Brilliant Mid-term Reads from Book Festival Authors
Dark days, and even darker nights - autumn is the perfect time to curl up with a good book. You might already have a toppling pile of books beside the bed, or sitting on a bookshelf just waiting for you to pick them up and bring the story to life by opening that first page. But if you are finished everything interesting in your 'to read' pile and are looking for a good book to keep you company over this mid-term break, perhaps you will find inspiration in the work of some of the authors who have been visiting Dublin City Libraries during October for Children's Book Festival. Some, like Judi Curtin are very well-known and don't need any introduction from me, while others, like Michael Carroll, who writes science fiction / fantasy novels, are less well-known, but equally engaging writers.If you were lucky enough to be at Cabra Library or Drumcondra Library to meet popular author Judi Curtin, you will have heard all about how she started writing and how moving schools often as a child helped her become observant and made sure she always had good stories to tell. Judi's most recent book is 'Leave it to Eva' the third book in the 'Eva' series. There are seven books in Judi's earlier 'Alice and Megan' series, as well as a cookbook, so no need to run out of your favourite reads.Younger children will enjoy the 'Alfie Green' series by Joe O'Brien, who visited Rathmines and Kevin Street Libraries, and older fans of Joe's work might try 'Beyond the Cherry Tree' a novel of fantasy, adventure and magic. Another author who visited libraries in during October is Debbie Thomas, whose book 'Dead Hairy' is quite hilarious. Children who met Debbie in Donaghmede, Coolock and Ballyfermot Libraries were also let in on the secrets of Debbie's new book 'Jungle Tangle' which isn't even in shops or libraries yet - but keep an eye out!During week two of the festival we had a visit from Che Golden, who travelled from England to meet children in the Central Library, Rathmines Library and Terenure Library. There were plenty of questions for Che and we learned how her writing was inspired by her childhood visits to Blarney in Co. Cork to visit her grandparents - and we also learned exactly how little an author gets paid for each book sold (a lot less than you would think). Che's book, The Feral Child, is the first of a trilogy - and the first part is so exciting I can't wait for parts two and three.Week three of the festival was the busiest week, starting with visits from environmentalists Éanna Ní Lamhna and Don Conroy. Many of Don's books, such as 'The Anaconda from Drumcondra' and the 'Draw with Don' series are still available in libraries, and Éanna's book, 'Wild Dublin' has something to offer all ages - along with great photographs. You can also download a free copy of Éanna's brilliant resource for primary school teachers 'Wild Things at School' published by the Heritage Council.Eithne Massey writes for many age groups so she has something for everyone - for younger readers there's 'The Dreaming Tree' and 'Best Loved Irish Legends' while for older readers Eithne's fantasy novels (with an historical theme) include 'The Silver Stag of Bunratty' and, her latest, 'Where the Stones Sing'. You can also view a list of Eithne's own favourite children's fantasy books. During the same week, the fabulous Cressida Cowell entertained over 400 children from schools all over Dublin - with her tales of Vikings and Dragons. 'How to Seize a Dragon's Jewel' is the tenth in the hugely popular 'How to Train Your Dragon' series - if you haven't tried them, now's your chance! Perfect for boys and girls aged 8+.In week four we had visits from Nicola Pierce and Jean Flitcroft. Jean has written two books in her 'Cryptid Files' series; 'Loch Ness', which is set in Scotland and features the hunt for the famous Loch Ness Monster and 'Mexican Devil' which introduces us to El Chupacabra - a mythical monster from Mexico. Nicola Pierce writes historical fiction with a slight fantasy element in 'Spirit of the Titanic' a book that views the unfolding of the Titanic tragedy through the eyes of the ghost or spirit of Samuel Scott, an apprentice who was killed while helping to build the Titanic in Belfast docks.The last official Children's Book Festival visit will be from science fiction / fantasy author Michael Carroll to Ballymun Library on Hallowe'en, Wednesday 31st October - the very last day of the Festival. Michael has written many novels and short stories for children, teenagers and adults as well as stories for comics like Judge Dredd and Futurequake. During these visits he will be talking mostly about the 'New Heroes' series; 'The Quantum Prophecy', 'Sakkara' and 'Absolute Power', all available from your local library. The full list and their American as well as English titles is available here. If you are between 10 and 14 and enjoy fantasy and science fiction books, come along to Ballymun Library on Wednesday 31st at 3pm for a great opportunity to listen to and chat with a real writer about how he writes, what inspires him, and also what inspires you and tips for writing your own stories.So, loads of great ideas for new books to explore. Still not inspired? Drop in to your local library and browse along the shelves of great booksIf you find the perfect book for you - why not share by letting us know all about it? All replies to this post suggesting a good children's read for these Autumn days will be entered in a draw for a newly published book by an Irish author (I'm keeping the title a secret until I get those entries in - so start suggesting now).
Ireland nominates Conor Kostick for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize
Author 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.' Conor Kostick lives in Dublin and his 'day job' is teaching Medieval History in Trinity College. 'Epic' was his first novel, and this was followed by 'Saga' and 'Edda', making up the Avatar Chronicles trilogy. These novels are very popular with children from age ten to early teens. I've recommended the first book 'EPIC' to many young readers and they have gone on to recommend it to their own friends - you can't get a better endorsement than that!Conor also wrote a book for younger readers, 'The Book of Curses' in the Forbidden Files Series. This is soon to be joined by 'The Book of Wishes' which Conor describes as his 'good twin book' to the 'Book of Curses' - it's is a bit scary, but fun too. It's not in shops or libraries yet, but it will be soon, so keep your eyes open - or reserve a copy at your local library.The other Irish nominee for 2012 is storyteller Eddie Lenihan. Writers and artists from other countries who have been nominated this year include; Micael Rosen, Quentin Blake, Shirley Hughes, Eric Carle, Allan Ahlberg, David Almond, Margaret Mahy and Meg Rosoff. As Conor says, 'To be awarded a place on the list of nominees is a real honour'.Conor's books are published in Ireland by O'Brien Press and are available (as they say) from all good bookshops and to borrow from branches of Dublin City Libraries.My recent interview with Conor will be published in the next issue of Classmate magazine - a Dublin City Council publication which is distributed free to all primary schools in Dublin City. I also hope to include that interview in a forthcoming article on this blog - so keep logging on.