Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Shortlist on St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. As a lover of carbohydrates (soda bread, potatoes, green bagels) it's a no-brainer. I also like to affect a brogue and green is one of my better colors so it makes sense. There are also many great picture books based on Irish myths and legends that I've enjoyed with my children over the years. Our favorite is Tomie dePaola's Finn McCoul which I mentioned here a few weeks ago when deciding on a read aloud book for my son's fifth grade class. dePaola's Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato and Jamie O"Rourke and the Pooka are also fun reads for the three to nine year old set.
For older readers, eight to twelve years old, Marie Heaney's The Names Upon the Harp is a lovely book of Irish myths and legends illustrated by P.J. Lynch. P.J. Lynch is worth an Amazon search of his own as everything he illustrates is beautiful.

For contemporary Irish fiction for that same age group I of course recommend Eoin Colfer. I think I have made it clear in this blog that his Artemis Fowl books are utter brilliance. His Half Moon Investigations about the somewhat inept twelve year old private investigator Fletcher Moon, set in a modern Irish suburb, is great fun. I've read that the BBC made a TV series of this book, and I'm curious to view it.

For adults looking for a compelling story wrapped up in the history of twentieth century Ireland, Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture is perfect. My book club read this one in the fall and I have not stopped thinking about it or giving it as a gift. It is sad and wonderful at the same time, telling the story of Roseanne (Clear) McNulty an Irish woman sent to a mental institution for the bulk of her life. The book begins as the institution is about to close and her doctor needs to place her somewhere. Her story and their relationship grow from there. Roseanne's personal story and fate are tangled up in the national story and fate. Loved it!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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