Author: Batt Burns
Why did I read it? I’ve always enjoyed fairy and folk tales and this collection appeared several times in recommendations on various book sites.
What’s it about? It is a collection of tales remembered from the fireside telling by the author’s grandfather. An eclectic collection of magical creatures, and characters from old Irish myths illustrated rather sparsely by Igor Oleynikov.
Contents: “Back from the Fairies”; “The King with the Horse’s Ears”; “Fionn Mac Cumhail and the Fianna of Ireland” “The Greedy Barber”; “The Charm Setter”; “A Famous Thief”; “Oisin in the Land of the Ever Young”; “Just One Choice”; “Paying the Rent”; “The Boy and the Pooka”; “A Strange Night”; “A Clever Leprechaun”; “The Lost Land of Lonesome Seals”; Glossary; and Sources.
What did I like? The author’s style of writing lends itself to recital to others, and, frequently, it is easy to imagine each tale being told by the fireside of a grandparent’s home. There is a mix of tales here, nothing too scary for wee children, though not all have an easily discernible moral. The language is simple enough, and there are pronunciation guides provided as footnotes, presumably based in the speech of the county of Kerry. The book also provides a glossary of terms and further reading, especially handy for the adult narrator whose listeners are bound to ask many a question.
The illustrations are sparse, but delightful. Each tale was a delight.
What didn’t I like? Some of the stories ended rather abruptly, and in nearly every story a little more description of characters and places would not have gone astray.
Would I recommend it? Yes. To any parent who wants to introduce folklore, particularly of Ireland, to their progeny.