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  • Gan Bwyll a Gwyddbwyll - Stewart Foster [addas. Bethan Gwanas]

    *for Welsh review, see language toggle switch* Interest age: 12-14 Reading age: 12+ Genre: #fiction #ADHD #neurodiveristy #mystery A REVIEW BY BECA JONES, YEAR 9 YSGOL Y CREUDDYN. ‘Gan Bwyll a Gwyddbwyll’ is a hefty novel about a schoolboy called Felix Schopp who has ADHD. The original author of the novel is Stewart Foster, but the book has been adapted into Welsh by Bethan Gwanas. Felix Schopp is the boy who is constantly in trouble in school, and is always in the detention room. Felix finds it difficult to concentrate and to sit still in lessons. But one day Felix's parents go for a short holiday over the weekend and he has to go and stay with his grandfather. His Taid has been very sad since Nain died, and the only thing he was doing was playing chess. Of course, Felix wasn't looking forward to the weekend, but he didn't know how great his grandfather was at playing chess. He insists on teaching Felix how to play! There’s a clear and powerful message in this novel, namely that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and not everyone excels in everything. Because Felix has ADHD, he's always in trouble for lack of work and concentration. Still, there’s a happy turning point in the novel, as Felix has discovered his inner strength. There are also themes of self-confidence, determination and perseverance in the novel. In my opinion, unfortunately this novel is not to my taste. This book is a little bit flat, as not much actually happens in it. But maybe that's just my opinion, because normally I love exciting, action-packed and adventurous novels. So, if you're looking for an exciting and adventurous novel, I wouldn't recommend you buy it. However, this novel is an interesting and calming read, so I don't want to give you a poor impression of the book. I would say it’s suitable for year 7-9 children and young people, as it’s easy and enjoyable to read. Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN: 978-1-80099-066-1 More reviews and info about the book on the BookTrust website:

  • Genod Gwych a Merched Medrus 2 - Medi Jones-Jackson

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of page* A chance to get to know 12 inspirational women. ♥Children's Book of the Month: Sept 2021♥ Genre: #factual #girls #inspirational #Wales #empowerment Reading age (suggestion): 7+ Interest age (suggestion): 6-14+ Given the success of the first book, Genod Gwych a Merched Medrus, it’s hard to see how the author, Medi Jones-Jackson, could have improved on what was already in print. The first book received a great deal of attention following its publication in 2019 – it went on to secure a place on the Tir na n-Og Awards 2020 shortlist AND the shortlist for a brand-new award -Welsh Book of the Year for children and young people. Not bad for her first book, eh? So just how do you ‘top’ the first book when expectations are already so high? When you think about it, the answer’s really quite simple - if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Just publish another volume filled to the brim with amazingly talented women! Genod Gwych 2 These really are extremely useful and informative books, which deserve their place on any bookshelf, whether that be at home or in school. As I said about the first book, don't make the mistake of thinking it’s a book for girls only. Boys, as well as girls will benefit greatly from reading it, and hopefully will be driven and inspired by some inspirational women from Wales’s past and present. What I like most about factual books like this is the mix and variety found between the covers. Given how small Wales is in terms of size, it’s amazing that we’ve produced so much talent! I can imagine that one of the most difficult things the author had to do was pick which girls to include and which there was just no room for in this edition, because we’re lucky to have so many to choose from. If you like that sort of thing, you can find out more about the process of putting the book together at the back of the book, where a Q&A with the author has been included. Fascinating. In addition to well-known celebrities such as Shirley Bassey, its good to learn more about lesser-known women, but who have made equally valuable contributions. I think most people who read this book will learn something new, or discover an amazing female that they were unaware of. It certainly opened my eyes, and I found out some really interesting things about women I hadn’t come across before such as Ann Pettitt, the peace campaigner and Professor Meena Upadhyaya, the scientist and genetics researcher. I’m glad these individuals, as well as the more well-known ones, are being recognized for their work. There no space in a blog like this to discuss them all individually, and it would be impossible to choose a 'favourite' from the collection. What is clear is that all of their contributions are different and unique, but equally important. These are the remarkable girls included in this volume: This is a book that shows off their achievements and is a lovely way of honouring their legacies, by presenting them to the next generation of girls. It is hoped, of course, that their stories will inspire the girls (and boys) of Wales to do incredible things, and their accomplishments and endeavours will hopefully fill several future volumes of this series! "Not only does this colourful book burst with interesting facts, but it also includes a variety of activities to entertain the reader. " Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2021 Price: £5.99 ISBN: 978-1-180099-055-5 "I dare say that this book has improved on the first volume. An example of this is the inclusion of some real photographs to enrich the modern cartoon drawings of Telor Gwyn.”

  • Ga' i fyw adra? - Haf Llewelyn

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of page* A novel set during the hard winter of 1981, a period when house prices were rising and young people in rural Wales could not buy homes in their localities. Reading age: 10+ Interest age: 9-16+ (adults will also enjoy) Genre: #fiction #Nationalism #Welsh #History I can’t think of a book that made me think so many different and often conflicting emotions as Haf Llewelyn’s new novel, Ga i fyw adra? As a (fairly) young person myself, who’ll soon be on the hunt for a house, the subject matter is close to my heart and I was literally shouting to myself at some points whilst reading, moving between sighs of relief and bouts of indignation the next. As suggested by the title, the book refers to a burning issue (no pun intended!) that is extremely important here in Wales currently, and although the novel is set in 1981, it’s fiercely relevant to us today. Dafydd and Llinos, like many young couples, are keen to live in their local area, in Dafydd's Nain’s former home, Ty'n Drain. With her having to move into an elderly home due to declining health, the old lady is keen to pass on the reins on to the young couple. Unfortunately, Dafydd's greedy uncle has different ideas for the cottage as he realizes there’s money to be made by selling it on the open market as a potential holiday home – something that would go against Nain's wishes. Unfortunately, this is a situation that is all too familiar across our communities. In this case, it’s enough to create a large rift in the family, as some start to argue and others are caught in the middle trying to keep the peace. The frustration and disappointment of the young couple is evident, and as the tension between the characters increases throughout the novel, the situation reaches boiling point! Several storytelling strands come together in the novel, and the author was adept at showing the 'kaleidoscopic variety' of views on the issue, and that’s just within one family! Each member of the family, and indeed the community, is affected by the issue in different ways, which is something I hadn’t considered before. We also get a glimpse of life during the times when the Meibion Glyndŵr movement was active in the area. The ‘Meibion’, [Sons of Glyndŵr] if you don’t know, were a secretive group of ultra- Nationalist individuals who were wholly opposed to the growing number of second homes in Wales. As the Police get more and more desperate to find those responsible for the burning of holiday homes, everyone becomes a suspect and fingers start to be pointed… The fox was a recurring theme throughout the book, with a number of references to R. Williams Parry's famous poem. Much like the Meibion, who operate silently in the shadows, the image of the fox is very suitable here. Whilst reading, I sympathized greatly with Dafydd and Llinos, who just wanted to live and raise a family where they grew up, and that the opportunity was so tantalizingly close yet so far away from their grasp. The young couple's dilemma raises a big question - do we have a fundamental right to live at home in our cynefin? We’ve come a long way since the days of burning buildings to make a political point, and quite possibly it’s through meaningful and open dialogue with those in power that brings about real change. It’s very encouraging that peaceful campaigns such as ‘Hawl i Fyw Adra’ have opened a dialogue with the Welsh Government on how to go about solving the problem. Having said that, achieving real change will be a long process, which is of little comfort to those needing a house now. In the meantime, then, the question of 'can I live at home?’ remains… A review from, with the permission of the Books Council of Wales. Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch Published: 2022 Price: £7.95 ISBN: 9781845278250 LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HAWL I FYW ADRA CAMPAIGN...

  • Y Soddgarŵ - Manon Steffan Ros

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* Don't go into the forest! says everyone. That's where the greedy Soddgarŵ lives! I knew my way through the fields, so off I went... Audience: 3-7 Genre: #friendship #kindness #fiction #empathy Empathy Lab Very recently, I had the privilege of collaborating with Empathy Lab UK, which works with schools, libraries, publishers and authors to use the power of books to develop and share and develop empathy skills with children and young people. For the first time this year, they have released a Welsh collection of special books that do exactly this. As part of my work on the Welsh judging panel, I came across a quirky little book that was released in 2021. So many books are published annually, I must have missed it when it came out. What is safe to say is, that it fully deserves its place in the new empathy collection. To view the complete collection, follow this link: Soddgarŵ – what's one of those I wonder? This is a lovely story about a strange and mysterious creature living in a forest. The villagers, who are very much against the creature, warn a little girl to stay away from it. The creature is blamed for all sorts of problems, but the truth is, they fear it because it's so different and unusual. The brave little girl however, had no fear at all, and away she went to the forest, eager to meet him. After spending time getting to know the creature, the little girl comes to realize that the creature is not something to be feared – he’s just trying to live! After being accused of stealing food, the little girl helps the Soddgarŵ find a new source of food – beans. Lots and lot of beans! By the end of the book, the Soddgarŵ and the girl have formed a friendship and the villagers have even started to accept the creature. Main Message Other than the fact that strange forest-dwelling creatures seem to love baked beans, I think the main message of the book is 'don't be afraid of what you don't understand.' This is a very important message for curious young children, who are going to be coming across all sorts of new and varied situations and individuals. It’s important that we make time to get to know people and give them a chance. A little bit of trivia... At first, I didn't notice that the book was the result of a competition from the Urdd and the Books Council – it might have been worth putting something about it in the back of the book! Anyway, Lily Mŷrennyn, a young artist from the Rhondda, was the winner of the special competition to find new talent in the field of children’s book illustration. The task required young artists aged 18-25 to prepare original artwork to accompany a story written by the incredible Manon Steffan Ros. To be honest, I don't know much about illustrating children's books, but I can appreciate good artwork when I see it. I agree with every word that the competition’s judge, Derek Bainton, says about Lily's work: “Here is an artist whose work shows an understanding, confidence and command of narrative illustration. The artworks are exceptionally executed, combining a number of well-tuned skills such as traditional and digital techniques. The colour palette has a personal and warm feel, which binds this submission together beautifully in a delightfully cohesive, professional and original way.” I’m very pleased to see an exciting, new competition as part of the Urdd Eisteddfod, especially as they provide a platform for talented new artists who are based here in Wales. It’ll be very interesting to see the output of this competition over the next few years... Publisher: Atebol Released: 2021 Price: £6.99

  • Dere i Dyfu gyda Dewi Draenog a Beca Broga - Adam Jones

    *ForWelsh review, see language toggle switch* Genre: #ffeithiol #CymraegGwreiddiol #garddio #natur #CyfnodSylfaen Interest Age: 3+ Reading Age: 7+ Time to raid the garden shed… Now that spring has arrived, and the weather is warming up (allegedly), there’s no better time to fetch the gloves and the trowel and start tackling that garden after the winter break. It’ll be full of vibrant colours in no time! With so many digital distractions these days, it's easy to sit on the sofa and spend hours in front of a screen. Adam Jones, however, is on a mission – to inspire the young children of Wales to venture out into the garden and try their hand at a bit of gardening! Personally, I can’t think of an activity that’s better for the soul – giving you the opportunity to engage with nature, get some fresh air and do a bit of exercise in one go! As a bit of an amateur gardener myself, when I saw this book was being published, I was quite excited, and you can see that the author is very passionate about his work. Although Adam only started his Instagram account in 2018, I'm sure he’s got over 10,000 followers now. He’s been gardening since he was a child and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience. And just like him, I learned all I know about gardening from my grandparents – their generation was truly inspiring! Dere i Dyfu (Come and grow) Using cute, recognizable animal characters, Dewi Draenog and Beca Broga, Adam introduces gardening to our youngest children and their parents (let’s face it, no 3-year-old will be doing unsupervised gardening!) Although the book keeps things simple and suitable enough for the age, this is full of gardening facts surrounded by colourful artwork by Ali Lodge. I think combining the illustrations with real photographs works well, and has been thoughtfully done by Tanwen Haf. Organised under sensible chapters, we are presented with simple advice on how to grow different things like vegetables or flowers. When it came to the tools and equipment, I wasn’t all that familiar with some terms like ‘rhaca’ (rake), because we use ‘cribin’ up North. It might have been beneficial to include both terms to avoid confusion. Some of the Welsh names for the flowers and birds are just wonderful. As well as clear step-by-step instructions on how to sow seeds and how to get planting, Adam explains the importance of some of the little creatures and wildlife found in our gardens. One of these is the hedgehog. According to some reports the number of hedgehogs in the UK has fallen by 75%, so I was pleased to see instructions for creating hedgehog-friendly gardens in the book. It’s so easy to do. What will you grow this year? I can't stress how important books like Dere i Dyfu are. Our children are the future, and they’ll be responsible for the planet (or whatever’s left of it) after we’re gone, so helping them to form a close and respectful relationship between with nature from a young age is essential. Remember, you don’t need huge allotments and fancy raised beds to experience the joys of growing plants. I've seen people in flats growing potatoes in pots on the balcony, so there's no excuse. At the very least, you can grow cress on the window sill with nothing more than an eggshell. As well as the countless skills that the children (and adults) will learn whilst gardening, just think about how good those roasties and parsnip will taste after all that hard work. There’s never been a better time to start gardening – grab your tools and give it a go… Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN:9781800991309

  • Hanes yn y Tir - Elin Jones

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* ♥Welsh Children's Book of the Month: Oct 2021♥ ♥Shortlist TNNO 2022♥ Age: 9-16 (KS2/3/4) Genre: #factual #nonfic #history #Wales #textbook This is what Elin Williams (13) had to say... This is a book about Welsh history by Elin Jones, which takes us on a journey from the very beginning (some 5000 years ago when the first people began to evolve, living in caves) to the establishment of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay in 1997. There are many other interesting events in Welsh history between the covers, such as the history of the Celts and Romans, the establishment of Christianity in Wales and the resulting churches that were built, grand castles, the Welsh and their role in the slave trade, the raising of tollbooths and their destruction in the Rebecca riots, the terrible history of the Welsh Not in our schools, the two world wars, women's rights, and so much more. I liked the way the volume was divided, with four timelines denoting the different main periods. There are also plenty of interesting pictures and diagrams; I believe that this softens the content and keeps our interest. Many of the statistics are presented in the form of charts and pictures, such as the map of Wales showing the growth in the number of railways over a period of time – so much more effective than just lists of numbers. I liked the cover because it is colourful, contains characters from different periods, and the inclusion of the dragon is eye catching. This is a valuable addition to any bookshelf. Review from, by kind permission of Book Council for Wales. Morgan Dafydd, Sôn am Lyfra's opinion: I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have much to say about those old dusty history textbooks from my time in school. Although it was only the early 2000s, we were still using some pretty old, scruffy black and white books from the 80s in our lessons. These did little to ignite the curiosity of any learner. We spent more time studying the conquests of the English royal family at the expense of our own rich history. Of course, I acknowledge it’s important to learn about events elsewhere in the world but I still feel there are major gaps in my knowledge of Welsh history and how Wales shaped the world. Now, thanks to this book, I’ve got a second chance to catch-up, and to finally to learn about periods of our history that are unfamiliar to me, such as the Age of the Princes. As a teacher, I welcome this comprehensive resource, which lands just in time for the New Curriculum for Wales. According to the Welsh Government, all schools in the country have received a copy of the book, which is also available in English, under the title History Grounded. Although its usefulness in the classroom is clear, this is a book with much wider appeal. Adults and history enthusiasts will find this book to be quite handy. The scope of the resource is huge – it takes the reader on a visual journey through over 5,000 years. As well as giving a broad overview, the book also zooms in on some remarkable periods, individuals and events, including the Cymdeithas yr Iaith campaigns and the establishment of the Welsh Senedd. Overall, this is a volume that offers a highly visual journey through the rich and varied history of our country, full of relevant and engaging photographs that add to the text. We get some sage advice from the author at the beginning of the book; a constant reminder that we’re all just guessing really when we study history. Despite the evidence that remains, we weren’t there when it happened so we can only try and piece the jigsaw pieces together as best we can. We also get a warning that history isn’t all gumdrops and rainbows. Indeed, it’s littered with cruelty, warmongering and death. It must also be remembered that bias and one-sided views are rife in history, as it was usually documented by the well-off, and men in particular. Although there are a few pages that pertain to slavery, I would have liked to see more discussing the part that Wales played during colonial times. Although it’s an uncomfortable subject, it’s important to discuss the role that some individuals such as Thomas Picton, Pembrokeshire or Henry Morton Stanley, Denbigh played in the slave trade. Statues that celebrate their accomplishments still stand in our communities today, but we must recognize that a dark side to their lives exists. Rather than avoiding, ignoring or erasing this, we must have an open and frank conversation about it. Perhaps we missed an opportunity to do this here. Of course, it’s impossible to fit everything into one volume, but it is fair to say that the author has done very diligent and thorough work here. Unfortunately, we don't have time machines, but this book is the next best thing! So open the covers and take yourself on a journey back through Welsh history, the history ingrained in our lands; which belongs to us all. Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: Sept. 2021 Price: £16.50 Format: Hardback ISBN: 9781845278311 Also available in English: History Grounded ABOUT THE AUTHOR ELIN JONES Elin Jones used to teach at Preseli, Rhydfelen and Cwm Rhymni secondary schools before being appointed education officer at the National Museum of Wales. In her work she had to be familiar with every period of Welsh history, and had to prepare resources for every age and ability. In 1966 she started work in an advisory role with the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales, with responsibility for regulating history qualifications and developing the curriculum for history as well as its assessment methods, and commissioning history teaching resources. In 2013 she chaired the taskforce that was responsible for preparing a report to the Education Minister on the Welsh Curriculum, history and the story of Wales. Elin Jones is a popular guest on Radio Cymru where she discusses stories and characters from Welsh history.

  • Y Bwystfil a'r Betsan - Jack Meggitt-Phillips (adapt. Elidir Jones)

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* Illustrations: Isabelle Follath Interest age: 7+ Reading age: 9+ Genre: #mystery #horror #thriller #humour #fantasy #scifi The 511-year-old! Just look at the global market for beauty products, from creams to serums, from adverts to injections, and you’ll notice that we often go to a lot of effort to look our best and to keep ourselves looking nice and young. But the big question is, as you grow older, how far would you be willing to go in order to keep hold of your youthful looks? This is one headache that Heddwyn Ploryn knows well, a bachelor who is almost about to celebrate his 512th birthday! (yes, you heard me!) This handsome, dapper chap has somehow managed the impossible - to stay looking exactly the same his whole life. But how on earth does someone so ancient stop themselves from looking like something out of The Mummy? Well, let me tell you... A mutually-beneficial relationship By pure chance, Heddwyn come has become acquainted with a rather unusual creature. This thing, with it’s round, bloated appearance, three black eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth has developed quite a convenient relationship with our lonely bachelor. As part of their mutually-beneficial arrangement, Heddwyn is given a magical bottle for every delicious meal he serves up for the beast. But you see, there’s a catch. (there always is!) and this may very well have something to do with the fact that this 511-year-old has skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom! The terrible favour! Like us, the beast soon tires of always on eating the same thing, and longs to try something new each time. Indeed, he seems to be getting greedier and more ambitious with every meal! For every time Heddwyn brings him a new, unusual meal of interesting items, he is rewarded with wonderful gifts that allow him to live a grand and lavish lifestyle. After eating its way through any number of items, including one super rare and exotic bird, it’s no surprise that the beast wants to try something a bit more decadent for it’s next meal. This time, he wants to sample a nice plump juicy child! Yes, Mr. Ploryn’s done terrible things during his long lifetime, but feeding a live child to the beast – that takes the biscuit! Just as he’s starting to run out of special potion, luckily for him he’s got just the thing to whet the beast’s appetite- the snottiest, grubbiest, rudest orphan you’ve come across. There’s just one teeny-tiny problem - the more time he spends with her, the more he questions his decision. Has he got what it takes to see out his fiendish plan to save his own skin? Dorian Gray meets Little Shop of Horrors It is easy to see where the inspiration for this book comes from. A little bit from everywhere or so it seems. There are comparisons with Audrey II, the man-eating plant from the musical Little Shop of Horrors. It also has hints of Dorian Gray, the narcissist who sold his soul so he could stay beautiful. There’s enough dark source material and inspiration here, but it’s been skilfully packaged as a children’s book full of macabre and sarcastically-dry humour, which emulates the style of the legendary Roald Dahl! Jack Meggitt-Philips, a talented new writer and scriptwriter, has created a modern classic here, I'm sure of that. Some adaptations are better than others, and a poorly-done or rushed one can feel a bit awkward and stiff. This is not the case here. Elidir Jones has done a cracking job to be fair. The adaptation is remarkably true to the original but stands firmly on its own two feet. I have to say, this has been one of the books I’ve enjoyed the most of late, and not only will I be telling loads of people about it, but I can’t wait to give it a trial-run with a class of children next time I’m doing some supply work. I don’t usually score books, but I’m giving this one 9.5 out of 10! This is a highly original, imaginative book, with a good balance of mystery, gallows humour and general creepiness– an excellent addition to the ever-expanding collection of middle grade books in Welsh for the 9-11 age group. And guess what? Without giving too much away, the ending makes me think a sequel is on the cards – I hope so, anyway! Publisher: Atebol Released: 2021 Price: £7.99 ISBN: 978-1-80106-084-4 Welsh adaptation of 'The Beast and the Bethany' A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR... Jack Meggitt Phillips is an incredibly exciting new talent. He is an author, scriptwriter and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4. He is scriptwriter and presenter of The History of Advertising podcast. In his mind, Jack is an enormously talented ballroom dancer, however his enthusiasm far surpasses his actual talent. Jack lives in north London where he spends most of his time drinking peculiar teas and reading PG Wodehouse novels. Isabelle Follath is an illustrator who has worked in advertising, fashion magazines and book publishing, but her true passion lies in illustrating children's books. She also loves drinking an alarming amount of coffee, learning new crafts and looking for the perfect greenish-gold colour. Isabelle lives in Zurich, Switzerland.

  • Lledrith yn y Llyfrgell - Anni Llŷn

    *For Welsh review, please see language toggle switch* Age: 6+ Genre: #quickstory #adventure #magic World Book Day 2022 We all know how important reading is, right? It’s such a good way to ‘feed’ the brain with amazing vocabulary and ideas, and it can pretty much take you to anywhere in the world (and beyond!) without leaving your living room! Unfortunately, we all live such busy lives, with so many distractions, that sometimes it can be difficult to make time to settle down to read. But it's important that we do try. Unfortunately, though, not everyone is so lucky enough access to a supply of interesting and appealing books. That's why I love World Book Day and the idea behind it. On this day, we celebrate everything that’s AMAZING about our paper companions -from authors to illustrators, from bookshops to the libraries. Tell me, will you be dressing up as your favourite character this year? Who will you go for? I reckon I’d go as the ‘Pry Bach Tew’ or Mr Twit these days! For 2022, one of our multi-talented writers, Anni Llŷn, has churned out a ‘stori sydyn’ (short story), aptly called Lledrith yn y Llyfrell (magic in the library). And d’ya know what? You can get your paws on this little beauty for less than the cost of a loaf of bread! Quickly now- get them before they’re gone! Llanswyn-ym-Mochrith This ain’t no normal village, that’s for sure. It's packed with really strange and interesting characters. And what makes these residents so different from you and me you ask? Well, each one of them has some ability to make magic. Everyone except Chwim, the librarian, that is. She may not be able to do charms and spells, but there is something she can do – and that’s read, and at speed! Now that’s magical in itself don’t you think? When a class of chaotic children and their hopeless teacher descend on the library for a special visit, some strange things start to happen as Chwim opens the covers and starts reading... I wonder if you’ve ever experienced this kind of magic when you’ve been reading? Now then, if you want to know how the brave librarian gets the best of a nasty old inspector, or your keen to know if Sali Mali can indeed escape the claws of a jaguar, then crack on and read this book! (I never thought I’d be using 'Sali Mali' and 'jaguar’ in the same sentence!) On the day we celebrate our love of books, and #WorldBookDay celebrates it’s 25th birthday, you lucky readers have the opportunity to own a brand new book for just £1! And of course, once you've read Lledrith yn y Llyfrgell in one sitting, remember that there's a handful of other great books waiting for you on the bookshop shelves. And even if you don't have a penny to your name, you can still enjoy some amazing books, absolutely FREE of charge, thanks to our wonderful libraries. Get down there people! Enjoy World Book Day, and remember to dress up as your favourite character and post some pics to spread the word. Then go and tell someone else about your favourite book, be it a friend or a family member, and make a promise, that you'll never ever stop reading. There really is nothing better than seeing words come to life inside your own head, and it’s only books that can do that kind of magic really! Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: World Book Day, March 2022 Pris: £1 (yup, just £1!!!!) ISBN: 9781800992030

  • Gwil Garw a'r Carchar Crisial - Huw Aaron

    *For Welsh version, use language toggle switch on top of page* Interest age: 5+ Reading age: 6+ Publisher suggested age: 7-12 Synopsis: Gwil Garw is a warrior from Wales' distant mythical past, whose job is to keep the peace at the Zoo of Legendary Creatures. Unfortunately, he's a wild hothead with zero respect for any man (or monster), and no interest whatsoever in keeping the peace. Celtic warriors, myths, and monsters combine in an epic and hilarious bronze age adventure. Kick first. Ask questions later. See, that's the trouble with Gwil Garw! But despite his hot-headedness that often lands him in a whole heap of trouble, you can't help but root for him! Gwil Garw a’r Carchar Crisial You might remember seeing him first in the popular Mellten magazine, but now, Gwil Garw’s got his own 'book' that brings all the adventures together! This is a graphic novel (a kind of cross between a fiction book and a comic). What do you get when you put these two together? An explosion of colour, excitement and adventure full of “FSSHHWMS,” “SBLWSHYS,” “CROMPS” and “DWMFFS!” Gwil is a brave, if not slightly bonkers, monster hunter from the Celtic times who is sent on frequent adventures by his boss, Hemi ap Heilyn, owner of the Bwystfilariwm! (a zoo for monsters, in case you were wondering!) Gwil has several run-ins and near-misses with dangerous creatures, but he takes it all in his stride! On one of his adventures in the dwarf kingdom he comes across a very special and dangerous crystal indeed. Someone has put a very powerful spell on this, to make sure that whatever’s inside, stays inside! I just hope Gwil gets the message before it's too late! The book itself, including it’s cover and pages, is clearly of very good quality. An odd thing to say maybe, but it feels very satisfying to hold it, let alone read it! This will be getting pride of place on the ‘keepers’ bookshelf at Sôn am Lyfra HQ! Yeey! We have a graphic novel in Welsh! I’ll just say one thing- comics are awesome! Did you know that even adults like to read them too? After fiction novels and non-fiction books, magazines are the most popular choice for reading. So, let there be no doubt that reading comics DOES count as 'real' reading. End of. Graphic novels are like a hybrid of a book and comic, and there’s quite a lot of reading actually. The good thing is though, that it’s cut up into bitesize chunks. In fact, it's a very different - but interesting - reading experience. If you don't usually read in Welsh, or aren’t that keen on full-on novels, why not try a graphic novel instead? I’ll also just quickly mention that the other two books in the series are also worth reading! #moreplease I’ll be completely honest, I just couldn’t stand reading novels when I was younger, but I’d have absolutely GOBBLED this up!!! (oh how things have changed – I can’t get enough of reading now!) More children reading since lockdown It was interesting to read a report recently by the National Literacy Trust, Children and young people's reading engagement in 2021. [here] According to this, more children enjoy reading now than before lockdown (an increase of 17%). This might be because they’ve had more spare time at home to read 'for pleasure.' Whilst this is good news, it could just be a short-term effect and we mustn’t rest on our laurels in our efforts to get more children reading (especially boys!) That's why I'm very happy to see more choice becoming available for readers aged 7-12... Publisher: Llyfrau Broga Released: 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN: 9781914303036 MORE IN THE SERIES..

  • Rhedeg yn gynt na'r cleddyfau - Myrddin ap Dafydd

    *For Welsh review, please change language toggle switch on top of page* Interest age: 15+ / adult Reading age: 12+ (confident readers) *indirect references to sexual assault and violence “Doedd yr Uwch-gapten William Parlby ddim mewn tymer rhy dda. A dweud y gwir, roedd croen ei din ar ei dalcen ers ben bore.” In the last few years Gwasg Carreg Gwalch has been busy producing a lot of books relating to Welsh history over the different periods. This is good news given the emphasis that’ll be placed on learning about our own history in the New Curriculum for Wales. In this novel, we go back to Victorian times, to the time of the Rebecca riots, a tumultuous time in mid west Wales. This isn’t the first time that we’ve visited these turbulent times in our children’s literature – the king himself, T. Llew Jones, published a novel about the riots in 1974 under the title Cri'r Dylluan. That was a cracking novel, so there’s some stiff competition! Quick Historical Background Without going into too much detail and in case you are not familiar, this was a time when farmers and peasants in rural Wales rebelled and protested against unreasonable tolls along Welsh roads. In the late 1830s and early 1840s, the people of Wales were very poor. A series of poor harvests had led to a huge increase in the cost of living and life was very hard. On top of all this, they were expected to pay high tolls in order to use the roads to move goods etc. The farmers felt that they were being treated unfairly and oppressed, so they started to take action. They went out late at night disguised in women's clothes so they could burn or destroy the tollhouses. What happens in the book? (no spoilers!) The dragoons (soldiers) have arrived in the Carmarthenshire area because of the dispute over the protests. As the farmers reach the end of their tether, more tollhouses are torn down and Colonel Love is determined to catch the perpetrators. The soldiers want to catch them red handed and put an end to Becca’s protests once and for all, but Becca and her 'girls', with their network of hidden messages, are always one step ahead. We get toknow a number of local characters such as the blacksmith’s family, the gypsy family and the landlord families of the local pubs. It’s clear that everyone knows something’s going on, but nobody wants to mention Beca. The novel focuses on Elin, a fifteen-year-old girl, who lives in the pub in Llangadog. She gets drawn into all the trouble with the tollhouses, and her very life is in danger. She’ll literally have to run for her life! Whilst all this is going on, dark secrets from her past emerge, relating to the mother and father she never knew. What she learns could turn her whole family life upside down. What we also realise is, even the most respectable people in society have got something to hide… Not everyone is as they seem. The verdict Perhaps my definition of a 'children's book' differs to that of the publisher. I personally wouldn't recommend this story for primary children, mainly because the text is too challenging for the majority, in my experience. I’ve seen it suggested as suitable for ages '8-12+’ and I tend to agree. An audience of 15+ would be more likely to appreciate this novel and fully understand the context. As a lover of history, I have been lapping up the historical fiction novels by Myrddin ap Dafydd of late, and I particularly like the author's attention to detail and his research work is very thorough. I love the bits at the back of the book that talk about the process of creating the story. Despite this, I must admit, I didn't enjoy this one as much as Drws Du yn Nhonypandy and Y Goron yn y Chwarel. The story just didn’t have me hooked for some reason. Having said that, many of the messages in the book are very relevant to us today, especially in these uncertain political times. I’m sure some valuable classroom would result from reading this novel, for example by comparing and contrasting some of the inequalities of the period with the situation in Wales today. Given the recent increase in the cost of living, the contemptuous treatment of Wales coming from Westminster and the endless rhetoric about 'the strength of the union', I hope that the people of Wales will find the 'spirit of Becca' once again, so that we can make our voices heard (but maybe in a different way to wearing petticoats and burning buildings down!) Cân dda gan Tecwyn Ifan! Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: 2021 Price: £8 ISBN: 978-1-84527-820-5

  • Mae pob uncorn yn hoffi enfys...Tybed? [Emma Adams & Mike Byrne, adapt. Gwynne Williams]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of page* Reading age: 5+ Interest age: 3+ Illustrations: Mike Byrne Format: Hardback What comes to mind when you think of unicorns? They’re usually associated with pink, magical, colourful, fluffy, sparkly things and of course, who can forget their multi-coloured droppings?! Unicorns have mystified us through the ages, and come about every so often as a bit of a pop culture craze, especially amongst young girls. You might think you know how unicorns are supposed to look and behave, but you haven’t met this one! You’re in for a shock. This one’s a bit more bad**s than your average unicorn. The book is an explosion of colours, and the rhymes are very funny as the sassy unicorn lists all the "nice" things it doesn't like. Indeed, this unicorn has a very different way of doing things and is happy and confident enough to do things their own way. I like how the author makes fun of the stereotypical image of an unicorn and turns the idea of how an unicorn is ‘supposed to be’ on it’s head. Instead of pink and fluffy things, this one prefers to wear dark emo clothes and instead of singing nice karaoke songs, he/she prefers to rock out to some proper music! Perhaps a little bit of AC/DC or Led Zep. Despite the sarcastic humour and it’s overall light-heartedness, there’s an important message at the heart of this book – we’re all different and unique individuals, and there’s nowt wrong with that. There’s a place for us all in the world, and we should be more tolerant of each other. Be happy and confident in your own skin is what I took from this book. Having finished it, I'm still not sold on the Welsh title. Does it even make proper sense? The original English title was ‘Unicorns don’t love rainbows,’ however the Welsh title translates to ‘All unicorns like rainbows…maybe?’ It’s a little bit awkward-sounding in my opinion. Even with the Southern dialect, (which is a contentious issue in Welsh language books) I could still understand everything. Overall, I’m giving it a 7.5 out of 10. Publisher: Dref Wen Released: 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN: 9781784231774

  • Y Dyn Dweud Drefn [yn chwarae pêl-droed] - Lleucu Fflyr Lynch

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* Interest age: 3-8 oed Reading age: 5+ Illustrations: Gwen Millward The Dyn Dweud Drefn is back, and this time he fancies his chances as a footballer! Like many of us, he probably thinks he’s a bit better than he actually is! Obviously, things haven’t changed much since the last book, because he’s still as cranky as ever! This is the third book in this likeable series by Lleucu Fflur Lynch, with Gwen Millward responsible for the illustrations. Her pictures are light and cheerful, and convey the characters' gestures well. Also, have you ever seen such a cute little dog? I like this series. Even though the Dyn Dweud Drefn can be a very cantankerous and prickly individual, I can’t help but like him. It's as if it's he reminds me of someone, but I can't think exactly who. A combination of different people perhaps – a little bit of Mr.Wilson, the curmudgeonly next door neighbor in Dennis the Menace, mixed with a bit of Victor Meldrew from the sitcom One Foot in the Grave, plus a little bit of Gru from Despicable Me mixed in there as well. One thing is sure, he’s extremely lucky and fortunate to have such a loyal friend as his poor little puppy. Even when he’s in the foulest of moods, and is taking it out on others, his faithful four-legged friend is always there to lend a hand (or rather, a paw!) Judging by his skills with a ball, I’d say the dyn Dweud Drefn makes a better gardener than he does a footballer. All he wants to do is score the goal of a lifetime, but he won’t do it alone! You never know, we might even see him crack a smile by the end! Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch Released: 2021 Price: £4.95 ISBN: 9781845278243 ALSO IN THE SERIES... THE AUTHOR, LLEUCU FFLUR LYNCH

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