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The Stories Told Of A Sickness Spreading Throughout Italy ... A Timely New Novel!


Canadian author Natasha Deen was born in Guyana and immigrated to Canada where she has become a prize -inning author of books for children, teens, and adults. She has both an innate talent for storytelling and the gift for introducing her passion to others, in schools, libraries, and other organizations. Her motto, ‘Change the world one story at a time.’ She has published over twenty books to date! Natasha lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

As we are in the midst of the pandemic, struggling to understand it, struggling to survive, Natasha very wisely pens a new volume of the series - GIRLS SURVIVE – and this volume is MARIA AND THE PLAGUE, a story about the Black Plague of 1347 -1351 that took the lives of 75 – 200 people throughout Eurasia and North Africa. Allowing her readers to learn of individual responses to that plague is even more credible as we experience COVID 19.

Appropriately, the book opens in Florence, Italy in 1347 and the mood is set as follows: ‘The chill form the rainy morning settled on my shoulders as I left my house. The sun hadn’t risen yet, but I needed to get to the grain market. Papa and my seventeen-year-old brother, Paolo, worked as laborers for the wool guild, Arte della Lana. They were counting on me to get bread for the family. Getting food was hard. The last few years tested all of us in Florence. Earthquakes, along with the rain, had led to food shortages and forced our family to leave our farm. We moved to Florence two years ago. My family had hoped for a better life in the city. I fought back the tears and tried not to think of last year. That was the year when Mamma and my newborn sister, Flora, had died.’

With that entry into the life of Maria Rosso, the story takes on greater meaning, as the following summary reveals: ‘Years of bad weather and natural disasters have choked Italy's food supply, and the people of Florence are dying of starvation. Breadlines are battlegrounds, and young Maria has to fight for her family's every loaf. Adding to the misery, the Black Plague is rapidly spreading through the country, killing everyone in its path. Maria has already lost her mother and sister. Will she be strong enough to save the rest of her family before it's too late?’

The writing flows smoothly, enhanced by the fine illustrations by Francesca Ficorilli. This is an episode in a series that promises twenty volumes about surviving tough times, providing a glimmer of inspiration and hope for us all now. Natasha Deen has become a standard bearer for the art of meaningful (and entertaining) novels. Very highly recommended for abroad audience.

~Grady Harp