Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Baboró Is Coming!






Each year at this time here in Galway, we are excitedly preparing for Baboró International Arts Festival for Children. Baboró brings a world of art, theatre, music, dance and literature for young people to Galway through a fantastic line-up of school and public events that are well-worth attending, whether you are a child or a child-at-heart.
I want to focus on this year's expanded literature programme...it is filled with bigger and better and more events surrounding the world of childrens' books than ever before.
On Monday, 16th of October, Ryan Tubridy and PJ Lynch will be will be talking about their collaboration in creating their wonderful new book, Patrick and the President; the story from a young persons perspective of John F Kennedys' Presidential trip to Ireland. Our own Patricia Forde will be presenting a bi-lingual event in which younger school children will get to visit the school for tooth fairies and also meet Lísín the pirate!(Thursday, 19th October) On Saturday the 21st October, Jane Mitchell will visit the Blue Teapot Theatre to present her incredible new book, A Dangerous Crossing, based on the experiences of Syrian families trying to escape their war-torn country. (highly recommended for ages 9+) And Dave Rudden will be at the Mick Lally Theatre on Sunday, October 22 for a fun, fast-paced journey into the world of Denizen Hardwick and the Knights of the Borrowed Dark. It is a real can't miss event.
Also, don't forget to join us at Charlie Byrnes Bookshop on both Saturday and Sunday, from 11am to 12 for our ever bigger and better Storytime in The Cornstore outside of the shop. Who knows what we'll be reading?! (Great books, that's what!)
But wait! There's more!
In the O'Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway, a true feast for the eyes awaits one and all with the A World of Colour exhibition, featuring the work of Chris Haughton and Beatrice Alemanga. Presenting work from their stunning picture books, this is your chance to enter a vibrant and lively world of the imagination.
There is an exceptional information day for childrens' writers (and anyone interested in childrens' literature) called So You Want To Write A Proper Book?  Chaired by Sarah Webb, the dlr Writer in Residence for 2016/2017, this day for adults will answer all your questions about writing for children; how much do authors get paid, what are agents and publishers are looking for, the impact of social media and events... You won't want to miss this. Featured are the Baboró authors, Conor Hackett of Hackett Flynn Publishers Agency, Aoife Murray from CBI, Ivan O'Brien from O'Brien Books...so many fantastic people from the world of childrens' books in Ireland I couldn't possibly list them all. (But I will add...me...participating on a really interesting panel discussion on chapter books!) Takes place on Saturday 21st October from 10am-4:30pm.
And don't forget about all the other fabulous Baboró events throughout the week. If you haven't booked your tickets yet, here's the link to the programme (below). Be there!
http://www.baboro.ie/festival/programme

Friday, October 6, 2017

Launch of Genesis by Eilis Barrett

A week ago, I played a small part of the launch of Genesis, the much-anticipated sequel to Oasis by Eilis Barrett; this time at Charlie Byrnes Bookshop in Galway.
Vinny Brown introduces Eilis
Eilis is a remarkable young woman, as you might imagine since she is 18 years old and this is her second book. (Oasis was published when she was 16.) Articulate and accomplished, it is a real privilege to know her, to hear her speak and to read her writing.
Genesis
author: Eilis Barrett
publisher: Gill Books (8 September 2017
ISBN: 9780717174355 Genesis picks up the story of Quincy Emerson. She now finds herself a captive once again, in the maximum-security prison, the Colosseum as a security risk. Held in deplorable and brutal conditions in the prison, where anarchy rules and rival gangs wage a 'street war' of sorts, Quincy takes care to not make an enemy of either gang boss, while holding allegiance to no one but herself and her comrades on the outside. Food is scarce and delivered infrequently; sleep is a rare luxury and escape from the Colosseum is impossible. But outside, a fatal storm is brewing and Quincy has no choice but to try.
Fast-paced, edgy and head-and-shoulders above the vast majority of YA dystopian fiction, Genesis has the same relentless, intense pace found in Oasis. From page one, the reader is sucked into the story, to be spat out at the end (in the best way.) The world created here is consistent throughout and thoroughly believable. Her characters; no nonsense and forth-right. And the conclusion is one of those rare things in that it is both inevitable, but unpredictable. It is an incredible read.  But please do read Oasis first.(14 yrs +)

Congratulations, Eilis! I can't wait to see what you come up with next.
(p.s. You can find my review of Oasis on the Irish Books, Authors and Publishers page of this blog.)


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Last Weekend at the CBI conference

(It has been a busy week, post CBI conference; so apologies for now catching you up before now.)
The Childrens Books Ireland conference is actually my favourite weekend of the year. CBI always puts on a great show, with amazing speakers and great comradery all the way around. It's a time to catch up with like-minded people working in childrens' literature, find out what's been happening in their lives and what's coming next in the world of childrens' books...so it does take some time to absorb all the information. I always leave feeling inspired and happy. Here are some of the highlights...
Day one....
CBI is celebrating 20 years! With many new incentives and schemes to bring books to children of all ages, it is going to be a very exciting year for childrens' literature in Ireland. Happy 20th, CBI!


Lucy Cousins is the creator of Maisy (as you may know) and so many other beloved characters in childrens' books over the last twenty or so years. Created for young children, Lucy Cousins reaches into her childhood and 'draws by heart...going back to her own childhood instincts.' In an amazing conversation with Mags Walsh, we discovered how her brightly coloured and lively books play their part in making readers for life.
Rob Biddulph and Chris Judge talked together about their work; picture books which explore adventure, friendship and over coming loneliness.


We did some time-traveling with Anna Carey ( The Making of Mollie) and Lucy Adlington (The Red Ribbon), who spoke about the unexpected part the women play in history. With engaging female characters, the shifting social constructs through the Edwardian streets of Dublin and the atrocities of the Holocaust, both of these authors have fascinating and unexpected information teaming through their novels for young adults and teens. Both are on my 'must-read' authors list. Their historical fiction for young people is riveting, exciting and thought-provoking.

Shane Hegarty, Cecelia Ahern and John Boyne are all Irish authors who travel between writing for adults and writing for young people. In their conversation, they explored the paths and pitfalls that navigating these routes send them through.
We ended the afternoon with the most wonderful, amazing writer for children I could think of...Kate DiCamillo. Kate describes herself as "an enormously lucky person person who gets to tell stories for a living." She talked a bit about her life as an incredibly shy child and related one incident that ended with a phrase from a woman she encountered in a glass-bottom boat that has stuck with her ever since; "Oh my....this world." Through her books,we see the world and the world inside our world...we see each other. From Because of Winn-Dixie to Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo has enchanted us all with this wonder. She cannot write a bad book...I suggest you read them, if you haven't already.
Day two...
Joseph Coelho was a fantastic way to begin a new day. His lively performance poetry woke us all up and got our attention as he spoke about the childs' 'natural propensity for poetry'...that, frequently, they don't even realise they have. It's all in the approach and his approach is outstanding! His new picture book, Lulu Loves Library Day (illustrated by Fiona Lumbers) talks about the joy of a little girl as she spends library day with her Dad...they explore the shelves and find magic, and reassurance everywhere.
Of course, every year CBI  brings in 'New Voices'; those authors in Ireland who have emerged over the last 12 months. Each has just 5 minutes present their work! This year, we were treated to Amanda Bell, Sarah Carroll, Orlagh Collins, Sadhgh Devlin, Meg Grhan, John Kane, Jane Landy, Sinéad O'Hart and Mary Watson.







Dragon Loves Penguin...a wonderful story about love and belonging





Debi Gliori is the author and illustrator of over seventy picturebooks; and that doesn't include her novels for young people. She has five children of her own. Her writing/illustration make for incredibly heart-warming and reassuring reading for all ages, while exploring the side of life that can be troubling. Debi talked about how personal representations of big issues can bring a more active communication...and bring great joy.
Her books talk about love, hope, the environment, family life,
The Trouble With Dragons
remembering; dragons, owls, children....all with a wonderfully appropriate colour palette for whatever subject she is handling. Her latest offering is a book entitled Night Shift. It examines the dragon of depression and its' hold over all those who live with it. Stunningly moving fare. She is one of my favourite author/illustrators...and now I can view her work with a completely different perspective.










James Mayhews' talk was titled 'Flying Carpets' and whisked us away on a journey. He talked about stories, time-honoured and familiar stories and how migrate across other art forms - from storytelling to books and then to music, art, theatre; as well as across cultures and time.
I do still need to know more about a particular Finnish legend and why it didn't migrate...fascinating stuff.










Finally....what a way to wind-up a conference. Sally Gardner is an author I have wanted to hear from for at least 10 years now; and I was NOT disappointed. Sally Gardner has a canon over more than 30 books for young people as author, illustrator or both. As a young child, Sally was pronounced 'word-blind' and 'unteachable' (due to dyslexia) and has emerged as this incredible voice for those marginalised and excluded by social definitions of success and focus on what qualifies as a 'proper' education. Very impressive! Her writing mission is to challenge these notions, and to inspire. Her books and in person, she does exactly that. She had us all re-thinking our priorities. utterly amazing. Sallys' final plea, echoing something I have always felt very strongly about, particularly in lieu of todays' educational standards and measure, is a simple, but extremely important one. Leaving us with one phrase: Let Children Play! Thank you, Sally.










A pretty impressive conference. don't you think?