BEST STORIES FOR CHILDREN
Reviews of the Children's Illustrated Story Books of Irish Author Liam Maher
Published by Guardian Angel Pub. in the United States
Review of The Plumber and the Wishing Well by Donna McDine
Christmas Eve morning arrives and the poor plumber's anguish of not being able to provide presents to his family breaks his heart. His friend, Tupo Hoopoe feels the plumber's pain and seeks advice from Oracle Owl. An unlikely suggestion bewilders Tupo Hoopoe, but knowing Oracle Owl is wise beyond compare he travels to "the centre of the wood." What Tupo Hoopoe witnesses there is beyond comprehension. Astonished by the arrival of
three "little people," an elf, a fairy, and a leprechaun at the broken and hidden wishing well, an idea like non-other comes to mind.
What can three little people and wishing well have to do with helping the poor plumber? Why empathy for another's plight. This unlikely grouping of a plumber, an elf, a fairy, and a leprechaun sets the pace for a heartwarming tale of compassion and honesty.
Liam Maher's expert knack of the written word brings the world of fairy tales to life in a magical Christmas story to be enjoyed throughout the year.
. Donna McDineGin May's alluring illustrations captures the magic beautifully. Review by award winning author
Review of The Plumber and the Wishing Well by Susan Hornbach
What could be more charming than Irish folk lore and Christmas, all wrapped up in one story of wee people and their magical wishing well? In this story written by Liam Maher, a beautiful yellow bird tries to find a way for her friend the plumber to buy presents for his children on Christmas Eve. The bird Tupo, visits her friend in the forest, and receives instruction on how to find a magical wishing well. Upon her approach the well is covered in unforgiving vines. Tupo is entertained by music and dance, and witnesses some mystical wee people. The little people have a problem that maybe Tupo can help them with. They are sad over the fact that Christmas will be ruined if they do not find a way to fix their problem.The plumber arrives and notices something most rewarding, but does not share his new found knowledge with anyone. The little people are delighted to see the plumber, and want to give him riches, but the plumber has other intentions. This Gaeilge flavored tale with all the influence of the emerald Isle, has a few intriguing turns and twists that will delight a child's interests. The art work of Gin May is beautifully illustrated, and pops from the page. This is a heartwarming story of kindness, sharing and consideration for others in need. The plumber is concerned with how the little people will be able to continue the life they are accustomed to living. His intentions are to manipulate the chain of events and make life better for everyone. The story of the Plumber and the Wishing well is truly in the holiday spirit, and lends example for children to practice in their every day travels. This enchanting holiday story includes a leprechaun, an elf, a fairy, and other interesting characters. With all the charms of Irish folklore and brilliant art work, I rate this book with ***** because of the wonderful message of sharing, it lends to all. Susan Hornback is a graduate of The Institute for Children’s Literature.
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Review of The Plumber and the Wishing Well by Melissa Abramovitz
Liam Maher's enchanting children's Christmas story, The Plumber and the Wishing Well, weaves an old-fashioned-sounding fairytale into a modern-day setting with humor and charming, unexpected twists that will delight young readers and their parents. Most of the storytelling language is what you'd expect in a fairytale that takes place centuries ago in the magical Ireland of fairies, elves, and leprechauns, but interspersed in this old-fashioned tale are modern slang and a high-tech robot that reveal the story is happening in the 21st century. I think this blending of old and modern not only adds to the tale's charm, but also underscores the universality of the social and moral issues Maher subtly brings to light.
The main vein of the plot - an unemployed plumber who despairs over having no money to buy Christmas presents for his children - will resonate with many modern-day kids whose families have been affected by the lengthy worldwide recession, while subtly pointing out that such economic hardships occur regardless of time or place. The plumber's friendship with the talking bird Tupo Hoopoe, and the plumber's invitation to the bird to spend the cold winter in his warm home, go far deeper than developing into a charming tale of how Tupo seeks to help her friend obtain Christmas presents. Again, the subtly conveyed message here is that friends are kind to each other, whether in a magical land or in modern reality . . . The Plumber does, however, end up with lots of gold coins and is able to buy his family and Tupo gifts and to donate the rest of the money to charity. Again, the implied moral about the true meaning of Christmas is delivered subtly and grows naturally out of the story line. So many Christmas stories deliver this message with a sledgehammer, so Maher's tale is a welcome breath of fresh air . . . Artist Gin May's vibrant drawings beautifully complement and enhance the magical and humorous aspects of the tale. Together, the text and art create a special Christmas story that children and families will want to read again and again. Melissa Abramovitz is the author of hundreds of magazine articles for all age groups, along with over 30 educational series.
Review of The Golden Daffodils by K Howe
I had the privilege of meeting this exceptional author who came to my class and read this particular story to the children. Mr. Maher read the story with great joy and enthuasism that made each part of the story very real for the children and teacher alike. The story is of a gardener called Paddy who has a wise and caring friend called Tupo Hoopoe. It is coming up to the Spring Fair and Paddy has been carefully growing daffodils.He is eager to get a prize for them. Tupo Hoopoe gives them a helping hand by sprinkling fairy dust on them to give them a shimmering glow.Unfortunately they are taken by a leprecháin and it is Tupo Hoopoe who goes on an adventure encountering the King of the Leprecháins, fairies and magic rings to retrieve the daffodils. Paddy gets his long awaited prize at the Spring Fair but wise and friendly Tupo Hoopoe never reveals the real story of the golden daffodils. The illustrations in the book accompany the story wery well as they depict the events and its characters.The children were aged six and seven and were actively engaged in the story as it unfolded and gave it a ten out of ten for excitement and fun to read book. I will be looking forward to sharing the story of Golden Daffodils with lots more children during storytime. K Howe is a teacher at St. Connaire's Primary School, Shannon, Co. Clare, Ireland.
Review of Golden Daffodils by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
A Beautiful story of friendship and adventure
Paddy, the gardener, looks after his beautiful flower garden. Each year he hopes to take home first prize at the Spring Flower Show. His feathered friend, Tupo Hoopoe encourages him with wonderful compliments. One day Tupo Hoopoe spies a fairy in the garden. She drops her bag of magic fairy dust when a bee frightens her away. Tupo Hoopoe decides to help Paddy by sprinkling the magic dust over the daffodils. But the morning of the Spring Flower Show comes and the beautiful golden daffodils have been stolen. Tupo Hoopoe races to get them back in time. Golden Daffodils by Liam Maher is the perfect story for anyone who appreciates nature and adventure. Maher has taken his love of gardening and turned it into a lovely story for young readers to enjoy. Readers get a chance to experience the special bond between Paddy and Tupo Hoopoe. They witness the great lengths that Paddy's feathered friend is willing to go to not only to try and help him win first prize, but also to get the daffodils back once they are stolen. Marina Movshina created the artwork for Golden Daffodils. I've seen some of her work in the past, and she does another wonderful job with this one. her soft, warm colors blend so nicely with the beautiful story that Maher created. Cherl C. Malandrinos is editor in chief of Musing our Childrens' quarterly newsletter, Pages and Pens.
Review of Blue Paint by Susan Hornbach
John, the house painter, is working hard in order to make some money to buy something he has been dreaming about. He encounters dishonesty, and deception during his day of earning an honest living. John is disappointed, and doesn’t realize at first that he has the power to serve up some just desserts! I feel this book, “Blue Paint”, would be a very special read for children, as it sends an important message of how they can cleverly show those who are ill willed and perform hurtful acts, that good over evil, can prevail, and also that there are ways of dealing with those who are dishonest without resorting to violence. The book is fun, it takes a few twists and turns, and the colorful, expressive art work illustrated By Bonnie Everett- Hawkes, pops from the page. I think children will find this book clever, and amusing. Susan Hornbach is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature.
Review of Mr Topper the Potbellied Pig by Janet Ann Collins
Mr. Topper is a homeless potbellied pig. In real life lots of those animals are pets and he wants to become one, but his efforts to be accepted fail. Then he decides to pretend that he can bring good luck and someone actually takes him in. But when the nice man has bad luck instead of good can Mr. Topper help him? I don't want to give anything away, but Mr. Topper does find someone involved with children's lost teeth who might be able to assist him. This book reminds me of classic fairy tales and maybe that's because the author is Irish. Vanda Lavar's illustrations capture that feeling as well. I think lots of kids will love Mr. Topper the Potbellied Pig. Janet Ann Collins is a writer, speaker and teacher
Review of Mr Topper the Potbellied Pig by Barbara Bockman
Mr. Topper the Lucky Potbellied Pig has the flavor of a folk tale, with the narrator sometimes speaking casually to the reader. Well, at first it doesn't seem as if Mr. Topper is lucky. He is caught in a blizzard with no owner, no food, and no shelter. He goes in search of "Someone who will pet and pamper me, and feed me whenever I go Oink! Oink!" This is the kind of refrain children love to join in when a story is read to them and it is repeated several times throughout the story. Hoping to find such a person, Mr. Topper has the idea to pass himself off as a lucky pig. The first two people Mr. Topper approaches, a billionaire man and a billionaire woman, are selfish and stingy. The man reminds me of the villains in the old melodrama movies; I can fairly see him twirling his mustache. The woman looks much nicer than she is. She is more concerned about keeping her carpets clean than in helping a cold and hungry creature. Finally Mr. Topper finds a kind woodcutter who takes him in. Their life together is happy until the woodcutter loses his job. And to beat all, the pig gets a tooth ache and has to go to the animal dentist to have his tooth pulled. Will Mr. Topper be able to come through on his promise of bringing good luck to his human friend? Now it appears that Mr. Topper is more clever than lucky. He uses his brains to help the woodcutter out of his difficulties.The ending is fun and very satisfying. Readers 4-8 (especially those who have lost a tooth) will enjoy the surprise ending. Barbara Bockman is Webmaster of Stories A La Mode.
John and Harry are on vacation at the beach. The hotel they stay in becomes haunted. If you have ever wondered are ghosts real? Then you must read this story to find out.
REVIEWS COMING SOON
Review of Blue Paint by Penelope Anne Cole
Blue Paint by Liam Maher, with art by Bonnie Everett-Hawkes, is a story told by John, a young man facing a problem. John is careful to do good work on his very first painting job. However, a grumpy little man insists that John dripped blue paint on his new silk hat. John doesn't see any paint, but two others do and support the grumpy little man's claim for damages. Afraid of getting in trouble, John pays for the alleged damage with his own money. This is one of those storybooks you may want to use your catch phrase for: Life is like that -- sometimes unfair and even unjust. Then John learns the grumpy little man has a bad reputation -- John is his latest victim. He is angry and sees a chance to "get even." Later he tells his boss everything. Believing justice still hasn't been served, his boss has a plan to right the wrong. The ending is satisfying - "all's well that ends well." The illustrations by Bonnie Everett-Hawkes are colorful and insightful. They show us things that John isn't aware of until later in the story. The artwork is in our American Folk Art tradition - stylized, humorous, and expressive. An engaging story, Blue Paint also provides opportunity for important discussions of right and wrong. Parents and teachers may ask kids: If you're sure you're right, in a similar situation, but some say you're wrong, what should or could you do? What else could John have done? Is "getting even" the best thing to do if you believe you have been wronged? Are there other ways to deal with tricksters, con men, and dishonest people? There are significant lessons to be learned here. Thank you, Liam Maher and Bonnie Everett-Hawkes, for this thought-provoking story. Penelope Anne Cole is a children's book reviewer who lives in Silicon Valley.