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If you've always wondered about the real story of Saint Patrick, click here to read "Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up?" by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson (at the Christian Articles Archive site).

Scroll down to see the books I recommend for St. Patrick's Day. To read additional reviews on these items or for pricing information, just click on any book cover or the handy links provided.

Shrek, VHS computer-animated movie starring the voices of Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow, produced by Dreamworks Entertainment (2001). Rated PG ("mild language and some crude humor").

I resisted the positive reviews of this movie until curiosity and a boring Saturday afternoon got the better of me, and we rented Shrek as a family. As I expected, juvnile humor popped up in the opening scenes. What I didn't expect was the character development in a modern, animated movie--at least, not to the depth of sensitivity that this movie succeeds in doing. Shrek (Mike Myers) is a large ogre, green and odd-looking on the outside, but as we watch, we learn he is kind and gentle. Donkey (Eddie Murphy), a talking donkey, runs into Shrek while trying to escape Lord Farquaad's (John Lithgow) militia who have orders to round up all the fairy tale characters in the land. Unfortunately for Shrek, Lord Farquaad banishes all the captured characters to his swamp land. Shrek makes an appeal to Lord Farquaad, who makes a deal with Shrek: Rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a dragon-guarded tower, and he will be given title to the swamp land and the fairy tale characters can return home. Shrek agrees, and Donkey insists on coming with him on this quest. Be aware there are a few instances of off-color inuendo which most adults will catch and most children won't. Fortunately, these instances are few and seemed subtle enough not to detract from the overwhelming story of Shrek, his growing friendship with Donkey, and his love for Princess Fiona. I liked it so much, I bought a copy for our family library. Theme: What's on the inside matters more than what's on the outside--and relationships matter.

St. Patrick's Day, by Gail Gibbons (1995, Holiday House), paperback reprint edition, ages 4-8.

I researched St. Patrick's Day traditions for a home-school lesson for my children last year, and was disappointed at the lack of materials that shared the true story of Saint Patrick. However, this book by Gibbons proved helpful and enlightening. Booklist describes it this way: "In a book similar to those she's done for topics ranging from boats to birthdays, Gibbons offers information about St. Patrick's Day in an easily digestible text and a clean, colorful format. She covers the salient details of Patrick's life--his boyhood in slavery, his return to Britain where he was ordained, and his life dedicated to the conversion of the Irish--and she highlights the symbols and happenings of St. Patrick's Day. At the conclusion, she describes some of St. Patrick's miracles, one to an illustrated box."

The Life of St. Patrick and His Place in History, by John B. Bury (March 1998, Dover Publications), unabridged edition, adults.

Consider an adult version of St. Patrick's story written by scholar John Bury. A reader gave this book four stars at and said: "Very quickly following the death of the saint a great body of stories and traditions arose around him. Some of these stories were plainly fabricated; others contained more than a grain of truth. As a scholar of the late Roman world Bury knew the territory very well and tells a compelling and plausible story of the earliest days of the Irish church. While scholarly, the book is readable and interesting, full of wonderful stories and wry humor."

St. Patrick's Blessing
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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Kimn Swenson Gollnick

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Updated March 5, 2002

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