Sunday, February 25, 2018

World Book Day 2018!

World Book Day 2018 is very near! This Thursday, 1st March marks the 22nd annual World Book Day.
I know you are all used to me going on about this for months ahead of time (well, it is my favourite day/week/month of the year) and may have noticed I have been noticeably quiet this year. Ordinarily I would have been pestering authors, illustrators and storytellers and packing the shop out with school classes to bring in as many local school children as I possibly could fit (my record is 690) to share the joy and excitement of books and reading and to try to make clear the difference that books can make in the lives of children of every age.
It is with sorrow that I tell you that due to circumstances, I will not be holding my World Book Day Extravaganza this year. I have a few events planned myself and will let you know what's happening. But I want to hear all about yours! What wonderful events do you have planned?
And let's not forget the fabulous World Book Day Books. Each year, the good World Book Day people contract with a variety of publishers to bring out a selection of 10 wonderful little books for children of all different ages that are available for FREE with a World Book Day book token (or...if your school didn't provide you with a token, £1 or €1.50 in Ireland.) In Ireland, we are especially lucky, because the O'Brien Press also produces a book especially for the we have 11! The drive behind this is to make books available to all children in every provide them with the opportunity to have their own book and THAT is a very powerful force in their lives. Just look at the selection to choose from:
The O'Brien Press has brought out an amazing read for World Book Day this year; Rugby Roar by Gerard Siggins. I've read it and it is fantastic.
As if that weren't enough, this year, World Book Day has made available a selection of books for young people (teen, YA). These are all full novels and only £2.50 (that's only £1.50 with your World Book Day token!) Amazing...and some of the best I've read!
Now, let's all remember how this works...your World Book Day tokens are ONLY valid from Monday 26 March (that's tomorrow) through  Sunday 25 March. You can use them for the World Book Day books (as above) or to receive £1 or €1.50 (depending on where you live) off of any other book you like...but only 1 token per book, please. (And a personal plea from me...please remember that the point here is to get kids reading and please use them for childrens'/teens'/YA books...please.)
For more terms, conditions, resources, information and just plain fun, the link for the World Book Day 2018 website is below. Now...get involved and get reading!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Rocking The System (in Galway!)

I am incredibly excited about this book!
As we celebrate 100 years of Womens' Suffrage and honour the fantastic and inspirational women throughout history, Rocking the System by Siobhan Parkinson (illustrated by Bren Luke) has been released into the wild recently and I think it's publisher, Little Island have every right to be extremely proud. This exceptional book is a collection of twenty essays on Irish women, both historical and contemporary who have bucked the trends, defied cultural norms and brought forth great change in the social structure in Ireland and across the globe through their determination, resourcefulness, intrepid nature and intelligence. The lives of these brave and bold Irish women from all realms of life; politicians, artists, writers, social activists, rebels; are brought forth in a publication that is suitable for ages 10 to 100 years.
From the legendary Queen Mebh through to Mary Robinson to Sonia O'Sullivan, each of these women is given a voice here with a combination of factual information and a fluid writing style that makes this book a joy to read. This book is a MUST. Simply wondrous and inspiriting!
While Rocking the System was launch a short time ago in Dublin by Senator Ivana Bacik, I am especially delighted to announce the Galway launch will take place in the Galway Arts Centre this Thursday, 22 February. It's author, Siobhan Parkinson is originally from Loughrea, co. Galway. Siobhan is quite a legend herself. A multi-award winning author, she has worked tirelessly to bring outstanding books to young people and served as this countrys' first Laureate na nÓg (childrens' laureate.) Her energy and enthusiasm is awe-inspiring. Rocking the System will be launched by Dr. Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington, lecturer, academic and grand-daughter of Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington.
This will be an incredible evening for an incredible book.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Come Experience 'The Angelica Touch'

                                                                                                                                                                          Everyone is invited to come along to Charlie Byrne's Bookshop this Thursday, 8 February at 6:30pm
to celebrate the launch of a completely delightful new YA book by LJ Sedgwick... The Angelica Touch! This will be a great evening, with Lindsay talking to us about her writing and reading a bit from The Angelica Touch. If you are in Galway, you won't want to miss this!
I have a review on the Young Adult page of The Angelica Touch. You'll also find a review of Lindsays' previous novel, Dad's Red Dress...which is also just fabulous.
Hope to see you all there!

Monday, February 5, 2018

BOLD GIRLS of my past!

With the current celebration of the strong, confident, brave and intelligent women and girls through the BOLD GIRLS incentive driven by Childrens Books Ireland, I started thinking about the BOLD GIRLS in the literature of my own past.
Being completely enchanted by books from a very young age, I was given free range to chose and read whatever I liked. (Not every child has this opportunity and I am completely grateful to the grown-ups of my world for providing this.) Among my favourites, there were quite a few BOLD GIRLS.
Of course, there were the classics. Mary in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, whose cross disposition I read (seemingly)in a completely different way to those around me; she just wanted a life that spoke of her own nature and not to have to 'behave as a young lady should' like she was being told. The books of Louisa May Alcott that spoke to me of following your own heart. Heidi and the freedom and happiness she found in the mountains...the list is quite comprehensive here. I was read these, and read them myself without being instructed as to what they meant in regard to being a girl. (This is very important when giving books to children...DON'T tell them what they are 'supposed' to glean from them. Children have their own minds, and very intelligent ones, at that. They may well come out of a story with a different understanding than you might imagine. Much better to listen to what children have to say.)
Beyond the classics, there were brilliant, wondrous girls emerging from books that fired my imagination and wonder. Not as many as there are today, and the history we were taught gave a glancing blow at best to the women who changed the world. But in the realms of fiction, here are a few that stuck with me...they made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me think and dream...
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans is, of course, one of the best loved characters of all time. I was immediately taken by her bold and determined attitude as she seemed to take on the world. Whatever she came up against, Madeline brushed herself off, stuck out her chin and got on with life (sometimes much to the amused frustration of Miss Clavel.)
First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh completely delighted me. Her pure fearlessness is inspiring.She was precocious and sneaky and utterly enthusiastic about her spy missions. She was also completely oblivious to the hurt they were causing those around her, initially. Even bold girls need to know when it's time to make amends. Regardless of her own embarrassment, Harriet steps up and makes things good again. Doesn't stop her spying, though...
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare was an amazing introduction to historical fiction for me, and to the incredible women and girls that lived there. Kits is an independent, rebellious, yet kind girl who comes from a place of privilege into a small Puritanical town to find herself accused of witchcraft. She still will risk everything, even her own safety, for those who need her.
Meg in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle is a character who still haunts my memories and my dreams. She is seen as a troublesome and stubborn girl, but capable of doing great things. When her scientist father disappears, Meg has no hesitation at the thought of stepping into the complete unknown to find him. In doing so, she finds herself on the journey of a lifetime... Also, A Wrinkle in Time is filled with female characters that are amazing, wild and wonderful.
I want to end with a very special book and an extraordinary character from my reading past. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell was published in 1960. It is based on the true story of a girl who was left on a small island off the coast of California and lived there alone for 18 years. Karana jumps ship to go back for her brother, stranded on a small island. As it turns out, he has been killed by a pack of feral dogs and Karana is left alone. She must now make a life for herself by taking on all the traditional male rolls in her tribe; hunting, fishing, building; in order to survive. Her journey is amazing and the story is spell-binding. One of the most 'telling' things about Island of the Blue Dolphins comes from O'Dell himself. When he sent the book to his publisher, they sent it back straight away, saying that if he was serious about the story he should change the main character to a boy, because girls were only interested in romance. O'Dell thought this was silly, so he went to another publisher who accepted it the next day.  Thank goodness!
I'm sure you all have BOLD GIRLS from your childhood book collection. So, tell me; what did you read?