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Chwedl Calaffate - Lleucu Gwenllian

Reading age: 8+

Interest age: 7+

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



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 –



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