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A different way of seeing

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Autism: “a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterised by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.” Oxford English Dictionary Loud and lively, playing with words and messing with metaphor, spontaneous, hilarious … children’s book festivals and school visits by authors, illustrators and other creative […]

Future Perfect

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‘More and more clearly, I came to realise that I must not look backward, but to the future, and … begin with children.’ Jella Lepman, founder of IBBY* Jella Lepman’s faith in children to shape a more peaceful, tolerant world was borne out this week, more than fifty years after she wrote those words in […]

Stories through sound and silence

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A mixture of speech and silence, words and pictures this week, with the chatter of Children’s Book Festival and the quiet of the Silent Books. Schoolchildren around Dublin learned how dragon DNA entered human gene history to create Aidan Mooney’s fire-breathing mum in My Secret Dragon. And in Galway, teachers, librarians, home-school liaison workers and […]

Wordless worlds

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Two wonderful, wonder-filled sessions with wordless picture books in County Clare this week. Syrian children brought their parents along to explore Clare Libraries’ set of Silent Books from around the world (based on the IBBY collection, (see http://www.ibby.org/awards-activities/activities/silent-books/?L=0). We started by using props to create a group story where humans turned into cats, jumped into […]

Multi-stories

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You’d think that once a book was on the shelves the story inside it would be over. But schoolchildren around Cork have been proving otherwise. Talks on My Secret Dragon during Children’s Book Festival have unearthed all sorts of different possible plotlines and motivations from the ones that drive the book. Reading short pieces from […]

Autumn magic

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The ancient alchemists should have visited Ireland in October. They’d have given up trying to turn base metals into gold and watched nature do it all by itself.   Children’s writers get to enjoy the treasure more than many as we travel the length and breadth of Ireland for Children’s Book Festival. Driving the almost-empty […]

My Secret Dragon launch

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A great evening of fun, cakes from the recipes at the back of the book and face-painting. Big thanks to the wonderful Little Island, Dubray Bookshop in Grafton Street and everyone who came for the laugh and launch of Mucking About and My Secret Dragon.

Light reading

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Just back from a magical three days full of all things children’s-booky at the biennial Congress of IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People http://www.ibbyireland.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html) in Athens. Delegates from many of IBBY’s 76 member countries shared their love of children’s books that cross cultures, and a belief in the power of literature to […]

He’s such a dragon

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There’s a phrase you don’t hear often. In fact, have you ever? While writing My Secret Dragon, it struck me that only shes are described as dragons: shouty, scary female teachers, aunts, businesswomen, politicians, dentists and, worse luck, mothers. The flaming cheek (and nostrils) of it! Not only are males necessary for dragons to exist […]

My Secret Dragon

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Hello new book! My Secret Dragon has finally hatched after a two-year incubation. It began during a morning run when the words ‘My mother is part-dragon’ popped into my head. The story explores difference, and how people react to it, through the eyes of twelve-year-old Aidan who’s been homeschooled all his life to protect his […]