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The Children Of Lir
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The Children Of Lir

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  63 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
A haunting Irish legend, believed by some to be the basis for King Lear. A king's jealous wife puts a spell on his children, changing them into swan s, until such time as the Man from the North and the Woman from the South--two mountain peaks--are joined together. Watercolor illustrations.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 1993 by Ragged Bears (first published 1993)
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Nov 05, 2016 Manybooks rated it liked it
Recommends it for: children who enjoy folklore and fairytales, but with a caveat regarding authenticity
If one is not familiar with the traditional Irish myth/legend of the children of Lir, one might be able to enjoy Sheila MacGill-Callahan's loose and much altered retelling without reservations. Both the narrative and the illustrations are charming, evocative of love, jealousy, sadness, adventure (combined with a typical, but rather clever happily-ever-after fairytale ending). However, although legends and myths do undergo many changes, an author should clearly indicate whether his/her retelling, ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Dolly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is an entertaining story, although after reading several reviews here on Goodreads, I understand that this book doesn't follow the original tale. Still, it was an interesting variation and we liked Gennady Spirin'a illustrations. Overall, we thought it was an engaging tale and we enjoyed reading it together.

This book was selected as one of the books for the March 2014 - Ireland discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.
Karen Witzler
Mar 08, 2014 Karen Witzler rated it really liked it
This is a re-telling of the eponymous Irish legend with illustrations by Gennady Spirin. I quite liked MacGill-Callahan's re-working and happier ending and found her cadences good for reading aloud. I loved Spirin's palette of moss-greens and browns that seemed to reflect the forests, streams, and seas of long ago and far away Ireland.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I always loved this tale of children turned into swans. I wonder why the swan was chosen as the bird to change them into? There's another fairy tale where a girl's brothers are all turned into swans, and she's able to break the spell for all except one brother, who is left with a boy's body but the wing of a swan.
Dec 25, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it
Decent retelling, gorgeous pictures!
Oct 08, 2016 Bella rated it liked it
When I read the beginning of this story,I thought maybe I have read it in Chinese version in my childhood.But I was wrong.That story I have read is about a girl trying to save her brothers who turned into swans.
The Children of Lir (1993). Written by Sheila MacGill-Callahan. Illustrated by Gennady Spirin. Motif: Evil Stepmother. This book is loosely based on an Irish folktale that tells the story of a king named Lir who has four children, a set of twin boys and twin girls. After the death of the queen, King Lir marries her sister. Unbeknownst to the royal family, the new queen has evil intentions. The evil stepmother casts a spell upon the children, turning them into swans. She swears to children that ...more
Jan 08, 2016 Michelle rated it it was ok
An Irish fairy tale Retelling. Lir, the king of Ireland has four children, twin boys and twin girls. His wife dies in childbirth so he marries her sister, who turns out to be an evil witch. The witch queen, jealous of the children, turns them into swans. The children must work with a variety of wild animals to lift their curse adn get rid of the evil queen.
This is an interesting fairy tale. The pictures are complex and a little in the style of late European medieval paintings. There is little w
Mar 19, 2013 Savanna rated it really liked it
Summary: The Children of Lir is a classic Irish version of the swan story: a king has four children, his wife dies, he remarries, his new wife is jealous and transforms the children into swans, animals befriend the children/swans, and eventually the spell is broken and the queen is forced to leave.

I love this story because it shows some of the Irish heritage in its story and it is beautifully crafted with the story meshing perfectly with the gorgeous pictures in the book. I intend to buy this bo
This is a picture book of the Irish myth of the Children of Lir. As the story goes, a King Lir's jealous second wife, Aoife, changes his four children into swans who are destined to perish through her devilish scheming. Unfortunately for her, the children outsmart her and work with their animal friends to survive and live once again with their father.

The illustrations are beautiful and the story is captivating, although dark for very young children.
Kathleen Dixon
Jul 10, 2014 Kathleen Dixon rated it it was ok
I've been looking at a few versions of this tale. This one is very loosely based on the old tale, and that's fine - it's a good enough story. Unfortunately I don't like the illustrations - the book doesn't seem to know whether to have a quaint look, as in an old text, or whether to have very busy full-page pictures. Also, I quite dislike the people's faces.
Mar 24, 2008 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gennady Spirin is another great children's illustrator, injecting an old-world attention to detail, yet with a soft, dreamy quality. He's illustrated many famous titles and I hope to collect them all--for the kids, of course. Oh yeah, this Irish fairy tale is lovely as well.
Amanda Coppedge
Jan 30, 2013 Amanda Coppedge rated it really liked it
Shelves: celtic, read-in-2013
Love the illustrations. I have never heard this variation before. Some interesting possibilities for storytelling. Good for reading one on one with a child.
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