Let me be the first to say that St. Patrick’s Day is actually not a holiday that is usually even on my radar. Although I am sure I must have at least a little bit of Irish blood flowing through my veins, I just consider myself plain old American. However, I couldn’t pass by the bright green on the book display conveniently located right by the front door at one of our libraries, so we’ve been reading some fun St. Patrick’s Day books. The girls have really enjoyed them, and so have I. This post highlights the best of the bunch.
What caught my eye about St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning is the fact that is is illustrated by Jan Brett. As we learned for Valentine’s Day, she and author Eve Bunting are a winning combination, so I had to bring this book home. (It also turns out that Eve Bunting was born in Ireland, which I only recently learned from this excellent shamrock post at Brimful Curiosities.) St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning is the sweet story of a little boy, Jamie Donovan, who remembers upon awakening that his village’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is that very day. Declared too small to participate in the parade by his parents and older brothers, Jamie strikes out to prove himself by walking the entire parade route. Everyone in his home is still asleep, so they are ignorant of his plan. He meets and greets lots of villagers on his way up Acorn Hill. Listeners get a taste of the lilting Irish speech pattern (if the reader can pull it off!) and life in a small Irish village. Jamie completes his trek makes it back home before anyone else is up. This is a gentle story, and the illustrations are done primarily in black, white, and green. This would be a perfect preschool introduction to St. Patrick’s Day.
The Last Snake in Ireland: A Story about St. Patrick by Sheila MacGill-Callahan caught my eye, well, because I thought it would be nice to read a book about St. Patrick since I don’t even know much about him or the real holiday. This book is about St. Patrick, but instead of it focusing on the real St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, it focuses on one of the many legends surrounding him: that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. In this story, there is one particularly recalcitrant snake, and St. Patrick must use all of his wits to outsmart him. I actually thought the snake was a little bit creepy, but my girls liked the story (Will Hillenbrand‘s illustrations make it look particularly diabolical). We didn’t accomplish my goal of learning something substantial about St. Patrick, but the girls were entertained.
This last story was by far our favorite. Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott is just a fun, fun folktale. Poor Tim O’Toole is a downtrodden fellow who, in addition to being poor, is considered bad luck by his neighbors. Finally, at the insistence of his wife, Tim sets out to find a job. What he finds instead is a whole pack herd group of leprechauns. These leprechauns give Tim a goose capable of laying golden eggs, but poor Tim loses it to a wily couple with whom he spends the night on his way home. This same scenario plays out a few times with every gift the leprechauns give him, until finally, they come to his rescue. My girls really got the humor in this book, and it’s a much requested title here at the House of Hope these days. Gerald McDermott’s text is fun to read and his illustrations are perfect. It turns out that he’s a Caldecott Medal-winning artist. You can read more about him on his colorful website.
Other than reading these books (and a few others), we don’t really have any plans for St. Patrick’s Day. Well, actually, I hope we can make these cupcakes, which look a lot like the beautiful cake I first saw at Lifenut but still haven’t gotten around to making. This year it is, Lord willing!
On a somewhat unrelated note, check out Jan Brett’s website! She has a new Easter book out, and she’s going full-steam-ahead to promote it! Don’t miss this contest–how neat would it be to own an Easter egg painted by Jan Brett?!?!? (And yes, I do realize that I tell you this at the risk of decreasing my chance of winning! ;-) ) One more thing: don’t miss her tour schedule, either. I’d love to try to make one of the Tennessee events, but I’m not sure that we can swing it with next week’s schedule. If we do, I’ll be sure to share the details!
Okay, enough of the PSAs. It’s time for you to share what you’ve been reading together as a family! Either leave a blog link by clicking on the MckLinky link below, or simply share in the comments. Don’t forget, there’s a button, too!
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Happy Read Aloud Thursday!