Some lovely Irish tales for St. Patrick's Day.
The Wishing of Biddy Malone by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Christopher Denise, 2004
Biddy Malone has a fearsome temper. She loves to sing and dance but has no patience for the mistakes she makes or her brothers, who tease her.
One evening, "it was the soft hour between day and night," Biddy stumbles into the land of faerie. The music and dancing are wonderful and Biddy meets the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. When he offers her three wishes she asks for the ability to sing, to dance and for a loving heart to soothe her temper. Biddy returns to her world where she discovers two months have passed. Initially, her wishes do not seem to be working but she practices every day and her singing and dancing improve. Once the fairies get hold of your heart it is hard to move on though and Biddy must find her way back to the love of her life.
This is an interesting folk tale without a tidy ending. Are our abilities the result of talent and gifts or the result of hard work and practice?
Christopher Denise has filled with book with glowing images. His colors are in the tradition of N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish and Howard Pyle. I realized I knew his artwork from the Redwall books, The Great Redwall Feast and A Redwall Winter's Tale.
O'Sullivan Stew: A Tale Cooked Up in Ireland by Hudson Talbott, 1999
This is probably my favorite story for a St. Patrick's Day read aloud. The village of Crookhaven is cursed when the local witch's horse is stolen by the king. Kate O'Sullivan and her father and brothers try to steal the horse back but are captured. It is up to Kate to weave a series of tales to get them all off the hook by describing other "true" stories where her family was in a "worse spot" than this one. The King is amused and enthralled by Kate's tales until the last one and all her work is about to be undone until an astonishing secret is revealed.
Hudson Talbott's illustrations are a riot of color and action. The expressions of the characters are so evocative you will laugh out loud.
Grab some Irish music to play in the background and share the story with everyone. The story will compell you to read with an Irish brogue even if you never have before.
Hudson Talbott books are like having a storyteller sitting at your elbow. The pacing of the story as it interplays with the illustrations is perfect. Please look at his website to check out his other books. He is BRILLIANT!
For more on St. Patrick's Day enjoy The History Channel site.