Brilliant Irish books on Ireland AM

May 2024
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A round up of great Irish books discussed on Ireland AM.

There are so many amazing books on offer for children and young people, especially from Irish authors and illustrators! Here, our CEO Elaina Ryan shares some brilliant new books from island-wide artists, catering for a wide range of audience ages.

A retelling of The Three Little Pigs as Gaeilge, a spooky tale unfolding in a Donegal boarding school and a fantasy series inspired by Chinese legend - there is something for everyone in this selection of books.

Dexter Lost his Boo-Woo

Dexter Lost His Boo Woo, written by Shane Hegarty and illustrated by Ben Mantle (age 2+)

This is a book with a few narrative twists and turns, perfect for Gruffalo fans who are looking for a rhyming picturebook with a surprise at the end. When Dexter loses his Boo-Woo, he is so distraught that the police come running to help him. But description of his lost best pal has them quaking in their boots – a creature with fiery eyes and floppy ears and twenty pointy teeth. Of course the adults conjure a terrible monster, and when they find a cuddly little teddy they laugh it off and think they’ve saved the day… but maybe they haven’t found the right Boo-Woo! A great double-twist ending with lots of detail in Ben Mantle’s illustrations for children to point out to their adults.

Na Trí Mhuicín

Na Trí Mhuicín (Three Little Pigs) scríofa ag Áine Ní Ghlinn agus maisithe ag Paddy Donnelly (age 3+)

A modern telling of the three little pigs story is brought to life by Áine Ní Ghlinn’s skilful rhyming text and Paddy Donnelly’s incredibly dynamic illustrations. The big bad (blue!) wolf is seemingly everywhere and we see the full gamut of emotions as the wolf drools over his prey and huffs and puffs to no avail at the house of bricks. It’s the second in Spiddal-based publisher Futa Fata’s fairytale series (following An Slipéar Gloine, the Cinderella story, by Fearghas Mac Lochlainn and also illustrated by Paddy). This is a real keeper, the kind of book a family will hold on to for years and years and a beautiful gift.

Dinosaur Pie

Dinosaur Pie, written by Jen Wallace and illustrated by Alan O’Rourke (age 7+)

Rory is a normal boy – he lives in Cork with his mum, loves playing Big Battle World online with his friends, and has ADHD, which means he can get a little overwhelmed at times. But this book is about a very not-normal week for Rory – the week he eats dinosaur pie and gets turned into a winged, feathered dinosaur; a deinonychus, to be precise. His friends think it’s pretty cool, but having claws, a thrashing tail and an endless appetite for sausages isn’t much fun for Rory or his mum. Can they get to the bottom of the mystery and figure out how to get Rory back to his human form again? A great début from both writer Jen Wallace and illustrator Alan O’Rourke.

Paper Dragons

Paper Dragons: The Fight for the Hidden Realm by Siobhán McDermott (age 10-12)

In a village above the sea cloud, twelve-year-old orphan Zhi Ging fights to become a Silhouette – an apprentice to the immortals. Faced with a continual series of challenges where she must prove her worth, Zhi Ging discovers more about herself than she could have ever expected. But where there are magical properties, mystical creatures, other worlds and immortality, there is, of course, evil lurking in the shadows. A spreading dark force threatens Zhi Ging’s world, and it becomes inextricably linked to her own existence. As the first book in the series, this story launches Zhi Ging along her path to fulfil her destiny in an ultimate quest to save her world. 

The Tower Ghost

The Tower Ghost by Natasha Mac A’Bhaird (age 11+)

This is the first book in a new series, the Sycamore Hill Mysteries, and it is perfect for any fans of Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike books. It has twists and turns galore, a boarding school in a creepy castle, dark secrets and a mystery for our hero Clare and her new friends at Sycamore Hill to solve. With the boarding school setting, this feels very much reminiscent of Enid Blyton’s St Clare’s or Malory Towers series at a glance but is quite dark in theme so we recommend it for age 11 and upwards.

The Tree that Sang to Me

The Tree That Sang to Me, written by Serena Molloy, illustrated by George Ermis (age 12+)

This is a verse novel, written in non-rhyming short poems, and while there isn’t a lot of text in this book it packs a huge emotional punch. When Kai’s older sister runs away from home we aren’t quite sure what happened or why, but we do know that it feels like something is very wrong, and Kai isn’t coping either with the stress at home or with the bullying he faces at school. This book deals with some heavy themes, among them anxiety – Kai pulls his hair when he feels anxious – and self-harm, but the writing is hugely powerful, and the text is dyslexia friendly, which means it’s in a font that is legible for all readers.

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