Friday, March 13, 2009

Read It: Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk

An Irish Tale Told and illustrated by Gerald McDermott

Tim O'Toole and his family are very poor. When they haven't a thing left to eat, Tim sets out to find work. At first I was uncertain why he would wait so long, but as the story goes on you learn that Tim O'Toole is quite the O'"Tool."
After searching for work with no luck, Tim comes across a troop of leprechauns. For discovering them in the daylight, the leprechauns give him a goose that lays golden eggs. After being warned to tell no one and head straight home, Tim becomes tired on his journey home and stays the night at the McGoon's home. Tim brags of his new treasure and then goes to sleep. As he sleeps, the McGoons trade Tim's goose for one of their own. In the morning Tim shows the ordinary goose to his wife. The goose lays no eggs, and Tim returns to the leprechauns, accusing them of cheating him. Although the leprechauns provide Tim with another treasure, he repeats the same mistake as before. Surprisingly, it's the leprechauns that help Tim come out on top despite his poor choices.
Although this isn't my favorite of the St. Patrick's Day books, I like it because it tells a different story of the leprechauns. For those of us who have met one, we know leprechauns are held bound by their word. Other books tell stories of how leprechauns try to get out of their promises without breaking them. This book shows leprechauns going the extra mile to make sure their promise is fulfilled. Just something a little different this time...

This is a classic tale. You will find many variations of the same story line. Instead of leprechaun's, another book we've read used Father Wind.

Gerald McDermott has quite diverse styles in his artwork. Although he typically retells folklore in his books, his artwork is untraceable between some of his books. You probably didn't recognize that he is also the illustrator of the popular "Anansi the Spider" book.

In my little family we have a tradition of looking for leprechaun gold on the morning of St. Patrick's Day. Theresa's family's leprechaun is far nicer than ours, because our leprechaun hides the gold. Dad usually tells the kids he thought he saw a leprechaun in the (pick a room), and that is where they rush to find chocolate gold coins hidden throughout the room. It's fun, and we use the coins to decorate the table for our St. Patrick's feast.

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