cover image Fergus and the Night-Demon

Fergus and the Night-Demon

Jim Murphy, , illus. by John Manders. . Clarion, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-33955-6

Paying homage to the traditions of Irish folklore, Murphy (The Great Fire ) crafts an original tale in which a lazy lad from the Emerald Isle uses wit and words to wiggle out of a spooky scrape. Fergus loves his life as a ne'er-do-well, always ready for "a bit of play," and always ready with an excuse for not helping his mother around the cottage and the farm. But one evening's jaunt to Skibbereen is interrupted by a giant ghostly creature seeking to send Fergus O'Mara to his grave. Blarney serves Fergus well, and the bit o'fear he felt changes his attitude at home. Manders's (Quiet Night ) gouache and colored pencil illustrations harness an entertaining mix of humor and suspense, sprinkled with clever details such as Fergus's sweater and cap, and the family's thatched-roof dwelling. He pictures the Night-Demon as a dark, towering mass of tattered rags, sharp teeth and glowing red eyes that young readers won't soon forget. An author's note on the story's influences is included. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)