Nory Ryan's Song
Nory Ryan's family has lived on Maidin Bay on the west coast of Ireland for generations, raising a pig and a few chickens, planting potatoes, getting by. Every year Nory's father goes away on a fishing boat and returns with the rent money for the English lord who owns their cottage and fields, the English lord bent upon forcing the Irish from their land so he can tumble the cottages and clear the fields for grazing. Times are never easy on Maidin Bay, but this year, a terrible blight attacks the potatoes. No crop means starvation. Twelve-year-old Nory must summon the courage and ingenuity to find food, to find hope, to find a way to help her family survive.
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Nory Ryan's Song, by Patricia Reilly Giff, is the story of twelve-year-old Nory as she struggles to help her family survive during the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s. Do you have any prior knowledge of the Irish potato famine?
Why does Nory want to leave Ireland and move to Brooklyn, New York?
Did you notice the Glossary at the beginning of the book? It has translations and definitions for the Irish words that you will read in the story. Look up the highlighted word, "sidhe," in the glossary to read the definition.
Why is Nory afraid of Anna?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Explain why Nory needs a coin from Anna and what she has to do to pay Anna back.
Throughout the story, you will be asked to determine the meaning of words and phrases, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes. The following video will help you understand the difference between similes and metaphors. As you read, look for examples of each in the text. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following best describes Lord Cunningham?
Read the definition for the highlighted word, "petticoat." The following image shows a women's petticoat like Nory is wearing. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Sean mean when he says, "He (Lord Cunningham) mixes us all together?"
In the mid-1840s, many Irish people came to America. A potato disease, called potato plight, destroyed the main crop of the Irish diet and caused widespread hunger. Hundreds of thousands of peasants were driven from their homes by British land owners and forced to move, most often to North America.
How does Nory feel about the news that her sister Maggie is leaving for America?
The legendary Queen Maeve was a goddess of war in Irish folklore and mythology. The image below shows a painting of Queen Maeve. (This annotation contains an image)
Nory is _______ to join her sister in Brooklyn someday.
Pay attention to the highlighted passage. Maggie was like a mother to Patch and her younger sisters. Now that Maggie has left, Nory is taking on the role of a mother figure to Patch.
Compare and contrast the settings of Maidin Bay, Ireland and Brooklyn, New York. Include quotes from the text when describing each place.
As you read, you will be asked to quote from the text when explaining what the text says, both directly and when drawing inferences. Do you need practice with drawing inferences? The following video will help you with this. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the meaning of the highlighted phrase?
The highlighted passage is important because it reveals that the potato disease is destroying potato crops in Nory's area. Think about the consequences the people will face with no potatoes, their main source of food.
Why does Nory allow Anna to keep Maeve?
Read the highlighted sentence. Is the phrase, "tail waving like a plume of wheat in the wind," a simile or metaphor? How do you know?
Read the highlighted passage. How are Nory and her family feeling as they check their potatoes for the potato disease?
Nory and Celia are thinking of ways they could keep from starving should their potato crops go bad. Think about what a terrifying time it was for the people of Ireland.
Describe the character of Granda and explain his role in Nory's family.
Think about the title of the book, Nory Ryan's Song. Have you noticed that Nory often sings?
Based on the highlighted passage, you can infer that ____________.
Have you noticed a theme or themes emerging in the story? The following video will show you how to determine the themes in a story. (This annotation contains a video)
Read the highlighted passage. What is the meaning of the phrase, "They will strip the land?"
Read the highlighted passage about Anna and think about what you have learned about Anna in Chapter 10. Why do you think she never smiles?
Nory's tone in the highlighted passage can be described as __________.
Have you read the definition for the word, "currach?" The following image shows what these Irish boats look like. (This annotation contains an image)
Can you explain how hunger has affected Nory and the people of Ireland?
The Irish term, sidhe, is often referenced in the story. According to Irish Folklore, the sidhe are supernatural creatures who cause trouble. Many Irish people believed that they caused the potato famine and they steal children. The image below shows what they were believed to look like. (This annotation contains an image)
Anna can be described as _______.
Think about the ending of Chapter 12. What do you suppose has happened for Nory's family to come looking for her? Make a prediction.
Why have so many people from out of the area come to Maidin Bay?
Pay attention to the highlighted passage and think about Nory's view of what life is like in Brooklyn. She believes that there are diamonds everywhere in America. Is this an accurate picture of America in the 1840s?
Explain why Nory says, "It will be forever," before her family can take home the package from Maggie.
In the highlighted passage, Nory says she is still trying to think of a way to get the package. Have you noticed how Nory is always determined to help her family and other families who are struggling? Have you identified the theme of determination in the story?
Why is Nory forbidding Granda from working on the roads?
The highlighted sentence reveals some of Celia's character traits. Think about the ways in which Celia is loyal and true as well as the character traits of other characters in the story. The following video will show you how to identify character traits. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Celia mean when she says, "A rusty gate, I am," in regards to her singing.
Have you determined who the narrator of the story is? Is the story told in first-person or third-person point of view? As you read, think about how the narrator's point of view influences how events are described.
Anna mentions that she has had a lot of milk today, yet Devlin took her cow and she appears tired and weak. Do you think she really had plenty of milk, or do you think she wanted to save what was left for Nory and Patch?
Read the highlighted passage and think about Nory's opinion and description of Anna at the beginning of the story and what Anna is really like now that Nory has gotten to know her. Explain how Nory's view of Anna was an inaccurate picture of her.
Galway is one of the largest cities in Ireland, located on the west coast. It was the heart of the fishing industry during the 1840s, so that is why the Mallon brothers are going there to find a fishing boat and Granda and Celia are going there to find out where Da's fishing boat is. The map of Ireland below shows where Galway is located. (This annotation contains an image)
When Celia hides the hen outside as Devlin approaches to take the family's animals, the character trait of _________ is revealed.
Throughout the story, Nory and her family have struggled to survive from starvation. Celia's words in the highlighted passage reveal the theme of survival.
How is Nory feeling at the beginning of Chapter 17?
Think about how Nory is feeling in the highlighted passage. Can you recall a time when you were very grateful and glad to have a companion so you didn't have to be alone?
Describe the similarities between Nory and Anna's son Tague. Why does Anna decide to teach Nory how to heal?
As you continue to read about the devastating famine and the Irish citizens's struggles to survive, the following video will show you some images of this difficult time in Ireland. (This annotation contains a video)
Why must Nory hide the shawl, as she walks through the town searching for a buyer?
Nory decided to use her coins to pay for the package instead of buying food. Do you think this is a good decision? Why or why not?
Why is it an unwise choice for Nory to pay for the package instead of buying food?
Thousands of people became ill during the potato famine. Starvation makes people more vulnerable to infections such as measles, tuberculosis, and flu. Overcrowding at soup kitchens and work houses made it easy for contagious bacterial infections to be spread from person to person.
Explain why Nory feels at fault for Anna's illness and starvation. Include quotes from the text to support your answer.
Nory's plan to go to the cliffs to collect bird eggs for food is very dangerous, yet she is determined to go though with it. The themes of determination, resourcefulness and survival are evident in Chapter 19.
The dangerous act of collecting bird eggs reveals that Nory is _______.
As you read Chapter 20, think about Nory's friendship with Sean. She has a lot of faith and trust in him to have the strength to keep her from falling off of the cliff.
At the beginning of Chapter 20, Sean is reluctant to hold the ropes to assist Nory with the task of collecting bird eggs. Which of the following is not a reason for his reluctance?
Think about the ways in which Nory and Sean had to work together and rely on each other to accomplish the dangerous task of collecting bird eggs. Can you recall a time when you and a friend had to work together to complete an important task? How did you feel when the task was accomplished?
Compare and contrast the characters traits and personalities of Nory and Sean, including the ways in which they handle hardships and challenges.
The highlighted passage is significant because it reveals Nory's loyalty to Anna and Patch. She refuses to leave Anna behind despite having an opportunity to go to America. She is sending Patch instead, so he has a chance for survival and a better life.
Nory's decision to stay with Anna and send Patch to America can be described as _______.
The following video shows what the journey to America will be like for Patch and Sean's family. You will also learn about the immigration process for the Irish people as they arrived in America. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Nory convince Devlin to return Maeve to Anna and also give Anna food and seeds?
Think about Nory's words in the highlighted passage and the good things that have happened in Chapter 22. Do you predict that life will continue to be a bit more positive and happy for Anna and Nory?
Nory finally receives wonderful news in Chapter 23. Summarize the hardships she faces throughout the book as well as her attitude when she faces obstacles.
Think about Anna's reasons for staying in Ireland, when she has an opportunity to go to America. Are you surprised that she decides to stay? Do you think she is making a wise decision?
Which of the following is not a theme in the story?
Have you determined the genre of the story? The following video will explain the genre of historical fiction. Can you recall other historical fiction literature that you have read that involves similar topics and themes as those in Nory Ryan's Song? (This annotation contains a video)