School Library Journal - 08/01/2006 Gr 2-4-A slightly scary, always amusing story about a "lazy, good-for-nothing lad" named Fergus O'Mara who offers only excuses when his mother asks him to do some chores. Then he blithely saunters off to town "for a bit of play." Gouache and colored-pencil illustrations skillfully reveal his jaunty demeanor; his remarkably flexible body exudes action and attitude. Suddenly, he encounters a hooded Night-Demon with a lethal-looking scythe who declares, "It is your time, Fergus O'Mara!" The lad is only briefly frightened before he dismisses him as a bad dream. Soon, Fergus meets the demon again; now it looms over him and its red glowing eyes are revealed. Increasingly dramatic images, served up in shades of green, blue, and brown, convey the rising tension in the story. Amusingly, when told to dig his own grave, Fergus seems more concerned that he "be rid of this hard work" than frightened of his predicament. However, after he outwits the demon, he unexpectedly resolves to "be the hardest working lad hereabouts." This sudden repentance appears to happen because he fears that the demon will come looking for him again. Children will appreciate this humorous ghost story; it makes a good read-aloud choice.-Kirsten Cutler, Sonoma County Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2006 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/01/2006 Much acclaimed for his nonfiction, Murphy takes on a lighter subject and different style for this picture book. Lazy Fergus O’Mara skips out on his chores at every opportunity. One night he sets off to indulge in the nightlife of Skibbereen. On the way, he encounters a great, tall creature that gets larger with every turn of the page. Just as Fergus refuses his mother’s requests for help, so he ignores the night-demon’s insistence that it’s time for him to die and he must dig his own grave. Like a leprechaun in a tight spot, Fergus talks his way out of the situation, and he even mends his ways—for a time at least. Murphy’s tale is pleasingly full of blarney, and Manders’ comic illustrations offset the menace of the night-demon and the graveyard. The faces and figures in the gouache-and-colored-pencil pictures seem to lack depth and character, as if they were made in haste, but they nicely convey the great heights an Irish night-demon can reach. - Copyright 2006 Booklist.