Fine St. Patrick's Day

Fine St. Patrick's Day

4.0 2
by Susan Wojciechowski

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WELCOME TO THE rival towns of Tralee and Tralah, where the annual St. Patrick’s Day decorating contest is under way. Every year, Tralah defeats Tralee. This year, though, little Fiona Riley has a wonderful idea that will help Tralee win the contest for sure. But neither town has counted on a stranger arriving—a funny little man with pointed ears and

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WELCOME TO THE rival towns of Tralee and Tralah, where the annual St. Patrick’s Day decorating contest is under way. Every year, Tralah defeats Tralee. This year, though, little Fiona Riley has a wonderful idea that will help Tralee win the contest for sure. But neither town has counted on a stranger arriving—a funny little man with pointed ears and boots trimmed with bells—who will turn the contest upside down!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Wojciechowski tells a fine story that reads well aloud; Curry’s drolly mock-primitive paintings practically glow with color and bristle with texture. Practice your brogue, and sure and begorra, start working some story-hour magic.”—The Horn Book
Publishers Weekly
Are decorations, parties and all the trimmings what make a holiday special? Wojciechowski (The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey) explores this notion in a lively original folktale about compassion and cooperation-with a bit o' Irish magic thrown in. For years the villages of Tralee and Tralah have competed in the annual St. Patrick's Day decorating contest. And never yet has Tralee claimed the gold shamrock given to the winner. But six-year-old Fiona Riley has a sure-fire plan. In the midst of the villages' flurry of preparations, however, "a little man on a large horse" gallops into the two towns seeking help to rescue his stranded herd of cows. The residents of Tralah refuse to break from their decorating and soundly turn the man away. Crossing the meadow, the man finds an ally in Fiona Riley, who rallies her Tralee neighbors to his aid. Rewarded for their kindness, the people of Tralee win the contest in a most satisfying finish. The author's smooth storytelling and steady pace create a vivid setting, and her tale delivers a solid, never treacly message. In boldly colored acrylics, Curry (The Bootmaker and the Elves) creates a bucolic Old World mood using simple, rounded shapes, which include expanses of emerald green hillside. His distinctive technique produces a striking texture, sometimes akin to oil or pastel on a slightly rough canvas, sometimes tapestry-like and, in other instances, crisp and smooth. All told, an arresting series of compositions. Ages 5-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Every year the towns of Tralee and Tralah compete for the trophy for the best decorated town on St. Patrick's Day. Try as it may, Tralee never wins. One year little Fiona Riley suggests they paint everything in town green (except of course the mailboxes and the fire hydrants.) Everyone is sure this will finally win them the trophy, where they will put Fiona's name. Meanwhile, on the day before St. Patrick's, the people of Tralah are busily cutting out shamrocks to decorate and hang from trees when an odd little man rides into town asking for help to pull his cows out of the mud. Everyone is too busy preparing for the contest to help. But when he asks the folks of Tralee, even little Fiona, despite the trophy, thinks helping him and his poor cows is more important than winning. Magically their kindness is rewarded, for the next day everything has been painted green for them. After winning the trophy, they decide simply to celebrate and enjoy the holiday in the future. The tale with a clear moral is told briskly with a hint of a brogue. The visual narrative shares the magical action with textured acrylic scenes of sculpturesque landscapes, buildings, and village folk. There's a doll-house look to the solid, undecorated houses, the undulating hills dotted with powder-puff sheep, the solid people. This is a new story with the feel of legend. 2004, Random House Books for Young Readers, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-The towns of Tralee and Tralah hold a competition each year to see which one can devise the most spectacular decorations for St. Patrick's Day. Tralah has always won, but this year little Fiona Riley has an idea that may give Tralee a chance at garnering the golden shamrock-paint everything green. The night before the contest, a tiny man dressed in green with pointy ears and bells on his boots rides frantically through both towns, begging help for his cows, which are stuck in the mud in the river. The citizens of Tralah flatly refuse as they are too busy decorating, but the people of Tralee come to his aid, knowing it will cost them the prize. Their task completed, they drop into bed exhausted. In the morning, the stranger is gone, but their town is painted "shimmering, glimmering, glorious green-from the wee doghouses to the tall spire of the church," and the shamrock is theirs. Wojciechowski has a pleasing way with words, and the text flows gracefully from beginning to end. Curry's acrylic paintings have jewel-bright blues and greens nicely tempered by softer shades of brown. The folk-art style complements the folktale feel of this pleasant story about the rewards of kindness and community.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Though the author makes a bit of a leap at the end, this original tale, celebrating the benefits of generosity over ambition, makes worthwhile reading. The more goal-oriented town of Tralah always beats rival Tralee in the annual St. Patrick's Day decoration contest-until one year when the Tralahvians turn away a wee man who comes to their doors begging for help to free his cows from the mud. With only a little reluctance, the Traleenians leave off their frantic decorating to lend a hand, and wake the next morning to find their entire town painted a deep, prizewinning green. Then the citizens of Tralee enjoy their victory feast so much that they decide to chuck future competition and just have the dinner. Curry places the thatch-roofed, quaint-looking villages amid verdant, rolling fields, and though Wojciechowski never comes right out with it, the "little man," dressed in a long, pointed hat and curly-toed shoes, has a recognizably leprechaunish look. A thought- and discussion-provoking tale that shouldn't be relegated to the "holiday" shelves. (Picture book. 5-8)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.10(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Susan Wojciechowski has three grown children and lives with her husband in York, Pennsylvania, where she works as a writing consultant at the Learning Center of York College.

Tom Curry lives in Alpine, Texas. In addition to being an award-winning acrylic painter, he is the illustrator of several children’s books.

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