Title: Megan's Year: An Irish Travler's Story
Author: Gloria Whelan
Illustrator: Beth Peck
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Concepts: migration, human resources, jobs, scarcity, economic role of government
Review: Ten-year-old Megan Brady enjoys summers the most because that season marks when she joins her four siblings and parents in their caravan as they travel across the Irish countryside in search of work. Their family belongs to the Irish Travelers, a group of about 25,000 ethnic Irish who have adopted their own language and traditions, including a lifestyle of migration that responds to work opportunities.
Megan loves the freedom of traveling, the excitement of defining their own destinies, and the chance to spend time with other Travelers at campsites. Her strong wanderlust, however, makes winters more difficult to handle. Winters mean settling down in a cramped house in Dublin, dependent on charitable donations from others and subject to ridicule at school. Even the encouragement of her teachers to focus on her studies is insufficient to overcome Megan’s strong desire to return to life on the road.
Sweeping broad brush paintings add an intriguing element to this meaningful picture book that introduces readers to a migrant community they may not know much about. Thoroughly intertwined in the text are a set of economics lessons related to jobs, child schooling, scarcity, and social safety nets. The book stands out for its unique topic and is highly recommended.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children