Stories for páistí - and parents: Children's books in Irish
God be with the days when learning Irish involved looking at tables of irregular verbs and the only illustrations children saw were the ones they drew on their homework books. There is a range of attractive picture books in Irish for children now that could also be read by adults whose Irish may not be the best but whose little páiste is at the local Gaelscoil.
There are no prizes for guessing what Séimí is interested in in Spidey (Cló Mhaigh Eo, €9), written by Carmel Uí Cheallaigh and illustrated by Fintan Taite, and aimed at the over-fours. This is probably not the place to mention what happens to uninvited spiders in our house. However, having spent time with Séimí and his amour for arachnids, this reviewer promises to be more understanding of their right to life, if no wiser about the attraction.
The writer Patricia Forde and the illustrator Steve Simpson have created a wonderful book in Mise agus an Dragún (Futa Fata, €9.95). (Guess what dragún means in English!) Here we have a brave little bear – well, almost brave – who decides to go in quest of a dragon. Or perhaps not. Weighing up the pros and cons of such a dangerous venture can be quite challenging for a little bear.
Another Séimí pops up in Bridget Bhreathnach’s Ní Mise a Rinne É! (Futa Fata, £9.95) This Séimí has a very active imagination, wonderfully conveyed by Donough O’Malley’s illustrations. Unfortunately, poor Séimí does not always own up to what he has done. Hence his shout: “Ní mise a rinne é!” (“I didn’t do it!”). It takes some elephants to show Séimí the error of his ways.
There are no elephants in Colmán Ó Raghallaigh’s circus tale, Deora Draíochta (Cló Mhaigh Eo, €9), but there is a clown, Cócó. His worry that the circus is losing its magic is brought to life by the illustrator Olivia Golden, but even Cócó’s sad face cannot dampen Golden’s bright colours. This story is aimed at the over-eights and has more text than the other books mentioned here. That said, the sentences are measured and will reward the dedicated reader.