The Irish Cinderlad (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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Becan, a poor boy belittled by his stepmother and stepsisters, rescues a princess in distress after meeting a magical bull.

Becan, a poor boy belittled by his stepmother and stepsisters, rescues a princess in distress after meeting a magical bull.

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Becan, a poor boy belittled by his stepmother and stepsisters, rescues a princess in distress after meeting a magical bull.

Becan, a poor boy belittled by his stepmother and stepsisters, rescues a princess in distress after meeting a magical bull.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
This "Cinderella" variant has readers cheering for the cowherd, Becan. On the Day of the Dragon, the King's daughter is to be sacrificed: only Becan is brave enough to tackle the fearsome Serpent and save Princess Finola. She tries to thank him but grabs his boot as he pulls away. Now she must find him. His mean stepsisters call him "Bigfoot" and know the boot will never fit. What a surprise they are in for!
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2A pleasant but rather bland condensation of a traditional tale. One of the sources cited, Sara Cone Bryant's "Billy Beg and His Bull" from Best Stories to Tell to Children (Houghton, 1912; o.p.), is much like Seumas MacManus's wonderful retelling in In Chimney Corners (Doubleday & McClure, 1899; o.p.), in which Billy and the Bull are lifelong companions. The old versions have wonderful runs of poetic language and lots of action, a fair amount of which is violent. As well as gentling the story, Climo seems to want to democratize it. The hero is not a king's son but the son of a traveling peddler. He is described as being small in stature with inordinately large feet and the reteller makes much of the fact that he is ridiculed for his appearance. She even names him Becan, or "Little One." There is no magic stick that turns into a sword and gives the lad wondrous strength, and no belt from the bull's hide to make him invincible. Instead, the bull tells Becan to take his tail after he is dead because it will protect him. In fact, the tail kills a giant and the dragon almost on its own accord when the boy unleashes it. The tidy, full- and double-page illustrations are done in pastel colors and look like opaque watercolors. The people's faces are round and simple. It's fine for young picture-book readers and squeamish parents. However, Ellin Greene's retelling, Billy Beg and His Bull (Holiday, 1994), is much closer to the early versions, with its spirited text and earthy and humorous illustrations by Kimberly Bulcken Root.Marilyn Iarusso, New York Public Library
Linda Perkins
Becan, an Irish lad ridiculed for his huge feet, befriends a bull with magic powers who feeds him and bequeaths him his tail as a belt. With the belt, Becan vanquishes a giant, taking his sword and boots. With the giant's sword, Becan slays the dreaded Serpent, saving Princess Finola and losing a boot in his departure. According to the appended note, this "Cinderella" variant is based primarily on Douglas Hyde's "The Bracket Bull" and Sara Cone Bryant's "Billy Beg and His Bull." The retelling is satisfactory but lacks enough cultural detail to give it a distinctive Irish flavor. The illustrations are overly pretty and romanticized. When the text specifies a "blue-green sea," the picture shows a pinkish purple ocean. In a robust story of courage and danger, the dainty illustrations seem incongruous. This will be useful primarily in libraries where Climo's earlier titles, "The Egyptian Cinderella" (1989) and "The Korean Cinderella" (1993), are popular.
Kirkus Reviews
To her series of retellings (The Egyptian Cinderella, 1989; The Korean Cinderella, 1993) Climo adds this Irish version featuring a large-footed male character sometimes called Billy Beg and here named Becan. The magical being that aids the cinderlad is a speckled bull that, like the fish in the Chinese variant, Yeh- Shen, dies, leaving Becan with its tail as a weapon of extraordinary power. Becan wins the heart of Princess Finola by rescuing her from a sea serpent in a scene reminiscent of the story of Perseus and Andromeda; the princess traces him by means of his giant-sized boot; they live happily ever after. The sturdy, forthright telling is accompanied by pretty, predominantly blue, green, and purple paintings that show simply drawn human figures surrounded by highly detailed animals and landscape. Thousands of brush strokes render flower-spangled turf, the downy feathers of geese and seabirds, and the shaggy hides of cattle, horses, and donkeys. With an author's note on sources, this is a good addition to folklore collections and a must for collectors of Cinderella variants.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780613285407
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,126,842

Meet the Author

Shirley Climo's love of folklore began in her childhood and has provided the background for many of her children's books, such as The Korean Cinderella, Magic & Mischief: Tales from Cornwall, A Treasury of Princesses: Princess Tales from Around the World, A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the World, and Someone Saw a Spider: Spider Facts and Folktales, an NCTE Teacher's Choice and Library of Congress Best Children's Book that was originally inspired by her research for Cobweb Christmas. Mrs. Climo and her husband live in Los Altos, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 21, 2012

    our family's favorite!!!

    We've checked this out of the library multiple times. The most recent, my eldest son brought it home from school. We read it every night, and at my son's suggestion, even used the name for our youngest son! Beautiful illustrations, witty text, an absolutely fabulous story!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2002

    A Good Book

    'The Irish Cinderlad' will show you that you can believe in fiction. This book is funny, action packed, and makes you feel good. If you don't read this book you don't know what your missing and if your Irish you'll especially like it.

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