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  • Writer's picturePicture Book Snob

Cúpla gorgeous books as Gaeilge

Percy Péacóg by Gemma Breathnach and Tarsila Krüse Cá Bhfuil Puifín Beag? by Erika McGann and Gerry Daly

To my shame, my Irish is terrible. It was quite good at school thanks to two brilliant teachers but has deteriorated a lot since then. I had an excellent teacher in primary school (Mr Kevin Smith) who gave my grammar and vocabulary a great foundation. Despite this, I never had a "grá" for the Irish language until fourth year in secondary school when I had an amazing teacher, Ms Sheila Graham. She was passionate about Gaeilge, despite being Scottish! Ms Graham made our lessons entertaining and interesting and helped me appreciate the beauty of a language for which I previously had no enthusiasm.

My eldest started primary school in September and loves learning Irish. I'm not sure if this is thanks to the teacher or because the subject is being taught in a different way now, or perhaps a combination of both. After realising how much my five-year-old was enjoying Irish and reading this article by Áine Ní Ghlinn, I decided to pick up some books as Gaeilge.

Percy Péacóg by Gemma Breathnach and Tarsila Krüse

I didn't really know where to start! I'm a huge admirer of the incredibly talented Tarsila Krüse and follower her on social media. When Tarsila posted an image from Percy Péacóg on Instagram, I knew I had to get hold of it.

I've been dying to read one of Erika McGann's picture books for ages. This prolific and award-winning author usually writes for older children but has recently penned a couple of picture books. I hadn't realised Where are you Puffling? had been translated into Irish until I saw it on Ireland's most popular annual event, The Late Late Toy Show.

Even though my Irish isn't great, I have been able to grasp the gist of each story and has helped too. So I read a little bit at a time in Irish then explain what's happening in English. The five-year-old and the (far less patient) three-year-old are mesmerised by both, even though story time takes longer than usual with these books. It helps that both have fabulous illustrations, wonderful main characters and are engaging stories about kindness and bravery.

Cá Bhfuil Puifín Beag? by Erika McGann and Gerry Daly

Percy Péacóg is written by Gemma Breathnach, illustrated by Tarsila Krüse and published by Futa Fata. Poor Percy is a handsome and colourful peacock who hates being the centre of attention. He is mortified whenever his magnificent tail fans out at school and everyone stares at him.

Percy tries to conceal his tail until it comes in handy in an emergency, and he finally accepts himself and the admiration he elicits. The colourful images are fabulous and all of the characters are extrememly endearing. This is a lovely, lively story that will resonate with children, especially if they are shy like Percy.

Percy Péacóg by Gemma Breathnach and Tarsila Krüse

Cá Bhfuil Puifín Beag? is written by Erika McGann, based on a story by Seán Daly, illustrated by Gerry Daly, translated by Muireann Ní Chíobháin and published by O'Brien Press. This book is about a cute and fuzzy baby puffin who lives on Skelling Michael. One bright morning, Puifín Beag decides it's the perfect day for an adventure.

She sets off by herself, lending a hand (or a wing) to anyone she encounters along the way. When Puifín Beag finds herself in trouble later on, all the creatures the little puffin has helped repay her kindness and come to her aid. The illustrations are adorable and it's great fun spotting Puifín Beag in the background of all the images while her parents search for her. It's also lovely to meet so many different animals and see their homes too.

Cá Bhfuil Puifín Beag? by Erika McGann and Gerry Daly

In each story there is lots of repetition of words and phrases which young children love and which also helps reinforce the new vocabulary. Both of these books are perfect for those who speak Irish at home as well as families like ours who don't. Bright and cheerful with gorgeous illustrations, these are ideal for anyone hoping to encourage Irish children to develop a positive relationship with their native language. Tá siad go hálainn ar fad!


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