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  • Sêr y Nos yn Gwenu - Casia Wiliam

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* ♥Children's Book of the Month April 2023 ♥ (suggested) reading age: 15+ (suggested) interest age: 15+ Gwales Description: This is Casia Wiliam's first novel for Young Adults 16+. It is the raw love story of Leia and Sam, which is also a story about community, learning, venturing and forgiveness. The story begins at the community centre, where Leia and Sam meet again after being kept apart for some time. Megan Angharad Hunter’s quote on the cover of Casia Wiliam’s first YA novel couldn’t be more perfect – this really is a 'cwtsh' of a novel with warm and real characters. The novel’s protagonist, Leia, works in a community centre (due to Community Service), a location naturally rich in diverse characters, each one making their own mark on Leia’s life – Sarah Lloyd the art tutor is a particular favourite of mine. “Why is she doing Community Service?” I hear you ask. That is gradually revealed, as well as more information about Leia and her friends from their primary school years to their present through a series of flash-back chapters. It would have been nice for a couple of the characters from Leia’s past to reappear in her present, but this not happening didn’t leave any gaps in the story. Casia Wiliam’s writing seems effortlessly vivid; within a few pages I felt like I knew Leia and I wanted nothing but the best for her. That said, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster with Leia, feeling everything from pride to frustration, hope to relief, heartbreak to love, fear to excitement. In the last few chapters you’ll find yourself wanting to scream at Leia asking, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” before realising that really you want to give her an enormous hug and lots of encouragement. During the first few chapters I was reminded a bit of the BBC’s recent series Outlaws – I wonder if Casia was a fan of the series? But never mind that, I think that Leia’s story would make a fantastic TV series or film, something warm to watch during the dark winter, perhaps. Sêr y Nos yn Gwenu is a brilliant novel, you won't regret reading it. More like this please, Casia! Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: March 2023 Price: £8.99 Format: Softcover (and e-book) When I was taking pictures in the rockery, look who came to say hello!

  • Sut wyt ti, Bwci Bo? /How are you, Bwci Bo?- Joanna Davies a Steven Goldstone

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 5+ (suggested) interest age: 2-5 Genre: #picturebook #bilingual #funny #emotions After the success of Sawl Bwci Bo? I’m pleased to say the mischievous minion-like creatures are back to create some havoc! Woop! I’m sure many children and parents across Wales have come across the first book, because it was included as part of BookTrust Cymru’s Dechrau Da/Bookstart program. This is the one where every child in Wales was given a free pack of books before turning three. Well, now the little creatures are back and just as vibrant, colourful, and full of beans as ever. This time, we’re not talking about numbers though, but feelings – and those can be very tricky to navigate, can’t they? The style of the books is very modern, and illustrator Steven Goldstone clearly has talent when it comes to digital design. The pictures are very impressive, and the cute little monsters and their silly tricks are sure to appeal to young children. I like that the direction and shape of the font is varied from page to page which keeps things interesting. There's certainly plenty of excitement on every page. As young children develop, they have to try to make sense of all the different feelings. They could be laughing heartily one minute and bawling their eyes out the next. Learning to manage emotions is something that takes time, and a book like this is sure to be useful as it discusses the ups and downs of everyday life and all the different feelings. One of the key messages being- it’s okay to feel the way you feel. As for the humour, well, any mention of bogeys, farts and things like that is bound to appeal little ones, even if it makes boring old people like me roll their eyes! There's also an interactive element to the book, because they've included a few activities to do at the end of the book. Handy. Llio and I (team Sôn am Lyfra) are expecting our first child in July, and whilst I was tackling my list of jobs – (putting up the bookshelf in the baby room) I thought to myself ‘this book’s gonna look good on the new shelf! I’m really looking forward to being able to share it with the little one when he’s a bit older. I think the cover just screams ‘pick me up!’ For more bwci-bo related merch, check out Publisher: Atebol Released: 2022 Price: £7.99 Format: softcover WHY NOT DOWNLOAD THE ACTIVITY SHEETS FROM BOOKTRUST?*1y81vj1*_ga*NDgwODc0NjIxLjE2Nzk1ODYwMjE.*_ga_42ZTZWFX8W*MTY3OTU4NjAyMy4xLjEuMTY3OTU4OTU3Ny41NS4wLjA. ABOUT THE AUTHORS: (from BookTrust website) About Joey Bananas Steven Goldstone Steven is a Designer and Illustrator. He’s designed several websites and apps for children including the ‘Muppets Movie’ site for Disney and children’s sites for S4C. He also illustrates the ‘Bwci Bo’ picture book series for young children. ‘How Many Bwci Bos?’ published by Atebol, was selected as BookTrust Cymru’s BookStart book for young children in 2022. The next Bwci Bo book, ‘How are you, Bwci Bo?’ was published in late 2022. He is married to Joanna and lives in Llantwit Major. Joanna Davies Joanna is a Writer and Creative Producer. She’s worked as a Senior Producer for ITV Cymru, S4C and the BBC. She’s produced television progammes and websites for adults and children including Cbeebies and Bitesize. Joanna has written several bilingual novels and is the author of ‘How Many Bwci Bos?’, BookTrust Cymru’s 2022 Bookstart book for young children. The next Bwci Bo book in the series, ‘How are you, Bwci Bo?’ was published in late 2022 . She is married to Steven and lives in Llantwit Major.

  • Powell - Manon Steffan Ros

    *For English review, see language toggle switch* (suggested) interest age: 12+ (suggested) reading age: 12+ Genre/themes: #Welshhistory #slavery #empathy #fiction I wonder if Manon Steffan Ros feels the pressure when it comes to publishing day? Especially when you've set the bar as high as Llyfr Glas Nebo. Anyone would have a job beating the success of that novel! However, with 5 Tir na n-Og awards under her belt already, she has proven herself time and again as one of our most popular and skilled authors. Whilst many believe Llyfr Glas Nebo to be her magnum opus, personally I prefer Llechi and Powell (controversial, right?). Sometimes it takes me weeks to plod my way through a novel, but in this case, with Powell it was only a matter of a days. Elis Powell, a fifteen-year-old boy, has always been very proud of his ancestor and his legacy, and seems more than happy to carry his namesake. He is reminded daily of the enormous contribution of his great great (great?) grandfather to the town – he founded the local hospital and the school. Heck, there’s even a pub named after him! Although the story begins in Trefair, Wales, much of the book takes place in the States. In fact, I rather enjoyed reading a book that wasn’t set in Wales for a change. The main thread of the story is Elis and his grandfather’s journey to the USA to find out more about the life of the great man who has been a constant presence in their lives in some shape or form. Although their once-in-a-lifetime journey gets off to a promising start, we soon get the impression that things are going to turn sour… I'm pretty sure I'd be able to recognize Manon Steffan's work with my eyes shut. It’s very unique and identifiable. The relationships between her characters are always her main focus, and she often pays attention to the little things people do or say, whether it's a couple squabbling in public at the airport or those people who give you back-handed compliments. (You know the ones who pretend to be genuine, but you know that they aren’t.) While the two are on their big adventure learning about the life of the original Elis Powell, new facts emerge, that puts everything they’ve ever believed in doubt. I won't say anything more than that, but one thing’s for sure, they won't be able to think of Elis Powell in the same way again. Their reputation and good name means everything to them, and now, it’s as though the rug’s been pulled from under their feet. This is not the first time MSR has covered the subject of slavery. In 2018, she was involved in a project at Penrhyn Castle, North Wales, where she produced '12 stories' discussing the history of the castle and it’s links to the plantations in Jamaica. That may have prompted her to write more on the subject, which I don’t think has received enough attention until relatively recently in Wales. It's only in recent years, in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter movement that we’ve started to recognise and accept Wales' part in the cruel and immoral industry. Of course, it's important that we don't ignore the past, but in the same breath, we can't change it either. We have to face up to it and learn from our mistakes if we’re ever to move forward. As for the historical account of slaves in the story, we only get background information - enough to satisfy the needs of the story, but little else. Some may have liked to see more here. Perhaps a few pages at the back of the book (similar to Gwasg Carreg Gwalch's history books) could have been useful to give more context. Having said that, I think it was a deliberate choice by the author not to say too much about the life and experiences of the slaves, and I can understand that. Manon has already spoken about the topic of cultural appropriation in the ‘Colli’r Plot’ podcast – a discussion well worth listening to. I'm still not sure if I know what the answer is, though. The novel raises important questions, and makes you think but it never gets preachy. It may make you feel a bit uncomfortable at times, and this is a good thing. It is a very complex topic of discussion, but it needs to be discussed, and so I'm grateful for a novel like this to facilitate a conversation. Similar to the imaginary Elis Powell, statues of controversial individuals such as Henry Morton Stanley, Thomas Picton, Cecil Rhodes and the like are still visible in our communities. Should they be? That’s a debate in itself! Since we can't change history, the only thing we can do is make sure everyone knows all the facts, and accept that some of these individuals have made valuable contributions to our communities, but much of their wealth came from the exploitation of other human beings. Instead of telling us how and what to think, MSR turns it back on us as readers and asks a very valid and fair question: once you do finally learn all the facts, what are you going to do with that information afterwards? Stay silent and ignore it, or talk about it openly? I think that’s the main point she’s making. Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: Oct 2022 Price: £8.99 Format: softcover FURTHER READING WELSH GOVERNMENT REPORT

  • Deg ar y Bws / Ten on the Bus - Huw Aaron a Hanna Harris

    * For English review, see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 4+ (suggested) interest age: 0-4 Genre: #earlyyears #numbers #counting #bilingual Illustrations: Hanna Harris This is a simple and colourful book that teaches young children how to count. As you can see, the illustrations are modern and clear. So far, I’m very impressed with the output from Gwasg y Broga. They haven’t been around for long, but everything is done to a high standard. An opportunity to learn to count, as the passengers embark one by one. They bring with them all their items until the bus is full to the brim. What do you get then? One cranky driver! There’s a bit of humour in this book too as all the passengers have to make a hasty exit! I’ve given this book as a gift to my young cousin for her 2nd birthday. She lives in England so I’m hoping this will be an useful book to introduce a bit of Welsh nice and early. The book’s bilingual too so that even parents who are learning Welsh can join in. Publisher: Broga Released: 2022 Price: £7.99 Format: softcover

  • Pêl-droed Penigamp -Robin Bennett [adapt. Elinor Wyn Reynolds]

    *For Welsh review, use language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 8+ (suggested) interest age: 7-13 Genre: #factual #nonfiction #sports #football Illustrations: Matt Cherry Info from Gwales: The second title in the Campau Campus series. Perhaps the best description of these titles is a kind of 'Horrible Histories' about various sports. This title deals with football and is a Welsh adaptation by Elinor Wyn Reynolds of Stupendous Sports: Fantastic Football. Do you know someone who's mad about football? This would make the perfect gift for them. As someone who not only has two left feet, but doesn't know a thing about football, I felt this was the perfect book to get me up to speed. I learned a lot and it was nice and simple for me! It's full of a variety of different things, but here's an idea for you: 📕 History of the game ⚽️ legendary players 📕 Tips, rules and tactics ⚽️ Incredible facts 📕 Interesting tales … and a whole lot more. ➡️Basically- everything you could ever need to know about footy! Here's a little sneak peak inside: Publisher: Firefly Released: Oct 2022 Series: Campau Campus Format: soft cover Price: £6.99 Remember, if you prefer the egg-shaped ball - there's another book that's all abut rugby!

  • Ti a Dy Gorff - Adam Kay [adapt. Eiry Miles]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle button* (suggested) reading age: 9+ *section on reproduction - parental discretion advised if young children reading (suggested) interest age: 9-14 Genre: #factual #nonfiction #body #science #funny Illustrations: Henry Paker Forget those boring biology lessons – this is the only book you’ll ever need about the human body. Its insides are bursting with amusing facts and funny doodles. Also, by the end you'll know loads of things you didn't before, and you won't even realize you're learning something! The greatest machine there ever was Have you ever thought about how amazing the human body is? It's like a power station, computer, machine and factory rolled into one; working extremely effectively and efficiently most of the time. And on those occasions when things go wrong, it even has the ability to repair itself! Wow, that’s pretty cool you’ve got to admit. Before any parents or science teachers start complaining thinking the content won’t be ‘sciency’ enough because the author’s a comedian, well, it may surprise you to learn that he was indeed a real doctor once upon a time. So you can rest assured that he knows what he’s talking about. This isn't like reading those dusty old textbooks at school, because this book is written in a light-hearted and funny style. Despite its humorous tone, it's an incredibly comprehensive and informative resource. At first glance, it looks like an extremely bulky book, but the contents are so easy to read. Henry Paker's cartoon illustrations add to the fun and break the text into shorter, easier-to-read bits. A complete (and disgusting!) guide Taking us around the human body in all its glory, the author is extremely thorough, seeking the views of a number of experts along the way. We visit a number of different parts of the body, including the main organs, bones, muscles and skin to name just a few. As someone who has always liked his food, I really enjoyed the bits that discuss the digestive system and the foods’ journey all the way from the mouth, until it comes out of the other end in the rectum (yes, I'm following the book’s example and using the correct scientific terms). It’s not every book that can boast that it has a whole section devoted to discussing poo! (or faeces to be absolutely correct) A few people will like those toilet-related pages I’m sure. It's worth noting that, like any decent book that discusses the body, it does have a section on the reproductive system. So of course, there are a couple of diagrams that discuss organs such as the vulva, clitoris, penis and testicles, along with an overview of the way it all works. I firmly believe that it’s important for children to get this correct information, to avoid misunderstandings or misconceptions from schoolyard conversations. Having said this, it will be up to individual parents to decide if the content is suitable. (In my opinion as a teacher, it is.) Is snot okay to eat? If you've ever laid in bed pondering life’s big questions, it's quite possible you'll find the answers in this book. You know, big philosophical questions like ‘Is snot safe to eat?’ Or ‘how much of your life have you spent sitting on the toilet?’ With mini-sections like 'Kay's questions' and 'True or False’ you’ll probably find the answer to a question you never thought to ask! After wolfing down Ti a Dy Gorff and devouring it from cover to cover, I've come to the conclusion that the human body is incredibly strange. But I've also realised that it's absolutely miraculous and amazing too, so please take care of your body – you’ll only ever get the one! There are plenty of top tips on how to do this within. If I've managed to persuade you that this book is awesome, then do yourself a massive favour - feed your brain with the knowledge within this handy guide. Go forth and get your mitts on a copy, ready to get under the bonnet of the most amazing machine there ever was – the human body. I'm delighted that books like this are being adapted into Welsh. This was exactly the kind of book that ten-year-old me would have loved! To be fair, 32-year-old me loves it too! Review from, used by permission of Welsh Books Council Publisher: Rily Released: 2023 Price: £8.99 Format: Softcover AUTHOR INFO Adam Kay is an award-winning writer and former non-award-winning junior doctor. His first book, This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, was a Sunday Times number-one bestseller for over a year and has sold over 2.5 million copies. It has been translated into 37 languages, was the winner of four National Book Awards, including Book of the Year, and has been adapted into a major comedy drama for BBC/AMC starring Ben Whishaw. His second book, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, was an instant Sunday Times number-one bestseller and sold over 500k copies in its first few weeks. His compilation, Dear NHS, raised over £400k for charity. His memoir Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients was published in September 2022. His first children's book, Kay's Anatomy, was published in October 2020 and became the fastest-selling children's general non-fiction hardback of the decade and rights across Kay's Anatomy and Kay's Marvellous Medicine have now been sold in 28 languages. 'The sort of book I would have loved as a child' - Malorie Blackman 'Like listening to a teacher who makes pupils fall about' - The Times 'Absolutely packed with facts... Entertaining and highly informative' - Daily Mail 'As brilliant, and revolting, as the human body it celebrates' - The i newspaper 'Totally brilliant!' - Jacqueline Wilson 'If only this funny and informative book had been around when I was too embarrassed to teach my kids about bodily functions' - David Baddiel

  • Y Bachgen â Blodau yn ei Wallt/The boy with flowers in his hair - Jarvis [adapt. Awen Schiavone]

    *For English review, see language toggle button* (suggested) interest age: 3-7 (suggested) reading age: 4/5+ Welsh adaptation of 'The Boy with Flowers in His Hair' Genre: #fiction #healthandwellbeing #empathy #bilingual #friendship A beautiful story of friendship between two boys through a difficult time. Everyone in the class loves Deio, the boy with flowers in his hair. The narrator of the story, who remains unnamed, enjoys spending time in his company, and the two have a lot of fun together. I’m not sure why, but he has flowers instead of real hair. One day, a petal falls off, a sure sign of rough times ahead... The book doesn't go into detail about what caused the petals to fall out of Deio’s hair, but the fact that he chooses to wear a hat from now on and the noticeable change in his personality are signs that something is wrong. Now, instead of the bubbly, energetic boy we met at the start, Deio is quiet and withdrawn. We don’t know how and why, but it's as if his 'spark' has disappeared. It could well be that the petals are falling due to something that’s happened outside of school, perhaps a family matter or something else that’s obviously upsetting him. I agree with the author's decision not to reveal to us the cause, because it allows room for discussion about the sort of things that might be causing him to be sad. I know from experience that stress or trauma can have a visible, physical effect on us. For example, when I'm under a lot of pressure, I tend to get itchy scalp. It therefore makes sense that Deio’s petals fall off as he goes through a difficult time. Now that Deio looks different without his beautiful bonce, the other children don’t want anything to do with his spikey, barren head. Apart from his best friend of course. He sticks with him and goes to great effort to devise ways of making him feel better. His "I've got you, buddy" attitude is really heart-warming. I’m thinking the flowers may be allegorical, depicting the side effects from a treatment such as chemotherapy (that would cause hair loss), but really, it could be just about anything. Through the bad times and the good The simple message is that real friendship means taking care of each other whatever comes, not just when times are good, but on the dark days as well. Is it just me who loves hardbacks? I can’t get enough of them. The simple, colourful pictures work well against the plain, white background. In the days where books are increasingly over-the-top, it was nice to read a book with a toned-down style (reminiscent of classic books like The Tiger Who Came to Tea). You’ll have no problem reading the text, because it’s is so clear and legible. One of the best things about this bilingual story is that some things are left deliberately vague, and as a result, the story allows for discussing several things around feelings, friendships etc. The idea of accepting people, as they are, however they look, is also alluded to. I haven't read the story with a young child, but I’m thinking they may need the help of an adult to explain the deeper meaning of the falling petals? I’d be interested to hear from anyone who’s read the book. Did the child get the point straight away or did you need to chat about it? Main themes/messages: · Illness/trauma/depression · Friendships · Helping each other/ showing empathy · Accepting people who are different / inclusion / celebrating diversity Publisher: Rily Released: 2022 Price: £7.99 Format: Hardback

  • Elon - Laura Murphy a Nia Parry

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* ♥Children's Book of the Month: January 2023♥ (suggested) reading age: 5+ (suggested) interest age: 3-7 Genre: #fiction #empathy #nature #conservation Illustrations: Elin Vaughan Crowley Out of all the wild animals, I think elephants are the most fascinating of them all. Do you agree? Okay, I will admit that giraffes are pretty cool too, but for me, the elephants steal the show. With their huge ears and long trunks, they are such strange creatures, almost as if they belong to a different era. These are dignified and majestic creatures, but seem affectionate at the same time. Of all the elephants, one is very special indeed- Elon. Like any young elephant, she’s full of enthusiasm and energy, and has grown tired of having to listen to her parents with their rules. How boring! Elon longs for adventure! After ignoring her parents’ advice and making a run for it (I don't recommend this at all!) Elon gets her wish for an adventure, but the world outside the safety of the herd is a strange place, and the young elephant soon comes across the most dangerous creature of all – mankind. To think how beautiful these graceful creatures are, it saddens me to think that they are in grave danger of disappearing altogether, because of us. As if hunting them for ivory over the centuries wasn't bad enough, we now threaten their very homes as our desire for agricultural land leads us to destroy their forests with our infernal machines. But Elon is brave. Even after coming face to face with the ferocious machines that threaten her habitat, Elon decides he can’t sit back and do nothing. Something has to be done. I wonder if one small elephant can put a stop to the destruction and change things for the better? Elin Vaughan Crowley's illustrations grab your attention immediately, and all the vibrant colours and wonders of the forest are brought to life through her pictures. This rhyming bilingual book isn’t a direct translation, but is an adaptation by Nia Parry. Whilst I love bilingual books, my only complaint here is the layout and placement of the both languages make it a bit confusing to read sometimes. This will be a really useful book for anyone wanting to discuss animals, conservation or the environment. It helps draw attention to the plight of nature, and our devastating affect on the animal kingdom, but it does so without causing panic. We’ve got to make sure kids get the message if they ever hope to see elephants in the wild in their lifetimes. Like Elon, the brave elephant, I hope they too realise that they can make a difference by doing something, however small that may seem. Publisher: Atebol Released: 2022 Price: £7.99 WHY NOT WATCH AND LISTEN TO CHARLOTTE CHURCH READING THE STORY?

  • Sblash! - Branwen Davies

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* ♥Book of the month: Nov 2022♥ (suggested) reading age: 11+ (suggested) interest age: 10-14 Genre: #fiction #teen #school #healthandwellbeing Well, first things first, I’m clearly not the target audience for this book. According to Gwales, it's a book for readers between the ages of 10 and 13, but I’d say 11-14 personally. Like I said, I'm not in high school anymore, but I have been (albeit a long time ago!). For anyone was has been bullied themselves, or has indeed been a bully this book will chime with you. As someone who was 'bigger' than his friends, unfortunately I have experience of both sides of the situation, having been bullied about my weight, and to my shame, have been a bit of a bully myself. Something I’m not proud of. If only I had a time machine, things would be very different. The experience of being bullied never really leaves you, and just reading Beca's story brings back some old, painful feelings -even if the context is different. On land, Beca is somewhat awkward, and is well used to being the butt of other people’s jokes. As she’s bigger than her classmates, she stands out and this makes her an obvious target for the bullies. The story begins with the other kids teasing her because of her stretch marks (despite the fact I’m 99% sure we’ve ALL got them!) Once she hits the water, she transforms complexly. Much like a penguin or a seal, she may be clunky on land, but in the water she’s a skilled and accomplished competitive swimmer. The pool, which has become her refuge, is a safe space, where she feels comfortable and happy. None of her fellow pupils can swim like her -so why has she kept this talent a secret from everyone? One of the ringleaders who makes Becca’s life a nightmare is Siwan, the prettiest, skinniest and most popular girl of the year. She goes out of her way to make life miserable for Beca. Beca always thought she was safe in the pool – that is, until Siwan turns up…. Beca isn't completely alone, I'm glad to say. She has a small band of loyal friends. But when Jacob, her mate, starts going out with Siwan, the enemy, this creates a bit of a headache for Beca. After an extremely cruel encounter, the two girls' lives come together in an unexpected way. Without saying too much, it was interesting to see a glimpse of Siwan's life, and despite being the most popular girl, life isn't all rosy for her either. They say, don’t they, that bullies are deeply unhappy people. Over the course of the novel, we see poor Beca at her lowest, but also growing as a person and coming through the other side stronger a person. As she gains confidence and begins to accept her body, she becomes happier in her own skin. This isn't a fairy-tale either, and while Beca can't change her body shape, she can learn to hold her head high and be proud of what her body can do. In a way, the 'bullies' are still there in the background – there will always be haters, but Beca doesn't let them affect her in the same way. This is a very important message for anyone who is having a hard time right now. Love yourself and love each other peeps! While I think the novel will appeal more to girls, I think this is a book that everyone would benefit from reading, especially if you're struggling with self-image and self-esteem. I hope it gives strength to those who are struggling at the moment, and if it makes the rest of us stop, and think, before saying or doing something nasty to another person, then the novel will have succeeded in my opinion. I realised after reading, how unattainable some of the expectations and pressures we put on today's young people are – girls especially – to look and behave a certain way. Celeb culture and apps like Instagram and TikTok have a lot to answer for. Looking back, I’m glad I finished my school days before the era of mobile phones, Love Island and social media. Whilst the story is at times rather simplistic and clichéd, it’s definitely an easy read, similar in length to the ‘stori sydyn’ series. We could do with more short stories of this size. Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2022 Price: £5.99

  • Sgrech y Creigiau - Elidir Jones

    *For Welsh, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* (suggested) interest age: 10+ *depends on child - not everyone likes ghost stories (suggested) reading age: 12+ Genre: #shortstory #fiction #horror #ghosts Illustrations: Nest Llwyd Owen You might want to watch out as you pass the bookstore – the bony green hands and the soulless black eyes will stare into your very soul, forcing you to pick up and buy a copy of Sgrech y Cregiau… When I was teaching, making time for a story at the end of the day was crucial. I don’t think we’re doing enough of it to be honest. And no, I’m not talking about comprehension questions and all that, just putting your head down and listening to a good story. Something I enjoyed with my class of year 5&6s was reciting horror stories at the end of the day. In the portakabins we inhabited at the time, we’d draw the blinds to create maximum creepy atmosphere – perfect for sharing those ghostly tales. The problem was, there was a shortage of 'off the shelf' Welsh books with short horror stories, and there are only so many times you can rely on Lleuad yn Ola by T Llew Jones! The fact of the matter was, we needed a new horror book in Welsh. When I saw on Twitter that this book was on its way, I was very happy. No more real-time translating English spooky stories for me… not for awhile anyway. Sleeping with the light on Although there’s no contents page to suggest this, Sgrech y Creigiau is a book of short stories, and following much research, Elidir Jones has reimagined some of the old Welsh legends that may have become forgotten. These stories, enough to send shivers down your spine, are further strengthened by the nightmarish pictures by Nest Llwyd Owen. I can still see that old woman's gaunt face with her ugly white eye in my sleep! You'll probably need a nightlight afterwards (nah, only kidding, but it’s enough to give you goose pimples!) Don't go into the water... Personally, I think horror stories work better in the form of short stories, which reflect how we used to share ghost stories in front of the campfire or on a sleeepover. I've heard several ghost stories in my time, and some of these have stayed with me for a long time afterwards. Out of all the stories in the book, I think the first, "Y Naid Olaf" was the one that gave me the biggest creeps. I think it reminded me of the bit in the lake at the end of What Lies Beneath. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to share this book with a poor classroom audience next time there's time for a story. A well-timed and piercing SCREAM in just the right place (after the line "something grabbed his leg") will surely do the trick! Reading under the duvet I think most people (especially children) like to be scared from time to time, otherwise horror films and that sort of thing wouldn’t be so popular. I still remember mam telling me a story about the ghost of Plas Mawr, Conwy, when I was younger. That story really creeped me out, and to this day, I still walk past the building in quite a hurry, especially at night time. Most people find otherworldly, supernatural and disturbing things extremely entertaining, and whilst I LOVE this book, I recognize that this one won't be for everyone. Will you be brave enough to give these seven nightmarish stories a try? Well, if you are planning on sneaking off to read this book under the sheets, you’d better remember your torch! Publisher: Broga Released: November 2022 Price: £8.99

  • Y Llew Tu Mewn / The Lion Inside - Rachel Bright [adapt. Eurig Salisbury]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of web page* WINNER OF THE UKLA BOOK AWARD 2017 Shortlisted for The Evening Standard Oscar's Book Prize 2016 Longlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Prize 2017 (suggested)interest age: 2-7 (auggested) reading age: 5+ Illustrations: Jim Field A modern twist on one of Aesop's fables Without a doubt, this is one of the best picturebooks of the last decade, and one that looks like something straight out of the Disney pixar world. Children will be asking to read this bestseller more than once! And don’t just take my word for it - this book has sold more than 200,000 copies in Britain alone and has been translated into over 30 languages! Quite an achievement for any book wouldn’t you agree? "Being small isn't always easy." The little mouse has fed up of being ignored and forgotten, often stamped on under foot because he’s so small to even be noticed. On the other hand, the lion is something of a dandy - full of confidence and able to command the attention of all the Savannah animals. All he’s got to do is roar and everyone listens. What a show-off! One night, the little mouse gets a big idea. He wishes to be brave like the lion, and although he knows full well that the lion could swallow him in an instant, he decides to be brave and go in search of the lion for help... Oh-oh! But, quite expectedly, the lion behaves very strangely. That’s because he’s afraid of mice! Somehow, the mouse manages to persuade the lion that there’s nothing to fear and that he doesn’t have to roar loudly to gain respect. The beginnings of a rather unusual friendship… "You don't have to be big and brave to make a difference..." This book is just LOVELY – an absolute pleasure to read. If you're not familiar with Jim Field's work, go search the web – his style is so unique– pictures that are extremely filmic and very contemporary. This spread below is my favourite: Sometimes I worry that adaptations, especially ones that rhyme, can be a bit awkward, but Eurig Salisbury has done a good job here, with a translation that flows as well as the original. "Modern classic" For any child who is nervous or feeling insecure, I would recommend this book. But to be honest, it's so good, everyone should read it. The messages are important and clear, and the story of the lion and mouse conveys this in a way that is understandable for young children. The story shows that even the most confident and high-flying individuals sometimes have hidden fears. Also, this is to show that you don't have to be big and noisy to be heard, and there's courage lurking within all of us, no matter our size! Everyone has an important role to play in this world, remember that. I don’t often rate books individually, but this one gets 10/10 from me. Publisher: Atebol Released: 2015, 2020 Price: £6.99 Format: Hardback

  • Y Parsel Coch - Linda Wolfsgruber, Gino Alberti [adapt. Llio Elenid]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* (suggested) interest age: 6-11 (suggested) reading age: 7+ Genre: #fiction #Christmas #kindness #community Illustrations: Gino Alberti A lovely, unexpected find that calls to be shared at Christmas. An international gem with a simple message of kindness at it’s heart. I want to mention this little book, which is a great example of international collaboration. This is Llio Elenid's Welsh adaptation of Linda Wolfsgruber's original German story from 1988. The book was illustrated by an Italian, Gino Alberti, was printed in Slovakia and originally published by a Swiss publisher. It has a distinctly European flavour. With its linen hardback cover, it looks and feels quite different to the usual books you see these days. It’s nice to have the opportunity to read an adaptation from another country other than England for a change. It’d be nice to see more, actually. In an age where everything is bright, busy and frankly, noisy, it's nice enjoy a rather more traditional, slower paced story. There's something old-fashioned about it (in a good way) and the illustrations have a classic feel. For your £7.95, you also get a wrap-around, which lets you to cut out a gift of your own, so you can gift your own little red parcel. But to be honest, I don’t see me putting a scissor to this one. Photocopy it is then. "You can't open the red parcel, but you can give it to someone else," On the surface, this is a story about a little girl who goes to stay to her grandmother, bringing great joy to the old lady. But there's more to it than this. In a society where everyone is busy going about their business, often with no time to talk to each other, grandma decides to make a big difference by means of a small act. She simply gives a small gift to a stranger. Anna (the little girl) is confused as grandma hands the man a small red package. The only condition – no one can open the little red parcel. What secrets does it hide? Is there gold inside? Or perhaps expensive gems? No. There’s nothing inside but happiness and good fortune. "No, Anna. One is enough." To the girl's surprise, grandma is confident that only one gift was needed, to light the flame of kindness that rapidly spreads across the village. And whilst it's a very simple story, the message is an important one. Especially in a modern world where the true meaning of Christmas gets lost amidst the hustle and bustle of it all. It's not really about the parties, the feasting, the spending and the presents but we’re all guilty of forgetting that sometimes. For me, the book is a celebration of 'community' – where everyone is reminded to notice the little things and to look out for each other. Over Christmas, take a minute to stop and talk, lend a helping hand, or wish someone well. Maybe a neighbour, or a family member you haven't seen in awhile? I don't think I’d read the story with children under 5 years old, because I think the message will go over their heads and the book may be a little boring for them. But for children between 6-9, I think the story is perfect to share in front of the fire on Christmas Eve. For me, this is one I’d certainly use in a school morning assembly. What’s inside the parcel isn’t really important; it’s the act of kindness in giving the parcel as a gift that matters. If you do someone a kind turn, hopefully someone will repay the favour one day. Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: Sept 2021 Price: £7.95 Format: Linen hardback

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