Book Review: Finn MacCool and the Giant’s Causeway

Written by John Dougherty, Illustrated by Lee Cosgrove

By Amanda Elshahawi, Creator, Enchanted Literacy March 14, 2023

Recommended Ages 5-10

As St. Patrick’s Day is approaching, images of mischievous leprechauns, pots of gold, rainbows and four-leaf clovers appear. But there is so much more to Irish tales than lucky leprechauns. Did you know that Ireland has giants? Or they used to... as the story goes. Giant’s Causeway, one of the world’s natural wonders, stirred up stories of how two giants built (and partially destroyed) the hexagonal columns between Ireland and Scotland.  

There are a few variations of the legend, but they all focus on a character Fionn (or Finn), an Irish giant who was challenged by a Scottish giant when he catches wind that Finn has been bragging about his personal greatness. As the two giants prepare to fight they begin to build the causeway between the lands so they can compete.

We recently picked up a version by John Dougherty, a short book with three chapters perfect for elementary ages. Illustrations are large, bright and humorous, wonderfully characterizing the giants' foolish fight. In this narrative, Finn McCool’s wife plays a large part using her wits to outsmart the Scottish giant when Finn realizes that the neighboring giant is in fact larger and stronger. This brings the story to life in a fun, kid-friendly tale that will spark curiosity into the natural wonder, and bring laughter in the silliness of giants fighting and outsmarting each other.

You can have the story read to you here if you aren’t able to access the book or would like it read to you in an English accent. Another rendition of the classic tale was published last month by Lari Don. Titled, The Tall Tale of the Giant’s Causeway, this version is a picture book written for ages 4-7 years old. Though I haven’t been able to flip through the pages yet myself, I plan to because it looks like it will be a great addition to our collection!

Amanda is a preschool teacher, mother and avid Central Park picnicker. She values community and is an advocate for families in the foster care system. One day she hopes to publish a children's book of her own. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram, Enchanted Literacy, which encourages imagination and passion for reading.