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Twelve stocking-filler children’s books from Irish authors

From Skellig Island adventures to chaotic Irish dancing, Deanna O’Connor recommends 12 of the best Irish children’s books

With more than 350 children’s books authors and illustrators living in Ireland, there is a wonderful selection of books for every age group available, the perfect gift or stocking filler this Christmas.

The President’s Dog

By Peter Donnelly

For the dog lover, age 4+

Another in the series by the award-winning author and illustrator, finally turning its focus to our much-loved President’s dog, for a double dose of cuteness. Follow them on some unlikely adventures, as Miggledy goes out hiking but becomes stuck on a mountainside during a storm and sends his courageous pup for help.

Gill, €16.99

Go on the Girls in Green: The Rise and Rise of the Irish Women’s Soccer Team

For the football fan, age 7+

Finally, the football annual we’ve all been waiting for. Young fans can follow behind the scenes with the girls in green on their journey to the World Cup and find out all the fun fan facts they could wish for to spark their inspiration and ignite their own big match dreams. They’ll get to know all the key players and test their knowledge with fun quizzes. Games, goals, and girl power galore for young footie fans and players.

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Gill, €14.99

Mind Magic

By Keith Barry

For the shy kid, age 8+

Adapted by Nick Sheridan from the grown-ups’ Brain Hacks book, this version for kids interweaves stories from mentallist Keith Barry’s childhood with inspirational tricks and tips that will help kids develop their mental strength, grow in confidence, and build resilience. Whether it’s having the confidence to speak up in school or get in a winning mindset for sports, there’s lots here that can help kids to learn to believe in themselves.

Gill, €16.99

Finding Hope

By Sinéad Moriarty

For the young activist, age 8+

Hope, a young girl grieving the loss of her mother, feels misunderstood by her family, as she attempts to find meaning in her life by encouraging them to be more environmentally friendly. But they just don’t seem to get it, and so she runs away in search of the one person she feels sure will understand her: Greta Thunberg. A deft handling of engaging issues, from author Moriarty, who has written 16 adult novels and won the An Post award for teen and young adult book of the year in 2021 for her debut children’s title The New Girl.

Gill, €13.99

Milly McCarthy and the Irish Dancing Disaster

By Leona Forde

For kids who like comedy, age 7+

The Milly McCarthy series was inspired by author Forde’s own daughter finishing Diary of a Wimpy Kid and looking for something to read that she could relate to, featuring a female central character and set in Ireland, with Irish cultural references. And so in this, the third instalment of the successful series, the comically chaotic Milly character is determined to win an Irish dancing medal, and, as usual, causing hilarious havoc on her way.

Gill, €9.99

It’s Too Dark, Puffling

By Gerry Daly and Erika McGann

For little ones who are scared of the dark, age 3+

Another Skellig Island adventure in the Puffling series. This time, the adorable baby puffin is helping a little puffin pal who is scared of the dark. Together they visit a playful rabbit, a happy crab, a friendly blue shark and other animals on Skellig. Each one tells the little puffling what they love most about the dark, and Puffling helps her little friend not to be afraid any more.

O’Brien Press, €14.99

Ellie and the Fairy Door

By Lena Angland and Alice Taylor, illustrated by Audrey Dowling

For those who believe in magic, age 0-4

Alice Taylor, who many will know from To School through the Fields, has turned her hand to a children’s book, writing with her own daughter, Lena (who is the creator of the Wanderly app, which encourages children to get outdoors). Collaborating with French-born illustrator Audrey Dowling, whose background is in fashion, they have created an enchanting adventure where a little girl whooshes through a magical door and meets the Tooth Fairy and a leprechaun.

O’Brien Press, €14.99

Double Trouble at the Dead Zoo

By Alan Nolan, cover illustration by Shane Cluskey

For adventurers, age 9-12

Follow the adventures of best friends Molly Malone and Bram Stoker in old Dublin as a seemingly quiet day trip to the National Museum sees them become embroiled in a kidnapping and a pirate treasure hunt. The book is jam-packed full of colourful characters, intricate plots and plenty of excitement. There’s plenty to fire the imagination here.

O’Brien Press, €9.99

Wonders of the Wild

By Éanna Ní Lamhna, illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

For nature lovers, age 6+

Wildlife expert Éanna Ní Lamhna and artist Brian Fitzgerald explore the wonders of the wild in this beautifully illustrated new book, packed full of fascinating information about nature’s hidden treasures; the kind of gross facts that some kids adore, from rabbits who eat their own poo to how caterpillars burst; and the weird and wonderful, such as sea life that glows in the dark. Thoroughly engaging.

O’Brien Press, €19.99

I Am the Wind: Irish Poems for Children Everywhere

Edited by Lucinda Jacob & Sarah Webb; illustrated by Ashwin Chacko

For reading together, age 7+

From medieval to modern, family favourites Heaney to Yeats, and legendary bohemian Leland Bardwell to diverse new voices such as Chandrika Narayan-Mohan; an anthology that will delight adults as much as children, and provide much food for thought and conversation.

Little Island, €21.99

Black & Irish: Legends, Trailblazers and Everyday Heroes

by Leon Diop and Briana Fitzsimons, illustrated by Jessica Louis

For age 14+

A vibrant celebration of black Irish identity, featuring profiles of public figures and role models from the worlds of pop culture, politics, sport, business and the arts, including Oscar-nominated actor Ruth Negga, footballers Gavin Bazunu and Paul McGrath, musician Phil Lynott, author Emma Dabiri and sprinter Rhasidat Adeleke.

Little Island, €14.50

An Drúchtín agus an Seilide

By Oein DeBhairduin, illustrated by Olya Anima

For Irish speakers, age 4-7

DeBhairduin’s tale, drawn from the Irish Traveller storytelling tradition, is a gentle allegory about self-acceptance and different ways of seeing the world, featuring two slugs who travel together until one is shamed by a crow who points out that he has no home. When he decides to make himself a shell-house, they grow apart, but the slug with no shell-house learns to accept himself and find happiness.

Skein Press/Little Island, €16.99