Loose Leaves


Race is on for the children’s books awardThe shortlist for the 22nd Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year awards was revealed this week. Each of the nine titles on the longlist will compete for six prizes, including the Children’s Choice Award, voted for by 10 junior juries around the country. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in May.

The titles are A Greyhound of a Girl, by Roddy Doyle; Bruised, by Siobhán Parkinson; Into the Grey, by Celine Kiernan; Maitríóisce, by Siobhán Parkinson; My Dad is Ten Years Old, And It’s Pure Weird, by Mark O’Sullivan; Ó Chrann go Crann, by Caitríona Hastings and Andrew Whitson; The Butterfly Heart, by Paula Leyden; Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers; and Will Gallows and the Snake Bellied Troll, by Derek Keilty. For the first time, one author, Siobhán Parkinson, the Laureate na nÓg, has made the shortlist with books in both Irish and English.

Founded in 1990, the awards are open to picture books and novels written in English or Irish by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland. Previous winners include John Boyne, Chris Haughton, Siobhan Dowd and Kate Thompson.

“This year we have nine books which we know will resonate with readers both young and old,” says Mags Walsh, director of Children’s Books Ireland. “Irish authors and illustrators rank among the best in the world, so we are very proud to announce our shortlist today.”

Five years of ‘Dublin Review of Books’

The free online literary journal Dublin Review of Books was five years old last Saturday, St Patrick’s Day, and celebrated the occasion with its spring 2012 issue, its 22nd if the original pilot issue is included. According to its own data, in that time the website ( drb.ie) has published 236 essays and has been visited, once or more, by 120,000 readers from 189 countries. While more than a third of those visits are from Ireland, 26.7 per cent are from the US and 12.6 per cent from the UK, a readership reflecting the journal’s international flavour.

Among the highlights of the current issue are Kevin Stevens on Saul Bellow, Michael Lillis on Ireland and the Falklands war, Pádraig Murphy on the tragedy of Gorbachev, and Benjamin Keatinge on Samuel Beckett’s letters.

The website archive also gives access to all the material from the past five years.

Ridgway signs up for Some Blind Alleys

They like their writers’ workshops more demanding at Some Blind Alleys, according to the literary organisation’s founder, the novelist Greg Baxter. Each course involves a heavy reading requirement, with the emphasis on making students better readers so that they can teach themselves to write.

This week, Baxter, whose new novel, The Apartment, will be published next month, announced a creative-writing course for this spring, to be taught by the award-winning Irish writer Keith Ridgway. The Introduction to Fiction course, which costs €290 and is to be held in central Dublin for 10 weeks from mid-April, will focus on the short story but incorporate a close look at the novel. “The course is for people who are readers at least as much as they are writers, who find great literature joyfully exciting, who would like to read more of it and learn a little better how to appreciate and talk about it, and who would like – somehow – to write it,” says Ridgway.

For more information see someblindalleys.com.