The One With the Waggly Tail by Sarah Webb and Steve McCarthy (age 2+)
This is the third book from super-team Sarah Webb and Steve McCarthy, published by the O’Brien Press, each of them gathering well-loved rhymes from an Irish childhood. Some of the pieces included will be familiar to children in any part of the world (1,2,3,4,5, Once I caught a fish alive) and some are new, or more uniquely Irish (Connemara Cradle Song). Plenty of classic nursery rhymes can be found here and all are given a fresh lease of life with Steve McCarthy’s brilliant illustrations, tied together by the colour palette we see on the front cover. A hardback with a ribbon to hold your place, this is a perfect gift for young families and will suit children aged two to much older.
MÍP le Máire Zepf agus Paddy Donnelly (age 3+)
MÍP is blasted off to Mars to capture images of alien life there, but try as she might, there are no aliens to be found… or are there? When an storm happens and MÍP loses contact with earth, the scientists who made her are devastated. But with a little help, MÍP manages to reactivate. Based on real events, (mostly!), the story of brave MÍP, the hardest-working robot in the solar system, is a tale that will inspire earthlings of all ages. A brilliant picturebook that is a first rate example of image and text working brilliantly to tell two conflicting stories.
Christmas Lights by Ruth Symons and Carolina Rabei (age 3+)
Join one little girl and her father on their drive home for Christmas. Lift the flaps and spin the wheels to watch stars shoot past and fairy lights twinkle. With a lyrical text and beautiful art by The Ride-by-Nights illustrator Carolina Rabei, this book makes the perfect Christmas gift, and will capture the hearts of the whole family.
Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland (age 3+)
A book about simple pleasures and stopping to notice what makes you happy, Where Happiness Begins is full of neon colours, feeling both modern and timeless at once. Addressing the reader directly, it talks about happiness not always being where you expect it, and sometimes being hard to find. It talks about feelings sometimes being overwhelming, but happiness always finding a way back in the end. For young children who have found this year tough, or who may struggle with a different kind of Christmas this year, this is a positive, joyful book that acknowledges that some days are tougher than others. For other selections for all ages on topics relating to mental health and wellbeing, see our free reading guide, Mind Yourself: The Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide.
The Story of Croke Park by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Graham Corcoran (age 7+)
There is a great choice of sports books this Christmas, including Girls Play Too: Inspiring Stories of Irish Sportswomen by Jacqui Hurley, illustrated by Sinead Colleran, Rachel Corcoran, Jennifer Farley, Jennifer Murphy and Lauren O’Neill and Aim High: Irisg Sports Stars, Trailblazers and Mavericks by Donny Mahoney and Eoin Coveney. This book is perfect for young GAA players and fans: it follows the history of Croke Park from its early days as Butterly’s Field, to Jones’ Road and finally to Croke Park as we know it today. Telling the story of Gaelic games and how the GAA was formed against the backdrop of the State’s history, we are brought through the cups and county colours to memorable matches and other events at the grounds. Ó Muircheartaigh’s own voice and memories are scattered throughout, giving warmth to the story, with Graham Corcoran’s illustrations animating the story for younger readers.
Why The Moon Travels, by Oein DeBhairduin and Leanne McDonagh (age 11+)
The first published collection of Mincéir folktales written and illustrated by Mincéirí, this book is spellbinding. Woven throughout the collection are scenes from the childhood of gifted storyteller, Oein DeBhairduin. Artful illustrations evoke both past and present. There is an enlightening introduction and a glossary of Gamal for those of us who are unfamiliar with Traveller culture. Through these nineteen stories we are offered glimpses of a rich and beautiful culture, we are privileged to receive them.
The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley (age 12+)
When Charlie’s longed-for brother is born with a serious heart condition, Charlie’s world is turned upside down. Upset and afraid, Charlie flees the hospital and makes for the ancient forest on the edge of town. There Charlie finds a boy floating face-down in the stream, injured, but alive. But when Charlie sets off back to the hospital to fetch help, it seems the forest has changed. It’s become a place as strange and wild as the boy dressed in deerskins. For Charlie has unwittingly fled into the Stone Age, with no way to help the boy or return to the present day. Or is there? What follows is a wild, big-hearted adventure as Charlie and the Stone Age boy set out together to find what they have lost – their courage, their hope, their family and their way home.