Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Paddy's Partners: Leprechauns Never Lie and That's What Leprechauns Do

As St. Patrick's Day draws near each year, books for this fleeting holiday are searched out feverishly. Here are a couple of classics well worth the search.

In the second edition of Lorna's Balian's evergreen Leprechauns Never Lie we meet Gram and Ninny Nanny, a pair of hardscrabble householders up against it. Gram is ailing and Ninny Nanny is just plain lazy, and it's no surprise that their wee cottage's roof needs re-thatching, the water barrel needs filling, the potatoes want digging, and there's naught but cold rainwater soup for supper.

Ninny Nanny is not disposed to do the work when there's an easier alternative, so she sets out to catch a leprechaun and compel him to reveal where his pot of gold is hidden. After all, leprechauns never lie, and Ninny Nanny soon strikes it lucky when she stumbles upon one of the little green guys a-nappin'. But this leprechaun is even more tricky than the legends tell, and he sets out to teach Ninny Nanny a lesson about laziness.

Feigning a wee bit of forgetfulness as he leads her on a wild goose chase for his gold, he slyly puts Ninny Nanny to work, tossing the straw stack up on the roof while hunting beneath it, emptying the river into her barrel while she searches under its waters, and digging up the potato field in an unrewarding quest for the missing gold. But now that the roof is redone, the barrel is brimming, and the fresh-dug potatoes are piled in the cottage, Ninny Nanny and Gram realize that though they have no gold, they do have just what they need!

Lorna Balian's daughter Lecia's newly illustrated edition of this "golden oldie" makes this outstanding tale even better than the original, with laughs aplenty and a well-taught lesson in the rewards of hard work thrown in for free.

Eve Bunting's jolly That's What Leprechauns Do tells the story of three leprechauns, Col, Boo, and Ari, who set out on a critical mission. A storm's a-brewing, and the three have to get to the end of the rainbow in time to bury their pot of gold.

"Why is it always us that has to put the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, especially since not a single soul ever finds it?" said Boo.

Ari looked from one of them to the other. "Don't be askin'," he said. "It's a leprechaun's duty, so it is. And, fellows, remember! It's comin', so there will be no time for mischief along the way."

Although time is of the essence (time and rainbows wait for no one), the leprechauns just can't resist pulling a few tricks as they go along. They paint Mrs. Ballybunions' cow Pansy's hooves bright red, plant a bright yellow ball in the nest under Mrs. Murphy's hen Bridie, and tie up the long legs of Jamie Bradley's long johns as they lay a-drying on a bush near his cottage. The mischief speeds their feet as they hurry to plant their gold in Paddywhacker's Bog and hasten back to watch the results of their mischief when Pansy and Bridie and Jamie discover their handiwork.

"Och, sure but I couldn't help meself. Mischief's what leprechauns do, along with their more important duties," Ari says.

Award-winning illustrator (for Mirette on the High Wire,) Emily Arnold McCully adds charming ink and watercolor illustrations to portray the Irish countryside and the wee little men perfectly in this merry tale of March mischief.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home