Christmas Books for Children

By Eoin Meegan

Books are always a wonderful gift for Christmas, they are certainly my favourite gift, and there are a lot of good new books of Irish interest out this Christmas. Here we will look briefly at just a small sample of them.

Pigín’s Unexpected Adventure

Kathleen Watkins
Illustrations by Margaret Anne Suggs. Gill Books. €16.99

When Kathleen Watkins ran out of stories to tell her grandson Cian when he was just three she simply invented her own. And it’s clear she has a natural talent for storytelling. Here, Pigín, a little piglet, goes to the Fairies’ Annual Summer Party, where after a fortuitous mishap he finds himself on board an Air Lingus flight for London. Upon arriving he has many adventures, including a ride on a big red bus and in one of London’s famous black taxis. He visits Buckingham Palace and No. 10, and even gets to see the Queen. It’s a lovely story suitable for young children, and the illustrations are beautiful too. My only niggling criticism is that in nearly every scene Pigín is seen bearing his mobile phone. I know they are like a third arm to some people, but surely not for children this young!

The Chill Skill

Niall Breslin
Illustrated by Emma Proctor.
Gill Books. €16.99

Bressie is a musician, broadcaster, mindfulness-based teacher, and all-round great guy. He is also the founder and Creative Director of A Lust for Life, a mental health advocacy charity. The book, a delightful read in itself, is also the accompaniment to Bressie’s podcast ‘Mindful Moments for Children’. This picture book explores the subject of anger in a way that is relevant to children, teaching them not to suppress or ignore it, but instead to sit with this uncomfortable feeling and deal with it usefully through breathing and mindfulness exercises. It is centred around a girl called Sam. Emma Proctor’s illustrations are stunning.

A Chimney Adventure

John Carpenter
Illustrated by John Carpenter
Self Published

We covered the story of how this amazing book came into being in NewsFour some time back but it’s worth another mention, because (drum roll . . .) it happens to be the subject of our competition this issue (see page 22). Like Kathleen Watkins, John came up with the idea as a story for his two granddaughters Emma and Zoe. It’s a comic book story that will make a cracking Christmas gift that should adorn everyone’s Christmas stocking. I mean, we wouldn’t have the famous Sandymount chimneys if it wasn’t for two famous dogs!
A Chimney Adventure is available at Books on the Green.

A Miracle on Ebenezer Street

Catherine Doyle
Puffin. €12.99

A re-imagining of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Set in modern times, it tells the story of a young boy, George, whose mother is dead, and whose father is too busy working to have much time for him. Spending a lot of time by himself, alone and disheartened, George suddenly one day stumbles upon Marley’s Old Curiosity shop. Inside he happens upon a strange globe that leads to adventures past, present and future. A lovely retelling where old world magic is given a new modern twist, just perfect for 8 to 10 year olds.

Climate SOS by Lucinda Jacob
Illustrated by Alan Nolan

Climate SOS

Lucinda Jacob
Illustrated by Alan Nolan.
SEAI €free

Climate SOS, written by Lucinda Jacob and illustrated by Alan Nolan, is a free children’s adventure book from SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland). Described as a fun and thrilling read about climate change, suitable for primary school kids, the book is jam-packed with colourful images and characters to engage and interest children everywhere. It tells the story of four Super Energy Activists kids (and one dog!) who find out about sustainable energy and how to protect the environment while also having fun. Unfortunately their arch-nemesis Max Siphon and his sidekick Guzzler are determined to stop them! The book is a fun way for children to learn about creating a safer environment and saving the planet, while following the action to see if the villains or heroes will triumph! Let’s hope our four heroes do!

You can download Climate SOS FREE at (either PDF directly to your computer, or to Kindle and e-readers). Teachers can also send off for a hard copy.