My Ireland Counting Book by Eoin Ryan (O’Brien €7.99) is an interesting way of introducing numbers to the very young.
With bold lines and strong, flat colour, each spread focuses on Irish themes to count, such as hurlers, castles, dancers and other familiar national things. A nice touch is the inclusion of small leprechauns interspersed throughout for children to find and count.
Roger McGough was one of the originators of The Scaffold in the sixties. He also wrote most of the humorous dialogue for the Beatles’ film The Yellow Submarine. In recent years he has become renowned for his poetry for children. An Imaginary Menagerie (Frances Lincoln €7.10) is a collection of his creature-related poems that will entertain any age. Illustrated with his own quirky drawings, the poems are short and they sparkle with laugh-aloud humour such as the Aunt-Eater: Badgers and Goodgers; or try this verse on Emus: “To amuse emus on warm summer nights, Kiwis do wiwis, from spectacular heights.” With a nod towards Spike Milligan’s style, this is the book to encourage budding little versifiers.
A Girl Called Dog by Nicola Davies (Random House €7.10) begins in the squalid pet shop of a man known as Uncle. His young ‘charge,’ a mute little girl he calls Dog, has known no other life than the pet shop and has never been outside the door. She is fed the same food as the animals and, after a full day’s work, sleeps in the storeroom with her best friend, a coati called Esme. Whenever anyone calls to the shop, Uncle roughly pushes Dog out of sight. When a highly intelligent parrot called Carlos arrives in a parcel, Dog’s life is changed.
The street-wise parrot takes the young girl and her coati under his care and, when Esme is threatened with disposal, the trio escape from Uncle. They must overcome many obstacles as they make their way through the underbelly of the city on a journey that’s fraught with danger. Where in the world can a mute child, a raggedy parrot and a tatty coati find refuge? A highly recommended, exciting and touching story for age 9+.
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