Columcille was born in a remote corner of Ireland in the year 521. Legend has it that as a child, he was fed a cake filled with the letters of the alphabet, and so learned to love writing. He grew up to become a monk and a scribe a thousand years before the invention of printing, when books had to be copied by hand.
There was one book, a beautiful volume of psalms from distant Rome, that Columcille especially loved, and even though its owner refused him permission, Columcille secretly copied it. The copy was discovered, and a dispute arose over who it belonged to: Columcille, who made it, or the owner of the original. So better was the argument that a battle was fought between the two men’s powerful friends; although Columcille’s side won, the victory felt hollow to him. To punish himself, he set out in a tiny boat, vowing to leave Ireland forever.
A revered figure in Celtic history, Columcille (also known as Columbia) founded the famous monastery on the Scottish island of Iona and left a legacy of learning that illuminated a corner of the Dark Ages. History, drama, and a love of books and reading fill a story–told here in exquisite watercolors and deflty understated prose by noted author and artist Don Brown.