Once Upon a Place is a collection of Irish stories and poems, compiled by Eoin Colfer. One of the stories is about a boy who has been told all his life not to go swimming alone. But one day, when his parents are not paying attention, he goes out to the bay and jumps off the cliff into the ocean. When he comes up, the buildings around the bay are gone, and so are his clothes. As he runs toward his house, he notices new traffic lights have been put up, and old shops have been replaced with new ones.
“The ram went through the village like a winter storm, stomping the houses to kindling, chewing the Exterios Players to pieces and tossing entire houses through the air. It was chaos.”
In another story, the people tell a story about a ram, called the Battering Ram, comes across the sea every five thousand years to wreak havoc on the townsfolk. In all the stories, a hero has always been their to save them; he is then given either the kingdom or the princess’s hand in marriage. One year, the villagers are enjoying their feast when a huge ram rushes in. All the villagers run away except for one warrior, who says he will save them all… but the Princess has no desire to marry that man!
The story of the ram is funny; others are sad or scary; they have different styles and emotions (which is not surprising as they are written by several different authors) but they convey a united theme, of magical Ireland. It is really fun to read these Irish stories. P.J. Lynch’s illustrations are an excellent addition to the tales as well. These stories are light, children’s fairy stories, which will be engaging and appropriate for any age.