Cover image for Finn MacCoul and his fearless wife : a giant of a tale from Ireland
Finn MacCoul and his fearless wife : a giant of a tale from Ireland
Byrd, Robert.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 31 cm
With the help of his brave and clever wife, Finn MacCoul bests the fearsome giant, Cucullin.
Reading Level:
AD 660 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.6 0.5 27679.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.7 2 Quiz: 21220 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.B98 FI 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.B98 FI 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
PZ8.1.B98 FI 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1.B98 FI 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales

On Order



This new retelling of a favorite yarn from ancient Irish folklore features Finn MacCoul, a lovable but cowardly giant whose clever wife, Oonagh, uses a wee bit of fairy magic and a great helping of brains to help her husband outsmart the nasty Scottish bully who's after him. Her plan entails Finn masquerading as his own baby'a hilarious spoof that's sure to leave young readers giggling in their chairs while Finn wiggles in his cradle, nervously awaiting the showdown.Robert Byrd's shimmering, meticulously researched artwork stuns the eye with details even as it stretches perspective to bring readers into the giant's world. Each element of the breathtaking landscapes and interiors'costumes, customs, buildings, flora, and fauna'harks back authentically to the days of ancient Ireland. Generous notes at the back explain sources, pronunciations, and more.Humor abounds on every page, in word and picture, and the lilting read-aloud text makes this a lucky pick for story hour near St. Patrick's Day or anytime.

Author Notes

Mr. Byrd is a successful commercial artist and children's book illustrator whose award-winning picture books include The Bear and the Bird King . Robert Byrd lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. Lively and lyrical, this well-told tale in an oversize format that fits the telling spills over onto double-page spreads to reveal giant-size characters: Finn, the tallest man in Ireland; Oonagh, his wise, equally tall wife; and Cucullin, a giant bully and outsider. Written with dramatic suspense and language that reads well aloud, the story will hook children, who will relish not only the dangerous struggle that develops between Finn and Cucullin but also the combination of wisdom and humor Oonagh uses to help Finn thwart the villain. Children will especially enjoy the silliness of Finn's sucking his thumb to see the future. The colorful pages are packed with intriguing visual details that enhance the text--wee folk, as well as giants and lots of animals--and the narrative is set in framed boxes, with occasional decorative letters and designs reminiscent of those found in illuminated manuscripts. An afterword notes sources and comments on Celtic mythology, magic, and the status of women in Celtic societies. A pronunciation guide is also provided. --Karen Morgan

Publisher's Weekly Review

When Finn MacCoul, the larger-than-life hero of Celtic lore, needs help defeating a foe, there's only one place to turn: his wife. This evocative picture book amalgam of MacCoul tales whisks young readers to big adventure in days of old. Though MacCoul is just about as large as they come ("It was said he ate one hundred potatoes and thirty cabbages on his first birthday"), even he "shakes in his shoes" when scary giant Cucullin comes looking for him. Luckily, MacCoul's wife, Oonagh, has a magic harp‘and some clever ideas for outwitting the bully Cucullin. Before long Cucullin is sent bouncing down Knockmany Hill, never to be heard from again. Byrd's text has a lilting style in the tradition of great Irish storytelling. He unravels events at a leisurely pace, creating plenty of entertaining situations and banter. Byrd festoons his lively ink-and-watercolor paintings with such historical details as ornate gold bracelets and belts, brightly dyed frocks and type and designs inspired by illuminated Celtic manuscripts. A rollicking good yarn. Ages 4-8. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4‘An energetic retelling of Finn MacCoul's encounter with the Scottish giant, Cucullin, and his rescue by his clever wife, Oonagh. The writing is lively and lucid, with a good rhythmic cadence. Byrd's lengthy and thoughtful afterword gives sources and background information on this legendary Irish hero. The illustrations carry the story from page to page in a riot of color, texture, and movement. Cucullin's hair bristles on his head, while Oonagh's swirls and nearly crackles. Byrd captures the patterns and styles of Celtic life‘simple checks, stripes, and plaids in the tunics, trousers, and flowing brats (capes), and lots and lots of jewelry. While the pages may appear busy to some readers, the exuberant display is packed with detail and humor and suits the story well. This version goes into greater detail than Tomie dePaola's Fin M'Coul (Holiday, 1981), which is suitable for younger listeners. Byrd has retold this larger-than-life tale with verve, style, and respect for its source.‘Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.