S is for Shamrock by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Matt Faulkner

(Suggested reading level: Age 4 – Grade 3)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Did you know that St. Patrick wasn’t born in Ireland? He was actually born in Wales or maybe France around 385 and was named Maewyn, but he grew to love Ireland. That’s just one of the tidbits of Amber (10) and I learned from S is for Shamrock.

We read the book together last night and it was an enjoyable book. Each letter stands for a person, concept, folktale or event associated with Ireland. For each there is a 5-line verse, with further information in the sidebar. We read all of the verses and only the sidebars that interested us, which turned out be be most of them.

U is for Ulster

Ulster is a province in the North of Ireland.
On its flag it’s plain to see a red and bloody hand.
There’s trouble still in Ulster. It’s very sad to see
Irish fighting Irish in the name of liberty.

And the side bar explained the blood red hand, which grabbed Amber’s attention.

The symbol of Ulster is the red hand. Legend tells how in the sixteenth century, the Irish hero Hugh O’Neill sailed toward Ulster in a race against other contenders. The High King of Ireland had promised that whoever first laid a hand on Ulster soil would become its King. When close to shore, Hugh O’Neill took his sword, chopped off his right hand, and threw it on to land. There was no doubt who was the winner.

I really learned a lot from this short book. For example, I didn’t know the Titanic was built in Ireland or that according to legend, leprechauns make fairies’ shoes. It’s a fascinating glimpse of Ireland, and made me want to learn more about some of the topics and people mentioned. By the way, James Joyce was one of the writers mentioned for W. I read a story by him earlier this week from his collection Dubliners.

The illustrations are colorful and lively, like the cover. Amber was especially attracted to the page about the Book of Kells. The picture of the monk illustrating the manuscript was accompanied by an ornate dragon. Overall, it’s a great book for a family to read together. Even though the suggested reading level is ages 4-8, I think the sidebars allow it to appeal to older children, too.

First published March 2007 by Sleeping Bear Press
Discover the World Series
48 pages

Challenges: 100+, A to Z

We won our copy from Dawn at She Is Too Fond of Books and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.