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Loose leaves at the Linenhall



Loose leaves at the Linenhall

Schoolchildren celebrate World Book day

Áine Ryan

FIFTY years ago it was the adventures of the Famous Five and the Secret Seven as well as Alice’s sometimes scary odyssey through wonderland that unleashed the imaginations of children. There was also Goldilocks and the Three Bears and, of course, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. For the next generation these rather starched characters were replaced by such colourful creations as Willie Wonka, the BFG, Matilda and Fantastic Mr Fox.
And the story goes on as more and more amazing and magical characters from the Gruffallo to the Grinch, Tracey Beaker to Harry Potter inhabit school libraries and bookshops, bedrooms and nurseries.    
Even through the eyes of children, today’s world is a complex planet with a plethora of pressures compounded by the intrusive power of new media. Stark realities from economic depression to horrific wars impinge everywhere. Never was it more important to indulge in the mysterious and escapist world of fiction and fairytales, happy endings and mind-boggling adventures. Never was it more salutary to discover the wisdom of such lines as Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s in ‘The Little Prince’: “It is only with the heart one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Or there is that conversation in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ when after staring at her for some time in silence, The Caterpillar, takes the hookah out of its mouth and asks: “Who are you?”  
And Alice, who is having a pretty strange day,  replies, rather shyly: “I – I hardly know, sir, just at present – at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

We ? books
WORLD Book Day, Thursday next, March 6, ensures a focus is put on the importance of books in the social and cultural fabric of society and in the broad education of children. And as part of its busy and innovative programme, Castlebar’s Linenhall Arts Centre will host three of the country’s favourite children’s authors as part of the We ‘?’ Books tour, produced by Tom Donegan and supported by the Arts Council. Unsurprisingly, the event is booked out already with classes from Derrywash NS, Snugboro NS and Scoil Phádraig, Westport, attending. They will meet authors, Sarah Webb and Debbie Thomas and comic book creator Alan Nolan.

ORIGINALLY from Dalkey, Co Dublin, and now living just down the road in Dun Laoghaire with her partner and three children, Sarah Webb’s latest children’s book is ‘Ask Amy Green: Wedding Belles’. It is the last in the series of Ask Amy books and was inspired by the author’s sister’s wedding, which was held in a giant marquee in their parents’ back garden.
Comics writer Alan Nolan is the co-creator of the horror-series, Sancho. He also created the graphic novel ‘The Big Break Detectives Casebook’ and the Murder Can Be Fatal mysteries.
Celbridge, Co Kildare, resident Debbie Thomas once worked as a reporter for the BBC, and when not writing now works for a charity that supports people with leprosy. Praised for her ‘zany characters and mad-cap humour’, Ms Thomas is now working on her third title, ‘Monkie Business’.

World Book Day
ESTABLISHED 16 years ago, World Book Day is marked in over 100 countries around the world and is a designated UNESCO worldwide celebration. The main aim of this dedicated day is ‘to encourage children to explore the pleasure of books and reading by providing them with an opportunity to have a book of their own’. While the majority of Irish children are fortunate enough to live in homes and attend schools where books are readily available, there are still some children who do not have automatic access to books.
The We ‘?’ Books initiative is the biggest tour of its type to take place throughout the country. Over five days, from March 3 to 7, a team of 12 authors will set off across Ireland to arts centres and theatres in Sligo and Thurles, Blanchardstown and Newbridge, as well as Castlebar, to ‘share their love of books and enthuse school audiences with a passion for reading’.
The tour involves the participating authors celebrating their favourite books and explaining how their own work has been influenced by these treasures. They will also give guidelines on how to become a writer and discuss the moot subject of the future of books in a digital age. The attending schoolchildren and their teachers will be given the opportunity to ask questions too.

For more information on World Book Day, visit, and for more on the We ‘?’ Books tour, visit or the We Love Books Tour page on Facebook, or follow #WeLoveBooksTour on Twitter.