Tales from Old Ireland
contains seven classic stories, beautifully retold by Malachy Doyle in 90 big pages. Some of the tales will be instantly familiar: "Fair, Brown, and Trembling," for example, is a straightforward version of the Cinderella story right down to the lost shoe. Others are much less well known, like the tale of the fisherman, Jack Doherty, who always wanted to meet a Merrow (a man who lives beneath the sea). Niamh Sharkey's delightfully quirky illustrations (also seen in Jack and the Beanstalk
and The Gigantic Turnip
) are simple and striking; a few take up a full page, and smaller ones are scattered throughout the text. While culturally specific (and complete with a pronunciation guide for names and a few unusual words), Tales of Old Ireland
has universal appeal and should occupy shelf-space in every child's imagination. (Ages 5 and older) --Richard Farr
From Publishers Weekly
Northern Ireland native Doyle (Jody's Beans) celebrates his country's centuries-old oral legacy in this collection of seven stories. Traditional tales, such as "The Twelve Wild Geese" (which parallels the structure of the Brothers Grimm's "The Six Swans") and a Cinderella retelling, "Fair, Brown and Trembling," share space with some highly original individuals (e.g., the title characters in "Son of an Otter, Son of a Wolf"), and all retain a lyrical turn of phrase ("Will you do nothing to lighten our sorrow?" one of the cursed offspring asks the evil queen in "The Children of Lir"). Doyle, a conversational raconteur, wisely includes a pronunciation key for proper names that appear in the stories as well as notes on the background of the entries. Sharkey's (Jack and the Beanstalk) playfully stylized oil and gesso paintings complement the fanciful quality of the tales. Spot art breaks up the pages, and each story features one full-size painting that captures the heart of the taleAfor "The Twelve Wild Geese," 12 quilt-like squares show the birds around the edges, while a quartet of interior squares show the key characters and knitting needles for the birds' sweaters. The artist also distinguishes each tale with a unique border and its own sophisticated, muted palette. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
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