The 2015 CBI Design-a-Cover Competition Winners

Congratulations to the 2015 Children’s Books Ireland Design-a-Cover Competition Winners!

Back in October 2014 we teamed up with CBI for the annual Design-a-Cover Competition. The book chosen was The Lost Fairy by Marian Broderick – it’s a story about a very vain Christmas tree fairy who falls off her perch!

We asked school children across Ireland to send us their designs for a new cover and wow, the caliber of the entries was amazing! It was tough, but we chose a Winner, 2nd place and 4 Runners Up.

In first place is Shelagh Jessica Gilbourne from Cork, whose artwork will appear on the cover of the book!

TheLostFairyCBI

In second place is Jasmine Carroll from Ardee, Co. Louth whose work will appear on the back cover.

JasmineCarroll

Runners up, Kayla Brady, Saibh Scorr, Orla Fitzpatrick and Sarah O’Beirne will see their artwork used on the inner back cover page of the new edition of The Lost Fairy!

KaylaBrady SaibhScorr OrlaFitzpatrick SaraOBrien

Well done to everyone and thank you for entering!

The new edition of The Lost Fairy will be out in April.

Watch out for Erika McGann!

We catch up with the award-winning children’s author on all her latest projects.

This autumn sees the publication of the third book in your supernatural series, The Watching Wood. This time Grace and the girls get caught up in the Witch Trials. Tell us a bit about their adventure.

In the new book the girls get sucked into a magical world full of witches, faeries and creepy ghost children. Grace and her friends are forced to take part in the Witch Trials, a kind of supernatural Community Games, and unwittingly make enemies of a rival team. They soon discover that there are more dangerous things in this new world then a spiteful team of witch apprentices – the woods nearby are filled with faeries, magical creatures of all shapes and sizes, banished by witches and hell-bent on revenge. With the little magic they’ve learned so far, the girls must survive the Witch Trials, navigate through the faery-filled woods and pay the mysterious Ferryman’s price to make it back home.

Your next book after The Watching Wood will be a mini-adventure with Grace and her friends, The Fairytale Trap, a 2015 World Book Day Book (you can pick it up for FREE with a WBD voucher). What were the challenges you had in writing this adventure, compared to writing The Demon Notebook, or your other full-length novels?

This was a fun one to write – a little magical mishap to drop into the girls’ school year – but keeping it short was a bit of a struggle. You’re always tempted to elaborate, build up the atmosphere slowly and add a few subplots, but this was a novella, not a novel, so it had to be quick and to the point. I enjoyed that though, there was no lull in the pace. The girls leap from one scene to the next without stopping. It kept me on my toes!

So what’s next for Grace and the girls? Are there more magical adventures to come?

Yes, there’s a fourth novel in the series due out in autumn next year. I haven’t really started on the text yet (I need to get a move on!), but it’ll centre on an old-style carnival that arrives unexpectedly in Dunbridge. I love the idea of a carnival – it’s fun and exciting, with just a little bit of creepy.

Have you any other plans for books outside the magical series you’ve created?

I’d love to have a go at a few other things if I could find the time! At the moment, the Dunbridge books are keeping me busy, but maybe in a year or two …

You do lots of events up and down the country – what’s your favourite part of these readings and visits?

The Q&A that comes at the end of each session (or in the middle of the session if I’ve got a chatty group!). I like talking about books and writing and how I got started, but it’s really the conversation with the kids that’s the fun part. I’m happy to talk at a group, but talking with them is much more enjoyable.

This summer you travelled to the UK to pick up the Waverton Good Read Children’s Award 2014. How did it feel to win the award? And what did you get up to while there?

It was a wonderful couple of days in a beautiful part of England. The organisers were lovely and made sure I saw plenty of the country while I was there. I got to watch the vote for the Waverton Award for adults, which was really interesting (plenty of rivalry between the advocates of each shortlisted title!), and I did a short talk with them. I met some of the kids, of course, and they were a fantastic bunch; full of chat and enthusiasm and a real love of reading. It was a great trip and I was so delighted to win the award.

You are pretty active on Twitter and Facebook – it seems like social media is a part of a modern-day writer’s life. Is it a part of ‘the job’ you enjoy?

It’s a part of ‘the job’ I still have to master. I try to keep up-to-date as much as possible on both, but I should be posting more often. It is definitely compulsory for the modern-day writer – social media is the quickest and easiest way to reach people, and being good at it can make all the difference to your writing career. I vow to become more proficient this year!

The Demon Notebook was recently published in the USA and it is to be translated into Spanish for the Mexican market. What was it like to see the USA version of the book? Would you be worried how the book will change when it is translated?

I adore the USA edition, it’s absolutely gorgeous. And I had great fun during the edit, learning what Irish phrases mean absolutely nothing outside of Ireland and why I had to change them. I actually wrote a piece for gobblefunked.com recently about that and what happens when your work is translated (this was before the Mexican deal was signed). I considered that a translator is like a co-author you never get to meet – someone who rewrites and arranges your text for a brand new audience. I’ll never get to appreciate how the book reads in Spanish, but I still can’t wait to see it.

What advice would you give to emerging authors who’d love to write a book for children?

Write what you love and what got you excited about reading as a kid. I think when you write for children you regress a bit and experience it as you would have back then. And that’s when it works best – when you read your own text and know you would have gobbled it up when you were young.

Erika McGann was the winner of the Waverton Good Read Children’s Prize 2014 for The Demon Notebook, the first in her magical series about Grace and her four friends.

Guest Author Post: Conor Kostick at the Prix Farniente


The Prix Farniente is an annual Belgian based international award for literature for young readers. Unlike most award ceremonies, however, the prizes are given at a full day of high energy events, with a huge input from the young readers. Librarians and teachers build up to the day in a number of ways: there are artworks of the books, reviews; and perhaps the most fun of all, a lot of dressing up. The nominated authors were given their presents (a fabulous chocolate sneaker, packed with with chocolates!) by young readers dressed as characters from their books. Later in the day, teams of four, also dressed up, gave one minute presentations summing up the books before settling down to answer a quiz. The question from Epic was really hard, I wasn’t sure of the answer! (Name two characteristics of the avatar Cindella). There was lots of opportunities to meet young readers and hear their feedback and questions (mainly, ‘when will the sequel be available in French’?). All in all it was a very professional, well-organised event, yet one that was not stuffy or overly formal, but was colourful and passionate about books. I had a wonderful time and I’m delighted that I got the chance to be involved.

If you’d like to find out more about Epic and the rest of Conor’s books click here!

OBP Nominations for Irish Book Awards 2012!


Hello Friends of OBP!

It’s been a while, but after our busiest and best autumn season ever we’re back with a bang and some great news!

Four of our autumn books have been nominated for Irish Book Awards and we’re very excited about it!
Details of all the books are below and if you think you might like to vote for one of them, then please do! But be sure to do it quickly as voting closes at midnight this Sunday 18th November! http://www.irishbookawards.ie/vote-here-for-your-favourite-titles/

Check back here soon for a round-up of our awesome Autumn events and some fantastic Christmas gift ideas! (Check out the website for the special 20% discount on all our books until 14 December!)

And Time Stood Still by Alice Taylor
Shortlisted for the International Education Services Best Irish-Published Book of the Year

Alice Taylor shares her heart and soul, her loves and losses in this intimate book
Alice has known, loved, and lost many people throughout her life. Here she talks about her special people, her memory of what meant so much to her about them. She remembers her husband, father and mother, a beloved sister, her little brother Connie, and many others. She tells how she coped with the emptiness she felt when they died, of the seeming impossibility of moving on with life after such deeply felt loss, when time stood still.

This book is a sharing – it lets the reader in on a story and celebration of life in its intimacy, its small, precious moments. When we experience grief, sharing in someone else’s story can help us more than anything, and in the hands of master storyteller Alice Taylor, we may find our own solace and the space to remember our own special people.

‘thought-provoking’ Evening Echo
‘beautifully illustrated and featuring the finest of prose and poetry’ Southern Star
http://www.obrien.ie/TitleInfo.cfm?bookID=1057

At War with the Empire by Gerry Hunt
Shortlisted for the International Education Services Best-Irish Published Book of the Year
The Easter Rising of 1916, with its Proclamation of Independence, lit the spark that would eventually blaze into a full-scale War of Independence in Ireland.
Though the 1916 Rising was put down within a week, the harshness of the British response greatly increased support for Sinn Fein, the Republican party. By 1918 disaffectation with British rule was widespread. When Sinn Féin won a majority of seats in the 1918 election they vowed to set up their own Irish parliament. The first Irish parliament, the Dáil, was formed on 21 January 1919. It reaffirmed the 1916 proclamation with the Declaration of Independence, and issued a ‘Message to the Free Nations of the World’ that stated that there was ‘an existing state of war between Ireland and England’. On that same day, the first shots were fired in the Irish War of Independence.

This is the story of that war.

‘the War of Independence as you’ve never seen it before’ RTE Guide
‘moves along at a deceptively fast pace and a strong narrative emerges from the force and vividness of its determinedly old-fashioned drawings’ Sunday Times
http://www.obrien.ie/book1092.cfm

Leave it to Eva by Judi Curtin
Shortlisted for the Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year Senior

Fun, feisty Eva Gordon always tries to help her friends, but this time she might have a problem that’s too big even for her …
When Eva and her family go to Seacove, she’s looking forward to seeing her friend Kate, but things have gone very wrong for Kate and this time Eva’s not sure if she should help her …

It’s not just Seacove Eva’s visiting – her friend Ruby offers her the chance of a visit to London. And there may be a way the trip with Ruby can help Eva sort things out for everyone …

If you have a problem that needs solving, just leave it to Eva!

‘would heartily recommend both this book and the author’ lovereading4kids.co.uk
‘readers young and old will savour this latest instalment’ Sunday Independent Living
‘a thoughtful examination of friendship and loyalty’ Irish Independent
http://www.obrien.ie/TitleInfo.cfm?bookID=998

Rebecca’s Rules by Anna Carey
Shortlisted for the Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year Senior

My name is Rebecca Rafferty, and there are so many things wrong with my life right now.

My boyfriend has moved to Canada. Canada!
I have annoyed my best friends Cass and Alice by going on about him all the time.
I’m going to a crazy girl’s ridiculous birthday party and I am not sure why.
Things have got to change. So I’ve made some new rules.

No moping.
No ignoring my friends’ problems.
Find something exciting for me, Cass and Alice to do so our friendship gets back to normal.
Something fun. Something new. Something like joining the school musical …

‘It reminded me of being a teenager, the nice parts! It’s a perfect piece of hilarious loveliness! Gold Star!!!!’ Marian Keyes
‘another slice of real-life heartbreak and joy – and a lot of laughs’ Irish Independent
‘better than Adrian Mole!’ lovereading.co.uk
http://www.obrien.ie/TitleInfo.cfm?bookID=997

Double Win for Celine Kiernan & Into the Grey at the Children’s Books Ireland Awards!


What an eventful day! Celine Kiernan author of the phenomenal Moorehawke Trilogy, won the CBI Children’s Choice Award for her fabulous novel Into the Grey! Not only that, but she also won the main prize – CBI Book of the Year Award! Celine was up against some very tough competition with the rest of the extremely talented shortlisted nominees – Roddy Doyle, Siobhan Parkinson, Paula Leyden, Mark O’Sullivan, Caitríona Hastings & Andrew Whitson, Oliver Jeffers and Derek Kielty. All of the books that were nominated were powerful & beautiful and some dealt with extremely difficult subject matter in sensitive and imaginative ways.

The ceremony kicked off with the Junior Juries speaking fantastically and enthusiastically about each of the nominated books that they reviewed.
Then the guest speaker Fergus Finlay (Barnardos CEO) spoke about the power of reading, saying that when a child can read confidently the positive effects of this radiate throughout his/her entire life.
All of sudden the big moment was upon us and the winners of the six CBI Awards were announced with Paula Leyden, Mark O’Sullivan, Oliver Jeffers and Siobhan Parkinson all winning special merit awards for their books.

Then we received the double delight of Celine being announced winner of the Children’s Choice Award AND the Book of the Year Award!

On her amazing win Celine had this to say:
‘To have won both the Children’s Choice Award and the Book of the Year Award has simply blown me away. The Children’s Choice Award means so much – children are the most honest of readers and for them to have voted Into the Grey as their winner is the highest compliment I could ever have received. And then, on top of that, to have the recognition of the panel of judges whose vote is based on literary merit as much as enjoyment of the story is quite the icing on the cake.’

Scroll down to read Celine’s guest post on writing Into the Grey or click here

And for more information on Into the Grey and The Moorehawke Trilogy click here or visit www.celinekiernan.com/takenawayintothegrey.html

Guest Post by Celine Kiernan on her CBI Book of the Year Nomination!


Into the Grey first grew out of a simple, scary prospect. Imagine sleeping in a strange bunk bed in a strange house. Imagine waking in the middle of the night to realise that there was someone in the bed above– the bed you knew had been empty when you went to sleep. Imagine if that someone began to speak as if they knew you. Would you answer back?

This was the beginning of what became a very complicated story indeed. One in which I not only scared the pants off myself, but also explored the ideas of identity and self awareness and loss. The idea of looking into your own face and not knowing who you are is a theme that runs strongly throughout this story – not knowing who you are without the network of love and support you’re used to, or the possessions that you had decided defined you. Not knowing who you are because you see yourself one way, while history has decided to portray you another. Physically not knowing who you are due to the ravages of time or disease.

And then of course, there is bravery. The bravery of one brother trying to save another. Of one woman battling to maintain the dignity of another. Of an old man standing up to the world’s idea of what he is or has been. And physical bravery, the courage to step up and shout out and cross over into something terrifying so that another person will not suffer the way you have suffered.

I loved these characters, Pat and Dom, Francis and Laurence, James and Cheryl and Olive and Dave. They were absolutely real to me. As was the Skerries of my childhood and that house – the house with the bunk bed, the rust spotted mirror, the tangled garden, the twisted apple trees, the ghosts of wars long fought and still active – all real.

Many thanks to the CBI Book Awards for including it on the shortlist.

The Children’s Books Ireland Book Awards 2012 will take place on May 28th.

Click here for more information on Into the Grey.

Bumper awards’ season for OBP!

We are very happy to report that awards are coming in thick and fast for The O’Brien Press this year!

First we had a Bisto shortlisted title in Dancing in the Dark by P.R. Prendergast. Then P. R. did it again, this time as Peter Prendergast, when The Romanian Builder was shortlisted for the Reading Association of Ireland’s Children’s Book Awards, along with the three other books in the Bridges Series by authors Eithne Massey, Natasha Mac a’Bháird and Enda Wyley. The O’Brien Press received a Special Merit Award at the RAI awards ceremony for the whole Bridges Series.

Then there was the small matter of two OBP authors nominated for the world’s largest children’s literature award! Conor Kostick, author of the highly acclaimed Avatar Chronicles Trilogy and Laureate na nÓg, Siobhán Parkinson, are both in the running for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for their outstanding bodies of work. Winners will be announced on 20 March 2012.

Our adult titles were also honoured this year. Edward Hayden’s debut cookery book Food to Love has just won the Kerry Food Book of the Year and Edward will be presented with his award next Wednesday 30th November at a ceremony in Dublin, by Minster Jimmy Deenihan. Edward’s excellent book beat offerings from Rachel Allen, Catherine Fulvio and Donal Skehan!

Ambassadors on Horseback by Michael Slavin and Louise Parkes has been longlisted for the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year 2011 and the shortlist will be announced next week!

And rounding things off nicely, The Real Rebecca is the winner of the Irish Book Awards Senior Children’s Book category! Debut author Anna Carey was astounded when it was announced last week at a gala dinner (with Michael D. Higgins, Seamus Heaney and Bill Clinton!) and was also winner of the best surprised face on the night! Two more fabulous OBP children’s books – Sally Go Round the Stars by Sarah Webb and Claire Ranson (illustrated by Steve McCarthy) and Marco Moves In by Gerry Boland (illustrated by Aine McGuinness) – were both shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards this year too.

Enormous congratulations to all our authors. Such a bundle of success really makes it all worthwhile and the recognition is a tribute, not only to our authors, but to the whole OBP team, especially those that are kept hidden behind heaps of paper at their desks – our editors and editorial administrator, designer, production manager, publisher, sales team, accounts and Laura, who packs up all our books and keeps the belly of the OBP ship afloat down in the stockroom!

With an end to 2011 like this, we are looking forward to 2012!

Full details of all these awards can be found on the Press Releases page of our website.

Newsflash! RAI Children’s Book Award Shortlist

The O’Brien Press is delighted to announce that four of its children’s books have been shortlisted for this year’s Reading Association of Ireland Children’s Book Awards.

The four books make up our vibrant Bridges series of multi-cultural stories, published last year to great acclaim.

Congratulations to Peter Prendergast (author of The Romanian Builder), Natasha Mac a’Bhaird (author of Olanna’s Big Day), Eithne Massey (author of The Dreaming Tree) and Enda Wyley (author of I Won’t Go To China).

The winners will be announced on Thursday 29th September at a special ceremony as part of the RAI’s annual conference in Dublin. Fingers crossed everyone!

Australian editions of The Moorehawke Trilogy win coveted Australian Design Award

Back at my desk this morning after a smidgen of annual leave to the delightful news that the covers of the Australian editions of The Moorehawke Trilogy by Celine Kiernan have won Best Designed Children’s Series at the 59th Annual Book Design Awards in Australia! The fantastic covers are the creation of Designer Bruno Herfst and Illustrator Elise Hurst and we send our heartiest congratulations down under to them! Celine was equally as thrilled and has blogged about their win, as well as other interesting developments in the many foreign editions of her O’Brien Press titles, and you can read more about all of this on her blog.

P.R. Prendergast’s triumphant Bisto Award shortlist and European rights sweep

Last Monday, to the delight of all here at The O’Brien Press, Children’s Books Ireland announced that P.R. Prendergast was on the 10-strong shortlist for the Bisto Book of the Year 2011, for his compelling first novel for children, Dancing in the Dark. This official recognition of the exceptional quality of the writing by the Bisto judges, confirms what The O’Brien Press has seen in the book since it first came in as a manuscript. It is a deeply affecting story with universal appeal and an extremely strong first novel for children, by a Dublin-based school teacher and father of three.

We loved it so much, we made the strikingly beautiful cover the front-cover to our entire catalogue for 2010-2011! And now it seems, many countries across Europe are also falling in love with this tale of living with a ghost and the pain of letting go, described as a refreshing look at the themes of grief and loss.

Last week, rights to the book were bought by publishers in five countries; Sweden, Norway, Finland, Serbia and Albanian language rights in Macedonia. It’s been a big week for P.R. Prendergast who commented on his Bisto nomination saying:

‘I am absolutely thrilled to find that Dancing in the Dark has been included in the Bisto shortlist. A nomination like this can really give an impetus to a book and helps raise its profile. I have been checking back to find a lot of very prominent writers on previous shortlists so I am very flattered to be included in such company.’

Believe it or not, this nomination is the thirty-sixth for The O’Brien Press in the twenty-one years since the awards began. We have a very strong history in the Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Awards with five Books of the Year, nine Merit Awards, five Eilís Dillon Awards, one Honour Award, two Historical Fiction Awards, one Best Emerging Author Award.

Hopefully, Dancing in the Dark will become our sixth book of the year! Good luck P.R!