Showing posts from 2018

BLOG TOUR COMING! Leo's War by Patricia Murphy

Good morning everyone. Just to give you a quick heads-up, starting on the 25th of August, there will be a wonderful blog tour featuring the newest addition to the Hands On History series published by Poolbeg Press. Leo's War by Patricia Murphy is the incredible story based on the activities of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty (also known as "The Pimpernel of the Vatican") and the Rome Escape Line during the Nazi occupation of Italy in WWII.  Our hero is a young Irish boy, Leo, living in Italy at the time. When his mother is taken by the Nazis, Leo finds himself hiding out in the Vatican, under the protection of Monsignor O'Flaherty and quickly becomes ensconced in daring, sometimes deadly efforts to escape the Nazis' horrific regime. But enough! Don't want to spoil to the tour for anyone!

As you can see, there are quite a number of exciting blog events happening around this exciting new book. Fallen Star Stories' offering, a review of Leo's War and an in…


Today marks the 104th birthday of Tove Jansson; Swedish-speaking Finnish author, novelist, artist, illustrator, comic strip author and creator of the Moomins.
The first Moomin book, The Moomins and the Great Flood was published during World War II in 1945. Jansson said the war depressed her a great deal and she wanted something innocent and joyful. While The Moomins and the Great Flood practically escaped all notice, her second Moomin book, Comet in Moominland was published in 1946, followed by Finn Family Moomintroll in 1948, which sold well and gathered critical acclaim, making her famous. Jansson published 6 more Moomin books, as well as a number of picture books and comics. In 1966, she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing. By this time, in parts of the world, Moomins were a household name.
So...what are Moomins? Well, they are a family of troll-type creatures, generally speaking furry and snow-white in appearance; round and cuddly (if you know them well enou…

Fallen Star Stories: Books of the Month: August 2018

For so many years, I was involved in choosing a "Book of the Month"; books that are deemed must-reads among the many released every month. It was always a very difficult choice to make, but much appreciated by customers who didn't really know what to choose.
I asked myself, why not do this on Fallen Star Stories?
For August 2018, here are my choices; The Storm Keepers Island by Catherine Doyle, published by Bloomsbury Childrens Books; Molly and the Stormy Sea by Malachy Doyle, illustrations by Andrew Whitson, published by Graffeg Limited; Knights and Bikes by Gabrielle Kent, illustrated by Rex Crowle& Luke Newell, published by Knights Of... and Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham, published by Walker Books.
All of these are new out this summer and are reviewed on the review pages of this blog.

Picture Books in Summer

Picture books are perhaps the most important books in your childs' life. These bright, colourful stories expose a child to new ideas, people and places, while introducing them to art and creativity. And with summer truly upon us now, whether staying at home or traveling, make sure you have a load of picture books at hand to inspire creative play, add thrills and adventure and for those quiet times when you all just need to relax. (as you can see, LB has a difficult time deciding what to read next. Fortunately, I've made sure he's spoilt for choice.) It's important to have old favourites, as well something exciting and new.
New out and filled with adventure!
Julia Donaldson always delights with each and every new book.
This summer, The Cook and the King (ISBN: 9781509813773, Macmillan Children's Books) has all the hallmarks of another Donaldson classic. Illustrated by David Roberts, this is the story of a very demanding king and his new, very nervous chef, Wobbly Bo…

The Rights of the Reader

Summer is here and we do encourage summer reading with numerous incentives and programmes. It is important for children (of all ages) to 'keep their reading up' outside of school time. This is the time when kids develop their own taste in books and can be free to read books of their own choosing. And this is the single most important factor in young people developing a lifelong reading habit.
But how do we, as the 'gatekeepers' of kids reading, encourage them properly without running the risk of thrusting pressure and our own ideas on them? Do that and you'll run the risk of pushing them away from reading, and there are already so many distractions for the young reader to contend with that can tempt them elsewhere.
In 1992, French writer Daniel Pennac originally published this little gem of a book; The Rights of the Reader. I highly recommend it. It was conceived out of his experiences teaching students in "challenging" schools, where perhaps reading was…

Great Escapes: Summer Reads for Teens/YA

Summer is the perfect time for some great escapes. And what better way to escape than through some fantastic reading material. You can dip yourself in to someone elses' life, fast-forward into a future that may or may not be or take a roller-coaster ride into a great mystery or crime novel. Need a few suggestions to get you started? Here we go!
In The Angelica Touch by LJ Sedgewick (Janey Mac Books ISBN: 9780995702721), we meet 14-year-old Angelica, who has decided that before she can have a boyfriend, she must find one for her hotel manager mum, Molly. Her solution is to create an online dating website and set up a profile for Molly herself. What could possibly go wrong? A hilarious and poignant story that involves the internet world, a small dreary Donegal town, a match-making festival to rival all others and some really big surprises for Angelica.
Who hasn't dreamed of running away to join the circus? Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain (Walker Books ISBN…

Time For Some Summer Adventure

Looking for some great recommendations for summer reading? You are not alone. This is the time of year when kids everywhere can put down the 'required reading' and reach for some excitement and imagination.  No one wants to hear 'I'm bored!' or 'There's nothing to do!' and of course, as long as you have a really good book, that isn't going to happen. You can read what you want and meet new people; go to new places, even if you aren't traveling far. Anyway, here are some of my very best recommendations of the 'middle grade' variety that are bound to keep everyone happy.
If you think you need more witches in your life, you can't do better than Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan (Walker Books, ISBN 9781406366020). It's the first in what promises to be the very best magical trilogy (The Wild Magic trilogy) I have seen in a long, long time. And it is an adventure of a lifetime! Mup notices there are witches following her fam…

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards 2018

The winners of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals for 2018 were announced earlier today at a ceremony in The British Library in London. Widely regarded as being the most prestigious awards to be given to writers and illustrators working in children's' literature, this award is unique in that they are judged by librarians.
Geraldine McCaughrean has won her second CILIP Carnegie Medal, thirty years after her first. Where the World Ends, her winning title, dramatically explores the destiny of a collection men and boys stranded on a remote and inhospitable sea stac when their rescue boat fails to collect them and was inspired by an 18th century historical record from St Kilda. In her acceptance speech, McCaughrean voiced concerns about the 'dumming down' of children's literature and petitioned writers to challenge their young readers by presenting them with a vocabulary (in their writing) that demands exploration and allows children to think for themselves.

Empathy Day

What is Empathy Day, you may well ask?
Empathy Day was founded by EmpathyLab as an annual event after a very successful pilot programme in 2017. It's focus is to use reading as a tool to promote empathy and build understanding toward other people, as scientific research as proven that reading books causes us to think more deeply and considerately about others. Books have a unique property. They allow the reader to step into another life and view the world from a different perspective, perhaps even a perspective that they would not experience apart from reading. They can challenge prejudice and help create understanding. In a world so filled with division and suspicion, the ability to step outside our own experience, even for a moment can make a world of difference in the lives of so many children, wherever they may be.
EmpathyLab has created events, programmes and, most importantly a reading list to help you...ALL OF YOU...take part.

"EmpathyLab is a new organisation. We are …

The Children's Book Award 2018

The Children's Book Award is the only award given in children's literature voted on entirely by children. Running since 1980, the award has been given in the past to such wonderful and now familiar voices in kids books as Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Malorie Blackman, Rick Riordan, and Jacqueline Wilson. Over 1100 books are read by the testing groups and over 150,000 cast each year. The testing groups are comprised of children over three categories; younger children (picture books),  younger readers (6-11) and older readers (10-18). From these groups, each year category winners and an overall winner are chosen.... again, and I can't stress this enough, BY CHILDREN! This, I feel gives the most accurate representation of which books, out of the thousands published every year, are the best reads for kids of all ages. So, after this introduction (also called the boring, but essential to understand bit) let's get on with this years' winners.
The Overall Winner and Winner of …

Marguerite Tonery on the World of Kapheus

I first met Marguerite Tonery late in 2014 when she published her first book, Kapheus Earth. This marvelous story instantly transported me to another world; a world of enchantment and legend, of dragons and talking woodland creatures, of Grandmother Oak who imparts her wisdom and protection on all she surveys...the world of two ordinary children, Elisa and Jamie, whose lives are transformed forever by a magical drawing that takes them to face their true destinies. It was followed by Kapheus Air in 2015 and Kapheus Water in 2016. Later this year, Kapheus Fire will join the series and this journey will take a different turn. (Yes, I've read the, no spoilers!) Off the back of Kapheus, Marguerite has launched Tribes Press, an independent self-publishing company with the aim of helping indie writers to realise their potential and self-publish their books. I had the opportunity to ask Marguerite a few questions about Kapheus. I think you'll find the answers fascinatin…

CBI Book of the Year Awards 2018

During the International Literature Festival Dublin, Childrens' Books Ireland held its' ceremony for Childrens Book of the Year Awards 2018. Each year, the shortlist for this awards presents us with stronger and stronger candidates.This year was no exception. Ten nominees with books for varied ages and genres made the final decision a challenge, I'm sure.

In the end, the 28th annual Childrens Book of the Year Award was given to
Deirdre Sullivan and illustrator Karen Vaughan for the sumptuous and utterly remarkable Tangleweed and Brine. Re-imagined for a contemporary audience gives a lyrical, enchanting and unsettling view of a collection of traditional fairytales, turning them back on themselves and into the hearts and minds of  familiar characters. We emerge renewed, with a powerful, more enticing view that leads us on to destinies that are more felt than realised. The text is offset with Vaughans stunning black & white illustrations, reminiscent of Rackham or Harry…

New Laureate na nÓg

Word is in from Dublin! Childrens' Books Ireland have announced the new  and fifth) Laureate na n'Óg (Childrens Laureate) for 2018-2020... and it's the incredible Sarah Crossan!!!
I am so thrilled to hear this news. Sarah is stepping to take over from the outgoing Laureate, PJ Lynch and was presented with this honour by Irelands President, Michael D. Higgins.
Her project will be called #WeAreThePoets and I'm certain it will be absolutely brilliant.
If you aren't familiar with Sarahs' books, you are in for a real treat. She writes verse novels that are moving and stunningly beautiful. From her first book,  The Weight of Water, Sarah has demonstrated a powerful, yet gentle writing that captures and encourages her audience. Never one to deal with easy subject matter, in her writing she takes incredibly difficult circumstances and makes them accessible and compelling with real passion and genuine voices. The Weight of Water, Apple and Rain, One,We Come Apart

"No Room on the Broom"...Axel Scheffler

The other day at the British Book Awards, Axel Scheffler won the inaugural Illustrator of the Year award. And where would we be without Axel Scheffler; no Room on the Broom, no Smartest Giant in Town, no Zog, no Pip and Gruffalo! It is fitting that this honour go to him.
Now, I really don't like to be overtly political here, and I hope this doesn't cause ructions, but I feel compelled to post his acceptance speech, copied from Nosy Crow blog, because it speaks of something so pervasive in our world today. Schefflers' concern centres around the Brexit issue, around the drawing of lines and the building of walls. The only thing I really want t o say about this is, have we really thought this through? We could be losing more than we know.
"Last night, Pip and Posy illustrator Axel Scheffler received the inaugural Illustrator of the Year Award at the British Book Awards (otherwise known as the Nibbies). Today, with Axel’s permission, we are publishing the spee…

British Book Awards 2018

A quick post about the British Book Awards 2018.....
The winners of the British Book Awards 2018 (known as the Nibbies) were announced yesterday and in the childrens' categories, it was very exciting!

First, let me say hats off to Bloomsbury Children's Books for being honoured with the Children's Publisher of the Year. Bloomsbury |(known for being the home of Harry Potter) has brought out some incredible kids books this year, as always. Congratulations!

Author of the year went to the incredible Philip Pullman! Not just a children's author, of course, but the release of the first in his prequel series (to His Dark Materials) La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust firmly tipped the hat in his favour. (And it is read it NOW if you haven't already.)

The Children's Book of the Year had joint winners this year...drumroll please.... and the winners are:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: a powerful, honest, empathetic look at race relations, violence and the n…