I think Big Anthony and Jamie O’Rourke must have been from the same gene pool. I’ve always wanted to ask Tomie de Paola if Big Anthony from the Strega Nona stories and Jamie O’Rourke were distant cousins twice removed. One doesn’t pay attention, and the other is the laziest man in all of Ireland!
Three aphorisms come to mind in reading Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato,and they are:“Too much of a good thing is bad,” “Be careful what you wish for,” and “Enough is as good as a feast.”
Poor Eileen O’Rourke, Jamie’s wife, who hasn’t had a day of rest since she married him, is in bed with a sore back. What with the planting, watering, weeding, and digging in the garden, she’s done in. ’Tis the plantin’ of the praties, or the potatoes as they’re called in the Old Sod, that’s been her undoing.
Pray for deliverance, Jamie, as you head to church for a bit o’ prayer, but if on the way ya meet one of the Wee Folk, never strike a bargain, for you’ll end up with the raw end of the deal, or in this case, the raw end of the potato!
Everyone with a stitch of sense knows once you’ve caught a leprechaun, you ask for the pot of gold, which, once given, guarantees his release. But we’re talkin’ Jamie O’Rourke here, not the brightest potato in the sack—or so it appears. He wishes, aided by a gentle, sly prod from his green-garbed friend, for “the biggest pratie in the world”! Everything looks good on paper, right—but well, as we all know, and Jamie discovers, that is quite another story.
How Jamie claims his wish, shares his initially problematic good fortune with his village friends, and assures himself a lifetime of bountiful winter eating is an Irish tale worth hearing AND telling.
If you’ve a little one within earshot, offer up your best Irish accent in the telling of Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato. You’ll both have a grand time, and “may the saints be praised,” and Tomie too. Have a pratie on me.
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