Monday, November 28, 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?).

Monday, November 21, 2016

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:

Monday, June 13, 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...