Children’s books


By Mitchell Symons

(Random House; €9.50).

Book number seven in this fascinating series of way-out facts has the usual question and answer format.

Some of the great mysteries of life are explained: how shopkeepers used to mark their goods at £9.99 rather than £10 to force their staff to open the till and register the amount, rather than pocketing the tenner for themselves; Toblerone’s shape is inspired by the silhouette of Swiss mountain peaks; some of our best loved nursery rhymes are based on real-life events and characters.

The strength of the book lies in the rapid-fire question with short answer. The 10-page multi-layered answers are less successful.

Danger Signs by Michael Coleman (Barrington Stoke; €8.35). Alan is rather unsympathetic to his brother Jeff’s deafness and refuses to try to communicate with him using sign language. Their mother keeps nagging him to help Jeff, even signing the word “help” in her frustration.

When Jeff misinterprets “baths” as “paths”, he is late for their swimming trip. Underwater is, ironically, his favourite place as it is there that everybody becomes as deaf as he is. Arriving late at the pool, he sees a life-threatening situation that will change forever his relationship with Alan. Running in tandem with the story is a fact-file on deafness, with the illustrations of basic signage of particular interest.

No And Me by Delphine de Vigan (Bloomsbury; €11.90). Super intelligent Lou volunteers to do a class presentation on homeless people. Little does she anticipate the impact of taking in her homeless friend, No, will have on her family.

Her mother, still mourning a cot death, gradually improves; Lou herself begins to cultivate friendship in her class.

The irony of this realistic portrait of the characters is that No, despite her obvious social problems, has a greater effect on the others than they have on her.


It came as quite a surprise to learn that I had been writing my Weekend column in the Irish Examiner for 21 years — how the years have flown by and how the food scene has changed in Ireland over those two decades.A letter from Darina Allen, celebrating 21 years writing for The Irish Examiner

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