Poor Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady! This couple lives a very meager life, indeed, in a tiny cottage, with only one potato to share each day, one hairpin, one chair, one ragged blanket, one worn coat, one candle, which they never burn, and one gold coin, which they are saving. Their children are grown and they have nothing to do now but try to get by. One day, as he digs for their daily potato, Mr. O'Grady uncovers a large black cooking cauldron buried in the hillside, which he hauls inside. He carries the potato in the pot, but when he reaches his cottage, he looks inside and finds not one, but two potatoes! Before long the thrifty couple realizes that this is a magic pot that doubles anything that falls inside. So they set to work, making more candles, more coats, more blankets more of everything, including, of course, money.
After Mr. O'Grady makes a trip to town to buy some new things (a new coat!), Mrs. O'Grady rises to help him come in. Still groggy from her rest, she trips and falls into the pot. Yes, this pot works on people, too, and before you can say One Potato, Two Potato, there are two Mr. and two Mrs. O'Gradys! After the initial shock, the two couples live happily ever after, with each person now having a buddy with whom to talk.
Andrea U'ren's illustrations are just right: they're spare to suit the story, yet not lacking in any detail. In one picture, for instance, Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady sit on their shared chair one evening contemplating life, before they find the magic pot. Their long bodies bend, back to back, and they both look terribly uncomfortable on that chair. Cynthia DeFelice has written a captivating folk tale, a read-aloud bound to keep children mesmerized. It's also a good one to prompt discussions: What would you like to double if you had a magic pot?