Books for children

Grounded by Sheena Wilkinson (Little Island; €9.71)

This is a gritty but heart-warming story of Declan, who featured in Taking Flight, as he struggles through a troubled rites of passage. His passion for horses is so intense it conflicts with his feelings for girlfriend Seaneen.

An offer of a job in Germany forces him to choose between it and Seaneen, who coincidentally has some startling news of her own to tell him. The discovery of an abandoned horse, and his adoption of same, leads to an obsession to rehabilitate the injured animal with the help of Cam who runs a nearby stables. Lots of rehabilitation is also needed by his family and neighbours. Wonderful characterisation and authentic dialogue in both the urban and rural settings where the harsh realities and values of working class Belfast are in sharp contrast with those of the horsey world. Suitable for young adult.

Can It Be About Me? by Cheryl Moskowitz (Frances Lincoln; €7.10) Even in the title we can hear a child’s response to this poet’s encounter with an inquisitive seven-year-old as part of a school visit. Her observations of the actions and thought processes of the rest of the children are quite brilliant. She notes in Topic Work in Science how the children mark the outlines of their shadows in the morning and how the shadows “grew from babies to giants by going-home time”. All through we hear the voice of a child in a wide range of poems and verse covering topics like bullying. holidays, quiet places, hurt and joy. There are subtle lessons on inclusiveness. This is a fresh and non-patronising collection as Cheryl Mokovitch doesn’t hesitate to deal with haikus, sestinas and other poetic terminology. The bouncy illustrations by Ros Asquith, and the generally informal layout help to make this an appealing read for age seven and upwards.

Monzo’s Tale by Anne M Cashell. (Lapa publishing; €6.00). The process of choosing a dog to live with an unenthusiastic cat is set out in verse in this bright breezy colourful story. Suitable for age 6 and upwards.

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