Rainbow Flags & Children’s Books: Ireland

After a summer off from blog writing and teaching, I have that fresh and exciting September feeling!

A few insights from my summer travels in Ireland:

The bookstores of Ireland were a feast, both the independent ones as well as the chains. There was a wide variety of titles from Irish authors as well as authors from the States and other countries.

book shop Dublin

I also loved seeing familiar titles in Irish. Kids in Ireland study the Irish language all the way through secondary school, so the language is alive and well.

A familiar title, in Irish!
A familiar title, in Irish

I had tea with Irish author Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, author of two books I love: The Apple Tart of Hope (which I reviewed here) and Back to Blackbrick (with her third book coming soon). We had an energetic conversation about the book business in Ireland and the U.S., her books, time travel, and more.

Having tea with author Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Having tea with author Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

I was intrigued to find that the U.S. classic by Mildred D. Taylor, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,  is an oft-used book in classrooms and in the leaving cert. exam in Ireland. It was in every bookstore I visited! I even found a dog-eared copy on my nephew’s bookshelf in Galway. I am amazed and delighted that such an iconic American book is so widely read by students in Ireland!

Roll of thunder

Ireland continues to delight and surprise in terms of its political climate and LGBT rights. If you haven’t seen the Noble Call speech on homophobia by “accidental activist” and drag queen Panti Bliss (aka Rory O’Neill), you’re in for a treat. I had the chance to visit Panti Bar, iconic LGBT hotspot and gathering place in Dublin. So much fun!

Rainbow flags in Dublin
Rainbow flags in Dublin

I also had wonderful conversations with a gay teacher and others about how much has changed in Ireland over the last decade (including last year’s successful landmark marriage referendum).

equality

My trip to Ireland was food for the soul and the mind. I spent time with family, with my sister, cousins, and more. I made new friends, immersed myself in the book scene, and brushed away a tear as I promised myself I’d return–soon!writers tears

 

 

Reviewing an Irish MG Novel

“You can’t survive if you only see the darkness, if you cannot laugh and love and if you don’t have hope in your heart.”  ~author Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

 

When I was asked to review an Irish middle-grade novel for the Project Mayhem Middle-Grade blog, I felt like I hit the trifecta.

I had already read the book THE APPLE TART OF HOPE last year, and loved it. Now it’s being published in the U.S. by Holiday House.

APPLE TART COVER

I now had the chance to spread the word about a hopeful, complex, and wonderful middle-grade story set in a place I love, Ireland.

Plus, I had the chance to interview the author, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, and learn more about her work.

To put the cherry on top, reading and writing about apple tarts put me in mind of my relations in Cork, Ireland– the place where I first sampled this deceptively simple Irish dessert.

APPLE TART slice

All in all– writing this book review was a pure delight. You can read it here.