Fish Tale: Finn McCool and the Great Fish by Eve Bunting
FINN MCCOOL WAS THE BIGGEST GIANT IN ALL IRELAND. HE WAS THE GREATEST WARRIOR EVER KNOWN.
"HE'S THE BEST-HEARTED MAN THAT EVER WALKED ON IRELAND'S GREEN GRASS," SAID THE PEOPLE.
BUT THEY WERE AGREED ON ONE THING THAT WAS CERTAIN.
FINN WASN'T TERRIBLY SMART.
But Finn is smart enough to know that he's not smart enough. He loves the people of Ireland and he knows that if he has wisdom, he can serve his people better.
So Finn visits the wisest man in the village who shares his secret. He must travel to the River Boyne, he whispers, and catch and eat the red salmon he will find there. Then he will be wise. Finn follows the soothsayer's directions.
But when he lands the great red salmon, Finn's kind heart is moved and he cannot bring himself to kill and eat the beautiful fish, not even for all the wisdom in the world. But as he struggles to free the hook from the fish's mouth, he pricks his thumb, his blood mingles with that of the fish, and when he instinctively pops the thumb in his mouth, a powerful new feeling fills him with wisdom.
EVER AFTER THE PEOPLE REMARKED ON HOW WISE A MAN FINN MCCOOL HAD BECOME.
"ISN'T IT A PUZZLE, THOUGH," THEY WOULD SAY, "THE WAY HE SUCKS HIS THUMB WHEN HE'S APPLYING HIS MIND TO SOMETHING?
YOU'D ALMOST THINK THERE WAS A MAGIC TO IT."
For slightly older readers than Tomie dePaola's classic Fin M'Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill, Eve Bunting's Finn McCool and the Great Fish (Sleeping Bear Press) offers a skillful adaptation of the Finn legend, beautifully augmented by Zachary Pullen's beautiful illustrations, filled with sweeping vistas of green hills, ruined castles, a rocky, cliff-bound sea, sheep fenced by rambling stone walls, and thatched cottages, all of which add atmosphere to this quaint Irish folk story.
For more St. Patrick's Day reading, also don't forget the multiple award-winning Bunting's That's What Leprechauns Do, Green Shamrocks, St. Patrick's Day in the Morning, and S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet (Discover the World).