Here comes summer...and it may be a very strange one.
Over the last three months, we've seen many changes. Many of us have been isolated and doing our best to keep our spirits high and bring ourselves to the point where we can once again leave our homes and our immediate surroundings and meet up again. It can be discouraging Here in Ireland, we've entered a new stage in coming out of lockdown... we're nearly there.
But the children are still home from school, or homeschooling. Tremendous efforts by everyone are ongoing and nothing helps quite like a good story to answer questions, entertain and keep up hope. And with summer looming, I think we need a good shot of encouragement and understanding to keep it from becoming dreary. Here are a few more online stories and storytimes to keep you going...some of my favourites, in fact.

author: Malachy Doyle illustrator: Andrew Whitson
Graffeg Publishing (June 2020)
The island has been shut down! No one is allowed on or off the island because of corona virus. There's no school and Molly can't go out and about to see her friends. It's all very worrying and hard to understand. And worst of all, Daddy is still on the mainland and can't make it home to Molly. (He'll be all right. He can stay with Uncle Ed.) There's nothing Molly, or anyone for that matter, can do. So Molly helps with the cooking and the cleaning and the chickens...but it is very worrying. Molly keeps herself safe and longs for the day when Daddy can come home. Any before you know it...
I really do love the Molly books. (And I was wondering exactly how Molly was getting along on her little island.) Written with a genuine voice, there is a real sense of the way children think and feel in each story. This free download takes the reader right onto the island with Molly and gives a personal view of her experience of the lockdown. It brings humour, joy and determination, such light into what is, for all of us, a very stressful time. The illustrations and drawn in black and white flowing, expressive lines leaving up to YOU to add the colour and life of this small island. A wonderful resource and colouring book for children, this really does help with the challenging circumstances we find ourselves living in.
And, if this isn't enough for you, head over to YouTube where you can hear Malachy Doyle read the tale to you...along with tons of his other brilliant stories. Listening to Molly and the Shutdown while colouring the book is just the thing to bring a smile to your faces.

And don't forget to read the other books in the series....Molly and the Stormy Sea and Molly and the Whale. And coming soon: Molly and the Lighthouse!!!!
You can download your copy of Molly and the Shutdown free on the Graffeg Publishing website. It's available in English, Irish and Welsh languages...isn't that brilliant! Get yours now!

author: Smitri Halls illustrator: David Litchfield
Walker Books (June 2020)
ISBN: 9781406399264
With a fox for her only companion, a girl travels from place to place; through loss and darkness, across lands of uncertainty, always following the hope of light, colour and life. Meeting new friends along the way, they find help and support. They discover a path through the darkness into a promising future and joy.
A quiet picture book that takes us on a reassuring journey in uncertain days. There must be rain before rainbows, night before daybreak...there is always a new dawn. The simple, poetic language will stir the heart of the reader. Litchfields gorgeous, evocative pictures adds greatly to the lyrical quality of the story. Beautifully written and rendered, with real hope running across every page, Rain Before Rainbows sends a positive, moving message to anyone, young or old who has ever been through dark and seemingly hopeless times. A book of wonder and light.
And you can download it now for free from Walker Books.

And you can go over to YouTube and listen to Rain Before Rainbows (and many other great Walker Books books)!

author: Marguerite Tonery illustrator: Fabrice Matray
Tribes Press (27 May 2020)

Uh-oh! The Covid Monster is here for a visit that no one wants! With his squishy hands and toes, he’s dripping nasty, squishy everywhere! So, no more playing with friends; no more playground fun; no more visits to Granny and Granddad until Covid Monster goes away. What CAN we do to make sure Covid Monster know he’s not welcome here?
A lyrical, rhyming story with vibrant, colourful pictures to help even the youngest children cope with restrictions and social distancing and encouraging all the things they need to remember, like washing hands and knowing they did nothing wrong!  Covid Monster’s Visit brings comfort and hope while encouraging cooperation and thought for others. But more than that, it is a story to reassure and support children in these unusual days. While children certainly adapt to changing situations with greater ease than adults, they do take on the stress of the grown-up world around them.  As a psychologist, Tonery wants to deliver a message to children and help them not internalise the events of this pandemic world, to understand that we simply have to do things a bit differently now; that soon we will see all the people we love face to face, we will play with our friends and do all the things they love to do. 
Covid Monsters Visit is available free to download from the Tribes Press website. Available in English, French and German, this is a fabulous resource for families.
You can also order Covid Monsters' Visit in printed book form.


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