The Copper Braid of Shannon O’Shea by Laura Esckelson


The Copper Braid of Shannon O’Shea by Laura Esckelson

The Copper Braid of Shannon O’Shea
Laura Esckelson; Dutton Children’s Books 2003

Illustrator Pam Newton

Review by Molly

A troupe of copper tressed sprites marching across both leaves of the frontispiece set the scene for the fun to follow.

The Queen of sprites leads the group, there are old and young, some with picnic baskets, some with babies on their backs, male and female, children sprites towed in a cart and some flying overhead.

The copper braid of Shannon O’Shea begins the tale, was unbraided one fall on account of the hay.

Directed by Bernice, their queen, the sprites who should have known to leave the braid bound began undoing ribbons and bows holding Shannon’s braid.  As they worked more and more things began to appear, beginning with the hat the sprites found thimbles and buttons, crab apples, a jar of orange  marmalade and raccoons and even some crows nibbling on corn growing in the coppery braid.

Shannon began to sneeze due to the dust and the pollen, but nobody could hear, the sneezes were drowned out by the honking of geese.  And so it went with seagulls, and silky cocoons, butterflies, moths and a flock of lost loons, carolers still singing were surprised to learn the holiday was now 9 months passed.  Steeples and pillars and spires, purple potatoes, wild green tomatoes, and some marvelous beasts, a griffin, a sphinx with a hummingbird perched on his head, emeralds and gold nuggets, limos and taxis AND  much more!

At last the diligent sprites release everything cause in that coppery braid, and they reach the girl!  Ah, the reeling and serenading, laughter and song.  Shannon asked them what took you so long.

It took dozens of sprites to rebraid the hair as Shannon sat sipping lemonade while sitting on a chair seventeen miles from the end of her braid.

I have always enjoyed St Paddy’s Day, the wearing of the green and all.  And while we talk of leprechauns and little folk and Ireland; nothing is quite so Irish for Osage County First Grade as when I bring out the book featuring Shannon O’Shea and all that wonderful coppery hair.

I find Osage County First Grade enthralled with the tale of Shannon O’Shea, her hair, the sprites and all the strange and wonderful and fun things going on in that braid.  What a lovely imaginative read!  Sprites all have coppery hair, are dressed mainly in turquoise with a little orange and green added here and there, are cheery in appearance and do not appear frightening at all.

The family with the cart also have a dog, Osage County First Grade looks on each page hoping to find the dog.

The page showing raccoons also receives much attention, Osage County First Grade loves the stories I can tell about visiting raccoons who come to my house each night hoping to find left overs from the food I put out for feral cats, abandoned dogs, and the raccoons themselves.  These in the book are some might cute, roly poly raccoons, and they eat the orange marmalade found by the sprites.

A super fun, child friendly, totally implausible tale, filled lots and lots of fun two line rhymes

Bernice found raccoons and a rather large crow, Nibbling on corn in a dark copper row,
As they unbraided, a song filled the air  From some caroler who had been tangled in there
And the old barn cat, come to no harm, Along with the cows from the Henderson’s farm

Are but three of the couplets children laugh, and listen and adore.

As the sprites unravel the braid, Osage County First Grade begins to realize we have not seen Shannon O’Shea, until at last, page after page is unplaited and THERE, two red shoes can be seen, and on the next page is SHANNON O’SHEA.

And Shannon joined in with the laughter and song, After she’d asked them ‘What took you so long?’

And the sprites quickly set to rebraiding all seventeen miles of that, clean, beautiful, coppery hair while Queen Bernice and several of the babies sit smiling and munching bagels, Shannon is shown sipping lemonade, and that cute dog sits nearby.

This is a book I get out during the last days of February, and begin reading 1 page a day, day 1 is page one, day 2 read 1 and 2 and so forth.  Until on the last day before our spring break I read the book in its entirety, we get to finally see Shannon O’Shea and have enjoyed the tale and rhymes to the fullest.

Each day we write the new rhyming, onset and rime work, words in our journals and practice saying them.  By books end we have added many rhyming words to our journals.  And have enjoyed a really fun tale about a little Irish girl.  During the period we work with our globe and maps to help us understand where to find Ireland in the world, we discuss leprechauns and societal tales and the fun of childhood.

All in all I find The Copper Braid of Shannon O’Shea to be a wonderful teaching aid, a lovely and fun narrative, and a book Osage County First Grade enjoys to the fullest.

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