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One hundred children make an Irish thriller

Roddy Doyle and children’s laureate PJ Lynch launch book written and illustrated in Fighting Words workshops

Fighting Words. School children with PJ Lynch

Booker winner Roddy Doyle and the children’s laureate PJ Lynch have praised 100 children across the island of Ireland who collaborated to write and illustrate their very own thriller.

The Search was written at Fighting Words workshops, as part of the Laureate na nÓg’s Big Picture Project.

Fighting Words, a creative writing centre established by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love, helps students of all ages to develop their writing skills and to explore their love of writing.

Work on The Search began last October, when children from St Laurence’s National School in Baldoyle, Dublin, composed and illustrated the first chapter of the story.

The chapter was sent to Fighting Words in Wicklow, where children from St Fergal’s National School in Bray completed the second chapter. It was then passed on to children in Cork and Belfast, who contributed their words to the closing chapters.

The Search tells the story of Callie and Will, who run away from an orphanage in Drogheda in a bid to find their parents, with evil Sister Mary Petunia in hot pursuit.

Fighting Words volunteers, teachers and children from Dublin and Wicklow attended the book launch in Dublin on Friday, where the authors were presented with full colour, bound limited editions of the book.

The young writers and illustrators also watched a short film documenting their work in progress, followed by a reading of The Search.

Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch, a children’s book illustrator, said he was impressed with the art the children came up with, given there were “so many pairs of hands involved”.

“They used a wide range of styles and techniques, and all of them brought a really intense engagement to the project. Like myself, the kids really love the more sinister characters – they’re the ones they have the most fun with. The Search is the kind of story I would love to have illustrated myself,” he said.

Roddy Doyle said Fighting Words tries to make the process of writing “as inviting, enjoyable, and as essential as possible”.

“The idea of a story that would start in one centre and be passed on, in a relay, to the next, was quite fun.” He congratulated all the children who helped to write and illustrate The Search.

PJ Lynch was named the fourth Laureate na nÓg in May 2016, succeeding author Eoin Colfer.

His chosen theme for his two-year term is The Big Picture, focusing on the art of illustration and visual storytelling.