Illustrated by Yannick Vu.
This collection of fictional short stories by Polly Devlin, are based on her own childhood in Ardboe, in Northern Ireland. The narrator is a little girl whose mother has died and who is being looked after by a strong, plain-speaking country woman called Mary Ellen Martin.
Mary-Ellen's father was a fisherman on the Lough and their lives were simple. She tells her small charge about the characters who made up the little community: Old Forbie, Jem the Bridge, Barney Dugh, Mickel Heron. Hers are the stories of a child's world, where places seem bigger than they really are and events more momentous. Her 'world' is her immediate environment: the car lane, the pin tree, Golloman's Point, the graveyard and the Lough.
One of the most gripping stories is The China Doll, where Mary Ellen tells of the wonder of receiving, in a parcel from an aunt in America, a beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed doll -- her very first. The delight in the story makes its shocking conclusion all the more heart-rending.
Mary-Ellen's tales are full of the colloquialisms of Northern Ireland. Beautifully and seamlessly told, they evoke a time long since passed and a child's unique view of the world.
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