Review Blog

Jan 02 2020

The salmon of knowledge retold and illustrated by Celina Buckley

cover image

Starfish Bay Publishing, 2019. ISBN 9781760360702. 36pp.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Finn wants to be a great warrior but first he must spend time with a poet, as training for his destiny. The wise poet, Finnegas, takes Finn and begins to train him. All the while, Finnegas wants to catch the Salmon of Knowledge which lives in the river nearby. One day he spots the salmon and with luck, catches it. He gives it to the boy to cook and clean, warning him not to eat any of it while he sleeps.
The Salmon of Knowledge had swallowed nine hazelnuts from the hazel trees which grew over the well of wisdom, and so had become sought after. Anyone eating a little of the fish would take on all the wisdom of the world. And this Finnegas craves.
But the boy notices a blister on the fish and punches it down, then licks his fingers. When Finnegas eats the fish he knows that he has not taken on all the wisdom of the world and asks Finn how he had cooked the fish. Inadvertently Finn has ingested some of the fish and now knows all the secrets and the wisdom of the world. Finnegas can teach him no more, so Finn goes off into the world.
In Irish mythology, the story of the Salmon of Knowledge is one of the stories in The boyhood deeds of Fionn, the lad who becomes the leader of the Irish Mythical Heroes, the Fianna. In 1999 a sculpture of the Salmon of Knowledge was erected in Belfast but is known locally as the big fish. Starfish Bay Children's Books is an independent publishing house located in Adelaide, South Australia. It aims to publish quality picture books for children primarily aged 3 to 8, from international and national sources, with first-rate literary and artistic content. Established in 2014, by Luke Hau, this philosophy continues as his company breaks into the US market.
This company publishes a variety of books some of which are most unusual. The salmon of knowledge has a different and most interesting font, surrounded by unusual illustrations which will intrigue readers.
Themes: Myths and legends, Irish folk tales.
Fran Knight

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