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Finn McCool and the Great Fish Review by Cindy West

Eve Bunting
Sleeping Bear Press
315 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Finn McCool and the Great Fish is a retelling of a traditional Irish legend about a gentle giant who lives in Ireland and generously helps his community in any way he can. This gentle giant, however, isn't the wisest in the village. When he learns that he can gain wisdom by catching and eating a certain salmon from the sea, he sets out to catch his chance at becoming wise. Upon catching the prized salmon, though, Finn cannot bring himself to kill and eat the beautiful fish. Little does he know at the time that his act of selflessness brings him an immeasurable amount of wisdom anyway.

I'm usually a huge fan of both Eve Bunting and Sleeping Bear Press, but this story left me feeling a little dry. Besides the act of selflessness by the main character, there wasn't much else in the story to sink my teeth into. The magical aspect that brought about Finn's new found intelligence is rather silly and didn't give me a good jumping point from which to talk to my children about the benefits of acting selflessly from a Christian perspective.

I will brag for just a moment about the illustrations, though. They are beautifully realistic with a cartoon-like quality that brings the emotions of the story to life. They also give subtle hints about old Irish culture and characteristics of the people.

I read the book with my children around St. Patrick's Day, thinking it would be a good conversation starter on the topic. My children were left feeling like me, though, and didn't quite feel like the story hit the mark that makes it enjoyable and meaningful.

Product Review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010