Thursday 30 March 2017

Great books for younger readers this summer

Sarah Webb's round-up of books that will provide your young one with a holiday escape.

Despite all the gloom about the predicted demise of the printed book, the fact is that books for young readers – both children and teenagers – are doing really well.
Despite all the gloom about the predicted demise of the printed book, the fact is that books for young readers – both children and teenagers – are doing really well.
Sarah Webb
'This Star Won't Go Out'
'Only Ever Yours'
'Flora In Love'
'Seeds Of Liberty'
'Viking Thunder in Dublin'
'Cathy Cassidy's Sweet Honey'
'Fintan's Fifteen'
'Balaclava Boy'
'Rules Of Summer'
'Time For Bed, Fred'
'None The Number'

Sarah Webb

Despite all the gloom about the predicted demise of the printed book, the fact is that books for young readers – both children and teenagers – are doing really well.

This week, for example, seven out of the top 10 bestselling books in Ireland in all categories are children's books (see the Bestsellers Panel below).

And recent research shows that younger readers much prefer printed books, so there's hope for the future!

Children or teenagers will never be bored with a good book for company, and there are some fantastic new titles out this summer to suit every young reader.

Irish picture book-makers are on a roll of late, and the multiple award-winners Oliver Jeffers and Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, and the newcomer Yasmeen Ismail, all have books out this season.

Jeffers' Huey family are back with a counting adventure in None the Number (Harpercollins £12.99). The Huey's love counting but is 'none' really a number?

With his distinctive pared-back artwork and a clever, funny story, this makes a great read aloud for children aged four and older.

In Time for Bed, Fred! by Yasmeen Ismail (Bloomsbury, £6.99), which won the V&A Best Book Illustration Award, the lively dog, Fred, does not want to go to sleep, so he runs away and gets up to all kinds of mischief. Ismail's artwork in this book is stunning – loose, colourful and full of joy.


The New Kid by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Hodder £11.99) is a powerful story about being yourself and making friends.

Ellie is different – she wears a funny grey coat and likes to use her imagination – but will she be accepted?

The vibrant illustrations and simplicity of the story will appeal to young children aged three and upwards.

Rules of Summer by Australian picture book-maker, Shaun Tan (Lothian €18.70), is a story for all ages about two brothers and what they learn one summer.

The multi-layered illustrations are glorious, heart warming and, at times, terrifying. This is a strange, thought-provoking and enlightening book.


For ages seven to eight and older, try Balaclava Boy by Jenny Robson (Little Island £4.99), one of the best books about tolerance and friendship that I've read in a long time.

A new boy comes to school wearing a balaclava. Why is he wearing it? Why don't the teachers make him take it off? Eventually all is revealed.

Beautifully written in simple yet eloquent prose, this is worth buying for the fiendishly clever twist alone.


If your child loves hurling, Fintan's Fifteen by Alan Nolan is perfect (O'Brien Press, €7.99). The Ballybreen Terriers are the worst Under 12 hurling team in Ireland. They have just lost seventeen matches in a row and drastic action is needed. Can the youngest manager ever, and ex-Ballybreen Terrier, Fintan Lonergan save the day?

Witty black and white cartoon-style illustrations and actual cartoon strips make this sporting tale come alive. Perfect for reluctant readers. REV_2014-07-12_ENT_024_32254462_I8.JPG

Confident readers aged nine and upwards will adore Cathy Cassidy's Sweet Honey, the latest in the Chocolate Box Girls series (Puffin £12.99). After trouble at home, Honey has been sent to Australia to stay with her dad. But will her new life be easier?

This is an honest and compelling look at family life and all its difficulties.


Brilliant by Roddy Doyle (Macmillan £10.99) also looks at family life. The 'black dog' has got Gloria and Rayzer's Uncle Ben and they set off across Dublin to fight him.

This handsomely designed hardback has stylish black and white illustrations, including a brilliant map of Dublin, all by Chris Judge.


Poolbeg are to be commended for producing two new series for children – MAC, Mythical Activity Control and Hands on History.

Oisin McGann's Viking Thunder in Dublin in the MAC series (€5.99) sees Áine and Fionn find a Viking warrior from the past.

Meanwhile, Seeds of Liberty by Claire Hennessy in the Hands on History series (€6.99) chronicles three battles for independence in France, America and Ireland.

Aimed mainly at the tourist and schools markets, these books will also interest children with a love of history or adventure.


If your young reader likes the bestselling American writer, John Green, there are plenty of strong real-life novels available to buy for teenagers out there.

These include Deirdre Sullivan's Primperfect (New Island £5.99), Flora in Love by Natasha Farrant (Faber and Faber £6.99) and The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (Orion £10.99).


The Fault in Our Stars movie has made John Green a household name. The original novel was inspired by Esther Grace, and her diary, This Star Won't Go Out (Penguin £12.99) has recently been published.

Esther was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 12 and struck up a friendship with Green, a friendship which changed both their lives.

Esther writes with wit and insight and although sad, this book leaves the reader with an indelible memory of a remarkable girl.

Finally, my book of the season for older teens is Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill (Quercus £7.99), a stunning YA debut set in a dystopian future that has everyone talking and which was reviewed in these pages recently.

Best friends, freida and isabel (they are not important enough to have capital letters) are in their final year at the School. They are eves – bred to be companions to wealthy 'Inheritant' boys.

A dark and devastating tale, this is a must read for older teens and adults alike. It's also a book that really gets under the skin and, once read, will never be forgotten.



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