The New Policeman by Kate Thompson.
Green Willow Books/HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 2007.
Originally published by The Bodley Head: Great Britain, 2005.

This story is a suspenseful and fanciful explanation of why people in modern times seem to not have time for all of the things people used to do - reading, learning music, hanging out with friends, etc. Time is leaking from the world into the realm of Eternal Youth, otherwise known as the world of the faeries.

The story starts with a modern-day, Irish, farming family that welcomes visitors regularly to their home to play music together and share their music with the community. This tradition dates back to a time when the Catholic Church was trying to stamp out community dances. J.J. Liddy learns form his best friend that the Liddy family has a dark secret, connected to their music playing. Related but not apparent at first, there is a new policeman in town with a bad memory who can be led astray by an invitation to play his fiddle.

All of these things do not immediately seem connected. It isn't until J.J. is led into the realm of Eternal Youth by a concerned neighbor and distracted long enough to understand the problem that the reader can see the connections.

Possibly because it comes to us from Britain, this is a very different book. It is a blend of the Irish traditions of music making and weaving fanciful tales. It has a bare minimum of folklore, and so, seems more modern. It is fairly believable despite the trip to the faerie world. It was nothing like I expected.

I especially enjoyed the musical heritage in the story. Adding to my pleasure is that we had just finished a weekend of musical merriment at the American Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine. Bangor was fortunate in hosting the National Folk Festival for three years, and then the city , with the help of the National organizers, started their own annual event. Musicians from all over the states, plus Canada and other countries, come to perform. Because of the the 400th anniversary of French settlement in Canada, the main focus this year was on French Canadian (also have strong Irish & Scottish influence) groups learning their music through house parties. We heard so much fiddling - including a Norwegian fiddler playing an instrument deemed the devil's instrument, as in the book.

The story is high interest with a low reading level. It also looks longer than it is due to the design of the book. Each chapter is headed by a traditional song, which is a nice touch but takes up space.

related-time and space, fairies, music, Ireland, fiddling and fiddlers, family secrets
RL=7th and up

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