Showing posts from 2019


"You are probably wondering why we need superheroes. It's simple. We need superheroes to FIGHT PLASTIC and SAVE THE OCEAN. Our oceans are dying because we are using them as a dump, allowing them to fill with plastic, Our plastic rubbish is hurting the creatures that live in or around the ocean. If we don't watch out, rubbish will hurt us, too." It's that simple. We have been making and using plastic since 1907. That's over 110 years of plastic. And as we got good at making plastic, we just made more and more of it. Then, when we've used it, we throw it away. We throw A LOT of it away and it doesn't break down and it doesn't just disappear and most of it ends up in our oceans. It's a real we need to do something about NOW. We see it on the news everyday. Whole beaches full of plastic; whales and sea turtles and sea birds dying because of the plastic they've seems to me like we're swimming in plastic quite literall…

A Strange Kind Of Brave

Last week, I ventured down to O'Mahony's Bookshop in Limerick for the launch of a truly phenomenal new book by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald; A Strange Kind of Brave. This is Sarahs' fifth book for young people and she simply goes from strength to strength. Her books all deal with children facing some of the biggest challenges imaginable and finding the inner resources to meet them head on. While engaging with some heavy issues, she manages to communicate the stories with humour, imagination and a deeply effective light shining through the dark, making each one not only gripping, but a delight to read; the kind of books that young people will pick up and not want to put down. 
A Strange Kind of Brave is certainly no exception; it's utterly consuming. It will strike a chord and continue to vibrate through the reader long after they have finished the book causing it to be one of those that will be read repeatedly. A Strange Kind of Brave not only tells a deeply fascinating stor…


Summer is a time for adventure and wonder, wandering and dreaming. And picture books add to the marvels of imagination that every summer day can bring. Here are a few beautiful picture to engage and amaze the smaller folk during these wondrous summer days (and the bigger folk, as well.)

Molly and the Whale by Malachy Doyle, pictures by Andrew Whitson; I have been anxiously awaiting this one to arrive at my door, and today it arrived. And it did not disappoint! In this follow-up to the wonderful Molly and the Stormy; we revisit Molly on her little island to discover that the tide has stranded a whale. Everyone bands together to help the whale, but will she make it back to sea? Absolutely joyous, filled with love and the most exquisite illustrations!
How To Be On The Moon by Viviane Schwarz; a clever and creative picture book that is filled with excitement, adventure and clever dialogue that even grown-ups with enjoy. Anna decides that she and Crocodile will take a journey to the moon! I…


As July, and the summer is moving quickly along, it's time to take a look at some more summer reading recommendations. This time, it's the middle-grade (or MG) group, generally intended for children 8 to 11 years or so.(I still, after all these years, have a great resistance to 'age-banding' when it comes to books, but that's a discussion for another day.) We think of this age-range as the golden-age of childrens' reading because it is the time when they are most encouraged and most enthusiastic about books. Libraries all have Summer Reading programmes and the bookshops are filled to the brim with fantastic books to lose yourself in over the summer months. And time some time to read with your children. It matters more than you can ever know. While I know this can be a busy time, there's always time for a good book.
The shelves in any childrens' section can be an overwhelming place, so here are some recommendations to get you going.
Malamander by Thomas …

Oh Wow! It's Cressida Cowell!

Just a very quick post: I would like to offer my most heartfelt congratulations to Cressida Cowell, who today was appointed the new Waterstones UK Childrens Laureate!
The author of the hugely popular How To Train Your Dragon series, not to mention her latest books, The Wizards of Once; follows 10 previous laureates that include Lauren Child and Chris Riddell (complete list below.) She begins her 2 year incumbency with a giant to-do list. Her mission is to "take on TV" and promises to make the magic of books "urgently available to absolutely everyone." Cowell wants children everywhere to fall in love with reading for pleasure. And, personally, I am right behind her.
Congratulations, Cressida Cowell. The next two years are going to be marvelous and exciting.

Past UK Childrens Laureates:
Quentin Blake (1999-2001)Anne Fine (2001-2003)Michael Morpurgo (2003-2005)Jacqueline Wilson (2005-2007)Michael Rosen (2007-2009)Anthony Browne (2009-2011)Julia Donaldson (2011-2013)Malo…

Summer Reading 2019: YA Seven For Summer

Good morning! Happy July, everyone! So school is out and we are all facing summer holidays, so it's time for a quick post of some recommended summer reading. I'm starting with the YA sector and there are some fantastic books out so far this year (or in the case of one of the above, out very soon.) Generally speaking when we're off for the summer, the trend I notice (especially among the YA reading crowd...and yes, grown-up people, that includes you) is for a bit of escapism. We want to escape into other worlds, other dimensions; but mostly, other peoples' lives. We want to understand how they handle their joys and their tragedies; their impossible situations that would never happen to us (or would they?) And then there is the desire to live vicariously.....
So, very quickly then... (if you want more information about any of the books, check out the review pages. They're all there.)
The Cantankerous Molly Darling by Alvy Carragher is page after page of sheer delight a…

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS- Mental Health, Homelessness & Young People On The Edge

In July 2018, a truly moving book hit the YA market. Behind Closed Doors deals with young people living under the threat of homelessness due to the action, or inaction of the adults in their world that are supposed to protect them. The characters and their lives are laid out on the page with openness; frankness. Realistically written, it is compelling, riveting and unique in its' content. Far from being dismal or depressing, while it is hard-hitting in its' revelations, it is also filled with humour and kindness.

I had the opportunity to interview author, Miriam Halamhy about her choices in the issues portrayed in Behind Closed Doors and the development of the friendship between two unlikely girls. Her answers, like the book itself, give much pause for thought. Let's see what she has to say....

1.What inspired you to write a book about young people facing the possibility/reality of homelessness? In 1966 as a teenager I saw the film, Cathy Come Home, by Ken Loach on British TV…

WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS SUMMER? Space Dragons by Robin Bennett

Welcome to my spot celebrating another fantastic book; Space Dragons by Robin Bennett. It seems particularly appropriate that today is also the summer solstice; the longest day of the year because our hero, Stan Pollux is about to have a very long day, indeed. But time doesn't really mean anything where he's going....
author: Robin Bennett
Monster Books (19 June 2019)
ISBN: 9781999884420
Stan Pollux was looking forward to a normal, average summer holiday. If he had known what was about to happen, Stan would have definitely put on different underpants. It all started with Stan staring at the pieces of his broken telescope; evidence that his little sister Poppy had been in his room again, messing with his stuff. How many times....!!! He manages to get the telescope back together, although it can't be working right...not when he's sure what he's looking at is an enormous evil-looking eye staring at him from what should be the depths of space. The next thing…

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2019

Today, Tuesday 18 June, the winners of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2019 were announced at a ceremony at The British Library.
The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children. This years' winner, selected by the judging panel from a very competitive shortlist goes to Elizabeth Acevedo for her book The Poet X (Electric Monkey publishers). The Poet X explores themes of identity, freedom and finding your voice. A young girl in Harlem (New York City) discovers slam poetry and uses it as a way to understand her  mothers' religion and what her role in the world is. As she joins a slam poetry club at school, she must keep it a secret from her mother and doubts whether she will be able to even speak her own words aloud. This beautiful, evocative story will echo in your heart and haunt your mind. And it may just lead you to speak with your own voice.

The Kate Greenaway Medal is given for distinguished illustration in a book for ch…

FAVOURITES OF THE YEAR...the last few months

In April, I offered you a glimpse of my favourite books of the year so far. (This was on 16 April, if you want to have a look back...and please do!) We're half-way through June now. The books have been coming out fast and furious. So, I thought it was time to show you all a few more of my favourite childrens' books....just a few, mind.  Let's look at the Picture Books, first: MOUSE and MOLE; author: Joyce Dunbar and illustrator: James Mayhew
Graffeg Press (16 May 2019)      ISBN: 9781912050406 When dear Mouse and Mole was re-issued by Graffeg Press on 16 May, I was beside myself with joy. The stories are quiet, funny and positively delightful. The illustrations provide a beautiful, warm setting for Mouse and Mole to get up to all sorts of adventures. This is classic, timeless and deserves a place on your shelf for all time. HOW TO BE ON THE MOON; author/illustrator: Viviane Schwarz
Walker Books (6 June 2019)   ISBN: 9781406379921 Clever, warm-hearted and filled with friendship …