Round out your St. Patrick’s Day reading with these three Tomie dePaola St. Patrick’s Day picture books for kindergartners and up!
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I recently enjoyed reading this article entitled, St. Patrick: Reclaiming the Great Missionary by Mike Pettengill for The Gospel Coalition. He talks about how discovering the truth about St. Patrick is really difficult because it is buried beneath so much fiction and lore. Truly, St. Patrick was a servant of Jesus Christ and an instrumental missionary to Ireland…but is instead remembered for handfuls of legends and the chance to drink green alcohol. As written in the article,
“We as Christians have allowed the modern, secular customs of St. Patrick’s Day to steal away one of the greatest missionaries in Christian history and reduce his memory to leprechauns, green beer, and fictional tales.” – Mike Pettengill for The Gospel Coalition
So with that said, I’m still on the hunt for a truly five-star St. Patrick’s Day picture book! Tomie dePaola has written several St. Patrick’s Day books and I’ve written the following reviews so you can decide if they are right for you and your kids. The first book, my favorite of the three, gives a historical account of St. Patrick and is a great choice if you need a themed picture book to read aloud for St. Patrick’s Day.
Tomie dePaola Picture Books for St. Patrick’s Day
This is my favorite of Tomie dePaola’s St. Patrick’s Day books because it reveals Patrick’s trust in God and his great desire to serve Him and make Him known. While dePaola does share the legends surrounding St. Patrick, they are at the end of the historical account of St. Patrick and are noted as legends. A great choice if you only have time for one St. Patrick’s Day read this holiday! Ages 5-8.
This legend retold by dePaola struck me as a bit strange…but then, aren’t all legends? When giant Fin M’Coul tries to save himself from getting a beating from another giant, Cucullin, his wife devises a clever plan to outsmart the evil giant. She dresses her husband up as a baby and shows Cucullin (through a series of other tricks) that if this is her baby, her husband must be even stronger and more fierce. Through a turn of events, M’Coul ends up giving Cucullin a beating instead, and thus ends the evil giant’s reign. I didn’t find that there was much of a moral to the story and there seemed to be a great focus on violence for kids aged 5-8 (what the book is recommended for). On the upside, the drawings are great as usual from dePaola! Ages 5-8.
Jamie O’Rourke is a very lazy man. And a bit foolish too. When he gets the chance to take a leprechaun’s pot of gold, he instead settles for a giant potato. He’ll never have to work again! This is a folk tale and of course there’s no requirement to have a moral to the story…but I was a little disappointed by how the end of the story left Jamie O’Rourke just as lazy as ever. In fact, he was basically rewarded for his laziness!
BUT. If you need a themed read for St. Patrick’s Day, feel free to grab this one and then don’t hesitate to start some thought-provoking conversations with your kids afterwards. Why do you think Jamie is so lazy? Do you think Jamie deserves what he receives at the end of the story? Etc. Ages 5-8.
So in summary, these three Tomie dePaola St. Patrick’s Day books each have interesting plots, but the one with the most merit is definitely, Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola.
If you are looking for more St. Patrick’s Day reads, also try:
- St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting, illustrations by Jan Brett (my review here)
- Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Polacco (my review here)