cover image BRIGID'S CLOAK: An Ancient Irish Story

BRIGID'S CLOAK: An Ancient Irish Story

Bryce Milligan, , illus. by Helen Cann. . Eerdmans, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5224-3

Told with the gripping delivery of a well-seasoned storyteller, this tale of a fifth-century Irish saint has the broad appeal of folklore while retaining the power to inspire religious awe. Milligan (With the Wind; Kevin Dolan) draws in readers immediately with his evocation of "a wild and windy night" when the slave daughter of a warrior prince is born. The infant receives a visit from a Druid: "I am one of the fathers of old Ireland. I greet little Brigid, who will be a mother to the new Ireland that is to come." The Druid gives Brigid a blue cloak and blesses her with magic. Ten years later, Brigid finds herself mystically transported to a stable in Bethlehem, where a man named Joseph introduces himself and his wife, Mary: "Brigid felt as one does when a candle is lit in a very dark room." She lends Mary her cloak, and blesses Mary and her child. Returning to her own world, Brigid longs for the family in the stable—but her cloak is now covered with tiny glowing stars. Cann (The Loving Arms of God) matches Milligan's deceptively easy mix of intimacy and awe with her clear, slightly stylized watercolors. Her Brigid is plain and sturdy, with cropped red hair and freckles, her holy family tired but inwardly directed. Borders along the bottom of the spreads incorporate Celtic motifs, echoed within the illustrations with such patterns as the Druid's flowing locks of white hair, the sheep's curling wool, the striping on the rams' horns. Readers don't have to share Brigid's faith to enjoy this story, but those who do may find that faith strengthened. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)