Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for the Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize was announced today. The four authors listed have demonstrated incredible excellence in the field of childrens' literature.

Tanya Landman has a brilliant backlist of work and is no stranger to such nominations and awards,
having taken the 2015 Carnegie Medal for Buffalo Soldier. She is nominated for the Guardian for her latest book, Hell and High Water, set in 18th-century
England. It is one of two historical novels up for the prize; the other being Brian Selznicks' wonderful book, The Marvels. The Marvels interweaves a story told in illustration that begins in 1766 with a lone survivor of a shipwreck with a text story in 1990 about a boy who runs away from school to the house of his uncle.

Also shortlisted are two contemporary novels. Crongton Knights by Alex  Wheatle is set on a fictitious council estate and follows the adventures of McKay during the course of one night. And finally, Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon tells the poignant, eye-opening story of Subhi, a young boy who has spent his entire life in a refugee detention centre.
All are very powerful contenders for one of the most important awards in childrens' literature today.

The winner will be announced on 17 November.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It's Baboró Time!

In just a few days, the 2016 Baboró International Arts Festival for Children will kick off. From October 17 through the 23rd, venues all over Galway will host will play host to a wide array of events for anyone and everyone from 0-100 years, with theatre, puppetry, dance, film, animation, talks and workshops. Each year, Baboró brings a variety of artists from every field and all over the world. In addition to family events, Baboró hosts dedicated school events...so everyone has a chance to attend something. And this year, they've even added "Something for the Grown-Ups" events.
A few of the incredible acts at this years' festival include: Cruthanna/The Shape of Things, a bililngual event for ages 0-4 yrs.; The Secret Life of Suitcases, puppetry filled with wit and humour for ages 4+; Dream City/Droomstad with De Dansers from Holland; A Feast of Bones for ages 9+; Cartoon Saloon bringing us both Song of the Sea and The Long Way North; Becoming: the Adventures of Growing Up,a beautiful exhibition of poignant and wondrous art; Patricia Forde and her must-read novel, The Wordsmith; for the Grown-Ups, PJ Lynch, our own childrens' laureate in conversation with Tarsila Kruse and Shona Shirley Macdonald....and so very much more.
So, keep an eye out as you're wandering around Galway. You'll be sure to find the Baboró brochure filled with events.And...it's hard to tell who you'll meet!
For more information, and to book your tickets NOW, here's the link to the Baboró website:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

BA (Children's Studies) at NUI Galway

On Friday, 30th of September, I was invited to the official launch of an exciting new programme of study at NUI Galway. The new BA Children's Studies is a ground-breaking field of study. This 4 year programme is the only interdisciplnary programme of it's kind in Europe, encompassing every imaginable field of study to do with practical and theoretical approaches to childhood and adolescence. Whether the individuals' emphasis is on arts, literature, teaching, social services, legal and human rights, the programme is covering it. Community-based service-learning and enquiry-based learning are embedded within the degree and the third year placement combines with practical experience to prepare its' students with a wide range of specific career goals. I could go on, but suffice to say, I think this is one of the most exciting approaches to the field of childhood and youth study I have seen, and long over due.
The programme was launched by Minister for Children and Youths Affairs, Katherine Zappone.
Here's the link to find out more:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

CBI Conference - We Really Are Better Together

Having attended the CBI conference a couple of weeks ago, I can say with conviction, we truly are better together. This conference mages to bring the best of the best in childrens books together for one weekend. We all left feeling excited and inspired and with much to think about. Here are a few photos....
Incredible session with JonArno Lawson...
...and Sydney Smith

Manuela Salvi was incrdible
PJ Lynch, our childrens' laureate, in conversation with Ryan Tubridy...all about PJ's incredible work, the laureate's Big Picture and (drum roll, please) their new book, Patrick and the President. You have to be careful around PJ...you could end up in a book.

These kids were absolutely brilliant! catch them if you can!

We heard from many voices, both old friends and new!

And in the end...there was Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston talking about the wonderful "A Child of Books!

In the end...it was a very good weekend....

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

CBI Conference 2016 - Better Together?

There is a lot to get excited about in the childrens' books world at this time of year. The amount of new books coming out is overwhelming (almost) and the up-run to a season which I will not mention places depends on a booksellers time, energy and frankly, space. But nothing brings more excitement than the annual Childrens Books Ireland conference. Every year, CBI brings us the best and the brightest in childrens' books, authors, illustrators and publishers from across the globe in one weekend that is simply fabulous. It is an event that is designed to give us that extra boost of enthusiasm. How CBI manages to bring us a conference that gets better every year is a mystery.
This year, the theme of the conference is Better Together? and is focusing on teamwork and collaboration in childrens' publication. While writing is often seen as a solitary profession (more of a calling, really), it takes an enormous amount of collaboration to get that book to press. So...are we better together? While the process may certainly have its' pitfalls and dramas, the end results shout out a definitive yes.
This year, we will be hearing from PJ Lynch, our new laureate in conversation with Ryan Tubridy, an abundance of Katherines (Katherine Rundell, Katherine Woodfine and Katherena Vermette) in conversation with Cat Doyle, Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith....well, the programme is below so you can have a look yourself. AMAZING!
I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

R.I.P Anna Dewdney

Childrens' author, illustrator and educator Anna Dewdney has passed away at the age of 50, following a 15 month battle with brain cancer. She died at her home on Saturday, 3rd September.
After working as a waitress, day care provider, mail carrier and teaching history and art in a boys boarding school, Dewdney realised her dream of becoming a full-time author. She illustrator quite a number of 'chapter' books in the 1990s, beginning with The Peppermint Race by Dian Curtis Regan in 1994. Finally, in 2005, Viking published the first book she both wrote and illustrated; Llama, Llama Red Pajama. The tale of a young llama and his struggles to get to sleep won the hearts of children, parents, teachers and librarians everywhere. The story continued in a series spanning 10 books and Netflix is producing a Llama Llama series to be released in 2017.
In 2013, Dewdney wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, in which she asserted that "empathy is as important as literacy" when considering the education of children. In the piece, she went on to say;
“When we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language....We are doing something that I believe is just as powerful, and it is something that we are losing as a culture: by reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human. When we open a book, and share our voice and imagination with a child, that child learns to see the world through someone else’s eyes.”
Anna Dewdneys' vision and compassion were a real gift to the world. In her passing, we have lost something rare and beautiful. But these gifts live on in her work.
Instead of a funeral, her final request is that we read to a child.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Are You A Child Of Books?

I am so ridiculously excited about this new book!
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston; Walker Books 9781406358315
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston is out now and it is wonderful. An homage to childrens' books and reading, fostering a love of books in all of us, this book is simply beautiful and is a MUST for every home, school and library everywhere. First, we see a simple story of a young girl and her love of stories and the journey on which each one will take her. Her love of sharing this experience is pivotal to the tale. But every page gives us something so much more. The illustration is carried out through the clever and meticulous use of collage and typesetting, giving us a book to be entered and pondered for hours as we begin to read the illustrations. Passages from forty childhood classics, Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Rabbit, The Secret Garden, even nursery rhymes to name but a few, create a typographical landscape that engaging characters travel through to give us a full and wondrous notion of books and reading. It is an absolute inspiration for children and their grown-ups. We begin to think about our own stories, the ones we have read and the ones that have helped us indulge in our own path. Hours upon hours can be spent with A Child of Books...and never forgotten.

When I think of my own story and the books that made me a child of books, that first gave me that fascination and push to read more and more and to think about what I was reading, I have a few real standouts. I Am A Bunny by Olé Risom (illustrated by a young Richard Scarry) was the first book I ever bought for myself. I was 4. I was completely enchanted by the journey through the seasons and the joy Nicholas felt at each day. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite L'Engle was my first 'chapter book'. (I have to say here...it may help you understand the impact of story-telling a bit...I was not then, nor am I now a 'horse' person.) it was the characters, their adventure, their determination. I think I read it 12 times or so. And The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett.... still entrances me. Thanks to these (and others, of course) and now to this new, beautiful offering; I am A Child of Books.

 But tell me, please, what books made you A Child of Books?