Monday, 12 December 2016

And the winners are...

Well done to all the entrants to our Christmas competition! We received 172 entries from all years, which is brilliant at such a busy time.
As promised, here are the answers to the questions of each quiz:
6th/5th class:
1. Alice in Wonderland (in Hebrew); 2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (in French); 3. The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings (both answers accepted, in Japanese); 4. Pippi Longstocking (around the world!); 5. Harry Potter (and the Philosopher's Stone, in Armenian)

3rd/4th class:
1. Harry Potter; 2. The BFG; 3. The Cat in the Hat; 4. The Wizard of Oz; 5. The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings (both answers accepted)

1st/2nd class:
1. Wally; 2. Winnie the Pooh; 3. Winnie the Witch; 4. they're all elephants; 5. The Demon Dentist (it is the only book in the list NOT written by Roald Dahl)

Junior/Senior Infants:
1-D the boy in the rocket is looking for a star (from How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers)
2-B George the dog is looking for Harris (in Oh, No, George! by Chris Haughton)
3-E the Gruffalo is thinking about a mouse (in The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler)
4-C the family is going on a bear hunt (We're Goin on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury)
5-A the very hungry caterpillar has eaten all the fruit (The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle)

And now, without further ado, the winners!
Junior Infants: Heidi
Senior Infants: Tatyana
First Class: Sari
Second Class: Ryan K.
Third Class: Stephanie
Fourth Class: Ryan M.
Fifth Class: Kiera S.
Sixth Class: Sophie N.

Well done all and thanks to the teachers and parent-librarians for helping out!

Monday, 5 December 2016

Competition time!

To put us all in a festive mood, I have been running a bookish competition through the parent-run library. All classes have had their chance to enter as there were 4 different sets of questions for different age groups.
The Junior and Senior Infants were asked to match the pairs from famous picturebooks. First and Second Class had to answer a quiz, while Third and Fourth were to guess the book from the Lego creation and Fifth and Sixth had to work out the titles of well-known books... in foreign editions.
All the right answers will be gathered in a Santa hat (it's the season after all) and one lucky winner per year will be picked and given a brand new book, chosen based on their personal favourite reads.
If you're a pupil from SMGS and haven't entered yet, do it before Thursday 8 December!
You can find all the quizzes below and have fun working your way through them.
Answers and winners will be announced next week!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Give them books for Christmas!

It’s December, so we are officially allowed to use the C word and start on our shopping. Books are of course a great gift for children who love reading, as well as for those who haven’t yet fallen in love with it. Here’s your Patron of Reading’s own selection of brilliant titles published this year, for all ages.

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments below!

My Dreams by Xavier Deneux

This is one for babies and toddlers, with big chunky pages, stark black and white illustrations and even some glow in the dark bits! A gentle bed-time read by the author-illustrator of the brilliant My Animals in the same series, for the same age group.

How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwarz

Anna and Crocodile are on a mission to find gold: they have to be really sneaky and really clever about it, in case of competition. This is a glorious read, with bright and funny dialogue that will prompt map-making and treasure-hunting around the house for sure. 3+

Rabbit and Bear series by Julian Gough and Jim Field

Take Rabbit, who has never uttered the word ‘fun’, and Bear, who is kind but a bit dim-witted. Place them in a snowy countryside with some mouldy carrots, the makings of a snowman and a wolf (maybe). This is an extremely funny read, with some gross bits occasionally thrown in, to read aloud or read all by yourself. 6+

Mega Robo Bros by Neill Cameron

Sibling rivalry with robots and super powers, what’s not to like? An awesome, fast-paced and hilarious comic that is the first in a series. Brilliant! 7-10

Hello World by Jonathan Litton and L’Atelier Cartographic

For the fact-lovers out there, here comes this atlas with a different. Take a stroll around the world and learn to great the locals in over 150 languages. With flaps to lift and big, detailed pictures to pore over, this promises hours of quiet reading. 8+

Tamsin and the Deep by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown

Another fabulous comic with plenty of adventure and suspense, and a healthy dose of magic and scares. Tamsin is off surfing when a rogue wave drags her under apparently forever. A month later, she resurfaces, apparently unscathed, but she has brought back from the deep a magic stick and, unfortunately, a very nasty creature… 9-12

Football School by Alex Bellos, Ben Lyttleton and Spike Gerell

A treat for football fans, Football School is a handy guide to explaining absolutely everything through football. Hilarious and full of fascinating trivia. 9+

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Sputnik may look like a dog, but, really, he is an alien from outer space and his mission is to find 10 good reasons to save Earth from its scheduled annihilation. Prez is the human boy who first opens his door to Sputnik and thus the crazy adventure begins. A big, fat novel that reads super-fast because it is so giggle-inducing and action-packed. 10+

Survivors by David Long and Kerry Hyndman

These true stories of survival from the past century should delight those who love facts and ‘real’ stories. The real-life heroes in these pages have survived being attacked by bears, trapped in canyons, surrounded by sharks and crashing in their plane in the jungle. Heartening, gripping and occasionally graphic: edge-of-your-seat stuff. 11+

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Prepare to cry, prepare to laugh as you meet ex-best friends Franny and Suzy. Ever since Franny died at the beach, Suzy has stopped talking. Stopped talking, but not thinking. Suzy is a practical, scientific kind of girl and what she thinks is this: there must be more to Franny’s death. Heart-breaking and empowering in equal measure, this is one to cuddle up with. 12+

Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy

One for Young-Adult readers, this is the story of Annabel, a snarky, anorexic teen who also happens to be a ghost. Her job is to look after Julia, an over-achieving, bright girl with an obesity issue. The irony isn’t lost on Annabel who has very personal notions of what it might mean to ‘help’ her charge. Spot on, funny and gripping, it doesn’t shy away from strong language and mature topics. Young Adult

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "inis reading guide"For more great book ideas, head over to Inis magazine, where you will find books for all ages in English and Irish. Your local library should also have a copy of this year's Inis Reading Guide, which contains over 250 quick reviews of books for babies to young adults: picturebooks, early readers, chapter books, big, fat novels, fact books and poetry.
Happy browsing!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Babies on Board

As part of my tenure as Patron of Reading in SMGS National School in Inchicore, I have run a couple of sessions of Baby Bookclubs and it's been a hoot, or, more specifically, a roar.
Together with their dedicated grown-ups we have read about kings, queens and castles, about babies and about dinosaurs fierce, meek and fast.
Part of the session is spent reading together: we follow the text on the page as much as we wander from it to make connections with the toys we have in the room, to compare with our own skills (can you be very, very slow like the triceratops?), to manhandle the book or just pore over the images (and maybe do a bit of counting and name some colours, or, even better, find ourselves in the pictures).
The babies are in reality toddlers, with ages ranging mostly between 18 months and 2 and a bit, with the exception of a young lady for whom we are still counting in weeks (17 weeks old for session 1) and who is all eyes and ears: her fellow bookclubbers hold as much interest to her than the books and props. Last week, she was plied with a cloth book and spent half of the session engrossed in it. The other half she spent manipulating dinos like everyone else.
We shout, we run, we sing, we dance. Baby Bookclub is not a quiet affair. But we are engaged, we turn the pages ourselves when we are ready, we comment on everything, we learn (a tiny bit) of sharing and taking turns and we do some absorbing art at the end.
Even in those few sessions, I have seen some very rewarding sights, from the toddler who didn't really want to be there at 9 and didn't want to leave at 9.45, to the 2-year-old who had never quite taken to playgroup but was leading the way in Baby Bookclub.
It is also a chance to answer any questions the grown-ups may have, share reading tips with them and throw in the odd book recommendation. Book doctoring without the white coat!
I'm hoping to do more of these sessions in the new year and can't wait to see how our club members get on with it. For more, head over to my Patron of Reading blog, where you can see the very artistic craft we produced and some extra resources (dinosaur songs, anyone?).

Dinos everywhere!

Did you know the month of November was, in some places, dedicated to dinosaurs? They call it Dinovember and last week at Baby Book Club, we had our own dino day. We were reading the classic Dinosaur Roar by Henrietta Stickland and Paul Stickland with great gusto.

As we read, we looked at dino teddies and plastic dinos, comparing how they looked and felt to their painted pals on the pages of the book. We chatted about opposites and practised being fast dinosaurs, fierce dinosaurs and, of course, LOUD dinosaurs.
After some singing, we went on a dinosaur hunt. Those dinos are cheeky creatures, they will hide everywhere, even on blank sheets of paper! But they were no match for our babies and toddlers who found them all out thanks to the magic of wet crepe paper.

As promised to the grown-ups, here are the links to some very cool dinosaur songs. Enjoy!

The Dinosaurs Song by Big Word Club
The Dinosaur Song by Johnny Cash 
Running from a T-Rex and The Dinovember Song by Daddy Donut
Dinosaur in My Backyard by Hullabaloo

Monday, 21 November 2016

Baby Book Club, take 1

 Last week saw the first meeting of our Baby Book Club.
Books for babies? Does that sound like a funny idea to you? Surely they're not that interested? Surely they'd rather eat the books than read them?
Well, let me tell you that these babies had a ball at their first book club meeting. We had half a dozen very young readers (and their grown-up) with ages ranges from 17 weeks (yes, 'weeks') to 2 and 1/2.
We spread out mats in our room, took out our book for the day and got ready to make some noise.

This week we were reading The Tiny King by Taro Miura, the story of a really small king who feels lonely and sad in his big castle until something exciting happens (I won't tell you what, go read it!).
We spent some time measuring ourselves against the king (we were all so much bigger!), looking for him in the big pages, marching around like his soldiers and fake-splashing each other as we were in the royal bath tub.

Then we sang for a while and finished the session with some art. We made brilliant crowns out of paper plates: the grown-ups did the cutting and the little ones decorated their crowns with colourful puffed maize. We all felt very regal (like kings and queens) by the end.
Thanks to all who came!

Patron of Reading!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have had the great pleasure and honour to be designated Patron of Reading for Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál Inchicore.
'What's that?' you say. 'Inchi-which?' you say.
A Patron of Reading is a writer who develops a special relationship with a particular school and becomes a sort of embassador for reading for pleasure.
In other words, we're going to have book-related fun. Though job, I know.
SMGS is a National School in Dublin 8 with about 300 kids and, as of now, 1 Patron of Reading. It is the only primary school in the Republic to boast one so far, so we are all super-chuffed. (Sheena Wilkinson is Patron of Reading for Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun, and Pauline Burgess looks after Millenium Integrated Primary School in Ballynahinch).
We're going to have bookish competitions, writing club for kids, writing workshop for the parents, Baby Book Clubs for the younger siblings, and all manner of excitement. Keep up with it all at
If you want to find out more about the Patron of Reading movement, it's over here:

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Welcome to the SMGS Patron of Reading’s blog!

The what?

You probably have never heard of a Patron of Reading before and that’s not surprising. While there are lots in the UK, there are only 3 in Ireland and SMGS is the first primary school in the Republic to have one!

A Patron of Reading is a school’s designated children’s author with whom the school forms a special relationship. The whole idea of the role is to create a buzz around books and reading, and to encourage reading for pleasure.

You can find out more here:

What does a Patron of Reading do?

A Patron of Reading doesn’t deal in homework or phonics or spelling. The Patron is all about discovering fun ways to interact with books and reading. Think reading challenges, reviewing competitions, creative writing workshops, bookish treasure hunts and so on.
The Patron is here for everyone in the school: the children, of course, but also the teachers and the parents.

Who is the SMGS Patron of Reading then?

Your first ever Patron of Reading is Juliette Saumande. Juliette is a French writer and translator of children’s books living in Dublin. She has over 30 titles to her name, ranging from picture books to non-fiction, game books to novels and book apps, in French and in English.

She is part of the Writers in School scheme. She is actively involved in Children’s Books Ireland both as Reviews Editor for its magazine – Inis– and as a regular Book Doctor in CBI’s very successful Book Clinics.

She has a blogand a website.

As Juliette has two children in the school, you’re likely to find her in the yard every morning. Come say hello! J

Monday, 13 June 2016

Disaster in sight

Did I not say to watch this space? Well, here he is, or will be very soon, the one and only Disaster David.
David is a young giant with a big heart and big clumsy hands. He is forever breaking things, but he never means to. He is just too strong. So when the good people of Sassoon send him to mind their sheep up on the mountain, they should know what to expect: disaster!

Disaster David is my take on an old Armenian saga. It features sheep and bearded warriors, chamber pots and giant snores, hares and bears and tigers, and is splendidly illustrated by French artist Julie Grugeaux who has done an exceptional job here of mingling traditional patterns and architecture with the energy and zanyness of the text (if I say so myself).
The book is published (imminently) by Zangak publishing in English, with an Armenian translation to follow. Head over to my French blog for more pics...