retold by Malachy Doyle
illustrated by Niamh Sharkey
Folktales have a certain charm that is hard to pin down. Could it be the ambiguous delineation between humans and other creatures? Or the rich infusion of imagination and moral values and codes of the times? Or the larger-than-life presentation of the characters? Or the magic and the simplicity of the place itself where the stories originated?
Tales from Old Ireland collects and presents 7 treasured stories from Irish folklore that were passed down by the oral tradition of storytelling and still survive today. Notes at the back of the book cite the sources for these stories.
Illustrations by Niamh Sharkey are quirky and whimsical, much like the stories themselves, and are quite the visual treat. The deep burgundies, and velvety emerald greens, and the midnight blues, and the earthy browns, and the golden yellows, together with deceptively simple drawings make it a pure pleasure to behold.
The text preserves the magic of storytelling with its adroit use of the language. The stories transport the reader and the listener to an enchanted world that is full of possibilities, urging us to step forward with a willing suspension of disbelief.
Some stories could be quite intense for the younger ones, but the 7 yo enjoyed every one of them. Our favorites were The Children of Lir and The Soul Cages. A Pronunciation Guide helped us enjoy the read-aloud sessions better.
Barefoot Books have always been a favorite publisher I rely on for superb children's books. Their 'Celebrating Art and Story' is not a gimmick, a tagline to attract attention, but a genuine commitment to bringing wonderful artists and writers to the forefront.
[image source: barefootbooks.com]