Viking tale set to prick imaginations


A Viking-themed tale about an evil presence under Dublin has been chosen as the key book in a new project to promote reading among primary school children.

Under the initiative, jointly promoted by Dublin City Libraries and the Dublin Unesco City of Literature, children will be encouraged to read Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent, by first time Irish writer Alan Early.

The Children Save Dublin programme, which runs until March, is designed for fourth and fifth class students and is the first citywide reading programme for children. It is intended to engage young readers to read for pleasure by encouraging them to interact with a book and its author through a series of events in the city and online.

The book, which is set in Dublin, brings Norse mythology into the modern day.

While exploring the Metro North tunnels, Arthur Quinn and his friends discover a pendant left by Vikings in the subterranean River Poddle. They soon find that the pendant is not all the Vikings left behind - something evil is also lurking underneath the city, and they must defeat it to save the world.

Readers can engage online with the author through an interactive website which includes games and a blog related to the story.

Mr Early will visit schools and libraries, hold creative writing workshops and read from his book and other legends as part of the event.

Michael Moylan, of Irish History Live, will also make appearances where children can see Viking swords and artefacts and dress up in Viking clothes.

Unesco director Jane Alger stressed that the story had to be realistic, taking into account how much time children spend on the internet. “It had to be a good fast-paced story and appeal to both boys and girls,” she said. “The main criterion was something they would choose for themselves to read, not because they were told to read it.”

Some 30 schools have signed on to take part in the project so far, with more expected to join in the coming months.

In March, the programme will culminate in an event as part of St. Patrick’s Festival at Connolly Station, in which a serpent-themed train will host children's activities and fun.

The book will be available at all Dublin City Libraries.