Niall and the Stone of Destiny by Lance MacNeill
We went to a small outdoor Irish Christmas festival over the weekend, and while Gran and I were admiring the hand-knit Aran sweaters, The Nine-Year-Old was exclaiming over this book.
What the book’s about: According to legend, King Niall ruled as High King of Ireland during the first half of the fifth century. Niall of the Nine Hostages was thought to be a figure of myth, similar to England’s King Arthur, until a team of researchers at Trinity College in Dublin used DNA evidence to prove that the Irish Dynasty Uí Néill, which dominated Ireland from the 6th through 10th Centuries, had a common ancestor who lived in the fifth century. In other words, the dynasty whose name literally translates as “descendants of Niall” did in fact share a common ancestor who might have been King Niall.
As you might guess, since the very existence of King Niall had to be proven through genetic testing rather than through historical records, we don’t have a lot of hard historical data about King Niall. By necessity, Lance MacNeill’s tale of how King Niall came to rule Ireland is a mix of history, Celtic mythology, and fiction. But The Nine-Year-Old assures me that it’s also an excellent read, and is eagerly awaiting Book Two.
Who would enjoy this book: Lance MacNeill’s book is sized like a picture book, but packed with text and pages like a chapter book. There is a lot of story here, and while most pages have illustrations of some sort, the text is the dominant feature of this book, not the art. I’d say this book is best suited to older readers ages 8-12, who are interested in Irish history and don’t mind illustrations in their books, but don’t really rely on them to understand the story.
Stowaway in a Sleigh by C. Roger Mader
What the book’s about: Stowaway in a Sleigh is a classic picture book tale about Slipper, a cat who meets Santa, settles down for a nap in Santa’s cozy red velvet bag, and accidentally ends up back at the North Pole.
Why The Nine-Year-Old picked it up: Surely I don’t need to tell you this. Just look at that cover. The story and illustrations inside are full of cat-enhanced magical sweetness as well.
Who would enjoy this book: This is a standard picture book in which you get anywhere from 3 – 15 words per illustration, making it much more accessible for younger readers / listeners. Full of charm for grown-ups, too. I especially enjoyed Slipper’s nickname for Santa.