cover image Tales from Old Ireland

Tales from Old Ireland

Malachy Doyle. Barefoot Books, $19.99 (96pp) ISBN 978-1-902283-97-5

Northern Ireland native Doyle (Jody's Beans) celebrates his country's centuries-old oral legacy in this collection of seven stories. Traditional tales, such as ""The Twelve Wild Geese"" (which parallels the structure of the Brothers Grimm's ""The Six Swans"") and a Cinderella retelling, ""Fair, Brown and Trembling,"" share space with some highly original individuals (e.g., the title characters in ""Son of an Otter, Son of a Wolf""), and all retain a lyrical turn of phrase (""Will you do nothing to lighten our sorrow?"" one of the cursed offspring asks the evil queen in ""The Children of Lir""). Doyle, a conversational raconteur, wisely includes a pronunciation key for proper names that appear in the stories as well as notes on the background of the entries. Sharkey's (Jack and the Beanstalk) playfully stylized oil and gesso paintings complement the fanciful quality of the tales. Spot art breaks up the pages, and each story features one full-size painting that captures the heart of the tale--for ""The Twelve Wild Geese,"" 12 quilt-like squares show the birds around the edges, while a quartet of interior squares show the key characters and knitting needles for the birds' sweaters. The artist also distinguishes each tale with a unique border and its own sophisticated, muted palette. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)