Friday, November 30, 2012

Welcome December!

Welcome to December! The holiday season is upon us well and truly now and the days have gone dark and cold. Whatever holiday you happen to be celebrating this winter, you can't escape the atmosphere. And, yes, Christmas is coming. I really love these days, with the lights, the music and everything that comes with it. It is very easy to let stress and anxiety enter your life, but why not take some time to step outside all that and look for the joy. My suggestion? Enjoy it!
And since I'm here to talk about books (more specifically, children's books). I've devised my own method to communicate that. Based on a tradition that we have always practiced in my family, I'm putting up a new page here.... my Advent calendar of books. Some are new this year; some are old favourites, some are focused on Christmas, some are simply great winter books. A book a day up to the 24th of December. I invite you to join me! I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Madeleine L'Engle

Today, I'm thinking of and remembering the wonderful books of Madeleine L'Engle, who would have been 94 today. A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most powerful memories of my childhood.... the first book that opened up the possibilities of time-travel in my young mind and heart and took me to times/places and planets beyond my own imagination. 
Madeleine L'Engle 1918-2007
Happy Birthday, Madeleine... wherever you are. Think I'll go read A Wrinkle in Time again......

Friday, November 23, 2012

Irish Book Awards...and the winners are...

Big, big congratulations to the winners of the Bord Gais Irish Book Awards 2012! And the winners in the children's categories are...
In the Specsavers Childrens Book of the Year, senior category: Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (the last in the series, I might add.)
In the Specsavers Childrens Book of the Year, junior category: This Moose Belongs To Me by Oliver Jeffers.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Irish Book Awards Tonight!

The votes have all been counted and tonight they'll unveil the winners of the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2012! I've got my fingers crossed for... well, everybody in the childrens categories. It is so difficult to say who my personal favourites are... there are just too many good books to choose from. These awards are voted for by YOU, so they are truly meaningful. Here's a reminder of the shortlists in the childrens categories... stay tuned for the winners!
Specsavers Children's Book of the Year, Senior category:
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian Eoin Colfer
The final thrilling Artemis Fowl adventure in Eoin Colfer’s globally bestselling series. Let the misadventure begin – for the last time.  The thrilling climax to this globally bestselling series – but will it all end happily ever after?
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket John Boyne
From the moment Barnaby Brocket comes into the world, he defies the laws of gravity – and floats. Rejected by his parents, betrayed, frightened and alone, Barnaby floats into the path of a very special hot air balloon – and so begins a magical journey around the world, with a cast of extraordinary new friends.
Zom-B Darren Shan
Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more.
Rebecca’s Rules Anna Carey
Sequel to bestselling The Real Rebecca. ‘It reminded me of being a teenager, the nice parts! For young adults but so funny, sweet, and bright.  It’s a perfect piece of hilarious loveliness! Gold Star!!!!’ Marian Keyes
Leave it to Eva Judi Curtin
Fun, feisty Eva Gordon’s never been one to shy away from helping her friends – whether they want her help or not! – but this time she might have found a problem that’s too big even for her…
 Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked Derek Landy
The seventh instalment in the biggest, funniest, most thrilling comedy-horror-adventure series in the universe, Skulduggery Pleasant. The follow-up to 2011’s number-one bestseller, Death Bringer, sees Skulduggery and Valkyrie Cain needed now more than ever.
Specsavers Childrens Book of the Year, Junior Category:
Guess How Much I Love You: Here, There and Everywhere Sam McBratney
Four new Guess How Much I Love You stories in one volume – The Hiding Tree, On Cloudy Mountain, The Far Field, Coming Home – featuring adventurous Little Nutbrown Hare and wise Big Nutbrown Hare
 Oh No, George! Chris Haughton
Harris is off to do some shopping. “Will you be good, George?” he asks. George really wants to … but chocolate cake is just so very delicious and he does love to chase cats… Chris Haughton’s distinctive artwork perfectly accompanies the innocent charm of a dog trying to be good – with hilarious results!
 Adam’s Greatest Inventions Benji Bennett
Adam embarks on another magnificent adventure of discovery and wonder as he seeks to find history’s greatest invention.  This, the 6th book in Benji Bennett’s bestselling series Adam’s Amazing Adventures,  promises to enchant and delight children and adults of all ages.
 This Moose Belongs to Me Oliver Jeffers
An exquisitely-illustrated, witty and thought-provoking story, featuring a boy and his pet moose, from international picture book sensation, Oliver Jeffers.
Good luck, everybody!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Children's Book Launch: The Good Inventor

Saturday, November 17 at 11:00am, get yourselves down to Charlie Byrnes Bookshop (Cornstore, Middle Street, Galway) for the launch of an exciting debut (and independently published) children's novel, The Good Inventor by Charlotte Curley.
Just to give you a glimpse of The Good Inventor:  Recently orphaned Charlie has traveled from New York to live in the Connemara countryside with his Uncle Theodore, a professor and inventor of true genius... even if he is a bit eccentric. Uncle Ted has no idea how to raise a child, so he creates a marvellous 'secret invention' to help him out. On top of everything else, Charlie has a unique inheritance; the power of the Druids! And the magic and freedom of Connemara are exactly what is needed to release that power. But a deep and ancient evil is watching Charlie and have been waiting...plotting....contriving......
(Review coming up momentarily on 'What ARE You Reading' page)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Launch: Ni Mise A Rinne E!

Futa Fata is extremely pleased and excited to be launching another fabulous picture book (as gaeilge, of course) written by Bridget Bhreathnach; illustrated by Donough O'Malley. Ni Mise A Rinne E! (It Wasn't Me.. for those of us that have little or no Irish) will be launched next Saturday 17 November 2012 in Galway City Library at 12.00. All are welcome, so if you're out and about, do stop in for this wonderful new book.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Lost Christmas Gift

The Lost Christmas Gift; Andrew Beckham; Princeton Architectural Press; 9781616891022
Every year, I make it a tradition to pick up one very special Christmas book for the entire family (which is now getting rather large) to experience and share for years to come. Sometimes, these are simple picture books, sometimes wonderful Christmas novels or collections... it all depends on what's available at the time. Last year I was delighted to find a re-release of T'was the Night Before Christmas that, as it happens, was the very first copy of this traditional tale that I had owned as a little girl... it was a Little Golden Book edition.
This year, I've found something quite incredible. The book is called The Lost Christmas Gift by Andrew Beckham. Published by the Princeton Architectural Press (this alone may give you a hint as to the quality of this... it's not just a book, it's an experience.) The story is touching, exciting, filled with tension and drama and pure wonder. It is a picture book, but one for all ages. In a word, it is exquisite. If, when you are out on your wanders this holiday season, you happen to get a glimpse of it somewhere, take the time to stop and have a good long look. You won't regret the time lost pondering.

Long Lists for CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals

As you may already know, the long lists for the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2013 have been released. These are indeed VERY long lists, so I won't recite them in their entirety here. But I will point out a few of my favourites and leave you with the link, so you can peruse them for yourselves at your leisure.
The CILIP Carnegie Medal was first established in 1936 and named in memory of Andrew Carnegie, who accredited his great success to his use of libraries as a child. Those early experiences led him to resolve:
"if ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries." 
Wisdom, indeed.
The CILIP Carnegie medal long list for 2013 includes some outstanding efforts by the best children's authors working today. A particular favourite of mine is Sally Gardner. Sally has two books on the long list; her new book Maggot Moon and the incredible and amazing The Double Shadow. Accompanying these two brilliant books are the equally astounding A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge, All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls, Wonder by RJ Palacio, The Apothecary by Maile Melloy, After by Morris Gleitzman, Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver and, from our own Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer. There are many others on the list... and all are worthy contestants.
The Kate Greenaway Medal was first established in 1955. Named after the 19th century illustrator known for her beautiful illustrations and designs, it is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.  Some of the representatives on the 2013 long list include:  North: The Greatest Animal Journey on Earth by Patrick Benson (illustrator) and Nick Dowson, The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle, This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers,
The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Jackie Morris, Claude at the Circus by Alex T. Smith, Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon... and many, many more.
I am soooo delighted that I am not responsible for making such a choice. Here's the link:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2012

Well.... it's all over but the shouting. So here's a big shout out to the winners of this years' Roald Dahl Funny  Prize!!!!
In the 7 to 14 category.... Congratulations to Jamie Thomson. Thomson was under fierce pressure, but manage to sail past David Walliams, Roddy Doyle, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Philip Reeve to take the prize for his wonderfully funny Dark Lord: the Teenage Years (with illustrations by undergraduate student Freya Hartas.)
And in the six and under category.... a big hurrah to writer and illustrator Rebecca Patterson for her brilliantly giggle-worthy My Big Shouting Day.. a picture book about toddler tantrums.
Congratulations to you both... very worthy winners, indeed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke

Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke was released last month and made the perfect Halloween read. But if you missed it for Halloween, don't let that stop you rushing out to read it now. My review of this stunning new book from my favourite childrens' author is up now on the 'What ARE You Reading' page. When I visited Scoil Iognaid and read bits from it to two 4th lass groups, they were riveted to their seats! Here's a video of Cornelia herself reading from it. It really is a must-read.... perfect for the dark, dreary winter months. (well.... any time, really.... but do read it,; you'll see what I mean.)