Leprechauns in the Library

Darby O'Gill and the Little People
From the movie Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

With St. Patrick’s Day in a few weeks, my oldest daughter is incredibly curious about leprechauns. Attalie told me she wanted to do some “research” on leprechauns so we took a trip to the library to see what books we could find. Either there aren’t a lot of St. Patrick’s Day books or all the other families beat us to the punch — whatever the reason there were slim pickings at the library. Still we managed to find three fun books that my girls are enjoying:

I think Lucky O’Leprechaun is the girls’ favorite. In this story Meg and Sean O’Sullivan go to visit their three aunties for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. They learn that Lucky O’Leprechaun lives in the aunts’ garden, and the children decide to set a trap and “catch” the little man — something my kids think is a fantastic idea!

In The Leprechaun in the Basement we meet young Michael McKeever on St. Patrick’s Day. Poor Michael and his family don’t feel much like celebrating. Micheal’s baseball shoes are too small and worn out, but he can’t ask his folks for new ones since Father lost his job and can’t find work. When Michael finds a leprechaun living in their basement, he thinks the little man’s pot of gold is the answer to his family’s woes. Of course the leprechaun isn’t so quick to hand over his treasure, but he finds another way to change the family’s luck.

My favorite of the three books, A Fine St. Patrick’s Day, isn’t really about leprechauns, but I love the fun, folksy illustrations and the moral of the story is golden indeed. Read about the rivaling towns of Tralee and Tralah where each year the townspeople go all out to decorate for St. Patrick’s Day, competing to win a golden trophy in the shape of a shamrock that always seems to go to Tralah. Finally the people of Tralee have a plan that is sure to get them the prize, but then a mysterious stranger, with pointed ears and boots trimmed with bells, wanders into town in need of urgent help. The people learn that being a good neighbor is what makes their town truly beautiful.

We’ve also recently dug out and dusted off our two favorite St. Patrick’s Day movies:

Darby O’Gill and the Little People. In this film, originally released by Disney in 1959, Darby O’Gill is the elderly caretaker of an Irish estate, who is a much better storyteller than worker. The stories he recounts at the local pub — all about the little people that live on the estate — makes all the village think the old man is crazy. When a new man (played by a very young Sean Connery) is sent to take his place, Darby sets out to capture the leprechaun’s treasure convinced it is the only way to save himself and his daughter. While my whole family loves this show, I must note that there is one “scary” scene with a banshee that I remember being completely terrifying as a child. I laugh when I watch it now because (1) it’s not really scary, and (2) I’m not sure if I ever watched it as a child or was always just hiding under the blanket. It is certainly no scarier than the Maleficent dragon scene in Sleeping Beauty, but I figured I’d give fair warning.

The Gnome Mobile
Jasper's wedding in The Gnome-Mobile.

The Gnome-Mobile. This Walter Brennan film from 1967 also features young Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber — that lovable boy and girl duo who play Jane and Michael Banks in Mary Poppins. The children are going on a road trip through the northern California Redwood forest with their grandfather D.J. Mulrooney (Brennan), a lumber tycoon who just bought a new Rolls-Royce to celebrate earning his first $1 million. While in the forest the trio encounters a young gnome called Jasper and his 900-year-old grandfather Knobby (also played by Brennan). Jasper is seeking a bride to please his grandfather, and the children convince their own grandfather to help Jasper in his search. My girls’ favorite scene is “the eligible gnome chase” that ensues after the main characters discover a colony of gnomes filled with beautiful girl gnomes who are desperate themselves to find a young gnome man. Jasper, as the only eligible bachelor, is covered in soap and the girl gnomes chase him trying to catch and hold onto him for seven seconds. Whoever succeeds wins the right to marry. This adventurous tale is loaded with fun and a bit of St. Patty’s magic that has been a tradition in our family since I was a kid.

Speaking of gnomes, I have been meaning to take my kids to see the new Gnomeo and Juliet. Anyone seen it yet?

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