Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie DePaola

Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie DePaola
Image Credit:  Abundant Family Living (Tina Truelove)

Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie DePaola

Jamie O’Rourke and his wife, Eileen, live in Ireland. Eileen wishes to spend a week visiting with her sister who has a new baby. Eileen leaves their home nice and clean and even pre-cooks and stores her husband’s meals for the week. All she asks him to do is clean up after himself each night and sweep the floor. Eileen leaves to visit her sister while Jamie, lazy as he is, decides to go to bed. He feels that if he stays in bed, he will not be cluttering up the cottage.

Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie DePaola
Image Credit:  Abundant Family Living (Tina Truelove)
Three friends come to visit with Jamie. They bring cider and ask Jamie for dishes and food. They enjoy a nice visit, but Jamie’s friends leave him to clean up the mess all by himself. Jamie leaves the mess and goes to bed. During the night, a donkey-like animal comes into the cottage. It is a Pooka.

The Pooka cleans up the mess and leaves. The next morning, Jamie’s three friends come back with more cider. Jamie tells them that he got up early and cleaned up the mess. Jamie and his friends have more cider and feast again. Once again, the three friends leave the mess for Jamie to clean up all by himself. Instead of cleaning up the mess, Jamie goes back to bed and waits for the Pooka to return.

Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie DePaola
Image Credit:  Abundant Family Living (Tina Truelove)
Once again, the Pooka returns. Jamie has his friends over every night. Every night they make a mess. Every night they leave Jamie to clean up the mess. Every night Jamie goes to bed and waits on the Pooka to return. Every night, the Pooka returns and cleans up the mess.

Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie DePaola
Image Credit:  Abundant Family Living (Tina Truelove)
One night, Jamie decides to ask the Pooka why he continues to return to clean up after him and his three messy friends. The Pooka tells Jamie it is punishment he received because he was once a lazy servant. He tells Jamie he doesn’t mind, but he gets cold after he cleans up and goes outside. He asks Jamie for a warm coat.

The next night, Jamie has a warm coat for the Pooka, but the story might not end like you expect.

After reading the story, discuss the consequences of being lazy with the child. Ask questions such as:

Did Jamie O’Rourke have a good attitude or a bad attitude at the end of the story?

Who was really ungrateful? Jamie or the Pooka?

Are there times when you feel lazy and don’t want to do your chores?

Is it right to let someone else do your work for you?

Should we do our work even when we don’t feel like it? (Take this opportunity to discuss responsibility.)

How can we avoid feeling lazy?

How might eating healthy foods and getting enough exercise help us have more energy and feel less lazy? (Take this opportunity to discuss proper nutrition and exercise with the child.)

A Pooka, in Irish folktales, is an animal spirit. Read other Irish folktales to your child. Learn about and discuss Irish culture with the child.  Discuss the differences between imaginary stories and real life.  Very young children sometimes have difficulty knowing the difference between imaginary stories and reality.

Above all, have fun learning and reading together!

Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka was written and illustrated by Tomie DePaola. The book was published in the year 2000 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.  You can see from the pictures above that the illustrations are bright and fun.

Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie DePaola
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Applications to Education – Just a Few Suggestions

Making Predictions

Before reading the story, ask the children to look at the book cover. Encourage them to imagine what a “Pooka” might be and what it might look like. Ask questions such as:

1. Do you think the Pooka will help Jamie?

2. Do you think the Pooka will be Jamie’s friend or his enemy?

The children will likely come up with all sorts of predictions about what might happen in the book. Write their predictions on a chart. Then, after reading the book, look at the chart and see how many predictions were accurate.


Prepare a series of sequencing cards illustrating key events in the story. You can write a few short sentences about the event or you can draw a simple illustration. After reading the story, ask the children to place the cards in order according to the order they happened in the story. You can make several sets of cards and do this in small groups.


Ask them to retell the story. Not only does this help you evaluate comprehension, but it’s fun.

Encouraging Imagination

Instruct the children to create an alternative ending to the story. Encourage them to share how they could use a Pooka in their own homes. With what chores would he be most helpful? What would their parents think?


Supply the children with craft supplies and instruct them to create their own Pooka

Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie DePaola
God Bless My School by Hannah C. Hall

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