• Picture Book Snob

Croke Park Mice: The Missing Referee

By Ruth & Triona Croke, illustrated by Audrey Dowling, O'Brien Press

Croke Park in Dublin is one of Europe's largest sports stadiums and the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). It's also home to Ireland's tiniest sports fans and the stars of a new children's story, the Croke Park mice. These mice live under the stands, watch every match and even play their own games on the pitch. When the referee disappears on the day of the all-Ireland hurling final, can the Croke Park mice save the day?

This is an entertaining and endearing story featuring a cast of cute characters who take readers behind the scenes at one of Ireland's most famous sporting venues. As someone who feels physically ill at the idea of playing or even watching team sports, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! And my two girls - who aren't remotely familiar with Croke Park or the GAA - enjoyed it too.

It's brilliant how every single Irish county is represented. My kids were extremely amused to discover our own county's mouse shared a name with one of them. We loved spotting President Michael D. Higgins too. Seeing the resourceful mice forage for food and other useful items reminded me of one of my favourite books from when I was a child, The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

The illustrations are as lively as the story and as full of activity as the pitch at Croke Park. The mice demonstrate that victory isn't always the most important aspect of being on a team and show how when we work together towards a shared goal, everyone wins. This would make a fantastic gift for GAA supporters but can be enjoyed by all children regardless of their sporting interests (or lack thereof). Croke Park Mice: The Missing Referee was published by O'Brien Press in March 2022 - see this book on the publisher's website Thanks so much to the lovely people in O'Brien Press for sharing this book with us - all opinions are our own.