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Children's Fiction Pre-confederation (to 1867)

Wild Geese

by (author) Caroline Pignat

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2010
Pre-Confederation (to 1867), Canada, Emigration & Immigration
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2011
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 13 to 17


Wild Geese, the sequel to the Governor General's Award winning novel Greener Grass, follows Kit Byrne and her friend Mick O'Toole after fleeing famine-ravaged Ireland. Across the Atlantic aboard a notorious "coffin ship", through quarantine, and into the heart of North America, the two displaced teenagers endure storms, epidemics, and discrimination. Desperate to find her family in the New World, Kit is willing to sacrifice everything, even her love for Mick, to reunite the remaining orphaned Byrnes children. Jack and Annie are out there somewhere and Kit will not stop searching until she finds them and her family is together again.

The original "Wild Geese" were Irish soldiers fighting outside of Ireland, but the term later came to encompass all expatriate Irish. People fighting for survival a long, long way from home. People like Kit. This is her Wild Geese story.

About the author

Caroline Pignat graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Religious Studies. After working with children and youth for over fifteen years in roles such as teacher, seminar facilitator, mentor and coach, she began her writing career. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children regularly appear in Highlights for Children, Guideposts for Kids, Living Faith for Kids, and Clubhouse Magazine.

Caroline Pignat's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Kit's first-person present-tense narrative is as beautifully simple and lyrical as it was in the first book: "Time to go home, no home to go to . . . with nothing to our names but the tales we tell." The elemental story of immigration will touch readers."

"More engaging than the earlier title if for no other reason than more happens to Kit sooner. In this volume, Kit is always an active participant-she is not simply observing her family and neighbors. A historical novel, a young adult coming-of-age tale, an adventure yarn, a story of faith and love, all of these describe Wild Geese and will draw a wide audience."

"Although this title can stand alone, reading the first book will certainly enhance understanding of this harrowing, realistic look at the immigrant Irish experience. Actual relief workers of the era play important roles, and an author's note offers more information about them and some of the places Kit visits on her journey."

"One of the best ways to approach leaning history is to read a well-written and carefully researched historical novel. Pignat brings to life an era in pre-Confederation Canadian history through this tale of Irish immigrants while also keeping readers in suspense as Kit's life moves from one adventure to the next. . . Pignat has continued Kit's story with both empathy and enthusiasm and leaves readers satisfied yet yearning to remain with Kit and Mick as their new life in Bytown begins. The wild geese may well have come home to stay, but readers will hope that the story doesn't end there and that Pignat will add to the series and continue to delight her fans.
Highly Recommended."
CM Magazine

Librarian Reviews

Wild Geese

Wild Geese, the sequel to Caroline Pignat’s Governor General’s Literary Award-winning novel, Greener Grass, is historical fiction at its best. Although Pignat provides details from the first book, Kit’s immigration story is so engaging that this could have been a stand-alone novel. On the run from Irish authorities, Kit Byrne steals away with her friend Mick O’Toole on a ship to Canada and vows to be reunited with her family.

Pignat’s attention to detail attunes us to the rotting stench of sickness on the boat, allows us to feel the crisp winds of winter along the Ottawa Canal and vividly see the markets of Bytown where Kit finds her sister. By integrating real figures, such as Mother Bruyere and her Sisters of Charity, she also grounds Kit’s story within an historical framework that allows for a natural development of the plot and character growth.

Because Kit’s journey takes her to many different places, Pignat introduces a lot of new characters. However, there are so many of them, it can get a bit confusing — particularly when they disappear for a couple of chapters, and, almost too conveniently, return. Still, there are some truly memorable characters that amuse, delight and scare us — like the crafty thief Billy and cruel, vengeful Henry Lynch.

Teens will love Kit’s independent spirit. Pignat’s use of Irish dialect and phrasing along with some pretty punchy prose, gives Kit a brash stubbornness, a passionate heart and unwavering bravery to keep going and, eventually, find the home and peace she’s been looking for.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2011. Volume 34 No. 2.

Wild Geese

Kit Byrne and her friend Mick O’Toole are fleeing a famine-ravaged Ireland, taking the trip across the Atlantic in a notorious “coffin ship” to reach North America and reunite the remaining Byrne children. They endure storms, epidemics and quarantines, but Kit is determined to find her family even if she has to sacrifice her love for Mick. This is the sequel to Greener Grass: The Famine Years.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

Other titles by Caroline Pignat