cover image Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato

Tomie dePaola. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22257-3

This inspired Irish folktale clearly illustrates that taking the easy way out of a situation is sometimes more trouble than it's worth. Potato farmer Jamie O'Rourke, ``the laziest man in all of Ireland,'' is unfortunately not the brightest of men either. The prospect of a harsh and foodless winter, due to meager crops, and the ceaseless nagging of his hardworking wife impel Jamie to the church to pray for help. As Irish luck would have it, Jamie happens upon and captures a leprechaun who cunningly offers magic potato seeds instead of the traditional pot of gold. The resulting colossal spud feeds the O'Rourkes and the other villagers far longer than anyone could have imagined. Although the comical tone works well here, readers may be surprised that Jamie is rewarded for being lazy. Thatched-roof cottages, stone hedges and sheep dot the green landscape, depicting rustic life on the Emerald Isle. DePaola's distinctive homespun style and genial gentry round, child like faces add plenty of zip to this silly story. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)