retold by Malachy Doyle
illustrated by Niamh Sharkey
Folktales have a certain charm that is hard to pin down. Could it be the intentional disregard for distinguishing between humans and other creatures? Or the rich infusion of imagination, moral values and codes of the times? Or the larger-than-life depiction of the everyday folk? Or the magic and the simplicity of the place itself where the stories originated?
Tales from Old Ireland collects and presents 7 gems from Irish folklore that were passed down by the oral tradition of storytelling and still survive today. Notes at the back of the book cite the sources for these stories.
Illustrations by Niamh Sharkey are quirky and whimsical, much like the stories themselves, and are quite the visual treat. The deep burgundies, and velvety emerald greens, and the midnight blues, and the earthy browns, and the golden yellows, together with deceptively simple drawings make it a pure pleasure to behold.
The text preserves the magic of storytelling with its adroit use of the language. The stories transport the reader and the listener to an enchanted world that is full of possibilities, urging us to step forward with a willing suspension of disbelief.
Some stories could be quite intense for the younger ones, there is no reason to dilute the fulsomeness and allure to satisfy a younger reader. While all seven were equally enthralling, our top favorites were The Children of Lir and The Soul Cages. A Pronunciation Guide helped us enjoy the read-aloud sessions better.
Barefoot Books have earned a name for presenting superb children's books. Their 'Celebrating Art and Story' is not a gimmick, a tagline to attract attention, but a genuine commitment to bringing wonderful artists and writers to the forefront. This book is a wonderful example of one such.
[image source: barefootbooks.com]