Thursday, March 8, 2012

Two Great Irish Tales

Top 'o the morning to you! And no, I'm not chipper in the a.m., I just like that expression. I've been thinking a lot about Ireland lately because it's St. Patrick's Day soon, and because I've read two amazing books about Ireland for my young adult lit class.

The first book is a non-fiction book. Like most people, I prefer fiction, but not after reading this amazing story of the Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1850s. The book, Black Potatoes, chronicles the terrible famine that consumed Ireland due to the failure of the potato crop. During those times, the average Irish person ate 14 pounds of potatoes per day. So to have that crop decimated resulted in deaths of at least a million people and the migration of millions to the US and other countries. This is one reason for the strong Irish presence in the eastern United States. 

Non-fiction books for young adults are not written like they used to be. In the past there really wasn't such a genre as non-fiction for young adults. You just went to the library and picked out a boring encycolpedia, textbook-like book in the children or adult sections. Now authors are writing these riveting books for young adults. When you read them, it feels like you're reading fiction because the details are so descriptive and the format is so interesting. The facts are there, but told in such a way that they become page-turners. They're read for pleasure and not just for information.

The second is a novel titled The New Policeman by Kate Thompson. It is a fantasy tale about losing time and gaining time and the connection time has between two worlds. It is rich with Irish lore, customs, music and dancing. The Irish are a superstitious people, and this book explores some of those themes like luck, elves, and the use of music to keep bad spirits at bay. Each chapter has piece of music relating to the plot. I didn't realize music was such an integral part of Irish culture. But it was fun to sit down and play some of the tunes!

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