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Date of Review: 
Carolyn Phelan
Booklist (Starred Review)

Gr. 1 - 3. Milligan, who also wrote Brigid’s Cloak (2002), here retells with grace and gusto an Irish folktale he heard as a child. When the king of Ireland’s eldest son displeases his stepmother, she sets him a seemingly impossible task: bring her the three magic stallions belonging to a young giant. The prince sets out on the quest with his two loyal stepbrothers, but they soon find themselves the giant’s prisoners, dangling from his stable rafters above a roaring fire. When the prince learns that only a story can stave off the giant’s fury, he tells a tale that earns the brothers’ freedom and the giant’s gratitude – as well as the stallions. Like Shaharazad, the prince saves his own and others’ lives with a narrative that enthralls his audience. The appended author’s note includes information on the story’s roots as well as the definitions and pronunciations of the three Irish words used in the text. Written with an Irish lilt and storyteller’s sense of pacing, the tale has a sense of music about it that finds expression in McDaniels’ graceful, sometimes humorous illustrations. The lively pencil drawings, tinted with watercolor washes, focus on dramatic moments, but the humble details help create an inviting setting. For Saint Patrick’s Day or for any day, an engaging picture book to read aloud.