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  • Y Disgo Dolig Dwl - Gruffudd Owen

    *For Welsh review, select language toggle switch on top of webpage* Illustration: Huw Aaron Interest age: 3+ Reading age: 7/8 Well, the buzz and excitement of Christmas has been and gone for another year, leaving nothing but the January Blues behind. But don't worry, if you're feeling a bit ‘meh,’ well fear not, you can still re-live the good times with a copy of Y Disco Dolig Dwl, by Gruffudd Owen and Huw Aaron (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch). As you know, no one works harder all year round than Santa Clause, Mrs Clause, the reindeer and the elves. After building millions of presents then delivering them all in one night, I think it’s safe to say they deserve a little office party afterwards to celebrate! There’s no covid-19 in Iceland you see, so having a big party isn't such a taboo! I remember having silly discos in the lounge with my sister when we were kids - dancing to dad’s old vinyls and cassettes on the hi-fi. In fact, I’ll often do that even now – sticking on some cheesy music like Steps or Abba and just having a dance for no reason – try it, it’s quite therapeutic actually! The book rhymes and is suitable (according to the publishers) for children up to the age of 8 "and anyone who’d like a little Christmas fun!" Indeed, it is full of silliness – who’d have thought that even Santa and his wife have to pay taxes just like everyone else! Huw Aaron, our very own Welsh Quentin Blake has lent his talents to sprinkle a bit of Christmas cheers over the book and I can't think of a better person to do the illustrations. They’re just perfect for the tone of this book. My young cousins came over for Christmas, and they enjoyed the book. We had our own crazy kitchen disco afterwards! If you're longing for a bit of Christmas fun, or you’re just a highly organized person looking for Christmas stuff for next year – grab yourself a copy! Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch Released: 2021 Price: £6.95 ISBN: 978-1-84527-842-7

  • Shirley - Bethan Gwanas

    *for Welsh review, please see language toggle switch on website* ♥Children's Book of the Month: December 2021♥ Illustrations: Hanna Harris Reading age: 6/7+ Interest age: 3-7+ Hey Big Spender! Unlike Shirley’s famous song, you won’t have to spend a fortune in order to enjoy this book, which is part of a brand-new series, ‘Enwogion o Fri’ by the fairly new publisher, Llyfrau Broga. (the series will launch in English too in the New Year.) This is a series that, as the title suggests, address various famous people and other remarkable individuals who have contributed to or influenced in one way or another our history as a nation. This is not just a series about girls, but it was decided to launch it with three remarkable women to emphasize the valuable contribution they have done and continue to do so to our world. Some individuals will be better known than others, but one thing is certain, they are all incredible and diverse and I have a feeling that this series will be a very successful one. This is the second book in the series and the one getting my attention in today's blog. Skilled author Bethan Gwanas has written Shirley, with modern and fresh illustrations by Hanna Harris – a very beautiful book, I must say. Now, those of a certain age will probably have heard of Shirley Bassey, but perhaps don’t know about her upbringing here in Wales. Yes – I kid you not – Shirley Bassey was born and raised right here in Wales – Cardiff to be precise. As the series is targeted to a young audience (age 3-7), it is quite likely that the young readers will not have heard of her, so this is a great opportunity to show how far some Welsh people have gone, and what they have been able to achieve over their remarkable lives. BG has done a good job of making sense of Shirley Bassey’s long and interesting life and career and presents it in a simple yet effective way, from the early days in Tiger Bay, all the way through to her later years living in Monaco. Learning about her journey through life was fascinating – who’d have thought that a singer with so much presence was painfully shy as a child? And did you know that she struggled as a young singer in school because her voice was TOO powerful? It’s an amazing voice -watch her once-in-a-life performance at Glastonbury in 2007. You’ll be blown away. This book shows how the young Shirley overcame all the challenges she faced, and became one of the most famous singers in the world! Hopefully this story will serve as an inspiration and give hope to others who read this book- you can do anything if you believe in yourself. Publisher: Broga Released: 2021 Series: Enwogion o Fri Price: £5.99 ISBN: 9781914303081

  • Pam? - Luned Aaron a Huw Aaron

    *For Welsh review, please use language toggle switch on website* Suggested interest: dan 7 Reading age: 5+ Are you looking for a book for bedtime that’ll have you in stitches? Look no further. Luned and Huw Aaron strike again! It looks like this couple are having a great year. Between publishing loads of books and seeing their brand-new publishing company, Broga, go from strength to strength, I'm sure these two are very busy. But that’s a great thing for you and me ‘cause whilst they’re busy doing the graft, we, the readers, can sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour. This time, they’ve released a picturebook for young children with Y Lolfa. The lad on the cover looks like how I feel today (yup, that Monday feeling) and the subject matter is every child’s favourite word- "why?" Those of you who come across children will be very familiar with this question, and I'm sure that many parents have been driven to despair hearing this word repeated over and over! The book is in the form of funny little rhymes, from the point of view of the main character as he questions and vents his frustrations about not being able to do as he pleases, such as drinking coca cola or tormenting his little sister with creepy crawlies! But despite all his moaning and whinging and “why can’t I’s?” the answer is always the same– NO CHANCE! Poor lad, so unfair – those boring adults spoiling all his fun! Honestly, you’ll never find anyone more brutally honest than children, and I had to laugh at the thought of the young boy who desperately wanted to say all sorts of things about his aunty’s big backside (before being quickly stopped by his parent!) I'm sure lots of you parents can recall a couple of embarrassing moments, where the children have said something inappropriate in public! I did something similar once when I was little by ‘outing’ my Gran for making Knorr packet soup and trying to pass it off as her own, and in front of the Minister too! Oops! There are a lots of funny picture books available, but many of them are adaptations, while original Welsh ones are far less common. Yes, I sound like a broken record by now, but we still need more original light-hearted, less serious and just plain funnier books. These are the ones that children will be asking to read and re-read time and again. This one is a cracker, and effortlessly funny, and I’m sure you’ll be smiling as you read it. It’ll be a favourite in many a house, and I also think it could be a good Eisteddfod ‘adrodd’ piece. Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: August 2021 Price: £4.99 ISBN: 9781800990562

  • Y Ddinas Uchel/The Builders - Huw Aaron

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on webpage* Mae'n iawn i freuddwydio am rywbeth gwell... Its ok to dream for something better... Positive messages: ◉◉◉◉◎ Upsetting, tough themes: ◎◎◎◎◎ Violence, scary: ◎◎◎◎◎ Language: ◎◎◎◎◎ Sex: ◎◎◎◎◎ Suggested reading age: 5+ Suggested interest age: 3-7 This bilingual picture book is from talented artist/cartoonist Huw Aaron. We are very familiar with his drawings and doodles in a number of popular books and the magazine Mellten. On this occasion, Huw himself has taken care of writing the story as well as painting the pictures! Huw said that the story had been simmering in the back of his mind for years- well finally, here it is! This is a story about a little girl called Petra, who lives in a city full of very busy people. The workers spend all day, every day building very high towers that stretch to the sky. In fact, the workers remind me of termites, who spend their lives building large mounds. Poor Petra is bored with the daily grind of constructing towers. In fact, she is absolutely fed up! Petra begins to question the regime as she ponders the big philosophical question: Is there more to life? Even though some very important people order her to 'grow up' and ‘get on with it’, in her heart she never stops dreaming. One day, when a lady comes down from the clouds in a hot air balloon, they go on an adventure all over the world, seeing all the wonders that exist. I wonder if Petra will be able to persuade the rest of the city's inhabitants that there is more to life than building towers? Huw Aaron’s watercolour paintings are beautifully colourful and we get a very affectionate story with a clear message to young children (as well as adults!) that it’s perfectly acceptable to question things. The book conveys children's natural curiosity and wonder about the world around them. Children and adults will understand the message that there are many wonders and opportunities out there to be seen and enjoyed, if you take the chance! There’s a metaphor in the book that shows how modern life has conditioned us to hurry from one place to another, working non-stop, without taking time to fully appreciate our world. Go out to see the world and enjoy new experiences- life is too short! I'm really glad Atebol decided to make this book available bilingually, so that more people can enjoy it. Review from, by permission of Welsh Books Council. Publisher: Atebol Price: £6.99 Released: 2020 ISBN: 9781801060189

  • Luned Bengoch - Elizabeth Watkin-Jones

    *For Welsh review, please see language toggle switch on top of page* Suggested reading age: 10+ Interest age: 10+ REVIEW BY MARED LLYWELYN As one who grew up in Morfa Nefyn, I’ve always been aware of this special author, Elizabeth Watkin-Jones. Before I even read her novels, I remember seeing them on the bookshelf at Nain and Taid’s. Lois... Esyllt... Y Dryslwyn... but the most famous of all is Luned Bengoch. Yes, T. Llew Jones is more well-known, having written at length about the wild coast of Ceredigion, but Elizabeth Watkin-Jones has also succeeded in weaving adventure, romance and danger on the northern coast of the Llŷn. All this is encapsulated on the cover of this new edition by artist Efa Blosse-Mason – it looks like a poster for an epic film. And believe me, this is an epic story that young people and adults will enjoy. We are in the year 1401, and the period is significant because we are in the early years of Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion. It’s pleasing to read a novel that is not afraid to show its nationalist colours. In addition to the characters who are loyal to Glyndŵr and the case for independence for Wales, despite this being a historical novel it feels extremely timely as the case for independence has come to the forefront in recent years. But what about the novel's characters? Luned is a strong, adventurous girl and she doesn't let the fact that she’s a girl limit her at all, as it would surely have done in that time. She’s determined to follow her friend, Rhys on a journey to present a message to Owain Glyndŵr at his camp in Pumlumon, by pretending to be a boy. But on the journey, she comes to the attention of several people, and not even her cap can hide those flaming red curls, or those famous features that were known to belong to the Caradog ab Merfyn Goch family of the Conwy valley. Why is there a danger at Plas Crafnant? And just who is Luned Bengoch? This is the third time that the novel has been printed. First published in 1946, then the author's nephew, Hugh D. Jones updated the text for a new edition in 1983. I really hope that today's young people will continue to immerse themselves in this adventure. Join Luned and Rhys on their journey, from the rocky shores of Nant Gwrtheyrn, to the slopes of the Pumlumon mountains and on to the Conwy Valley. This novel truly belongs in this ‘best of the best’ collection - not many stories are told in this way today. Luned Bengoch is a classic for sure. Publisher: Gomer@Lolfa Released: 2021 (ond yn wreiddiol yn 1946, 1983) Series: Gorau'r Goreuon Price: £6.99 ISBN: 978-1-80099-135-4 ENJOYED LUNED BENGOCH? CHECK OUT THE OTHERS IN THE SERIES...

  • Sara Mai a Lleidr y Neidr - Casia Wiliam

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of page* Suggested reading age: 8+ Suggested interest age: 7-11 Genre: #animals #fiction #friendship #WelshOriginal Illustrations: Gwen Millward I'm sure that Casia Wiliam, the author, felt a teeny bit of pressure whilst writing the follow up novel to the very successful Sw Sara Mai. The first installment went on to win the Welsh Language Primary age category in the Tir na n-Og Awards 2021. Not an easy task to top that! I think she’s definitely maintained the standard with this one, and frankly I enjoyed this one as much if not more than its predecessor. The ingredients that Sw Sara Mai so popular are all there, but we’re now a lot more familiar with the likeable characters, and we are even introduced to a few new ones as well. The first novel was praised for introducing a main character of mixed race and also for including some discussion about racism. Of course, this is a good thing - our literature needs to reflect our society today. For me, the success of both novels is how these subjects are presented so naturally. In the first story, the zoo's own future was threatened, but this time, as the title suggests, someone has stolen a snake - but this is no ordinary snake, oh no, but a rare Purple Albino Python. The situation requires Sara Mai to become a detective in order to solve the big mystery: 'who’s the snake thief?' At the start of her investigation, a number of her friends and colleagues come under suspicion. Is it a stranger who’s to blame or is there someone closer to home hiding right under her nose? No more spoilers from me sorry! I think it was a wise decision to locate the story in such an interesting place as a zoo. After all, most people like animals, don’t they? I appreciated the facts about different animals that are sprinkled here and there in the book. I have to admit that I hadn't heard of a pademelon before! The animals provide opportunities to present topics such as loss, grief and relationships in a sensitive and relatable way. I liked how the author turned things on it’s head with this novel. In the first one, Sara Mai was upset because someone had been saying nasty things about her. This time, we see that Sara Mai herself isn’t always perfect and she learns an important message about being kind and respecting others, even if they look different or have different interests. The natural, easy-to-read language means that the Sara Mai books are perfect for 7-11 year olds and I would recommend these as novels that primary teachers should consider investing in. Review by Morgan Dafydd A review from, with the permission of the Books Council of Wales. Publisher: Y Lolfa Published: 2021 Price: £5.99 ISBN: 9781800991170 HAVE YOU READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES? ♥BOOK OF THE MONTH: AUGUST 2020 ♥ ♥WINNER Tir na n-Og 2021 ♥

  • Ffwlbart Ffred: Yn Dywyll fel Bol Buwch - Sioned Wyn Roberts

    *For Welsh, see language toggle switch on top of page* Reading age: 6+ Interest age: 3+ Illustrations: Bethan Mai Insta:@bethan_mai Genre: #picturebook #WelshOriginal #funny #fiction After the last two years, I think we could all do with a little bit of light relief and something to make us smile. I’d say this is even more important in our children's books, because there really is no better way of fostering a love of reading than with humour. I was a big fan of the first book in the Ffwlbart Ffred series and I thought it was a cracking idea to have a funny little story to ‘explain’ where some of our most well-known idioms came from. This time, ‘dywyll fel bol buwch’ is getting the Ffwlbart treatment. When you actually stop and think about it, these idioms are actually quite bizarre! Who came up with the phrase ‘dywyll fel bol buwch?’ [as dark as a cow’s belly] The Welsh language is full of little quirks like this! You’re sure to have a giggle reading this story, and it’s chock a block with funny rhyming couplets about a rather cross Aunty Gyrti and a cow who won’t produce any milk! What does half a pork pie, Nain Chwilog’s glasses have to do with all this? And what will Dr Ffwlbart have to say about all this? I’ll warn you – there’s plenty of talk of cow’s bottoms, nickers and a couple of underpants! Does it get any better? I’d imagine it’s quite difficult to come across someone who doesn't like this story. Bethan Mai's delicate pictures bring the story’s fun and mischief to life. This is a special partnership between a writer and an artist that grew naturally from a residential course at the Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre. Awesome. These books are naturally funny and mischievous, full of silly over-the-top fun. Just what we need really. I'm looking forward to seeing which idiom or saying the Ffwlbart will be tackling next time. I have two young cousins (who can be a bit wild at times) and it’s not always easy to settle them down for a story that really keeps their attention. I can GUARANTEE that they’ll love this one, and and fairly confident it’ll find it’s way into Santa’s stocking this year! The 'verdict' - one of my personal 'top 5' books for 3–7-year-olds published this year. Grab yourself a copy! Publisher: Atebol Released: 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN: 9781913245412 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SIONED WYN ROBERTS Yn wreiddiol o Bwllheli ond wedi ymgartrefu yng Nghaerdydd, bu Sioned yn gweithio yn y maes darlledu plant ers dros ugain mlynedd. Ar hyn o bryd mae'n Gomisiynydd Cynnwys Plant yn S4C ac yn gyfrifol yn olygyddol am raglenni 'Cyw' a 'Stwnsh'. Cyn hynny, bu'n cynhyrchu ac yn uwch-gynhyrchu rhaglenni plant gyda'r BBC. Dewiswyd Sioned fel un o awduron cwrs Llenyddiaeth Cymru a Chyngor Llyfrau Cymru (Tŷ Newydd Chwefror 2019). Dyma lle datblygodd ei syniad ar gyfer y gyfres hon o lyfrau. Cred Sioned bod creu cynnwys safonol yn y Gymraeg sy'n tanio dychymyg plant ac sy'n helpu caffael iaith yn hanfodol. ALSO IN THE SERIES...

  • O'r Tywyllwch (2021) -Mair Wynn Hughes

    *For Welsh, please see language toggle switch on top of page* Reading Age: 11+ Interest age: 11+ Genre: #fiction #dysoptian #environment #adventure New 'Best of the Best' Series Sound familiar? It should do, because ‘O’r Tywyllwch’ [from the darkness] was originally published in 1991. You may remember seeing it from on the bookshelf years ago, or this may have even been your weekly reading book at school. The first three volumes in the ‘Gorau’r Goreuon’ series are out. These have all been given a modern re-vamp, to ensure they look fresh and appealing for today’s readers. After all, people have quite high expectations nowadays! They’ve all had specially commissioned updated covers, and are a huge improvement on the originals. Are we always looking for something new? They say a good story doesn't age. And to an extent, that’s true. But books certainly do age. Some better than others. One thing’s for sure, they can definitely be forgotten. This is probably what happened in the case of O'r Tywyllwch by Mair Wynn Hughes. Just a year ago, you’d have struggled to get hold a copy of the original version, except for that one second-hand copy on ebay for over a £100! And this is not a problem confined to this particular book. There are hundreds of good novels, well worth reading, that are out of print and have long been forgotten. In the mainstream British publishing world, many old books are still widely available and in print. Many are considered classics. I’m talking about your Christmas Carols, Black Beauties, Charlotte's Webs, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe etc. In England, they still seem to value older books, but in Wales, many of our ‘classics’ are gathering dust on charity shop shelves, school storerooms or even worse, the landfill. The reason why? A total lack of awareness of books from days gone by. Do we show enough appreciation for the children's literature of days gone by (with the exception of T. Llew Jones, of course) or are we too quick to forget? This raises another question - do Welsh books for children get enough attention in general? Is re-publishing the answer? There’s always two points of view. Some will say that it’s foolish to look back at what has already been. You could say that it’s all in the past and that republishing books is lazy, simply because we are bereft of ideas. What a ridiculous thing to say! I think it's important to have plenty of choice and diversity. There’s definitely room for a balance between old and new. A good story is a good story in my opinion, and there are far too many good Welsh language books 'out of print' and unavailable. That's why I welcome the shameless nostalgia of ‘Gorau’r Goreuon’ and wish it the very best. Maybe I am a bit biased. Of course, not all books are suitable for re-publication. Some are horrendously dated and contain views and stereotypes that are totally unsuitable today. Having said that, there are plenty of lost treasures out there, just waiting to be introduced to a new generation. Some old stories fully deserve to be considered 'classics' and are still very relevant to us today, with ‘O’r Tywyllwch’ being a very good example of this. Manon Steffan Ros’s Review This story actually needed very little changing or updating, which is a testament to the standard of the original. A few months ago, Manon Steffan Ros tweeted about the original book after she re-discovered it by chance, and she was kind enough to write us a review at the time. As the actual story is more or less the same as the original, here is an extract from her review: I don’t know how on earth I forgot about this novel, because honestly, it's great. I'm a big fan of Sci-Fi books and especially of dystopian novels, but I often feel they can be too busy, with too much happening and the characters fall rather flat. O’r Tywyllwch isn't like this at all- the first thing to draw you in is the friendship between the two main characters, Hywyn and Meilyr. They live in our world, but, perhaps a future one. The earth has warmed, and you have to wear special suits before venturing outside. Big plans are afoot- everyone will have to go and live in a special city in the mountains, and shut out fresh air and the outside world forever. Not everyone wants to go, but they have no choice. This is the start of the tension in the story. There’s also a second part to the story, about the experience of living in the underground city generations after the great migration. I was frightened by this part, because this new nightmarish world felt so real. A few parts of it felt like the world in George Orwell's famous novel, 1984- but for me, O’r Tywyllwch is more personal, more familiar, and thus a hundred times more shocking. I’m doing my best not to drop spoilers here, but I think the ending might feel too vague for some. For me, I like the fact that the novel doesn't finish with a definitive answer to each question. In fact, the ending feels like a challenge for us, the reader – What are we going to do next as the world gets hotter? Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2021 Series: Gorau'r Goreuon Price: £6.99 ISBN: 9781800991361 OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES...

  • Pwyll a Rhiannon - Aidan Saunders [Welsh words - Mererid Hopwood]

    *For English, see language toggle switch on top of page* Reading age: 7+ Interest age: 7-11+ Following the success of Branwen, author/illustrator Aidan Saunders @printwagon is back with a new volume that reimagines a story from the first branch of The Mabinogi, the story of Pwyll and Rhiannon. These myths and legends are an important part of our Celtic storytelling tradition, and have been told and re-told throughout the centuries. I hope this book will succeed in introducing the wonderful mythology of The Mabinogi to a new generation of young readers. I believe that the author has wisely selected which its to include and which ones to omit when creating a fresh and contemporary version of an old story. With its unusual long, narrow shape and it’s impressive lino print artwork, this distinctive book demands your attention as you glance past it on the bookshelf. We tend to forget about pictures in books by the time we reach the 7+ age group so I’m delighted to see a book that celebrates having illustrations to look at, making it abundantly clear that picture books are suitable for older children as well as younger ones. You’ll be fascinated by the author’s work, which looks like a beautiful medieval tapestry, with all sorts of subtle nods to ancient Celtic life. Without going into too much detail, we have here the story of Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed, [Prince of Dyfed], a man chosen by the strong-willed and mysterious Rhiannon to be her husband. There's only one small problem, she's supposed to marry someone else! I wonder if there’s going to be a happy ever after with this one? I doubt it’ll be that simple – this is the Mabinogi, after all. You’re in for a treat – you’ll get a story full of adventure, passion, treachery, violence and some helpings of sorcery to go with that that! One of the unique advantages of this book is the fact that it contains Mererid Hopwood's perfectly adapted text directly opposite the English words, which means that the book's appeal reaches a wider audience. Given the bilingual nature of modern-day Wales, I’d like to see more bilingual books like this one coming to market. A review from, with the permission of the Books Council of Wales. Publisher: Atebol Released: Hydref 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN: 9781801060820

  • Tomos Llygoden y Theatr a Feiolet Pot Blodau - Caryl Parry Jones a Craig Russell

    Reading age: 6/7+ Interest age: 5-8 ♥Welsh Original♥ Genre: #fiction #funny #empathy We’ve all been away from the theatres for quite some time, haven’t we? And guess who’s been patiently waiting for us? Yes, everyone’s favourite little mouse, Tomos Llygoden! He’s back with a new story (the fifth in the series) and he’s got a new friend for us to meet – Feiolet Pot Blodau. A few cleaning ladies work at the theatre, but Feiolet is by far the mice’s favourite, and it’s easy to see why. She’s kind and thoughtful but ever so slightly mad! She does things a bit differently, which is how she came to have her nickname, because she wears a flower pot on her head! See, I told you she was unique! The main reason she’s so popular is because she’s actually a pretty lousy cleaning lady, which means more than enough cookies and crumbly treats are left for them to enjoy! Although brilliant for the mice, it’s not so good for Mr Meilir, the manager, who doesn’t seem to be very impressed with her cleaning efforts. In fact, Feiolet’s very job is in jeopardy! I wonder if Tomos and his friends will be able to find out why Feiolet is such a bad cleaning lady? And will they be able to help her keep her job? This is the final story in this series, but is nevertheless a welcome addition to this charming series. Suitable for 5–7-year-olds, Tomos and his friends are kind, thoughtful and friendly little fellows and it’s fun to follow their adventures in the classic old theatre. Adding to this magical and theatrical world is Leri Tecwyn’s lovely artwork. She uses warm, dark colours such as red, green and brown which convey the feeling of a grand, traditional old theatre which reminds us of days gone by. I’m sure she had fun drawing Feiolet. Personally, I’m a big fan of her socks! I tend to think that there’s too much writing on some pages compared to others, and perhaps it could have been spread out more evenly. It may be too difficult for younger children to read independently, but it would certainly work as a story for listening to. I know I’d have loved these theatre-based stories when I was a child. For a light-hearted story with a message of kindness and empathy, together with sweet little characters, go and find a copy of Tomos Llygoden. You’re spoilt for choice too, as you’ve got 5 adventures to choose from. Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch Released: March 2021 Price: £4.95 ISBN: 9781845277376 OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES..

  • Chwedl Calaffate - Lleucu Gwenllian

    Reading age: 8+ Interest age: 7+ Genre: #fable #international #original #Patagonia #love This is definitely one of the most beautiful Welsh language books to be published in 2021 and it's one of my personal favourites. I'm thrilled with this publication - the story, the pictures – the lot. Well done Lleucu. According to her blog, Bethan Gwanas is also a fan of the book, and she knows better than most about what makes a good book. I'm so pleased to see a story with an international dimension coming to market – It’d be great to see some more to be honest, especially if they are of the same high standard as Chwedl Calaffate. The illustration is excellent. Now, there are a number of talented artists in Wales producing really good children’s books, but in my opinion, this is an example of one of the best. The warm colours of orange, yellow and red, perfectly convey the hardship of life on the prairie. As is evident from the title, this is a legend or a fable. Originally from Patagonia, it mentions the fruit of the Calafate shrub, and the sad story behind it. I wasn't familiar with the tree, its fruit or the legend, I have to admit. The legend comes from the saying "El que come Calafate siempre vuelve." That is, those visiting who taste the fruit of the calafate, are sure to return one day. There’s something very romantic behind it, much like the idea of 'hiraeth' (longing) that we have in Wales – the powerful link between the people and the land. There’s romance in the story too, which according to the author's own words, resembles the story of Blodeuwedd. Both stories depict young couples who fall in love, albeit a love that is not meant to be. You can't help but think what a shame it was that the older men didn’t just mind their business and let the young couples crack on. I rather liked the fact that it didn't have the usual 'happy ever after' that you get in many children's books... I think this fable would be a good one to adapt as an animated short for television, if there was money to do so. In addition to the story itself, we get a glossary, and some more information about the origins of the tale, and some details about the process of putting the book together. I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated with little behind the scenes details like this. Now there’s only one thing left to do – to make sure that I visit Patagonia one day, and to try the fruit of the calafate [berberis microphylla] for myself. Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch Released: 2021 Price: £6.50 ISBN: 9781845278182 WHO'S THE AUTHOR? Lleucu Gwenllian is a 24 year old illustrator originally from Blaenau Ffestiniog with a BA in illustration from Prifysgol De Cymru, Caerdydd. As part of her course, she completed several creative projects, and you can see samples of her work on her website - and her Instagram – @lleucuillustration

  • Gwag y Nos - Sioned Wyn Roberts

    Reading age: 9+ Interest age: 9-14 You might not have even realised it, but we’ve needed a novel like this in Welsh for a long time on this subject. I hope this’ll be a popular choice with schools, especially with years 5&6 in mind. What better way of discovering about a certain period in history, than through a novel like this? Using the book as a focal point for an unit of thematic work on the Victorian period will provide rich possibilities to generate quality work and explore a fascinating topic. Sometimes, it takes a few chapters to get ‘the feel’ of a book, and sometimes it just never happens. With Gwag y Nos, I was hooked right away (no mean feat as I’m fussy) with its hard-hitting prologue that doesn’t mince it’s words. On a side note, the front cover is excellent and gets a high score from me, so well done @almon once again! It conveys the creepy qualities of the hell-on- earth which is Gwag y Nos workhouse (although I have to say I initially thought that it was a cemetery). Sioned Wyn Roberts has undoubtedly created a masterpiece here, one which rivals Plentyn y Stryd, the Welsh adaptation of Street Child by Berlie Doherty (another classic Victorian novel, which is sadly out of print) In fact, this novel is actually more relevant to a Welsh context, and it’s clearly a story close to the author’s heart – she’s woven a fictional narrative around her real family history. Really interesting stuff. Magi is the main character. She’s a young girl who finds herself in an unpleasant situation. Alone. In the workhouse. Living under the oppressive regime of Nyrs Jenat and Robat Wyllt. I’ll put my head on the block here, and say that Nurse Jenat is up there with some classic baddies from children’s literature – enough to make Ms.Trunchbull seem angelic! You can't help but admire Magi's rebellious determination and her bravery is admirable. You’re always on #TeamMagi although she’s not perfect either (just ask poor Elsi!) When a prank goes awry in the workhouse, Magi is soon carted away to Plas Aberhiraeth to become a servant for a wealthy lady. Life in the workhouse may be horrific, but her new home isn’t much better, and the Plas soon becomes a prison of its own. There really is only one solution – escape! Something very sinister is afoot in Gwag y Nos, and Magis is the only one that can put a stop to it! What’s Nurse Jenat trying to hide? Will Magi manage to reveal the secret and save her friends? Who’s even going to listen to a brat from the workhouse? These are but a few of the questions we have! The characters and plot are spot-on. I don't want to say any more in case I spoil the story, but honestly, KS2 teachers– please choose this as your class novel. Because of its slightly darker themes, I would say that this novel is more suitable for children aged 9+ (9-13 I saw somewhere) and although this is a children’s book per se, it can definitely be enjoyed by an older audience. Publisher: Atebol Published: 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN: 9781801061650

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