Loose Leaves


Arthur’s big adventure goes by the book

Viking vibes will be breaking out all over Dublin this month with the arrival of the city’s first children’s citywide reading project. Modelled on the highly successful Dublin: One City One Book idea, and launched by Dublin City Libraries and Dublin Unesco City of Literature, the three-month programme is aimed at primary children from fourth to sixth class.

The book that has been chosen is Alan Early’s Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent,published by Mercier Press. It’s an adventure story with a Viking theme. When Arthur’s dad is offered a job on the new metro tunnel, the family moves to Dublin. Arthur and his new friends, Will and Ash, explore the tunnel and its hidden underground river, where they find a mysterious glowing pendant that depicts a giant snake strangling the trunk of a tree. Before you know it the kids are busy trying to save the city from the depredations of a malevolent Viking god.

Early’s interest in the supernatural is guaranteed to endear him to his young audience. He’ll be meeting them in person on a number of visits to schools and libraries over the next three months; readers can also engage online via an interactive website that includes games and a blog related to the novel. You’ll find more information at dublincityofliterature.ieand arthurquinn.ie.

Burnside pips Irish to win TS Eliot Prize

Congratulations to the Scottish poet John Burnside on his victory in the 2011 TS Eliot Prize with his collection Black Cat Bone. It’s a double win for Burnside, who also lifted the Forward Prize for this volume – his 11th book of poetry – but a disappointment for the Irish poets Bernard O’Donoghue and Leontia Flynn, whom he pipped at the post. Ah, well. There’s always next year.

Diary delight in a choice of colours

If you made a New Year’s promise to yourself that 2012 would be the year you’d finally keep a journal, but have already lapsed because of forgetfulness, overwork, laziness or any of the usual excuses, it’s not too late to get hold of a Keel’s Simple Diary – or, if not for yourself, for a wannabe-diarist friend. These attractive little volumes come in a range of colours, from monastic black to girlie pink; the dates are blank, so you can skip, cheat or both to your heart’s content without feeling guilty; best of all, if inspiration is flagging the book will prompt you by posing philosophical questions, offering multiple-choice selections or making provocative statements. In short, it does everything but write the wretched journal for you. Mind you, there’s probably an app for that in the pipeline somewhere; meanwhile, check out the diaries on simplediary.com.

Stellar line-up for Dún Laoghaire

Spring has almost sprung, which means another series of Library Voices at the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire. The season’s stellar line-up begins on February 7th with one of the world’s best-selling novelists, Joanna Trollope, who’ll be talking to my colleague Sinead Gleeson about her new book, The Soldier’s Wife. On April 4th, Peter Carey will be in conversation with Joseph O’Connor: among the topics under discussion is the double Booker- winner’s forthcoming novel, The Chemistry of Tears. And on April 22nd, Paul Durcan will unveil his new collection of poems, Praise in Which I Liveand Move and Have My Being. You can get tickets for all these events from the Pavilion Theatre on 01-2312929. For more about the programme, see dlrcoco.ie/library.