An old Irish tale retold, featuring a renowned poet/teacher, a young warrior-in-training, and a very special fish.
It all begins when a salmon eats nine windfallen hazelnuts, thus acquiring “all the knowledge and secrets of the world.” Knowing that one taste of the salmon will transmit all that, “wise poet” Finnegas sets to fishing, eventually catches it, and orders his student Fionn to cook it without taking a single bite—only to be disappointed when Fionn burns himself on a drop of fat and reflexively puts his thumb in his mouth. Buckley offers a decidedly offbeat rendition of this popular tale, with dinosaur skeletons in one of her naïve-style collage scenes and a droll set of goals for warrior training that includes running beneath a knee-high branch. She also places Finnegas, in essence a bit player, in the forefront of a legend that’s really (and with stronger logic) been about the great hero Finn McCool since its earliest recorded versions. Unfortunately, the author seems to lose both interest and attention at the end. Following his climactic letdown (which is marred by a typo), Finnegas just drops abruptly out of view. Even a closing line about how the story’s now told far and wide dubs it only “Fionn and the Salmon of Knowledge.” There is no source note.
More-conventional versions will be more likely to keep readers hooked. (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)