Thursday, September 9, 2010

Flame Over Tara by Madeleine Polland

Title: Flame Over Tara
Author: Madeleine Polland
Pages: 192
Published: 2004 Sonlight Curriculum (originally 1964)
Read For: Interest in the topic, and pre-reading for my kiddos
My Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Taking place in Ireland in the year 432 AD, Flame Over Tara brings the legend of Saint Patrick to life.  I knew very little about Saint Patrick, and this book definitely piqued my interest.  Rather than simply writing a biography of Saint Patrick's life, the author chose to use his story to illuminate this pivotal era in Irish history.  You learn about living conditions, family traditions, and government of early Ireland as well as some exposure to the landscape, climate, and the religion of the druids.

The great part about this book is that all of this information is imparted without any dreariness or frustration, and would make good reading material for either boys or girls.  The confrontations between Saint Patrick and the druids provides good intrigue and action that should be pleasing to boys; the main character's struggle in submitting to her parent's desire for her to marry should be easy for girls to identify with.

Often junior historical novels can be too extreme: either they are boring and flat with too much information, or they are easy to read, packed with action, but lacking historical depth.  Flame Over Tara seems to bridge that gap, thus winning my affection.  Perhaps best suitable for those over 10, not due to content, but rather comprehension and interest.  A great supplement for teaching about Ireland or Saint Patrick, or for the kiddo who is intrigued by the Middle Ages.

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