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S Is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet Review by Cindy West

By Eve Bunting
Sleeping Bear Press
310 North Main Street, Suite 300
Chelsea, MI 48118

Author of over 250 children's books, Eve Bunting is probably a familiar name to many homeschool families. Her book S Is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet is a fitting topic since she is a native of Ireland.

As you can probably tell from the title, the book's purpose is to go through the alphabet teaching about Ireland, its history, and its legends. In rhyming text, Ms. Bunting does just that. Each letter of the alphabet covers a topic about Ireland in a little poem, with colorful illustrations drawn by Matt Faulkner. Off to the side of each illustration is a more in-depth description of each topic.

From Claddagh to Hedge Schools to Queen Maeve, there are bits of random information about history, geography, culture and legends as they relate to Ireland. Since it's a children's book, the information section is not exhaustive, but it gives a nice sprinkling of facts for children up to age eight or nine. For younger children who aren't ready for the detailed facts of each topic, you might choose to read only the little poems for each letter of the alphabet.

Some homeschoolers may want to be aware that fairies and leprechauns are two topics covered in this book. A discerning parent could certainly present these as legends, but the author does not mention that fact.

My children and I enjoyed reading the book together. It would be a nice addition to a study of Ireland, although reading it for no other reason than pure enjoyment would be good too. We learned quite a few facts and found the mini-lessons of Ireland's history to be especially interesting. As a side note, the illustrations include lots of hatching and cross-hatching, which made for a nice art lesson too!

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2007