Shortlisted children’s books raise serious issues

Alcoholism, brain injury and forced marriage are just some of the difficult issues raised in children’s books competing for a major Irish award.

Two novels by Siobhán Parkinson — currently Laureate na nÓg — have made the shortlist. Bruised and Matríóisce are among the nine titles nominated for the 22nd Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) Book of the Year Awards.

Bruised is about a teenage boy who runs away with his little sister because their mother has an alcohol problem.

The judges said Bruised was a detached, yet sympathetic exploration of the harsh realities of family life and society’s abdication of responsibility to children at risk.

Matríóisce, written in the Irish language, focuses on an heirloom — a set of Russian dolls, given to a young teenage girl on her birthday.

The judges said it was an engaging book that followed the teenager as she maps her genealogy back five generations through maternal lineage.

Also shortlisted is A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle, described by judges as a skilfully crafted novel that looks at how four generations of the one family deals with motherhood, life, ageing and death.

The awards, founded in 1990, celebrate excellence in children’s literature and illustration by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland.

Previous winners include John Boyne for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which explored the horror of a Second World War death camp through the eyes of two eight year old boys — one a Jewish inmate and the other the son of the camp’s Nazi commandant.

Chair of the judging panel, Keith O’Sullivan, said the nine shortlisted books were selected from more than 70 titles.

He said all of the books chosen for the shortlist offered young readers a rich and satisfying experience.

“With subjects which range from difficult contemporary issues to stories of whimsy and fun, each book is beautifully crafted and brilliantly conceived,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

Each of the nine titles will compete for six awards, which include the innovative Children’s Choice Award voted for by 10 junior juries located across the country. The winners will be announced at a ceremony which is scheduled to take place in May.



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