Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
By Tomie de Paola
Friday, March 17th we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and as the saying goes, “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day”. But just who was St. Patrick and why is there this huge celebration to honor him on the date of his death on March 17, 461AD. The date is marked with parades, most notably down Fifth Avenue in New York City, but also elsewhere in small towns across the country. A dear friend of mine, a Franciscan nun, was the Grand Marshall of the parade in the town next to ours. The parade was huge! Irish foods, music and traditions are the order of the day. And of course, “The “wearin’ of the green” is a must.
If you want your young reader to know more about St. Patrick and his origins, please try, “Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland” by Tomie de Paola. Tomie dedicated the book to his Irish mother, Flossie Downey de Paola, since she had always encouraged him to tell the story of St. Patrick. And some story it is, of this young boy, Patrick, kidnapped from Britain, who escaped only to return to his captors to spread the word of God.
The story is rich with stories of Patrick’s zeal, determination and dedication to his mission. He is undeterred by those who make attempts on his life, some TWELVE times! His own chariot driver convinces Patrick to switch places with him one day as the driver realizes the rear of the chariot is the more vulnerable position. He is right. The attempt on Patrick’s life is made with a swiftly thrown spear and the chariot driver sacrifices himself to save Patrick.
Young readers will revel in the section at the end of the story of the life of this saint of Erin that relates some of the many legends surrounding Patrick. They are beautiful stories that border on the miraculous. My favorite is the story of Caroticus, a mean ruler, who will not change his evil ways and is summarily changed into a fox, never to be seen again. Or the story of the ship’s captain who refuses to bring a heavy altar stone aboard his ship for fear it will sink! No problem. Patrick hurls the stone into the sea where it FLOATS and Patrick calmly sits astride the stone and RIDES it behind the ship that would not have him. Of course the most famous of the legends involves St. Patrick driving all the snakes from the “old sod” and into the sea. Seems he drove them daft by the relentless banging of a drum and they fled the unbearable noise! Well done!
Tomie’s mom, Flossie Downey de Paola would be quite proud of her son’s acquiescence to her wish for a story on St. Patrick. Tomie has managed to make him fully human and saintly, no easy task. Please enjoy this book with your young reader on the 17th of March or any day, for that matter. I read it to a Kindergarten class recently and they loved it. And so, to all my Snuggery readers, Erin go bragh, which means Ireland forever!
The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day
By Natasha Wing, illustrations by Amy Wummer
What would St. Patrick’s Day be without the “wee men”, that is leprechauns of course! Young Tim and Maureen and their mom and dad are in full St. Patrick’s Day mode. They are decorating, playing bagpipes AND setting traps for the “wee men”. Did you know that leprechauns get their gold coins that they bury at the end of rainbows from making shoes? Yes. They are cobblers and crafty as all get out. Legend says that if you catch a leprechaun, he must hand over his pot o’ gold.
So, of course Tim and Maureen concoct a slew of traps in their room to catch the cunning craftsman. Do they catch him and even if they do will he let them know where the gold is buried? Well, the answer to that question is as tricky as the “wee man” himself. It’s a yes and no. Yes, they do catch the rascal and he does tell them where it’s buried. But the rest is a revelation and well, that’s part of the fun of “The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day.”
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