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81 items found for ""

  • Laura - Bywyd Mentrus Laura Ashley [Mari Lovgreen]

    (suggested) reading age: 6/7+ (suggested) interest age: 4+ Genre: #history #Wales #nonfic Illustrations: Sara Rhys Covid was a difficult time for many businesses, and in 2020 another well-known and familiar company ran into major financial difficulties: Laura Ashley. Their shops are all over Britain selling luxury clothing and household goods since the 20th century. (I'm we’ve got Laura Ashley wallpaper in our bedroom!) At the last minute, NEXT stepped in to save the 'brand' and have now fully incorporated it as part of the Next family. This means Laura Ashley's future is safe for now, and her name will remain on the high street in one way or another for years to come. But I wonder how many of you knew she had a Welsh connection? Yes, you guessed it, she was Welsh! I remember reading about it in a Dref Wen series years ago. Those books (whilst still useful) are now outdated, and we were well overdue for a new book about this remarkable individual. Nowdays, there are strong and inspiring women all around us, and several chief executives are women. But in Laura's time, this was probably something extraordinary. It's a testament to her determination that she has managed to set up an incredibly prosperous business and raise a family at the same time. And despite the success of her company and all the hustle and bustle that came with it, her family came first every time. What a shame she died relatively young in an accident at home. I love the ‘Enwogion o Fri’ series which always focuses on an amazing Welsh person, shining a light on individuals who may not have received the attention they deserve until now. There's a lot of consistency in the series – text that flows and is easy to read, paired with beautiful pictures that enrich the story. But there are also many differences within the series, and I particularly like the fact that each volume is unique in that there’s always a new combination of author/illustrators at the helm, ensuring that each one feels fresh and different. I can see why this series has been so popular with teachers (as well as parents) – it’s an useful resource for morning assemblies, (it meets some of the requirements of the Siarter Iaith and the New Curriculum, for example). It could serve as an useful resource for an independent research task - yes, the web is great, but Welsh language websites are lacking so books like this are handy. As well as Laura Ashley's life story, I also received a copy of Ann by post. I wasn’t very familiar with Ann. I certainly learned a lot of new facts while reading this book. If I'm being honest, I preferred the book about Laura's life. Nothing against Ann Griffiths, but if I had to choose, I'd choose Laura Ashley's book. I was just more interested in her story. I've passed the old factory in Carno several times on the way down to Cardiff on the A470 and I'm sure I used the company as a case study for my business GCSE project. There's plenty of choice in the series, with lots of fascinating individuals to choose from. Whichever one you pick; you won't be disappointed. I’m going to read Betty Campbell's book next. SCREENSHOTS O LYFR ANN: Publisher: Broga Released: Mehefin 2023 Price: £5.99 Series: Enwogion o Fri Format: paperback ALSO IN SERIES:

  • Ffoi rhag y ffasgwyr - Myrddin ap Dafydd

    (suggested) reading age: 12+ (suggested) interest age: 15+ (and adults) Themes: #WWII #fiction #urdd #adventure #history ‘Two fleeing Germany on the last train before the War – but what about the elder brother?’ From the wording and cover design, Ffoi rhag y Ffasgwyr (also available in English as ‘Fleeing the Fascists’) is presented as the story of a family fleeing Germany and Nazi oppression, but the inside cover describes it as: ‘A novel about Aberystwyth and Urdd Gobaith Cymru during and after the Second World War’. Beginning the novel I wasn’t sure what to expect – a story about the adventures of Steffan and his family, or a story about Aberystwyth and Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Welsh youth movement? As it happens, we get two stories within the same book! At the start of the novel we are given a cast list of the main characters – 13 of them. Also, a map of Aberystwyth’s town, showing the main locations of the novel. But the main characters of the story are the Steinmann family and his children, Steffan, Anton and Lotti. (Poor mum Berta barely gets a mention!). It is through the Steinmanns’ eyes that we are introduced to Wales on the cusp of the Second World War. It isn’t easy to sum up the plot, other than to say that it involves a family moving to Wales to start a new life, and the effect Urdd Gobaith Cymru has on them, Steffan in particular. But this is an over-simplification – there’s a lot going on within this brief novel. It’s a novel which bounds confidently from one setting to another, weaving between characters, moving from the light-hearted to the intense. Sometimes it reads like a gripping adventure novel, at others it’s historical fiction. There were truly nerve-wracking moments where I held my breath and shuddered. But there were also chapters where the story’s pace became leisurely, dawdled even. The mood of the book changes from chapter to chapter, which reminds me of the novels of Louis de Bernier’s (showing my age now – I remember the hype around Captain Corelli’s Mandolin!) in the way that the author is more like an observant camera, sweeping across the scene rather than narrowing focus on a single hero’s journey. The advantage of this is that room is given to things that would otherwise be ignored – the effects of polio, the racism and prejudice visible here in Wales, the founding of Welsh-medium education, and of course, the history of the Urdd. I enjoyed the glimpse at how ordinary people’s lives were affected by the war just as much as I enjoyed the more tense and gripping sections of the novel where Steffan was trying to escape Bielefeld. The ending is very clever in its reminder as to why this period in history and the Urdd’s mission remains to important, even today... but you’ll have to read the book to find out why! Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: Mai 2022 Price: £8.00 Format: paperback

  • Sbwriel [adapt. Sioned Lleinau]

    (suggested) reading age: 8+ (suggested) interest age: 7+ #nonfiction #fact #environment #rubbish #earth Ever wondered where that milk carton goes after you throw it away? On quite an adventure as it turns out… I borrowed a copy of this book a few weeks ago from the library, but somehow forgot to review it. I was reminded of it this morning whilst walking with the pram in our local park. Some inconsiderate so and so dumped a binbag full of rubbish right next to the bin. How selfish and thoughtless. Was it really that hard putting it in the bin I wonder? It really breaks my heart when I see people ruining and disrespecting our beautiful world by littering and fly tipping. Anyway.... On to the book. I grew up with DK books - birds, ships, reptiles, buildings... you name it, there was a book for it. As a young reader who wasn’t very keen on fiction, I loved learning about the world around me. Something that still holds true today. I remember many of these books floating about in the nineties, but I haven't seen many of them recently. That's why I'm pleased that Rily has started adapting some of the 'Darganfod' series. Looking at how many titles are available in English already, there’s going to be no shortage of books for them to adapt into Welsh over the net few years… The book follows the tried and tested format of DK over the years and it doesn’t look that much different to how they used to look when I was growing up. (a bit more colour perhaps!) Some might think they're a bit old-fashioned, but for me, they don’t need changing really because they just work so well. The pages are filled with clear pictures, diagrams and interesting fact bubbles that present a lot of information in an easy-to-read manner. I wish all non-fiction books were this well put together. This is certainly a book you could enjoy at home, but I see a lot of use for it in classroom, especially in years 3-6. The Four Purposes of the new Curriculum talks about creating 'ethical, informed citizens who are ready to be citizens of Wales and the world (demonstrating their commitment to ensuring the sustainability of the planet). This is therefore the perfect book for an unit of work on recycling, the environment, pollution or the local community. Personally, I’d use it for an information-gathering/research task or as a resource in a group reading session (it opens up a lot of discussion points). You can just read bits of it or the whole book, it really is quite flexible. It suits itself well for presenting different elements of a non-fiction book as well, such as the contents page, index or references. Wales overall has a good record for recycling and sustainability, but we’d be foolish to think we're doing enough. Although things are improving, we're still living in a wasteful throwaway culture. What happened to the make do and mend mindset that was so popular years ago? Whatever happens, going forward, things will have to change. The current situation is unsustainable. I almost feel it's too late for this generation, but there is one glimmer of hope – our children. It's not fair at all, because we've left this world in a right old mess. They will have to inherit all that. I just have to hope and dream that they will do a better job than we did. This book educates the next generation about some of the problems we face. That’s why books like this are so important. Publisher: Rily Series: Darganfod! Released: 2022 Price: £6.99 MORE IN THE SERIES...

  • Bach a Mawr - Luned Aaron

    ♥ Children's Book of the Month: July 2023♥ (suggested) reading age: 4+ (suggested) interest age: 0+ Well, July has been quite a month! Sorry I've been very quiet on here lately, but in the meantime, I've become a first time Dad! On the 5/7/23 Llio and I welcomed Broc Siôn Dafydd into the world! And despite the lack of sleep, he's filled our lives with love and joy since the moment he arrived. Being about a month old, it didn't take long for me to stuff a book in front of him. Bach a Mawr by Luned Aaron arrived just in time – how appropriate. Whenever I hold him, I can't help but marvel at his helpless little body in my arms, and think about how he'll one day grow up to be a strapping young man. Everyone tell us to ‘make the most' of this period, and I know exactly what they mean. He’s grown out of several baby grows already! Apart from having a son, another reason I’m happy is because I now have someone, I can trial new books with – a guinea pig if you like! Whilst I try to do my best when reviewing children's books and be as objective as I can, at the end of the day, I'm not a little kid anymore and I never will be again! Even though he hasn’t yet uttered a word, I can assure you that little Broc is quite fond of the book. How do I know this? Well, he spends hours staring at the pictures, looking at them with wonder and amusement. Also – it stops him crying so it’s a lifesaver. I never realized that babies are pretty much blind when they're born. They can only see nearby shapes, and their vision is pretty blurry for the first few months. The book is pocket sized and handy – just the thing for packing into the pram. He hasn't started chewing things yet, so the corners are safe for now. Babies like bold, vivid and simple shapes – things that are high contrast. He can probably make out the shapes of the animals standing out against the white background. The adjectives that correspond with the words are good ones too – ffyrnig (fierce) and addfwyn (gentle). The basic idea of the book is all the contrasts we see in the world around us. I've also been using these pretty little sensory cards by Priya & Peanut too, but now we’ve got a little Welsh book that does the same sort of thing. It doesn't matter that he doesn't understand what he sees- he finds them interesting and that’s good enough for now. When he’s a little older, we can read and enjoy it a bit more together. Put it this way, we’ll get our money’s worth out of this one. As always, Luned Aaron's pictures are fantastic, and it was very interesting to see on her Insta page a little about the behind-the-scenes process of creating such a book. One doesn't always appreciate the hours of work that go into creating books for children. The sloth is my favourite picture, and that's exactly how I feel after very little sleep! On the penultimate page the animals come together in a splash of colour, and I like the idea of including a word list on the back for those who need it. As I say, this is a simple, but lovely little book by Luned Aaron, and I’d expect nothing less from this multi-talented author/illustrator. Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: June 2023 Price: £4.95 Format: paperback

  • Sara a'r Stranc - Nadia Shireen [adapt. Endaf Griffiths]

    *For Welsh review see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 5+ (suggested) interest age: 2-5 Themes: #emotions #family #healthandwellbeing #anger Genre: #fiction #picturebook Know a child going through the terrible two’s? If so, read on! I don’t remember how, but I came across this book recently and thought it was a very good one – especially if you're the parents of a toddler who is prone to temper tantrums from time to time. (so pretty much all toddlers then!) Sara the cat is having a very bad day. It starts with a problem putting on her socks and gradually things go from bad to worse and the storm clouds soon take over. Before long, Sara has reached the end of her tether and proceeds to unleash the biggest STRANC ever! Many parents of young children will be very familiar with this situation. Apparently, when I was little, I had an almighty tantrum on the floor in Marks & Spencer. I bet Mam wished the earth had swallowed her on the spot! *how embarrassing! * I'm sure it's fair to say that every toddler goes through this at one point or another. It's part of growing up whilst they learn to manage and make sense of their emotions. To be honest, it's not just kids either – I think we’re all guilty of waking up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes. Some days, we’re just in a funk – there doesn’t have to be a reason! For parents, this is a book that will surely be an useful tool when discussing emotions and feelings with young children. I think the metaphor of the stranc as some kind of monster is an effective one. I like the idea of control and ownership over the 'stranc' - if you created it then you can control it too and make it disappear. On the last page, we see a number of situations that could potentially cause a meltdown. There’s an opportunity for discussion here, as children look for the triggers that can turn a good day sour. Hopefully, whilst reading through the book, children will be able to recognise the feelings, and to try to calm themselves down before everything kicks off. Learning to manage emotions does take time, though, and not even adults manage it 100% of the time. Bilingual book As I’m currently doing research on bilingual books and mixing languages, I always keep an eye out for new books like this. This one came to my attention because of the format. Bilingual books are extremely popular, especially with non-Welsh speaking parents or learners keen to support their children's Welsh reading. But they can also be controversial. Not everyone is so keen on them, saying that they detract from the Welsh or confuse readers with two languages on every page. Total rubbish in my opinion. The format of this book makes that argument invalid, because you get the best of both worlds here. At first glance, it looks like a Welsh book, but the text is also available in English for those who want it. Instead of putting the Welsh and English text opposite each other, like you normally see, the English adaptation is available as a fold out which can be used alongside the main text. No more flicking back and forth to the back every minute, and no complaining that there's too much text on the pages. There's even a set of discussion questions to help hold a conversation about the content of the book too —handy! To me, it feels like the perfect compromise – it looks like a Welsh book, but it offers bilingual support for those who need it. I wonder if publishing more books like this (with the English adaptation available as an appendix) would help broaden the appeal of original Welsh-language books? I think publishing books like this makes Welsh language books more accessible to a wider audience, and that has to be a good thing, don't you think? I think this is a simple but extremely effective approach, and I'd like to see more publishers follow Atebol by publishing more linguistically ‘flexible’ books. Publisher: Atebol Released: FEB 2023 Price: £6.99 Format: paperback

  • Mwy o Helynt - Rebecca Roberts

    *Use language toggle switch for Welsh review* ♥Book of month (children): June 2023♥ (suggested) interest age: 12-15+ (suggested) reading age: 12+ Genre: #fiction #teenage Themes: Domestic violence / mental health /wellbeing / self-image / grooming /self-confidence. **Contains explicit language** When #helynt was released back in November 2020 (wow, it feels like a lifetime ago already!) the initial reaction was fairly quiet. Rebecca was a relatively new writer, and I think this was her first novel for teens. But, gradually, more came to read about Rachel Ross's troubles, and in May 2021, #helynt won the prestigious Tir na n-Og Awards in the secondary category. (and well-deserved too!) When a first book does that well, I'm sure there's a lot of pressure to make sure the sequel is just as good. I'm happy to say that Rachel Ross, or Rachel Calvi as she’s now known, is back to create Mwy o helynt (more trouble) (see what I did there?) IMO the author has managed to maintain some of the elements that made the first book so readable, but has expanded on Rachel’s story in such a way that it doesn’t just feel like the same old thing once again. To think that Rachel is a little older, she's not much wiser, and she's still making - and finding- plenty of trouble (just as well for us readers!) It's hard to write reviews without spoiling the plot, and I wouldn't want to do that. This book picks up a few months after the turbulent events of the first novel. With Jason, her awful stepfather, in prison for what he did to Rachel's mum, the little family have now had to leave Rhyl. Yup, leave their lives behind and disappear somewhere to keep a low profile. I can't imagine what that would be like. Rachel has now started college, has a boyfriend and things seem to be going well, but it’s not long before she gets her first unwise idea… sneaking back to Rhyl on some sort of rescue mission to her old house to get her possessions. There were plenty of times in the novel where I was saying to myself ‘oh no Rachel, that’s not a good idea now is it…’ In addition to some of the old characters like Shane, Gina and Medium Jim, we are introduced to some new characters. And although Rachel is an extremely perceptive, witty and capable girl, she does do some silly things sometimes. For the right reasons no doubt, but silly nonetheless. As she starts an ill-advised and inappropriate relationship with someone that should know better, the alarm bells start ringing right away for us reading… I’ll say no more. You'll have to read for yourselves to see how Rachel comes out the other side. In light of all the media attention that ‘grooming’ has had lately, this novel feels quite timely and relevant. I have faith in Rachel though. She's a strong character- something that was very evident in the first novel. I think ‘badass’ was the term used to describe her! She definitely isn’t going to let her disability define her. I couldn't help but think 'Go on Rachel!' when she puts Jasmine, (a rather unpleasant girl) in her place. It’s a pity we can’t bottle up that sort of confidence and sell it! Rebecca's writing style is very readable, and the plot and language aren’t overly-complicated, making it perfect for early teenage readers. Reading it wasn’t laborious at all. I liked that there was some English in the novel because to me, it reflects the linguistic reality of North East Wales (an area that hasn’t had much attention in Welsh-language books). I happen to know that the #helynt books are popular amongst other groups as well, and Rebecca has a firm fan base of older readers who have also enjoyed reading about Rachel’s adventures. If Rachel's story concluded after Mwy o Helynt, then I’d be quite satisfied with that. That said, I know from the launch event that the author has a few more stories lined up for her. After a bit of an unexpected twist at the end of the novel, I'm sure there's plenty of scope for stories about Rachel Calvi, the goth from Rhyl... "Newydd ei llarpio mewn un eisteddiad. Nid hawdd o beth ydi sgwennu mor rhwydd â hyn. Campwaith arall gan Rebecca Elizabeth Roberts." dywed Elin Llwyd Morgan am nofel diweddaraf @BeckyERoberts Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: Ebrill 2023 Price: £8.00 Format: softback Click here to read review of first novel: #helynt Listen to the playlist that goes with the book...

  • Dros y môr a'r mynyddoedd - Awduron Amrywiol

    *See language toggle for Welsh review* ♥ Tir na n-Og Award Shortlist 2023♥ (suggested) interest age: 8+ (suggested) reading age: 11+ Genre: #myths #celtic #ficition #international Illustrations: Elin Manon Gwales description: Looking at Celtic legends, everyone wonders at the strength and bravery of the female characters. This collection of fifteen myths from seven countries demonstrates this. Welsh adaptations by Angharad Tomos, Haf Llewelyn, Mari George, Aneirin Karadog, Myrddin ap Dafydd, Anni Llŷn and Branwen Williams. A review by Francesca Sciarrillo My initial response to this beautiful book was love at first sight, from cover to cover! And that’s before I even opened it to read the wonderful stories! Immediately, I thought about how I would have loved a book like this when I was a kid. But anyway, I'm glad I found such a marvellous book as an adult, and I'm very happy to know that young children and people across the country can go and discover and enjoy the stories that come alive in this volume. Fifteen stories from different Celtic nations are available in this collection – from Nia Ben Aur of Ireland to Queen Lupa of Galicia. Adorning the pages of skilfully crafted words by much-loved writers are Elin Manon’s epic illustrations. One of the best things about this collection – in my opinion anyway – is the fact that you can read one at a time and return back to the same story, or another story. Each one feels fresh and different from the rest – as they are written by different authors – and that adds to the enjoyment of reading. A cast of strong, bold and brave characters will keep you company such as Rhiannon from Wales and Kowrmelyan the giant from Cornwall. My favourite stories – though I love them all – are Queen Lupa of Galicia and Merch y Tonnau from Scotland. I wasn't familiar with most of the stories in this collection, and I'm thrilled to learn more about the myths and legends associated with Celtic nations. I would really recommend this collection to any young reader who loves stories full of adventure, magic and memorable characters. This is a collection to treasure, and one in which very special women are the stars. How wonderful it is to see how the illustrator and authors have imagined and created these important characters. And without a doubt, the collection manages to "keep the stories alive" for readers of all ages. Morgan Dafydd's take on it, Sôn am Lyfra Books to treasure Out of all the books you ever read, some just really stand out don’t they? They are memorable in more ways than one, and make an impression that lasts long after they’ve been read. One such book for me was 'Heno Heno' edited by Glenys Howells – a book I was gifted when I was five years old. Twenty-seven years later, I still go back to it from time to time, and I've used it many times in class and kids still enjoy the short stories. I can still recite one or two of the stand out stories to this day – not word for word, but near enough! Now obviously, such a book was far too difficult for me as a five-year-old reader, but, Mam read them to me first, until I learned to do it for myself. Dros y Môr a’r Mynyddoedd is a similar book, in that it’s a treasure trove of short stories, and something that can be enjoyed and passed down. Timeless in a way. I certainly would have loved such a book when I was a young reader – books were never so colourful when I was growing up. The artwork by Elin Manon is special and beautifully adorns most of the pages. I’d buy this book just to look at it to be honest! Her artwork really captures the wilderness of the seas and mountains and brings the various authors words to life. New yet familiar tales It's great that we get to learn more about tales with an international dimension from other countries. Most were completely new to me, yet had a sense of familiarity about them. For example, 'Ker Is' is very similar to out very own Cantre'r Gwaelod. There are too many stories to mention individually, but Rhos y Pawl and Purt le Moirrey’s Mermaid were among my favourites. There's so much variety here - that's what's great about the volume. Each story is different, yet, they have one thing in common – the strong willed and brave women who lead each story. Mind you, don’t think that this is just a book for girls. There’s something here for everyone. Language As for the language, I may as well be honest, it's rather challenging. Some stories seem to ‘flow’ better than others and are easier to follow. From my experience as a primary teacher, only the most confident readers will be able to successfully tackle the text independently. But don’t forget – children of all ages love being read to. There's often a tendency not to prioritise story time, and think it’s something for young children. With a skilled storyteller reading aloud, anyone from 8+ will probably enjoy these. The short story format makes perfects for dipping in an out as desired. To sum up, this is a very beautiful volume, and although it may sound expensive at £18, you can tell a lot of work has gone into producing it. It’s one that deserves pride of place on the bookshelf to be sure. The tales: Nia Ben Aur (Iwerddon) Rhiannon a'r gosb o fod yn geffyl (Cymru) Ker Is (Llydaw) Morag Glyfar (Yr Alban) Cewri Karrek Loos yn Koos (Cernyw) Môr-forwyn Purt-le-Moirrey (Ynys Manaw) Llygad am Lygad (Iwerddon) Rhos y Pawl (Cymru) Merch y Tonnau (Yr Alban) Antur Keresen o Senar (Cernyw) Stori Gráinne (Iwerddon) Azenor ddoeth, Azenor ddel (Llydaw) Castell Penârd (Cymru) Cailleach – ceidwad y ceirw (Yr Alban) Y Frenhines Lupa (Galisia) Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: Medi 2022 Price: £18 (or free from library) Format: hardback

  • Cadi a'r Môr Ladron - Bethan Gwanas

    *For Welsh review see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 6-9+ (children learning to read independently or transitioning from picturebooks to chapterbooks) (suggested) interest age: 5+ Genre: #sea #pirates #fiction #adventure A short review by Siân Vaughan, Welsh Advisory Teacher, Conwy County Another of Cadi and Mabon's adventures as they have a mini-holiday at grandma's cottage in Pembrokeshire over Easter. Whilst their Mum and Grandma are busy in the garden Cadi and Mabon go down to the beach to play. While digging for treasure on the beach they come across a treasure chest and are captured by a sea lion. We soon get to meet colourful characters aboard the Pirate ship Byrti Biws. Again, as with other books in the Cadi series, we get a number of important messages within the story, such as how it’s not right to steal from others. Cadi and Mabon have many adventures on board and we learn quite a bit about the everyday life of a pirate through the eyes of the motley crew of the Blodwen. This is another story written in an accessible language for children to read and understand. It includes both south and north Wales dialects and as there are a few different names for things depending on your dialect. Children will love discussing the life of a Pirate - a subject that always appeals to children of this age. Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2022 Price: £6.99 Format: Hardback

  • Eisteddfod i'w Chofio - Gwennan Evans

    *Use language toggle switch for Welsh review* (suggested) reading age: 5-8+ (suggested) interest age: 4+ Genre: #aventure #Wales #farming #funny Illustrations: Lleucu Gwenllian This is the fourth instalment in the 'Fferm Cwm Cawdel' series, and a very fitting one to review after a week in Eisteddfod yr Urdd in Llandovery. As the title suggests, this time, Ffion, her dog Fflei and of course the cows go on an adventure to the Eisteddfod – or rather, the Eisteddfod comes to them. After being extremely concerned when they saw a bunch of important people walking around the farm, the cows were extremely relieved to find out Ffion's big secret. The Eisteddfod would soon be coming to their doorstep – handy! I assume the cows haven't been to an Eisteddfod before, and they absolutely love taking part in various activities, such as being accepted into the ‘Orsedd’, competing as a quartet and dancing the night away on the maes. These are all Eisteddfod must-do’s! This series has been brightly illustrated by Lleucu Gwenllian and is reminiscent of cartoons, with humour and mischief on every page. The colourful illustrations certainly suit the light-hearted tone of these books. I'm sure the series is popular with rural audiences. A lot of children like to read about things they know and the countryside/agricultural setting will be familiar to many. Of course, they have the added bonus of introducing a bit of farm life to others who may have grown up in the city. This book in particular goes one step further and shows readers a glimpse of what an Eisteddfod’s all about. It may even persuade someone who’s never been to give it a try! The books fill an important gap for children aged 5-11. There are lots of picture books for children around the age of 3, but there seems to be a bit less available the older they get. The Cwm Cawdel books look and feel like ‘proper books’ so will be ideal for those new/emerging readers who are moving away from picturebooks to reading chapter books. I like that the writing is on a simple white background as it’s nice and easy for little eyes to read. The cows of Cwm Cawdel have been spoilt rotten going on so many adventures. They’ve already been to Aberystwyth and Eryri. I wonder where they’ll go next..?! Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: March 2023 Series: Fferm Cwm Cawdel Price: £6 Format: softcover Others in the series...

  • Cadi a'r Gwrachod - Bethan Gwanas

    *See language toggle switch for Welsh review* (suggested) reading age: 6-9 (children learning to read independently and moving from picturebooks to chapterbooks) (suggested) interest age: 5+ Genre: #Halloween #fiction #WelshOriginal #adventure Illustrations: Janet Samuel Review by Siân Vaughan, Welsh Advisory Teacher, Conwy County This is a modern magical adventure at its finest. At the beginning of the story Cadi and her little brother Mabon are squabbling with each other while making pumpkins and taffy apples in the kitchen. The squabbling and name-calling leads to an accident with a mobile phone and Mabon somehow becomes a toad! Oh dear. They have to think of a way to get Mabon back to being a boy. We get to meet some funny and unique characters such as Doti and Moira the two witches and Carlo Cadwaladr the wizard. Through the story we get important messages of how to overcome any obstacles in life and how important it is to use our skills and talents to help others. Doti wants to learn to sing and Carlo wants to run fast and with help from a blackbird and a hare they learn that to succeed, you have to have confidence and a lot of practice. Moira wants to learn how to be a witch and she learns from a wise owl that one must listen, read, exercise and get a lot of sleep in order to learn. Important messages for anyone who’s thinking about learning! Children will love hearing that Mabon (the toad) makes a sound as if he’s breaking wind and the witches make us laugh too. A perfect book for those transitioning from picturebooks to chapter books, learning to read independently. The story is written naturally and the language is full of comparisons and ‘sayings’ to enrich children's language. Phrases like ‘traed chwarter i dri’ (quarter to three feet). By the end of the book you will have been able to discuss a few important messages and you’ll have had plenty of laughs whilst being taken from the everyday world of the kitchen to the magical world of wizards and witches. It’d be great to see this story animated into a cartoon for children's television. Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2021 Price: £5.99 Format: Hardback A review from Barn (welsh only) Llyfr i'w ddarllen ar fwy nag un eisteddiad ydi hwn. Mae'n annog darllenwyr ifanc i fwrw ati ac ymgolli mewn stori dda dros gyfnod estynedig a derbyn bod hyn yn rhan bwysig o ddatblygiad darllenydd hyderus. Gall y plant iau, wrth gwrs, fwynhau gwrando ar oedolyn yn darllen y stori a dehongli lluniau doniol Janet Samuel o anturiaethau Cadi ar noson Calan Gaeaf o ddiogelwch cesail gynnes rhiant! - Delyth Roberts, Cylchgrawn Barn

  • Gwlad yr Asyn - Wyn Mason

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 12+ (suggested) interest age: 14+ / YA/ Adults Genre: #humour #graphicnovel #OriginalWelsh 1Illustrations1: Efa Blosse-Mason I've taken ages to write this review. Mainly because I wasn't really sure how to put my response down on paper! When I saw this book for the first time I saw it, the cover looked deceptively childish, but believe me, there’s much more to this book… To be honest, after finishing it for the first time, I just sat there thinking 'what on earth have I just read?' Graphic novels are so rare in Welsh anyway, maybe this was part of the reason why I wasn't really sure what to make of it. But having read it several times, I've completely changed my mind. I discover some new meaning upon every read. I’m not trying to sound cliché, but it really was a well needed breath of fresh air. Like the old Irn Bru adverts used to say: "I like it. It's different." Ari is a donkey who has been raised amongst people, and consequently she lives a comfortable life in a house, with Mam-Gu. She much prefers to spend her time in the company of humans, and although she has the body of a donkey, she has the mind of a person. Unfortunately for her, one day and very unexpectedly, Ari's life of luxury is turned upside down... Indeed, she gets quite the shock to see her new home is a field, a far cry from the warm, cosy house she’s used to. And if that wasn’t enough of a shock, Prost, her new owner is a dangerous man – and not to be crossed. When she is introduced to Cal, a captive donkey who dreams big dreams of freedom, Ari learns more about wild flocks of donkeys roaming without walls or fences. Will his wild, extreme ideas will be enough to spark the spirit of rebellion in this tame donkey, or is all that talk of escaping and being free a load of baloney from a crazy fool? In addition to the humour, there are a number of deeper themes in the story, including man's relationship with animals, specifically our abuse of animals and our desire to exploit everything for profit. Cal's dreams of freedom draw parallels with Wales as a Nation. Like Ari and her love for mankind, we still insist on sticking tightly to the United Kingdom, even though it is not exactly a healthy relationship for us. Do we have a bit of 'Stockholm syndrome' ourselves? Is it a matter of better the Devil you know for us? Ari's story certainly makes me think more about this. Are we ready to be brave and to demand our ‘freedom’ ? Having spoken to several people who have read the book, I'm still not quite sure who the primary audience is. But perhaps that’s my problem- my need to try to put everything into neat little boxes. It's a book that can be enjoyed on a more superficial, simple level but also has different layers and deeper, philosophical ideas lurking inside it. It will appeal to teens, (I want to say 12+) adults and Welsh learners too. I understand that this book evolved from a play that was written as part of a creative PhD, and was later staged successfully as a play by the National Theatre. I must admit, I knew nothing of this until after I’d read it! In my opinion, it fully deserved its place on the Tir na n-Og Awards shortlist, because it represents a somewhat left of field choice that adds to the choice we have in Welsh. Depending on the sales, I think there's room to see similar graphic novels, but I’m aware this type of fiction won’t be for everyone. Some may think "what the heck was that I just read?" but I've personally done a full 180 and think it's genius! It's worth buying it just to see Efa Blosse-Mason's simple yet impressive artistry. It was certainly a new and different reading experience for me in Welsh. For a far more eloquent review than mine, have a read of Jon Gower's response to 'Gwlad yr Asyn' on Nation.Cymru "Graphic novels in Welsh aren’t exactly two a penny – so Gwlad yr Asyn is an uncommon item. It’s even more so when you find out that it’s novel based on a play, placing its playful yet thoughtful account of the adventures of a donkey in a field of its own." Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: 2022 Price: £12 Format: softcover Why not listen to the radio drama instead? (Welsh language only)

  • Cegin Mr Henry - Lloyd Henry

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 9+ (suggested) interest age: 10-15 Genre: #nonfic #cookery #food #nom On the weekend, with a glass of wine in hand, some chill out music playing and Monday morning feeling far, far away, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than cooking up some weird and wonderful recipes and admiring my spice cupboard! (oh god, I’ve definitely hit middle age!) But on a school night, after coming in late, and having forgotten to defrost the chicken breasts, there’s nowhere I’d rather avoid! When you’re stuck trying to think ‘what shall I make for tea?’ and you’ve got a house full of hangry people, it’s not a great place to be! (if you don’t know the meaning of hangry, it’s angry + hungry put together. Not a good combination!) But I won't need to worry about that now, because now I’ve got a copy of this simple, down-to-earth cookbook by Mr Henry. It’s brimming with easy (yet delicious) recipes that are ideal for aspiring chefs of all abilities. The author, Lloyd Henry, is a food tech teacher in Ysgol Gyfyn Gŵyr and knows all too well which foods appeal to the target audience. Good, wholesome food with foolproof and clear instructions! According to the publisher, it's a book for teens, but I think those who are slightly younger (under supervision) and older can make good use of it. One annoying thing about celebrity cookbooks is they often try to make some elaborate and fancy recipes with some weird ingredients. You know, things you never keep in stock and would need to buy especially. Stuff you’d buy, use a tiny bit, then they’d disappear into the cupboard never to be seen again. This book isn’t that. The recipes are familiar, ‘normal’ and cheap – using things you’d probably have at home anyway. Winner winner chicken dinner. I think, and I'm sure Lloyd would agree, that it's important for young people to learn cookery skills. They’re life skills, and will be especially useful in university when they’ll have to sort their own food (it turns out we can't live on Pot Noodles and Dominos alone). And guess what, the fact that you know your way around a kitchen can also be a pretty good way of impressing future girlfriends or boyfriends! (Although in my case, I think I did too good a job because I’ve landed the job of permanent head chef in our house!) Before college, I remember getting a copy of Sam Stern's cookbook as a gift from Mam. Before that, I think cheese on toast was my limit. Now, I feel perfectly at home in front of a stove and very recently, I made a Sunday roast for the whole family without setting the house on fire! Happy days! So if you know someone who can barely boil an egg, or you want to encourage someone to pick up the apron and give it a go, then this book makes a perfect gift, and is sure to raise their confidence in the kitchen. Which recipe shall I cook first? I've done my usual and gone through it with post-its. The sweet potato curry and pizza buns look fabulous. There aren't many Welsh cookbooks specifically for young people, (I can’t actually think of a single one right now) so I'm delighted to see this appear. You also get QR codes for extra support which are handy. I like seeing video clips because I learn by seeing how it’s done. Best of both worlds IMO. Cegin Mr Henry has claimed its place on the window shelf, amid other old favourites such as Pinch of Nom and Miguel Barclay's £1 Meals. I also heard a rumour that there's a website on its way, so I'm sure we’ll get even more recipes tips and ideas soon. Hopefully there’ll be more books in the pipeline. If I might make a suggestion – I think a £1 meals type book would be good considering we’re in a cost of living crisis. Right. That’s enough from me, I best get back to the kitchen and get the tea on! Publisher: Atebol Released: Dec 2022 Price: £12.99 Format: hardback (e-book) Watch Mr Henry discussing his new book on S4C's Prynhawn Da. This was my attempt at the pizza buns. Pretty good huh? (I found mould on the green pesto so I only did the cheese and tomato this time). Put it this way, they'll definitely be on the menu again.

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