Irish Books, Authors & Publishers

Of course, living and working in Ireland, I come across so many Irish childrens books. I wanted to find a way to highlight books that are unique to Ireland so this page is dedicated to our wonderful Irish books for children; those written by Irish authors, published by Irish publishers and telling Irish stories.

author: Gerard Siggins
O'Brien Press (1 April 2020)
ISBN: 9781788491853
Eoin Madden is home in Tipperary for the holidays. There's no rugby over the summer, so along with his boarding school friends, he heads down to Ormondstown GAA club. They all get involved in hurling and the football team and before you know it, they're up against some of the best GAA teams in the county, trying to see if their rugby skills translate well into their native sports. They're kept busy and having great fun between GAA and setting up their own gardening business, apart from some trouble with the local bullies. So why has Eoins' ghostly friend and mentor, Brian Hanrahan turned up? And this time, Brian is accompanied by the ghost of Michael Hogan who died in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday 100 years ago. This can only mean trouble is heading Eoins' way...and a deeper understanding of an historical tragedy. Will Eoin be able to keep a modern tragedy from unfolding?
It's wonderful to see another Eoin Madden Adventure bringing its' unique combination of sports and history to the page. The addition of more ghostly mystery hooks the reader immediately, as does the friendship and inclusiveness imbedded in the story. With an easy, flowing plotline that builds steady excitement and tension, the reader feels as if these are people they know; people they want to hang out with; people they will cheer for, on and off the pitch. The history woven into the tale encourages a hands-on understanding and desire to know more. And it is simply great adventure. Stories about sport are always highly sought after and you can't do better than this. Full of family, friends and fun...and you'll learn a little something along the way.
You'll want to catch up with Eoins' sporting life (if you haven't read them yet). So please read the entire Rugby Spirit collection. You'll be glad you did.

author: Ann Murtagh
O'Brien O'Press (17 February 2020)
ISBN: 9781788491259
As the Irish War of Independence breaks out, Colm Conneely is living in a small cottage in Westmeath with his Dad and Nan and is dreaming big, exciting dreams. At nearly 14, Colm longs to join the 'Rainbow Chasers', the local Volunteers in the fight for an Ireland free from English rule, just as his Dad and so many in his family have done. Colm is caught up in republican fever, smuggling guns, defying the RIC, raising the tricolor on a small lake island during Sports Day...displaying his willingness and dedication to the cause at every possible opportunity. But Colm also has another make a new life in American using his exceptional gifts as a fiddle player and working for the republican movement there. But the arrival of two new people in the town cause his dreams to take a new turn. A spirited Belfast girl named Alice who shares Colms' commitment to the cause and dreams of a musical escape help draw him further into the fight for freedom. And Auntie Sheila is back after years; revealing a long-held family secret that completely changes Colms' perspective. The past, it seems, has shattering repercussions; but how will it change Colms' future?
Compelling, clear writing tells us a story of history and destiny; not just of the Irish nation, but of personal impact. Colm comes across of an ordinary boy caught in extraordinary times as he longs to carve his own path in life, follow his dreams and to be part of something bigger, even if only a small part. His story is one of "coming-of-age", displaying his talents, commitment and his mettle and there is a sense of his determining his own worth, not just for all around him to see, but for himself. In the very poignant moment when family secrets are revealed causes an earthquake within him as he comes to terms with the fact that everything he believed; everything he could count on simply wasn't true. The emotion of that moment has been woven through the texture of the book and explodes not just with anger and confusion, but with a strange, artfully painted sense of relief. It is a story of history that has resonance today and begs us to think on the multi-layer nature of our own personal histories. A real 'who-do-you-think-you-are' kind of book; full of feeling, truly fascinating, a vivid portrait of this moment in time and simply wonderful.

author/illustrator: John Farrelly
O'Brien Press (2 March 2020)
ISBN: 9781788491037
The first installment of a new series; Deadly Irish History: The Vikings takes us on a madcap, marauding, entertaining and highly informative journey back in time and packed full of facts, legends and stories about Viking life and their quests in Ireland. With clever and quirky illustrations donning every page, there are cartoons and comics; tongue-in-cheek 'newspaper articles', 'documents' and 'catalogs' highlighting all your Viking needs...all proving that Irish history isn't boring at's deadly! With a wide range of quizzes, questionnaires, puzzles and make-and-do pages, this book will have you riveted for hours. Basically, I loved it! Well-written, wonderfully illustrated, completely fascinating and so much fun! Move over, Horrible Histories. There's a new historical kid on the block! More Deadly Irish History, please!

RONAN AND THE MERMAID: A Tale of Old Ireland
author: Marianne McShane
illustrator: Jordi Solano
Walker Books UK (May 2020)
ISBN: 9781406392043
Long, long ago the Abbey of Bangor with its' cluster of beehive huts lay nestled on the edge of the Irish Sea. One day after a fierce, wild storm, Brother Declan discovers a boy washed up on the shore among a circle of seals, seaweed in his hair. No one knew where the boy had come from, but as he recovered he told a tale of being rescued from the waves by a beautiful lady. She had long golden hair and sang to him until they reached the safety of the shore. She tells him that one day he will help her more than he can imagine. As his days unfold, Ronan is given a harp and can play the most mesmerising music with just the touch of a string, enchanting even the birds with his skill. But he keeps hearing another song, sweet and sorrowful coming from the sea. It is the song of the mermaid.
With the lyrical style of an expert storyteller, a picture is painted of long ago Ireland, its' legends, its' magic and its' wonder. The graceful language itself weaves a spell full of atmosphere, whisking the reader back in time. As you read along, you can hear the voice of the storyteller, feel the  salty air of the sea, hear the sound of birdsong, music, and the utter quiet of the monks home. The gorgeous illustrations gracing the pages of this picture book give exacting imagery and a genuine sense of time and place, rich in detail, symbolism and a feel of the old; the magical. Rendered in a palette which is sensitive to the story, the pictures combine with the text to create a real treasure. Evocative, exquisite and beautiful; this one truly brings the legend home. Simply wonderful.

author: Helena Close
Little Island (2 April 2020)
ISBN: 9781912417445
Matts' mother left the family when he was 10 years old. It's been five years. Matt writes her letters; letters he doesn't send. He keeps them in his Gone Book. Five years of letters spelling out his aching, longing and pain; loneliness and confusion. Five years of glimpses into his life...sort of. And five years of telling her he will find her one day. Matts' home isn't a great place, really. Since his Dad stopped drinking, all he does is run and pray. His older is running with a rough crowd, into drugs and owing alot of money to very bad people. Matt does have his friends, Mikey and Anna but all he really wants to do is skate, surf and try to forget. And then, one day...he discovers his Mum is back in town. Matt needs to find her and deliver one final truth. But it may be Matt who gets the truth served to him.
A remarkable narrative that throws the reader right into the story, this is a book that simply sings. We don't so much read it as feel it; experience it. The descriptive passages give a realistic, accurate portrayal of location and people as Matt is navigating his life, trying to leave the past behind, but finding no real guidance to move forward. He's trying to be his own person, but struggling to uncover who that is. Each character shines with a palpable, genuine quality that brings the book to life; that reveals a tangible, sometimes painful reality that is also filled with small glories. There is real heart and humour here; real emotion and action, told by a storyteller with a gift for crafting convincing voice and circumstance. A completely riveting and heartfelt family/coming-of-age drama, extremely contemporary and relevant and filled with truth, compassion and soul.

author: Nicola Pierce
O'Brien Press (9 March 2020)
ISBN: 9781788490177
In 1845, two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror set out into the Arctic seeking the Northwest Passage. Their inexperienced crew, captained by the aging Sir John Franklin and second-in-command Francis Crozier are ill-prepared for the conditions that meet them. As the ice closes in on the ships, no one can guarantee their return.
In Derry, May 1849, four-year-old Weesy Coppin succumbs to a fever that has been wracking her poor little body for quite sometime. As her family locks themselves in heartache over her death, her brother and sister discover that her spirit has not left them, but still remains haunting their home. With the world anxiously wondering what has happened to the Arctic-bound ships, the Coppins struggle with the events in their own home. Until one night, when the two events collide in a most unlikely twist of fate and the truth comes to light...if anyone has the courage to see it.
Nicola Pierce returns with another eerie, haunting, sea-going historical fiction and it is stunning. The story is largely based on two historical events, separate, but forever linked in history. Told in two voices; that of Francis Crozier and of Weesys' sister Ann; the reader is taken on an intrepid and ill-fated mission filled with determination and mystery. The death of a little girl brings grief and heartbreak to her family that now has to deal with a situation they do not want to conceive of; that she has come back to haunt them. We see every possible emotion as they try to make sense of this. It is only through a sliver of belief in this supernatural calling; undeniable evidence that something weird is happening to them, that the fate of the Northwest Passage mission is revealed to the world. The tale is gripping, wrapping us in the chilling blanket of never-ending cold and ice to labour on with the adventurers, praying for a heroic, positive outcome.  It calls us to suspend our disbelief and embrace the possibility of the other world. You may not want to believe any of this, but its' all there in history. Atmospheric, articulate and intelligent, wonderfully imaginative, impossibly true...this is historical fiction at its' very best.

author: Sheena Wilkinson
Little Island (5 March 2020)
ISBN: 9781912417421
It's 1921. Ireland has been at war with Britain for 2 years. Emotions are still running high from the end of World War 1 and now, with the act of partition, a hard border splits the country into two separate states. Communities are torn apart by conflict and bitter hatred. In the small border town of  Mullankeen, Pollys' life is changing fast. Still reeling from the loss of her mother to the Spanish flu, struggling to tolerate her brother, Leo who is much changed by the War and now dealing with her best friend, Catherine being sent away to school; she is having a really rough time of it. A shocking incident in her own home drives Polly to run away, joining Catherine in Helens' Hope Hostel in Belfast. It is a feminist collective where young women live and work together; a haven of tolerance and diversity in a city that is growing more splintered by the day. Even within the walls of Helens' Hope, the girls struggle to maintain their ideals. And the looming election seems to be increasing the tension to breaking point. There are some in the area that hate the hostel and all it stands for. When Helens' Hope is violently attacked resulting in a horrific tragedy, can Polly keep hope alive?
With beautiful expressive writing, Hope Against Hope perfectly captures the atmosphere of Irelands' partition and the people caught within a time of great transition and conflict. Told through the eyes of 14-year-old Polly, the reader has an insightful view into this moment as momentous social changes are mirrored by Pollys' own personal ones. As Polly (and her friends) attempt to come into their own; decide who they will be and how they will fit in life, deft characterisation and a genuine voice gives us a story that is compelling and dynamic.  It is moving, emotional; filled with a heart and humour as would be required to navigate this time of hope and trouble. We see Northern Ireland emerging and flailing against the harsh winds of the remnants of war, a growing division of her people; a 'coming-of-age' of its' own. The details of the social structure of the time are written with a keen eye, showing honestly what was then and managing to convey something that still resonates today. And it does so without judgement; without leaning in one direction or the other. Hope Against Hope gives us a marvelous picture of history. But more than that, it gives us a memorable story with a bold, adventurous heroine that we become attached to. We want to keep Polly with us as a friend, a confidant and a companion in our own journey. Full of heart, feeling and thought-provoking wonder. Simply wonderful.
(Hope Against Hope sits alongside the previous Name Upon Name and Star By Star, revisiting some of the characters we met in those books and giving us a glimpse into their lives following those stories.)

author: Marguerite Tonery
cover illustration: Fabrice Bertolotto
Tribes Press (October 2019)
ISBN: 9781912441150
The month of March brings seemingly endless dark days and darker nights full of blustery storms. On one such night, as Jamie and Elisa settle into bed with sleep soon upon them, a thunderous sound shakes the world. But it isn't a storm. It's the ancient trees of Kapheus. Tired of waiting, they shake their roots deep in the soil and summon the Messenger from the ancient depths of the spirit world. The Messenger walks among the living of both Éire and Kapheus now, present to signal a new dawn. Jamie and Elisa have reached coming of age, but Kapheus has grown still and filled with fear. It is not safe for Elisa and Jamie there. But it is not safe for them in Eire, either. The Children of Light journey to Tír na nOg, and the boundary portals between Éire and Kapheus close. It may well be that Elisa and Jamie could well be trapped inside forever. As well as, somehow, their father. With incensed leprechauns turning violence upon all and no clear-headed heroes to call upon, will Jamie and Elisa remained trapped forever; the destinies, combined and separate, dangling elusively out of reach?
As we enter the fantastical world of light for the 5th time, we are drawn into a world in chaos and confusion. There is a storm brewing, and that storm carries the reader throughout the book. As the central characters, Jamie and Elisa are older, more mature now, the story matches their growth. The plot is more complex and more ethereal, more dreamlike as it takes the reader from place to place in  the context of the tale. But the story remains fluid. Lyrical story-telling drives the tale forward.Vivid, textural description brings the carefully constructed world into view. As both Elisa and Jamie reach a coming-of-age, they do so with much insight into the complex rises and emotional and thought patterns of their ages and concepts such as self-determination, loyalty, and destiny are brought to test. The reader will now get greater insight into their parents as well, with Aideen having a crisis of her own and their father, Cathal revealing more of his personality. In fact, all the characters seem to reveal their many layers. All of this is wrapped up in a rich, vibrant, expanding fantasy/adventure filled with all the nuance of Irish myth and legend that demands attention and calls us all to follow our dreams. In return, the reader receives a story they will not want to leave. Exciting, intrepid and so, so satisfying.

author: Lyn Maloney
illustrator: Sally-Ann Kelly
Tribes Press (October 2019)
ISBN: 9781912441129
From the moment this book is opened, you enter an enchanted world. Here you will meet fairies of many sorts; nature fairies, fairy helpers, faithful fairy friends...even mischievous fairies who are sure to make you laugh and lead you astray; but not too far astray. Have you ever wondered how fairies are made? What chores do they take on? And what, exactly are steampunk fairies up to? All their stories are told in lyrical, lilting verse, so the reader is sure to remember and become completely mesmerised by each fairys' story.
Illustrated in beautiful colour, with magical light and charm, each page of this book invites you further into the fairy realm. Honestly, you'll never want to leave.
Poetry is such an important part of a childs' reading experience. This collection is a simply stunning addition that will enrich their understanding of books and stories, inspire a curiosity of nature and create a real enthusiasm for the possibility of fairyland. So imaginative, so lovely and so very real...invite the fairies into your lives with a book of poetry that will be treasured by children young and old. Absolute enchantment awaits!

author: Megan Wynne
O'Brien Press (14 October 2019)
ISBN: 9781788490900
Beth really misses her old life in London; her school, her best friend Aisha, her Gran. Beth had a place where she belonged there. But when her Gran died, the family crossed the Irish Sea and are now living in an old house with some pretty strange things happening. Someone has been in her room messing with her things. Things go missing, get broken; what is going on? One morning, Beth discovers a strangely dressed boy called Robbie has been slipping through a crack in her wall...from the 1950s! It gets really interesting. Robbie shows Beth how to slip back and forth between times and together, they have brilliant fun creating havoc that no one can work out...until one day Robbies' family gets stuck in the present day, leaving his heartbroken father behind. The past truly is a strange and distant land.
Two children, living in the same house but decades apart, meeting up via a crack in the wall? Just brilliant!!! This book opens up a window to the past and gives a glimpse of the possibility of its' impact on the present day.  The characterisation is marvelous. With shy, quiet Beth juxtaposed against bold, brash Robbie, both have grow and become a little more like each other in order to manage this mad situation and find solutions. But the real star of this show is the story-telling! The reader is immediately drawn into the tale with its' fast-paced plot and unique perspective.. Not only does it display the effect of changes of the last few decades, but it causes so many questions; so many 'what ifs' that challenge the reader throughout. And just when you think its all over, a brilliant twist of fate and family crashes in to offer an ending that will live long in the imagination and heart. Entertaining, insightful, full of understanding and just plain fun.

author: Patricia Forde
Little Island Books (12 September 2019)
ISBN: 9781912417278
Since the death of its' leader in the battle of the water tower a year earlier, Ark is now under the grip of a new dictator, even more extreme, more ruthless than John Noa. Amelia is determined to carry out the wishes of her dead partner, Noa...but in a more absolute fashion. Babies are disappearing from their families, taken by the Gavvers, enforcers of the law of Ark for an unknown purpose, to an unknown location. And the people are living in abject fear. Letta is now an enemy of the state; part of the resistance movement, the Creators living and working in secret to overturn the horrific events that have been building since the Melting. She continues with her work as the Wordsmith, collecting words and language for the people. But her job now takes on an added, very dangerous aspect as Letta is now running a covert Hedge School, teaching the children the words that are missing from the state-enforced language of List. Language is a weapon. Letta is determined to teach the children how to use it. But when she discovers that babies are being stolen from their homes, Letta takes on another task; a task that places her in more peril as she uncovers a heart-breaking, sinister plot and brings her face to face with a dead woman. But Letta must find out where the babies are being hidden...and why. 
Mother Tongue is a glorious, chilling, powerful work of speculative fiction that takes the reader on a journey of heart and mind, of the effects of environmental disaster and the dangers of absolute power. Complex ideas about language and society are expressed with a rhythm and eloquence that holds the reader in the storys' tightly woven grasp and creates a world that is frighteningly tangible. It makes you feel as if in a dream from which you cannot wake. The book moves with pitch-perfect pacing that causes a feeling of flowing through the plot; moving through the landscape with its' hills, fields and forests as if you have been carefully placed in every location by the words themselves. The characters are incisive; multi-layered and lending differing and genuine voices and concerns to the tale. Letta herself is simply magnificent; well-rounded, filled with conflict and determination, believable and heroic. She is an inspiration. An ode to the urgency of language (which features as a hero in and of itself), freedom of expression, response and responsibility, the effect is a book that you will keep inside you long after you've put it down. And I would argue that this is not simply a book for young people; everyone should read Mother Tongue. Thought-provoking and emotion-stirring, purposeful, exciting and haunting.

author: Erika McGann
illustrator: Lauren O'Neill
O'Brien Press (30 September 2019)
ISBN: 9781847179456
In a very quiet library sitting on a very special shelf, there is an old, old book. One dark night, a  plump grey mouse sits staring out of the pages waiting.... When the clock strikes midnight, the mouse leaps from the pages, ready to begin his nighttime exploration. But the plump, grey mouse isn't the only one waiting. Right behind is a sharp-clawed cat looking for something to eat...maybe a tasty plump grey mouse? But where has he gone? The night-time cat, Pangur Bán searches high and low, all around Trinity College. Along the way, he asks for help from many of the other night-time visitors to Trinity; Jonathan Swift, Queen Elizabeth 1st, Oscar Wilde, even Count Dracula; but none seem interested in coming to Pangurs' aid. And Pangur Bán is so hungry! Will he ever find that plump, grey mouse?
What better way to explore Trinity College than this beautifully illustrated, ghostly romp through its' nighttime grounds! We meet many of the historical and literary people who have impacted our lives and this incredible library and university right in the heart of Dublin in this charming, action filled tale. Told through the eyes of Pangur Bán (my absolute favourite vignette from The Book of Kells), the journey is exciting, funny and wonderfully written, showing real character and warmth. Not only does this picture book give us a quick lesson in Trinitys' history, it opens wide the doors of the imagination. A perfect story to share as we enter this ghostly season.

author: Brian Gallagher
O'Brien Press (2 September 2019)
ISBN: 9781788490801
Dublin, 1943; Ireland has come under control of the Nazis. Two years ago, Rachel Clarke fled her home in Cork when the Nazis came for her family, due to their Jewish heritage. With her father shipped to Germany for forced labour and her mother being held in Spike Island Concentration Camp, Rachel made her way to her aunt in Dublin. Changing her name to Roisin Tierney, she is now hiding from the Gestapo, living in fear and trying to exist in the new harsh regime. But it proves to be nearly impossible. Many Irish people are unwilling to help; fearful for their own lives. Others find benefit in becoming Nazi collaborators. And then, there are those who fight back, joining the Resistance. Roisins' best friends, Mary and Kevin are one her side and do everything they can to hide her secret. But Dennis, a young collaborator, knows something is up. Before she knows it, Roisin and her aunt are in extreme danger, with the same Nazi who came for her in Cork having worked out her deception. One fateful night, Roisin and her friends must take the biggest risk of their young lives in order for Roisin to have even the slimmest chance of a better, safer life.
In this superb work of alternative historical fiction, Gallagher paints a picture of a world that could have easily come into being. The vivid imagery within the pages allows the reader to submerge themselves into a believable, realistic tale. The tension is palpable, the atmosphere, dramatic. The characters are vibrant and easy to identify with as they struggle to find courage and strength to battle against the prevailing circumstances and public opinion. These are gutsy kids; risk-takers, sometimes given to rash actions, but all the while keeping an uncertain future in sight. And the story-telling! The pacing, the rhythm and the cadence of the language fills the imagination and insight, provoking thought and deep consideration. Resistance is an important and riveting book.

author: Judi Curtin
O'Brien Press (9 September 2019)
ISBN: 9781788491280
Lily wants nothing more than to continue her school life where she receives praise for her writing, settles squabbles between the younger children and can be her lovely, cheeky self with her friends. But suddenly, that time comes to an end. She is whisked away to start her new life as an under- housemaid at the Big House: Lissadell, home of the Gore-Booth family. The Gore-Booths are kind and generous employers, but life as a young housemaid is hard; long, busy days, learning how to keep things perfect for the gentry and getting along with her bristly roommate, Nellie only adds to her loneliness at being away from home and family. But Lily gets on with it. The one day, Maeve, niece of the Gore-Booths and daughter of the famed Countess Markiewicz arrives for a visit. Maeve takes an instant liking to Lily and decides to paint her portrait and a friendship begins. Maeve delights Lily with stories of a life very different from Lilys' own, Lily tries to tease more from Maeve, but finds it's not that easy. Meanwhile, Lily discovers the reason behind Nellies' sullen and sometimes mean demeanor and she learns of yet another life; one of extreme poverty, loss and grief. Can these three girls ever develop a real friendship, even in an Ireland that is changing so quickly?
With a keen and understanding eye for clearly revealing the journey of friendships, growing up and what lies in the hearts of everyday people, Judi Curtin gives us a glimpse into the life of one young girl. Set in Sligo in 1913, there is a beautiful descriptive quality to the writing that allows the reader to dive into the time and feel as if they are there, right alongside Lily as she learns her new tasks and ponders about those surrounding her. A sense of empathy and humour runs through the story, as we get a feel of what life was really like at the time. But the heart and soul of the book is friendship. Learning to trust, showing kindness, offering what talents and gifts you have to others and seeing through anothers' eyes; it's all there. There are marvelous day-to-day adventures, clever observations and, as the book ends, the reader is left wanting to know more. Wonderful historical fiction that is a real joy to read.

Author: Natasha Mac a’Bháird
Glenbard Books (September 2019)
ISBN: 9781788460996
Halloween is fast approaching, so it’s time for the Star Club to plan a brand new show, filled with magic, mystery and witches. But this show will be even more exciting for Laura, as she’s going to write it herself! Laura throws herself into her creation, finding much inspiration from a spooky, crumbling house just down the road and the mysterious old woman who lives there, all alone. And now, there seem to be strange comings and goings around the old house. Is it really haunted? And what does Laura’s sister have to do with this? She’s been very secretive lately.
Absorbed in her writings, Laura has specific ideas about how the show will go and who will play who. It seems the rest of the Star Club don’t agree at all. They don’t want to be ‘type-cast’.  As tensions mount and arguments break out, will the Star Club be able to find a way through and combine their talents and friendship to put on another brilliant show? And poor Laura! Locked in rewrites and struggling with her vision, she is still haunted by the events at the spooky old house. Whatever happens, the show must go on!
A story of friendship, community and family, Laura’s Spooky Show throws in a bit of mystery and magic with a few good twists and turns to create a truly wonderful and intriguing read. The closeness and conflicts between the friends bounce off the concerns of the young creative spirit, making it lively, entertaining and just plain fun! There are great, believable dialogues; clearly depicted scenes and a brilliant atmosphere, and amazing twists and turns throughout. It is written in a light-hearted, easy style, but includes a number of social concerns woven into the story  without disrupting or overriding the feel and the enjoyment. In fact, I would say it adds to the inspirational quality. This is a book for anyone with creative dreams, fast and firm friendships and a flair for a bit of mystery. The third book in the Star Club series, this may be the best one yet! Engaging, well-written, warm-hearted and completely delightful, it grips you from the very start and doesn’t let go!

SCÚNC AGUS SMÚIRÍN (Skunk and Sniffy)
author: Muireann ní Chíobháin
illustrator: Paddy Donnelly
Futa Fata (August 2019)
ISBN: 9781910945476
Mama found Smúirín (Sniffy), a cuddly-toy friend for Scúnc (Skunk) one day when he was little, and they have been inseparable ever since. Smúirín has a special smell, one that brings comfort and happiness and lets Scúnc know that everything is all right. They sleep together, eat together, play together...and sometimes Smúirín hides from Scúnc. One day, Scúnc found him hiding in the washing machine...oh no! Smúirín has lost his special smell!!! And Scúnc is heart-broken. It's the worst possible thing that could have happened.  But Mama might be able to help.
We have all had (or do have) that special comfort-blanket or soft toy that made everything okay. This beautiful book sings like an anthem to those special cuddlies; an anthem sung by a most relatable and likeable hero.The characterisation is spot on, giving the reader an real understanding of Scúncs' feelings. And this is done as much through the pictures as the story. The beautiful writing is perfectly accented by the expressive, lively, stylised illustrations. The result is a completely delightful picture book that will bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your heart. Warm, heartfelt and completely wonderful.
(Published as Gaielge; in the Irish Language. I want to thank Futa Fata for providing me with the translation.)

author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Orion Childrens Books (25 July 2019)
ISBN: 9781510104129
"Yesterday, I killed a boy on Clanfedden Bridge and then I drove away. Nobody had the courage to stop me."
For years, Jake McCormack has held the small town of Clanfedden in a vice-like grip of fear, leaving it a sad and destitute place. But in a bold move, the town council has cancelled the lease on his credit business and put it up for auction. As far as Jake is concerned, there will be hell to pay in Clanfedden.
While no one in the town has the courage to take it on, a vibrant outsider with memories of the sparkling, joyous place of her youth arrives. Ariana Spinelli is back. She and her son, Luca arrive in Clanfedden with a whirlwind of colour, fearlessness. Before long, her fabulous restaurant and joyous spirit are injecting new life. But Luca is living under the shadow of a soul-shattering incident in Dublin; one that robbed him of his self-worth and left him longing for a place where he can forget the past. If only it were possible...
Allie Redmond knows better than most how much pleasure Jake McCormack gets from watching people suffer as he destroys their lives. She needs to warn Ariana and Luca...she needs to try. As she befriends Luca and Ariana, Allie begins to forget the sorrow of her past and finds that love and friendship actually have the ultimate power. But Jake isn't having that...and when disaster strikes, bringing horrific shock and betrayal with it, Allie could lose everything, including her life.
From the very first line, this book wraps the reader in a grasp that will not let go. It hypnotises with words that speak to the heart of us all; words of fear, loss, hopelessness and the joy that is within reach if only we have the courage. Jake McCormack is a quintessential villain with truly evil capacity and compulsion to seek vengeance on any who would cross him. The vehicle of 'small town life' demonstrates an understanding of typical human nature. But the lead characters, Allie and Luca hold that resilient, if reckless quality to rise out of complacency; show that "strange kind of courage" that allows for triumph. The pervasive sense throughout of food, not simply as nourishment, but as joy for the soul is a subtle, but inspirational addition, bringing with it a desire to try something new and taking time away from from stress and trouble. There is a twist in the end that will leave the reader truly shocked; mouth open, filled with a terrible awe at the cleverness and the maliciousness that has been at work all along. Guaranteed: you will not see it coming. An obsessive read; powerful, heartfelt, shocking and liberating. You must read this book. (YA)

The Flight of Alcock and Brown
author: Oisin McGann
O'Brien Press (10 June 2019)
ISBN: 9781788491013
Maggie McRory ran away from her native Ireland to join her uncle and aunt in Newfoundland. Resourceful, clever and with a real taste for adventure, she has proved herself a valuable member of the small community of St Johns. But Maggie has big dreams. Frustrated by the 'smallness' of her life, she is beyond excited when word reaches the small town of the incredible adventure about to unfold before their eyes. The very best aviators in all the world are to compete to achieve an impossible goal; to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean and win a 10,000 cash prize. To win the prize, they will face brutal storms and freezing temperatures in aeroplanes made of wood, wire and cloth. And their starting point is Newfoundland. Two veteran pilots of WW1, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown are joining these elite daredevils, starting from St Johns, nearly too late to be in with a chance. And Maggie is desperate to be in the middle of all the action. But she has a battle of her own; dealing with her war-scarred Uncle Patrick who views these men as a threat to his now peaceful way of life.
With air travel now so common, it is alien to us; this understanding of  the depth of the risk and courage it took to even consider attempting the first non-stop Atlantic flight . An insightful and gripping story, this book expertly sets the atmosphere and tension perfectly. Detailed descriptions and explanations of the landscape, the flying machines and insight into the characters and personalities of the pilots themselves pull the reader along on an incredible, danger-filled journey of discovery and adventure. It is as if we are there and wondering why on earth anyone would even consider doing such a mad thing! Maggie's character is laid-out beautifully. We see a young, determined person attempting with all her might to escape the constraints of conventional thinking and all its' fears and those equally determined to keep her 'safe.' She shows us what it takes to move forward; how to be intrepid and strong in the face of a world that demands you not be these things. The relationships between all the characters, their particular gifts, talents and challenges, the interplay between the events that haunt them and the dream that makes them who they are, makes this a very human story. Celebrating the 100 year mark of Alcock and Browns' jaw-dropping flight, this book is amazing! Written by one of the very best authors in Ireland, this is historical fiction doing what it does best; bringing the past to life and seeing it with new eyes. 

(a graphic novel)
author/illustrator: Damien Goodfellow
O'Brien Press (29 April 2019)
ISBN: 9781847173652
The year is 1847 and Ireland has been under the death-grip of the Great Famine for 3 years. The crops are rotting in the fields and the entire country is full of 'living ghosts' as family after family succumbs to starvation, eviction and disease. The Hunger has contributed to widespread riots and armed militia roam the country as what precious little food there is is exported to England. Now, Jack and his family left the West of Ireland, taking to the roads desperately searching for food, shelter...a place to be. Making their way in the most hostile of times, they head across the country, to homelessness in Liverpool, somehow finding space on one of the infamous 'coffin ships' and finally, like some many others who managed to survive, to a new life in America.
Damien Goodfellow has created an intense graphic novel that brings a small segment of the tragic moment in Irish history to life. It's dark, atmospheric graphics take the reader directly into the time with texture, powerful emotion and realism. The reader has a strong experience of the landscape, the people, the depths of despair, the fragility of life and hope and the sheer strength and determination it took to survive.The story is never rushed, creating a pace that perfectly creates the sense of the familys' journey and hardship.  The written text is used sparsely, making it an easy read and also opening up a greater understanding of the tale through its' combination with incredible illustrations. A moving, compelling historical book that will ignite further interest in the Great Hunger.

author: Alvy Carragher
Chicken House Books (6 June 2019)
ISBN: 97819141490548
Molly Darling just wants her life to be simple; porridge, wellies, feeding her beloved chickens...just like that. But Dad has run off leaving a PowerPoint presentation to explain his actions, Mums' hidden away in the attic working on her latest artistic creations and her sister is about to marry the most boring man around for miles. And now...her chickens have all gone missing; including Lady MacBeth, a rooster that doesn't identify with his/her gender. It turns out, Mum has sold them to a local chicken farm owned by the family of the most obnoxious girl in her class with a nasty twist and a vlog that is cutting and wicked. It's enough to make anyone cantankerous, isn't it? But Molly can fix all! With the help of her best friend, Tess, Molly mounts a mission to rescue her chickens and set her family back on the path to normality. What could possibly go wrong?
Alvy Carragher has really captures the essence of life as a teenage girl in rural Ireland with a wink, a gasp and laugh-out-loud humour. Molly is a clever, funny, exasperated character caught in the middle of family drama (and as it turns out, a bit of a crime spree) whose voice rings clear as a bell and feelings that are endlessly easy to identify with. She has a fine eye for observation and a strong sense of the ridiculousness of her situation as all the family and social dramas that have been simmering under the surface erupt one after another. The inclusion of the contemporary passion for putting everything on the internet display with great accuracy that nothing, absolutely nothing is private anymore. And it can all be doctored to suit prevailing impressions. All in a small rural Irish community; but hey, if it can happen there...With a rolling pace, many twists and turns and a real sense of honesty and humour, the story is simply impossible to put down. The sense of adventure, mystery and deeds of ne'er-do-well add to the drama and the hilarity as poor, cantankerous Molly just wants to get her chickens back and live a normal life! Perfect for fans of Louise Rennisons' Georgia Nicholson books and Helen Baileys' Electra Brown books. Funny, well-written, just brilliant and very insightful.

author: Eoin Colfer
O'Brien Press (reprint edition May 2019)
ISBN: 9781788490825
Benny Shaw is the star-player in of St Jerome's hurling team and his time to shine just arrived. Taking the winning point in the Primary Schools County Hurling Final, he heads home with the medal proudly on his chest. When he arrives there, his parents have a bit of news for the whole family. Due to a promotion at his Dads' work, they'll be Tunisia. Benny is less then pleased, to say the least. Nobody there even heard of hurling; the school is just plain weird; don't even talk to him about the teachers! And the village? It's so small, you couldn't even really call it a village. Benny is determined to be miserable; how dare his parents take him to this place! But the, Benny meets Omar; a boy that lives by his wits and his talent for buying and selling; for making-do. Omars' English is learned from TV and they have nothing in common. Despite this, a deep and wild friendship grows between the boys as they engage in all sorts of schemes. games and shenanigans that drive the village and Bennys' parents to distraction...and ultimately involve the police.
If you're expecting Artemis Fowl, please don't. This is a completely different type of story. First published in 1999, this is Eoin Colfers' first book and has been reprinted many times over the years. (This time, it has a new cover by the winner of CBI/O'Brien Press' design-a-cover competition, Patricia Poprawa from Glenswilly National School!) This is a simple story, no fantasy, about a boy who finds himself having to adapt to life in a strange land. And he doesn't like it. Benny is a typical, sports-mad boy, if a bit spoilt and arrogant. Used to be the centre of attention and getting a lot of glory, He's stuck in a place he doesn't want to be, where he isn't really anything special. He doesn't know anyone and has to get on with, but fights his new life at every turn. Benny is harsh with his outlook, his family and everything else; masking an insecurity at his situation...and then, he meets Omar. Things change. The bond between the two grows; they develop an understanding and camaraderie and they help each other. Adventurous, funny and a lot of action bring life to a tale that is about empathy, compassion and adjusting your expectations. While, personally, I'm not keen on the ending, this remains a heart-warming and thoroughly wonderful read with a powerful message.

author: Judi Curtin
O'Brien Press (20 May 2019- reissue)
ISBN: 9781788490948
When Molly's Dad arrives home, he has a huge surprise for her. He's moving back for good! Molly has a bit of an adjustment to make; having her Dad in the neighbourhood, but not living in the house is kind if challenging. But Molly soon realises it's difficult for him, too. He is lonely and doesn't quite know what to do with himself. She seeks help from Beth and the girls get the great idea of giving him a kitten. He doesn't want it...he says he'll never have another cat because of what happened to the cat he had when he was a little boy. And he won't really talk to his brother. So the girls are off! Back in time they go to try to figure out what really happened and how to help Molly's Dad become a happy part of the family, once again.  But can they handle life in the 1970s?
I am absolutely loving this funny, intriguing time travel series! And You've Got A Friend is a welcome addition. Molly and Beths' friendship is very close and they are adjusting well; now being more like sisters than simply friends. Their unique personalities play well against each other, adding many clever and delightful moments, as they try to navigate their way through the 70s; the clothes, the scenarios, the geography (Dublin has changed a lot) and the people... and keeping their real identities under wraps. The relationships within the story are handled with an expert hand and just the right amount of drama and humour as their friendship is always tested and strengthened. Time-travel tends to do that. This leads to a story that is not only utterly enjoyable and believable, but also revealing. I have to mention the inclusion of musical references that adds a great deal of understanding about the story itself. (If your young readers aren't familiar with the songs, you now have a great opportunity to share them. They will love it!) Judi Curtin writes in a way that really brings this story to life. Charming, wonderful and filled with heart,there is a lot to entertain here, but also a lot of depth and insight. 

author: Pádraig Kenny illustration: Jane Newland
Chicken House (4 April 2019)
ISBN: 9781911490395
After their mother has died, David and Penny move to her childhood home with their father. All of them are lost in grief; trying to cope as best they can. But this house is a strange one; filled with magical creatures. Like Pog. Pog is small and furry; one of the First Folk who now live hidden and protect the boundary between this world and another frightening 'Necessary' place. As David and Penny explore, they discover monsters that are slipping through the cracks in ever increasing numbers. And David is drawn into the woods, called there by a sinister, dark creature that insists there is a way to bring his dead mother back to them. But as David unwittingly gets pulled further and further into Kipwiks' manipulation, fired by painful loss, Penny finds strength and courage and a wondrous friend in Pog. Can they, together, fight off the monsters and put an end to Kipwiks' plan?
A magical journey through grief and recovery, Pog reads like a fairytale with all of the elements that bring life and truth to one. Carefully constructed, it gives the reader a picture of a world within and beside our own; just as tangible, just as real. Each character stands out on their own merit with distinct personalities, strengths and weaknesses; each caught in their own particular feelings of loss. Pog is noble in his own way; strong and thoughtful, retrospective and quirky. The father is neatly put aside in the story so that the children can find their autonomy and their own voices. David is typical of many children in such a situation; belligerent and isolated while also needing the comfort of his family...and willing to do whatever it takes to ease his loss. Penny is more introspective; a beautifully drawn character that shines through; determined to do the right thing and to learn more about Pog and lift herself and her family back into life despite (or perhaps because of) her own sorrow. While it is a story about loss, it is also a tale of rising, not sinking. It is filled with hope and wonder. It shows us a world of natural cycles, rhythms; of ebb and flow. Painterly language displays clearly both the external and internal worlds in which the story is told. Gentle, imaginative, captivating and simply wonderful.

author/illustrator: Alan Nolan
O'Brien Press (18 February 2019)
ISBN: 9781788490863
Sam Hannigan lives with her Nanny Gigg, her annoying big brother Bruno (no...he really is!) and all the furry and feather creatures their back garden can hold. Together, along with the help of her friend, Ajay and handyman Ogg, they run Hannigan's Haven, an animal sanctuary right in the heart of Clobberstown. One day, a mysterious package appears on the doorstep; one that Sam ans Ajay are very surprised to find contains one, living, breathing, colourfully feathered dodo bird...the last dodo is existence! But who sent it? Where did it come from? Aren't dodos supposed to be extinct? And how can they keep this overly-excitable dodo from attracting the attention of a pair of ruthless exotic animal smugglers before they turn him into a roasted dodo? 
Fast-paced and full of fun, this is a book to capture the imagination and tickle your funny-bone! The brilliant characters are bound to capture your heart, and although their their situation is somewhat unusual, they are all highly relatable and bring a sense of adventure and a distinct sense of family, friendship and real caring to the reader. There is an environmental slant to the tale that allows for some deep consideration of the plight of animals in todays' world, while never losing it's sense of humour. The writing is wonderful and the inclusion of black and white illustrations and some comic-strip pages bright a real vigor and joy to the story that grips the young reader and doesn't let go. A great plot, brilliant comic timing and a chase scene that will leave you gasping for breath and wanting more!
As if that weren't enough, you'll have to pick up this years' O'Brien Press WBD book;
Sam Hannigan's Rock Star Granny
author/illustrator: Alan Nolan 
ISBN: 9781788490870
in which Nanny Gigg wins tickets to see her all-time favourite rock band, The Roaming Scones! She takes Sam, Ajay and Sindy the budgie, who's just learned to say her first word, KNICKERS! and had an unfortunate encounter with Bruno and a few drops of Daddy Mike's ENORMA-GRO 3000. It is brilliant! And all for the price of €1.50 or one WBD Book Token (so free, if you have one.) 

author: Kirsten Reinhardt (translated by SSiobhán Parkinson)
illustrations by David Roberts
Little Island (7 March 2017)
ISBN: 9781910411889 
Fennymore Teabreak lives on his own in a large old house with only Monbijou (a sky blue bicycle who happens to think he's a horse) for company. At least he has since his mother and father mysteriously disappeared. Each Sunday, he shares a meal (of salt-baked Dachshund!) with his Aunt Elsie. But, one day, Aunt Elsie passes away and Fennymore finds himself on his own again, with one more mystery. With his new friend, Fizzy, he sets off to discover what actually happened to his parents. But they find themselves on the wrong side of a strange silvery man with a habit of suddenly vanishing and an evil doctor who wants to get his hands on Fennymore's fathers' invention. Whatever next?
This book is absolutely perfect for fans of David Walliams and Roald Dahl. Quirky, funny and a little bit gross in all the right places, you'll laugh and stayed gripped to the page of this most unusual adventure. The characterisation is perfect. Fennymore is a lovable hero with whom we can all sympathise. The bicycle, Monbijou is a fantastic addition that speaks to a childs' imagination. And the villains are, well, truly villainous! The fast-paced action holds the mystery throughout. I don't want to give anything away by revealing the outcome, but it is told in a way that is genuine. Little Island does a marvellous service by bringing these translated books to an English reading audience. This is a fab read! Highly recommended.

author: Sinéad O'Hart
Stripes Publishing (Little Tiger) (7 February 2019)
ISBN: 9781788950220
What if the world we live in; the reality we know isn't the only one? What if world upon world are stacked, like sheets of paper? And what if the events in one world, if they are big enough, can ripple through these realities like waves?  
Tess de Sousa was left one cold, snowy night at the door to Ackerbee's Home for Lost and Foundlings. She knows nothing about herself. It would seem Tess is not an ordinary orphan. She acquired a pet tartantula, Violet when she was about 5, she used to mysterious vanished (for just a few seconds) before their very eyes and she has a passion and prowess for scientific experimentation. When Norton F. Cleat arrives at Ackerbee's one day claiming to be a long-lost relative come to adopt her, Tess sees an opportunity to find out exactly where she came from and what happened to her parents. But Mr. Cleat is not what he seems. He knows much more about Tess than he is willing to share...and about a strange device that was left with her when she was abandoned. Tess realises that the 'Star-Spinner' is a link between her world and a parallel one, where a horrific war is raging; and that she is the key to a lethal plan. A plan she must work out how to stop...
The Star-Spun Web had me in its' grip from page one. Lyrical writing, a well-crafted plot and exceptional story-telling make this book ring with adventure and believability. The concept of multi-layered reality is utterly fascinating and brings a compelling, inquisitive quality to the tale that harkens back to some of the sci-fi classics. Tess is a wonderful character; spunky, well-rounded and not easily defeated. She stands out as a hero the reader can really get behind. The 'bad-guys' in the story (Mr Cleat and Mrs Thistleton) are wicked portraits of manipulation and obsession; but these are the very qualities that cause their downfall (for the moment...) And that all important element of quirky humour set in the darkest moments of the story lift the reader out of fright and propel them forward into resilience. An array of circumstances flow together to cement strong, yet tender-hearted bonds of companionship and family and create a gripping, heart-stopping conclusion. There is so much to recommend this book. Fast-paced, curious, intelligent and dripping with real courage and imagination.

TOMI: Tomi Reichetal's Holocaust Story
retold by Eithne Massy
O'Brien Press (10 September 2018)
ISBN: 9781847179753
In October 1944 at the age of nine-years, Tomi Reichental was rounded up by the Gestapo in a shop in Bratislava with12 other members of his family. Together with countless others, they were taken to the now infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Imprisoned there for the duration of the war, Tomi had to watch as countless horrors were unleashed upon the occupants under the gaze of the Nazi commandant Alois Brunner, who had complete power over life and death. Tomi had to be cunning and clever in his bid for survival, and to simply stand by, staying out of sight as he saw the way of life he knew distintegrated before his eyes. and the people he knew and loved vanished; waiting for a rescue that was uncertain.
Accessible to children and young teens, this is a rewritten account, taken from "I Was a Boy in Belsen" by Tomi Reichental and Nicola Pierce. While it does not reveal the detail of the horror from the previous (adult) biography, it shows enough. Giving an honest, heartfelt account of the Holocaust, this is a book that is important and heroic; an account of the dangers of intolerance, racism and deliberate dehumanisation under a totalitarian regime. It is not an easy read. But it is riveting, powerful and beautifully written, it calls for young people to consider the real consequences of injustice and prejudice. A story as poignant today as it was then, it must be remembered. 

author: Marguerite Tonery
Tribes Press (31 October 2018)
ISBN: 9781912441020
Elisa and Jamie are locked in grief over Fodlas' death. Sadness has permeated their lives in Éire all of Kapheus. But Mother Badger has had a prophetic dream and risks her life to warn Elisa and Jamie. A parade of Kaphein folk usher themselves back and forth across the border between their worlds. A storm cloud, a vicious black dog and an eerie, evil man appears with a stone that nearly kills Elisa. Jamie is pulled into greed and selfishness. Hidden away in the bottom of Elisa's wardrobe, a new baby dragon emerges from his egg, guarded by Joachim, leader of the wolves. The phoenix has flown and the enemy from Fodar is seeking Geaspar, the newly born dragon. As allies and families come together and fall apart and Kaphien heroes face unimaginable tasks. The clocks are all ticking, revealing and measuring all of their lives. The time of fire has arrived.
The fourth in the Kapheus series, this book builds on all the others before and releases a new dynamic. A more complex plotline and a more mature text, it is intricate and utterly fascinating. The relationship between brother and sister, indeed throughout their entire family reveals its' secrets and its' cracks as the effects of grief over the loss of Fodla and growing up in general impact all their interactions. The varied array of characters, both fantastical and human add texture to create an utterly thrilling story that will hold the reader in its' grip the entire time.One of the most valuable aspects of this entire series is its' ability to take ancient mythology and weave it together with the contemporary lives of two children, developing a strong sense of personal history; where we came from and where we are going.  Pitch-perfect pace unveils the oncoming storm of events with finesse. Add to this a deep appreciation for the influence of the natural world (and on the natural world) and you have a story for the ages. Exciting, dramatic, evocative and filled with heart. Just beautiful!

author: John Butler  illustrator: Jay Penn
Tribes Press (November 2018)
ISBN: 9781912441051 
One day in the Animal Kingdom, a good and helpful citizen named Onnie Piggles isn’t feeling quite right about himself. Onnie is wondering who he really is. So, Onnie makes a decision! He packs his bag, closes his repair shop and boards a train to Fairy Tale Land in search of a story in which he belongs. When he arrives after his long train journey, Onnie travels far and wide, through many Fairy Tales and meeting many familiar characters. But they don’t seem to be quite right in themselves, either. And the exciting new adventure he sought turns out to be not quite what he had in mind. Onnie begins to wonder if he will ever find his own story…and his own happy ending.
Filled with quirky new friends and old familiar ones and written in a truly unique voice, this is a wonderfully imagined adventure. Episodes of exciting action are carefully balanced with moments of quiet reflection and seriousness with a wonderful sense of humour; giving the reader a sense of a magical journey, both on inside Onnie's feelings and in the outer world.The easy and clear text gently  compels the reader along, telling an important tale and keeping you gripped to find out what will happen next. Old favourite fairytale characters are cast in a different light as a new hero emerges; a different sort of hero. The illustrations by Jay Penn are charming, uplifting and accent the story perfectly, really giving a sense of time, place and action.
This is a heart-warming, thoughtful and utterly delightful fable for everyone to enjoy. A story to read, share and love.

author: Eoin Colfer
illustrator: P.J. Lynch
Walker Books (4 October 2018)
ISBN: 9781406377576
Pup doesn't want to leave his mother, but Mother tells him that it will be fine; the right person will come for him and his life will be awesome! But things don't work out and Pup suffers at the hands of bad people and loses his bark. He is abandoned, left cold and alone. Patrick has dreamt of having a dog his whole life. This summer, with his Dad away on tour and he and his Mum staying with his grandfather in his music school home,  Patricks' dream can finally come true. When they visit the animal rescue, the dog he chooses is Dog...even though Dog will take a lot of love and care to get over his trauma. It takes a lot of time and patience, but Dog, now called Oz learns that life really can be awesome. He even finds his bark and learns to sing! But when Patrick suffers a trauma of his own, will Oz be able to show him how awesome life can be?
This story combines the talents of two former Irish childrens laureates and is exceptional. The tale of two young broken hearts and the power of love, understanding and music to heal, it is both heart-breaking and heart-warming. Told from the two perspectives of both dog and boy, the voices lyrically ring as they express both inner views on their their journey with emotion and insight, culminating in something that is simply magical. The drawings are exquisite; depicting the settings and the feelings with perfection. Have the tissues ready! You will cry with both sorrow and joy, but the end effect is uplifting and utterly wonderful. A memorable, gentle, moving book, this one is an instant classic that you will keep forever. I can't recommend it highly enough. (ages 7+ and definitely one to share)   http://www.pjlynchgallery 

author: Debbie Thomas
Little Island (20 September 2018)
ISBN: 9781912417063
Aidan Mooney has spent his entire life trying to hide his mother from prying eyes. He's been home-schooled and doesn't have any friends because he can't be trusted to not let his mothers' deepest secret slip. He isn't ashamed of her; she's the best Mum in the world! But she does have a dark secret. You see, Aidans' mother is part dragon. But now, he's going to school, making new friends and being really, really careful. One day, when he arrives home, Aidan discovers his mother has disappeared...she has been kidnapped! With his new friend Charlotte, he sets off on the trail which leads them to a remote location in County Galway and a man with a sinister and completely insane plot. With Aidans' mum and a few other unusual people in serious danger, it's up to him to save them all.
Filled with heart and exciting twists and turns, My Secret Dragon is utterly wonderful. As well as being a great adventure story, it is about friendship and family, acceptance and difference and how to find the courage to do the impossible when it really matters. The characters are well-described, the plot is truly ingenious c and it is really funny. I found myself completely wrapped up in Aidans' world and his adventures. As an added bonus, cooking and baking features prominently in the tale, so there is a mini recipe book at the end so you, too can get creative in the kitchen along with Aidan and Charlotte. There is absolutely nothing not to like about My Secret Dragon. Humourous, compassionate, dynamic and heart-felt, it's a real gem.
(also by Debbie Thomas: Dead Hairy, Jungle Tangle, Monkie Business and Class Act)   

author: Gerard Siggins
O'Brien Press (27 August 2018)
ISBN: 9781788490528
Meet five kids with one dream; to become to greatest sports stars in history, even though they know they have no chance of being noticed. What they have, however, is a real love of their sports and a lot of heart. But Joe, Kim, Craig, Jess and Ajit do get noticed, by some very unique sports agents. Before they know it, they are whisked away to a secret island school (home of the worlds' greatest sports academy) providing them with all the eductaion and training they will ever need to reach their full potential. There is much more to the island than meets the eye. It may be an island, but it is also a submarine built with the latest technology that not only provides the students with all their needs (including some very eccentric coaches and teachers) but takes them on what will be a 4-year round the world cruise.But someone is tracking them, someone is looking to sabotage Atlantis United...and the only thing that will save them is their first big game, held in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
Another crackin' novel from Gerard Siggins; this one is wonderful. Combining a determined, hopeful sports story with something that reads very like a James Bond novel, this grabbed me staright away.  Five very strong characters with true voices and diverse personalities, pull the reader straight into the action. There is adventure, espionage, intrigue andsome amazing innovation. The reader may even pick up a few tips to help them up their own game. Siggins characteristic descriptive elements are present in force and are used to great effect to build a story that is really hard to put down. The passion and knowledge for his subject is transfered to the reader and, in this 'sports'someting for everyone. Can't wait to read the next installment.

BRIGHT SPARKS: Discoveries, Inventions and Designs by Women
author and illustrator: Owen O'Doherty
O'Brien Press (3 September 2018)
ISBN: 9781788490542
Throughout history, women have been at the heart of invention, discovery and design of many of the things we now take for granted, as if they've always been here. And most of these creative geniuses have gone unnoticed and unmentioned. This new collection highlights 50 remarkable discoveries and ingenious solutions that have made all of lives easier; richer and the women who created them. Divided into sections, the reader will uncover the beginnings of medical science, domestic engineering, health and safety and much more through the ages. From Hypatias' hydrometer revealed sometime around 400 CE to DNA structure in 1952; from the beginnings of computer coding in 1843 to coding that enabled the moon landings; the science of nursing to plastic
 from bananas; women have been at the forefront of it all.
Begun as a  homemade birthday gift for his daughter, O'Doherty looks at some amazing designs and innovations by women that have changed history. Well explained, brief summaries of their work are placed alongside intriguing illustrations to give the reader a glimpse of these in an inspiring, delightful series of vignettes. This book answers many questions, and who knows, may just be the incentive for get your young entrepreneur going. An exceptional non-fiction book that will give not only information that will make you want to investigate further, but will fascinate and entertain for hours and hours. 

Leo’s War (Hands on History)
author: Patricia Murphy
Poolbeg Press (1 August 2018)
ISBN: 9781781998151

Told from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy, a ‘mongrel’ living in occupied Italy at the time, this novel is based on the incredible true story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty; a man who saved over 6500 people during World War II.

Italy, 1943. After his mother is arrested, young Leo flees to Rome in a bid to protect his disabled sister, Ruby and himself from the Nazis. He reaches sanctuary at the Vatican with Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty in hopes of saving them. But this is no ordinary priest. Monsignor O’Flaherty is the famed organiser of the Rome Escape Line, secretly working to save those at high risk. Leo soon finds himself involved in the secret network, aiding escaped prisoners of war, the Jews and partisans escape Nazi brutality while never losing sight of his own plight. Now in grave danger himself, Leo must do all he can to outfox Kappler, sinister Nazi leader in Rome who is fast closing in on the Escape Line and the Monsignor. Can Leo escape Kappler and protect his family from falling victim to this evil man?

With a fast-paced plot and expert storytelling, the reader is plunged into this bit of history feeling as if they are there. The story builds quickly, but carefully with great attention to the details of the reality of the times; the sights, sounds; the actions. So much seems incredible, impossible; yet history shows us

author: Catherine Doyle
Bloomsbury Childrens Books (12 July 2018)
ISBN: 9781408896884
Every so often a book comes along that wraps itself around you and uncovers your dreams. The Storm Keepers Island is that book.
Fionn travels to Arranmore with his sister Tara; his ancestral home that awakens the moment he sets foot on its’ shores. It breathes and sighs, enveloping him with its’ winds; recognising him, though Fionn has never been there. But the island knows. The island remembers. Every generation, the island chooses a Storm Keeper, guardian of secrets and memories; protector from the ancient evil slumbering deep in a secret cave. The time has come for Fionns’ grandfather to step aside as Storm Keeper and Fionn is blissfully unaware of the task and incredible dangers that lie ahead.
This book absolutely sings. It is the story of family ties and their history; so poignant and filled with truth that the reader will instantly relate. A tale of an island and its’ past, it is filled with such stunning detail and enthralling adventure that it tangibly brings to life Arranmore and its’people, both past and present. The island itself stands out as a character, painted vividly and with great feeling.  It is filled with magic; the magic of love, compassion, memories; of candles, storms and sacrifice. With expert language use and sensory detail, Doyle creates a mood that is eerie and curious, while also revealing genuine joy and humour. A rare, beautiful gift; this is a story that will live on in the imagination long after you’ve put it down.
(published in CBI's Inis Magazine, Summer 2018)

author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Orion Childrens Books (29 March 2018)
ISBN: 9781444014815
Grace knows what's real and what's not real. It's much more difficult to make little sister Bee understand that. Mum and Dad died...that is very real. Her sisters' nightmares, the storms that Bee thinks are angry ghosts and the magical Hotel Magnificent that sits on the cliff nearby...those are definitely not real. Uncle Freddy and Grandfather Patrick living with them and taking care of them, that's real. Grandpa Patrick being immortal...definitely not. When grief strikes their young lives again, Grace must keep Bees' imagination from running riot, but the line between reality and fantasy develops loops and tears that even Grace can't understand. One stormy night, when Grace and Bee find refuge in a most unusual, magical place...all becomes clear.
With exquisite touches of magical realism and a poignant look at the world of the heart, this is truly an extraordinary book. It is about family, friendship, grief, belief and the absolute magic of love. The story takes us through Graces' life and all the ordinary things that happen, coloured by her view after the death of her parents. Gentle and evocative, it shows the little ways that loss affects us as her world frays at the seams throughout while Grace struggles to gain understanding and normality. The characters and setting are filled with a texture and nuance that makes it all very real. The quirky exuberance of younger sister Bee, the cautious and caring nature of Uncle Freddy, the wit and wisdom of the grandfather all create a vibrant base in a life full of all the day-to-day 'stuff'. I read this book twice, straight through both times because I simply could not put it down. Kind, compassionate and simply wonderful, The List of Real Things is a gift.

author/illustrator: Sarah Bowie
O'Brien Press (26 February 2018)
ISBN: 9781847479494
Kitty is so excited to be going to the zoo! But, big sister Clara is sure it's going to be fact, Clara is always bored except when she's texting or playing a computer game or talking on the phone. Anyway, Clara can't see how going to look at a bunch of animals would be fun. But when they get there, so much is happening! There's so much to see and so much to do. Clara soon changes her mind. She and Kitty have an art competition of their own. But whose pictures will be the best; Clara's photos or Kitty's drawings?
Last year, Sarah Bowie gave us the wonderful picture book, 'Let's See Ireland!' (a fantastic book about Ireland, whether you are a visitor or you live here.) And she's back now with this delightful book about a trip to the zoo in Phoenix Park. Included are tons of facts about different animals and a sweeping view of the zoo itself. Fast-paced and funny, it's also a brilliant tale of two sisters, nature vs. technology and making memories. The illustrations are amusing, entertaining and fresh, with a limited palette that adds to the child-like (and very sophisticated!) appeal of the overall book. You'll learn a lot, laugh a lot and be inspired to have your own adventures. More of this, please!

author: Caroline Busher
Poolbeg Press (1 March 2018)
ISBN: 9781781998694
Another delicious, atmospheric offering from Caroline Busher, what starts as a World War II child-evacuation story takes an eerie twist into a dark and dangerous quest. As Lottie and Albert Hope are evacuated from London, they find the village they arrivegypsy boy, Blaise, who tells them a tale of werewolves and the sinister Wolf Land which lies beyond the ancient ruins and of a mysterious Wolf Girl, Cuán, who disappeared from her home when their mother was a child. When a German bomb falls accidentally on the village, a portal opens. Lottie and Albert are flung into Wolf Land, along with Blaise and the German pilot Gunther, risking their lives on a deadly mission to rescue Cuán and the other wolf children before the portal closes forever.
With Gothic overtones playing throughout, The Girl Who Ate the Stars sings in the spaces between darkness and light, fear and courage, friendship and conflict. Riveting and moving, this is a spectacular read. The story is carefully woven, with descriptive passages that place the reader in the heart of its' writing. It chills you to the core, then warms your heart with the determination and bravery of its' characters. This is not your typical war story! This is something much more. The interplay of family dynamics, the juxtaposition of the two worlds and the exacting characterisation give a grounding to the tale. Moody and simply beautiful, this is a fulfilling must-read from the author of The Ghosts of Magnificent Children.

author: Gerard Siggins
O'Brien Press (12 February 2018)
ISBN: 9781847179975
In the latest installment of the Rubgy Spirit series, we return to the life of schoolboy, Eoin Madden as he prepares to sit his Junior Cert exams. He's also Castlerock Colleges' star rugby player and has been called up for the Under 16 Four Nations. But, if anyone is up for it, it's Eoin. The pressure mounts when his ghostly friends alert him to mysterious flooding on the pitch of the Aviva Stadium. Eoin is no stranger to mysteries, either; having solved a good few over the last couple of years with a little help of a little haunting from the past.
There is always great demand for sports novel for young people. This series by Gerard Siggins combines excitement for the game with expert writing, strong story-telling, great characters and a little something from the Other Side. Eoin is a truly likeable, well-rounded character, surrounded by all the factors that fill family, school and rugby with joy and challenges. The ghostly element of the story adds a unique interest that hooks the reader immediately. With strong descriptive elements that don't go over the top and great build-up to the gripping action of the story, it is hard to put this one down. Friendship, family life, rugby, sleuthing and history blend together to make Rugby Heroes a cracking read; and not just for fans of the game. In fact, read the entire series! You'll love them.
author:Anna Carey
O'Brien Press (March 2018)
ISBN: 9781788490085
In this follow-up to The Making of Mollie, we see young suffragette, Mollie Carberry flung even deeper into the radical politics of the early womens' rights movement. When a big protest is planned at the arrival of British Prime Minister Asquith in Dublin, Mollie and best-friend Nora know they just have to take part. But public tempers are rising, opinions are divided, the brave and bold leaders of the movement are in prison from the last public protest and the situation is even more dangerous. Add to this that is the school summer holidays and Noras' horrible cousin Grace is staying with Nora (sharing her room, no less!) and Mollie's equally horrible brother, Harry has Frank staying with them, the difficulties in planning secret suffragette missions expand by leaps and bounds
Mollies' story is again told through a series of letters to her friend Frances, away at an English boarding school, but off to America for the summer months. As Mollie chronicles her adventures, the style is conversational and witty, the characters show growth and determination and events unfold in an easy to follow, but dramatic way. And the inclusion of details in Mollies' day-to-day life, with a genuine voice and subtle details brings the atmosphere of the time to the fore-front and allows the reader to believe they are right there with her. It is wonderful to see this follow-up maintain the strength and quality of story-telling and writing style that was present in the first. Engaging, thought-provoking and riveting, it brings history to life in a truly satisfying and approachable way. Important, entertaining and inspiring. Everyone should read it! (10+)

author: Nigel Quinlan
Orion Childrens Books (11 January 2018)
ISBN: 9781444014181
It's been 100 years since the Good Folk appeared for the Great Festival. In Knockmealldown, everyone is preparing for their imminent arrival and the possibility that, perhaps, this year it will be a great festival after all....the enchanted, beautiful gathering it's supposed to be. But Brian doesn't hold out much hope. Every year he tries to help organise the festival, it's been a disaster.This year, as it turns's worse; much, much worse. The Folk Princess has been stolen from them, the Folk are grieving with a rage that is unstoppable and Brian is blamed for the entire catastrophe. If he can't return the Princess, reveal her captor and produce a Great Festival filled with magic and wonder and raucous good fun, Knockmealldown and all its' residents face an unthinkable fate.
A tale filled with drama, action, myth and muddle, this is a fast-paced, exciting read. Its' combination of folk lore and contemporary circumstances bring to life a dynamic between the two that is gripping and very funny. With expert characterisation, surprising friendships and an unlikely, yet familiar setting (haven't you ever thought you lived in the dreariest town on the face of the Earth?), the reader is transported into a world where anything is possible...and happens. Well-written, great narration and a cracking read that will entertain and delight all fans of fantasy, friendship stories and folklore made real. Watch out for those ghost pigs! (9-12yrs)

author: Sarah Webb illustrator: Steve McCarthy
O'Brien Press (11 September 2017)
ISBN: 9781847177940
This incredible and fun collection is the perfect companion to the 2014 book, Sally Go Round The Stars and a true gift for children of all ages. Even more traditional childhood rhymes, songs and poems are joined by the likes of Yeats, Joyce, and even some contemporary children’s authors to make a truly memorable, must-have book. Here you will find The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear and, yes, The Lake Isle of Innisfree. The illustrations are bright and lively, setting the mood on each page and leading the reader to new interpretations of the poems, while adding fun delight and a few surprises. This is a book that will be treasured for years to come.Perfect to read and to share.

author: Sheena Wilkinson
Little Island (26 October 2017)
ISBN: 9781910411537
It's November 1918. The Great War is nearing it's end, Ireland is struggling for independence,women have won the right to vote for the first time and the terrible flu pandemic is sweeping the world. Stella has lost her feisty, suffragette mother to the flu and she now finds herself alone in a country she knows nothing about with an aunt she has never met. Stella really wants to change the was what she was raised to do! But she realises she cannot do it alone. She watches the stars come out at night; star by star lighting the sky. Perhaps this is how change is made; person by person, vote by by star.
A brilliant and bold novel that, though not long, has quite an impact.Wilkinson gives a succinct and true portrait of the time. There is drama and struggle, but there is also humour and joy. Her characterisation is spot on; the reader feels their dilemmas, friendships and thoughts as surely as if they themselves are part of the story. Stella is strong, stubborn, very intelligent (though sometimes her actions are a bit rash) and extremely likeable. The reader will become part of her inner struggles to change the world and to find out who she is; where she comes from...recovering her own history while she tackles the world from a small seaside town. The portraits of the soldiers, home from the War and greatly damaged by it, are haunting, adding a question to that particular cause that remains unspoken and unanswered. The strong female characters stand out and create the canvas upon which the action and emotion is played out. But for me, while this is definitely a suffragette story, the strongest part of the story was the flu pandemic; how the characters are affected by a plague they seem hopeless against; the loss and the victory over it, all the while preparing for an election day that will transform Ireland forever. An amazing book that will last long after it's been read and open up many doors of interest to its' readers.

author: Judi Curtin
O'Brien Press (4 September 2017)
ISBN: 9781847179647
Best friends/step-sisters Molly and Beth are back with another time-travel adventure!Graham is their favourite uncle; he doesn't seem old to them because he's still up for fun and encourages them to explore the unexpected. But, Molly and Beth can't help but notice that Uncle Graham has a sadness about him. He has a secret. Something happened long ago that changed his life and he won't talk about it. He doesn't have any photos from his youth and sometimes, he just wants to be alone. So, Beth and Molly take off through the door to the past and land in the 1960s in search of someone who knows the truth. But how will they ever find the right person without the internet or SatNav? And what is up with the 60s??!! There's only one thing for it; Uncle Graham is going to have to come along with them.
With warmth, humour and real heart, Judi Curtin reveals experiences and relationships that are genuine. The artistry and gentleness with which the relationships between the generations and the ensuing drama are purposeful, while never interrupting the pace of the story. There is affection and interest between Graham and the girls that rings true and is very touching. Molly and Beth are well-drawn characters, easy to relate to and you will feel they could step out of the book and be welcome in your world (as they would welcome you to theirs.) Their friendship is completely convincing and the reader is wholly drawn in. There are plenty of other fascinating characters that add colour  in the past and present, like Rico, keeper of the time-travel doorway (I am utterly fascinated with Rico ...who we know so little about!) Even the time-travel seems utterly conceivable; the reader will not even question it. While there are plenty of smiles to be had as they travel back and forth in time (especially when Beth and Molly confront a time with no internet or modern technology!), be ready with the tissues, especially when all is revealed. This is a book that is entertaining, thoughtful, moving and an incredible amount of fun! A book about real friendship at the heart of an incredible adventure and all the possibilities it brings. Just love it! (ages 9+)
(Please read the first Molly and Beth story: Time After Time.)

author: Brian Gallagher
O'Brien Press ( 21 August 2017)
ISBN: 9781847178930
December 1919:Working at Balbriggan's Mill Hotel, teenage Johnny Dunne must really do some hard graft, but he considers himself lucky. It gives him a life outside the brutal orphanage. And he still has the time to relax with his friends, Alice and Stella. Coming from different backgrounds, the three find a great deal in common through music; playing together in the local community band.  But the War of Independence is raging. It isn't long before trouble finds it's way to Balbriggan and the friends, having different opinions, could easily find themselves at odds. Johnny's secret role as a spy for the IRA lands him in grave danger. And Alice and Stella must make some difficult decisions. It seems all of their young lives are at risk if they don't choose carefully.
Gallagher has written an historical novel for young people that is both  riveting and insightful. The divisions in the social structure of early 1900's Ireland is perfectly echoed in the three young protagonists, while all three roles are portrayed with compassion and understanding, with their personalities perfectly fleshed out. The complex layers of the War of Independence, both socially and in terms of military action are revealed with a great deal of nuance and fore-thought, as each new episode brings further conflict and increasing violence. There is much here that, while historical, gives pause for thought in today's world events. Painted with great empathy, we are given a view of differing allegiances in conflict with questions of conscience; and an evocative look at the challenge of the fight for freedom. Personal, insightful and still fast-paced and very exciting.
(Gallagher is one of the very best writers of historical fiction for young people. I'd also highly recommend his previous book, Arrivals.)

author: Helena Duggan
Usborne (1 August 2017)
ISBN: 9781474924160
When Violet's father, a noted optician, is offered the job of his dreams, she has no choice but to move to Perfect with her parents. Who wants to live in a town called Perfect? A town where you have to be perfectly behaved and perfectly dressed and be neat and tidy all the time! Perfect is a strange place. All the residents must wear odd rose-tinted glasses to keep them from going blind. They all drink tea, which is delivered to their doors every morning and changes its' flavour to taste like whatever you would most like. But something is definitely wrong. Her mother is acting very peculiarly and her father suddenly disappears. Then Violet meets Boy and she realises her father isn't the only one missing. And the Watchers of Perfect are protecting a dark, dark secret.
On the surface, this well-crafted debut novel for 10+ is a creepy mystery-adventure with shades of Roald Dahl and classics such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz. And like those, it hides a deeper, more thought-provoking tale. Our main protagonist is 10-year-old Violet; a girl with a lot of spunk and keen observational skills. She senses from the start that something is not right...and not at all Perfect. She is more than capable of out-witting those in control of each situation and is, generally speaking, very wily while retaining her child-like freshness and perspective. The plot builds with a deliberate pace and, as it pulls Violet deeper and deeper into the mystery, it eases the reader along until they must read on...they must find out what is happening. There are numerous dramatic twists that add great interest and further food for thought as the tale develops. The supporting characters, largely adults
author: Paula Leyden
Little Island ( May 2017)
ISBN: 9781910411575
Ella has gone to spend some time at her grandmothers' home in the country. It is a welcome relief from her life in Dublin with her Mum. Here she feels like she can be herself. And the beautiful horse in a neighbouring field has made this time all the more special. But Johnny doesn't want to share his horse with anyone. Storm is a keepsake memory of his grandmother. While Ella is convincing Johnny that she loves Storm as well, something terrible happens. Storm has been taken by 'the pound man'. It is the pounds' job to round up neglected or feral horse and put them down. But Storm is neither. Now Johnny, Ella and Ellas' granny gather evidence to prove that Storm is a well-cared for horse who was taken illegally from the field. But the officials' aren't that easily convinced, old prejudices die hard and Storms' life is at stake.
Keepsake tackles the issue of animal rights, particularly the treatment of horses and the Traveller community in Ireland with its' misunderstandings and stigma. Beautifully written, it demonstrates real passion and offers an adventure with much heart and courage. This is a classic 'horse story' with many contemporary elements and an inter-generational view. The importance of friendship and family loom large. The frustration and desperation of both Johnny and Ella to save the horse are tempered by Ellas' granny, who takes a more practical view while supporting the children in their just cause, while many others simply give up. The relationships and interactions between the characters ring true. A carefully crafted, deliberate plot line never loses its' rhythm and carries the reader on a fast-paced journey with exactly the right amount of drama and tension leading to an exciting, bold conclusion. Keepsake offers

author: Erika McGann  illustrator: Vince Reid
O'Brien Press (6 March 2017)
ISBN: 9781847179203
When those annoying twin babies destroy the fort Cass was building in the front room (and Cass gets told off for being annoyed...they're only babies, after all....), she has the best idea ever! Cass gets the Bubble Street Gang together and they decide to build a proper fort outside where they can gather, solve mysteries, investigate crimes and get involved in brilliant adventures. Lex's nanny knows the perfect location, so the Gang gets stuck in and, before you know it, they are holding meetings and planning their next great exploit. But, they quickly discover that someone is using their fort when they aren't around! The Bubble Street Gang is on the case, solving a mystery of their own.
I love Erika McGanns' books. The writing is so genuine and lively and the characters and story line always ring true. Cass, Lex and Nicholas, along with their supporting cast, leap off the page, as they involve themselves in typical childhood adventures. I can see readers forming their own 'Bubble Street Gangs' and enacting scenes from the story, or making up their own. As they work through the mysteries, their conflicts and quandaries, the tale is fast paced and loaded with fun. Speckled throughout with engaging illustrations that add expression to the text,  I would highly recommend this book to confident readers looking for adventure. For ages 7-8 +

author: Natasha Mac a'Bháird
O'Brien Books (6 March 2017)
ISBN: 9781847178466
Summer holidays are over and Meg now has to get used to a new school and new friends. Luckily, she falls right in to a great group of girls with an active interest in performing. Together, they form the 'Star Club', where they put on plays and shows. While this should be ideal, another new classmate, Tracey seems determined to come between the girls and keep Meg all to herself.  On top of that, Meg is guarding a surprising secret about her family; one that she worries might make everyone see her differently. When a big Star Club performance comes up, Meg wants to know who her friends really are.
Like the first in the Star Club series; Hannah in the Spotlight; this book is a real delight. Filled with drama, excitement, challenges and fun, Starring Meg is a story that addresses many concerns in an easy, interesting manner. The characters have strong, convincing personalities and develop bonds and conflicts in a natural way. The conflicts are easily navigated,  as the girls act as sounding-boards and support for each other, demonstrating how friendship is supposed to work... a reassurance and a valuable lesson. This is a light, well-written read with much to recommend it. Engaging, light and interesting, just perfect for girls ages 9-11 who want to escape into a world of true friendship with a bit of drama thrown in.

author: Marguerite Tonery
MC Tonery (October 2016)
ISBN: 9780957381285
Elisa has been awakened by the sound of a beautiful song and the sound of a distant water;sounds also heard by Jamie. They are being called back to Kapheus, the fantastical world of light. The elf Sinann has been singing. She has also been captured by the Dark One and bound in a dark, threatening cave. Her escape has not left her unscathed, as she tumbles out onto Elisa floor, where she sleeps and heals. It is not long before another journey through the Kaphien forest, through the veil and across the Kaphien plains begins. It is the time of water. The Ark is beginning to open and the magical animals are threatened with extinction. Through a long journey; through love and loss: through courage and fear; Elisa and Jamie, and all their friends learn to master their feelings and make their way to ride the wild seas, fight off the pirates and the Dark One to save the animals, Kapheus and even themselves. The adventure to follow destiny continues....
This is the 3rd in the Kapheus chronicles and it takes the reader on a marvelous journey, as Kapheus itself now gains more substance. It may be a fantastical world, but it now feels increasingly real, with more subtlety and texture. Elisa and Jamie have a warm, inclusive brother-sister relationship and their characters play off each other with ease and understanding. The fantastical creatures that occupy and even more fantastical land are beautifully described, such that the reader actually feels that they know them well. A gentler, quieter book than the others, it ebbs and flows like the river and seas within, allowing the characters to explore, not only this beautiful, mystical land, but the full range of emotional content that comes with family, friendship, safety, danger loss and, ultimately love. It moves as a dream. And beyond this, it is a great fantasy read....filled with magic and light, wisdom and joy. Simply wonderful. For those who love fantasy of all ages.
If you haven't done so already, please, please read Kapheus Earth and Kapheus Air.

author: Caroline Busher
Poolbeg for Children (October 2016)
ISBN: 978178199748
It's 1848. Twins Archie and Millie live quite a luxurious life. But they also have special gifts. They can read each others thoughts and Millie can shape-shift into a fox and walk on walls and ceilings. One night, on the eve of their birthday, Badbloods' Circus comes to town. Knowing their mother will never let them attend, they sneak out of their house and make their way through the dark and dangerous London streets and get captured by Badbloods' men because of their abilities. Meanwhile, Ginny and Theo wander London as part of a pick-pocketing gang. When they get separated, Ginny is taken in by a a seemingly kind woman, but she, too...with her enchanting blue bird that resides in her rib cage.... is handed over to Badblood. And Theo, who can see your most intimate thoughts and make them appear out of his mouth as though they are a swarm of bees? He gets captured , as well. Together, they become the stars of the circus, unaware that Badblood has a nefarious plan and they are integral to it. One hundred years later, their ghosts reappear on a small island off the coast of Ireland. They are befriended by a local boy, Rua, who discovers the horrible fate that awaits them...and he is running out of time to save them for all eternity.
A completely captivating tale, The Ghosts of Magnificent Children also offers a thought-provoking character study of time, place and motivation.  The characters are compelling and realistically drawn with wholly original and genuine voices. There is an eerie, yet beautiful quality to the writing, that begs the reader to both put the book down and read on at the same time. Think of books like Miss Peregrines' Home for Peculiar Children or Neil Gaimans' The Graveyard Book and Stardust. It is filled with texture and nuance that consumes the reader and takes them completely into the story. Vivid, lyrical and completely ingenious, this is a book that will haunt your dreams for a long time to come. A truly magnificent debut!

author: Anna Carey
O'Brien Press (17 October 2016)
ISBN: 9781847178473
In the spring of 1912, 14-year-old Mollie Carberry is convinced her life is completely dull. With older sister, Phyllis about to go off to college,a spoiled, horrible brother Harry who gets all the best of everything and baby sister Julia, Mollie is stuck in the middle with nothing adventurous or special happening for her. That's until she discovers that Phyllis is a secret suffragette. Sneaking around behind her sister, Mollie attends meetings (roping friend Nora in with her) and soon becomes convinced that she wants to do something to help the cause, as well. The problem is no one in the Irish Women's Franchise League (IWLF) seems to want her help. Phyllis is worried about getting her little sister in trouble, most of the girls and teachers at school are indifferent, and there are a few who would love to get Mollie and Nora in hot water at home and school. But none of this deters them. Inspired by the book, No Surrender by Constance Maud and the plight of women at home and abroad, Mollie makes a firm decision...they must to do something, regardless of what others think.
Written as a series of letters to Mollie's friend, Frances, The Making of Mollie is an easy, enjoyable and important read. Wonderful characters that ring true with strong voices, it crafts a story that is pertinent and interesting. Filled with historical facts, the perspective of the tale gives a unique view, not only of the suffragette movement in Ireland, but of the surrounding social and political atmosphere. The inclusion of Mollie's day-to-day life makes it easy to relate to and adds much insight into ordinary life in a changing world. It is expressed in such a way that Mollie not only tells a story, but invites the reader into it; and to investigate, find out more, wonder and think about the events and the effect it has even today. While it may seem of more interest to girls, there is much here for everyone to consider. An exciting, inspiring read for ages 10+. A book that will make you want to know more!

author: Nicola Pierce
O'Brien Press (26 September 2016)
ISBN: 9781847176271
It is the summer of 1690 and two armies are making their way to the Boyne valley. Young noble Gerald O'Connor rides with King James' cavalry, determined to defend his familys' honour and prove himself as a soldier. Brothers Daniel and Robert Sherrard ride south with King Williams' army, fresh from the siege of Derry. Robert is rising through the ranks, while Daniel struggles with his will to continue. It becomes clear that war does not just affect the soldiers and their kings; all of whom are caught in the conflict of fighting, but a conflict of a different kind, as well. It impacts on the lives of everyone; the queens, their friends and family and the ordinary people; their countrymen and women and all the children. After years of conflict and hardship, this is the battle that will determine who rules England, Scotland...and Ireland.
Once again with clarity and passion, Pierce gives us an intimate picture of the reality of a pivotal historical event. The return of brothers Robert and Daniel Sherrard gives the reader a startling reference point with which to set understanding of a complicated, often muddied tale. The reality of war hits home, as does the reality of the individual conscience. The characters, their relationships and actions/reactions are entirely genuine. The voices telling this story are strong and true. The research into the real Battle of the Boyne seeps through subtly, but with unfading accuracy. The pacing is perfect, matching the actuality of historical events. And the writing is utterly superb, placing the reader firmly in the lives of all the characters, their feelings and the horrific incidents taking place around, though it was over 300 years ago....the reader is there. These are very big concepts related with compassion and honesty, but also with an ease of story-telling that makes the book sing. While historical fiction can be a bit of a 'hard-sell' to young people, not so with Nicola Pierces' books. The ring of truth and the ability to be drawn into to the narrative make this book an incredible reading experience of great impact. Like all her others, simply amazing, a beautiful read and highly recommended to everyone!

author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Orion Childrens' Books (September 2016)
ISBN: 9781444014785
As Mintys' world falls apart at home, she is in need of an adventure; something to take her mind off of the confusion and and heartbreak of her parents separation and it's impact on her life. Help comes from an unlikely source. Minty has been cautioned to stay away from Nettlebog Lane, and the Travelers that live in a small caravan there. But Ned Buckley and his gran offer a unique respite. Ned is a newcomer to Mintys' class...mysterious and moody, a loner who wishes to remain that way. But he has a secret passion, one that Minty shares. And it is one that is encouraged by their teacher (the only decent one in the school, it seems). Together, they embark on a journey that astounds the small town, and small minds around them and ultimately give them a friendship and a goal that changes everything.
A superb tale of friendship, courage and resilience, this is a deceptively simple novel that has layers of complex issues handled with clarity and warmth
If you haven't read Back to Blackbrick and The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, you really should. An incredible author with a real gift for the most moving, considerate stories.

author: Siobhan Parkinson
Hodder Childrens Books (September 2016)
ISBN: 9781444929072
Miranda Maguire always wins Word of the Day in her class at school and loves to write. Sometimes, the things she writes about begin to come true, at least as far as she can see. She believes in miracles and now has grand plans to create a getting Darren to become nice (now that would be a miracle...he's a boy, after all) and finding
Miranda is a brilliant character, with lots of spark and wit and a strong, true voice that shines in this wonderful new novel. Her vulnerability coupled with her verve make the character, her circumstances and the entire book believable. It deals with some very difficult situations, real concerns for many young people, with a great deal of ease and humour while never losing sight of the reality of childhood. The perspective is spot on; the dialogue exceptional. It is a story with real warmth and heart pulsing throughout. This is a clear and marvelous novel by one of the best Irish childrens' authors working today. A testament to the power of imagination, determination and creativity;one of those to read again and again.

author: Geraldine MIlls
Little Island (30 June 2016)
ISBN: 9781910411551
Twins Starn and Esper are growing up in a world made dark and silent by massive volcanic explosions. Ash now covers the planet and every aspect of life is controlled by the government, policed by the strict, heavy-handed Sagittars. They long for sunshine, fresh air and the freedom of a life only vaguely remembered by a few. But a game of dares leads them to discover an ancient book written by their great-great aunt, filled with strange writing and a treasure map. This propels them headlong into a journey across the darkened skies in a hand-built glider, in search of the gold that will vastly improve their lives and...could it be possible...expose the governments' lies and save a dying planet.
With exceptional crafting and a delicate hand, Mills has created a portrait of an unnerving future world while environmental calamity has stripped all light, save from that that exists in the lives of two young boys. Through their dreams, imagination and daring, the reader is taken on a marvelous journey. Gripping and compelling, the boys venture from a world of darkness, regulation enforced by fear and mere survival to one of light, possibility, growth and freedom. The juxtaposition of the two is explored and balanced perfectly through use rhythm and cadence in the text. The use and invention, or rather evolution of language plays both on myths and legends of old as well as a contemporary understanding of how words and communication change on ever-changing times. The characters are tangible and textural and the relations ring true. Starn and Esper are two sides of the same coin, and must follow their own wisdom and hearts while working together to create a wonderful dichotomy. When one twin loses all memory, we see the struggle of the other to regain a sense of grounding and stability in this brave new world; something he can only do with the help of the other, creating a powerful statement about the true nature of inter-dependency. And while there are environmental and social messages in the story, these take a back seat to the purpose of the tale; an imaginative and wondrous adventure in the vein of such classics as Treasure Island and The Swiss Family Robinson. Never too heavy or dark, it is interspersed with humour and child-like wonder. It is exciting, dramatic and filled with nuance and beauty. Written with clarity, compassion and purpose, Gold is open enough to allow the reader to fulling engage; come to his or her own conclusions; paint his or her own pictures in the realms of imagination. An amazing story, filled with life, Gold is a story to be treasured. This book simply sings!

author: Brian Gallagher
O'Brien Press (April 2016)
ISBN: 9781847177209
Ciara Farrelly and her father arrive in Ontario to visit her dead grandfathers' house. There is much to do in order to organise his affairs, but Ciara is focused on a mystery left to her. As she goes through her grandfathers things, she uncovers an unlikely set of friends and a  strange childhood secret linked to an unsolved murder. It seems as a boy, her grandfather Mike befriended Wilson, a lonely, wealthy boy whose family emigrated from Ireland and Lucy, an Ojibwe girl who dreams of becoming an artist. The friendships do not sit well with any of the families or the local community. When a murder is committed, Mike, Wilson and Lucy find themselves in danger with no one to trust but each other.
A story of friendship and understanding in a rapidly changing world, Arrivals is a riveting and wonderful read. As it switches from the present day into the past,the reader is pulled into time and place with fascination and expert handling of its' subject. The setting is vibrant and textural; well-imagined. The characters are realistically drawn and their relationship to each other and the world around them. It is easy to get totally immersed in the tale as it is not simply a story of the past, but an echo that reverberates into the present. Exciting, moving, well-paced and compassionate; a wonderful story.Historical fiction for young people at its' very best, I thoroughly recommend Arrivals, along with Gallagers' other books (Friend or Foe, Across the Divide, Secrets and Shadows, etc.)
author: Eilís Barrett
Gill Books (April 2016)
ISBN: 9780717169238
A virus has spread across the globe pushing humanity to the very edge of extinction.  Spreading faster than medical sciences' attempts to control it, society has collapsed, leaving one last surviving city, Oasis. Walled off from the outside world, Oasis is governed by a promise to protect it's citizens from the risk of infection at all costs; and to find a cure. It's rulers now control every aspect of life, imposing a new vision of a perfect society and stripping it's people of all personal freedom and autonomy. Quincy Emerson lived within this perfect city until she, among others was determined to be at risk of infection. Cast out into the Outer Sector Dorms as a child, she lives among a hostile and paranoid worker community, providing all of those within the risk-free society with all they need. But outside the perimeter walls, a restlessness and anger are growing. Violence is spreading and Quincey finds herself at the fore-front of a desperate plot, uncovering a vile, sinister secret.
A thrilling, fast-paced, coming-of-age novel set in a dystopian future, Oasis promises the reader much, and it really delivers! With finesse and obvious skill, Barrett paints an exciting and imaginative  canvas. Populated by characters with many nuances of both light and dark, the journey we are taken on is unforgettable among the many dystopian worlds in current YA literature. An imploring examination of family and society structures, a chilling glimpse into the possible near-future and a fascinating study of human nature, Oasis is an amazing and sophisticated read.

author: E.R. Murray
Mercier Press (28 August 2015)
ISBN: 9781781173626
Upon the death of her beloved grandfather, Ebony Smart, now orphaned for a second time, travels to Dublin to live with her eccentric Aunt Ruby. Her only real companion is her pet rat, Winston. She enters a world where nothing and no one can be trusted. She is warned against even entering the house by a voice from the shadows, but she has no where else to go. With an uncertain future, and danger at every turn, Aunt Ruby informs Ebony that she is part of the elite Order pf
In the first part of a trilogy

author: Sheena Wilkinson
Little Island (6 August 2015)
ISBN: 9781910411360
Helen is growing up in Belfast, 1916. Her 14 years have been shaped by her mixed background; rural, Irish Catholic values from her mothers' side and protestant Ulster from her father. Her cousin, Sandy is an officer in the British Army and stationed on the front line, where is is witness to many horrors and faces horrendous and life-threatening decisions. Her cousin Michael desperately wants to join up, even though it means being disowned by his staunchly republican family. And is Easter 1916 comes close, there is another war brewing; one that will divide them all. Helen has dilemmas of her own with all this conflict surrounding her. Which side is right? What does she support? And is there anything that can be done that will keep her family together?
History is a very messy affair. The closer we examine it, the messier it gets. When we look into the lives and stories of people sitting on the sidelines of conflict, we get an intimate view of  yet another cost to be paid; the internal fracturing of those people, the conflicts that rage on long after the wars are done and the ongoing effects that can run down through the generations. This is at the heart and soul of this novel. Finely drawn characters and realistic circumstances paint a tangible picture of ordinary lives at a time of extraordinary events. The shock, turmoil and struggle for Helen just to be herself, but not knowing who she is, also makes this an evocative coming-of-age story. Everything about this book feels real; feels like historical biography, rather than historical fiction. Direct, complex and compelling, like all of Wilkinsons' books.


Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Corgi Childrens  (July 2015)
ISBN: 9780552571302

Cara is concerned. No one seems to notice that quiet, unassuming fellow student Elsie has disappeared. In fact, no one seems to remember Elsie at all. But she’s there, in all of Caras’ photographs for years; that friend she had when she was young; that constant presence Cara grew apart from over the years. Elsie stood in the background like some sort of quiet talisman. And now, Elsie is just gone. 
To make matters worse, the accident season is approaching. Year after year, knives are put away, sharp corners are covered, great effort is taken to protect Cara, her sister Alice and ex-step-brother Sam as they become ever more accident prone. But injuries, broken bones, fires and tragedies abound, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them. They can’t explain it. Old secrets are too well hidden.  The curse is strong and they can’t escape it. Not at school, not at home, not on their nights out Galway, not during the masked Halloween ball in the crumbling old house….every October, the accident season recognises them. It hunts them down. But what if the numerous tragic mishaps aren’t all accidents? What if there is something even more sinister tucked away underneath the secret they share that threatens to tear their family apart? And what if the elusive Elsie holds the key?
The lines are blurred between truth and lies, the real and the supernatural. Addictive plot building is coupled with expert characterisation in this blend between contemporary horror and psychological drama. The two stories are apparently unrelated, at least at first. As the story line grows, the ebb and flow between the two create a rhythm that pulls the reader in ever deeper. The eerie blend of confusion and revelation build at a steady, compelling pace. This book is unforgettable...the stuff of dreams (or recurring nightmares.) In a haunting, lyrical symphony of its’ own, The Accident Season is here.

author: Debbie Thomas
Mercier Press (May 2015)
ISBN: 9781781172629
Poor Brian O'Bunion. His life has become one pointless pointlessness. His teacher, Mrs Loretta Florris, hates him. He is ignored by everyone in his school (except for the deaf gardener.) And his own Dad hasn't bought him Coco Pops since the Great Unspeakable happened...two years, one month and nineteen days ago. He feels like he is gradually disappearing. Unless he forgets his homework, or his mind wanders in class...then, he gets noticed. What IS the point? But, one day, his classmates begin to disappear one by one. Brian becomes the investigator in this mystery. Who better to investigate
A marvelous adventure told with humour and heart! This story presents an array of puzzling situations that plops the reader right in the centre of the action and pulls you through to the end. As Brian wends his way through daily dilemmas, he his suddenly presented with his own courage and ability to be a hero when no one else can be. There is a lot of silliness, and a lot of serious situations, but Brian, convinced from the start of his own pointlessness, rises to the challenge. The characters are well-written and convincing, even when they are presented in their extreme. Everyone has had one of 'those' teachers, but probably not as bad as old Florrie. Everyone has encountered a situation where nothing is as it seems...but it probably hasn't involved, well, I dare not say as it will give the story away. As I read Class Act, I was reminded a bit of books I had read and loved such as old  favourite, The Phantom Tollbooth, where Milo doesn't see the point in anything and discovers the point of it all. But at the same time I was completely engulfed in this storys originality, joyousness and clarity. Wonderful, funny...completely entertaining, circumstances with which everyone will relate. And, you'll learn a lot about bees, as well.


Author: Patricia Forde

Little Island Press (14 May 2015)

ISBN: 9781908195999
After the Melting, Earths’ great environmental disaster, the last remnants of the population sought refuge in Ark under the leadership of John Noa. Ark is a place of safety, but it is also a place of food and water rationing, shared shoes, strict laws and tally sticks. Art and music are forbidden. Language is limited to 500 words; the language of Ark, List. Letta was born and has grown up here; it’s all she’s ever known. Under the guardianship of Benjamin, the master wordsmith, Lettas’ job is to collect words and ration them out to those who need them. When Benjamin vanishes while on a word-finding journey, the task falls to Letta alone and she becomes the Wordsmith. But all is not as it seems. The appearance of a strange, injured boy leads Letta to some disturbing discoveries. And as Noas’ plan to rid the population of language; to make them entirely Wordless; is revealed, Letta knows she must stop him. But she is only a young girl and he is the most powerful man in the known world.
Dystopian novels have certainly come to the fore in childrens’ literature, lately. And this is one of the best. In a carefully crafted and evocative story, Forde has created a world yet to come that is powerful, mesmerising and chilling. The reader moves through this world in a dream-like state, as if taken in by a gentle nightmare. Letta is facing a coming-of-age crisis; a time of decision making and reality-facing. She is not a character to carve her own place in the world simplistically. Letta looks to her own future with both courage and confusion, trying to make sense of a world in which nothing is obvious. Her very nature sets the tone for the entire story. The character of John Noa is not one of a clear-cut ‘bad guy’ megalomaniac. In many ways, he has taken a very valid stance, but it is a position that has evolved beyond its’ simple ‘save the planet’ position. The reader must determine the effects. This is the real beauty of this novel. In so many circumstances, the opportunity to put forth a world-view, an agenda is left off, while the reader is kept in an astute, thought-provoking state by a story that will not let go. But the real star of this tale is language itself; the power of language. The gift and the love of language and its’ ability to shape the world (for good or bad) shines through in every detail. The fact that The Wordsmith is written for an audience that would be slightly younger (I would say 10+) than the typical dystopian readership is a wonderful gift. The writing is clear and purposeful. The ideas are easy to follow and deliberate. It is filled with reality and illusion. The ending is satisfying, yet left with an openness that begs the reader to consider further. And the entire book reads with a fluidity and dedication that make this book one that you will return to again and again.

Author: Nicola Pierce

O’Brien Press (March 2015)

ISBN: 9781847176462
In 1689, against the backdrop of a bloody European conflict between the Catholic French King Louis XIV (‘supporting’ the weak and King James II of England) and Protestant Prince William of Orange, an anonymous letter finds its’ way to the city of Derry. As it is read out, the city’s’ inhabitants hear that every Protestant man, woman and child is to be slaughtered. Panic sets in. How will the city defend its’ largely Protestant population…is the threat genuine? No one seems to have the facts. In the fury that that follows, two teenage brothers, Daniel and Robert Sherrard, held close the city gates against the approaching Catholic army of King James. The siege has begun. While bombs rain down upon Derry the tension inside grows stronger as each day passes. Trapped behind the walls, her people are dying, starving in one of the worst winters the country has seen, with no available outside help. Loyalties are tested. The limits of endurance are stretched far beyond what is imaginable. But there is no turning back, no surrender.
Told largely through young Daniel Sherrards’ view, Behind the Walls is one of those rare works of historical fiction for young people. Its’ voice, characters and relationships sing with such clarity as to put the reader well and truly in the midst of the story. As it lends context to the siege of Derry and its’ place in, not only Irish, but European history. It also tells a riveting and compelling story in its’ own right; one of growing up, taking control of ones’ own destiny and making critical decisions that affect all around. The characters in this story are believable, whether they are fictitious or actual historical figures. Their lives, motives and internal conflicts are genuine given the circumstances in which they find themselves. The pacing of the book accurately mirrors the pacing of the events. The reader can feel the strain of a people hidden behind the garrison walls and struggling for their lives. And the writing is glorious!  As with her other books, Spirit of the Titanic and City of Fate, Nicola Pierce writes with real passion and understanding for her subject. A brave and superb book, I recommend this highly, not just for young people, but for everyone.

author: Marguerite Tonery / illustrator: David T. Wenzel
M C Tonery (1 December 2014)
ISBN: 9780957381247
Elisa and Jamie are intrigued and excited when their Great Uncle Davin  arrives unexpectedly for a visit. All too brief a stay, Davin leaves behind an unusual gift, a beautiful drawing on Elisa's bedroom wall. This is no ordinary drawing, however. It is a portrait of Kapheus, the fantastical world of light. A world of dragons, elves and woodland creatures are now at Elisa and Jamies' immediate disposal, placed there by Great Uncle Davin to send the children on a quest to discover their destinies....who they were really born to be. But a quest is a quest, after all, and is filled with struggle, as well as beauty and guidance.
A pure joy to read, Kapheus Earth sends us on the journey right alongside Elisa and Jamie. The characters  and the relationships between them are well drawn, with strong development throughout the book. The story itself is a triumph. With all the magic and wonder of a childs' imagination, the tale is filled with curiosity and a thirst for knowledge and understanding. This is authentic fantasy writing. Exceptional and thoughtful details pull the reader into the tale and clear, concise writing move the reader along smoothly. Thoroughly enjoyable, a real treat, Kapheus Earth is the first in a series. I look forward to the next one!

author: Matt Griffin
O'Brien Press (March 2015)
ISBN:  9781847176813
Having grown up in a New York orphanage, Ayla knows nothing of her family until her 3 uncles arrive from Ireland. Taken 'home', she is only just beginning to get a sense of her roots when the long distant past rises up against her. Ayla is abducted and taken far underground, kept alive on foul bowls of slop for hideous hidden some purpose. Above ground, her three friends are determined to find her. Enlisting the aid of her three uncles, they unwittingly become the heroes of a journey; the kind of journey that only takes place in ancient myths and legends; a journey that takes them down through the roots of time.
An astonishing debut, filled with the subtle nuance of nightmares, A Cage of Roots weaves a path that blends effortlessly between contemporary day-to-day life and the realm of the ancients. The reader is immediately plunged into the story, feeling as suffocated, confused and desperate as Ayla herself. The pacing is fast, furious, but never forced. The instant sense of danger is tangible, as the reader doesn't have time to wonder why or how or who. These essentials are revealed (with great skill, I might add) as the story unfolds, dipping and diving from the underground to the above ground. The characters are well drawn, with a real sense of personality and relationship. And this book is frightening... gripping and moving! A dark, deep tale of destiny and loyalty of heroic proportion,a strong recommendation for fantasy readers; this will keep you on the edge of your seat. (I do not recommend this as a bedtime read.) Stunning.
author: Sheena Wilkinson
Little Island (26 February 2015)
ISBN: 9781908195920

Moving, strong and compassionate, Wilkinson gives us a story that is important and challenges the reader. With echoes of The Great Gatsby, it is a story of seemingly reluctant and impossible love, of overcoming the ghosts of ones' past and developing a self-belief and confidence that allows the course of life to unfold. I have to say something, first of all about the way Wilkinson handles her depiction of epilepsy...she has it exactly right. The way she shows what happens with a seizure, the dangers of simply 'falling' and the effects this condition has on a persons' view of themselves; along with the misconceptions and concerns of those who lives are intertwined with someone with epilepsy is spot on. Also, the story of falling in love is amazingly rendered. This is no simple tale of love and beating the odds...not a simple 'us vs. them' story. It is told with genuine and richly layered voices with all the passion, confusion and fallibilty that happens, not just within the confines of young love, but with us all at any given stage in life. There are no easy answers here. It is gritty, heart-felt and all too real. Marvelous....simply marvelous. Highly recommended for 14 +.

BLACK WREATH: The Stolen Life of James Lovett
author: Peter Sirr
O'Brien Press (2014)
ISBN: 9781847175601
In the eighteenth century, young James Lovett is abandoned on the streets of Dublin. Being born into power and position as the heir to the Lord Dunmain title means nothing when his cruel father and stepmother seeks to get him out of the way. James finds himself in a world of cut-throats and highwaymen, only just escaping the assassins on his trail. Just as it seems his situation cannot be any more desperate, James is sold into indentured servitude and on his way to a life of slavery in America. But James has made friends along the way. If only they can get to him and restore him to his life and inheritance.
Based on a true story, this is historical fiction for young people at its' finest.Brilliantly researched and expertly told, each page is embedded with historical accuracies that allow the reader to grasp the full weight of life in eighteenth century Dublin. This does not burden the story at all, but adds to it. A stunning adventure, there is much detail in the psychology of the characters; we get a real sense of their personalities and relationships as they interact and the plot builds. It also acts as a 'coming-of-age' story and we see young James learn to analyse and take control of his circumstances. Peter Sirr (former director of the Irish Writers' Centre, poet, critic and essayist) has created, in his first novel, a remarkable, moving, gripping tale that has much to say, not just about history, but about life today. I love historical fiction, and this is one of the best I've read.

author: Susan Maxwell 
Little Island (4 Sep 2014)
ISBN: 9781908195937
The murder of Fen Maguire has cast a sinister gloom across the already dim and cold winter light of Muinbeo. Was it the work of a rogue werewolf? Was there an Outlander involved? What about those from that strange religious sect, the sombrists? Or is it something far more devious? Salmon Farsade: an orphan, part-Outlander, refugee in Muinbeo and apprentice guardian; finds herself flung into the middle of an investigation where her skill in reading auras will be a valuable asset indeed. Salmon, having lost her previous mentor, is now apprenticed to the long-lived (VERY long-lived) private detective, McCabe. Together, they must sniff out who could commit such a dastardly murder...and why.
Personally, I love a good mystery....and I love nothing more than a great fantasy. This book combines them both. Maxwell has created an incredible fantasy world, populated by werewolves, vampires, the unusual dimorphs (always held in suspicion) and luchrupá unusual and fascinating cast. With a very precise social/political structure, the action weaves its' way through this cast with expert rhythm and timing to create a story that is compelling and driven. I was captivated by this world, complex and having an eery beauty...with many parallels to our own. Great story, great writing, amazing characters and as for the mystery aspect, all I can say is wow! It's very seldom that I don't have a clue 'who-dunnit', but Good Red Herring stumped me. Just wonderful. (Out on 4 September 2014)

author: Shane Casey  illustrator: Vincent Killowry
ISBN: 9780992749002
Sheridan is an ordinary pygmy shrew living an ordinary life. But when a resident tom cat threatens the shrew of his dreams, Sheridan turns out to be a very extraordinary hero! Orla the Otter is very worried about her first day of school. Will she be able to make friends? Mervin and Maria, the mayflies discover the oldest legend in the world; the Fairys' Foxtrot.Life beyond their river bed is amazing and wondrous, but it is also dangerous and all too brief.
Contained within this book are three tales of the natural world. Packed with adventure and lushly illustrated, it is a treasure. The characters are charming and lovingly portrayed. Every child is bound to want to read this book (or have it read to them) again and again. Also included is a section in the back with information on each of the animals featuring in the stories and pertinent and expressive thoughts on the natural world.
This beautiful book is aimed at a 6-7 year old audience who are newly confident at reading. But it is also the perfect book to share with the whole family. Printed in OpenDyslexia font, avoiding the typical black print on white, it is fantastic for those with reading difficulties. Just lovely!

author: Jenny Robson
Little Island (2014)
ISBN: 9781908195913
A new boy has joined the class and there's no mistaking that there is something unusual about him. Day after day, he arrives in class wearing a balaclava...a different one each day, all day long. All the children are intrigued; what could Tommy be hiding? No one has seen his face. Everyone has a different theory and the rumours start to fly! The Grade Five bullies finally notice Tommy, his classmates realise that it's not really important why Tommy wears a balaclava. On the day Tommy finally takes off his balaclava, there's a big surprise for everyone.
This wonderful, gentle and intriguing read for ages 7-8 years plus isn't simply about a boy who wears a balaclava. It's about friendship, trust and tolerance. Balaclava Boy expresses these concepts without a heavy-handed perspective and is embedded with humour and a delightful twist. A fabulous book for younger, confident readers, it opens up a lot of space for discussion. Warm
author: Deirdre Sullivan
Little Island (2014)
ISBN: 9781908195906
Welcome to the final installment of the diaries of Primrose Leary. (If you haven't read Prim Improper and Improper Order yet, then you must do so immediately!) We open with the funeral of Prim's beloved pet rat, the charming and dapper Roderick. Prim is now also trying to gain some insight into life by reading her mum's diaries; she is desperate to get best-friend Joel back into her life (he's now besties with Karen, aka 'the devil'); her other best friends, that close, close, close couple Ciara and Syzmon have gone their separate ways and her dad is now getting together with....wait! I don't want to spoil it for you. Oh yeah, there's also something going on with Prim and a certain young man, Robb-with-two-bees. Everything in Prim's life is a bit imperfect, confusing, upside-down and backwards. Yet, here we are!
Deirdre Sullivan is a wonderful, wonderful writer. The Prim books are delightful, quirky and totally original. Prim's journal is written with heart-warming humour and heart-breaking sincerity. There is an evident knowledge and interest in the lives and thoughts of teenagers and everything they are faced with as they move towards the illusive land of adulthood. The joys, pains, stupid and heroic acts are all displayed with compassion and integrity, while telling a story which is completely accessible to all. These are characters with genuine personalities; friends that we have all known. Watching Prim grow from age 13 to 16, laughing and crying with her along the way, has been a privilege. Personally, I'll miss her.....but I can always visit! Thanks, Deirdre, for creating a wonderful friend.

author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Orion Press (2014)
ISBN: 9781444006926
Oscar Dunleavy has gone missing and is presumed dead; irrepressibly optimistic Oscar who made the worlds' best apple tarts...the apple tarts that had hope in every bite. No one seems surprised that Oscar is gone, except for his best friend Meg and his little brother, Stevie. Meg has returned from New Zealand, unable to believe that Oscar is gone and determined to discover the truth. Meg traces back through all the chats through their windows, when Oscar seemed so happy and positive. What could have turned him to such despair in the few short months she's been gone? Meg and Stevie sift through the surrounding grief and confusing accounts to discover the truth. Along the way they discover the value of loyalty, friendship and why you should never give up.
What an absolutely magnificent, compelling story! At first glance, this may seem heavy reading, but the telling of the tale is gentle, compassionate, often funny and thoroughly uplifting. Fitzgerald's exploration of the themes of friendship juxtaposed off of a subtle, manipulative bullying has great depth without overwhelming and is handled with sensitivity. Her characters shine (each and every one of them) and are portrayed with a dexterity that allows the reader to develop a curiosity and understanding about them. Charming, eloquent, with a very satisfying conclusion ( and Oscar's tips to make the perfect apple tart), this is one book you must read! (And, if you haven't read Fitzgerald's first book, Back to Blackbrick, please do immediately!)

author: Sheila Agnew
O'Brien Press (2014)
ISBN: 9781847175588
After Evie's mother dies, Evie finds herself taken away from Dublin, her friends and everything she loves to live with her Uncle Scott in Manhattan. Well, she give it a try's what her mother wanted. So there she is in a strange new life with her uncle the vet, an array of pets and their weird and wonderful owners, a whole new set of friends to get used to and her uncles' lawyer girlfriend, Leela, who has dreams of celebrity and money, money, money...plans in which Evie has no place! The summer quickly spirals into a whirlwind of change and mayhem.
What a gem of a story! Marooned in Manhattan is told with heart and warmth that expresses what it really feels like to be a young girl thrust into a difficult situation; having to proceed in a life where the ground has been dragged out from under your feet. Moving, but not overly sentimental, this story is fast-paced and packed with action. It is told with real feeling, humour and wonderful characters.. Evie shines as she faces her new reality with trepidation, yet determination. Relationships and situations are carefully and realistically crafted within the context of the story, yet never gets overburdened with unnecessary detail. And there is a real cliff-hanger at the very end. Fortunately, the next Evie Brooks book is out in September! A really enjoyable summer read!

author: Tom O'Neill (2013)
ISBN: 9781909483279
Dark McLeans' Uncle Connie has been struck down by a mysterious illness: an illness of alarmingly rapid progress with no obvious cause or treatment; an illness that is killing him. Dark is now in a race against time to find a cure. Their sinister neighbour is shadowing Darks' every move, his friends are abandoning him and Dark is losing hope and courage. Each night, Dark ventures into a nearby fairy ring in desperation. Perhaps the Old People know of a cure. Each night, Dark is told a tale..... a tale of a young man called Matha who, long ago, was on a similar quest to his own; a tale of Fionn MacCumhaill and ancient journeys, of bards and battles and a magical land. As time is running out for Uncle Connie, Dark begins to understand the true meaning behind his uncles' words: "They walk among us."
Tom O'Neills' previous book, "Old Friends: The Lost Tales of Fionn MacCumhaill" was thoroughly gripping.
This one is even more. This one is simply spell-binding, packed with lyrical story-telling, raw and complex emotional impact and evocative characters and setting. The flow of the contemporary story into the mythical is smooth, and the correlations drawn between the two stories create an ebb and flow that pulls the reader into the tale. Each chapter is genuine, believable and intriguing. The power behind the words is tangible and will keep you awake well into the night reading on.... and casting your vision out into the night wondering what is actually going on out there in the trees and hills. A wondrous adventure that blurs the lines between reality and mythology. Just loved it!

author: Debbie Thomas  illustrator: Stella Macdonald
Mercier Press (2014) ISBN: 9781781171707
Welcome to third hilarious, wonderful adventure of best friends, Abbie Hartley and Perdita Platt! When their teacher, Mr. Dabbings decides it's high time the class got as involved and excited about nature, off they go to the island of Remote Ken off the west coast of Ireland. Of course, it's not quite that simple. Abbie and her history nerd father have discovered that there may well be a hidden treasure on Remote Ken. But so has their old arch-nemesis, Dr. Hubris Klench. And formally Squashy now Grumpy Grandma has discovered that she has failed to rehabilitate Klench. In the meantime, two ancient, not wanting to live forever anymore Incas have discovered that touching Klench will end the prophesy that has kept them going for all these  centuries. While all collide on Remote Ken, Abbie's main concern is her best friendship with Perdita. Perdita seems to be spending so much time with Ursula to be Abbies' best friend. What on earth will happen next?!?
I really do love the Abbie and Perdita books. Filled with humour and adventure, the heart
and soul of these stories is friendship, family and life. The most unlikely, hilarious situations provide a back-drop for heartfelt relationships and great character development throughout. In Monkie Business, we go on a journey; not just over land and sea. It is a journey of contrasts and comparisons, of genuine voices speaking real tangible feelings and of the importance of friends and family. As with all of the Abbie and Perdita stories, you'll learn some interesting things as well... but you'll be enjoying the book so much, you'll never even notice. My advice: read them all. Delightful! (p.s.: My favourite character is Grumpy (ex-Squashy) Grandma. What's yours?)
Nicola Pierce
O’Brien Press (February 2014)
ISBN: 9781847173379
August 23rd, 1942 finds Yuri Bogdanov swimming in the River Volga with his friends. It is a beautiful summers’ day. It is also Yuris’ 14th birthday. The sudden hum of airplanes fills the sky and, without warning, the German Army begins its’ campaign of carpet bombing that will drive Stalingrad to near annihilation over the next five months. Yuri loses everything. But he is not alone in his fate. Teenage Yuri and Tanya and 5-year-old Peter find themselves struggling for mere survival as their world literally burns around them.
In a small village north of Stalingrad, Mr. Belov prepares to march his entire class of 17 year old boys to join the ranks of the Russian Army. They have been ordered by the government to serve to fight the powerful Nazi’s now destroying their homeland. And their battlefield is the beautiful city of Stalingrad, now besieged. Nobody has been able to stop the Nazi invasion as it drives itself across Europe, destroying everything in its’ wake. It depends on Stalingrad to turn the tide… on her citizens, on her soldiers, and on her children. But the cost will be great.
In this moving, sometimes painful story, Nicola Pierce has once again given us exacting research and realism woven into a story of friendship and unlikely alliances to paint a stunning picture of the battle. 

illustrator: Charles Robinson
O'Brien Press (2013) ISBN: 9781847175892
A selfish swallow has hung on too long to make the flight to Egypt with the others. But at the feet of the Happy Prince… a golden statue adorned the kingdom; he learns the true meaning of compassion and devotion.
A nightingale sacrifices her very life to give a young student the one thing that he thinks will win him his true love.
A selfish giant
This stunning new edition of Oscar Wilde's Stories for Children contains three stories from the pen of one of our most beloved, insightful authors.Told in their original form, these are no candy-coated fairy tales; there is no happily-ever-after. But the genius of Wilde’s understanding of human nature shines through, giving stories that are genuine, profound and very clear in their intent. The lyrical language weaves a spell of enchantment and takes us to another place…somewhere magical and yet very real. The classic illustrations by Charles Robinson perfectly accent the telling of these classic tales, casting a dreamlike spell that remains with the reader long after the book is closed. They draw in even the youngest child with the exquisite watercolour and ink renderings.
Perfect for children of all ages, this book should be part of everyone’s collection! A timeless treasure that is a perfect introduction (or re-introduction) to the wit and warmth of Oscar Wilde.
(published in Inis Magazine online, January 2014 : )

COLM'S LAMBS  (Glenmore Valley)
author: Anna McQuinn  illustrator: Paul Young
O'Brien Press (2013) ISBN: 9781847173393
It’s lambing season and life is very busy on the sheep farm where Colm O’Connor lives with his brother, Michael and his mam and dad. Colm loves to help out with lambing. The work is hard and the lambs can come any time, day or night. His friends Molly and Daisy come to visit from the city and they’ve never seen a baby lamb before. But it’s not too long before they get stuck in! The children find a new baby lamb all on its own in the field. They are all going to have to work together to save the lamb. Can they convince one of the sheep to take the lamb as her own?
Welcome to the Glenmore Farm series! This is one of two new books that give young readers a view into the world of farming; something that, like Colm’s friends Daisy and Molly, most children don’t get to experience. It’s very clear that author Anna McQuinn knows her subject matter well. The story is well written and clear, depicting farm life with accuracy. The plot develops quickly and holds the interest of the reader. The children populating her story are true to life and well-rounded. The illustrations by Paul Young are contemporary, lively and fresh; adding much charm to the story, without ever becoming ‘twee’. A thoroughly enjoyable story.
(published in Inis Magazine online January 2014)

author: Darragh Martin
Little Island 9781908195845
While staying with his grandmother, Oisin discovers an ancient and mysterious book...The Book of Magic. And he is to be it's Keeper. This is a dangerous and confusing role; one he is not sure he wants. But when his little sister, Sorcha is kidnapped by the evil, shape-shifting Morrigan, Oisin must travel through the land of the Tuatha de Danann, defeat snow-snakes on the Mountain of the Wind and enter the Morrigan's chamber of bone to save her. Can he harness the power of the Book of Magic and use it for good? And with so many of the young druids, and their teachers, after the Book, will Oisin even be able to save himself?
A cracking new fantasy! Martin has created a contemporary journey into a mythical land, where everything has progressed (along with our world), but magic still holds the ultimate sway. This book is alive with adventure and mystery! A gripping read that you are going to love... read The Keeper again and again.

author: Kevin Stevens illustrated by Sheena Dempsey
Little Island 9781908195838
It's not easy belonging to a family of not-so-super superheroes. Dad has set the kitchen on fire (again) and he was just trying to make dinner (using his super power, of course.) Mum turned the rain on inside to put out the fire in the kitchen, and in Dad's hair, and she's flooded the kitchen. JP has flown into a wall. It seems the only normal one in the family is Pucker, the dog... and well, maybe he's not so normal, either. Poor Suzie! Her telekinectic power doesn't stand a chance in amongst the madness that is superhero family life. So... when they go off on holiday, the Powers promise to take a break from their superpowers. Well, that doesn't work out too well, does it?
The Powers is hilarious fun for young, confident readers.  A great, funny adventure loaded with action, The Powers is peppered through with marvellous drawings that add to the hilarity. Seriously silly stuff... The Powers will rapidly become your faourite superhero family... especially as you can follow them on Suzie's blog (link below).

author: Siobhan Parkinson
Hodder Childrens Books    9781444903607
Annie is utterly in love with Jono, but whether or not he is her boyfriend is another matter. It’s difficult to tell these things when your only communication is through the occasional text messages and phone calls. But when Jono stops replying to texts, Annie calls round to discover the problem. She soon uncovers a reality that changes her life. Annie needs someone she can talk to; someone she can trust. But since her mother is gone and her brother is on the run, she’s left with her best friend, Emma. And Emma’s help isn’t near enough. And the situation at both school and home are constantly preying on her mind. Overwhelmed and feeling so very alone, where can Annie turn?
In this companion novel to the hard-hitting Bruised, Parkinson turns her attention to Annie’s story. Written with compassion and insightful understanding, the reader is given a view of the darker issues plaguing teenagers today; bullying, alcoholism, the social care system, trust, the importance of friendship and discernment, and depression; all told with a gentleness and ease that makes this book accessible to younger teen readers. It is very clear that Parkinson knows them well, and can give them exactly what they need in a book. It is easy to relate to Annie’s character and her predicament, even though the reader may have never undergone such crises themselves. But they will certainly have experienced, or be experiencing the emotions. The author has always had a way of placing her audience directly at the heart of story, allowing for full impact of the content. Here, the reader has ready access to Annie’s thoughts and feelings; you feel the conflict of her relationships with friends and family. As you read, you find yourself completely involved, willing Annie to try this or that, coming up with advice of your own or simply being right there with her. But it is not all doom and despair! The ending breathes a sigh of relief and is fully satisfactory without even approaching condescension. As it says on the cover, Heart Shaped is love and death and everything in between. A beautiful, wonderful, cathartic read by one of the best children’s authors anywhere today.

(The Father of Lies Chronicles)
author: Alan Early
Mercier Press 9781781171585

It’s only been a week since Arthur Quinn has returned to his home in Kerry. After defeating the World Serpent; after battling the Fenris Wolf and losing an eye in his efforts, you’d think he’d be glad of the peace, quiet and normality of his old home. But within the week that unsettled feeling is back. The pendant that protects Arthur from the Father of Lies is glowing bright green and the war hammer he’d found under the streets of Dublin is radiating an insistent warmth as if preparing, once again, for battle. The dreams have returned; dreams of an ancient past in Asgard; dreams warning of terrible events to come. And now, it’s not just Arthur having those dreams. It seems the entire world is seeing the same thing. Loki is on the move.
It doesn’t take long before Loki appears with a most horrible revelation for Arthur, one that changes everything. And when Arthur is whisked off to Asgard, home of the ancient Norse gods, much is explained by those mystic guardians of the truth, the Norns, but just as much is left hidden.  Arthur plummets back into a very different Dublin, one flooded and left in an apocalyptic nightmare. Loki is ensconced in the President’s mansion in Phoenix Park. People have been captured and herded like animals into sports stadiums. Those few (mostly children) who resist the new world order must stay hidden, constantly changing location. Arthur has returned to a world where ‘Arthur Quinn’ has never existed and no one, not even his own father or closet allies, have the slightest idea who he is. He must convince his old friends, Ash, Max, Ellie and Ex that he is on their side. And, once more, it’s up to Arthur to save the world from Loki’s most devious plan and his most dangerous child. This is the final battle.
With his trademark descriptiveness and exceptional knowledge of ancient Norse mythology, Alan Early has brought the Father of Lies chronicles to a dramatic and positively thrilling conclusion. If you have wondered (as I have all along); why Arthur Quinn; what is it about this kid; this is the book that reveals the reason. And you’ll never see it coming. The carefully knit relationships throughout the series are carried through here to great effect, and we are given unique insight into the bonds of friendship and family, as well as conflict. Every action, every emotion is tangible without being overworked.  Early has painted a textural picture of the time, place and people that you don’t so much believe as feel. The action and story line weave together and dip and dive to create a positively remarkable read. The reader is pulled along in the story with expert timing and movement through to a most dynamic end. Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper will keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat. It will leave you wanting more; but sadly this is the end.
The Father of Lies Chronicles not only brings Viking lore into the forefront of children’s fantasy literature; it sets it firmly in a contemporary world.  Be prepared, this is quite simply one of the best novels; in fact, one of the most stunning series, you will ever read. An incredible conclusion.

Author: Ian Somers
O'Brien Press 9781847173089
After all he has been through, Ross Bentley now finds himself alone, holed up in a remote farmhouse and completely cut-off from friends, family and the girl that he loves. He must hone his gifts if he is ever to be ready to protect the innocent and endangered... if he is ever to join the Guild of the Gifted. But when a gifted child is kidnapped, his training is cut short. He must travel with his mentor, Hunter, to rescue her...even though Ross is unprepared for the devastating dangers he now faces.
Like the first in this series, Million Dollar Gift, this novel is packed with action, tension and adventure. Somers has created a well-drawn hero in Ross Bentley, and a storyline that is both thoughtful and dramatic. Never a dull page in this thrilling read for ages 12+. If you are a fan of Young James Bond series by Charlie Higson, or Anthony Horowitz' Alex Rider series, I highly recommend this.

Author: Paula Leyden
ISBN: 9781406327939
Walker Books
Sister Leonisa
It is such a joy to return to the lives of Bul-boo and her twin Madillo in the butterfly heart of Africa. Leyden’s descriptive text gives full texture to the place, the people and the beliefs of Zambia with a strength that allows the reader to believe they are there. While Bul-boo and Madillo again provide a sense of the duality of human nature; the pragmatic meeting the superstitious; this story primarily belongs to Fred, who struggles with his inbuilt sense of impending
It may seem that these are heavy, burdensome concepts for young readers to take on, but not at all. The story is not weighed down by messages or agendas. It is adventurous, mysterious and humourous. The friendships are tangible. The characters are identifiable and become easily lodged in the readers’ hearts and memories. The situations in which the friends find themselves are believable and are depicted from a child’s-eye view that never speaks down to the reader, but leads them through a wondrous and heart-felt journey.  As with Leyden’s first book; ‘The Sleeping Baobab Tree’ is simply beautiful, and an absolute joy; a rare and wonderful gift.
(Note: There are teaching notes available for both of Paula Leyden’s books, making them ideal

author: Deirdre Sullivan
Little Island; 1 February 2013
ISBN: 9781908195234
Primrose Leary is back and everything is most improper! After finally settling in with her dad, the mustachioed Fintan, living in a (sort of) normal situation with him  and adapting to life without her wonderful Mum, you'd think things were getting back on track. But in the blink of an eye, Prim finds herself in the middle of a bunch of loved-up couples with ongoing drama...Ciara is practically married to Syzmon, Ella has fallen for an actual BOY (not a ferret or a cat) and Joel and Kevin are going out for a coffee. That's not really a date; is it??? And what if it is? And what about Prim? Can she find true love, keep her best friends and embark on an outstanding career as a cruciverbalist? (That's a person who creates crossword puzzles, for those of us who don't understand...)
Deirdre Sullivan introduced us to Primrose Leary in her first book, Prim Improper; and she is an absolute delight! Intelligent, funny, caring and superbly drawn, Prim is exactly the kind of character to excite and attract readers, and keep them hooked. The situations dealt with in the story are heart-felt and sincere, and very realistic. But these books are never dull or over-wrought with teenage angst. In Improper Order, Prim is a year older and wiser, and the issues are a bit older as well, but the characters remain faithful and consistent and the story is just as brilliant. With so much humour and so much heart, you're going to love Prim, her friends and her family in both books.

Here's two new picturebooks from the very busy Dolores Keaveney...
author/illustrator: Dolores Keaveney
Dbee Press
Every young child loves fairies. In this vibrant new picture book, we turn to the back garden to meet an array of them. A modern 'Flower Fairies', there a quite a few all around us, hovering in among the poppies, foxgloves, the lily pond and the herb patch. We'll find them anytime of time and everywhere we look! Written in clear and straight-forward rhyme, we are taken on a delightful foray that encourages exploration of the outside world and appreciation of everything in view, made easy to remember by the fairy association with each plant and backyard locale. The illustrations are bright and painterly, an absolute joy on each page. A simply wonderful picturebook for all that says "Get outside! You never know who'll you'll find there!"

Released at the same time.....
THE ADVENTURES OF JENNY AND SYLVESTER....and their six little chicks
author/illustrator: Dolores Keaveney
Dbee Press
Remember Jenny, the lonely little brown hen? Back to the farm we go in this charming update. Well, of course we know she isn't lonely any more, since she met Sylvester and hatched six lively chicks. But sometimes Jenny wonders what's beyond their hen house... sometimes, she just wants an adventure. So one day, off the cheeky chicken family go into the great wide world to see what they can see.  With Keaveney's trademark vivid and delectable illustration style, she weaves a warm and wonderful story that speaks of exploration, discovery and coming home, this is sure to be a favourite that children will want to hear over and over again, as they spend hours pondering over the pages. I love it!

author: Katherine Farmar
Little Island
ISBN: 9781908195241
Aisling and Julie have had an adversarial relationship since they first met.
Having been separated from their friends as they leave a party, they are bickering when they are nearly trampled by a white horse with a red mane and a strong, unpleasant smell of wormwood fills the air. Upon recovering, Aisling and Julie soon discover the Dublin they know ; that they are are standing in the middle of; is not the same Dublin as moments ago. On the horizon, there stand three castles for three queens; the pigeons and seagulls are at war with each other and a merhorse gives them advice and directions. To make things worse, having found shelter, they are about to be imprisoned for being human. With their lives at risk and with little hope of getting back to the mortal realm, they must become strong allies to right the balance in this strange realm, find the Wormwood Gate and Molly Red if they ever want to see the Mortal Realm again.
This is an amazing fantasy adventure that shows true imagination as it marries ancient folklore with contemporary times. The characters and the relationships between them speak of typical ordinary young adult concerns; those seemingly trivial things which are turned on their heads to display a deeper understanding. And the mysterious circumstances they find themselves in are evidence of the true meaning of myth and magic in literature. More than this, it's a great read. Fast-paced with many plot twists that are beautifully situated throughout, Wormwood Gate gives the reader a brilliant ride through a fantastic realm and back again (eventually). If there were one problem I had with this book, it is the absolute definition of the relationship between Aisling and Julie at the end, which I feel flattens the impact of the beautifully developed 'round-ness' of the story. I would have much preferred it be left open and for the reader to define. Having said that, the novels remains a strong and wondrous read written by a gifted hand. I applaud Katherine Farmar for giving us this marvellous contemporary folktale! Highly recommended.

author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Orion Books
ISBN: 9781444006599
Cosmo has lived with his Grandma and Granddad since "pretty much the cleverest person I ever met", so it's really confusing to Cosmo that people treat him strangely, as if he's a moron. But granddads' memory is failing and the time comes when he needs to be placed into care. Before going, Granddad gives Cosmo a key and makes him promise to go back to Blackbrick Abbey; now derelict and disused. When Cosmo arrives there, he finds himself propelled into a forgotten time in his granddad's past... to the moment when everything is still possible.... to the moment that will explain every mystery in Cosmo's life.
This book is quietly magnificent. Touching and intriguing, it gives a poignant understanding and a hope for Cosmo's present life that pulls him out of the confusion and anguish in which he finds himself . The characters are real, their situation and life all too tangible and real. As for the impossibility of what happens, it seems totally plausible and makes the reader understand fully, as the tagline says; "There is no such thing as forgetting." An absolute triumph, and though the year is young, this has got to be one of the best books written in 2013. Please

author: Kevin Kiely
O'Brien Press
ISBN: 9781847172303
Finbar Kennedy dreams of escaping day-to-day life in Queenstown (Cobh) and sail away with his father, a sea-captain on the magnificent Lusitania. A disturbing dream leads him to do just that and stow away in order to protect his father and the ship from upcoming disaster. Finbar stumbles upon a deadly conspiracy; works as a deck-hand and messenger, meets a beautiful young girl and survives the sinking of the Lusitania when she is torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Cork. This fast-paced, exciting and well-written novel is based on the incident. It gives not only abundant information about the sinking of the Lusitania, but memorable characters, genuine emotion and an unforgettable story. If you like historical fiction, you're going to love this. (Also read Kiely's A Horse Called El Dorado.)

author: Jean Flitcroft
Little Island Press
ISBN: 9781908195272
Vanessa travels to an island off the western coast of Canada for what looks like a well deserved an exciting holiday. But she soon finds herself drawn into a world of criminals, ruthless whale hunters and an annoying young boy who is out to cause her nothing but grief! Having nothing but her shrunken-head and trusty camera, she soon has to fight for her life and pray that she returns to Ireland unscathed. But what happens when Vanessa finds herself face-to-face with an actual sea-serpent? The third book in the dramatic Cryptid Files series, this is a thrilling and beautiful story of one girls' adventures into the unknown that causes much pause for thought as it explores what we 'know' to be true and opens up a whole world of possibility. My advice; read them all!

(I'll start with a few that I've relocated to this page from others.)

Author: Maria Burke
Currach Press 30 November 2012 248pp
ISBN: 9781856077941
Kerry Macken is given a brilliant opportunity to design new clothes for Lady Lumina, President of the Land of Fire. Of course, she will have to travel to Lumina, taking her younger brother Simon with her. It seems this is just in time, as their quiet life in Kilbeggin has been shattered. Marauding Giant Eagles have descended intent on an evil mission and Kerry and Simon find themselves right in the middle of the action. But there is no running away from the Eagles. On board the Ark of Dun Ruah, their beloved blue owl, Pod disappears and is held captive for his extraordinary blue feathers. And a strange, elusive man in a grey cloak seems to be both pursuing and being pursued by the Eagles. Thrown into a mystical adventure they could have never imagined against powers beyond their control, what chance do Kerry and Simon have?
The Ark of Dun Ruah weaves fantasy with natural history to create something truly wonderful. This is a unique story told with excitement and lyricism. While it is difficult to locate it in terms of time or era, this actually adds a new dimension to the tale, preventing it from being fixed and static. The textural quality gives vivid imagery of place and action that allows the reader to enter into the myth which is both old and extremely original at the same time. Burke has created relationships between Kerry and Simon and the other characters that are wholly believable and understandable. In short, the story works on all levels. Exciting, enjoyable, thoughtful and full of wonder, The Ark of Dun Ruah is a marvellous first novel, and I anxiously await the follow-up.

Author: Charlotte Curley
ISBN: 9780957467408
After Charlie French is left an orphan by a devastating fire, he has to travel alone from New York to the countryside of Connemara, where he will live with his Uncle Ted. Everything is different… strange and overwhelming. Uncle Ted is a genius, but extremely eccentric inventor who knows nothing about raising a child. So he creates an incredible new invention to help him, and to convince the authorities that Charlie belongs with him. The new school is filled with children who have known each other all their lives and Charlie sticks out like a sore thumb. Charlie has to contend with bullies, and he misses his home and family terribly. His father has left him a mysterious package. Charlie longs to open it, but is reluctant to do this alone. What on earth could it be? On top of everything, strange things are happening all around Charlie. Strange characters are surrounding him. Charlie doesn’t know it yet, but he has inherited the power of the Druids, with all the mystery and magic that comes with it. Some of those surrounding Charlie are there to protect him; while others…. Others want to claim that power for their own, forever trapping Charlie with their sinister magic, or, if needs be, destroying him.
This is a wonderful debut novel from Charlotte Curley. Filled with mystery and wonder, it takes the reader on a journey that combines contemporary issues with ancient knowledge… the day-to-day with the extraordinary and the magical. The characters and their relationships are simply, but specifically drawn. The central core  The journey the story takes you on is a wondrous one. You meet the mundane with the magical and discover new possibilities in the age old ‘battle of good and evil’ back story; discover that it’s all down to individual choices and principles. The magical journey reflects clearly the personal journey Charlie (and the other characters) are undertaking. There are subtle inclusions of many important issues that children have to cope with; bullying, eating disorders, loss, money issues, and family feuds. These, however, never overwhelm or control the basic story. Magic and the mystical are everywhere. Steer your own course.  Be who you truly are, regardless of what others may think or do. And never forget to be kind.
A thoroughly enjoyable and exciting debut effort that any child will love. And it all happens right here in Galway! Fantastic!

ARTHUR QUINN AND THE FENRIS WOLF (The Father of Lies Chronicles)
Author: Alan Early
Mercier Press, Ltd.  17 September 2012  384pp
ISBN: 97818563359986
It’s been 3 months since Arthur Quinn and his friends, Ash, Max and an army of dead Vikings, handed an amazing defeat to the trickster god, Loki, and saved the world from the threat of certain annihilation. Everything is back to normal and all but a very few even remember.  But Loki has not been resting idle. After the destruction of the Jormungand at Arthur’s hands, he now seeks the Fenris Wolf.  Amassing an army of vicious wolves to do his bidding, he will take back the world this time and have his revenge. So while Arthur, finally settled into his new life in Dublin, is enjoying time away in the countryside with Ash and her family. But it’s all about to begin again….. Arthur’s visions return as his pendant glows stronger than before.  Max’s nightmares of the past begin again. There are strange stirrings among the Viking army and a growing unease surrounds our hero. Exactly who are these two new classmates in Arthur and Ash’s school? Why is Arthur so suspicious of Ash’s new puppy? What is Loki after at the National Museum? Once again, it’s all down to Arthur and his friends to save the world from the Father of Lies….but this time, Loki has help.
The second instalment of ‘The Father of Lies’ Chronicles is quite simply thrilling. This is one of those rare fantasy novels that places the reader in the centre of the tale and carries them through flawlessly with expert timing and plot development. All the while, the reader has feet planted firmly in contemporary life and times. Early’s exceptional knowledge of Viking mythology creates such atmosphere; and this blended with the ordinary lives of young friends develops a full and satisfying journey through this book, as it did with the previous ‘Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent.’  With a striking descriptiveness throughout the text, all the action is thoroughly believable and easily envisioned. With consistent characterisation, each of the friends holds a different piece of the growing picture, as their characters grow into unique and important individuals within the story. As conflicts arise
author: Juliette Saumande / illustrator : Sadie Cramer
ISBN : 9781908195210
Little Island July 2012
Madgie M. Capcock, aka Mad Cap, and her trusty sidekick-genius, Norbert Soup are hot on the trail to solve the first (and possibly biggest) mystery of their newly formed detective/superhero agency. Having followed 'The Plan' and proved that, as long as they stick to the plan, their skills in detective work are fool-proof, Mad Cap and Norbert are out to discover the links between a missing butcher, an evil cat and crazy, nasty old Mrs. Mudrick across the street. But, as luck would have it, other mysteries fling themselves in the way. Why is Madgies' mother behaving so strangely? Why is Norbert wearing a giant, yellow bunny suit? And exactly who is Madgies' brothers' girlfriend??? All will be revealed in this first installment of the Mad Cap series. Mad Cap forever and beyond!!!!
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read for young, confident readers. Mad Cap is personable, funny and the kind of girl you'd want to have around. The setting and events provide great excitement. It can be difficult to find a book with a central girl character that is strong, likable and true to life. But here she is! The flow of the story and the relationship between the characters make it highly suitable for boys and girls alike. And the presentation of the book adds to this notion, as the illustrations and cover do not rely on a feminine 'pink-girly' image, even though the central character is a girl. A great, new read... but be prepared for your own little super-heroes to be inspired into action. Utterly recommended!!

author: Kevin McDermott

With most of the world either burning or under water, the environmental cataclysm has destroyed all but a few areas in the Earth's temperate zone. One small island (Ireland)  is overwhelmed with climate refugees. Life in the Badlands is violent and constantly under threat, with everything controlled terrorists and gangs. But Valentina lives in the Citadel, the privileged daughter of the president. She is spoilt, arrogant, pampered and has no concern for anything or anyone outside her small circle. Valentinas' life is about to change, drastically. She makes a secret trip into the Badlands with her friends, and her eyes are opened to the reality of life and the responsibilities she must bear

author:Ian Somers
ISBN: 9781847173072
Ross Bentley discovered he has a unique gift.He possesses psychokinetic abilities.. he can move things with his mind. But this is a gift he has kept to himself, hiding it from even those closest to him.So far, he uses his gift to perform incredible skateboard stunts, hiding behind a mask, which he uploads on YouTube as 'Gotcha365'. While he is a sensation, of course everyone is certain the stunts are all faked. Frustrated and bored with life in Dullsbrook, Ross longs to do something to pull himself out of his miserable life. Everything changes when he hears of a contest, The Million Dollar Gift. When Ross enters and wins, he has no idea about the world he's entered into.... a world of greed, corruption, manipulation and murder. A world that he may not make it out of alive....
Fast-paced, riveting and insightful, Somers exposes more than a fictional corporation; he makes a commentary on the greed and corruption that is manipulated in human nature. But he also exposes what it takes to overcome these impulses and use them to shield life from the worst elements of life. But things are never simple and clear, are they? Highly recommended gripping read from O'Brien Press.

author: Marita Conlon-McKenna
Simon & Schuster Children's Books 30 Aust 2012
ISBN: 9780857078339
Lucie is just turning 11 years old. But while this is a big enough adjustment to her life, she and her family; her Dad, big sister Chloe and brother Hugo; have just suffered the devastating loss of their beloved and beautiful mother. Begun on the day of her mothers' funeral, the story is told in the form of letters written by Lucie to her mother and chronicling the year following her mothers' death. Lucie's first kiss, her sister is a nightmare, Dad is clearing out the wardrobe... all of the practicalities faced when a loved one dies; how will Lucie cope without her mothers' love and guidance? Love, Lucie is a beautifully written book from one of Irelands' best childrens' authors. Heart-breaking, funny, joyous and frustrating; Lucie's voice is packed with emotion and has a true quality of an 11 year old girl. The family struggles are typical, real and palpable.And, ultimately, there is a sense of hope within the emotional turmoil. Love, Lucie is not a book for everybody; but it is a book that everyone will want to read at some point. It is beautiful and genuinely handled. Warning: you will cry... a lot.

author: Morgan LLywelyn

ISBN 9781847172075

Tom feels totally rejected by his family and completely overlooked in his life as the only son of the master of Roaringwater House. In the seventeenth century, life is hard and his father has had horrific losses in business and status, putting the entire family in jeopardy of losing everything. But his father keeps digging them deeper and deeper in debt. On a walk along Roaringwater Bay, Tom discovers a second, secret family of smugglers, who treat hm like a man, a valuable part of their community. Not only does Tom gain acceptance, but he finds a way of hurting his father. But it isn't too long before his mother and sister uncover his smuggling activities, and Tom discovers that his family has been hiding many, many secrets of their own...
It's been quite a while since Morgan Llywelyn has published one of her marvellous historical fictions for young people, and this one is a cracker! Full of all the atmosphere of the seventeenth century, this seldom written about period of history offers much excitement, drama and human interest. The weavings

author: Nicola Pierce

When Samuel Joseph Scott plunges to his death while working on construction of his beloved Titanic, he doesn't leave her behind. Sam becomes a spirit on board, realising his dream of sailing away with the Titanic on her first... and, of course final voyage. Sam roams freely throughout the ship, from the luxurious first class all the way down to the engine room. He takes particular interest in one third-class family, Jim, Isobel and their children, as they sail away to their new and better life in America. But when disaster threatens the lives of all on board, can Sam find a way to lead the family to safety? And what will become of Sam as the Titanic sinks to the ocean's bed?
You will forget, as you read, the inevitable outcome. Instead, you will be utterly wrapped up in the storyline and feel the same emotions as the characters populating this wonderful book.

ANGEL KISS  author: Laura Jane Cassidy
When Jacki King and her mother move from Dublin to a small village, Jacki finds she has a lot to adjust to. New friends, acquainting herself with the locals, living in a caravan while waiting for their house to be renovated... and on top of all these quite usual circumstances, Jacki discovers she has a unique ability. The horrific headaches and terrifying nightmares she's been having lead her into the unravelling of a 25 year old murder. Jacki refuses to believe that anything paranormal is happening, but with the help a local healer and her new friends, she accepts her new ability and comes to an understanding of her commitment to the long dead victim. The voice of true teenage angst is strong and true in this first novel from Cassidy

author:Jean Flitcroft

Vanessa takes off with her closest friend, Nikki on a summer holiday to a ranch in Mexico. Upon her arrival, she is flung headlong into the mystery of the Chupacabra, a cryptid creature in Central and South America that roams the night, draining the blood from other animals, with the eyes of the devil. With Vanessa at the heart of the mysterious events on the ranch, surrounded by suspicion and superstition, this isn't quite the summer holiday she had planned.
 A cryptid is an animal for which there appears to be some substantial evidence (sightings and traces of it's activities), but which is not accepted by modern science. In this second book of the Cryptid Files series, Flitcroft gives us suspense, drama, a bit of teenage romance blossoming, and a memorable character pursuing the passion of her deceased mother in order to find some closeness and, maybe, some closure.  The introduction of another cryptid makes for truly interesting format and information.Well written and fascinating, this is a great read that makes you wonder about the blurred line between daily reality and fantasy. Published by those wonderful and creative folk at Little Island (my favourite children's books publishers!)

author: Gerry Boland
'It's not every day that a grizzly bear turns up on your doorstep, asking for a cup of tea.' But this is exactly what happens one night at Patrick's house. The grizzly has escaped from the local zoo and is looking for somewhere to live. But the entire town is on the look out and a grizzly bear can be rather hard to hide. After a host of close calls, Patrick and Marco find the perfect place.
This is a charming little book, well written, very exciting and extremely funny! The characters are well defined and the contemporary black and white illustrations really add to the atmosphere and the tone of the story. Thoroughly enjoyable for younger readers (and for me as well), I can recommend this book about friendship, family and finding a place where you are welcome without any reservations whatsoever. A great little book that says a lot in a few pages!
 (Be sure to also have a good read of the other 'Marco' stories; Marco: Master of Disguise and Marco: Moonwalker ... each just as good as the first!)


  1. Thanks a mill for the mention Mary Esther :)

  2. Hi there - thanks very much for such a positive review of my first published novel, Good Red Herring! Your site is a great resource for children's literature, too.

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