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Gordon Snell and Nell McCafferty- World Book Day

Thursday, 4 March 2010

World Book Day

World Book Day is the biggest annual celebration of books and reading in the UK and Ireland.

'Read to a Million Kids', sponsored by Renaissance Learning, is a brand new initiative for World Book Day 2010. The 11 £1 Book stories, read by their authors or actors, will be broadcast online during World Book Day. Available exclusively to schools and libraries in the first instance, and supplemented with a fun quiz about the reading, please visit to find out more and to register to participate.

The films will be available for all to see for a period after the Day via this site, so if you're an interested child or parent, please visit us again.

You can now also follow us on Twitter

Pre-schools and Secondary Schools in the UK need to register to receive support material including the World Book Day £1 Book Tokens. UK Primary Schools and all Irish Schools on the DES database will automatically receive material.

The WBD Helpline for schools is at 01634 729810 or

Commercial companies, major organisations and retailers should not exploit World Book Day or the logo without prior permission of the charity. A contribution to the core fund of World Book Day will be sought.

World Book Day Ltd is registered charity number: 1079257

The 3rd Dublin Book Festival which takes places at Dublin City Hall, from Saturday, 6th to Monday, 8th March (daily from 10am-6pm). The festival will feature over 100 writers participating in 40 readings, debates, interviews and workshops. Entry is free. The festival programme is available from
Nell McCafferty, Journalist and Author

Favourite childhood book?

The Secret Garden a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She always used to sit in the sitting room reading it and was restless with excitement. Her mother came in and told her to go out and play, as reading would make her blind! She went back to the book again as an adult and was enchanted all over again

Her favourite adult book - Their Eyes were Watching God, by Zora N. Hurston is a love story, set in a flood. It opens up with an African American woman coming home, and the local women gathering on the pavement chatting about life, and passing around photos. It's written in "Negro" dialect. Nell gave it to her mother, and she read it late at night. Zora is a much neglected writer. Main character's name is Tealeaf - the gorgeous love interest!

Nell's presence at this year's festival has an added poignancy as a posthumous book from Nuala Ó Faoláin, (A More Complex Truth: Selected Writings), will be at the festival on Monday (International Women's Day). Edited and selected by Tony Glavin, with an introduction by Fintan O'Toole, A More Complex Truth is a timely selection of Nuala O'Faolain's non-fiction from the mid-1980s to shortly before her death in 2008. Hailed as 'one of the greatest columnists ever to inhabit the English language', her wide-ranging essays cast a canny eye on all matters Irish - from sex, contraception, old age, the Border, and the rights of the marginalised, to Charlie Haughey, Mary Robinson, John McGahern and U2.

Gifted with a unique capacity to look at issues from all sides, her cutting-edge commentary - whether on our latter-day materialism or the duties of citizenship - remains as topical today as when first penned.

The importance of reading - she has read all her life, she was introduced to a library aged 6, and read 5 books a week. It's one of the great pleasures of childhood and adulthood. Now she reads one book a week. People should join libraries; books are very cheap and it is a great way of inducting a child to the joy of books. At the moment she is reading - The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is very long, slow and terrific. Seamus Heaney's book by her bedside.

Her sister and husband and their kids loaned Nell the Harry Potter books and she was half way through one but never finished it.

She is speaking on Monday at the Dublin Book Festival about her love of books.

Gordon Snell - One of Ireland's Most loved Children's authors and husband of Maeve Binchy

His favourite childhood book?

In the 1930s the William Books were published- Just William by Richmal Crompton. Gordon loved William, as he is such a scruffy kid and he gets into marvelous adventures. He has a gang like the gang in Gordon's own books. He has his tie crooked, roll down socks and his cap askew. He is the wrong child to model your child on, as far as mothers are concerned.

They re-issued the books recently. Crompton wrote about 35 and the first one is Just William. And another William and the Popstars; William the Detective (1935); William the Conqueror; William the Moon Rocket etc. Written in the 1940 about William's adventures, Gordon's mother thought he shouldn't imitate him, but he did. Gordon tried to pan for gold in the Wicklow Hills! All about gangs in the William books, not like today's gangs though.

The importance of reading: It is very important to read. Children get very caught up in the story. He loves to see that. Something dramatic must happen in every chapter. Kids are so story-oriented. Reading groups at schools/libraries/galleries are a super, vital idea - reading releases the imagination. If children are taught too much by rote, it curbs their imagination. Parents should read their kids a story every night, a fairy tale or a William Book or whatever. Picture books are wonderful these days. And verses too - the rhymes catch people.


1. Also children love long words like Quizzical
2. Don't talk down to them.

He reads a lot himself - a lot of thrillers - Alan Bennett, Kurt Vonnegut (American fantasy writer). He also loves Irish authors Joseph O'Connor, Colm Toibín, Sarah Webb, Colm McKenna and Peter Cunningham.

Favourite book as an adult - The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien - policemen who ride bikes so much they turn into iron bikes. He loves the writing, great fluidity.

His own latest book - King of Quizzical Island

He is speaking on Sunday at 2.30 - about his current children's book - in shops now

Nell and Gordon will be taking part in the third Dublin Book Festival which takes places at Dublin City Hall, from Saturday, 6th March, to Monday, 8th March (daily from 10am-6pm). The festival will feature over 100 writers participating in 40 readings, debates, interviews and workshops. Entry is free. The festival programme is available from

Books supplied by Dubray Books -

Prices/Stockists/Relevant Information:


Gordon Snell:

Just William - €7.70 The William Books - Macmillan Children's Books

The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien - €11.99 paperback - Penguin

The King of Quizzical Island - €13 - Walker Publishing, UK

Nell McCafferty:

The Secret Garden - From €8.99 - Kingfisher Classic

Their Eyes Were Watching God - €11.60 - J.B. Lippincott

Nuala Ó Faoláin, (A More Complex Truth: Selected Writings -€15.99- New Island