Critics have been lavish in their praise of Once upon a Place, the new anthology of stories and poems for children that focuses on the special link between story and place in Ireland. The anthology, compiled by Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer, and illustrated with lavish black-and-white charcoal illustrations by award-winning artist and picturebook illustrator P.J. Lynch, was launched in Dublin on 19th October. It has already received excellent notices and has just been included in the short-list for the BGE Book of the Year, in the children’s senior section.
Once upon a Place features six new poems by Irish poets alongside stories from many of Ireland’s leading children’s writers including Roddy Doyle, Derek Landy and former Laureate na nÓg Siobhán Parkinson, as well as the first ever story for children by Academy Award nominee Jim Sheridan, director of My Left Foot, The Field and In America. It also features new work by Eoin Colfer himself, along with Pat Boran, Seamus Cashman, John Connolly, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, Mark Granier, Paula Leyden, Oisín McGann, Geraldine Mills, Jane Mitchell, Kate Newmann, Sarah Webb and Enda Wyley.
It is published by Little Island and aimed at 9–12 year olds.
Writing about it in the Irish Times, critic Robert Dunbar said “Once upon a Place is a significant publication, affording ample evidence of the high quality of the best of our current children’s literature”, and that the book offers readers “writing which is evocative, atmospheric and invariably engaging”. Anne Cunningham of the The Sunday Independent wrote that “Rarely does one find such a rainbow of outstanding talent in one little book, one truly exceptional anthology.”
Meanwhile, Eoin’s Once upon a Place storytelling roadshow has been continuing its national tour. There were visits to Kerry and Donegal in September, and a visit to Westmeath in October. The tour will resume in 2016 with visits to Cork, Sligo and Belfast.
Speaking about the anthology, Eoin said: ‘This is my laureate project with a general aim of connecting today’s screen-centric youngsters to the magic of the country they live in and its rich artistic heritage’.
Any royalties from the book will go towards the Laureate na nÓg project.
Copies are available to order via the publisher’s website at www.littleisland.ie and can also be bought in bookshops nationwide. You can vote for the book on the BGE Awards website at http://www.irishbookawards.ie/vote2015