This book begins with the birth of a baby boy. His mother names him Becan, which means "little one" in Irish. Becan's feet grew unusually large, but he remained relatively short. His mother died while he was young. His father who was a peddler was away often and would bring back what was needed. One day he came back with a new wife and her three almost grown daughters. Then he went off to work again. The stepmother and her daughters watched Becan and always blamed everything on him. The daughters called him Little Big Foot. Eventually the stepmother got sick of having him around and sent him off to be a herdboy for the cows. Becan was fine with this however he was afraid of the tales he heard about the large speckled bull who could kill a man by kicking him.
One day the bull arrived at the field where Becan took his father's cows. Becan scratched him in the same place the cows liked to be scratched and they became friends. Becan would tell the bull about his problems and one day the bull talked back. He told Becan he would not starve while he was around and told him to pull out what was in his ear. This was an amazing meal wrapped in a table cloth. After that every day the bull would come at lunch time to feed Becan. He stopped accepting the scraps his stepmother offered for dinner and she became suspicious. She sent her eldest daughter to spy on him to see who was feeding him. The daughter came home and reported to the mother. The mother told her they would kill the bull and have a nice stew. Becan heard everything although they thought he was asleep.
At day break Becan ran off to warn his friend. The bull told him to jump on his back and they would escape. The traveled a long way until the bull stopped and told Becan that this is where they would say goodbye. He told him a grey bull would come to fight him and the grey bull would kill him. When he died he told Becan to twist off his extra long tail and wear it as a belt. Becan should use it whenever he needed the bull the most. Becan was horrified at this thought, but the bull insisted. All happened as the speckled bull said. The grey bull arrived and they fought all day. At days end the speckled bull was dead and the grey bull had disappeared. Becan cried all night by his friend then remembering what he said he easily twisted off his tail and wrapped it around his body twice as a belt. Then he reached in his ear one more time and pulled out the white table cloth and covered the bull with it. Then he wandered off on his own.
While walking on his own, his feet hurt (he was barefoot) and eventually a gentleman offered him a ride on his horse. When Becan told him he was going anywhere he offered Becan a job as a herdboy. The gentleman warned him that his next door neighbor was an arhach (a giant) and told him to stay on his side of the fence. Becan always wanted to see a giant, so he did not listen. When the horse, cows, sheep and donkey had eaten all the grass on the gentleman's side of the fence, Becan climbed up and saw that the giant had lots of grass and apple trees. He knocked down some of the stones of the fence so the animals could pass over it and then they all went to where there was food. The giant arrived and almost killed Becan until he remembered his bull tail belt.
The bull tail wrapped itself around the giant's neck. The giant begged for him to remove it and Becan said he only would if the giant gave him his boots and disappeared forever. The giant gave Becan his boots which fit him perfectly and also dropped his sword which Becan picked up and wore in his belt.
One day the gentleman warned Becan to stay close to home because it was Dragon Day in Kinsale. He explained that every year the dragon came out of the ocean and ate the most fair maiden. If the fairest maiden was not tied to the post to be eaten the dragon would make the water swell over the entire town. This year the fairest maiden was the king's own daughter, Princess Finola. Well of course, Becan went off to see what was going to happen. He rode the man's donkey to town and saw the princess tied to a post. Everyone around her ignored her cries for help and would not look at her. Then he said he would fight for her. And the dragon appeared.
He and the dragon fought for a long time. His arm got tired of swinging the giant's sword. When he pricked the dragon with it, the dragon acted like it was a minor pinprick. Then Becan remembered the bull's tail and pulled it off. It magically wrapped itself around the dragon's jaws and the dragon returned to the sea with the tail.
Princess Finola wanted to thank him, but at the same time he heard his three stepsisters call out "Little Big Foot" and he wanted to escape. Princess Finola reached out for him and grabbed his boot. He rode the donkey away having lost one boot. Princess Finola announced she would only marry the man who fit the boot since he was the only one who had helped her. The king sent a messenger out looking for the man who fit the boot. It was a year before the messenger arrived at the gentleman's house. The gentleman tried it on and it slid right off. Then he told the messenger to let the boy try it on. The messenger didn't think a herdboy would be the one, but let him do it anyway. Of course it fit and Becan told them he had its mate in the cowshed. Becan rode the gentleman's horse to the castle where Princess Finola waited for him. She commented on how they were the same height so they would see eye-to-eye on things and told him he would now be Prince Becan. They got married and lived happily ever after.
Our crafts for this book were of course our peg dolls and then we used DLTK toilet paper roll crafts for the bull and the dragon. We used a paper towel roll for the giant and just made it ourselves.
Later this week we will be sharing more Irish cooking and hope you will join us. Tomorrow we will feature the first of this month's Virtual Book Club for Kids posts and it will include a giveaway. Please come see and enter!!