cover image Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka

Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka

Tomie dePaola, Tomie Depoala. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23467-5

Lazy but lovable Jamie O'Rourke, last seen harvesting a spectacular spud in Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato, returns in this dandy original Irish folktale. When Jamie's wife goes to visit her sister for a few days, she leaves a well-stocked larder: ""All you'll have to do,"" she tells him, ""is the washin' up each night and give a quick swipe of the broom every now and then."" Never one to do a lick of work, Jamie doesn't lift a finger, even when he and his cronies make a walloping mess. While Jamie sleeps, a mysterious donkey-like creature creeps in and quickly puts the place in tip-top shape. Jamie soon discovers the creature is a pooka, an animal spirit atoning for misdeeds in a past life. Thinking to spur on the pooka with an added incentive, Jamie gives him a present--but the pooka leaves the cottage forever, rewarded for its work. DePaola's jaunty storytelling pace and his snappy Irish phrases give this tale extra sparkle. A master of vibrant acrylics that brim with child appeal, dePaola evokes the rolling countryside and earthy settings of the Emerald Isle of yore. From cozy to rollicking to suspenseful, he changes mood and scene with ease. Jamie's high-spirited pals exhibit a liberal wearin' o' the green and an endless taste for cider, which may fall under stereotype in some minds, but is all in good fun here. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)