Books for children

Mary Arrigan has got some great ideas about books for the young-ones.

Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere (Puffin, €7.90)

Parents who have experienced the terrible twos and the struggle to explain what sharing means to toddlers will appreciate the sentiments in this loud eye-catching picturebook. Frog only has time for being green, and hopping, and is absorbed in his own little world, where winning is the only option.

Sound familiar? He rejects overtures of friendship from a pink rabbit and then ironically becomes a tasty supper for a green creature — a hungry crocodile. Luckily the crocodile is a reasonable fellow who lets him go, so eventually frog comes to understand that all creatures are different. Panic nearly ensues when pink rabbit declines an invitation to swim with frog but he turns out to be an expert hopper so he has time for play in this amusing moral world. Could it really be that easy? Suitable for age two and up with straight-faced adult help.

No Filter by Orlagh Collins (Bloomsbury, €9.10)

Teenager Emerald’s life is complicated. There is the challenge of remaining friendly with the ‘in’ crowd in school while at all times wondering what new drama will unfold in her family. Her mother is suicidal and her father is having problems at work. After her mother’s collapse she is shunted off to Ireland to stay with her gran for the summer, a move which merely increases her sense of isolation and frustration. Emerald soon has an admirer — Liam, a down-to-earth lad, likeable and up-front. The build-up of their relationship is expertly handled in alternating narratives, the Irish voice contrasting with Emerald’s more sophisticated Somerset one.

Liam’s father is also in a precarious position having been bankrupted so the pair find they have much in common.

The narrative is sprinkled with some sparkling descriptions — “a vomit of Third Form girls”; when Liam watches Emerald leave, “it’s like I’m standing in cement”; and when they are together, “the world’s sharp edges are beautifully blurred”.

This debut novel is an outstanding rites-of-passage story with quite an unexpected ending. Suitable for young adults.

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