Candy Cane Press is known for their simple board boards introducing holidays, and The Story of Saint Patrick's Day by Patricia A. Pingry is a good example of this line.
Here, we learn about the major points of the holiday, including the fact that it's named after a real person. Patrick, Pingry tells us, was "taken to Ireland" when he was a boy; here, he became a shepherd. Grieving for his family, Patrick turned to God. Eventually, Patrick returned home, but he found himself missing Ireland. "So he studied hard and became a priest."
Patrick went back to Ireland to teach people about God. One famous story about Patrick says he told all the snakes to leave the land, and they did. We also learn that Patrick used the shamrock to teach people about the trinity. "Patrick taught that its three leaves stand for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit."
Pingry wraps up the book by telling a bit about more modern St. Patrick's day things, like leprechauns (which "are make-believe") and St. Patrick's Day parades. But, Pingry writes, St. Patrick's Day is really about remembering "a godly man called Saint Patrick."
What I Like: This book is ideal for introducing young children to the history of St. Patrick's Day. It uses language suitable even for the youngest children, and is a great spring-board for learning more about the man credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. The illustrations by Pamela R. Levy are colorful and full of kid-appeal.
What I Dislike: If you're looking for much in the way of details, this is not the book for you. For example, we don't learn that Patrick was from Britain, and stolen by Celts and made a slave. We also don't learn that the legend of Patrick abolishing snakes from Ireland is almost certainly symbolic. (It's unlikely snakes ever lived on the island of Ireland; instead, the story is a metaphor for Patrick banishing paganism from the country.) But, as far as I'm concerned, that's okay. More details about the man and the holiday can come later, once young children understand the basics.
Overall Rating: Very good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 to 8, but this book appeals more to toddlers and preschoolers than it does to older children.
Publisher Info: Candy Cane Press, 2002; ISBN: 0824941454; board book; $6.95
Special Info: Read our reviews for other Patricia Pingry books.