Irish Books, Authors & Publishers

Of course, living and working in Ireland, I come across so many Irish childrens books. I wanted to find a way to highlight books that are unique to Ireland so this page is dedicated to our wonderful Irish books for children; those written by Irish authors, published by Irish publishers and telling Irish stories. So...here they are! I hope you enjoy them.

KEEPSAKE
author: Paula Leyden
Little Island ( May 2017)
ISBN: 9781910411575
Ella has gone to spend some time at her grandmothers' home in the country. It is a welcome relief from her life in Dublin with her Mum. Here she feels like she can be herself. And the beautiful horse in a neighbouring field has made this time all the more special. But Johnny doesn't want to share his horse with anyone. Storm is a keepsake memory of his grandmother. While Ella is convincing Johnny that she loves Storm as well, something terrible happens. Storm has been taken by 'the pound man'. It is the pounds' job to round up neglected or feral horse and put them down. But Storm is neither. Now Johnny, Ella and Ellas' granny gather evidence to prove that Storm is a well-cared for horse who was taken illegally from the field. But the officials' aren't that easily convinced, old prejudices die hard and Storms' life is at stake.
Keepsake tackles the issue of animal rights, particularly the treatment of horses and the Traveller community in Ireland with its' misunderstandings and stigma. Beautifully written, it demonstrates real passion and offers an adventure with much heart and courage. This is a classic 'horse story' with many contemporary elements and an inter-generational view. The importance of friendship and family loom large. The frustration and desperation of both Johnny and Ella to save the horse are tempered by Ellas' granny, who takes a more practical view while supporting the children in their just cause, while many others simply give up. The relationships and interactions between the characters ring true. A carefully crafted, deliberate plot line never loses its' rhythm and carries the reader on a fast-paced journey with exactly the right amount of drama and tension leading to an exciting, bold conclusion. Keepsake offers much, and it does not disappoint! A wonderful wonderful read for everyone.
https://thebutterflyheart.net/2017/03/10/new-book-keepsake/

THE CLUBHOUSE MYSTERY (CASS AND THE BUBBLE STREET GANG)
author: Erika McGann  illustrator: Vince Reid
O'Brien Press (6 March 2017)
ISBN: 9781847179203
When those annoying twin babies destroy the fort Cass was building in the front room (and Cass gets told off for being annoyed...they're only babies, after all....), she has the best idea ever! Cass gets the Bubble Street Gang together and they decide to build a proper fort outside where they can gather, solve mysteries, investigate crimes and get involved in brilliant adventures. Lex's nanny knows the perfect location, so the Gang gets stuck in and, before you know it, they are holding meetings and planning their next great exploit. But, they quickly discover that someone is using their fort when they aren't around! The Bubble Street Gang is on the case, solving a mystery of their own.
I love Erika McGanns' books. The writing is so genuine and lively and the characters and story line always ring true. Cass, Lex and Nicholas, along with their supporting cast, leap off the page, as they involve themselves in typical childhood adventures. I can see readers forming their own 'Bubble Street Gangs' and enacting scenes from the story, or making up their own. As they work through the mysteries, their conflicts and quandaries, the tale is fast paced and loaded with fun. Speckled throughout with engaging illustrations that add expression to the text,  I would highly recommend this book to confident readers looking for adventure. For ages 7-8 +

STARRING MEG (STAR CLUB BOOK 2)
author: Natasha Mac a'Bháird
O'Brien Books (6 March 2017)
ISBN: 9781847178466
Summer holidays are over and Meg now has to get used to a new school and new friends. Luckily, she falls right in to a great group of girls with an active interest in performing. Together, they form the 'Star Club', where they put on plays and shows. While this should be ideal, another new classmate, Tracey seems determined to come between the girls and keep Meg all to herself.  On top of that, Meg is guarding a surprising secret about her family; one that she worries might make everyone see her differently. When a big Star Club performance comes up, Meg wants to know who her friends really are.
Like the first in the Star Club series; Hannah in the Spotlight; this book is a real delight. Filled with drama, excitement, challenges and fun, Starring Meg is a story that addresses many concerns in an easy, interesting manner. The characters have strong, convincing personalities and develop bonds and conflicts in a natural way. The conflicts are easily navigated,  as the girls act as sounding-boards and support for each other, demonstrating how friendship is supposed to work... a reassurance and a valuable lesson. This is a light, well-written read with much to recommend it. Engaging, light and interesting, just perfect for girls ages 9-11 who want to escape into a world of true friendship with a bit of drama thrown in.

KAPHEUS WATER
author: Marguerite Tonery
MC Tonery (October 2016)
ISBN: 9780957381285
Elisa has been awakened by the sound of a beautiful song and the sound of a distant water;sounds also heard by Jamie. They are being called back to Kapheus, the fantastical world of light. The elf Sinann has been singing. She has also been captured by the Dark One and bound in a dark, threatening cave. Her escape has not left her unscathed, as she tumbles out onto Elisa floor, where she sleeps and heals. It is not long before another journey through the Kaphien forest, through the veil and across the Kaphien plains begins. It is the time of water. The Ark is beginning to open and the magical animals are threatened with extinction. Through a long journey; through love and loss: through courage and fear; Elisa and Jamie, and all their friends learn to master their feelings and make their way to ride the wild seas, fight off the pirates and the Dark One to save the animals, Kapheus and even themselves. The adventure to follow destiny continues....
This is the 3rd in the Kapheus chronicles and it takes the reader on a marvelous journey, as Kapheus itself now gains more substance. It may be a fantastical world, but it now feels increasingly real, with more subtlety and texture. Elisa and Jamie have a warm, inclusive brother-sister relationship and their characters play off each other with ease and understanding. The fantastical creatures that occupy and even more fantastical land are beautifully described, such that the reader actually feels that they know them well. A gentler, quieter book than the others, it ebbs and flows like the river and seas within, allowing the characters to explore, not only this beautiful, mystical land, but the full range of emotional content that comes with family, friendship, safety, danger loss and, ultimately love. It moves as a dream. And beyond this, it is a great fantasy read....filled with magic and light, wisdom and joy. Simply wonderful. For those who love fantasy of all ages.
If you haven't done so already, please, please read Kapheus Earth and Kapheus Air.
http://margueritetonery.com/#books

THE GHOSTS OF MAGNIFICENT CHILDREN
author: Caroline Busher
Poolbeg for Children (October 2016)
ISBN: 978178199748
It's 1848. Twins Archie and Millie live quite a luxurious life. But they also have special gifts. They can read each others thoughts and Millie can shape-shift into a fox and walk on walls and ceilings. One night, on the eve of their birthday, Badbloods' Circus comes to town. Knowing their mother will never let them attend, they sneak out of their house and make their way through the dark and dangerous London streets and get captured by Badbloods' men because of their abilities. Meanwhile, Ginny and Theo wander London as part of a pick-pocketing gang. When they get separated, Ginny is taken in by a a seemingly kind woman, but she, too...with her enchanting blue bird that resides in her rib cage.... is handed over to Badblood. And Theo, who can see your most intimate thoughts and make them appear out of his mouth as though they are a swarm of bees? He gets captured , as well. Together, they become the stars of the circus, unaware that Badblood has a nefarious plan and they are integral to it. One hundred years later, their ghosts reappear on a small island off the coast of Ireland. They are befriended by a local boy, Rua, who discovers the horrible fate that awaits them...and he is running out of time to save them for all eternity.
A completely captivating tale, The Ghosts of Magnificent Children also offers a thought-provoking character study of time, place and motivation.  The characters are compelling and realistically drawn with wholly original and genuine voices. There is an eerie, yet beautiful quality to the writing, that begs the reader to both put the book down and read on at the same time. Think of books like Miss Peregrines' Home for Peculiar Children or Neil Gaimans' The Graveyard Book and Stardust. It is filled with texture and nuance that consumes the reader and takes them completely into the story. Vivid, lyrical and completely ingenious, this is a book that will haunt your dreams for a long time to come. A truly magnificent debut!

THE MAKING OF MOLLIE
author: Anna Carey
O'Brien Press (17 October 2016)
ISBN: 9781847178473
In the spring of 1912, 14-year-old Mollie Carberry is convinced her life is completely dull. With older sister, Phyllis about to go off to college,a spoiled, horrible brother Harry who gets all the best of everything and baby sister Julia, Mollie is stuck in the middle with nothing adventurous or special happening for her. That's until she discovers that Phyllis is a secret suffragette. Sneaking around behind her sister, Mollie attends meetings (roping friend Nora in with her) and soon becomes convinced that she wants to do something to help the cause, as well. The problem is no one in the Irish Women's Franchise League (IWLF) seems to want her help. Phyllis is worried about getting her little sister in trouble, most of the girls and teachers at school are indifferent, and there are a few who would love to get Mollie and Nora in hot water at home and school. But none of this deters them. Inspired by the book, No Surrender by Constance Maud and the plight of women at home and abroad, Mollie makes a firm decision...they must to do something, regardless of what others think.
Written as a series of letters to Mollie's friend, Frances, The Making of Mollie is an easy, enjoyable and important read. Wonderful characters that ring true with strong voices, it crafts a story that is pertinent and interesting. Filled with historical facts, the perspective of the tale gives a unique view, not only of the suffragette movement in Ireland, but of the surrounding social and political atmosphere. The inclusion of Mollie's day-to-day life makes it easy to relate to and adds much insight into ordinary life in a changing world. It is expressed in such a way that Mollie not only tells a story, but invites the reader into it; and to investigate, find out more, wonder and think about the events and the effect it has even today. While it may seem of more interest to girls, there is much here for everyone to consider. An exciting, inspiring read for ages 10+. A book that will make you want to know more!

KINGS OF THE BOYNE
author: Nicola Pierce
O'Brien Press (26 September 2016)
ISBN: 9781847176271
It is the summer of 1690 and two armies are making their way to the Boyne valley. Young noble Gerald O'Connor rides with King James' cavalry, determined to defend his familys' honour and prove himself as a soldier. Brothers Daniel and Robert Sherrard ride south with King Williams' army, fresh from the siege of Derry. Robert is rising through the ranks, while Daniel struggles with his will to continue. It becomes clear that war does not just affect the soldiers and their kings; all of whom are caught in the conflict of fighting, but a conflict of a different kind, as well. It impacts on the lives of everyone; the queens, their friends and family and the ordinary people; their countrymen and women and all the children. After years of conflict and hardship, this is the battle that will determine who rules England, Scotland...and Ireland.
Once again with clarity and passion, Pierce gives us an intimate picture of the reality of a pivotal historical event. The return of brothers Robert and Daniel Sherrard gives the reader a startling reference point with which to set understanding of a complicated, often muddied tale. The reality of war hits home, as does the reality of the individual conscience. The characters, their relationships and actions/reactions are entirely genuine. The voices telling this story are strong and true. The research into the real Battle of the Boyne seeps through subtly, but with unfading accuracy. The pacing is perfect, matching the actuality of historical events. And the writing is utterly superb, placing the reader firmly in the lives of all the characters, their feelings and the horrific incidents taking place around, though it was over 300 years ago....the reader is there. These are very big concepts related with compassion and honesty, but also with an ease of story-telling that makes the book sing. While historical fiction can be a bit of a 'hard-sell' to young people, not so with Nicola Pierces' books. The ring of truth and the ability to be drawn into to the narrative make this book an incredible reading experience of great impact. Like all her others, simply amazing, a beautiful read and highly recommended to everyone!

A VERY GOOD CHANCE
author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Orion Childrens' Books (September 2016)
ISBN: 9781444014785
As Mintys' world falls apart at home, she is in need of an adventure; something to take her mind off of the confusion and and heartbreak of her parents separation and it's impact on her life. Help comes from an unlikely source. Minty has been cautioned to stay away from Nettlebog Lane, and the Travelers that live in a small caravan there. But Ned Buckley and his gran offer a unique respite. Ned is a newcomer to Mintys' class...mysterious and moody, a loner who wishes to remain that way. But he has a secret passion, one that Minty shares. And it is one that is encouraged by their teacher (the only decent one in the school, it seems). Together, they embark on a journey that astounds the small town, and small minds around them and ultimately give them a friendship and a goal that changes everything.
A superb tale of friendship, courage and resilience, this is a deceptively simple novel that has layers of complex issues handled with clarity and warmth. It is also a thoughtful, moving story that lays bare our prejudices and preconceptions while giving us a compelling, beautiful read. On the surface, this is a 'horsey' story, one that will appeal to any horse-mad young teenager. But it is so much more. The text does not dwell upon moral lessons or in depth examination. It easily and succinctly tells a story that leads us to think while entertaining at the same time. Underneath that, there are nuances and ideas expressed that cause real consideration about the snap judgements we make, about how people really are and about the possibility that lies within all of us. The writing is smooth and lyrical. The characters, their relationships and the setting are beautifully and realistically written. Poignant, intelligent and a wonderfully compelling read, I loved it.
If you haven't read Back to Blackbrick and The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, you really should. An incredible author with a real gift for the most moving, considerate stories.

MIRACULOUS MIRANDA
author: Siobhan Parkinson
Hodder Childrens Books (September 2016)
ISBN: 9781444929072
Miranda Maguire always wins Word of the Day in her class at school and loves to write. Sometimes, the things she writes about begin to come true, at least as far as she can see. She believes in miracles and now has grand plans to create a few...like getting Darren to become nice (now that would be a miracle...he's a boy, after all) and finding a way to cure her sister, Gemma. Miranda loves to write and has a huge imagination, which is a good thing. It may cause some mayhem in her life (good word, mayhem.) But when her sister is taken to hospital, Miranda uses her imagination to escape into a world of her own creation, where miracles happen all the time. Can Miranda create a miracle for Gemma?
Miranda is a brilliant character, with lots of spark and wit and a strong, true voice that shines in this wonderful new novel. Her vulnerability coupled with her verve make the character, her circumstances and the entire book believable. It deals with some very difficult situations, real concerns for many young people, with a great deal of ease and humour while never losing sight of the reality of childhood. The perspective is spot on; the dialogue exceptional. It is a story with real warmth and heart pulsing throughout. This is a clear and marvelous novel by one of the best Irish childrens' authors working today. A testament to the power of imagination, determination and creativity;one of those to read again and again.

GOLD
author: Geraldine MIlls
Little Island (30 June 2016)
ISBN: 9781910411551
Twins Starn and Esper are growing up in a world made dark and silent by massive volcanic explosions. Ash now covers the planet and every aspect of life is controlled by the government, policed by the strict, heavy-handed Sagittars. They long for sunshine, fresh air and the freedom of a life only vaguely remembered by a few. But a game of dares leads them to discover an ancient book written by their great-great aunt, filled with strange writing and a treasure map. This propels them headlong into a journey across the darkened skies in a hand-built glider, in search of the gold that will vastly improve their lives and...could it be possible...expose the governments' lies and save a dying planet.
With exceptional crafting and a delicate hand, Mills has created a portrait of an unnerving future world while environmental calamity has stripped all light, save from that that exists in the lives of two young boys. Through their dreams, imagination and daring, the reader is taken on a marvelous journey. Gripping and compelling, the boys venture from a world of darkness, regulation enforced by fear and mere survival to one of light, possibility, growth and freedom. The juxtaposition of the two is explored and balanced perfectly through use rhythm and cadence in the text. The use and invention, or rather evolution of language plays both on myths and legends of old as well as a contemporary understanding of how words and communication change on ever-changing times. The characters are tangible and textural and the relations ring true. Starn and Esper are two sides of the same coin, and must follow their own wisdom and hearts while working together to create a wonderful dichotomy. When one twin loses all memory, we see the struggle of the other to regain a sense of grounding and stability in this brave new world; something he can only do with the help of the other, creating a powerful statement about the true nature of inter-dependency. And while there are environmental and social messages in the story, these take a back seat to the purpose of the tale; an imaginative and wondrous adventure in the vein of such classics as Treasure Island and The Swiss Family Robinson. Never too heavy or dark, it is interspersed with humour and child-like wonder. It is exciting, dramatic and filled with nuance and beauty. Written with clarity, compassion and purpose, Gold is open enough to allow the reader to fulling engage; come to his or her own conclusions; paint his or her own pictures in the realms of imagination. An amazing story, filled with life, Gold is a story to be treasured. This book simply sings!
(10+)


ARRIVALS
author: Brian Gallagher
O'Brien Press (April 2016)
ISBN: 9781847177209
Ciara Farrelly and her father arrive in Ontario to visit her dead grandfathers' house. There is much to do in order to organise his affairs, but Ciara is focused on a mystery left to her. As she goes through her grandfathers things, she uncovers an unlikely set of friends and a  strange childhood secret linked to an unsolved murder. It seems as a boy, her grandfather Mike befriended Wilson, a lonely, wealthy boy whose family emigrated from Ireland and Lucy, an Ojibwe girl who dreams of becoming an artist. The friendships do not sit well with any of the families or the local community. When a murder is committed, Mike, Wilson and Lucy find themselves in danger with no one to trust but each other.
A story of friendship and understanding in a rapidly changing world, Arrivals is a riveting and wonderful read. As it switches from the present day into the past,the reader is pulled into time and place with fascination and expert handling of its' subject. The setting is vibrant and textural; well-imagined. The characters are realistically drawn and their relationship to each other and the world around them. It is easy to get totally immersed in the tale as it is not simply a story of the past, but an echo that reverberates into the present. Exciting, moving, well-paced and compassionate; a wonderful story.Historical fiction for young people at its' very best, I thoroughly recommend Arrivals, along with Gallagers' other books (Friend or Foe, Across the Divide, Secrets and Shadows, etc.)
OASIS
author: Eilís Barrett
Gill Books (April 2016)
ISBN: 9780717169238
A virus has spread across the globe pushing humanity to the very edge of extinction.  Spreading faster than medical sciences' attempts to control it, society has collapsed, leaving one last surviving city, Oasis. Walled off from the outside world, Oasis is governed by a promise to protect it's citizens from the risk of infection at all costs; and to find a cure. It's rulers now control every aspect of life, imposing a new vision of a perfect society and stripping it's people of all personal freedom and autonomy. Quincy Emerson lived within this perfect city until she, among others was determined to be at risk of infection. Cast out into the Outer Sector Dorms as a child, she lives among a hostile and paranoid worker community, providing all of those within the risk-free society with all they need. But outside the perimeter walls, a restlessness and anger are growing. Violence is spreading and Quincey finds herself at the fore-front of a desperate plot, uncovering a vile, sinister secret.
A thrilling, fast-paced, coming-of-age novel set in a dystopian future, Oasis promises the reader much, and it really delivers! With finesse and obvious skill, Barrett paints an exciting and imaginative  canvas. Populated by characters with many nuances of both light and dark, the journey we are taken on is unforgettable among the many dystopian worlds in current YA literature. An imploring examination of family and society structures, a chilling glimpse into the possible near-future and a fascinating study of human nature, Oasis is an amazing and sophisticated read.


THE BOOK OF LEARNING 
author: E.R. Murray
Mercier Press (28 August 2015)
ISBN: 9781781173626
Upon the death of her beloved grandfather, Ebony Smart, now orphaned for a second time, travels to Dublin to live with her eccentric Aunt Ruby. Her only real companion is her pet rat, Winston. She enters a world where nothing and no one can be trusted. She is warned against even entering the house by a voice from the shadows, but she has no where else to go. With an uncertain future, and danger at every turn, Aunt Ruby informs Ebony that she is part of the elite Order pf the Nine Lives, a special clan of people who reincarnate. Ebony must break a terrible curse hanging over her in one week's time, or die. And if she fails, the future of her entire family is doomed. She steals the mysterious Book of Learning from her Uncle Cornelius' shelf (well, it does have her name on it) and finds an untrustworthy friend in Zach....but all is not what it seems. Frightened, alone and with no security, Ebony risks all to rise to the challenge. But will she make it in time?
In the first part of a trilogy, we are introduced to a strange and fascinating world, with many twists and turns and much danger. Murray has created something truly unique here. Her use of the concept of reincarnation stands nearly alone in childrens literature and creates a plot that is complex and, at times confusing. A compelling read, we are pulled deeper and deeper into a grand mystery populated with weird and elusive characters that embolden the reader to push on. The pacing is fast and confounding. The writing is inventive and Ebony is a sharp, intelligent and bold character. Each and every chapter leaves you breathless and caught up in the action All in all, this book gives the reader much; suspense, mystery and a concern for duty, destiny and the effects of the past on the future. Right to the very end, you'll be left bewildered as to what comes next, and longing for the next installment.

NAME UPON NAME
author: Sheena Wilkinson
Little Island (6 August 2015)
ISBN: 9781910411360
Helen is growing up in Belfast, 1916. Her 14 years have been shaped by her mixed background; rural, Irish Catholic values from her mothers' side and protestant Ulster from her father. Her cousin, Sandy is an officer in the British Army and stationed on the front line, where is is witness to many horrors and faces horrendous and life-threatening decisions. Her cousin Michael desperately wants to join up, even though it means being disowned by his staunchly republican family. And is Easter 1916 comes close, there is another war brewing; one that will divide them all. Helen has dilemmas of her own with all this conflict surrounding her. Which side is right? What does she support? And is there anything that can be done that will keep her family together?
History is a very messy affair. The closer we examine it, the messier it gets. When we look into the lives and stories of people sitting on the sidelines of conflict, we get an intimate view of  yet another cost to be paid; the internal fracturing of those people, the conflicts that rage on long after the wars are done and the ongoing effects that can run down through the generations. This is at the heart and soul of this novel. Finely drawn characters and realistic circumstances paint a tangible picture of ordinary lives at a time of extraordinary events. The shock, turmoil and struggle for Helen just to be herself, but not knowing who she is, also makes this an evocative coming-of-age story. Everything about this book feels real; feels like historical biography, rather than historical fiction. Direct, complex and compelling, like all of Wilkinsons' books.


THE ACCIDENT SEASON

Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Corgi Childrens  (July 2015)
ISBN: 9780552571302

Cara is concerned. No one seems to notice that quiet, unassuming fellow student Elsie has disappeared. In fact, no one seems to remember Elsie at all. But she’s there, in all of Caras’ photographs for years; that friend she had when she was young; that constant presence Cara grew apart from over the years. Elsie stood in the background like some sort of quiet talisman. And now, Elsie is just gone. 
To make matters worse, the accident season is approaching. Year after year, knives are put away, sharp corners are covered, great effort is taken to protect Cara, her sister Alice and ex-step-brother Sam as they become ever more accident prone. But injuries, broken bones, fires and tragedies abound, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them. They can’t explain it. Old secrets are too well hidden.  The curse is strong and they can’t escape it. Not at school, not at home, not on their nights out Galway, not during the masked Halloween ball in the crumbling old house….every October, the accident season recognises them. It hunts them down. But what if the numerous tragic mishaps aren’t all accidents? What if there is something even more sinister tucked away underneath the secret they share that threatens to tear their family apart? And what if the elusive Elsie holds the key?
The lines are blurred between truth and lies, the real and the supernatural. Addictive plot building is coupled with expert characterisation in this blend between contemporary horror and psychological drama. The two stories are apparently unrelated, at least at first. As the story line grows, the ebb and flow between the two create a rhythm that pulls the reader in ever deeper. The eerie blend of confusion and revelation build at a steady, compelling pace. This book is unforgettable...the stuff of dreams (or recurring nightmares.) In a haunting, lyrical symphony of its’ own, The Accident Season is here.


CLASS ACT
author: Debbie Thomas
Mercier Press (May 2015)
ISBN: 9781781172629
Poor Brian O'Bunion. His life has become one pointless pointlessness. His teacher, Mrs Loretta Florris, hates him. He is ignored by everyone in his school (except for the deaf gardener.) And his own Dad hasn't bought him Coco Pops since the Great Unspeakable happened...two years, one month and nineteen days ago. He feels like he is gradually disappearing. Unless he forgets his homework, or his mind wanders in class...then, he gets noticed. What IS the point? But, one day, his classmates begin to disappear one by one. Brian becomes the investigator in this mystery. Who better to investigate than someone who is never noticed at all? With the help of his Mum's engagement ring, Brian makes a very unique friend and together they uncover a murky and, frankly weird trail that leads to a swarm of modified honeybees, a bug-eating lunatic bent of revenge and the secret of what is really happening right in his own not-at-all happening hometown.
A marvelous adventure told with humour and heart! This story presents an array of puzzling situations that plops the reader right in the centre of the action and pulls you through to the end. As Brian wends his way through daily dilemmas, he his suddenly presented with his own courage and ability to be a hero when no one else can be. There is a lot of silliness, and a lot of serious situations, but Brian, convinced from the start of his own pointlessness, rises to the challenge. The characters are well-written and convincing, even when they are presented in their extreme. Everyone has had one of 'those' teachers, but probably not as bad as old Florrie. Everyone has encountered a situation where nothing is as it seems...but it probably hasn't involved, well, I dare not say as it will give the story away. As I read Class Act, I was reminded a bit of books I had read and loved such as old  favourite, The Phantom Tollbooth, where Milo doesn't see the point in anything and discovers the point of it all. But at the same time I was completely engulfed in this storys originality, joyousness and clarity. Wonderful, funny...completely entertaining, circumstances with which everyone will relate. And, you'll learn a lot about bees, as well.


THE WORDSMITH

Author: Patricia Forde

Little Island Press (14 May 2015)

ISBN: 9781908195999
After the Melting, Earths’ great environmental disaster, the last remnants of the population sought refuge in Ark under the leadership of John Noa. Ark is a place of safety, but it is also a place of food and water rationing, shared shoes, strict laws and tally sticks. Art and music are forbidden. Language is limited to 500 words; the language of Ark, List. Letta was born and has grown up here; it’s all she’s ever known. Under the guardianship of Benjamin, the master wordsmith, Lettas’ job is to collect words and ration them out to those who need them. When Benjamin vanishes while on a word-finding journey, the task falls to Letta alone and she becomes the Wordsmith. But all is not as it seems. The appearance of a strange, injured boy leads Letta to some disturbing discoveries. And as Noas’ plan to rid the population of language; to make them entirely Wordless; is revealed, Letta knows she must stop him. But she is only a young girl and he is the most powerful man in the known world.
Dystopian novels have certainly come to the fore in childrens’ literature, lately. And this is one of the best. In a carefully crafted and evocative story, Forde has created a world yet to come that is powerful, mesmerising and chilling. The reader moves through this world in a dream-like state, as if taken in by a gentle nightmare. Letta is facing a coming-of-age crisis; a time of decision making and reality-facing. She is not a character to carve her own place in the world simplistically. Letta looks to her own future with both courage and confusion, trying to make sense of a world in which nothing is obvious. Her very nature sets the tone for the entire story. The character of John Noa is not one of a clear-cut ‘bad guy’ megalomaniac. In many ways, he has taken a very valid stance, but it is a position that has evolved beyond its’ simple ‘save the planet’ position. The reader must determine the effects. This is the real beauty of this novel. In so many circumstances, the opportunity to put forth a world-view, an agenda is left off, while the reader is kept in an astute, thought-provoking state by a story that will not let go. But the real star of this tale is language itself; the power of language. The gift and the love of language and its’ ability to shape the world (for good or bad) shines through in every detail. The fact that The Wordsmith is written for an audience that would be slightly younger (I would say 10+) than the typical dystopian readership is a wonderful gift. The writing is clear and purposeful. The ideas are easy to follow and deliberate. It is filled with reality and illusion. The ending is satisfying, yet left with an openness that begs the reader to consider further. And the entire book reads with a fluidity and dedication that make this book one that you will return to again and again.



BEHIND THE WALLS
Author: Nicola Pierce

O’Brien Press (March 2015)

ISBN: 9781847176462
In 1689, against the backdrop of a bloody European conflict between the Catholic French King Louis XIV (‘supporting’ the weak and King James II of England) and Protestant Prince William of Orange, an anonymous letter finds its’ way to the city of Derry. As it is read out, the city’s’ inhabitants hear that every Protestant man, woman and child is to be slaughtered. Panic sets in. How will the city defend its’ largely Protestant population…is the threat genuine? No one seems to have the facts. In the fury that that follows, two teenage brothers, Daniel and Robert Sherrard, held close the city gates against the approaching Catholic army of King James. The siege has begun. While bombs rain down upon Derry the tension inside grows stronger as each day passes. Trapped behind the walls, her people are dying, starving in one of the worst winters the country has seen, with no available outside help. Loyalties are tested. The limits of endurance are stretched far beyond what is imaginable. But there is no turning back, no surrender.
Told largely through young Daniel Sherrards’ view, Behind the Walls is one of those rare works of historical fiction for young people. Its’ voice, characters and relationships sing with such clarity as to put the reader well and truly in the midst of the story. As it lends context to the siege of Derry and its’ place in, not only Irish, but European history. It also tells a riveting and compelling story in its’ own right; one of growing up, taking control of ones’ own destiny and making critical decisions that affect all around. The characters in this story are believable, whether they are fictitious or actual historical figures. Their lives, motives and internal conflicts are genuine given the circumstances in which they find themselves. The pacing of the book accurately mirrors the pacing of the events. The reader can feel the strain of a people hidden behind the garrison walls and struggling for their lives. And the writing is glorious!  As with her other books, Spirit of the Titanic and City of Fate, Nicola Pierce writes with real passion and understanding for her subject. A brave and superb book, I recommend this highly, not just for young people, but for everyone.


KAPHEUS EARTH
author: Marguerite Tonery / illustrator: David T. Wenzel
M C Tonery (1 December 2014)
ISBN: 9780957381247
Elisa and Jamie are intrigued and excited when their Great Uncle Davin  arrives unexpectedly for a visit. All too brief a stay, Davin leaves behind an unusual gift, a beautiful drawing on Elisa's bedroom wall. This is no ordinary drawing, however. It is a portrait of Kapheus, the fantastical world of light. A world of dragons, elves and woodland creatures are now at Elisa and Jamies' immediate disposal, placed there by Great Uncle Davin to send the children on a quest to discover their destinies....who they were really born to be. But a quest is a quest, after all, and is filled with struggle, as well as beauty and guidance.
A pure joy to read, Kapheus Earth sends us on the journey right alongside Elisa and Jamie. The characters  and the relationships between them are well drawn, with strong development throughout the book. The story itself is a triumph. With all the magic and wonder of a childs' imagination, the tale is filled with curiosity and a thirst for knowledge and understanding. This is authentic fantasy writing. Exceptional and thoughtful details pull the reader into the tale and clear, concise writing move the reader along smoothly. Thoroughly enjoyable, a real treat, Kapheus Earth is the first in a series. I look forward to the next one!

A CAGE OF ROOTS
author: Matt Griffin
O'Brien Press (March 2015)
ISBN:  9781847176813
Having grown up in a New York orphanage, Ayla knows nothing of her family until her 3 uncles arrive from Ireland. Taken 'home', she is only just beginning to get a sense of her roots when the long distant past rises up against her. Ayla is abducted and taken far underground, kept alive on foul bowls of slop for hideous hidden some purpose. Above ground, her three friends are determined to find her. Enlisting the aid of her three uncles, they unwittingly become the heroes of a journey; the kind of journey that only takes place in ancient myths and legends; a journey that takes them down through the roots of time.
An astonishing debut, filled with the subtle nuance of nightmares, A Cage of Roots weaves a path that blends effortlessly between contemporary day-to-day life and the realm of the ancients. The reader is immediately plunged into the story, feeling as suffocated, confused and desperate as Ayla herself. The pacing is fast, furious, but never forced. The instant sense of danger is tangible, as the reader doesn't have time to wonder why or how or who. These essentials are revealed (with great skill, I might add) as the story unfolds, dipping and diving from the underground to the above ground. The characters are well drawn, with a real sense of personality and relationship. And this book is frightening... gripping and moving! A dark, deep tale of destiny and loyalty of heroic proportion,a strong recommendation for fantasy readers; this will keep you on the edge of your seat. (I do not recommend this as a bedtime read.) Stunning.
STILL FALLING
author: Sheena Wilkinson
Little Island (26 February 2015)
ISBN: 9781908195920
On his first day in a new school, with a new chance to prove himself, to start afresh where no one knows his circumstances, his past; Luke falls. Luke has epilepsy, and the seizures always take him down a dark hole from which there seems no escape. Esther, sitting next to him in those first moments, handles the urgency of Lukes' situation with efficiency and compassion. She's always been good in an emergency. But, Esther is falling, too...falling in love. But Lukes' life is much more complex than he lets on. There is more hanging over him, things he wants to escape from, but fears will colour his existence forever. Luke despises himself and his life. Esthers' self-image is none too strong. And falling in love for the first time is not as easy, or romantic as we are all led to believe.
Moving, strong and compassionate, Wilkinson gives us a story that is important and challenges the reader. With echoes of The Great Gatsby, it is a story of seemingly reluctant and impossible love, of overcoming the ghosts of ones' past and developing a self-belief and confidence that allows the course of life to unfold. I have to say something, first of all about the way Wilkinson handles her depiction of epilepsy...she has it exactly right. The way she shows what happens with a seizure, the dangers of simply 'falling' and the effects this condition has on a persons' view of themselves; along with the misconceptions and concerns of those who lives are intertwined with someone with epilepsy is spot on. Also, the story of falling in love is amazingly rendered. This is no simple tale of love and beating the odds...not a simple 'us vs. them' story. It is told with genuine and richly layered voices with all the passion, confusion and fallibilty that happens, not just within the confines of young love, but with us all at any given stage in life. There are no easy answers here. It is gritty, heart-felt and all too real. Marvelous....simply marvelous. Highly recommended for 14 +.

BLACK WREATH: The Stolen Life of James Lovett
author: Peter Sirr
O'Brien Press (2014)
ISBN: 9781847175601
In the eighteenth century, young James Lovett is abandoned on the streets of Dublin. Being born into power and position as the heir to the Lord Dunmain title means nothing when his cruel father and stepmother seeks to get him out of the way. James finds himself in a world of cut-throats and highwaymen, only just escaping the assassins on his trail. Just as it seems his situation cannot be any more desperate, James is sold into indentured servitude and on his way to a life of slavery in America. But James has made friends along the way. If only they can get to him and restore him to his life and inheritance.
Based on a true story, this is historical fiction for young people at its' finest.Brilliantly researched and expertly told, each page is embedded with historical accuracies that allow the reader to grasp the full weight of life in eighteenth century Dublin. This does not burden the story at all, but adds to it. A stunning adventure, there is much detail in the psychology of the characters; we get a real sense of their personalities and relationships as they interact and the plot builds. It also acts as a 'coming-of-age' story and we see young James learn to analyse and take control of his circumstances. Peter Sirr (former director of the Irish Writers' Centre, poet, critic and essayist) has created, in his first novel, a remarkable, moving, gripping tale that has much to say, not just about history, but about life today. I love historical fiction, and this is one of the best I've read.

GOOD RED HERRING
author: Susan Maxwell 
Little Island (4 Sep 2014)
ISBN: 9781908195937
The murder of Fen Maguire has cast a sinister gloom across the already dim and cold winter light of Muinbeo. Was it the work of a rogue werewolf? Was there an Outlander involved? What about those from that strange religious sect, the sombrists? Or is it something far more devious? Salmon Farsade: an orphan, part-Outlander, refugee in Muinbeo and apprentice guardian; finds herself flung into the middle of an investigation where her skill in reading auras will be a valuable asset indeed. Salmon, having lost her previous mentor, is now apprenticed to the long-lived (VERY long-lived) private detective, McCabe. Together, they must sniff out who could commit such a dastardly murder...and why.
Personally, I love a good mystery....and I love nothing more than a great fantasy. This book combines them both. Maxwell has created an incredible fantasy world, populated by werewolves, vampires, the unusual dimorphs (always held in suspicion) and luchrupáns...an unusual and fascinating cast. With a very precise social/political structure, the action weaves its' way through this cast with expert rhythm and timing to create a story that is compelling and driven. I was captivated by this world, complex and having an eery beauty...with many parallels to our own. Great story, great writing, amazing characters and as for the mystery aspect, all I can say is wow! It's very seldom that I don't have a clue 'who-dunnit', but Good Red Herring stumped me. Just wonderful. (Out on 4 September 2014)

NATURE'S SECRET ADVENTURES
author: Shane Casey  illustrator: Vincent Killowry
ISBN: 9780992749002
Sheridan is an ordinary pygmy shrew living an ordinary life. But when a resident tom cat threatens the shrew of his dreams, Sheridan turns out to be a very extraordinary hero! Orla the Otter is very worried about her first day of school. Will she be able to make friends? Mervin and Maria, the mayflies discover the oldest legend in the world; the Fairys' Foxtrot.Life beyond their river bed is amazing and wondrous, but it is also dangerous and all too brief.
Contained within this book are three tales of the natural world. Packed with adventure and lushly illustrated, it is a treasure. The characters are charming and lovingly portrayed. Every child is bound to want to read this book (or have it read to them) again and again. Also included is a section in the back with information on each of the animals featuring in the stories and pertinent and expressive thoughts on the natural world.
This beautiful book is aimed at a 6-7 year old audience who are newly confident at reading. But it is also the perfect book to share with the whole family. Printed in OpenDyslexia font, avoiding the typical black print on white, it is fantastic for those with reading difficulties. Just lovely!

BALACLAVA BOY
author: Jenny Robson
Little Island (2014)
ISBN: 9781908195913
A new boy has joined the class and there's no mistaking that there is something unusual about him. Day after day, he arrives in class wearing a balaclava...a different one each day, all day long. All the children are intrigued; what could Tommy be hiding? No one has seen his face. Everyone has a different theory and the rumours start to fly! The Grade Five bullies finally notice Tommy, his classmates realise that it's not really important why Tommy wears a balaclava. On the day Tommy finally takes off his balaclava, there's a big surprise for everyone.
This wonderful, gentle and intriguing read for ages 7-8 years plus isn't simply about a boy who wears a balaclava. It's about friendship, trust and tolerance. Balaclava Boy expresses these concepts without a heavy-handed perspective and is embedded with humour and a delightful twist. A fabulous book for younger, confident readers, it opens up a lot of space for discussion. Warm, funny, well-written, it's one of those books that will stay with you.
PRIMPERFECT
author: Deirdre Sullivan
Little Island (2014)
ISBN: 9781908195906
Welcome to the final installment of the diaries of Primrose Leary. (If you haven't read Prim Improper and Improper Order yet, then you must do so immediately!) We open with the funeral of Prim's beloved pet rat, the charming and dapper Roderick. Prim is now also trying to gain some insight into life by reading her mum's diaries; she is desperate to get best-friend Joel back into her life (he's now besties with Karen, aka 'the devil'); her other best friends, that close, close, close couple Ciara and Syzmon have gone their separate ways and her dad is now getting together with....wait! I don't want to spoil it for you. Oh yeah, there's also something going on with Prim and a certain young man, Robb-with-two-bees. Everything in Prim's life is a bit imperfect, confusing, upside-down and backwards. Yet, here we are!
Deirdre Sullivan is a wonderful, wonderful writer. The Prim books are delightful, quirky and totally original. Prim's journal is written with heart-warming humour and heart-breaking sincerity. There is an evident knowledge and interest in the lives and thoughts of teenagers and everything they are faced with as they move towards the illusive land of adulthood. The joys, pains, stupid and heroic acts are all displayed with compassion and integrity, while telling a story which is completely accessible to all. These are characters with genuine personalities; friends that we have all known. Watching Prim grow from age 13 to 16, laughing and crying with her along the way, has been a privilege. Personally, I'll miss her.....but I can always visit! Thanks, Deirdre, for creating a wonderful friend.

THE APPLE TART OF HOPE
author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Orion Press (2014)
ISBN: 9781444006926
Oscar Dunleavy has gone missing and is presumed dead; irrepressibly optimistic Oscar who made the worlds' best apple tarts...the apple tarts that had hope in every bite. No one seems surprised that Oscar is gone, except for his best friend Meg and his little brother, Stevie. Meg has returned from New Zealand, unable to believe that Oscar is gone and determined to discover the truth. Meg traces back through all the chats through their windows, when Oscar seemed so happy and positive. What could have turned him to such despair in the few short months she's been gone? Meg and Stevie sift through the surrounding grief and confusing accounts to discover the truth. Along the way they discover the value of loyalty, friendship and why you should never give up.
What an absolutely magnificent, compelling story! At first glance, this may seem heavy reading, but the telling of the tale is gentle, compassionate, often funny and thoroughly uplifting. Fitzgerald's exploration of the themes of friendship juxtaposed off of a subtle, manipulative bullying has great depth without overwhelming and is handled with sensitivity. Her characters shine (each and every one of them) and are portrayed with a dexterity that allows the reader to develop a curiosity and understanding about them. Charming, eloquent, with a very satisfying conclusion ( and Oscar's tips to make the perfect apple tart), this is one book you must read! (And, if you haven't read Fitzgerald's first book, Back to Blackbrick, please do immediately!)


EVIE BROOKS IS....MAROONED IN MANHATTAN
author: Sheila Agnew
O'Brien Press (2014)
ISBN: 9781847175588
After Evie's mother dies, Evie finds herself taken away from Dublin, her friends and everything she loves to live with her Uncle Scott in Manhattan. Well, she give it a try anyway...it's what her mother wanted. So there she is in a strange new life with her uncle the vet, an array of pets and their weird and wonderful owners, a whole new set of friends to get used to and her uncles' lawyer girlfriend, Leela, who has dreams of celebrity and money, money, money...plans in which Evie has no place! The summer quickly spirals into a whirlwind of change and mayhem.
What a gem of a story! Marooned in Manhattan is told with heart and warmth that expresses what it really feels like to be a young girl thrust into a difficult situation; having to proceed in a life where the ground has been dragged out from under your feet. Moving, but not overly sentimental, this story is fast-paced and packed with action. It is told with real feeling, humour and wonderful characters.. Evie shines as she faces her new reality with trepidation, yet determination. Relationships and situations are carefully and realistically crafted within the context of the story, yet never gets overburdened with unnecessary detail. And there is a real cliff-hanger at the very end. Fortunately, the next Evie Brooks book is out in September! A really enjoyable summer read!

FIONN AND THE LEGEND OF THE BLOOD EMERALDS
author: Tom O'Neill
HeroicRealm.com (2013)
ISBN: 9781909483279
Dark McLeans' Uncle Connie has been struck down by a mysterious illness: an illness of alarmingly rapid progress with no obvious cause or treatment; an illness that is killing him. Dark is now in a race against time to find a cure. Their sinister neighbour is shadowing Darks' every move, his friends are abandoning him and Dark is losing hope and courage. Each night, Dark ventures into a nearby fairy ring in desperation. Perhaps the Old People know of a cure. Each night, Dark is told a tale..... a tale of a young man called Matha who, long ago, was on a similar quest to his own; a tale of Fionn MacCumhaill and ancient journeys, of bards and battles and a magical land. As time is running out for Uncle Connie, Dark begins to understand the true meaning behind his uncles' words: "They walk among us."
Tom O'Neills' previous book, "Old Friends: The Lost Tales of Fionn MacCumhaill" was thoroughly gripping.
This one is even more. This one is simply spell-binding, packed with lyrical story-telling, raw and complex emotional impact and evocative characters and setting. The flow of the contemporary story into the mythical is smooth, and the correlations drawn between the two stories create an ebb and flow that pulls the reader into the tale. Each chapter is genuine, believable and intriguing. The power behind the words is tangible and will keep you awake well into the night reading on.... and casting your vision out into the night wondering what is actually going on out there in the trees and hills. A wondrous adventure that blurs the lines between reality and mythology. Just loved it!

MONKIE BUSINESS
author: Debbie Thomas  illustrator: Stella Macdonald
Mercier Press (2014) ISBN: 9781781171707
Welcome to third hilarious, wonderful adventure of best friends, Abbie Hartley and Perdita Platt! When their teacher, Mr. Dabbings decides it's high time the class got as involved and excited about nature, off they go to the island of Remote Ken off the west coast of Ireland. Of course, it's not quite that simple. Abbie and her history nerd father have discovered that there may well be a hidden treasure on Remote Ken. But so has their old arch-nemesis, Dr. Hubris Klench. And formally Squashy now Grumpy Grandma has discovered that she has failed to rehabilitate Klench. In the meantime, two ancient, not wanting to live forever anymore Incas have discovered that touching Klench will end the prophesy that has kept them going for all these  centuries. While all collide on Remote Ken, Abbie's main concern is her best friendship with Perdita. Perdita seems to be spending so much time with Ursula to be Abbies' best friend. What on earth will happen next?!?
I really do love the Abbie and Perdita books. Filled with humour and adventure, the heart
and soul of these stories is friendship, family and life. The most unlikely, hilarious situations provide a back-drop for heartfelt relationships and great character development throughout. In Monkie Business, we go on a journey; not just over land and sea. It is a journey of contrasts and comparisons, of genuine voices speaking real tangible feelings and of the importance of friends and family. As with all of the Abbie and Perdita stories, you'll learn some interesting things as well... but you'll be enjoying the book so much, you'll never even notice. My advice: read them all. Delightful! (p.s.: My favourite character is Grumpy (ex-Squashy) Grandma. What's yours?)
 
CITY OF FATE
Nicola Pierce
O’Brien Press (February 2014)
ISBN: 9781847173379
August 23rd, 1942 finds Yuri Bogdanov swimming in the River Volga with his friends. It is a beautiful summers’ day. It is also Yuris’ 14th birthday. The sudden hum of airplanes fills the sky and, without warning, the German Army begins its’ campaign of carpet bombing that will drive Stalingrad to near annihilation over the next five months. Yuri loses everything. But he is not alone in his fate. Teenage Yuri and Tanya and 5-year-old Peter find themselves struggling for mere survival as their world literally burns around them.
In a small village north of Stalingrad, Mr. Belov prepares to march his entire class of 17 year old boys to join the ranks of the Russian Army. They have been ordered by the government to serve to fight the powerful Nazi’s now destroying their homeland. And their battlefield is the beautiful city of Stalingrad, now besieged. Nobody has been able to stop the Nazi invasion as it drives itself across Europe, destroying everything in its’ wake. It depends on Stalingrad to turn the tide… on her citizens, on her soldiers, and on her children. But the cost will be great.
In this moving, sometimes painful story, Nicola Pierce has once again given us exacting research and realism woven into a story of friendship and unlikely alliances to paint a stunning picture of the battleCity of Fate


FENNYMORE AND THE BRUMELLA
author: Kirsten Reinhardt (translated by: Siobhán Parkinson)
illustrator: David Roberts
Little Island Press (2014) ISBN: 9781908195852
Fennymore Teabreak lives on his own in a large old house with only Monbijou (a sky blu bicycle who happens to think he's a horse) for company. At least he has since his mother and father mysteriously disappeared. Each Sunday, he shares a meal (of salt-baked Dachshund!) with his Aunt Elsie. But, one day, Aunt Elsie passes away and Fennymore finds himself on his own again, with one more mystery. With his new friend, Fizzy, he sets off to discover what actually happened to his parents. But they find themselves on the wrong side of a strange silvery man with a habit of suddenly vanishing and an evil doctor who wants to get his hands on Fennymore's fathers' invention. Whatever next?
This book is absolutely perfect for fans of David Walliams and Roald Dahl. Quirky, funny and a little bit gross in all the right places, you'll laugh and stayed gripped to the page of this most unusual adventure. The characterisation is perfect. Fennymore is a lovable hero with whom we can all sympathise. The bicycle, Monbijou is a fantastic addition that speaks to a childs' imagination. And the villains are, well, truly villainous! The fast-paced action holds the mystery throughout. I don't want to give anything away by revealing the outcome, but it is told in a way that is genuine. Little Island does a marvellous service by bringing these translated books to an English reading audience. This is a fab read! Highly recommended.

OSCAR WILDE: STORIES FOR CHILDREN
illustrator: Charles Robinson
O'Brien Press (2013) ISBN: 9781847175892
A selfish swallow has hung on too long to make the flight to Egypt with the others. But at the feet of the Happy Prince… a golden statue adorned the kingdom; he learns the true meaning of compassion and devotion.
A nightingale sacrifices her very life to give a young student the one thing that he thinks will win him his true love.
A selfish giant learns generosity and joy as he opens his garden for all the children that want to play there… at great cost to himself.
This stunning new edition of Oscar Wilde's Stories for Children contains three stories from the pen of one of our most beloved, insightful authors.Told in their original form, these are no candy-coated fairy tales; there is no happily-ever-after. But the genius of Wilde’s understanding of human nature shines through, giving stories that are genuine, profound and very clear in their intent. The lyrical language weaves a spell of enchantment and takes us to another place…somewhere magical and yet very real. The classic illustrations by Charles Robinson perfectly accent the telling of these classic tales, casting a dreamlike spell that remains with the reader long after the book is closed. They draw in even the youngest child with the exquisite watercolour and ink renderings.
Perfect for children of all ages, this book should be part of everyone’s collection! A timeless treasure that is a perfect introduction (or re-introduction) to the wit and warmth of Oscar Wilde.
(published in Inis Magazine online, January 2014 : http://www.inismagazine.ie/reviews/book/stories-for-children )

COLM'S LAMBS  (Glenmore Valley)
author: Anna McQuinn  illustrator: Paul Young
O'Brien Press (2013) ISBN: 9781847173393
It’s lambing season and life is very busy on the sheep farm where Colm O’Connor lives with his brother, Michael and his mam and dad. Colm loves to help out with lambing. The work is hard and the lambs can come any time, day or night. His friends Molly and Daisy come to visit from the city and they’ve never seen a baby lamb before. But it’s not too long before they get stuck in! The children find a new baby lamb all on its own in the field. They are all going to have to work together to save the lamb. Can they convince one of the sheep to take the lamb as her own?
Welcome to the Glenmore Farm series! This is one of two new books that give young readers a view into the world of farming; something that, like Colm’s friends Daisy and Molly, most children don’t get to experience. It’s very clear that author Anna McQuinn knows her subject matter well. The story is well written and clear, depicting farm life with accuracy. The plot develops quickly and holds the interest of the reader. The children populating her story are true to life and well-rounded. The illustrations by Paul Young are contemporary, lively and fresh; adding much charm to the story, without ever becoming ‘twee’. A thoroughly enjoyable story.
(published in Inis Magazine online January 2014)

THE KEEPER
author: Darragh Martin
Little Island 9781908195845
While staying with his grandmother, Oisin discovers an ancient and mysterious book...The Book of Magic. And he is to be it's Keeper. This is a dangerous and confusing role; one he is not sure he wants. But when his little sister, Sorcha is kidnapped by the evil, shape-shifting Morrigan, Oisin must travel through the land of the Tuatha de Danann, defeat snow-snakes on the Mountain of the Wind and enter the Morrigan's chamber of bone to save her. Can he harness the power of the Book of Magic and use it for good? And with so many of the young druids, and their teachers, after the Book, will Oisin even be able to save himself?
A cracking new fantasy! Martin has created a contemporary journey into a mythical land, where everything has progressed (along with our world), but magic still holds the ultimate sway. This book is alive with adventure and mystery! A gripping read that you are going to love... read The Keeper again and again.

THE POWERS
author: Kevin Stevens illustrated by Sheena Dempsey
Little Island 9781908195838
It's not easy belonging to a family of not-so-super superheroes. Dad has set the kitchen on fire (again) and he was just trying to make dinner (using his super power, of course.) Mum turned the rain on inside to put out the fire in the kitchen, and in Dad's hair, and she's flooded the kitchen. JP has flown into a wall. It seems the only normal one in the family is Pucker, the dog... and well, maybe he's not so normal, either. Poor Suzie! Her telekinectic power doesn't stand a chance in amongst the madness that is superhero family life. So... when they go off on holiday, the Powers promise to take a break from their superpowers. Well, that doesn't work out too well, does it?
The Powers is hilarious fun for young, confident readers.  A great, funny adventure loaded with action, The Powers is peppered through with marvellous drawings that add to the hilarity. Seriously silly stuff... The Powers will rapidly become your faourite superhero family... especially as you can follow them on Suzie's blog (link below).
http://www.readthepowers.com/blog


HEART SHAPED
author: Siobhan Parkinson
Hodder Childrens Books    9781444903607
Annie is utterly in love with Jono, but whether or not he is her boyfriend is another matter. It’s difficult to tell these things when your only communication is through the occasional text messages and phone calls. But when Jono stops replying to texts, Annie calls round to discover the problem. She soon uncovers a reality that changes her life. Annie needs someone she can talk to; someone she can trust. But since her mother is gone and her brother is on the run, she’s left with her best friend, Emma. And Emma’s help isn’t near enough. And the situation at both school and home are constantly preying on her mind. Overwhelmed and feeling so very alone, where can Annie turn?
In this companion novel to the hard-hitting Bruised, Parkinson turns her attention to Annie’s story. Written with compassion and insightful understanding, the reader is given a view of the darker issues plaguing teenagers today; bullying, alcoholism, the social care system, trust, the importance of friendship and discernment, and depression; all told with a gentleness and ease that makes this book accessible to younger teen readers. It is very clear that Parkinson knows them well, and can give them exactly what they need in a book. It is easy to relate to Annie’s character and her predicament, even though the reader may have never undergone such crises themselves. But they will certainly have experienced, or be experiencing the emotions. The author has always had a way of placing her audience directly at the heart of story, allowing for full impact of the content. Here, the reader has ready access to Annie’s thoughts and feelings; you feel the conflict of her relationships with friends and family. As you read, you find yourself completely involved, willing Annie to try this or that, coming up with advice of your own or simply being right there with her. But it is not all doom and despair! The ending breathes a sigh of relief and is fully satisfactory without even approaching condescension. As it says on the cover, Heart Shaped is love and death and everything in between. A beautiful, wonderful, cathartic read by one of the best children’s authors anywhere today.

ARTHUR QUINN AND HELL'S KEEPER
(The Father of Lies Chronicles)
author: Alan Early
Mercier Press 9781781171585

It’s only been a week since Arthur Quinn has returned to his home in Kerry. After defeating the World Serpent; after battling the Fenris Wolf and losing an eye in his efforts, you’d think he’d be glad of the peace, quiet and normality of his old home. But within the week that unsettled feeling is back. The pendant that protects Arthur from the Father of Lies is glowing bright green and the war hammer he’d found under the streets of Dublin is radiating an insistent warmth as if preparing, once again, for battle. The dreams have returned; dreams of an ancient past in Asgard; dreams warning of terrible events to come. And now, it’s not just Arthur having those dreams. It seems the entire world is seeing the same thing. Loki is on the move.
It doesn’t take long before Loki appears with a most horrible revelation for Arthur, one that changes everything. And when Arthur is whisked off to Asgard, home of the ancient Norse gods, much is explained by those mystic guardians of the truth, the Norns, but just as much is left hidden.  Arthur plummets back into a very different Dublin, one flooded and left in an apocalyptic nightmare. Loki is ensconced in the President’s mansion in Phoenix Park. People have been captured and herded like animals into sports stadiums. Those few (mostly children) who resist the new world order must stay hidden, constantly changing location. Arthur has returned to a world where ‘Arthur Quinn’ has never existed and no one, not even his own father or closet allies, have the slightest idea who he is. He must convince his old friends, Ash, Max, Ellie and Ex that he is on their side. And, once more, it’s up to Arthur to save the world from Loki’s most devious plan and his most dangerous child. This is the final battle.
With his trademark descriptiveness and exceptional knowledge of ancient Norse mythology, Alan Early has brought the Father of Lies chronicles to a dramatic and positively thrilling conclusion. If you have wondered (as I have all along); why Arthur Quinn; what is it about this kid; this is the book that reveals the reason. And you’ll never see it coming. The carefully knit relationships throughout the series are carried through here to great effect, and we are given unique insight into the bonds of friendship and family, as well as conflict. Every action, every emotion is tangible without being overworked.  Early has painted a textural picture of the time, place and people that you don’t so much believe as feel. The action and story line weave together and dip and dive to create a positively remarkable read. The reader is pulled along in the story with expert timing and movement through to a most dynamic end. Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper will keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat. It will leave you wanting more; but sadly this is the end.
The Father of Lies Chronicles not only brings Viking lore into the forefront of children’s fantasy literature; it sets it firmly in a contemporary world.  Be prepared, this is quite simply one of the best novels; in fact, one of the most stunning series, you will ever read. An incredible conclusion.



THE HIDDEN GIFT
Author: Ian Somers
O'Brien Press 9781847173089
After all he has been through, Ross Bentley now finds himself alone, holed up in a remote farmhouse and completely cut-off from friends, family and the girl that he loves. He must hone his gifts if he is ever to be ready to protect the innocent and endangered... if he is ever to join the Guild of the Gifted. But when a gifted child is kidnapped, his training is cut short. He must travel with his mentor, Hunter, to rescue her...even though Ross is unprepared for the devastating dangers he now faces.
Like the first in this series, Million Dollar Gift, this novel is packed with action, tension and adventure. Somers has created a well-drawn hero in Ross Bentley, and a storyline that is both thoughtful and dramatic. Never a dull page in this thrilling read for ages 12+. If you are a fan of Young James Bond series by Charlie Higson, or Anthony Horowitz' Alex Rider series, I highly recommend this.


THE SLEEPING BAOBAB TREE
Author: Paula Leyden
ISBN: 9781406327939
Walker Books
Sister Leonisa
It is such a joy to return to the lives of Bul-boo and her twin Madillo in the butterfly heart of Africa. Leyden’s descriptive text gives full texture to the place, the people and the beliefs of Zambia with a strength that allows the reader to believe they are there. While Bul-boo and Madillo again provide a sense of the duality of human nature; the pragmatic meeting the superstitious; this story primarily belongs to Fred, who struggles with his inbuilt sense of impending disaster at every turn. The relationship between the three friends provides a strong, yet easy dialogue with the aspects of loyalty, mystery, common sense and confusion that make up their emerging world-view. Add to this the frightening and yet stabilising character of Nokokulu, a symbol of roots and tradition as strong as the ancient Sleeping Baobab Tree, and we have an impressive dialogue with a social structure in conflict with itself; which of the old way to keep and which to throw away; how to move fully into the contemporary world and remain who we truly are; a quality that allows the story to easily relate wherever the reader may live.
It may seem that these are heavy, burdensome concepts for young readers to take on, but not at all. The story is not weighed down by messages or agendas. It is adventurous, mysterious and humourous. The friendships are tangible. The characters are identifiable and become easily lodged in the readers’ hearts and memories. The situations in which the friends find themselves are believable and are depicted from a child’s-eye view that never speaks down to the reader, but leads them through a wondrous and heart-felt journey.  As with Leyden’s first book; ‘The Sleeping Baobab Tree’ is simply beautiful, and an absolute joy; a rare and wonderful gift.
(Note: There are teaching notes available for both of Paula Leyden’s books, making them ideal

IMPROPER ORDER
author: Deirdre Sullivan
Little Island; 1 February 2013
ISBN: 9781908195234
Primrose Leary is back and everything is most improper! After finally settling in with her dad, the mustachioed Fintan, living in a (sort of) normal situation with him  and adapting to life without her wonderful Mum, you'd think things were getting back on track. But in the blink of an eye, Prim finds herself in the middle of a bunch of loved-up couples with ongoing drama...Ciara is practically married to Syzmon, Ella has fallen for an actual BOY (not a ferret or a cat) and Joel and Kevin are going out for a coffee. That's not really a date; is it??? And what if it is? And what about Prim? Can she find true love, keep her best friends and embark on an outstanding career as a cruciverbalist? (That's a person who creates crossword puzzles, for those of us who don't understand...)
Deirdre Sullivan introduced us to Primrose Leary in her first book, Prim Improper; and she is an absolute delight! Intelligent, funny, caring and superbly drawn, Prim is exactly the kind of character to excite and attract readers, and keep them hooked. The situations dealt with in the story are heart-felt and sincere, and very realistic. But these books are never dull or over-wrought with teenage angst. In Improper Order, Prim is a year older and wiser, and the issues are a bit older as well, but the characters remain faithful and consistent and the story is just as brilliant. With so much humour and so much heart, you're going to love Prim, her friends and her family in both books.

Here's two new picturebooks from the very busy Dolores Keaveney...
MEET THE FAIRIES IN MY BACKYARD
author/illustrator: Dolores Keaveney
Dbee Press
ISBN:9780957191723
Every young child loves fairies. In this vibrant new picture book, we turn to the back garden to meet an array of them. A modern 'Flower Fairies', there a quite a few all around us, hovering in among the poppies, foxgloves, the lily pond and the herb patch. We'll find them anytime of time and everywhere we look! Written in clear and straight-forward rhyme, we are taken on a delightful foray that encourages exploration of the outside world and appreciation of everything in view, made easy to remember by the fairy association with each plant and backyard locale. The illustrations are bright and painterly, an absolute joy on each page. A simply wonderful picturebook for all that says "Get outside! You never know who'll you'll find there!"

Released at the same time.....
THE ADVENTURES OF JENNY AND SYLVESTER....and their six little chicks
author/illustrator: Dolores Keaveney
Dbee Press
ISBN:9780957191730
Remember Jenny, the lonely little brown hen? Back to the farm we go in this charming update. Well, of course we know she isn't lonely any more, since she met Sylvester and hatched six lively chicks. But sometimes Jenny wonders what's beyond their hen house... sometimes, she just wants an adventure. So one day, off the cheeky chicken family go into the great wide world to see what they can see.  With Keaveney's trademark vivid and delectable illustration style, she weaves a warm and wonderful story that speaks of exploration, discovery and coming home, this is sure to be a favourite that children will want to hear over and over again, as they spend hours pondering over the pages. I love it!

WORMWOOD GATE
author: Katherine Farmar
Little Island
ISBN: 9781908195241
Aisling and Julie have had an adversarial relationship since they first met.
Having been separated from their friends as they leave a party, they are bickering when they are nearly trampled by a white horse with a red mane and a strong, unpleasant smell of wormwood fills the air. Upon recovering, Aisling and Julie soon discover the Dublin they know ; that they are are standing in the middle of; is not the same Dublin as moments ago. On the horizon, there stand three castles for three queens; the pigeons and seagulls are at war with each other and a merhorse gives them advice and directions. To make things worse, having found shelter, they are about to be imprisoned for being human. With their lives at risk and with little hope of getting back to the mortal realm, they must become strong allies to right the balance in this strange realm, find the Wormwood Gate and Molly Red if they ever want to see the Mortal Realm again.
This is an amazing fantasy adventure that shows true imagination as it marries ancient folklore with contemporary times. The characters and the relationships between them speak of typical ordinary young adult concerns; those seemingly trivial things which are turned on their heads to display a deeper understanding. And the mysterious circumstances they find themselves in are evidence of the true meaning of myth and magic in literature. More than this, it's a great read. Fast-paced with many plot twists that are beautifully situated throughout, Wormwood Gate gives the reader a brilliant ride through a fantastic realm and back again (eventually). If there were one problem I had with this book, it is the absolute definition of the relationship between Aisling and Julie at the end, which I feel flattens the impact of the beautifully developed 'round-ness' of the story. I would have much preferred it be left open and for the reader to define. Having said that, the novels remains a strong and wondrous read written by a gifted hand. I applaud Katherine Farmar for giving us this marvellous contemporary folktale! Highly recommended.

BACK TO BLACKBRICK
author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Orion Books
ISBN: 9781444006599
Cosmo has lived with his Grandma and Granddad since "pretty much the cleverest person I ever met", so it's really confusing to Cosmo that people treat him strangely, as if he's a moron. But granddads' memory is failing and the time comes when he needs to be placed into care. Before going, Granddad gives Cosmo a key and makes him promise to go back to Blackbrick Abbey; now derelict and disused. When Cosmo arrives there, he finds himself propelled into a forgotten time in his granddad's past... to the moment when everything is still possible.... to the moment that will explain every mystery in Cosmo's life.
This book is quietly magnificent. Touching and intriguing, it gives a poignant understanding and a hope for Cosmo's present life that pulls him out of the confusion and anguish in which he finds himself . The characters are real, their situation and life all too tangible and real. As for the impossibility of what happens, it seems totally plausible and makes the reader understand fully, as the tagline says; "There is no such thing as forgetting." An absolute triumph, and though the year is young, this has got to be one of the best books written in 2013. Please


SOS LUSITANIA
author: Kevin Kiely
O'Brien Press
ISBN: 9781847172303
Finbar Kennedy dreams of escaping day-to-day life in Queenstown (Cobh) and sail away with his father, a sea-captain on the magnificent Lusitania. A disturbing dream leads him to do just that and stow away in order to protect his father and the ship from upcoming disaster. Finbar stumbles upon a deadly conspiracy; works as a deck-hand and messenger, meets a beautiful young girl and survives the sinking of the Lusitania when she is torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Cork. This fast-paced, exciting and well-written novel is based on the incident. It gives not only abundant information about the sinking of the Lusitania, but memorable characters, genuine emotion and an unforgettable story. If you like historical fiction, you're going to love this. (Also read Kiely's A Horse Called El Dorado.)


THE CRYPTID FILES: PACIFIC GIANTS
author: Jean Flitcroft
Little Island Press
ISBN: 9781908195272
Vanessa travels to an island off the western coast of Canada for what looks like a well deserved an exciting holiday. But she soon finds herself drawn into a world of criminals, ruthless whale hunters and an annoying young boy who is out to cause her nothing but grief! Having nothing but her shrunken-head and trusty camera, she soon has to fight for her life and pray that she returns to Ireland unscathed. But what happens when Vanessa finds herself face-to-face with an actual sea-serpent? The third book in the dramatic Cryptid Files series, this is a thrilling and beautiful story of one girls' adventures into the unknown that causes much pause for thought as it explores what we 'know' to be true and opens up a whole world of possibility. My advice; read them all!

(I'll start with a few that I've relocated to this page from others.)
 


THE ARK OF DUN RUAH
Author: Maria Burke
Currach Press 30 November 2012 248pp
ISBN: 9781856077941
Kerry Macken is given a brilliant opportunity to design new clothes for Lady Lumina, President of the Land of Fire. Of course, she will have to travel to Lumina, taking her younger brother Simon with her. It seems this is just in time, as their quiet life in Kilbeggin has been shattered. Marauding Giant Eagles have descended intent on an evil mission and Kerry and Simon find themselves right in the middle of the action. But there is no running away from the Eagles. On board the Ark of Dun Ruah, their beloved blue owl, Pod disappears and is held captive for his extraordinary blue feathers. And a strange, elusive man in a grey cloak seems to be both pursuing and being pursued by the Eagles. Thrown into a mystical adventure they could have never imagined against powers beyond their control, what chance do Kerry and Simon have?
The Ark of Dun Ruah weaves fantasy with natural history to create something truly wonderful. This is a unique story told with excitement and lyricism. While it is difficult to locate it in terms of time or era, this actually adds a new dimension to the tale, preventing it from being fixed and static. The textural quality gives vivid imagery of place and action that allows the reader to enter into the myth which is both old and extremely original at the same time. Burke has created relationships between Kerry and Simon and the other characters that are wholly believable and understandable. In short, the story works on all levels. Exciting, enjoyable, thoughtful and full of wonder, The Ark of Dun Ruah is a marvellous first novel, and I anxiously await the follow-up.



THE GOOD INVENTOR
Author: Charlotte Curley
ISBN: 9780957467408
After Charlie French is left an orphan by a devastating fire, he has to travel alone from New York to the countryside of Connemara, where he will live with his Uncle Ted. Everything is different… strange and overwhelming. Uncle Ted is a genius, but extremely eccentric inventor who knows nothing about raising a child. So he creates an incredible new invention to help him, and to convince the authorities that Charlie belongs with him. The new school is filled with children who have known each other all their lives and Charlie sticks out like a sore thumb. Charlie has to contend with bullies, and he misses his home and family terribly. His father has left him a mysterious package. Charlie longs to open it, but is reluctant to do this alone. What on earth could it be? On top of everything, strange things are happening all around Charlie. Strange characters are surrounding him. Charlie doesn’t know it yet, but he has inherited the power of the Druids, with all the mystery and magic that comes with it. Some of those surrounding Charlie are there to protect him; while others…. Others want to claim that power for their own, forever trapping Charlie with their sinister magic, or, if needs be, destroying him.
This is a wonderful debut novel from Charlotte Curley. Filled with mystery and wonder, it takes the reader on a journey that combines contemporary issues with ancient knowledge… the day-to-day with the extraordinary and the magical. The characters and their relationships are simply, but specifically drawn. The central core  The journey the story takes you on is a wondrous one. You meet the mundane with the magical and discover new possibilities in the age old ‘battle of good and evil’ back story; discover that it’s all down to individual choices and principles. The magical journey reflects clearly the personal journey Charlie (and the other characters) are undertaking. There are subtle inclusions of many important issues that children have to cope with; bullying, eating disorders, loss, money issues, and family feuds. These, however, never overwhelm or control the basic story. Magic and the mystical are everywhere. Steer your own course.  Be who you truly are, regardless of what others may think or do. And never forget to be kind.
A thoroughly enjoyable and exciting debut effort that any child will love. And it all happens right here in Galway! Fantastic!


ARTHUR QUINN AND THE FENRIS WOLF (The Father of Lies Chronicles)
Author: Alan Early
Mercier Press, Ltd.  17 September 2012  384pp
ISBN: 97818563359986
 
It’s been 3 months since Arthur Quinn and his friends, Ash, Max and an army of dead Vikings, handed an amazing defeat to the trickster god, Loki, and saved the world from the threat of certain annihilation. Everything is back to normal and all but a very few even remember.  But Loki has not been resting idle. After the destruction of the Jormungand at Arthur’s hands, he now seeks the Fenris Wolf.  Amassing an army of vicious wolves to do his bidding, he will take back the world this time and have his revenge. So while Arthur, finally settled into his new life in Dublin, is enjoying time away in the countryside with Ash and her family. But it’s all about to begin again….. Arthur’s visions return as his pendant glows stronger than before.  Max’s nightmares of the past begin again. There are strange stirrings among the Viking army and a growing unease surrounds our hero. Exactly who are these two new classmates in Arthur and Ash’s school? Why is Arthur so suspicious of Ash’s new puppy? What is Loki after at the National Museum? Once again, it’s all down to Arthur and his friends to save the world from the Father of Lies….but this time, Loki has help.
The second instalment of ‘The Father of Lies’ Chronicles is quite simply thrilling. This is one of those rare fantasy novels that places the reader in the centre of the tale and carries them through flawlessly with expert timing and plot development. All the while, the reader has feet planted firmly in contemporary life and times. Early’s exceptional knowledge of Viking mythology creates such atmosphere; and this blended with the ordinary lives of young friends develops a full and satisfying journey through this book, as it did with the previous ‘Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent.’  With a striking descriptiveness throughout the text, all the action is thoroughly believable and easily envisioned. With consistent characterisation, each of the friends holds a different piece of the growing picture, as their characters grow into unique and important individuals within the story. As conflicts arise between them, the plot thickens and twists with each chapter adding a new aspect to the developing tension. Yet, there is also wonderful, balanced humour within the text that keeps the story smooth and eloquent. There is no unbearable heaviness, and even in seemingly hopeless, impossible circumstances, loyalty and strong bonds of friendship win out.
 CHOP-CHOP, MAD CAP!
author: Juliette Saumande / illustrator : Sadie Cramer
ISBN : 9781908195210
Little Island July 2012
Madgie M. Capcock, aka Mad Cap, and her trusty sidekick-genius, Norbert Soup are hot on the trail to solve the first (and possibly biggest) mystery of their newly formed detective/superhero agency. Having followed 'The Plan' and proved that, as long as they stick to the plan, their skills in detective work are fool-proof, Mad Cap and Norbert are out to discover the links between a missing butcher, an evil cat and crazy, nasty old Mrs. Mudrick across the street. But, as luck would have it, other mysteries fling themselves in the way. Why is Madgies' mother behaving so strangely? Why is Norbert wearing a giant, yellow bunny suit? And exactly who is Madgies' brothers' girlfriend??? All will be revealed in this first installment of the Mad Cap series. Mad Cap forever and beyond!!!!
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read for young, confident readers. Mad Cap is personable, funny and the kind of girl you'd want to have around. The setting and events provide great excitement. It can be difficult to find a book with a central girl character that is strong, likable and true to life. But here she is! The flow of the story and the relationship between the characters make it highly suitable for boys and girls alike. And the presentation of the book adds to this notion, as the illustrations and cover do not rely on a feminine 'pink-girly' image, even though the central character is a girl. A great, new read... but be prepared for your own little super-heroes to be inspired into action. Utterly recommended!!


VALENTINA
author: Kevin McDermott

ISBN:
9781908195203
With most of the world either burning or under water, the environmental cataclysm has destroyed all but a few areas in the Earth's temperate zone. One small island (Ireland)  is overwhelmed with climate refugees. Life in the Badlands is violent and constantly under threat, with everything controlled terrorists and gangs. But Valentina lives in the Citadel, the privileged daughter of the president. She is spoilt, arrogant, pampered and has no concern for anything or anyone outside her small circle. Valentinas' life is about to change, drastically. She makes a secret trip into the Badlands with her friends, and her eyes are opened to the reality of life and the responsibilities she must bear due to her privileged position. Fast-paced, well-conceived, excellent dystopian novel, Valentina offers us a world that is not beyond the imagination. Valentina and her friends are realistically painted and easy to relate to. Highly recommended!

THE MILLION DOLLAR GIFT
author:Ian Somers
ISBN: 9781847173072
Ross Bentley discovered he has a unique gift.He possesses psychokinetic abilities.. he can move things with his mind. But this is a gift he has kept to himself, hiding it from even those closest to him.So far, he uses his gift to perform incredible skateboard stunts, hiding behind a mask, which he uploads on YouTube as 'Gotcha365'. While he is a sensation, of course everyone is certain the stunts are all faked. Frustrated and bored with life in Dullsbrook, Ross longs to do something to pull himself out of his miserable life. Everything changes when he hears of a contest, The Million Dollar Gift. When Ross enters and wins, he has no idea about the world he's entered into.... a world of greed, corruption, manipulation and murder. A world that he may not make it out of alive....
Fast-paced, riveting and insightful, Somers exposes more than a fictional corporation; he makes a commentary on the greed and corruption that is manipulated in human nature. But he also exposes what it takes to overcome these impulses and use them to shield life from the worst elements of life. But things are never simple and clear, are they? Highly recommended gripping read from O'Brien Press.

LOVE, LUCIE
author: Marita Conlon-McKenna
Simon & Schuster Children's Books 30 Aust 2012
ISBN: 9780857078339
Lucie is just turning 11 years old. But while this is a big enough adjustment to her life, she and her family; her Dad, big sister Chloe and brother Hugo; have just suffered the devastating loss of their beloved and beautiful mother. Begun on the day of her mothers' funeral, the story is told in the form of letters written by Lucie to her mother and chronicling the year following her mothers' death. Lucie's first kiss, her sister is a nightmare, Dad is clearing out the wardrobe... all of the practicalities faced when a loved one dies; how will Lucie cope without her mothers' love and guidance? Love, Lucie is a beautifully written book from one of Irelands' best childrens' authors. Heart-breaking, funny, joyous and frustrating; Lucie's voice is packed with emotion and has a true quality of an 11 year old girl. The family struggles are typical, real and palpable.And, ultimately, there is a sense of hope within the emotional turmoil. Love, Lucie is not a book for everybody; but it is a book that everyone will want to read at some point. It is beautiful and genuinely handled. Warning: you will cry... a lot.

 CAVE OF SECRETS
author: Morgan LLywelyn

ISBN 9781847172075

Tom feels totally rejected by his family and completely overlooked in his life as the only son of the master of Roaringwater House. In the seventeenth century, life is hard and his father has had horrific losses in business and status, putting the entire family in jeopardy of losing everything. But his father keeps digging them deeper and deeper in debt. On a walk along Roaringwater Bay, Tom discovers a second, secret family of smugglers, who treat hm like a man, a valuable part of their community. Not only does Tom gain acceptance, but he finds a way of hurting his father. But it isn't too long before his mother and sister uncover his smuggling activities, and Tom discovers that his family has been hiding many, many secrets of their own...
It's been quite a while since Morgan Llywelyn has published one of her marvellous historical fictions for young people, and this one is a cracker! Full of all the atmosphere of the seventeenth century, this seldom written about period of history offers much excitement, drama and human interest. The weavings of this story pull the reader through in an unforgettable adventure... a perfect escape and a brilliant read!!!


SPIRIT OF THE TITANIC
author: Nicola Pierce

When Samuel Joseph Scott plunges to his death while working on construction of his beloved Titanic, he doesn't leave her behind. Sam becomes a spirit on board, realising his dream of sailing away with the Titanic on her first... and, of course final voyage. Sam roams freely throughout the ship, from the luxurious first class all the way down to the engine room. He takes particular interest in one third-class family, Jim, Isobel and their children, as they sail away to their new and better life in America. But when disaster threatens the lives of all on board, can Sam find a way to lead the family to safety? And what will become of Sam as the Titanic sinks to the ocean's bed?
You will forget, as you read, the inevitable outcome. Instead, you will be utterly wrapped up in the storyline and feel the same emotions as the characters populating this wonderful book.

ANGEL KISS  author: Laura Jane Cassidy
When Jacki King and her mother move from Dublin to a small village, Jacki finds she has a lot to adjust to. New friends, acquainting herself with the locals, living in a caravan while waiting for their house to be renovated... and on top of all these quite usual circumstances, Jacki discovers she has a unique ability. The horrific headaches and terrifying nightmares she's been having lead her into the unravelling of a 25 year old murder. Jacki refuses to believe that anything paranormal is happening, but with the help a local healer and her new friends, she accepts her new ability and comes to an understanding of her commitment to the long dead victim. The voice of true teenage angst is strong and true in this first novel from Cassidy


THE CRYPTID FILES: MEXICAN DEVIL
author:Jean Flitcroft

Vanessa takes off with her closest friend, Nikki on a summer holiday to a ranch in Mexico. Upon her arrival, she is flung headlong into the mystery of the Chupacabra, a cryptid creature in Central and South America that roams the night, draining the blood from other animals, with the eyes of the devil. With Vanessa at the heart of the mysterious events on the ranch, surrounded by suspicion and superstition, this isn't quite the summer holiday she had planned.
 A cryptid is an animal for which there appears to be some substantial evidence (sightings and traces of it's activities), but which is not accepted by modern science. In this second book of the Cryptid Files series, Flitcroft gives us suspense, drama, a bit of teenage romance blossoming, and a memorable character pursuing the passion of her deceased mother in order to find some closeness and, maybe, some closure.  The introduction of another cryptid makes for truly interesting format and information.Well written and fascinating, this is a great read that makes you wonder about the blurred line between daily reality and fantasy. Published by those wonderful and creative folk at Little Island (my favourite children's books publishers!)


MARCO MOVES IN
author: Gerry Boland
'It's not every day that a grizzly bear turns up on your doorstep, asking for a cup of tea.' But this is exactly what happens one night at Patrick's house. The grizzly has escaped from the local zoo and is looking for somewhere to live. But the entire town is on the look out and a grizzly bear can be rather hard to hide. After a host of close calls, Patrick and Marco find the perfect place.
This is a charming little book, well written, very exciting and extremely funny! The characters are well defined and the contemporary black and white illustrations really add to the atmosphere and the tone of the story. Thoroughly enjoyable for younger readers (and for me as well), I can recommend this book about friendship, family and finding a place where you are welcome without any reservations whatsoever. A great little book that says a lot in a few pages!
 (Be sure to also have a good read of the other 'Marco' stories; Marco: Master of Disguise and Marco: Moonwalker ... each just as good as the first!)




2 comments:

  1. Thanks a mill for the mention Mary Esther :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi there - thanks very much for such a positive review of my first published novel, Good Red Herring! Your site is a great resource for children's literature, too.

    ReplyDelete