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Bisto Children's Book Awards

Monday, 10 May 2010

The shortlist for the 20th Bisto Children's Book of the Year Awards has been announced. This year's list features ten books, which are now in the running to receive the most prestigious award for children's books in Ireland. The Awards will be announced at a reception on Monday, 24 May 2010 in Dublin.


Celebrating 20 years of children's books in Ireland

The shortlist for the 20th Bisto Children's Book of the Year Awards has been announced. This year's list features ten books, which are now in the running to receive the most prestigious award for children's books in Ireland:

. An Gréasaí Bróg agus na Sióga - Caitríona Hastings and Andrew Whitson
. Chalkline - Jane Mitchell
. Colm and the Lazarus Key - Kieran Mark Crowley
. Gluaiseacht - Alan Titley
. Lincoln and his Boys - PJ Lynch
. Solace of the Road - Siobhan Dowd
. The Eyeball Collector - F.E. Higgins
. The Gates - John Connolly
. The Third Pig Detective Agency - Bob Burke
. There - Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

The Awards will be announced at a reception on Monday, 24 May 2010 in Dublin.

Synopses of the shortlisted Books:

An Gréasaí Bróg agus na Sióga
Author: Catriona Hastings
Illustrator: Andrew Hastings
Published by: An tSnáthaid Mhór

This version of the Brothers Grimm tale, the Elves and the Shoemaker, tracks the fortunes of the shoemaker as his business begins to fail. When he has only sufficient leather for one pair of shoes left in the shop, a pair of elves visit his workshop and the shoemaker's situation changes radically. A beautifully illustrated book where the interconnectedness of the visual and the written text add an extra dimension to the magical features of this well known story.

Jane Mitchell
Published by: Walker Books

Chalkline tells the tale of the capture of Rafiq by soldiers of the Kashmir Freedom Fighters when they raid his village in search of new recruits. They roughly draw a line in chalk on Rafiq's class-room wall and declare that any boy whose height reaches the line will be taken to fight. Chakline is a chilling account of the conditioning of a young boy to accept violence as normal, to stone or be stoned and ultimately to kill or be killed. This brutalisation of a young person is offset beautifully by the family scenes: his mother's love, his sister's affection and respect, his father's stoicism. A well-told, well-researched and cleverly plotted tale that is an intense read.

Colm and the Lazarus Key
Kieran Mark Crowley
Published by: Mercier Press

A spooky adventure tale that also deals with real life issues of bullying and personal relationships. Colm is not looking forward to spending a fortnight with his cousin, The Brute, but during the course of their unexpected stay in a quiet old hotel, they both reveal more of their true character as well as uncover details of an ancient tale. The atmosphere that has been created by the author for the unfolding of the story in this location is eerie, spooky and very enjoyable as the characters race to uncover the mystery of the Lazarus Key.

Author: Alan Titley
Published by: An Gum

Alan Titley's hero in this story is deprived of his family under brutal circumstances and finds himself alone in the world. The story recounts the bleak journeys the young boy makes through the desert, as he copes with the harsh challenges of a sandstorm and even worse when the possibility of a hopeful future is snatched away as soon as it appears. Undaunted, he continues on, and finds a companion in the latter half of his journey. The depth of this character is well explored and shows his ability to think, to reflect, to act and to interact with the other characters he meets. The story is well planned, the language is rich and lyrical and provides the reader with a challenging and thoughtful book.

Lincoln and his Boys
Illustrator: PJ Lynch
Published by: Walker Books

PJ Lynch's illustrations for this book are interwoven so intricately with the spirit of the text that it would be hard to imagine one without the other. Telling the story of US President Abraham Lincoln, particularly his relationship with his sons, Lynch captures both private and public scenes in exquisite detail. Lynch's portraiture of Lincoln and his era clearly reveals a significant commitment to research, and his rich palette colours provide a visual feast for the eye.

Solace of the Road
Author: Siobhan Dowd
Published by: David Fickling/Random House

Teenager Holly Hogan is a troubled young person. She struggles to feel at home with her foster family, doubts their motives in caring for her and bubbles with antagonism towards them. Her sole comfort is her memories of her mother. A blonde wig, prompts her to adopt the assumed identity of Solace, a super cool young woman who has no fears, and who can behave with courage and recklessness. There follows a gritty account of her journey across England towards what she hopes will be a better future in Ireland and an internal journey through her residual memory as she gradually uncovers events in her past that have brought her to this stage in her life. A finely constructed novel, beautifully written by a master storyteller.

The Eyeball Collector
Author: F.E Higgins
Published by: Macmillan

Hector Fitzbaudy has never wanted for anything in his life. He lives in a fine house with his wealthy father on the good side of Urbs Umidia, but occasionally longs to see how the less fortunate citizens of the south side of the river live. Consumed by revenge he embarks on a pursuit of the villain responsible for his father's ruin. Hector's quest for revenge brings him to Withypitts Hall where the bizarre Eyeball Collector is in residence, rendering service to the very strange Lady Mandible. This is a book that is full of mysterious deeds, twists and turns of fate, and Hector's letters to Polly allow the reader to get to know the narrator of the story and to sympathise with his dilemmas.

The Gates
Author: John Connolly
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton

Connolly weaves a story about a rather singular schoolboy, Samuel Johnson, and his dog Boswell. Just before Halloween, Samuel finds himself to be an inadvertent witness to the opening of a portal connecting our world and the underworld, brought about by a bizarre series of events involving neighbourhood devil worshippers and a malfunction of the Large Hadron Collider. The gates of Hell are about to creak open, putting Earth at extreme danger and Samuel now has to work very hard to convince the responsible adults in his life of the imminent catastrophe that awaits them. Simultaneously he has to cope with the interference of a wide variety of demons and monsters that have been sent to frustrate him. Connolly's highly imaginative descriptions and fast paced plot are full of drama, humour and fright.

The Third Pig Detective Agency
Author: Bob Burke
Published by: Harper Collins

This is the story of Harry Pig, one of the three famous little pigs who built houses during our childhood. He is now grown up and ekes out a precarious existence as a private detective. In this story he has been hired by Mr. Aladdin to recover his famous lamp, now mysteriously missing from its place of safety. This is a cleverly written book that will appeal to both the adult and the young reader. It is an excellent pastiche of detective fiction, and its use of a large cast of fairy-tale characters lends it a witty and quirky style. The plot is complex but convinces the reader with its authenticity. A vibrant, lively and funny book.

Author/Illustrator: Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Published by: Roaring Press

This alluring book is one that will draw every reader, child and adult, into its charming spell. The little girl who starts out on her voyage reveals the wonders she encounters but has a constant question about her destination and the length of her journey. She experiences the wonders of urban and rural life, the ferocity of the weather, the beauty of the colours of the rainbow. Her persistent self-questioning is a true and honest echo of the voice of a child as she comes to terms with what she knows and what she doesn't. The harmonic interdependence of images and text is achieved with artistic brilliance and a disciplined pared-back writing style.

Prices and Relevant Information:

. Gluiaseacht, Alan Titley, An Gum, €7.50
. An Greasai Brog agus na Sioga, Hastings & Whitson, An tSnathaid Mor, €14.99
. Third Pig Detective Agency, Bob Burke, Harper collins , €8.99
. The Gates, John Connolly, Hodder, €6.99
. Eyeball Collector, FE Higgins, Macmillan, €5.99
. Colm and the Lazarus Key, Kieran Mark Crowley, Mercier, €8.99
. Solace of the Road, Siobhan Dowd, Random, €7.99
. There, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, Roaring Brook Press, €16.75
. Chalkline, Jane Mitchell, Walker, €7.70
. Lincoln and His Boys, PJ Lynch, Walker €12.85