cover image The Ring of Truth: An Original Irish Tale

The Ring of Truth: An Original Irish Tale

Teresa Bateman. Holiday House, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1255-6

Like her protagonist, Bateman must have kissed the Blarney Stone ""and caught a bit of it in [her] teeth."" Epitomizing the best of Irish storytelling, this blithe debut pokes fun at its own blustery genre. En route to a lying contest, the peddler Patrick O'Kelley brags that he ""can spout better blarney than the king of leprechauns himself."" The incensed king punishes O'Kelley by saddling him with the Ring of Truth-an emerald ring that compels O'Kelley to speak only plain facts. In a splendid twist, the humbled O'Kelley wins the competition by truthfully recounting his trip to the leprechaun's kingdom. Perhaps because Bateman's storytelling is so robust, Rayyan's (Rimonah of the Flashing Sword) light-hued yet florid watercolors feel rather peaked. His compositions are fanciful but can be hard to read: he blurs and hides their details with a uniform (and uninviting) palette. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)