Pegeen by Hilda van Stockum
Publisher: Bethlehem Books —Ignatius Press, 1941
Number of pages: 266
Seven-year-old Pegeen Murphy is a lovable
Irish child with an active imagination and mischievous way.
Her grandmother, who had been taking care of her, dies and
Pegeen is left with only an uncle in America as her nearest
relative. The parish priest, Fr. Kelly makes arrangements for
Pegeen to stay with a family in Bantry Bay, the O’Sullivans.
Pegeen joins the O’Sullivan family: Mother,
Father, Brigid, and the twins, Francie and Liam. While the
parents and the twins are charmed by Pegeen’s imagination and
creative ways, Brigid is not as readily accepting of the new
Mishap after mishap follow as Pegeen tries
to be helpful at home, which usually ends up in some disaster.
She attends school for the first time and wreaks havoc in the
classroom. Later, she is the cause of a lost pig and then
tries to make up for her deed by searching for him, resulting
in more adventures.
But Pegeen’s wild ways are nurtured
carefully by the ever-patient and loving Mrs. O’Sullivan.
Towards the end of the book, Pegeen makes a great sacrifice
and chooses to stay home and miss a much-anticipated picnic in
order to care for the ill Mrs. O’Sullivan.
When Fr. Kelly arrives, bringing news of
Pegeen’s uncle who is willing to have Pegeen come to America,
the family is in great dismay. Even Brigid softens and shows
remorse at the thought of Pegeen leaving. In the last chapter,
Mr. and Mrs. O’Sullivan offer to have Pegeen stay with them,
which , of course, is the pleasant and happy end to this
- A healthy and realistic Catholic family is portrayed by
Hilda van Stockum in her characters of the O’Sullivan
family. The daily joys and sorrows of family life are
depicted in her book.
- The story’s setting is in Ireland; the reader will
develop an appreciation for the Irish people, culture, and
- Illustrated by the author, the lively pictures found in
this book add great delight to the story.
- The transformations depicted in Pegeen and Brigid
throughout the story are ones of hope and courage, as their
relationship develops into a true and caring friendship.
- Mrs. O’Sullivan is portrayed as a true mother, ever
ready and willing to sacrifice and give of herself for the
benefit of her family.
- The book is filled with beautiful descriptions and is
rich in vocabulary that will enhance the reader’s knowledge
and appreciation for good texts. Many excellent themes such
as family and work can be easily identified and used as
subjects for dictations and compositions.
The only potential drawback to this book
was found when dictation texts involved some of the Irish
brogue that is used in the conversations. This Irish dialect
may need some explanation and clarification if selected
passages are chosen for dictations.
Pegeen is a book filled with familiar
family situations, set in a Catholic atmosphere. It is a story
that children delight in as they follow Pegeen and her
adventures with the O’Sullivans. Many are inspired to read
more about the O’Sullivan family in Hilda van Stockum’s other
books, The Cottage at Bantry Bay and Francie on the