Fiona’s Luck (Teresa Bateman)

Hello friends, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! To celebrate, we picked a special book for today: Fiona’s Luck, written by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Kelly Murphy, the tale of a brave and clever woman using her wits to restore the luck of the Irish.

In the beginning, when only leprechauns and fair folk roamed Ireland, there was luck in the air, and it would settle upon the magical creatures like nothing at all. But when the much bigger humans came, they would catch most of the luck and leave the fairies with none. So the king of the leprechauns had his people capture up all the luck, and he kept it under magical lock and key. Unfortunately, with no luck at all, this caused the regular folk to suffer as their cows dried up and their crops turned rotten. One woman named Fiona knows what happened to the luck, and intends to help her people, not with brawn or magic or even luck, but with her quick wit and clever mind – but can she outsmart the leprechaun king?

This was a very cute little tale that was perfect for St. Patrick’s: it’s a great mix of traditional Irish folklore and a strong female protagonist using her brain to save the day. The illustrations are lovely, and definitely capture the look and feel of an Irish fairytale. The length might be a bit long for very young readers, but JJ sat through it fine and older readers definitely could. This one is a fun way to celebrate Irish heritage and folklore today, or any day! Baby Bookworm approved!

XO, Ox: A Love Story (Adam Rex & Scott Campbell)

Hello, everyone! Today’s book is XO, Ox: A Love Story by Adam Rex and Scott Campbell, an unconventional “love” story.

Ox loves how beautiful and graceful Gazelle is, so he writes her letter after letter declaring his devotion. Gazelle is conceited and egocentric, however, and treats him dismissively, then insultingly. Still, Ox persists, knowing that she could never love him but-

You know what, I’m going to stop there. This book is disturbing. Like, deeply disturbing. For a book that has “A Love Story,” in its title, this is a terrible message for children about what love is.

Ox is blindly persistent in his affection toward Gazelle, someone he claims to love, but has never met (therefore, he is attracted to her, NOT “in love”), writing her multiple letters despite Gazelle’s insistence that he stop doing so. Gazelle, a stuck-up diva trope, then insults his looks, hygiene, and intelligence (cruelly, I might add). Still, Ox does not leave her alone, inadvertently insulting her, which drives her into a tear-fueled rage. And this makes her… decide she DOES love him?! At least, I think, as the ending is vague and abrupt.

That is a terrifying message to send to children about love. “Don’t respect someone’s wishes when they repeatedly tell you ‘no'” and “If someone treats you like dirt, don’t give up, because they may someday love you,” are two dangerously old-fashioned notions that have no place in a children’s book about “love” published in 2017. 

The book has nice illustrations, and JJ is fortunately young enough to not understand the implications of the plot, so take that for what it’s worth. I’m so bummed about this too, because we have adored Rex’s and Campbell’s individual work in the past. But I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that anyone read this to an impressionable child. See you tomorrow, with better tidings I hope.