(Suggested age range: 3 – 1st grade)

I have to take a stack of books back to the library tomorrow, and as I was putting them in the car, I ran across this one. I read it several weeks ago, not long after St. Patrick’s Day, but just never got around to posting any comments.

To be honest, I tend to really like dePaola’s books, but this one was just okay. The illustrations are his usual delightful, colorful, homespun style, but the story didn’t charm me.

Jamie O’Rourke is lazy, period. His wife does all the work around the house and in the garden until she hurts her back and is laid up. Jamie is sure he’ll starve to death with his wife unable to get out of bed. Instead he stumbles across a leprechaun and catches him. The leprechaun talks Jamie out of taking the gold, and instead gives him a seed that is guaranteed to grow into the biggest potato in the world, which it does. Too big. The next spring when Jamie threatens to plant an eye he saved from the giant potato, the villagers all protest.

“Oh, no!” the villagers all cried. “If you promise not to plant it, Jamie, we’ll promise before St. Patrick and all the saints to see that you and Eileen always have plenty to cook and eat. We don’t want another giant pratie around here.”

Jamie smiled and agreed. What a perfect life for a lazy man!

The book is comical, with the giant potato pushing up the house and all the folks cutting off big pieces to take home, but it’s unusual that Jamie’s laziness seems to be rewarded. All the town provides food for him and his wife from then on. He never learns the value of work or planning. Of course, I’m happy for the wife. Turns out marrying Jamie worked out to her benefit after all, which had seemed doubtful.

Jamie O’Rourke
First published 1992
32 pages

2½ out of 5 stars

Purchase at Amazon.

I borrowed my copy from the library and the above is my honest opinion.