Good ole Saint Patty's day is just around the corner. It's time to gather up the glitter glue and construction paper and get cracking on all of those two thousand "pot-of-gold" projects on my Pinterest ( Or maybe just let my two year old color on himself while I open a pint of Guiness. More fun for everyone honestly.) Being of Irish heritage, these books are treasures in my family, but you don't need to boast an Irish great-grandma to enjoy the amazing illustrations and fabulous gift of gab these stories share!
Fiona's Luck, written by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Charlesburg, 2007)
The Leprechaun King has stolen all of the luck in Ireland and hidden it away for himself. A young woman named Fiona must beat the king at his own game, not through strength of muscle but through strength of mind and cleverness. The king is tricked into giving up his stores of luck, and prosperity is restored to the land of Ireland. In the process, Fiona and readers learn a valuable lesson. Luck is fine and dandy, but it is better to depend on your own brain.
The illustrations add a true sense of magic to this fantastical tale. Kelly Murphy's style is fluid and humorous and beautiful enough to frame and hang on your wall. The sepia tone that washes the whole piece makes me feel as if I am peering into the Irish countryside of my dreams. What I love most about this story is the author's intention to stay true to the classic Irish folk tale style. If you want a book that shares with children the long legacy of Irish story weaving and does so in a fun and entertaining way, this is the book for you. Don't get me wrong. I am no snob when it comes to Irish cliches. Green beer, shamrocks, and red head doing a jig? Yes, please, and thank you with an extra shake of green sprinkles. At the same time, I totally respect a book that does its best to transport me to an authentic place I don't visit every day.
This is Ireland, written by Miroslav Sasek (Simon & Schuster, 1964)
I am obsessed with Sasek and his wonderful travel guides for kids. The collection he has produced is graphically amazing and provides not so much of a story as a smattering of random yet interesting information about certain cities and countries. CONFESSION: I might sit on the floor of my kids' playroom with Sasek's books scattered around me, reading them by myself when the kids are not home. From the Blarney Castle to the Cliffs of Moher, and every village and city in between, this books will provide an in depth look at the country of Ireland while still being a fun read.