While our own Irish roots are still being researched by the family genealogist, that has not diminished our enthusiasm in the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. We fill the house with the lyrical sounds of Irish music, the smells of soda bread, colcannon, and a new favorite this year, Irish grilled cheese (made with soda bread, Kerrygold Irish butter, and the yummy Kerrygold Irish cheese). We also enjoy reading an abundance of Irish folktales, then to cap off our celebration we have an annual viewing of the The Quiet Man (while this would not appeal to kids, you can't beat John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara!). All in all, a very fine celebration indeed.
To help inspire your own day of Irish celebration, we are featuring Tomie dePaola's Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka. In a whimsical folktale, based on Irish lore, the work-challenged Jamie O'Rourke learns a lesson from the mysterious pooka about the merits of hard work. Adding to the charm and imaginative appeal is learning that a pooka does not have a certain definitive form but can be any animal spirit. What fun to let the fun and whimsy of St. Patrick's Day inspire young readers to create a pooka of their own after enjoying this amusing book.
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Adapted from Martha Stewart's Colcannon recipe.
- 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 3 potatoes)
- 1/2 head savoy cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- In another saucepan, combine thinly sliced cabbage, chopped onion, milk, butter, and nutmeg. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, until cabbage is soft.
- Drain potatoes and mash with a fork or potato masher. Stir together the potatoes and the cabbage mixture. Place in a small casserole dish and bake uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes, until top is lightly browned.
Related recipe: Irish Soda Bread
According to the author's note in Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka, a pooka is an animal spirit who comes in many forms (for example, Harvey the rabbit is considered a pooka). Invite your young readers to use their imagination to create a pooka of their own using one of these techniques. Let your young reader's imagination take the lead in creating their own pooka. Depending on the mood of your child and the materials you have on hand, here are some suggestions for creating a pooka.
Work those fine motor skills by squishing, squeezing, pinching, rolling and more to create a pooka with Homemade Model Magic; one dry, add color to the pooka with paint.
Explore textures by transforming an orphan sock with buttons, ribbons, yarn, etc. into a soft, stuffed pooka: Handmade Friends.
Bring the aluminum foil out of the kitchen and onto the art table and invite your young reader to experiment with folding, crumpling, and twisting foil to create a shiny pooka: Shining Aluminum Foil Sculptures.
Enjoy the spring weather and draw your idea of a pooka on the sidewalk with Homemade Sidewalk Chalk.
Take inspiration from this Scarecrow Banner activity to paint a large-scale pooka on a brown paper bag canvas.
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