children's books

do1thing Read a Book

The Unfirgotten CoatThe do1thing campaign encourages us to read a book about the refugee experience. One of the best children's (or adult's) books on the subject is 'The Unforgotten Coat' by Frank Cottrell Boyce. I wrote a story here on the blog on a previous occasion highlighting the UNHCR do1thing campaign, which again this year is taking place in libraries across the country, starting June 18th. 

'The Unforgotten Coat' is available in every branch library in Dublin City - check the link for availability - or call in to your local library - it's a brilliant read! As promised in my previous story, Frank Cottrell Boyce did indeed visit Dublin last October as part of the Children's Book Festival 2011.

'A Monster Calls' - double award winning book that everyone should read.

It's being billed as 'an historic moment in children's literature', as Patrick Ness wins the CILIP Carnegie Medal for his novel 'A Monster Calls' (Walker Books). Patrick also won last year for 'Monsters of Men' the third book in his 'Chaos Walking' trilogy (a feat only achieved once before by Peter Dickinson in 1979/80). Uniquely, 'A Monster Calls' has also been awarded the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration - the prize going to Jim Kay for his haunting illustrations that perfectly match the mood and subject of the novel.

Book Cover and Author Photograph L.- R. Patrick Ness & Jim Kay  book cover and illustrator photograph

As a huge fan of this book myself, I set my Book Club to reading it some months ago. They are an open-minded group and accepted my recommendation of this 'children's book' with good grace. Any expectations they had harboured of an 'easy read' were soon abandoned as they became engrossed in this challenging and emotionally mature exploration of grief, bereavement, fear and the consolations of family relationships that are 'good enough'. The overall verdict from our Book Club? - 'Everyone should read this book.' Seems like the CILIP judging panel agreed.

Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Where the Wild Things areMy daughter texted me yesterday...'Maurice Sendak died!'. If she had been at home we would probably have re-read Sendak's classic 'Where the Wild Things Are' and acted out a 'Wild Rumpus' for old times sake. She might even have donned a variation of a wolf suit (as a child she dressed for half a year as Robin Hood and another half a year as Batman, so she has form). Instead, we made do with watching YouTube clips and following #wildrumpus on Twitter.

Britannica Titanica!

Story of the TitanicFor our younger library visitors, coming soon to our shelves is 'Story of the Titanic' (illustrations by Steve Noon, published by Dorling Kindersley, 2012). This is the tragic story of the Titanic, with double-page illustrations, cross-sections and cutaway details explaining the construction and mechanical details of the ship and revealing life on board for passengers and crew.

You can also locate other books in our libraries on the Titanic.

Encyclopaedia Britannica this month brings the topic of the Titanic to life with its latest spotlight. To mark the 100th anniversary, primary school children can explore both the triumph and the tragedy of this great vessel.

Storytelling to toddlers

Toot, TootProviding a story time session to toddlers can be a challenge. I have hosted a weekly storytelling session for many years and I am still learning and looking for suggestions on what makes a successful and fun event. Currently, my plan for the 20 minute storytelling session consists of 4 rhymes, followed by 4 stories and ending with a song. The song usually is the Wheels on the Bus, I know this is old hat but children love it and do participate in the singing and actions.

Last week I had a “hen” theme. I found a sung version of Chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck, good morning Mrs. Hen on a CD and this got everyone in a happy clucky mood, followed by Hickety, Pickety, my black hen; then One, two, buckle my shoe (it does end with a big fat hen!); and I’m a little birdie (adapted from I’m a Little Teapot). The stories told were 'Handa’s Hen' (Walker Big Book size ensures everyone can see the pictures); 'Rosie’s Walk'; 'The Little Red Hen'; 'Old Mac Donald' and to end there was a hen on the bus in the Wheels on the Bus song! Old favourites such as Incy Wincy Spider; If you’re Happy and you know it always get a good reaction. Rhymes such as 5 Little Monkeys jumping on the bed or 5 Little Monkeys swinging on a tree are really popular.

The Reading Room - what would you put in?

Have you ever speculated which books you would bring with you to a desert island? (I've always thought that should be 'deserted' not 'desert' but perhaps it's an obscure grammar point I don't get?) As part of the Re Think + Re Act Exhibition, Pivot Dublin have set up a Reading Room in Filmbase in Temple Bar, Dublin. They invited readers in Dublin to submit their favourite book to be displayed in the Reading Room during the exhibition. 

My choice? 

Picks of 2011, Children's and Teen

There are no cats in the bookPart 3 of my three part comments on my own reading during 2011.  Non-Fiction was the first in the series with Adult Fiction second. This is my Children's and Young Adult or Teen reads.  Some great fantasy is being published in the Teen section and I do enjoy the reads.

I read a lot of books over the last year, approximately 290 of which I noted from the library.

Of all the books I read from the library some stood out, I couldn't pick a small number but I'm going to put them into themes and pick the best of that theme.  Sometimes it's hard to pick just one, the first listed is my favourite, the rest are in no particular order.  This isn't a definitive list, it's a list of books that are readable alone or are the start of a series, that I read during 2011, that stood out above the others and that I would recommend to others.

Harry Potter, Dublin style!

Children Save DublinDublin City Public Libraries and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature today, Tuesday 17th January, launched 'Children Save Dublin', the city’s first ever children’s citywide reading project.

Similar to the highly successful Dublin: One City One Book festival, but aimed at children from 4th and 5th classes, children across Dublin will be encouraged to read, talk about and have fun with the same book over January, February and March 2012.

Ireland nominates Conor Kostick for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize

Conor Kostick photo by Mark GrenierAuthor Conor Kostick has just been nominated by Ireland for the prestigious international award The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. 'It's very flattering', Conor told me when I met up with him on one of his visits to Cabra Library to meet young readers. 'I'm really proud of the honour and very proud of the association with Astrid Lindgren herself. In Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren created one of the most delightfully irreverent and independent characters in children's literature; this creation was connected to the fact that Astrid Lindgren herself was a radical humanist and opponent of violence. There is a humanist philosophy at work in my books and maybe they (the nominating bodies) picked up on that. I'm extremely proud to be associated with her legacy.'

Curious Ear and curious ear...

book cover taking sidesNo, this post hasn't anything to do with Alice in Wonderland - I just couldn't resist the lame pun (I'm a tabloid sub-editor in an alternative life). The 'curious ear' I refer to is the RTE radio programme The Curious Ear, part of RTE radio's Documentary on One. The Curious Ear team were at the Central Library on Monday 10th October to record a visit by Irish children's author Brian Gallagher and his young readers and listeners. Brian has just published his second historical novel for young readers, 'Taking Sides' set in Dublin during the Civil War. The book is an exciting read, following the fortunes of a group of young friends, as they get caught up in a Civil War that tears families and a country apart.

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