An opening note from Colfer identifies this anthology as his project as (former) Laureate na nÓg to bring Irish children’s literature to Ireland and abroad.
As such, children this side of the pond will find some unfamiliar authors among others better known in the U.S. Whether story or poem, 17 works in all, place is center stage. Judging by some of the themes that carry through the collection—preternatural occurrences, memory, ghosts, family, loss, and, most of all, transformation—readers may well assume that that place, Ireland, has also shaped the sensibilities of the talents. Some pieces are easily digested, such as Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick’s “Gren’s Ghost,” wherein two boys, unlikely partners, stage a prank in an ancient priory and one emerges with a new identity, or Colfer’s contribution, “The Ram King,” in which the daughter of a king fearlessly takes control of her own fate. Other image-rich pieces will be picked apart over a lifetime, such as a stranger’s heartfelt relief in “Bus Stop,” by Pat Boran, or a soul’s voyage in “Stream Time,” by Oisín McGann. Unsurprisingly, most of the characters are white, but Patricia Leyden acknowledges Ireland’s growing multiculturalism with a story about a Japanese ghost. Under Colfer’s editorial hand, pieces flow flawlessly from one to the next. Illustrator (and the new Laureate na nÓg) Lynch’s charcoal illustrations not only capture settings, but gorgeously evoke emotion, whether tender, playful, searching, or searing.
An eclectic collection for adventurous readers. (foreword, contributor bios) (Anthology. 11-14)