Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Tangled-Coated Horse and Other Tales: Episodes from the Fionn Saga

The Tangled-Coated Horse and Other Tales: Episodes from the Fionn Saga by Ella Young is a book you will have to track down; I suggest starting at your local library.

The Blurb

1930 Newbery Honor Book 
Irish legends; tales from the Fenian Cycle about the Fianna, the troop of warriors led by the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill. 
Ella Young was born in 1867 in the little village of Feenagh, County Antrim.  
"From childhood I heard tales of ghosts, banshees, haunted castles, mischievous and friendly sprites, snatches of ballads, and political arguments....It was not until I came to Dublin and met Standish O'Grady, A.E., and Kuna Meyer that I realized what a heritage waited for me in Celtic literature. I read every translation I could get, learned Irish, and betook myself to Gaelic Ireland where, by turf fires, I could hear the poems of the Fianna recited by folk who had heard the faery music and danced in faery circles...". 



My Review
The Tangled-Coated Horse and Other Tales: Episodes from the Fionn Saga by Ella Young
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This 1930 Newbery Honor Book introduces children to Irish mythology; however, the author presents a Christian/Anglicized (bowdlerized) version of these stories, which makes them feel like wonder tales rather than complete account of the Fenian Cycle. 
This is another book I'm glad to finish. The language is archaic and tedious - I'm not sure why all these early Newbery authors thought that talking down to their child-readers would sell books. It's rough reading and makes the authors seem pompous. A kid doesn't learn anything if they put the book aside for easier reading material.

I had to look up a couple words -modern day kids will as well- and, once I looked them up, Ms. Young's decision to use them frustrated me. Example: hydromel. The author chose to use a Greek word for mead. Why didn't she introduce readers to 'mid,' the Irish version of the word? There are so many other world views imposed on these tales that they lost the flavor of Ireland. The names are really all that remain Irish and I wish the author would have included a pronunciation guide for them. Researching how the names are said pulled me out of the story and sent me to the internet, where I found better versions of these tales told in modern voices that will keep children's attention.

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