By Michael Garland (Author and Illustrator)
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 Pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 27, 2009)
My family is incredibly Irish, to the point where we consider a meal without potatoes to be a travesty. With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it was hard to resist posting about one of my favorite tales set in Ireland: King Puck. What’s not to love about a story that features a talking goat with a predilection for books?
Seamus lives alone on the most beautiful mountain in Ireland with his goat, Finny. Seamus is very lonely, and has only his goat and the tales of Finn MacCool for company. Every night they read these tales and wish for more books–and companionship. With a little help from some nearby fairies, Finny suddenly finds that he can speak to Seamus. Excited about his companion’s newfound ability, he decides to enter Finny in the “King Puck” festival, where “the judges pick the best goat to crown King Puck, the only king in Ireland!”
One of my favorite parts of this tale is that at the end, Seamus and Finny develop a relationship with the local librarian, and never want for books again. Also, the illustrations are beautifully detailed, from the pointed noses on the fairies to the ruddy cheeks of the townsfolk to the gorgeous Irish landscapes.
Interestingly enough, Michael Garland’s tale is actually based on fact. Every August in the town of Killorglin, the people there gather for a festival with food, music, and merrymaking–and every year, a goat is chosen to be King Puck. The Puck Fair is the oldest traditional fair in Ireland, and has been legally celebrated (thanks to James VI of Scotland!) since 1603.
If you’re looking for other fun ways to get into the Irish spirit, I also found a really neat link for free Irish music that you can download here.
For more information about Michael Garland and his impressive library of work, go here.