If one is not familiar with the traditional Irish myth/legend of the children of Lir, one might be able to enjoy Sheila MacGill-Callahan's loose and much altered retelling without reservations.Both the narrative and the illustrations are charming, evocative of love, jealousy, sadness, adventure (combined with a typical, but rather clever happily-ever-after fairytale ending).However, although legends and myths do undergo many changes, an author should clearly indicate wether his/her retelling, his/her version of a folktale, a legend is a radical departure from known and accepted versions.And in my opinion, with The Children Of Lir, Sheila MacGill-Callahan has failed to do this.Yes, she does indicate in a rather rambling author's note that her reworking of the Fate of the Children of Lir is loosely based on an Irish myth.But her version of the story (with the happy ending, the deus ex machina of the rescuing whale, the different spelling of Aoife's name etc.) is so fundamentally different from traditional Irish lore that it really is no longer only a retelling, but an almost completely original story, one that uses the characters of the original tale (and even with these characters, there are changes), and the general concept of the children of Lir being changed into swans by a jealous stepmother, but not much else.Also, as the Fate of the Children of Lir is considered one of the most sorrowful and poignant tales of Irish folklore, of Irish storytelling (their curse of having to live 900 years as swans, their final release by a Christian monk, their immediate death from old age upon release from said curse), Sheila MacGill-Callahan's version, with its fairytale-like happy ending, seems almost a bit of an affront to Irish culture and lore.

As a tale in and of itself, the story is lovely and quite moving, and the illustrations are truly wonderful, stylish, artistic, expressive.However The Children Of Lir seems to have evolved into more of a Central (continental) European fairy tale; it no longer appears as the powerfully poignant, sorrowful tale of Irish (Celtic) legend it originally was meant to be. I would still recommend The Children Of Lir to children who enjoy fairytales and folktales (older children, as there is quite a lot of text), but with a major caveat that this retelling of the Fate of the Children of Lir is to be approached more as a stylised "Kunstmärchen" refurbishing of the Irish original.Two and a half stars, if half stars were possible, rounded up to a very, very low three star rating, because the narrative and the illustrations are enchanting, my problems with authenticity notwithstanding.