TODAY on the blog is something a little different! I was privileged to receive these two books from Irish publisher Mercier Press, (who I have worked with before on E.R. Murray’s Nine Lives Trilogy) which are very Irish books indeed, and sure us being an Irish blog, why not promote that!
From his childhood in Cork and early working years in London, through the 1916 Rising, imprisonment in Frongoch, his involvement in the War of Independence, Treaty negotiations and the Civil War, to his untimely death at Béal na mBláth, the full story of Collins’ life is narrated in simple, engaging language to appeal to readers in the 9–12 age group. Though only thirty-two when he died, Michael Collins was feared by the British and a central figure in the fight for Irish freedom. In this short biography, his dramatic story is brought to life and a human face is given to the historic figure.
This book was a great little number and perfect for children from the age of 9 and up who have an interest in Michael Collins and 1916 or even just the history of Ireland. I must admit personally, I am not the biggest history buff, and had very little interest in it when I was in school, but this certainly sparked my interest, and was really interesting to get a little more perspective on the man that fought so hard for Ireland.
The Keeper of the Crock of Gold is the ideal children’s gift book with ten beautifully illustrated stories about the mischievous adventures of the Irish leprechaun. The leprechaun is the shoe-maker of the Irish fairy kingdom. He is a solitary fairy, fun-loving and very crafty. He is often seen sitting, cross-legged with a tiny hammer in his hand, working on a fairy shoe. The leprechaun is the keeper of the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow and he knows where all the wealth of the world is buried. If you are lucky enough to catch him, you must keep your eyes on him at all times and not allow him to distract your attention or he will disappear. If he does not out-smart you he can make you very wealthy and can make your wishes come true!
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully illustrated little number. There are ten perfect little leprechaun stories in it that would be perfect for anyone of all ages. The stories are perfectly told with just the right amount of humour here and there, and are wonderfully illustrated by the fantastic artist Oldrich Jelen. I think the illustrations that Oldrich has provided to accompany these tales are the perfect accompaniment to the tales and suits them perfectly.
A fun fact about The Keeper of the Crock of Gold: (taken from Mercier Press’ website)
To celebrate St Patrick’s Day 2009, an Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen presented American President Barack Obama with two books as a gift from Ireland, one for Michelle Obama and one for the Obama children, Malia and Sasha. The book chosen for the Obama children was a Mercier Press book, Bairbre McCarthy’s The Keeper of the Crock of Gold.
When author Bairbre, who is from Ennis in Co. Clare, but now lives in the US found out, she was absolutely stunned:
‘I’m really overwhelmed. I’m so very happy that this book has been chosen as a representative of Irish culture. These stories provide a great example of Irish tradition and heritage, transporting kids into an enchanted land full of magic and history. I hope the Obama children enjoy it!’