cover image A FINE ST. PATRICK'S DAY


Susan Wojciechowski, , illus. by Tom Curry. . Random, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-82386-2

Are decorations, parties and all the trimmings what make a holiday special? Wojciechowski (The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey ) explores this notion in a lively original folktale about compassion and cooperation—with a bit o' Irish magic thrown in. For years the villages of Tralee and Tralah have competed in the annual St. Patrick's Day decorating contest. And never yet has Tralee claimed the gold shamrock given to the winner. But six-year-old Fiona Riley has a sure-fire plan. In the midst of the villages' flurry of preparations, however, "a little man on a large horse" gallops into the two towns seeking help to rescue his stranded herd of cows. The residents of Tralah refuse to break from their decorating and soundly turn the man away. Crossing the meadow, the man finds an ally in Fiona Riley, who rallies her Tralee neighbors to his aid. Rewarded for their kindness, the people of Tralee win the contest in a most satisfying finish. The author's smooth storytelling and steady pace create a vivid setting, and her tale delivers a solid, never treacly message. In boldly colored acrylics, Curry (The Bootmaker and the Elves ) creates a bucolic Old World mood using simple, rounded shapes, which include expanses of emerald green hillside. His distinctive technique produces a striking texture, sometimes akin to oil or pastel on a slightly rough canvas, sometimes tapestry-like and, in other instances, crisp and smooth. All told, an arresting series of compositions. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)