Once upon a Place

illus. by P.J. Lynch. 224p. Little Island. Jun. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781910411377.
Gr 5 Up—Place rather than time is key in this anthology of short stories and poems by Irish writers, edited by popular Irish author Colfer. Whether real or imaginary, the settings are always specific and explore the importance, and magic, of place in the lives of individuals. Two immigrant siblings use an enclosed park as a refuge in a poignant entry by Jane Mitchell. In poet Pat Boran's hands, a run-of-the-mill bus stop becomes beautiful when a stranger receives incredible news from a loved one. Roddy Doyle uses a leap into the sea from the roof of a mysterious pumping station to reveal the jumper's future and how the place around him changes. A childhood home holds unimaginable guilt in a haunting tale by Jim Sheridan. Sarah Webb tells of a boy who finds a much-needed listener in feline form in the garden behind the library after his parents separate. Colfer, best known for his "Artemis Fowl" series, made the "Once upon a Place" theme his project as Laureate na nÓg (Ireland's Children's Laureate) from 2014 to 2016. He also contributes a selection about a princess taking charge of her life and saving her people, which includes a bit of satire of old-time storytellers. The work is illustrated by Lynch, now Laureate na nÓg himself, and his exquisite grayscale artwork teases out the mood of each piece and enhances the overall effect.
VERDICT An excellent volume that will hopefully now reach a wide readership on this side of the pond.

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