of the Center for Children's Books
|The Bulletin Dozen is a monthly theme-based list of titles available only on-line.
Since we're awfully fond of bakers here at the Bulletin, we thought we'd adopt
their philosophy of generosity and throw in an extra one or two when we have them to
offer--so don't expect an even dozen. Please feel free to copy, download, or link to these
lists. We ask only that you cite the source. See the archive
for lists from previous months.
"I Am of Ireland": Books About the Irish and Irish Americans
Over the last decade, Irish music, dance, and culture have enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to "Riverdance" and Enya. Happily, this Celtic tide has also found its way into literature for children and young adults, and this month we are pleased to offer you a dozen books about the Irish people, both in Ireland and America. If you're looking for something fresh for your March displays and storytimes, try a few of the following recent titles and give your kids a different picture of what it means to be "of Ireland."
In hopes that it will change his bad luck to good, Tooley foolishly invites a nasty little leprechaun-like creature into his house. The creature greedily demands the best of all that Tooley has, until clever cat Gladsake comes up with a way to outwit the unpleasant visitor. (BCCB 12/95)
With the help of a magic stallion, young man Art (son of an Irish king) seeks the source of some mysterious heavenly music, defeats a giant, and rescues the King of Greece's daughter (who becomes his bride). Vivid language and dramatic illustrations make this an excellent choice for reading aloud. (BCCB 4/97)
From his dying beloved pet bull, Billy (another son of an Irish king) receives magical powers that aid him in killing three giants and freeing a princess from a dragon. In a reverse-gender Cinderella move, Billy flees from the princess as she pulls off one of his shoes; he later returns to try it on and the princess gladly claims him as her husband. (BCCB 4/94)
When the handsome Simon is killed by the giant of White Doon, red-headed Margaret discovers that she is in fact a champion warrior, and she slays the giant in revenge. With the help of a sorceress (who has been freed by the giant's death), Margaret brings Simon back to life and marries him. Glowing, intense pastel illustrations bring the action-packed text to life. (BCCB 5/99)
Leprechaun Laurence is fed up with his small size and boring leprechaun tasks (guarding gold, making shoes, etc.); he'd much rather be a cool "huming being." Lawrence finds a good friend in human girl, Phoebe, who has size issues of her own. This short, humorous chapter book would be a good choice for kids who enjoy Roald Dahl's shorter works. (BCCB 11/00)
After a brief background of the Irish Troubles, this photodocumentary offers an inside look at everyday life in Northern Ireland, as young Catholic Liam goes to and from school and practices his passion, boxing. Honest and powerful, this will provide plenty of opportunities for class discussion. (BCCB 7/99)
Dunlop weaves together a series of legends about the life of Saint Patrick, from his beginnings in Roman England, to his enslavement by Irish raiders and subsequent position as a shepherd, to his decision to devote himself to bringing Christianity to the Irish people. (BCCB 5/96)
Eight stories from Celtic folklore (including "The Children of Lir," "The Birth of Cuchulainn," "Deirdre of the Sorrows," and "Oisin in the Land of Youth") are adapted here for middle grade and junior high readers; gruesome battles and romantic tragedy abound. P. J. Lynch's paintings emphasize the drama and other-worldliness of the tales. (BCCB 3/01)
Drawing upon factual sources as well as family lore, Bartoletti introduces readers to the harsh realities of the infamous Irish potato famine, explaining its causes as well as the political decisions and societal beliefs that hindered Ireland's recovery. A timeline, map, bibliographic essay, and period engravings are included. (BCCB 10/01)
Born and raised in England by her Irish parents, Mary feels as if she doesn't truly belong to either country, nor does she get along well with her difficult mother. With the help of her mother's younger sister, Mary's understanding of herself and her heritage and her relationship with her mother all begin to change for the better on the family's annual holiday in Ireland. (BCCB 5/94)
British teen Anson has always wanted to be in the military like his father and grandfather, so he's looking forward to being sent (as a drummer for the Staffordshire Fencibles) to keep the peace in eighteenth-century Ireland. Once he arrives, however, he's forced to make some tough decisions, and eventually comes to change his beliefs about the Irish, the English, and what constitutes justice. (BCCB 5/99)
Twelve-year-old Nory Ryan bravely works hard to help her family and friends survive the Irish potato famine of 1845. As the famine intensifies and family members emigrate to America one by one, she is eventually left alone with old neighbor woman Anna, until Nory, too, is able to join her family, leaving behind the suffering in Ireland. (BCCB 10/00)
Teenage Irish immigrant Mairhe Mehan struggles to make a living for herself and her broken father in her Irish neighborhood in mid-nineteenth-century Washington, D.C., while her older brother Michael cavalierly joins up with the Union Army. Fearful for her brother's safety, Mairhe attempts to buy out Michael's army contract (aided in part by Walt Whitman) and bring him home before he dies, but her efforts may be in vain. Armstrong's sequel, Mary Mehan Awake (BCCB 12/97), describes Mairhe's post-war experiences. (BCCB 11/96)
A dozen writers (including Chris Lynch, Emma Donoghue, Marita Conlon-McKenna, and Maeve Binchy) each offer up a story about contemporary Irish teens dealing with pivotal moments that serve to move them a little further down the road towards adulthood. A range of tones, well-developed characters, and vivid settings make this a rich collection of tales. (BCCB 3/01)
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This page was last updated on March 1, 2002.