Tales from Old Ireland

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Northern Ireland native Doyle (Jody's Beans) celebrates his country's centuries-old oral legacy in this collection of seven stories. Traditional tales, such as "The Twelve Wild Geese" (which parallels the structure of the Brothers Grimm's "The Six Swans") and a Cinderella retelling, "Fair, Brown and Trembling," share space with some highly original individuals (e.g., the title characters in "Son of an Otter, Son of a Wolf"), and all retain a lyrical turn of phrase ("Will you do nothing to lighten our sorrow?" one of the cursed offspring asks the evil queen in "The Children of Lir"). Doyle, a conversational raconteur, wisely includes a pronunciation key for proper names that appear in the stories as well as notes on the background of the entries. Sharkey's (Jack and the Beanstalk) playfully stylized oil and gesso paintings complement the fanciful quality of the tales. Spot art breaks up the pages, and each story features one full-size painting that captures the heart of the tale--for "The Twelve Wild Geese," 12 quilt-like squares show the birds around the edges, while a quartet of interior squares show the key characters and knitting needles for the birds' sweaters. The artist also distinguishes each tale with a unique border and its own sophisticated, muted palette. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Doyle begins his collection of seven tales with the quintessential Irish story of the "Children of Lir." The importance of showing respect for the fairies is at the heart of "Lusmore and the Fairies," while "Fair, Brown and Trembling" will be quickly recognized as the Irish Cinderella. Merrows and soul cages and ancient legends round out the collection. The storyteller's voice comes through these tellings making them accessible to today's children while transporting them to lands long ago and far away. The illustrations, done in oil and gesso, have a flat and often geometric look to them--almost as if they were cut from thin metal. Just as in the tales, they have a strangeness and a familiarity at the same time. Done in soft greens and browns, they have great eye-appeal. A pronunciation guide to the Irish words and marvelous notes about the sources of the tales make this ideal for the reader who wants to become acquainted with Irish folktales and legends. 2000, Barefoot Books, Ages 5 up, $19.99. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-These traditional Irish folktales are classic tales of good and evil retold by Malachy Doyle (Barefoot, 2000). The writing is spare and beautiful, and Maura O'Connell's expressive reading perfectly captures the timeless spirit of the tales. Some of the stories will sound familiar: "Fair, Brown, and Trembling" draws on the Cinderella theme, and "The Twelve Wild Geese" echoes the Grimm's "The Six Swans." "Son of an Otter, Son of a Wolf" chronicles the fate of two young men who aspire to the same kingdom, and "Children of Lir" is a poignant and haunting story of lost childhood. Magic and curses, spells and wicked stepmothers, fairies and kings abound here. These fairy tales have been brought alive for a new generation of listeners. The CD may be viewed on a PC or played on a CD player. By all means, pair the recording with the distinctively illustrated book. Or turn the lights low, and just let listeners be transported far away by these haunting stories.-Emily Herman, Emma Hutchinson Elementary School, Atlanta, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Seven briskly retold traditional tales are illustrated with dot-eyed, appealingly ingenuous figures from the illustrator of Tolstoy's Gigantic Turnip (1999). The stories' very titles are evocative: a spiteful stepmother transforms"The Children of Lir" into swans; the three sisters in a Cinderella variant are"Fair, Brown, and Trembling"; a clever, kind-hearted beachcomber frees the spirits of drowned mariners from a sea creature's"Soul Cages"; a hero has, then loses, a chance at eternal youth in"Oisín in Tír na nÓg." Doyle draws readers into the stories with seemingly offhand skill—"Fionnuala was the eldest, the only girl, and she was as beautiful as sunshine in blossomed branches." He doles out generous measures of comedy, drama, romance, and wonder (and, in one tale, fiery poteen), then closes with learned source notes printed in microscopic type. An engagingly readable, and tellable, sampler drawn from a deep and still-vital storytelling tradition. (Folktales. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781841484037
  • Publisher: Barefoot Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: 2 CDs
  • Pages: 8
  • Age range: 7 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 4.91 (h) x 0.47 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    Interesting and unique!

    My daughter liked the stories and the lessons in them.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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