To Maryellen: “Wishing you good luck and true friendship forever!”Martin Nelson Burton
This was the inscription that author Martin Nelson Burton wrote in November 2004, on Maryellen’s copy of Dear Mr. Leprechaun, Letters From My First Friendship.
This is a delightful, true tale based upon the author’s childhood writings to his leprechaun friend. The original letters and the responses (written by the author’s father, aka The Leprechaun) are presented in the book.
On each page, there is a leprechaun that younger children will enjoy searching for. The beautiful artwork of Clint Hansen was created with paper sculpture. The last page of the book gives a brief description of the sculpture process that children and adults will find fascinating.
Add this to your St. Patrick’s Day collection and pair it up with one of our other recommended tales from last year’s blog: A Leprechaun Lesson for St. Patrick’s Day with Story Grammar Marker.
Below is the book outlined as a Complete Episode. Modify it to meet your student’s needs. (I could not help but think that an added activity would be to have each child complete a Braidy or Story Grammar Marker Character Map on him/herself and then write and introduce themselves to Mr. Leprechaun!)
Martin (the author of the story, age 5-11)
Martin has a friend, The Leprechaun
happy, content, curious, sometimes frustrated!
To keep his friendship going with the leprechaun by writing letters
The attempts to carry out this plan are shown in letters to the leprechaun and responses from the “leprechaun” (actually from Martin’s father, as older children will figure out).
Martin asks Mr. Leprechaun to draw a picture of himself; (Mr. L does writes a letter – sending a picture of himself and also, describing his life.)
Martin writes, asking Mr. L. to make his toy boat life-sized (Response is that he is “under the weather” and powers are not what they should be, so he cannot do this task.)
Martin writes, telling Mr. L. that he has made him dandelion tea to help him get well… and get powers back.
(Illustration indicates that Mr. L. followed this suggestion!)
Martin tries to get Mr. L. to show him how he snapped his fingers to disappear and reappear where he wanted to be.
(We see the response letter that Mr. L. thinks that Martin is trying to trick him!)
Asks Mr. L. to arrange trip to Ireland for him and grandpa… and also asks for luck.
(Response is he is almost done arranging this and that Martin will have all the luck he needs!)
Responds to the request from Mr. L (and here is where his father indicates to Martin that even he is weary of all the letters) to not write anymore and asks Mr. L. what he can do for him.
(The leprechaun indicates that he is all set!)
Martin gradually loses touch (writes less) with Mr. L after 6 years of corresponding. He remembers how the leprechaun always made time to reply (illustration shows Martin as an adult looking at a picture of what we must infer is his father). We learn that if he catches Mr. L. they will talk about the good old days.
Feels like Mr. L. is still near him… still loves him (his father)
This selection will be enjoyed by children of all ages. Younger students can imagine a leprechaun writing and older students will make a connection to Martin’s father. In a response to a review on Amazon, Martin Nelson Burton wrote:
By Martin N. Burton on October 16, 2005
I greatly appreciate the kind words of the reviews below. I do want to make it clear that in my book, I do not state that my father is the one who wrote the leprechaun's notes to me. True, some people think the leprechaun was my father. But many others - especially children - strongly believe that the leprechaun wrote to me himself. I respect both sides, and included the actual notes in the book so the reader could decide. I am satisfied the story can be fully enjoyed either way.
Above is from the Amazon link
Yes, either way, this is a beautiful account of a young child’s friendship and love! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Sheila Zagula works with MindWing Concepts in product development, drawing on her expertise and talents as well as many years of implementing the Story Grammar Marker® and related materials. Her teaching career spans thirty-eight years, most recently as literacy coach in the Westfield Massachusetts Public School System. Sheila has experience as an early childhood educator, a teacher of children with special needs, and a collaborative instructor within an inclusion framework serving children in grades K-5.