Wexford authors Serena Molly and Eoin Colfer have been shortlisted for the 2024 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards. The shortlist for the 34th annual awards was announced yesterday (07.02.24) by RTÉ broadcaster Rick O’Shea at a special event in the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast.
Eoin Colfer has been shortlisted for his books ‘Global’ and ‘Three Tasks for a Dragon’. Originally from Wexford, Colfer is the New York Times bestselling author of the children’s fantasy series Artemis Fowl. He served as Laureate na nÓg between 2014-2016, and has sold over twenty million books worldwide. Published by Walker Books and illustrated by P.J. Lynch ‘Three Tasks for a Dragon’ follows unlikely hero Prince Lir and not-so-helpless maiden Cethlenn. ‘Global’ has been co-authored by London based author Andrew Donkin. Published by Hachette/Hodder and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano, the graphic novel explores the interconnectedness of our world and the impact of the climate crisis.
Serena Molloy, who was born in Wexford, has also been shortlisted for ‘Wider Than the Sea.’ The debut novel is centered on a spirited young girl who struggles at school and finds solace through an unlikely friendship with a dolphin named Sunny. It also features dyslexic-friendly blank verse with illustrations by George Ermos. Serena is an English teacher, and her novels are a celebration of neurodiversity, empathy and the power to change.
The shortlisted titles, which include five début writers and three current or former Laureates na nÓg, or Children’s Laureates, will compete for six awards at the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards ceremony, held 22nd May in partnership with the International Literature Festival Dublin. These include the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Award, as well as honours for fiction, illustration and the Junior Juries’ Award which will be decided by young readers across the island of Ireland.
Children’s Books Ireland is inviting schoolchildren from across Ireland to join their nationwide judging panel of young readers. Participating school groups, library groups and book clubs are invited to select suitable titles from the shortlist and collectively vote for their favourite book.
Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland said: “This is the only Irish awards dedicated to celebrating books created for children and it’s the biggest year we’ve had yet! We need readers of all ages to get involved to crown their winner of the KPMG Junior Juries Award.
“Thi is a great way for schools, libraries and book clubs to get stuck into reading, exploring the shortlist with our free Junior Jury print and digital resource packs. There will even be a chance for some groups to win sets of the shortlisted books, attend the Awards ceremony in May or even welcome one of the shortlisted authors or illustrators along for a visit! It’s a brilliant programme and there’s still time to register on our website.”
The 2024 Awards mark the fifth year of KPMG’s sponsorship. Johnny Hanna, Partner in Charge KPMG Belfast said it’s a great source of pride to support the awards: “Ireland has such a wealth of great writing and illustration talent for readers of all ages. This year’s Junior Jurors will have their work cut out for them but what an enjoyable task it will be!”
The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards and Junior Juries programme are supported by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding.
Damian Smyth, joint Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “These awards recognise some of the most outstanding books of the last year – the picturebooks, stories and novels that have captured the hearts and imaginations of young readers. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland offer our congratulations to all those who have made this year’s shortlist.”
The full shortlist of books for 2024 includes:
1. April’s Garden, an inventive, colourful début picturebook exploring a mother and daughter’s search for a new home, written by Isla McGuckin and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri (Graffeg).
2. Catfish Rolling, a début teenage novel situated between modern-day Japan in the wake of a deadly earthquake and a magical dimension rich in mythological notes, by Clara Kumagai (Zephyr).
3. Global, a graphic novel spotlighting the interconnectedness of our world and the impact of the climate crisis. This is the second book in the series from writers Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, and illustrator Giovanni Rigano (Hodder Children’s Books).
4. My Life as a Chameleon, a poignant début novel which follows sixteen-year-old Lily as she finds herself in an upheaval that takes her from Nigeria and Manchester, written by Diana Anyakow (Zephyr).
5. The First Move, a teenage romance which follows the budding relationship of chess-loving Ronan and Juliet in contemporary Northern Ireland. This is the début novel by Jenny Ireland (Penguin Random House).
6. The Girl Who Fell to Earth, a science fiction novel set in contemporary Dublin which explores the concerns of our time through the eyes of a new visitor to earth, by the current Laureate na nÓg, Patricia Forde (Little Island Books).
7. The Hare-Shaped Hole, a gentle story about loss and acceptance which draws on familiar characters from the tale of the turtle and the hare, by author John Dougherty and illustrator Thomas Docherty (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books).
8. Three Tasks for a Dragon, an evocative tale which follows unlikely hero Prince Lir and not-so-helpless maiden Cethlenn, by two former laureates for children, author Eoin Colfer and illustrator P.J. Lynch (Walker Books).
9. Treacle Town, a gritty teenage novel set in Scotland which explores toxic masculinity, gangland violence, social deprivation and the power of slam poetry, by author Brian Conaghan (Anderson Press).
10. Wider Than the Sea, a lyrical, uplifting novel about a spirited young girl who struggles at school and finds solace through an unlikely friendship with a dolphin named Sunny. This début novel by Serena Molly features dyslexic-friendly blank verse with illustrations by George Ermos (Hodder Children’s Books).