Friday, December 1, 2017

Tis the Season...

Welcome December...welcome lights and trees, hot chocolate and pretty paper and bows. And as I sit here waiting to begin the Late Late Toy Show Bookelves Bonanza (see previous post...we start at 9:30pm....not long now), I also say WELCOME to Mary's Advent Calendar of Books 2017.
Each year, starting December 1st, I open a new page on this blog and begin my Christmas countdown (or is that countup?) Every new day, you will see a new book that I recommend for seasonal reading....some old, some brand new, all favourites of mine. This is something I really love doing every year. Nothing better than digging out the books and talking about them. Some of the books will be specifically Christmas themed, but some are simply 'winter' books. I try to cover all age ranges from 0 to 18. Read them by yourself or share them with friends and family over the season. Oh, and all you grown-ups out there who believe you're too old for childrens' books....don't believe that one second longer.
I also want to mention a tradition I have (and have had for quite some time). Each year, I always buy myself one special book for Christmas...usually (but not always) a beautiful, seasonal hardback picture book to keep and read over and over every holiday season. As you might imagine, the collection is getting rather extensive. Every year, the collection comes out at the beginning of December and goes 'to bed' at New Years. Something you might want to do....or maybe you have been doing this all along. It does make for a special bookish treat for Christmas.
So...look over to Mary's Advent Calendar of Books 2017 page and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2017

As I am here online while the information is coming in, that me offer my huge congratulations to the (kids) winners of the BGEIrish Book Awards 2017...seriously, just announced NOW, straight from the Clayton Hotel in Dublin.
I am so incredibly pleased to announce that the BGEIrish Book Award/Dept51@Eason Teen/Young Adult Book of the Year has gone to Tangleweed and Brine, written by Deirdre Sullivan, illustrated by Karen Vaughan.

And fantastically warm congratulations go to Judi Curtin on winning the National Book Tokens Childrens Book of the Year (Senior Category) with her wonderful new middle grade novel, Stand By Me.

And.....
Congratulations to the extraordinary Sarah Webb and illustrator Steve McCarthy for winning the National Book Tokens Childrens Book of the Year (Junior Category) with A Sailor Went To Sea, Sea, Sea: Favourite Rhymes From An Irish Childhood.
Journey on over to the website to find out about all the other category winners...and congrats to all!
https://www.irishbookawards.irish/

The Bookelves Are Back!

For the last few years, I have been absolutely delighted to be part of the Bookelves; a collective of
childrens booksellers who gather this time of year on Facebook and Twitter to recommend the very best childrens books for kids of all ages. There is a vast amount of expertise available to you when you are looking for help in finding exactly the right book.We all know you have questions, so we are all available to answer and to make personal recommendations. And the Bookelves are back!
The Snowbeast by Chris Judge
We will be kicking this Friday, 1st December from 9:30pm-11:30pm (yes, Ireland...during the Late Late Toy Show). This is our seasonal Late Late Toy Show Bookelves Bonanza! We will be online recommending and chatting away about books. And YOU, wherever you are in the world, are invited to jump in. (Just remember to check the time difference where you are so you don't miss us LIVE!)
If you are on Facebook, head over to our page Bookelves17 (https://www.facebook.com/bookelves17/), and/or look for #bookelves17 to see what's going on. On Twitter, just watch out for #bookelves17. We have so much to tell you about.
Of course, you can check us out at the above Twitter and Facebook locations any time...but the Bookelves Bonanza is so much fun and very exciting.
See you there! (virtually, of course)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Happy Jolabokaflod!

If you've been following this blog for a number of years, you will already be well aware of how excited I get over Jolabokaflod. This year, it has become ever more apparent that the publishing industry worldwide is embracing this marvelous Icelandic tradition. Worldwide, people are talking about Jolabokaflod.
You see, every year in mid-November during the Reykjavik Book Fair, every household in Iceland receives the 'Book Bulletin'. The catalogue is used to plan and to order books for friends and family as Christmas gifts. During the festive season, gifts (the books, of course!) are opened on December 24th. Everyone then snuggles down (for a long winters nap?) and reads the books they have been given, while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate, or perhaps the (alcohol-free, as it turns out) ale called 'jólabland'. What a completely wonderful, warming idea! Peace, quiet and the joy of books....can't think of anything better.
How did this book-loving celebration begin? Well, during World War 2, once Iceland had gained its' independence from Denmark, paper was one of the few items NOT rationed and in plentiful supply. Already a culture deep in love with its' literary traditions, books became THE gift to give your friends and loved ones, as other things were in short supply. In 1944, the 'Book Bulletin' had its' first foray into the public, and it has grown and flourished ever since. Then in 2015, Hlynur Gudjonsonn, Consul General and Trade Commissioner for the Consulate General for Iceland in New York, gave his full endorsement to the Jolabokaflod Book Campaign, and this brilliant, joyous Icelandic tradition launched itself into the world as a whole.
So, here we are in mid-November. What are your book gift plans for the holidays? It is a gift that will warm the hearts and fire the imagination of the important people in your life for years to come. Give a book...give two. (p.s.: Don't forget to ask your local bookseller if you need help deciding on the perfect Jolabokaflod choice. That's why we're here)
Happy Jolabokaflod!
Need to know more? Just follow the links!
https://jolabokaflod.org/about/founding-story/
https://jolabokaflod.org/book-bulletin/christmas-2017/


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2018 Longlist

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals longlist are out now! While both are very extensive, if you are looking for a 'what should I read' list, you couldn't do any better. It is so pleasing to see so many of my author/illustrator friends on this list, and the Irish contingent is well represented.
On the CILIP Carnegie, we have such wonderful reads as Emma Carroll's 'Letters From The Lighthouse', Peter Bunzl with 'Cogheart', Maz Evans' Who Let The Gods Out', 'Goldenhand' and 'Frogkisser' by Garth Nix, Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan with 'We Come Apart'....the list is extensive, as I said. I do have one niggling concern about the CILIP Carnegie List. It has seemed, in recent years, rather YA heavy and I wonder if they should  distinguish the YA from the MG into a separate award? (Causing chaos everywhere I go!)
For the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration, it was fabulous to see Levi Pinfold nominated twice for both 'The Sercret Horses of Briar Hill' by Meghan Shepherd and ' Song From Somewhere Else' by A F Harrold. Also on the list are Petr Horacek for 'A First Book of Animals' by Nicola Davies, Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston with the stunning 'A Child of Books' (seriously...why don't you have this book?), Luke Pearson for Hilda and the Stone Forest and Birgitta Sif with 'Squish and Squeak's Noisy Day'.... and many other amazing illustrators!
For the complete listing, follow the links below; and a HUGE congratulations to everyone on the lists. (I am so glad I'm not on this judging panel...couldn't choose.)
http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/press.php?release=pres_2018_Nominations_Greenaway.html
http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/press.php?release=pres_2018_Nominations_Carnegie.html

Monday, November 6, 2017

Claddagh Festival of Childrens Books

A quick announcement and more fantastic news for childrens books in Galway!
From November 15 through 18, Claddagh National School, supported by Creative Ireland and in partnership with local libraries and bookshops are bringing the first ever festival solely devoted to childrens' books to Galway. There will be visiting authors, illustrators and storytellers at Claddagh National School and at various venues around the city. While there are a number of events taking place for the students of Claddagh National School, there are equally a lot of events for the public, so get your diary out and start planning NOW! You will want to be involved!
First, watch out Galway City! There will be a Poetry Flash Mob of children coming to the streets!
The schedule of events is available on line, but I am delighted and proud to announce that at Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, on Friday the 17th at 4pm, Marguerite Tonery will be presenting  and answering questions about her books from the Kapheus series (Kapheus Earth, Kapheus Air, Kapheus Water...and maybe a glimpse into the upcoming 4th book in the series!) Drawing on Irish mythology and legend, these amazing books draw us into the fantastical world of light as otherworldly creatures and two special children children journey through a marvelous fantasy adventure. (suitable for ages 7+)
Then, on Saturday the 18th at 11am, our usual Storytime will be open to all in cooperation with the Book Festival. This one will focus on one of my favourite types of story...it will be books about books (and bookshops and libraries and book-loving characters!)
But that isn't all at Charlie Byrnes! At 2pm on Saturday, join us for the kids poetry slam!
"Can you slam it? Compose a short poem with the title: “My Home, in a Poem”. Then, all you have to do is come along to Charlie Byrne’s and read it out – with energy, rhythm and all your guts! Bravest kids on the day will win Charlie Byrne’s book vouchers.
A fine, fun finale for a fantastic festival!"
So kids, get those poems together and get ready to slam it! (Contact the Claddagh Festival for more information about entering. Oh, and all you teachers out there...get your students involved...everyone!)
We will be ending the first year of this incredible festival at 3:30pm on Saturday with a brief finale from its' founders. Everyone! Join us!
https://www.claddaghns.ie/bookfest/

Welcome November! It's Picture Book Month!

I can't believe it's November! This year is rolling by a rapid pace and here we are...in our winter months. But there is no need to despair the weather change and the darkening days. Much is happening in the world of childrens books (and we all know what season is galloping up on us.)
If you have been following this blog for some time, you know that November is Picture Book Month...a celebration of picture books and their importance in the lives of children everywhere. If you go to the Picture Book Month site, you will find a new entry every day by a picture book champion! Authors, storytellers, librarians and teachers (to name a few) offer their words of wisdom on "Why Picture Books Are Important." Each one brings a different slant on the vital art form of picture books and how they are viewed; why children should have constant access to picture books; and some activities to bring their magic into every childs' life.
So why do I think picture books are important? So very many reasons. Picture books offer the very first glimpse into the world of literature and literacy. Becoming competent (in fact, expert!) in visual literacy allows our brains to put together the pathways necessary to read the printed word and understand what we are reading. (You must be able to interpret the random symbols that letters and words actually are in order to read.) Also, they are an introduction to art; sometimes the only access to art that children will get. They learn about beauty, the construction of things, the world and people around them and those they will never meet or see. Emotional literacy shines through in picture books in ways that allow them to understand empathy and difference, and to determine concepts such as right and wrong on the most basic levels. Picture books can touch on concepts that are difficult to discuss and bring understanding. But, primarily, it is for the sheer joy a young child gets from a picture book...the story, the patterns, the light and shade all open up a sense of aesthetic understanding. And children remember that throughout their lives. Through these things, we learn to understand the world and life, and develop coping mechanisms that will see us through tough times.
Personally, I still feel great comfort, joy and catharsis through a good picture book. My all time, lifelong favourites are still with me....Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, I Am A Bunny...

Finally, I want to pass on some sad news. The founder of Picture Book Month; A Celebration, Dianne de Las Casas, passed away suddenly this past August. But the co-founders (Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Marcie Colleen, Joyce Wan, Katie Davis and Wendy Martin), while feeling the huge gap Dianne left behind in the realm of childrens literacy programmes, are determined to keep her legacy alive and well. Each day on the calendar is filled with exciting and wonderful insights this year. Please, check it out....and bring more picture books into your world, regardless of your age. Let's all celebrate!
http://picturebookmonth.com/