I’m eight and I awake in the dark. I slip downstairs. No one else is up. The lights on the tree have been left on for Santa. I find it, a parcel with my name, rectangular in shape, wrapped in brown paper and twine. I unwrap it slowly, so as to relish every moment as the cover reveals itself. ‘Fun for the Secret Seven’, the final book to add to my collection.
I pause but can’t resist the urge to flip it open and breathe in the smell of the unread pages, mine and mine only, pages of fun and adventure. I sit curled around the unopened presents and read it from back to front before anyone else emerges. These are the other books I would love to have read, way back then.
‘Peter and the Tree Children’, by Peter Wohlleben, published by Greystone Books (for ages 4-8 years) is a picture book about how trees communicate, feel and grow. It tells the story of a lonely squirrel in the forest who embarks on a search for the tree children. His new found purpose inspires and delights him as does the beauty and majesty of the trees of the forest.
‘The Giggler Treatment’, by Roddy Doyle, published by Scholastic Children’s Books (for ages 5+ years), is all about fun; the key is in the title of course. Indeed, it is a story that could’ve been written by children themselves. It was certainly one of my daughter’s favourites. The gigglers are children’s protectors. If adults are mean to them, they get the giggler treatment. It’s smelly and squishy and sticks to your foot. Mr Mack is about to get the Giggler Treatment, can he be saved?
‘Swallows and Amazons’, by Arthur Ransome, published by Vintage (for ages 7-12), is a about a summer adventure on an island in the Lake District. It was published originally in 1930 and has echoes of Robinson Crusoe running throughout. Two families, the Swallows and the Amazons battle it out to win supreme over the evil Captain Flint (Uncle Jim). Things get complicated when all is not what it seems.
‘A Thousand Questions’, by Saadia Faruqi, published by HarperCollins (for ages 10-12), is the story of two young girls who form an unlikely summer friendship in Karachi, Pakistan. Mimi has been sent from America to visit the grandparents she has never met, and Sakina is the cook’s daughter who needs to improve her English. Full of adventure and empathy, this books is a great read.
‘The Boldness of Betty’, by Anna Carey, published by O’Brien Press (for ages 12-15 years), is the memoir of Betty Margaret Rafferty aged 14, set in 1913, Dublin. Betty has to leave school to take a job in a sweet shop. She is consumed with boredom and envy at her customers who attend the nearby posh girls school. But life in Dublin is about to change and bold Betty is at the heart of it. She gets the need to speak out and to fight for change as industrial unrest and women’s desire for the suffrage sweeps the city. This is a lovely piece of historical fiction for more-senior young readers.
Happy reading this Christmas!
Bríd Conroy and her husband Neil Paul run Tertulia – A Bookshop Like No Other at The Quay, Westport.