Children’s Books Ireland Awards shortlist

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Pupils James Egan Carthy and Chelina Caunhye from Gardiner Street Primary School, Belfast, and Nakai Mudiwa, one of two Young Judges who sat on this year’s judging panel, with the 10 titles shortlisted for the 2024 KPMG Children's Books Ireland Awards. Photograph: Julian Behal

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In The Irish Times this Saturday, Pat Sheedy talks to Patrick Freyne about his memoir, A Hundred to One: 100 Convictions, 1 Million Euro: The Devastating True Story of a Compulsive Gambler. Lolita Chakrabarti tells Sara Keating about her stage adaptation of Life of Pi, the novel by Yann Martel. Romance novels are regularly derided as schlocky, low-grade bodice-rippers, but how easy is it to pen Mills & Boon-style fiction? Niamh Donnelly tries her hand.

Des Fitzgerald, author of The City of Today is a Dying Thing, sets out his vision for Ireland’s urban future. Patrick Joyce tells Patrick Freyne about his new book, Remembering Peasants: A Personal History of a Vanished World. Sathnam Sanghera, author of Empireland and Empireworld, talks to Mark Paul about Britain’s fear of its imperial past. I explore Northern Ireland’s vibrant literary scene and ask whether it amounts to a distinct identity. And there is a Q&A with author Rebecca Makkai.

Reviews are Paul Gillespie on Fractured Union: Politics, Sovereignty and the Fight to Save the Union by Michael Kenny; Paschal Donohoe on The Inequality of Wealth by Liam Byrne; Brian Maye on Beyond Sustenance: An Exploration of Food and Drink Culture in Ireland by Brian J Murphy; Martina Evans on the best new poetry; John Boyne on Pity by Andrew McMillan; Niamh Jiménez on How We Break; Oliver Farry on Rebel Island: the Incredible Story of Taiwan by Jonathan Clements; Edel Coffey on Green Dot by Madeleine Grey; Pat Carty on Jaq: a Top Boy Story by Ronan Bennett; Aimée Walsh on The House of Broken Bricks by Fiona Williams; James Conor Patterson on Distant Summers: Remembering Philip Casey, edited by Katie Donovan, Eamonn Wall and Michael Considine; Declan O’Driscoll on My Heavenly Favourite by Lucas Rijneveld, tr. Michele Hutchison; Anna Carey on Selected Stories by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne; and James Hanrahan on The Revolutionary Temper: Paris, 1748-1789 by Robert Darnton.

This weekend’s Irish Times Eason offer is by Sebastian Barry. You can buy this Booker-longlisted novel for €5.99, a €5 saving, with your newspaper in any branch.

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From earthquake-torn Japan to the hustle-bustle of Lagos, from gritty Glasgow to the comforts of nature, and seeing contemporary Dublin through the eyes of an otherworldly visitor, this year’s shortlisted titles for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards take readers on a world tour. The shortlist for the 34th annual awards was announced by RTÉ broadcaster Rick O’Shea in the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast this week.

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said: “This is the only Irish awards dedicated to celebrating books created for children and it’s the biggest year we’ve had yet! Between July 2023 and January 2024, the judging panel read a record 158 titles from Irish-born or Ireland-based writers and illustrators.”

Best new children’s books: From time-travelling penguins to a pioneering vetOpens in new window ]

The shortlisted titles, which include five debut writers and three current or former laureates for children, will compete for six awards at the awards ceremony on May 22nd in partnership with the International Literature Festival Dublin. These include the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Award, as well as honours for fiction, illustration and the Junior Juries’ Award that will be decided by young readers across the island of Ireland.

This year’s shortlist includes:

  • April’s Garden, an inventive, colourful debut picture book exploring a mother and daughter’s search for a new home, written by Isla McGuckin and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri (Graffeg).
  • Catfish Rolling, a debut teenage novel situated between modern-day Japan in the wake of a deadly earthquake and a magical dimension rich in mythological notes, by Clara Kumagai (Zephyr).
  • Global, a graphic novel spotlighting the interconnectedness of our world and the impact of the climate crisis. This is the second book in the series from writers Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, and illustrator Giovanni Rigano (Hodder Children’s Books).
  • My Life as a Chameleon, a poignant debut novel that follows 16-year-old Lily as she finds herself in an upheaval that takes her from Nigeria and Manchester, written by Diana Anyakwo (Zephyr).
  • The First Move, a teenage romance that follows the budding relationship of chess-loving Ronan and Juliet in contemporary Northern Ireland. This is the debut novel by Jenny Ireland (Penguin Random House).
  • The Girl Who Fell to Earth, a science fiction novel set in contemporary Dublin that explores the concerns of our time through the eyes of a new visitor to earth, by the current Laureate na nÓg, Patricia Forde (Little Island Books).
  • The Hare-Shaped Hole, a gentle story about loss and acceptance that draws on familiar characters from the tale of the turtle and the hare, by author John Dougherty and illustrator Thomas Docherty (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books).
  • Three Tasks for a Dragon, an evocative tale that follows unlikely hero Prince Lir and not-so-helpless maiden Cethlenn, by two former laureates for children, author Eoin Colfer and illustrator P.J. Lynch (Walker Books).
  • Treacle Town, a gritty teenage novel set in Scotland that explores toxic masculinity, gangland violence, social deprivation and the power of slam poetry, by author Brian Conaghan (Anderson Press).
  • Wider Than the Sea, a lyrical, uplifting novel about a spirited young girl who struggles at school and finds solace through an unlikely friendship with a dolphin named Sunny. This debut novel by Serena Molloy features dyslexic-friendly blank verse with illustrations by George Ermos (Hodder Children’s Books).

Johnny Hanna of KPMG Belfast said it was a great source of pride to support the awards: “Ireland has such a wealth of great writing and illustration talent for readers of all ages. This year’s Junior Jurors will have their work cut out for them but what an enjoyable task it will be!”

Ireland Reads Day ambassador, 2023 Booker Prize winner Paul Lynch, said: 'We live in a time when reading has become more difficult than ever'

On Saturday, February 24th, the people of Ireland are encouraged to take time out of their busy lives to “Get Lost in a Good Book” and drop into their local library for Ireland Reads Day, a Government initiative to celebrate reading

Libraries are hosting a range of interactive events for all ages leading up to the day and on the day itself. Listings of events and further information about Ireland Reads is available at

Ireland Reads Day ambassador, 2023 Booker Prize winner Paul Lynch, said: “We live in a time when reading has become more difficult than ever. Our attention spans have been shattered by life in a modern world and sometimes it seems we do not know ourselves any more. What are we to do? We can win back our attention by reading more books. Find a nice chair and turn your phone off. Push through the urge to distraction and remember that what you practice grows stronger. In the tumult of modern life, we need again to be still and listen. Let reading be your compass.”

The winners of the 2023 Translation Prizes

Nine literary translators and one editor have been awarded this year’s Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes, sponsored by Amazon Literary Partnership and Hawthornden Foundation with a total prize fund of £28,000.

Irish translator Frank Wynne won the Scott Moncrieff Prize for a translation of Standing Heavy by GauZ’. Judge Jane MacKenzie said: “The writing is searingly witty, incisive, full of vivid imagery, and has been superbly translated by Frank Wynne, losing none of the humour, the energy, the authentic street view. This is a true tour-de-force in both languages, and reads as joyfully and sharply in English as it does in French.”

Runners-up were Clíona Ní Ríordáin for a translation of Yell, Sam, If You Still Can by Maylis Besserie (Lilliput Press) and Adriana Hunter for a translation of The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier.

This year marked the inaugural Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Prize for translation from Japanese, awarded to Alison Watts for her translation of The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase. Judge Nozomi Abe said, “Everyone, please read this English translation and keep a handkerchief nearby”.

Prizes were also awarded for translations into English from Swedish, French, Spanish, Arabic and German, and the TA First Translation Prize went to a translation from Dutch. The prize, that is awarded for debut translations in any language, went to translator Sophie Collins and editor Marigold Atkey for a translation of The Opposite of a Person by Lieke Marsman.

The Bernard Shaw Prize was won by Saskia Vogel for her “luminous” translation from Swedish of the novel Strega by Johanne Lykke Holm.

Frank Wynne for his “tour-de-force” translation from French of Standing Heavy by GauZ’.

The Premio Valle Inclán went to William Rowe and Helen Dimos for a translation of Trilce. Translations and Glosses. by César Vallejo. Runner-up was Rosalind Harvey for a translation of Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel. The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize went to Luke Leafgren for a translation of Mister N by Najwa Barakat. The Schlegel-Tieck Prize went to Jamie Bulloch for a translation of Hinterland by Arno Geiger. Runner-up: Lucy Jones for a translation of Siblings by Brigitte Reimann. The Goethe–Institut Award was won by Rob Myatt.


Veritas, Ireland’s leading publisher and retailer of religious goods, is closing down after suffered a significant and sustained business downturn in recent years.

Headquartered on Abbey Street in Dublin and employing 80 plus people across publishing, retail and education, Veritas operates seven stores nationwide with locations in Dublin city centre, Blanchardstown, Tallaght, Cork city, Derry, Letterkenny, Limerick and a warehouse in Blanchardstown.

Chris Queenan, chairperson, said, “This is a highly unfortunate situation which we are acutely aware will impact our employees, customers, and the communities we have served for close to 100 years. We are committed to an orderly wind down process where our focus will be on supporting our colleagues during this challenging time.”

“We would like to sincerely thank our colleagues, past and present, for their incredible contribution to the business over the years, and our customers for their enduring loyalty and support.”

Veritas is still determining options for the continued publication of high-demand titles, such as its Grow in Love series, that forms a critical part of the syllabus for many primary schools.

‘I am grateful to Little Island for their support and encouragement in giving Ros a voice’

Little Island Books is to publish You Don’t See Me, a YA novel about a trans teenager’s self-discovery by Irish author Chris Ricketts, in July. Publisher Matthew Parkinson-Bennett commissioned the novel and acquired world rights from the author.

Ricketts, a former teacher, came out as non-binary in the 1990s, some years before using they/them pronouns was a widely understood preference, and has been campaigning to raise awareness around trans and non-binary identities for decades. They have discussed this topic in the Irish media including The Late Late Show.

Ricketts said: “Since childhood, writing has helped me escape from the confines of my life as a trans person. In words, I can escape from reality. In words, I can also introduce people to the lives of those often misrepresented or misunderstood. In this book, I wanted to show the everyday emotions of being a transgender teenager, a story very personal to me. I framed it in a love story, as trans people are no different from anyone else – they want to feel loved and accepted for who they are. However, for a trans person, this comes with many difficult complications.

“Ros, the main character, is a version of me, and I am grateful to Little Island for their support and encouragement in giving Ros a voice. Hopefully, this book will help trans people on their journey, and help others to gain more understanding of trans people’s everyday issues.”

Little Island editor Siobhán Parkinson said: “Editing this book was so illuminating; reading it was the first time I felt I truly ‘got’ this issue emotionally, as opposed to simply being aware of it in my head. The plot is a moving love story, something that a reader of any identity or orientation can enjoy.”

Dingle Lit Short Story Competition

The deadline for the Dingle Lit Short Story Competition approaches on February 29th. Its aim is to find the next generation of writers in Ireland. The judges are Nicole Flattery, Anna Stein and Camilla Dinkel for the entrants in English with Cathal Póirtéir judging the entrants in Irish. Full details and entry guidelines are available on Full information for entrants in Irish is available here.

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