Showing posts from 2016

My Favourite Books of 2016

It has been quite a year! So, the books published for young people have been in the position of having an enormous impact on their lives. They help make sense of things, and give voice to the issues that they are dealing with, while the world goes on turning and the adult world goes on doing whatever it does. This year, the books published have been outstanding at doing just that, and with providing the outlet for the imagination. Here are a few of my favourites of 2016.
I'll get stuck right in and shout loudly that my book of the year choice for young people has to be GOLD by Geraldine Mills.This is a classic adventure story set in a future landscape scarred by volcanic ash and tightly controlled by the official bodies governing it. Two young boys show great courage, imagination and integrity by building a glider styled after Leonardo DaVinci's instructions and sail away to a forbidden sector. It contains elements of nearly every issue we ponder in these times; governmental co…

R.I.P Richard Adams 1920-2016

It was with great sadness today that the death of childrens' novelist, Richard Adams has passed away at the age of 96.
Adams is, of course, best known for the beloved story, Watership Down. This was the first of his  writings, published in 1972. It was originally a story told to his daughters, who insisted he write it down and publish it. It took two years to write, and was turned down by four publishers and three writers' agencies before Rex Collings agree to publish what became one of the most iconic books of all time. Almost immediately, Watership Down received international acclaim. Within a few years, it sold over a million copies worldwide and went on to win some of the most prestigious childrens literature awards, including the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize.

 "The statement announcing his death quoted a passage from the end of his best-known work. It read: “It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge …

Tracking Santa

We have 3 days, 22 hours and 28 minutes (at the time of this posting) and then Santa will be on his way from the North Pole! One of my traditions (a new one, albeit) is to track Santa on his rounds on Christmas Eve and NORAD has been making this easy for the last 55 years.
You can follow the link to the NORAD Santa Tracker and receive updates throughout his journey as to where he is, how many presents have been delivered, etc. There's also some games and a library and the history of tracking Santa.
Just a bit of fun for the evening...and incentive to get those little ones off to bed before the Big Man appears.

So, here's the link:

Four Gifts for Christmas

We are in the thick of it, now. The Christmas shopping craziness....
So, I am posting this little reminder for all the Santas' helpers out there, rushing around and trying to grab the perfect gifts for everyone on their list. Remember, it's not about how much you spend. That's not how you show your love. It's about selecting the things you choose to give. Too much stress? Still need help? Now, take a deep breath. Clear the noise in your head and ignore the noise all around in the shops, the street, over the TV...wherever it's coming from.
Have a look at this. I know it's helped me enormously:
Better? I really hope so.

Joyous Jolabokaflod!!!!

For a book lover, Iceland has a very special tradition. Each year, in the few months before Christmas, Icelandic publishers release the majority of their books. This is "Jolabokaflod", or the Christmas Book Flood. Hundreds of books are published each year at this time, revealing just how strong a literary tradition exists in this small Northern island, dating back to medieval times.
During World War II, there were strict currency restrictions, which limited the amount of imported giftware Iceland could take in. But paper itself was less restricted than other items, so this really led to books being seen as an ideal gift. Add that to the traditionally strong literary sector in Iceland, and the annual Book Flood really began in earnest.
As Christmas nears, sometime around the end of October-beginning of November, a catalog is delivered to every house in Iceland, detailing the books available for that year.
Iceland now represents one of the strongest book publishing countries …

'Tis The Season for the Bookelves!

Hi there!
Just a quick post to alert you all to the seasonal work of the Bookelves.
Everyday in the run-up to Christmas, our the busy, busy Bookelves will be posting the best book recommendations for all the young people out there, from the youngest children through to YA readers. If you want some help with a specific young person in your life, you can ask them and they will accommodate! Or, if you just want to have a look and see what they are up to, just look us up!
The Bookelves are on Facebook and Twitter (NOW!) and can be accessed by the hashtag #bookelves16.
Tonight, during the Late, Late Toy Show here in Ireland (on RTE), the Bookelves will be recommending non-stop on both Facebook and Twitter. The Late, Late Toy Show starts at 9:30pm here.
So, be sure to check the Bookelves out of Facebook and Twitter. We are here to help.

Happy December!

Happy December, everyone!
It's time for my annual Advent Calendar of Books. Every year at this time, I post a different book on the page (Mary's Advent Calendar of Books) for you to consider. These are all about winter, Christmas, the holiday season. It gives me a lot of joy to see all the wonderful books out there, old and new, ready to bring that special magic into a month that can become far too hurried and hectic. And it's my way of reminding you to take a a moment and relax. Enjoy the season. That's what it's there for.
Check the page each day for a new, wonderful seasonal read. They may be new, old, for small children, for teens...who knows? (I do have a difficult time choosing...there are so many wonderful books!)
Also, if you're on Facebook and/or Twitter, look out for the Bookelves! We'll all be bringing you great recommendations throughout the season. Look for #bookelves16. You'll love it!

November 30: Farewell to International Picture Book Month...see you next year

We have reached the last day of November, and the last day of Picture Book Month. It has been an incredible celebration of illustration this year, and of the stories and the champions who shared their thoughts and stories.
I love Picture Book Month! It is so important to remind us all that this is where our reading journey begins...and if we are wise, where it continues throughout life. Not to say that 'word' books aren't important, but without picture books, we would have never developed the visual literacy that allows us to interpret the random symbols that make up our written language. And, we would not have developed the joy, enthusiasm and desire to open another book...and another and another.
Todays' champion (and the final champion for the year), Kevan Atteberry (author/illustrator of BUNNIES! (2015) and PUDDLES! (2016) spoke about his memories of childhood books; how he doesn't really remember being read to, or the individual titles of his childhood storie…

Considering The Children (and Their Books)

At this time of year, more childrens books are purchased than any other. And people want this best for their kids; books that really suit them; books that entertain them and encourage them; books that mean something to their lives. When choosing a book for that wonderful child(ren) in your life, what you pick matters. And it's a time for your local childrens' book specialist to think fast on their feet when helping you, because we have a lot of people to help. That's what we're there for and that's what I love about the job. Nothing means more to me than to help you put the right book in the hands of a child. I believe books really make a difference. Helping someone find that right book is no simple task. I don't want to just hand over something that's popular or new. I want to be sure it is right for the child; that it will address them and make that difference. Children do actually live in a different space, a different culture than the adult world and th…

Picture Book Month - One Week To Go!

November is winding down into it's cold, quiet end, leaving us just one week left of International Picture Book Month. So far 23 picture book illustrators, authors, publishers and booksellers have shared their thoughts on 'Why Picture Books Are Important"; and each one has been very instructive. Frequently, we don't give much thought to picture books, apart from whether or not a child will enjoy it. But picture books are complex and fascinating beings, taking us on journeys we would never endeavour otherwise.And the beginning of all those journeys take place when we are children....just babies, really. Fired by the discovery of our own visual literacy, we travel from infancy through old age through books, which take us more places than we could go without them. They help us make sense of the world, where mere words fail us. Picture books are not something we should abandon just because we 'grow up'. We need to read pictures throughout our lives. The joy, the …

Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2016

The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards are a set of industry-recognised awards set up by a collective of Irish booksellers in 2007 to acknowledge the best and brightest of Irish authors in all fields. The shortlist for this years' awards were launched on 25 October, with voting open to members of the public. On 16 November, the winners were announced. As a childrens' bookseller, I'm, of course most concerned with the two children's categories and am delighted to tell you all that the winners are:

In the SpecSavers Childrens Book of the Year Senior category -
the winner is Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden. A classically-styled childrens fantasy, this is the first in a series that follows the world of young Denizen Hardwick. Denizen doesn't believe in magic, until he's attacked by a shadowy monster and then witnesses it's destruction by a word made of sunlight.From that point forward, he is thrown into a battle of good vs evil. Fantastic! Congratu…

November is Picture Book Month!

I hope you have all been checking out the Picture Book Month site and enjoying the various 2016 Picture Book Champions posting daily. Each one has a different thought; a different perspective as to why picture books are so important in the lives of children...well, really in all our lives, young and old. Each day gives us even more reason to celebrate the artistry  and allows us to consider in new ways what the printed picture book has to offer in the world.

So far, the month was opened up by Carmen Oliver, author of Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies. (Wonderful book, by the way.)
"In a world where everything moves at such a fast place, picture books remind us to slow down and savor time reading with someone we love. To tuck into a favorite reading place or share a lap and be transported and transformed. And in doing so, picture books create memories we will have for eternity"
Then there was Ashley Wolff, expressing her thirst for adventure, exploration and thrills  i…

November Is International Picture Book Month!

November 1st each year is the beginning of Picture Book Month, an international literacy initiative that celebrates the (print) picture book. Each day throughout the month,there is a post for a different picture champion explaining why he or she thinks picture books are so important. In this busy and all too digital world, picture books need love and attention. We sometimes forget the sheer wonder of physically turning the pages of a beautiful picture book, of being able to enter that world; to go back and forth within it and embark on a journey of discovery and joy, whether we are very young, or not so young any more. So, during the month of November, you are invited...all of you worldwide, to remember, to reconsider and to fall in love with picture books.

You can follow along on the calendar above to find the picture book champion and their theme for the day. Each post will encourage you to read, share and celebrate the magic of picture books, whether in a school, library or at hom…

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal Nominees 2017

In more catch-up type news, the UK's oldest, most prestige childrens books award, the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, have announced their long list earlier this week. 114 books have been nominated for the Carnegie Medal for an outstanding book written in English for children and young people. A further 93 books have been nomiated for the Kate Greenaway Medal for excellence in illustration.
The CILIP Carnegie Medal list reads quite YA heavy, but this is understandable given the large number of YA fiction titles that show exceptional qualities in writing, storytelling and vibrancy. Nominees include:
Tanya Landman for Hell and High Water
Jackie Morris for The Wild Swans
Phillip Reeve for Railhead
Gavriel Savitt for Anna and the Swallow Man
Stewart Foster for The Bubble Boy
Timothee de Fombelle for The Book of Pearl
Malorie Blackman for Chasing the Stars
Lauren Wolk for Wolf Hollow
Kiran Millwood Hargrave for The Girl of Ink and Stars
....and many, many more incredible aut…

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2017

I'm playing a little catch-up here.
On  the 16th of October, the long list of candidates for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) 2017 was released. 226 candidates from 60 countries have been nominated. Of these 63 candidates have been nominated for the first time.This list is a veritable gold mine for anyone interested in childrens' literature and represents the vibrant and powerful world of childrens' books. Representatives from every continent on the planet epitomise the best of the best.
Established to honour the late Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking, Ronia the Robbers' Daughter and so many other truly magical and beloved childrens' books, The ALMA Award is presented yearly to indicate the importance that childrens' books have in the lives of young people and to inspire authors, illustrators, storytellers and promoters of reading everywhere.The award is chosen by a jury, the 12 members of which include authors, librarians, literary criti…

Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for the Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize was announced today. The four authors listed have demonstrated incredible excellence in the field of childrens' literature.

Tanya Landman has a brilliant backlist of work and is no stranger to such nominations and awards,
having taken the 2015 Carnegie Medal for Buffalo Soldier. She is nominated for the Guardian for her latest book, Hell and High Water, set in 18th-century
England. It is one of two historical novels up for the prize; the other being Brian Selznicks' wonderful book, The Marvels. The Marvels interweaves a story told in illustration that begins in 1766 with a lone survivor of a shipwreck with a text story in 1990 about a boy who runs away from school to the house of his uncle.

Also shortlisted are two contemporary novels. Crongton Knights by Alex  Wheatle is set on a fictitious council estate and follows the adventures of McKay during the course of one night. And finally, Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon tells …

It's Baboró Time!

In just a few days, the 2016 Baboró International Arts Festival for Children will kick off. From October 17 through the 23rd, venues all over Galway will host will play host to a wide array of events for anyone and everyone from 0-100 years, with theatre, puppetry, dance, film, animation, talks and workshops. Each year, Baboró brings a variety of artists from every field and all over the world. In addition to family events, Baboró hosts dedicated school everyone has a chance to attend something. And this year, they've even added "Something for the Grown-Ups" events.
A few of the incredible acts at this years' festival include: Cruthanna/The Shape of Things, a bililngual event for ages 0-4 yrs.; The Secret Life of Suitcases, puppetry filled with wit and humour for ages 4+; Dream City/Droomstad with De Dansers from Holland; A Feast of Bones for ages 9+; Cartoon Saloon bringing us both Song of the Sea and The Long Way North; Becoming: the Adventures of Grow…

BA (Children's Studies) at NUI Galway

On Friday, 30th of September, I was invited to the official launch of an exciting new programme of study at NUI Galway. The new BA Children's Studies is a ground-breaking field of study. This 4 year programme is the only interdisciplnary programme of it's kind in Europe, encompassing every imaginable field of study to do with practical and theoretical approaches to childhood and adolescence. Whether the individuals' emphasis is on arts, literature, teaching, social services, legal and human rights, the programme is covering it. Community-based service-learning and enquiry-based learning are embedded within the degree and the third year placement combines with practical experience to prepare its' students with a wide range of specific career goals. I could go on, but suffice to say, I think this is one of the most exciting approaches to the field of childhood and youth study I have seen, and long over due.
The programme was launched by Minister for Children and Youths A…

CBI Conference - We Really Are Better Together

Having attended the CBI conference a couple of weeks ago, I can say with conviction, we truly are better together. This conference mages to bring the best of the best in childrens books together for one weekend. We all left feeling excited and inspired and with much to think about. Here are a few photos....

PJ Lynch, our childrens' laureate, in conversation with Ryan Tubridy...all about PJ's incredible work, the laureate's Big Picture and (drum roll, please) their new book, Patrick and the President. You have to be careful around could end up in a book.

These kids were absolutely brilliant! catch them if you can!

We heard from many voices, both old friends and new!

And in the end...there was Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston talking about the wonderful "A Child of Books!