Full line-up announced for Children's Books Ireland International Conference 2023
‘What rewards can be reaped when risk is in the mix?’
That’s the question being put to authors, illustrators, publishers and booklovers at this year’s Children's Books Ireland International Conference, which returns to the Light House Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin, on the 16th and 17th of September.
Running for over 25 years, the full line-up for this year’s conference was announced today by Children’s Books Ireland, who are inviting speakers to reflect on the theme ‘Risk and Reward’.
International speakers include:
- Husband and wife team, author Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and illustrator Tom de Freston of 'Julia and the Shark' and 'Leila and the Blue Fox';
- Shawn Harris, US illustrator of 'The Eyes of the Impossible' and 'The First Cat in Space ate Pizza';
- Katherine Rundell, author of 'Impossible Creatures' and 'Rooftoppers';
- Ross Montgomery, author of 'Spellstone' and 'Sheep School'; and
- Manjeet Mann, author of 'The Crossing' and 'Run, Rebel'.
Spotlighting the diversity of writers and illustrators in Ireland, CEO of Black and Irish, Leon Diop and its Managing Director, Briana Fitzsimons, will discuss a new collaborative project with Little Island Books, and Brazilian picturebook creator, Tarsila Krüse, who has lived in Ireland since 2007, will discuss her experience of learning and working in the Irish language for titles such as 'Púcaí Schmúcaí!' and 'Ná Gabh ar Scoil!'.
The conference will also hear from Laureate na nÓg Patricia Forde and from ten debut authors and illustrators who will have an opportunity to highlight their upcoming work as part of the New Voices slot. Laura Ryan, Assistant Librarian in DCU’s Special Collections and Archives, will present the partnership between DCU Library and Children’s Books Ireland, which sees hundreds of books transferred each year to the university’s care.
‘Authors and illustrators are no strangers to risk, from the creative to the financial. Taking that first gamble on your work can be nothing short of terrifying, but the rewards – finding your voice, your community of peers and your own eager audience of young readers – are so affirming.
'This year at our conference, we’re celebrating these ventures into the unknown, with speakers sharing leaps of faith that became their stepping stones to success – sometimes in the most unexpected of ways.’
– Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children's Books Ireland
With support from the Arts Council of Ireland, the Children’s Books Ireland International Conference will be live-streamed on YouTube and financial support will be available to delegates to assist in travel, accommodation and childcare costs. Children’s Books Ireland has also made a limited number of free tickets available for unwaged persons who wish to attend in-person and online. To avail of these tickets, please get in touch as soon as possible on (01) 872 7475 or at email@example.com.
Katherine Rundell and Catherine Doyle
Katherine Rundell is a bestselling author whose novels for children include Rooftoppers, The Wolf Wilder, The Explorer and The Good Thieves. She has won the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Blue Peter Book Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, amongst many others. She was a 2021 World Book Day author and has also published two picture books for children and three non-fiction books for adults. She joins us at conference with author Catherine Doyle whose most recent novel, The Lost Girl King, was shortlisted for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards.
Leon Diop and Briana Fitzsimons, Black and Irish
Leon Diop is a 28-year-old mixed-race man from Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland. He is the founder of Black and Irish, an organisation striving to transform Ireland into a global leader in equality and inclusion. Briana Fitzsimons grew up in Yonkers, NY, USA, and has lived in Ireland since 2017. Briana joined the Black and Irish team in 2021 and has been working to make schools across the country more inclusive for all students. Together, they have co-authored Black and Irish, the organisation’s upcoming title with Little Island Books.
Matthew Parkinson-Bennett, Little Island Books
Matthew Parkinson-Bennett is Publisher with Little Island Books, a Dublin-based independent publisher of books for young readers. He has spent most of his career working in books, across trade, academic, educational and legal publishing. In a previous life he taught English in Ireland, England and Spain, and wrote for outlets including the Times Literary Supplement, Irish Times, Sunday Times and Dublin Review of Books. He joins Conference 2023 in conversation with Leon Diop and Briana Fitzsimons of Black and Irish, to discuss their upcoming collaborative title, Black and Irish.
Tarsila Krüse is an award-winning children’s book illustrator born in Brazil and Irish at heart. She loves languages, books and drawing . Tarsila is known for illustrating several books as Gaeilge and in English in her heartwarming, friendly and sweet style. She has also written and illustrated for the RTÉ Christmas Guide, Ireland’s biggest-selling periodical publication (three times!) and co-authored My Little Album of Ireland and My Little Album of Dublin, with Juliette Saumande. Her favourite things to draw are people and animals, especially dogs! She also loves visiting schools and libraries and facilitating book-making and illustration workshops across Ireland.
Manjeet Mann is a multi-award winning children's author, actress, playwright and screenwriter. Her debut YA novel 'Run, Rebel' was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2021 and won the CILIP Carnegie Shadowers Choice Award, The UKLA Award, Diverse Book Award and Sheffield Children's Book Award. Her second novel 'The Crossing' won The Costa Children's Book Award, was the overall winner of the Sheffield Children's Book Awards 2022 and won The UKLA book award 2023. It was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Book Prize 2022, the Carnegie Medal 2022, the YA Book Prize 2022 and the CLPE CLIPPA Poetry Award 2022. Manjeet is also the founder of Run the World - a not for profit that uses sport and theatre as a means to empower women and girls.
Shawn Harris is an award-winning creator of books for kids. His authorial debut Have You Ever Seen A Flower, was called a 'stunning tour de force…' by The New York Times, and received a Caldecott Honor. The National Museum of Wildlife Art awarded Shawn’s cut-paper art in A Polar Bear in the Snow, by Mac Barnett, the Bull-Bransom Award for excellence in the field of children’s book illustration with a focus on nature and wildlife. His other books include New York Times bestseller The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers, and Everyone’s Awake by Colin Meloy. Shawn lives in Northern California, where he also writes songs, surfs, and plays racquetball.
Ross Montgomery started writing stories as a teenager, when he should have been doing homework, and continued doing so at university. He has been shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book of the Year award twice, with his debut novel Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door and The Midnight Guardians. His books have also been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Award while his picture book Space Tortoise was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Award and included in The Guardian's Best New Children’s Books of 2018. He lives in London with his wife and their cat, called Fun Bobby.
The popular New Voices panel returns this year to the Children's Books Ireland International Conference, offering debut children’s artists the opportunity to present or read from their book alongside their peers. In 2023 Children’s Books Ireland has selected 11 Irish debut artists (authors/illustrators) for the New Voices slot.
Tom de Freston and Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Tom de Freston combines paintings, film and performance to create immersive, visceral narratives. Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an award-winning poet, playwright, and bestselling novelist. Her debut novel for children The Girl of Ink & Stars won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year. Husband and wife, they join us at conference following their bestselling illustrative collaboration, Julia and the Shark, which was met with critical acclaim and selected as Waterstones Children’s Gift of the Year.
Laura Ryan is an Assistant Librarian at Dublin City University. She is part of the Special Collections & Archives team looking after the Children's Books Ireland collection. This is the collection they amassed throughout their work which demonstrates the evolution of children's literature by Irish artists, illustrators, and publishers, both here and abroad. Laura is an Irish language speaker and children’s literature enthusiast dedicated to preserving the history of children’s publishing in Ireland
Patricia Forde, Laureate na nÓg
Patricia writes in English and in Irish, with work ranging from picture books to speculative middle-grade fiction. She has written more than twenty books, along with plays, television series and even a film. Her ambition as Laureate is to encourage wild creativity– bringing children, writers and illustrators together to inspire one another, to imagine new worlds, and most of all to have fun along the way.