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Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato Paperback – January 27, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Jamie O'Rourke is the laziest man in all of Ireland." So begins well-known children's book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola's retelling of a popular Irish folktale. Jamie is accustomed to his wife doing all the household and garden chores, so when she injures her back, he figures he's sure to starve to death. But as luck would have it, he chances upon a leprechaun. The elfin man offers Jamie the biggest "pratie" in the world in exchange for letting him go.

Feeling self-satisfied, Jamie plants the seed, which soon grows into a potato big enough to be a logistical nightmare for the village. Luckily, his wife comes through for him once again, and everyone ends up happy and full. This is not a redemptive tale--Jamie does not learn to be industrious. It is, however, a lively, simple-yet-outlandish, brightly illustrated story about a man and a potato, with a leprechaun thrown in, for luck. (Ages 4 to 8) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This inspired Irish folktale clearly illustrates that taking the easy way out of a situation is sometimes more trouble than it's worth. Potato farmer Jamie O'Rourke, "the laziest man in all of Ireland," is unfortunately not the brightest of men either. The prospect of a harsh and foodless winter, due to meager crops, and the ceaseless nagging of his hardworking wife impel Jamie to the church to pray for help. As Irish luck would have it, Jamie happens upon and captures a leprechaun who cunningly offers magic potato seeds instead of the traditional pot of gold. The resulting colossal spud feeds the O'Rourkes and the other villagers far longer than anyone could have imagined. Although the comical tone works well here, readers may be surprised that Jamie is rewarded for being lazy. Thatched-roof cottages, stone hedges and sheep dot the green landscape, depicting rustic life on the Emerald Isle. DePaola's distinctive homespun style and genial gentry round, child like faces add plenty of zip to this silly story. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (January 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0698116038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0698116030
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1934 to a family of Irish and Italian background. By the time he could hold a pencil, he knew what his life's work would be. His determination to create books for children led to a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California.
It drove him through the years of teaching, designing greeting cards and stage sets, and painting church murals until 1965, when he illustrated his first children's book, Sound, by Lisa Miller for Coward-McCann. Eventually, freed of other obligations, he plunged full time into both writing and illustrating children's books.
He names Fra Angelico and Giotto, Georges Rouault, and Ben Shahn as major influences on his work, but he soon found his own unique style. His particular way with color, line, detail, and design have earned him many of the most prestigious awards in his field, among them a Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona, the Smithsonian Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for his ""singular attainment in children's literature,"" the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal for his ""continued distinguished contribution,"" and the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion. He was also the 1990 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustration.
Tomie dePaola has published almost 200 children's books in fifteen different countries. He remains one of the most popular creators of books for children, receiving more than 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie lives in an interesting house in New Hampshire with his four dogs. His studio is in a large renovated 200-year-old barn.
- He has been published for over 30 years.
- Over 5 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.
- His books have been published in over 15 different countries.
- He receives nearly 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie dePaola has received virtually every significant recognition for his books in the children's book world, including:
- Caldecott Honor Award from American Library Association
- Newbery Honor Award from American Library Association
- Smithson Medal from Smithsonian Institution
- USA nominee in illustration for Hans Christian Andersen Medal
- Regina Medal from Catholic Library Association

"

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2000
Format: School & Library Binding
This is just a plain old fun book for kids. No, there are no moral messages to sink deep into your child's soul; no, Jamie O'Rouke doesn't miraculous change at the end of the book (hmm...sound like real life?). He's still as lazy as he ever was. But my kids giggled to read about the big potato and the entire town having to eat it until they didn't ever want to see another potato. Get the book and enjoy it for what it is -- fun.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lori Dremel on April 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
It is highly important for chidren to read folktales to learn about cultures and history. This includes stories that are just plain fun. I highly disagree with the reviewer here who said this story should be left untold. Not all stories have to have a moral (although IMO, this one had one, but I digress). Some stories illustrate to us what a wonderful, fine sense of humor the Irish had (and still do). Jamey had quite an adventure with the wee folk and his "Prattie". My children loved this book, as did I. We liked the dialogue, including, as I mentioned, Tomie de Paola's using of the Irish "prattie" for potatoe. The long-suffering wife was witty, and poor Jamey O'Rourke was a hoot. After reading the library version, we bought our own copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. H. Coleman on March 5, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As far as creatvity and originality goes, this is a cute story. I love the fact that the reader/listener can sense Jaime's wife's frustration with him. I love that the villagers worked together to solve a problem. I love the wit the leprechaun displayed. It is true that Jaime did not get a lasting consequence for his slothfulness, but it it is no different than reading a book like 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' where Tom got out of painting the fence white because he outwitted his friends. There are people like this my friends. It is just a part of life. We just have to be aware about our gullibility. Also, it isn't like the village community got nothing in return for their industry. It is all about perspective. I disagree with the reviewer who stated that it was an awful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DONALD G. FOX on October 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Tomie dePaola's take on an Irish folktale is wonderfully entertaining. Jamie O'Rourke, "the laziest man in all of Ireland," meets up with a leprechaun and makes a deal: instead of demanding the leprechaun's pot of gold, Jamie accepts a seed for "the biggest pratie [potato] in the world." Of course, we all need to be wary of what we wish for. The ensuing results of growing the world's largest potato cause mayhem in the village. It all settles down beautifully by the end and Jamie O'Rourke is proven not to be the fool that everyone thinks he is. A fun and colorful story for kids and adults alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Happy Granny on April 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this as a birthday/St. Patrick's Day gift for our five-year-old granddaughter. She appreciated the humor of lazy Jaimie as much as she did disobedience of Big Anthony in STREGA NONA. She first fell in love with Tomie dePaola's MY FIRST HALLOWEEN, and since then has acquired quite a collection of his holiday books for Christmas and Easter. His art is appealing to both young and old and comes in a variety of formats from paperback to board books and even popups.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By lmott on May 8, 2014
Format: Board book Verified Purchase
This book was bought around St. Patrick Day for my grandchildren. The story is very entertaining and unique. My grandchildren are only one and two years old and they love hearing this book! The illustrations are also great. Tomie dePaola was a favorite of my daughter when she was little and now my grandchildren as well. A good read for the little ones.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pure magic, the watercolor drawings of this book for 2 to 5 year-olds, bringing to life 22 new friends--24 if I include the giant potato and the leprechaun. Set in an Irish-like countryside of about 200 years ago, Tomie dePaola retells an old story that appears in many cultures.

Jamie doesn't like to work; his wife Eileen does what's needed for them to eat. When her back goes out, Jamie fears he'll die from lack of food, so off he goes to get ready for the sad event. On his way to the village, he finds a fairies' shoemaker (the leprechaun) who outsmarts his captor by giving him a seed for the biggest potato on the world, rather than his treasured gold. The blessing becomes first a bane (can't get that veggie out of the ground), then a blessing (the curious villagers help), then a bane (ooops! it blocked the road), then a blessing thanks to quick-witted and kind Eileen (every one can have all they want), then a bane (the villagers eat and eat and eat and eat until they never want to see a potato again), and then a blessing as they offer food for life if Eileen and Jamie plant no more giant potatoes...the big pratie for sure.

The story has a fine lilt of words and as I mentioned, the drawings are wholly charming in DePaola's much-loved style. Is there anything more though to reading children this story?

To me, this is a classic tale of the apparently not-too-bright person--a schlemiel, a trickster, a lazy person---who by a "fortunate misfortune" and a certain talent for keeping on, brings fortune to her/himself and the community. I particularly like that the heroine is the hard-working, cheerful, and very bright Eileen who invites everyone to take all the potato they want, and how the community eventually pitches in to deal with the situations.
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