Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Leprechaun's Gold


I post a lot of St. Patrick's Day books! I'm not particularly fond of the holiday, so I've been trying to figure out why I am apparently obsessed with these books.

A few moments ago, a memory flashed into my mind of my dad sitting at my bedside at the 210th Street house, telling me about O'Shaunnesy, O'Toole and O'Day, the three leprechauns who would visit me on St. Patrick's Day eve and leave a treat (if I would just GO TO SLEEP!) When I would awaken the next morning, there would be a small bundle at the foot of my bed with gold (chocolate) coins and a couple of other trinkets and candies. Mystery solved - I miss my dad.

Today I read this gem to both of my classes and they loved it. I'm tempted to say that their fascination with this story has something to do with the Irish accent I use when reading the dialogue, but, let's not kid ourselves.

Sidebar: years ago, when I was teaching first grade in California, I had them all gathered for Circle Time on St. Paddy's Day. I thought it would be fun to lead the entire routine in my Irish accent, and it was - they were completely enthralled and I could see that some of them weren't sure it was really me. But one young man, Ben, was laughing uncontrollably - literally rolling on the floor, holding his belly and laughing. I was delighted that I had tickled his funny bone so thoroughly. Finally, he cried out, "Stop! I can't take it any more! You have to stop speaking Spanish!" Yep, that's how good my Irish accent is.

Back to this colorful, fun book - The Leprechaun's Gold, written by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Henry Cole. We meet Young Tom and Old Pat, two Irish harpists living in the same small village. Old Pat taught Young Tom to play the harp and Young Tom soon believed his skills to be far superior to those of his teacher. He begins to make a career by charging for his harp-playing services, while Old Pat is content to play for anyone, anytime, no charge.

Soon a contest is announced by the king and all harpists in Ireland are invited to compete for the title of best harpist. Young Tom decides to travel to the venue with Old Pat because he is sure Old Pat will share his food, thus saving Young Tom some money. Their first night on the road, Young Tom sabotages Pat's harp and while this mini-drama is unfolding, they hear a cry in the woods. Young Tom refuses to investigate because of the well-known danger of leprechauns playing tricks. But Old Pat soon realizes that the cries for help are genuine and follows the sound to find a leprechaun in need of help. He gladly assists him and once the leprechaun hears Pat's tale, he decides he must repay him. Pat resists, so the leprechaun causes him to fall asleep so he can work his magic unencumbered.

In the morning, Old Pat wakes to find young Tom has deserted him, so he heads for the castle alone. The competition is in full swing and Pat arrives just in time to hear Tom play. Unfortunately, Tom falls into some "bad luck" and is unable to finish his performance.

When Pat's turn comes, he pulls his harp from the bag and in it's place is a beautiful, gold leprechaun harp. I'll let you find out the ending when you read the story, but it's definitely a feel-good ending.

The illustrations are steeped in greens and golds, splashed with bright colors and a liberal dose of Pat's good nature. Cole adds to the fun of this Irish tale by hiding shamrocks on each page for young readers to find.

The Leprechaun's Gold - add it to your collection and read it in your best Irish accent to a wee one.


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