From the Publisher
“Wonderfully funny and energetic.” Starred, The Horn Book
“A treat.” Kirkus Reviews
“An entertaining tale.” School Library Journal
“The homely sweetness of this deserving couple is ably captured in their ruddy complexions, shy, affable smiles, and gently unruly hair.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“DeFelice weaves in ample humor that both kids and parents will enjoy, and her lively writing is underscored by Andrea U'Ren's comical pen-and-gouache illustrations. Tantalizing.” The Christian Science Monitor
With the irresistible rhythms of an Irish brogue, DeFelice (Old Granny and the Bean Thief) puts a sweet and thought-provoking spin on the classic tale of a magic pot that reaps abundance. Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady are so poor that they have only one chair, one candle, one tattered blanket and one ragged coat between them. "They dug one potato from their little garden every day, called it breakfast, lunch, and supper, and considered themselves very lucky to have it." U'Ren (Pugdog) draws the O'Gradys as gaunt yet big-hearted; an indomitable spirit dwells in their skinny bodies. But one thing gnaws at the O'Gradys: although they love each other very much, both yearn for a friend. Then one day, Mr. O'Grady digs up a magical pot that automatically doubles anything thrown into it. One potato transforms into two, two into four, and so on; the O'Grady's meager savings grow exponentially as well. But what the O'Gradys want most is the one thing money can't buy. When they discover they can duplicate themselves, their fondest wish is fulfilled and they re-bury the pot. As U'Ren shows the double O'Gradys arm and arm, DeFelice cannot resist a final pun on the phrase, "Beside themselves with joy"-and after such satisfying storytelling, no one can deny her. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Poor old Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady can afford to dig only one potato a day to share for all their meals. They have only one of everything, and share it all. Both think that their spouse is as fine as can be imagined, but both miss having a friend to share their interests. On the day when he digs the last potato, Mr. O'Grady also unearths a huge pot, a familiar folk-tale object, into which he puts the potato. To her surprise, Mrs. O'Grady finds two potatoes in the pot, plus two hairpins, when only one fell in. And so the magic pot keeps doubling their only candle, coat, blanket, and to their joy, their last gold coin. When Mrs. O'Grady runs to greet her husband, returning from happy shopping, she trips and falls into the pot, and is of course doubled, as well. Since he wants only one wife, Mr. O'Grady then doubles himself, so each has the friend they wanted. U'Ren uses ink outlines and gouache to produce a very attenuated folksy couple and their very spare cottage. Full-page scenes face ample text pages with half-page illustrations; a single double-page spread depicts the extrication of the second Mr. O'Grady with the women straining to pull at his feet while the two men stare at each other in wonderment. The happy ending is assured because they are "simply beside themselves with joy."
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-DeFelice employs her considerable storytelling skills to give an old Chinese folktale an Irish twist. Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady are so poor that they have only one of everything, and the little they have is raggedy at that. With only one potato to share for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it's no wonder they are "so skinny they [can] sit side by side on one chair-." But when Mr. O'Grady finds an old pot in his field and drops their last potato into it, the couple's fortunes change. One potato becomes two, and the pot continues to double whatever is placed in it. When Mrs. O'Grady accidentally falls into it and two Mrs. O'Gradys emerge, she comes up with an ingenious idea that brings lasting joy to her and her husband. U'Ren's large pen-and-gouache illustrations infuse the couple's grim situation with humor. The two are so tall and thin that they seem to be elastic. And the scene in which skinny legs are sticking out of the pot and then pulled out is hilarious. Their walls are full of cracks, their blankets are full of holes, but their hearts are full of love and generosity. An entertaining tale that pairs well with Lily Toy Hong's Two of Everything (Albert Whitman, 1993).-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady live a simple-even Spartan-life. Their children are grown. They have one chair, one coat, one blanket and one candle; and they share one potato for their one meal each day. They are quite happy with each other, but both would secretly like to have a friend with whom to discuss their favorite topics. One day, Mr. O'Grady discovers a large black pot in the potato patch. The couple finds that everything dropped into it magically doubles itself. They modestly increase their standard of living. When they accidentally double themselves, they find the friends they have always wanted and are "simply beside themselves with joy." DeFelice's retelling is an easy no-frills story. It's U'Ren's smiling, care-worn yet happy, stick-thin O'Gradys that make this package worth looking into. The watercolor illustrations are at once bright and subdued. Not necessarily a mandatory purchase, but still a treat. (Picture book. 3-8)