FINN MACCOUL AND HIS FEARLESS WIFE

A GIANT OF A TALE FROM IRELAND

This visually attractive treatment of the early Celtic folktale, in which Finn and his crafty wife foil the menacing giant, Cucullin, is musical in its wording and graced with a fine sprinkling of old Irish artifacts. Cucullin has it in for Finn, just as he has it in for every other giant in the land. As Finn and his wife, Oonagh, are wielders of faery magic—and Oonagh is also endowed with an uncommon store of quick wits—they set up a clever and humorous ruse that results in Cucullin losing his golden finger, the source of his ferocious strength, while Finn escapes being beaten into jelly. Byrd retells the tale with verve; his illustrations are elegant and fine-lined, decked with telling details of history and lore that not only spur interest in the proceedings but convey a palpable sense of the Celtic past. A synopsis of the MacCoul legend, source notes, and a pronunciation guide appear at the end of the book. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-525-45971-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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HOW CHIPMUNK GOT HIS STRIPES

A TALE OF BRAGGING AND TEASING

Noted storyteller Bruchac (Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, p. 1498, etc.) teams up with his son, James (Native American Games and Stories, not reviewed) to present a pourquoi tale from the East Coast Native American tradition. Bear is undeniably big; he is also a braggart, given to walking through the forest and proclaiming his superiority to all within earshot: “I can do anything! Yes, I can!” When he hears this, little Brown Squirrel challenges Bear to tell the sun not to rise the next day. This Bear does, and when the sun does in fact rise despite his injunction not to, Brown Squirrel unwisely gloats: “Bear is foolish, the sun came up. Bear is silly, the sun came up.” Thanks to trickery, Brown Squirrel escapes with his life, but not before Bear claws the stripes into his back that cause him to change his name to Chipmunk. The Bruchacs translate the orality of the tale to written text beautifully, including dialogue that invites audience participation. Aruego and Dewey’s (Mouse in Love, p. 886, etc.) signature cartoon-like illustrations extend the humor of the text perfectly. One spread shows the faces of all the animals rejoicing in the yellow light of the newly risen sun—all except Bear, whose glower contrasts ominously with Brown Squirrel’s glee. Clever use of perspective emphasizes the difference in size between boastful Bear and his pint-sized trickster opponent. Authors’ notes precede the story, explaining the history of the tale and each teller’s relationship to it. A winner. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2404-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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VOTE!

After the sorry example of the 2000 presidential election, it’s good to be reminded of the simple beauty—and hard-won right—of voting for a candidate. And Christelow goes farther in this primer on the process of electing a candidate. Simple language, gay color, and humorous subplots make for an appealing introduction to electoral politics, and she wisely complements her somewhat dry explanatory text with a typically funny word-bubble story of one woman’s mayoral campaign. Readers learn about political parties and polls, voter registration, to be wary of campaign advertising, the right to recounts, and are urged to conduct research into the candidates. There’s also a very handy timeline of voting rights that conveys the eye-opening evolution of democracy in the US. Impressively, Christelow gives to each individual vote a sense of importance—an act of participation that nestles in the heart of democracy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-24754-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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