Showing posts from 2012

Books Aren't Just for Christmas, You Know

No, books aren't just for Christmas; they're for life! And the book gifts you gave or received are ones that will remain in your memories forever. I took a look at the childrens' books sold over this holiday season, and thought I'd share some of the bestsellers (from Dubray Books, Galway branch) that were not the ones that were heavily promoted or advertised. There are some pretty surprising entries here:

Pea's Book of Best Friends by Susie Day sold really well for me. This is a lovely, charming, quirky story about a young girl, Pea, whose mother is a best-selling author. They move out of their dingy little flat into a wonderful house in London and have to start new school and make all new friends. Delightful family drama!

Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle is always a favourite among young readers, and this Christmas season was certainly no different. It made the top 10...again!

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke... what can I say? It's one of my very favourites.

The Girl…

Tracking Santa!

First, I wanted to thank all of you who have been following my Advent Calendar of Books. We're nearly there now. Just a few more days... and I  hope you've all enjoyed my Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment on a few of your own seasonal favourites!
Now, down to business.... I know there are quite a number of you who are anxiously waiting Santa. Remember, you have to be asleep before he arrives! But, if you're like me, you'll want to track Santa's progress as he makes his annual epic journey. So... here's the NORAD Santa tracker link for you to visit and download. Get the latest as Santa circumnavigates the globe!

The Original and the BEST Grinch.. and something to remember

This is the original ending to How The Grinch Stole Christmas (narrated by Boris Karloff) and it still leaves me smiling, but with a lump in my throat and eyes starting to well. I think we should remember this while we are rushing around.... hope you enjoy it.

And here is my favourite quote... if you've been following the Advent Calendar of Books page, it's on day one. And it's one I have known by heart since I was a small child. That's a long time ago!
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Mise agus an Dragún

Fantastic! The wonderful, brand new Mise agus an Dragún picture book , written by Patricia Forde, illustrated by Steve Simpson and published by Futa Fata was featured on the cover of this weekends' Sunday Business Post! The article was featuring 'Worlds of Wonder'... great books for childrens' Christmas Gifts! Well done, all.

Galway Christmas Market

While you're out and about, hurrying around trying to find exactly the right gifts for those special someones in your life, don't forget to take some time to actually enjoy the season. (we hurry and worry too much!) While the Galway Christmas Market offers loads of unique and interesting gifts (and FOOD... wonderful food), you really should enjoy it, just for the atmosphere. Every day, there are wonderful mini-events happening, from caroling to storytelling to childrens' workshops. (This past weekend, the storytelling featured Oisin the Brave, a new storybook from  Eire's Kids of Oranmore!) And don't forget to ride the carousel... how often do you get the chance right in the heart of Galway?

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.

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. 
Happy Birthday, Madeleine... wherever you are. Think I'll go read A Wrinkle in Time again......

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.

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 …

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)

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.

The Lost Christmas Gift

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…

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 bril…

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.

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.)

Frank Cottrell Boyce wins!

Congratulations to Frank Cottrell Boyce for scooping up the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2012. Boyce won the honour, which includes a £1500 award, for his book, The Unforgotten Coat. This book deals with a difficult and moving subject; the forcible deportation  of refugees and was dedicated by Boyce to a young Mongolian schoolgirl whose own family, taken in the middle of the night by immigration authorities, inspired the story. Boyce had been commissioned by the Reader's Organisation, a charitable trust based in Liverpool; making The Unforgotten Coat a most unusual choice for the prize. 50,000 copies of the book were given away free this year. It has beaten out other books by noted authors, Eva Ibbotson, Roddy Doyle and the late Russell Hoban to secure the win.

Sarah Webb

I just want to send a BIG THANK YOU to Sarah Webb, who took time out of her busy, busy schedule to come down to Dubray Books, Galway and talk to two groups of 5th class girls from local schools. Sarah told the all about growing up and her school years, her young dreams of being a ballerina, how she became a writer and the latest Amy Green book, Dancing Daze (as well as all the others.) The girls had some really great questions and comments to share. So much enthusiasm! Sarah, you have many new fans in Galway!
Thank you so much!
AND... if you think you have what it takes to be an editor, check out this brilliant competition to become a young editor of the next Amy Green book , Wedding Belles, coming in 2013. Sarah has worked with young editors since the very beginning of the Amy Green series. Now, she's looking for two young book-loving readers to join her editorial team. What a fab opportunity For details, just follow the link! (I wish I qualified as a 'young' reader agai…


Here we are half-way through October... an exciting month for the children of Ireland! First of all, we are at the beginning of the third week of BookFest, with author events taking place in libraries, schools, bookshops and other venues across the country featuring a collection of the most wonderful writers for children you could dream of.... Judi Curtin, Derek Landy, Sarah Webb, Dolores Keaveney, Juliette Saumande....I could go on and on.

Here in Galway, today is the first day of BaboroInternational Arts Festival for Children. A busy, busy week... I really hope many of you have the opportunity to enjoy the festivities, because they are fantastic. There are a host of school events already booked, with great entertainment, enjoyment and excitement for all the children taking part. But don't forget the family events!There are art, music, theatre, puppetry and literary events... get the family together and see what you can see. Here's a quick sampler:
There are performances of …

RIP Helen Nicoll; Creator of Meg and Mog

It is with great sadness that I pass on the news of the passing of Helen Nicoll, creator of the beloved Meg and Mog series of children's picture books.Along with Jan Pienkowski, working as illustrator, Nicoll created the popular series about a witch and her cat, which have become some of the most popular and outstanding childrens books in the last 35 years.
Helen passed away at the age of 74, leaving behind her husband of 42 years, interior designer Robert Kine, two children, Hannah and Tom and the Meg and Mog series, which will entertain and encourage reading and joy in children for generations to come.
Helen Nicoll; born 10 October, 1937, died 30 September 2012.


Welcome to October! This is well and truly my favourite month of the year. And in terms of books and childrens' events, you can't do better than October....
First of all, the twenty-second consecutive CBI Childrens' Book Festival is underway with book and author events happening all over Ireland. Our current Laureate na n'Og, Niamh Sharkey launched the BookFest on Monday, 1st October. Cressida Cowell, international best-selling author of the How to Train Your Dragon series will be visiting Dublin on the 17th and will be taking fans on the Splash Viking Tour! Eoin Colfer, Derek Landy and Darren Shan will be visiting various locations across the country.... so much going on!
Don't forget to look for the BookFest catalogue with loads of reviews and recommendations on the latest and greatest offerings in childrens literature. Here's the CBI link to find out more:

And here in Galway, we'll be gearing u…


And if the BookFest isn't enough to keep you completely delighted this October... it's also time for Galways' own  Baboro International Arts Festival for Children. Running October 15 through the 22nd, Baboro has loads on, dance, puppetry, a silent disco, music..... the fun never stops.
And here's the link for their programme:

Children's BookFest 2012

It's coming, it's coming!  That's right... it's BookFest time. (For those who don't know... that means the CBI Children's Book Festival.) This October (once again) marks the month celebration of children's literature events occurring all over Ireland, with 2012 being the twenty-second consecutive run for this amazing collection/collaboration of events all aimed at enthusiastically participating in children's literature. To discover all the information you need for events taking place in your area, here's the link for the brochure:

Roald Dahl Funny Prize Short List 2012 Announced

The short list for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize has been announced! And the nominees are:
In the funniest book for ages six and under category:
The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle (Templar Publishing)
Oh No, George by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books)
The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp; illustrated by Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster)
My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson (Jonathan Cape)
The Baby That Roared by Simon Puttock; illustrated by Nadia Shireen (Nosy Crow)

In the funniest book for children ages seven to fourteen category:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce; illustrated by Joe Berger (Macmillan Children's Books)
The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey; illustrated by Garry Parsons (Andersen Press)
Socks Are Not Enough by Mark Lowery (Scholastic)
Goblins by Philip Reeve  (Marion Lloyd Books)
Dark Lord: the Teenage Years by Jamie Thomson; illustrated by Freya Hartas (Orchard Books)
Gangsta Granny by…

Celebrate Roald Dahl in a Live-Stream Event

On Monday, 24th September, the Guardian will be hosting a very special live-stream event in conjunction with Puffin Virtually Live. To celebrate the incredible, fantastic Roald Dahl with Quentin Blake drawing drawing live while in conversation with Michael Rosen, they will be answering your questions and there will be a very special appearance by David Walliams as the BFG! Also, you can see behind the scenes footage from the Roald Dahl Museum and Storytelling Centre and have a glimpse inside Roald Dahls' famous writing hut! Just follow the link below for more information on an event you won't want to miss presented by Michael Rosen.
Also, look out for Rosens' new book, Fantastic Mr. Dahl, a wonderful biography of Roald Dahl written for children.

Walker Books and Little Island Announce Partnership

GREAT NEWS! Irelands' own brilliant and brave childrens' book publishers and the incredible Walker Books have teamed up. As of January 2013, Walker Books will distribute books from Little Island Press to the UK and around the world, bringing exceptional Irish authors and the marvellous translations to a larger audience.
From Siobhan Parkinson:
‘We are thrilled with this partnership, which opens up a huge market for us. The people at Walker have been incredibly welcoming and generous with their advice and expertise, and we look forward to working with them into the future.’
And with all the exciting books Little Island has in their catalogue preparing to reach out into the world... how cool is that!

Return of the Speks!

Just a quick reminder for you all..... if you haven't got your tickets, yet; our favourite performers for the whole family will be appearing at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway this Sunday! That's right! This Sunday, 16 September at 12:30, THE SPEKS are taking a foray from Glasses Island and will be in Galway for the whole family to enjoy.... (from the Town Hall Theatre brochure):
"The Speks are a six-piece traditional Irish music band for children. They live on a mysterious Island off the coast of Co. Clare called Glasses Island where everybody wears glasses! The Speks’ debut album recently won a prestigious Parents’ Choice music award in the US where their music has been described as ‘Riverdance for toddlers’ and ‘grown up music for kids.’ They perform their nursery rhymes and singalong songs set to Irish music while encouraging kids to sing and dance along. This will be a great, fun event for kids aged 7 and under.
"If your little ones love fantastic, magical…