May is Busy Month for Childrens Book People

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October is the month for Children's Book Festival, and Christmas is the time most children's books are bought, but May is shaping up to be the busiest month in the calendar for people interested in books for children and young people - at least in Ireland - it's been a whirl of award ceremonies, book launches and 'talking heads' events and I've been lucky enough to attend many of them. I'm even getting used to seeing lollipops served alongside the wine - though I haven't tried that mixture yet!

It started with the announcement of the Bisto Children's Book of the Year Awards in the National Library on 16th - which I've already blogged about - congratulations again to Chris Haughton for winning the overall award with 'A Bit Lost' and to Sheena Wilkinson for receiving the Children's Choice award for her novel 'Taking Flight'. Sheena also gets the prettiest coat award for her lovely floral affair - sorry I don't have a picture!

Then there was the launch of Puffin Ireland - part of the Penguin Group. Puffin's editor Paddy O'Doherty through a great launch party in Eason's of O'Connell Street on Wednesday 25th last (that's were I first saw people wandering around sipping glasses of white wine while intermittently sucking on pink lollipops). Three new titles were launched with brilliant introductions by Robert Dunbar - who I've heard described as 'the face that launched a thousand books' (again, a photo would say much more than I ever could - but we'll have to make do) The new titles are; 'My Dad is Ten Years Old (and it's pure weird!)' by Mark O'Sullivan, 'Angel Kiss' by Laura Jane Cassidy and 'Friends Forever: the Time Spell' by Judi Curtin. Loads of good reads to keep you going there - all aimed at 10 - 14 year olds - though many adults would enjoy Mark O'Sullivan's book too.

And finally - phew! - I was in Dublin's very fine cultural centre for children, The Ark, on Thursday May 26th, as part of the Dublin Writer's Festival, to hear Dr. Páraic Whyte, bookseller Kim Harte, first time author Anna Carey and Children's Laureate Siobháin Parkinson discuss What Makes a Great Children's Book? A wide ranging and fascinating discussion, with some great contributions from the audience (squeezed into the tiny Ark seats) - all perfectly conducted by Niall McMonagle. In the end, it seemed to come down to Humour and Truth - with a dash of Fantasy and some good dialogue. High on everyone's list were the books of Siobhan Dowd and chosen by three of the panel, 'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness, from an idea by Siobhan Dowd. I've persuaded my book club to try it - I'll let you know how it goes...

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