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Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife: A Giant of a Tale from Ireland
     

Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife: A Giant of a Tale from Ireland

by Robert Byrd, Anonymous
 
This new retelling of a favorite yarn from ancient Irish folklore features Finn MacCoul, a lovable but cowardly giant whose clever wife, Oonagh, uses a wee bit of fairy magic and a great helping of brains to help her husband outsmart the nasty Scottish bully who's after him. Her plan entails Finn masquerading as his own baby�a hilarious spoof that's sure to leave

Overview

This new retelling of a favorite yarn from ancient Irish folklore features Finn MacCoul, a lovable but cowardly giant whose clever wife, Oonagh, uses a wee bit of fairy magic and a great helping of brains to help her husband outsmart the nasty Scottish bully who's after him. Her plan entails Finn masquerading as his own baby�a hilarious spoof that's sure to leave young readers giggling in their chairs while Finn wiggles in his cradle, nervously awaiting the showdown. Robert Byrd's shimmering, meticulously researched artwork stuns the eye with details even as it stretches perspective to bring readers into the giant's world. Each element of the breathtaking landscapes and interiors�costumes, customs, buildings, flora, and fauna�harks back authentically to the days of ancient Ireland. Generous notes at the back explain sources, pronunciations, and more. Humor abounds on every page, in word and picture, and the lilting read-aloud text makes this a lucky pick for story hour near St. Patrick's Day or anytime.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Finn MacCoul, the larger-than-life hero of Celtic lore, needs help defeating a foe, there's only one place to turn: his wife. This evocative picture book amalgam of MacCoul tales whisks young readers to big adventure in days of old. Though MacCoul is just about as large as they come ("It was said he ate one hundred potatoes and thirty cabbages on his first birthday"), even he "shakes in his shoes" when scary giant Cucullin comes looking for him. Luckily, MacCoul's wife, Oonagh, has a magic harp--and some clever ideas for outwitting the bully Cucullin. Before long Cucullin is sent bouncing down Knockmany Hill, never to be heard from again. Byrd's text has a lilting style in the tradition of great Irish storytelling. He unravels events at a leisurely pace, creating plenty of entertaining situations and banter. Byrd festoons his lively ink-and-watercolor paintings with such historical details as ornate gold bracelets and belts, brightly dyed frocks and type and designs inspired by illuminated Celtic manuscripts. A rollicking good yarn. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Come sit by the fire and hear the tale of the giant Finn MacCoul. MacCoul lives at the top of Knockmany Hill not so much for the gentle breezes but because he can keep an eye out for Scottish bully Cucullin. When Cucullin finally comes a-calling, Finn retreats to his home in fear. His clever wife Oonagh, armed with a Faery Harp and secrets learned from the wee folk, manages to outwit the giant with a comical scheme that finds MacCoul in a baby bonnet and squeezed into a cradle. Faithful to the Irish legend, this fresh retelling captures the wit and wisdom of that magical time when faeries roamed the earth. The lilting language begs to be read aloud and the dazzling illustrations are as brash and bold as the giants themselves. Distinctive borders, Celtic tartans and ornaments give the tale an authentic richness.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4--An energetic retelling of Finn MacCoul's encounter with the Scottish giant, Cucullin, and his rescue by his clever wife, Oonagh. The writing is lively and lucid, with a good rhythmic cadence. Byrd's lengthy and thoughtful afterword gives sources and background information on this legendary Irish hero. The illustrations carry the story from page to page in a riot of color, texture, and movement. Cucullin's hair bristles on his head, while Oonagh's swirls and nearly crackles. Byrd captures the patterns and styles of Celtic life--simple checks, stripes, and plaids in the tunics, trousers, and flowing brats (capes), and lots and lots of jewelry. While the pages may appear busy to some readers, the exuberant display is packed with detail and humor and suits the story well. This version goes into greater detail than Tomie dePaola's Fin M'Coul (Holiday, 1981), which is suitable for younger listeners. Byrd has retold this larger-than-life tale with verve, style, and respect for its source.--Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
Kirkus Reviews
This visually attractive treatment of the early Celtic folktale, in which Finn and his crafty wife foil the menacing giant, Cucullin, is musical in its wording and graced with a fine sprinkling of old Irish artifacts. Cucullin has it in for Finn, just as he has it in for every other giant in the land. As Finn and his wife, Oonagh, are wielders of faery magic—and Oonagh is also endowed with an uncommon store of quick wits—they set up a clever and humorous ruse that results in Cucullin losing his golden finger, the source of his ferocious strength, while Finn escapes being beaten into jelly. Byrd retells the tale with verve; his illustrations are elegant and fine-lined, decked with telling details of history and lore that not only spur interest in the proceedings but convey a palpable sense of the Celtic past. A synopsis of the MacCoul legend, source notes, and a pronunciation guide appear at the end of the book. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) .

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525459712
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/01/1999
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
9.36(w) x 12.06(h) x 0.43(d)
Lexile:
AD660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Byrd has been illustrating children's books for over thirty years, and his works include the Newbery Medal-winning Good Masters, Sweet Ladies. He teaches illustration in Philadelphia. He lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey, with his wife.

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