cover image The Last Snake in Ireland: A Story about St. Patrick

The Last Snake in Ireland: A Story about St. Patrick

Sheila Macgill-Callahan, Will Hillenbrand. Holiday House, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1425-3

Just in time for the March 17th holiday comes a legend of Ireland's most charming snake wrangler, St. Patrick. Centuries ago, Patrick (not yet a saint) proved that even the most patient of men can lose his temper when it comes to slimy reptiles. A gang of laughing, hissing snakes that teases his aged and ailing dog, Finbar, proves the last straw for Patrick. He drives the slithering creatures off the Emerald Isle and into the sea--save for one, the ""biggest, oldest, sneakiest snake in all of Ireland."" The lone creature incessantly shadows Patrick, who soon devises a plan to trap the snake and set it out to sea with the others. After much effort and a bit of derring-do, Patrick sends the snake to the depths of Loch Ness in nearby Scotland. Years later, when Patrick finally returns to check on the snake, he finds something much, much bigger. MacGill-Callahan (The Seal Prince) combines two pieces of colorful lore in a crisp and breezy text that depicts a religious figure at his most human and appealing. In Hillenbrand's (The Biggest, Best Snowman) softly hued pastel and watercolor paintings, snowy-bearded Patrick has the predominantly sweet countenance of a Santa Claus, while his beady-eyed nemesis is all forked-tongued nastiness. The rolling green countryside and vast blue waters evoke Ireland's timeless landscape. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)