cover image Saint Ciaran: The Tale of a Saint of Ireland

Saint Ciaran: The Tale of a Saint of Ireland

Gary D. Schmidt. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, $18 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5170-3

Profiling the sixth-century Saint Ciaran of Saighir, first saint of Ireland, Schmidt (The Blessing of the Lord) piles on more information and ideas than his picture book can hold. On the one hand, the whole of Ciaran's life story, as presented here, appears to be ideal subject matter--from the falling star his mother seemingly swallows before his birth, to the bell Saint Patrick gives him in Rome (it will peal only when Ciaran reaches ""the flowing spring of Saighir""), to his fellowship with wild animals. But the individual components of the story demand more attention than Schmidt allots. The phrasing itself raises questions: the boy Ciaran prays ""to a God whose name had never been heard in Ireland"" and ""to the God whose name he did not know."" Ciaran is somehow drawn to Rome, but Schmidt stops short of stating that he is answering a calling; readers may wonder how or why ""Ciaran's eyes looked to the east."" While the mixture of legend, history and faith follows Irish tradition, most readers will be hard pressed to make sense of it. The presentation, however, is quite handsome. Doney's (Red Bird) slightly hazy oil paintings depict a rugged green countryside of unspoiled beauty. His use of bright and dappled sunlight and cool shadow gives depth to the scenes here. All ages. (Apr.)