Children’s Books

BEN’S BIRTHDAY by Elizabeth Hawkins, illustrated by Paul Cemmick (Tamarind; €6) tells of party-obsessed Ben, who has only had six birthdays, while his sister’s 10th birthday party is on right now.

His own party seems so far away. He simply can’t wait. When he rescues a snail, the creature grants Ben a wish — a birthday every day! But too much of a good thing can become troublesome, as Ben finds out. The non-preachy, mixed-race family theme slots quite naturally into this delightful read for age six and upwards.

Geronimo by Tanya Landman (Barrington Stoke; €7.25) begins brilliantly with the analogous situation whereby the reader is asked to imagine coming home to find other people living in the house. They’ve burnt your family’s things and destroyed your garden. They have a piece of paper to show legal entitlement to your property. And they have guns. Where will you go? They point to a map and show you a compound in wasteland. Do you give in to this injustice? Or do you fight? The Apache tribes were made up of peaceful people who, apart from the odd tribal skirmish, lived with, and off, the land. In the 1800s Geronimo’s tribe were hunted, treated as criminals and killed. This book tells the story of his heroic fight to protect his people. A recommended, compelling read for age 10 and up.

The Listener by Elizabeth Laird (A&C Black; €6). Gavin Foster will miss watching Johnny Mason’s debut for the local Sunley United, as he has to granny-sit. By coincidence, when he finds his gran lying injured in the snow, it is to Mason’s house that he calls for help. Mason and his girlfriend, believing him to be just another autograph hunter, show him the door, but Mason’s deaf sister, Shelley, “listens” to his story, thus setting in motion a series of events which open Gary’s and Mason’s eyes to what is really important in life. A lively graphic novel which will attract early teen readers.


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