Back in October last year, I received a message on Twitter from Gráinne Ní Mhuilneoir @BooksAsGaeilge asking if I was looking for picture books from Ireland to review. Um . . . yes please, I responded! And within 24 hours, she had gifted me a list of books to kickstart my research. I was like a kid in a candy store. Actually, make that a book store – with a fabulous display of titles handpicked by someone who has deep knowledge of the Irish literary scene.
According to a recent article in The Irish times, there is an unprecedented demand for children’s books and ‘more Irish children’s authors than ever before’. The article cites three children’s publishing houses, Gill Books, Little Island Books and O’Brien Press, but there are plenty more, including Poolbeg Press, Mercier Press, and Futa Fata, which produces books and CDs in Irish for the children’s/YA market. Some of the big UK publishers, such as Penguin and Walker Books, also have operations in Ireland.
A number of the picture books published in Ireland in recent years have a distinct Irish flavour, such as The President’s Glasses and The President’s Cat by Peter Donnelly (Gill Books), Let’s See Ireland by Sarah Bowie or A Dublin Fairytale by Nicola Colton. The latter two titles from O’Brien Press take readers on a tour of famous Irish locations and landmarks. Indeed, in this article I learned that O’Brien Press was originally established to fill a gap for ‘books by Irish authors about Irish people and Ireland’.
I have selected three titles where the links to Ireland are less obvious. First, the utterly gorgeous Don’t Go to School! by Máire Zepf, illustrated by Tarsila Krüse. This picture book was originally published in Irish under the title Ná Gab ar Scoil! My second choice is the chucklesome, vibrantly illustrated Oh no, George! by Chris Haughton. And last but not least, The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin, which aims to help children deal with emotions, such as anger, fear and anxiety.
Here is my selection with all the important detail:
Don’t Go to School! by Máire Zepf, illustrated by Tarsila Krüse (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017; originally published in Irish by Futa Fata).
Oh no, George! by Chris Haughton (Candlewick Press, 2012; published in Ireland by Walker Books).
The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin (Gill Books, 2018)
I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do!
**For more information on the children’s book scene in Ireland, check out the wealth of information on the Children’s Books Ireland website, and follow Gráinne @BooksAsGaeilge on Twitter!**[Image: National Library of Ireland round by Rupert Ganzer; used under a creative commons licence. Source: flickr.com]