Monday, 21 December 2015

The Gates by John Connolly and The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

My fourteen year old doesn't rave about books (or rave at all, I hope!) Anyway, I grabbed The Gates
from the young adult section of our library last week. I don't usually get anything there as its predominantly "coming of age love story" 's, which are not his cup of tea.

Anyway, this "is really good." That's a rave review in fourteen year old boy language, by the way.

In the other bedroom, my twelve year old could not put The Silver Sword down, which made me very proud.
Such a great story.

Friday, 11 December 2015

books for teachers, best friends, husbands and in-laws

For teachers: At Sea and The Grand Duchess of Nowhere. Everything by Laurie Graham is both good and feel-good. I'm getting Mr Starlight for my mother in law too.

For best friends: Clothes Music Boys. According to reviews, this is a brilliant read and I LOVE the title. I met my besties last night and brought these along for them. We have all spent many an hour discussing clothes, music and boys over the past two plus decades, so it was the obvious choice.
These are for my husbands stocking. I wanted something exciting and something funny and it was a coincidence that they are both from the same series. Unfortunately, this edition of Three Men in a Boat has tiny text, too tiny for anyone over forty five, so I'm going to look around for a different copy. The Riddle of the Sands font is perfect though, and its pretty apt with the 1916 centenary coming up. I think he'll love them.

Oh, and I've ordered this and this for my father in law. Both reportedly very good reads.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune by P.J. Lynch

It has been said already that The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower is stunning, and it really is. I wonder has the phrase "visual feast" been used? Because it is that too. It seems unfair that an artist like P.J Lynch turns out to be a pretty great writer too. The voice of John is pitch perfect. How many writers could turn their hands to painting and pull it off this well?

All I can add is that what I liked most about this book was how the illustrations and storytelling synced so perfectly. Both the words and the pictures pull you right into the characters heads.

See, here are the lads talking about one of the girls..
And here she is, playing with the younger kids..

Maybe writers and illustrators  working closely do this too, but in this book it seems particularly perfect.

Here is young John, standing up to the First Mate. And the First Mate taking note.

Its an epic journey that does not end when he reaches America and really, falling  off the Mayflower was only one episode in an eventful life. 

Another illustration to dive into.
This is Samoset who welcomed the hungry Englishmen.

This a Thanksgiving story, a pilgrim story, a story of religious persecution. A story of tolerance and kindness and survival. I would only add that when I started reading this to my boys, they asked me, who were his "people"? And why did the King of England not like them? Some simple notes on this period of history and the Separatists would have been very useful.

It was my twelve year old who enjoyed it the most, so definitely a picture book for older kids. Even adult ones. 

Friday, 4 December 2015

Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty

Every time we go to the library my ten and twelve year old will have a quick look at the "new books" shelves and usually grab the latest scary/ghoulish/parentless adventure with the opposite-of-pretty cover. More often than not these are returned unread but last week, this one, Darkmouth was a hit.
My ten year old described it has half Harry Potter, half Skullduggery Pleasant. In other words, fantastic.
With manageable, well spaced text and a few illustrations too. For ages eight or nine up, I'd say. 
P.s. and if you are feeling generous, this is book two.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Required reading for every Irish teen (that they will LOVE)

I was racking my brains, trying to think of something my fourteen year old would really enjoy reading. Something funny and well written that would fill the gap that Ross O'Carroll Kelly had been occupying for the past few months. And then I slapped my head - Barrytown! The Commitments! The Van! The Snapper! I could'nt see them separately in the library, but luckily, found this doorstop.

 He hasn't put it down, but when he does, I'm grabbing it. I had a quick peek and as you would expect, the books are as funny and great as ever.

And if like me, you are heading to school this week for the parent teacher meetings, you could do worse than having The Moor's Account in your handbag. It passed the waiting times outside various classrooms very nicely.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Mamoko by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

When I opened Mamoko and found it was a board book, I was surprised. Oh, I thought, its a toddler book. However, I came to see why the thick pages were necessary - its a book for ages three to six but our library copy has needed them, its been read so many times. And rightly so, its fantastic and would be a great, great present for any boy or girl. And its big too, (I've put a 12" ruler in some of the photos), so will look respectably generous under the tree. Once I finish writing this I'll see about ordering a copy for my five year old nephew.
Page one and two introduce the characters. They each have their own journey to make to get to the town carnival. Choose whoever you like and find them on each page.

The double page spreads are like this.

Here is Magical Miss Chubb...
 Oh no! Her special box!

Will she ever find it again?

 How kind, Otto Trump returns it. But what is in it? 

I loved this little guy, his name is Daniel Daub. He is doing some shopping.

And here he is with his purchase..

What I've shown here is a tiny fraction of the illustrations. There's loads and loads to discover. And with some gentle humour too, which makes it all the better. Originally published in Poland, the authors went on to create the now huge selling Maps, but actually I prefer this. It's just great. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Caroline visite Paris by Pierre Probst

Junior Certificate French is all you need to read this book. Although its worth getting for the illustrations alone. Caroline has numerous little friends, each to be found on every page - each getting up to mischief. Its a pore-over-for-ages book.

Each page is so French - the details are exquisite - the clothes, the views, the architecture. And the humour is irreverent and not at all watered down for kids. My guys loved it. A wonderful book about a wonderful city.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Nicola Davies - One Tiny Turtle

I've come across Zoologist Writer Nicola Davies books a few times over the past year or so - her work is found in quite a lot of those photo-illustrated nature books in the library and is also more prettily, accompanied by illustrators in the picture book section. Shes a wonderful writer, explaining the natural world in a way I'm pretty sure anyone who knows about it all, would approve.

I have reviewed Poo! here, and (just buy it - such a good book) and I've thought of buying What's Eating You? - another from the series, only I know it will make my head itch. Maybe Extreme Animals would be a more comfortable option? (All three are short wide-ish paperbacks which fit easily into a Christmas stocking.)

One Tiny Turtle - Now, I just read this last night, and I wrote the above yesterday afternoon so I'm sorry to say I need to add here that while the book is as beautiful and informative as I hoped, it did make my son cry. Oh dear, the life of a baby turtle can be quite sad.
This is an adult Loggerhead Turtle (yes, like the one in Finding Nemo.)

And this is where it gets a bit, well, emotional. She has found the beach where she will lay her eggs. She runs the risk of getting too hot on the sand and dying so mostly, she does this at night. There's more too it than that but anyway, its worrying.

Six to eight weeks later her eggs hatch, and the babies make their way to the water, using the line of light between the sea and the sky to guide them. Sometimes though, there are lights on streets or buildings nearby and they head in the wrong direction. Oh my goodness, they're only babies! Its heartbreaking! And see those birds, there, waiting to pounce?

And a little detail; yes, those are crabs catching the turtles. Sigh.

In the end, one little turtle, (only one!) makes it. And I go downstairs to relax and drink my Friday night wine, to be called back up five minutes later by a very sad little boy. 

Friday, 6 November 2015

The Bear's Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud

Sometimes I am just too tired to do bedtime books(and sometimes I am in the middle of series two of The West Wing). This is when the look-and-find books come into their own. the Bear's Sea Escape meant that last night, only five minutes after everyone's teeth were cleaned, I was on the couch with the remote in my hand.
Its not too easy to find Little Bear and his Dad, which is all the better.

Benjamin Chaud has also done the illustrations for some cute games, like this one. I saw it when we were camping in France last Summer. And actually, the one we left the shop with was this - which turned out to be a handy, quick game for ages three to six.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Shepherd Boy by Kim Lewis

Every Monday, my five year old comes out of school with a heavy bag - its got his homework folder and a plastic envelope of three books borrowed from the school library, for us to read during the week. Theres a little form for me to sign to say we read them, with a space for smiley faces, so we can add if the books were enjoyed. This one got three smiles.
We used to have a copy of Floss, so I knew about Kim Lewis, but we had missed The Shepherd Boy. I think of copy of this, The Little Lamb, and maybe one of these would be a great present.

There's a bit of a shine on these pictures, sorry, but I think you can see how heart-warming they are. This is James, with his dad, a shepherd. He helps as much as he can -



and dipping.

I'm trying to think of a word I haven't used on this blog a million times - like lovely or wonderful or beautiful, but I can't.  Just look at that last picture, of little James and his Dad. Such a lovely, beautiful, wonderful book.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Irelandopedia by Fatti and John Burke

  Just look at this cover..

isn't it a beauty?

Now I know the idea of  any encyclopedia is to discover new knowledge, and you can certainly do that with Irelandopedia. But what we found wonderful about this book was finding familiar facts and places.  
There's Clara Lara on the right, and Katie Taylor!

Priced at around €22, (the official retail price is €24.99 but I've seen it on special offer in both Dubray and Alan Hannas) this is a giant Maps style book about obviously, Ireland. Only I like it better. I do like the antiquey colours in Maps but they are a bit samey, page after page. In Irelandopedia, the colours are bright but not too bright and well, the illustrations are really, really lovely. 

And Father Ted!

With a double spread for each of our thirty two counties, there's literally something for everyone. Its pretty fabulous.  I'd recommend it for ages five to ten as its really a read-aloud or read-by-yourself book. 

And loads and loads more..

Such pretty endpapers. Look at that creamy pint.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Massey's Wood, Simpsons, Harry Potter, Stephen Fry, Lego, Zelda, Ross O'Carroll Kelly

We took our boys up to Massey's Wood yesterday and to get through the twenty minute journey, these two brought Simpsons Comic Madness - which we have had for about six years and has been read about seven million times, and a huge Lego Book

We all needed a bit of
fresh air... 

and wrestling.

As always, no one felt like getting into the car and as always, 
it was lovely.

The other two boys brought

and Ross.

P.s. I've given up trying to get up earlier than the kids to have an uninterrupted cup of tea - it seems like they all have the same idea. However, this week my twelve year old put this

 on in the kitchen when he came down. Read by Stephen Fry, its wonderful. Even if you have read all the books and seen all the movies, even if you don't think you are a Harry Potter fan, its wonderful. It doesn't seem to be available to buy new at any reasonable price, but we got it from the library easily.