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The Hound of Ulster: A Bloomsbury Reader

Written by Malachy Doyle

Illustrated by Erin Brown

Part of the Bloomsbury Readers Series

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The Hound of Ulster: A Bloomsbury Reader Review

Adventure Stories Featured Books for 7+ readers Reading Scheme Traditional Tales

A thrilling retelling of the traditional Irish legend of Cuchulainn written by Malachy Doyle

Book Band: Grey (Ideal for ages 8+)

This is a modern twist on a lesser-known Irish folktale. A story of realised dreams and the perseverance of one little Shepherd boy. It tells the story of Setanta who wants to be a Red Branch Knight.

The young warriors are great hurlers and Setanta knows his skills are every bit as good as theirs.

The early chapters are set in the home with Setanta’s parents, where his dreams are not recognised. His mother thinks they are too poor and lowly for their son to be recognised by the King and his Knights, and when Setanta wants to travel with his father to the town of Emain Macha, to try his luck with the trainee warriors, his father produces a plethora of reasons why not. (A lot like many parents faced with a pleading child.) However, he not only wins over his father, but also the King who witnesses his skills and finally the warriors, who after much bullying and rejection of an interloper to their group, recognise both his ability but also his bravery.

Throughout the book there is a feeling of hope of success, but there are also some exciting twists and encounters. This is an exciting adventure story, but also a story with some important themes and areas for discussion: Setanta’s pride and belief in himself, bullying and its consequences, and the bravery and determination, in one so young.

Rosie Watch

Other Info

The Bloomsbury Readers series is packed with brilliant books to get children reading independently in Key Stage 2, with book-banded stories by award-winning authors like double Carnegie Medal winner Geraldine McCaughrean and Waterstones Prize winner Patrice Lawrence covering a wide range of genres and topics.

With charming illustrations, ideas for discussion points and online guided reading notes written by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), this series is ideal for reading both in the classroom and at home.

Find more information on the Bloomsbury Readers Scheme.

The Hound of Ulster: A Bloomsbury Reader Synopsis

Young Setanta, the son of poor shepherds, is determined to impress the might king of Ulster with his strength and bravery and to join the Red Branch Knights. He could easily beat the other warriors at hurling. He could even triumph over them in a fight. But can he defeat the ferocious hound of Ulster, the smith Culann's menacing guard dog, and prove his worth?

This page-turning story from Malachy Doyle, based on the traditional Irish folk tale, has exciting black-and-white illustrations by Erin Brown and is perfect for children who are developing as readers. 

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781472989963
Publication date: 05/08/2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Education
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781472989963
Publication date: 5th August 2021
Author: Malachy Doyle
Illustrator: Erin Brown
Publisher: Bloomsbury Education
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 64 pages
Suitable for: 7+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Reading Scheme, Traditional Tales

About Malachy Doyle

Malachy Doyle is the author of Digger and Lew, Big Pig, Teddybear Blue, Antonio on the Other Side of the World, Getting Smaller and Too Noisy, illustrated by Ed Vere.  His first teenage novel, Georgie, won the Tir na n-Og prize and his picture book, Cow, won an English Association Award for non-fiction. He also won the 2002 White Raven Award for Hungry! Hungry! He lives with his family (and his cat, dog, ducks and hens) in County Donegal, Ireland.

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