from the moment they see the ship because she's certain it's leaking, and thus begins the adventures of the Finnegans.

Mr Finnegan is all ready in Australia and has written them many times to tell them of the beautiful land he's found and how he's procured a home for them complete with an indoor toilet and running water! The family is amazed and the children are excited. Mrs Finnegan is willing to do whats best for her children.

The story tells of the adventure the family has upon the boat as it sails first to Africa and then onward to Australia.  It must first drop cargo in Africa and pick up more cargo before it can make it's trip all the way to Australia. During the story we learn that Edward is quite the engineer in the making and that Mary, the eldest, tends to be the most level headed even over her own mother at times.

Mrs Finnegan takes to prowling the ship deck at all times looking for an iceberg because she doesn't trust that the sailors and captains will spot one should they meet it. However, she's sound asleep the day Edward and the sailors spot one. A tiny one, all most completely melted without a penguin or polar bear in sight. Edward is quite disappointed but vows to Mary that he won't tell their Ma about it for fear she'll panic.

The sailors warn, though, that if they saw one iceberg that far south there's a good chance there are more out there. And to there are! The alarm whistle goes off at the Finnegans, refusing to shirk their duty, all clamber to the deck to see what they can do and if they'll survive the journey.

The book is fictitious but based on a story the author's StepGranny told the grandchildren. It's a beautiful little story about what life was like for those who chore to migrate on boats and the boys both know that their own Australian grandparents did just that, only they didn't come from Ireland. They did however, migraine on a boat with children in tow. Of course, not quite so long ago as the Finnegans came..

Don't miss all the extra information packed into the back of this book! There's information about steam powered boats, Ireland, the potato famine, Hedge-Schools, Irish language, and more. There's a dictionary in the back as well for a few of the Gallic phrases said in the book, and there's also some fun irish recipes to try as well!

There's a lot of information packed into this little book for sure. Not to mention the fun of attempting an Irish brogue while reading it! I wasn't sure I'd quite managed the later until the boys informed me that I sounded like a little character on their spelling lessons who happens to speak with quite the Irish accent. The real trick was then losing the Irish twang when we stopped reading!


Lori said...

Sounds like one my boys would enjoy too. I was able to order a copy from amazon. Thanks for the review.

Erin said...

We LOVE this one:)