My Little Album of Ireland by Juliette Saumande and Tarsila Krüse, published by O'Brien Press (read an interview with the author and illustrator)
What's it about? Following on from the fabulous My Little Album of Dublin, the reader is taken on a tour of the whole island. Just like its predecessor, My Little Album of Ireland is a full-colour, interactive Irish-English wordbook. And just like My Little Album of Dublin, there is lots to learn and plenty of craic to be had as little readers explore bustling scenes and play search-and-find while strengthening their grasp of the Irish language. What can we learn?
We can brush up on our Gaeilge and learn lots of new Irish words and phrases for everyday use as well as more unusual and amusing terms.
What makes this stand out? It's incredibly lively and it captures so many uniquely Irish experiences and locations. The words included are interesting and there is an enormous range of topics and themes covered. Both historical and mythological figures feature, and building on the diversity of My Little Album of Dublin, this new book is even more inclusive.
I love Tarsila and Juliette's vision of this country and how it faithfully represents modern Ireland and everyone who makes it thrive. It's fantastic to see so many non-white ethnicities, including one of the main protagonists. Among the time travellers, ice cream disasters and escaped escargot are female builders, archaeologists, astronauts and postwomen. There are lots of positive male role models too, especially those with their children. We've spotted baby-wearing men and women (and impressive back carries and woven wraps). People communicate via sign language as well as spoken word. There are individuals in wheelchairs and using walkers. There are eye-patches and artificial limbs. I love the little boy overcome with emotion at the fleadh and I really want the "I Heart Cheese" tote bag from Cork's English Market!
About the illustrations... It's no secret that we are HUGE fans of Tarsila Krüse who designed our fabulous logos. Tarsila is famous for her colourful, cute and animated artwork. The images in this book are bursting with activity and the book practically comes to life as each page is turned. They're extremely detailed and child-friendly and will captivate little readers every time the book is opened, no matter how often it's read. It's practically impossible to choose a favourite spread but my kids love the Halloween scene especially as the cats peering out the window strongly resemble my parents' cat and our own kitty. The illustration portraying the Wild Atlantic Way has particularly stolen my heart. There is nowhere as spectacular as the west of Ireland when the sun is shining, and Tarsila perfectly captures this. I love all the wildlife and the little sheep and the tiny flock of birds away off in the distance is are beautiful - and authentic - details. To me, this spread feels like poetry!
Why we love it... Improving your Gaeilge has never been so much fun! When facts are combined with images, it helps children to understand, absorb and retain information. It's wonderful to have books like this which make educational material more accessible and appealing to young people. I've mentioned before that the Irish language books I grew up with were dreadfully dull and unappealing. I love how exciting and vibrant Juliette and Tarsila make Ireland and its native tongue. My kids adore the intricate illustrations (and all the cats!) as well as repeating their new words aloud as they read. We also love that Juliette and Tarsila have hidden themselves inside the book. I think this really resonates with children as they like to include themselves in their own creative projects too!
Why you need it... You can enjoy this book even if you haven't a word of Irish while those with an extensive vocabulary are bound to find a few "focail nua". There's something for everyone and it's entertaining on a number of levels. Little kids can make up stories using the characters on each page and search for various people, animals and objects in each scene. Older children can use this as a resource to support their learning in school. All readers will enjoy spotting places they know as well characters that look like themselves and their families.
About the author:
Juliette Saumande is officially obsessed with children’s books: she reads them, writes them, translates them, reviews them, recommends them and has been known to talk about them in her sleep. She is a French writer and translator of children’s books living in Dublin.
About the illustrator:
Tarsila Krüse is a Brazilian-born children’s book illustrator. Her début picture book Ná Gabh ar Scoil! (Futa Fata) was shortlisted for The CBI Book of The Year Awards 2016 and her second book, Bliain na nAmhrán (Futa Fata) is the winner of the CBI Judges' Special Merit Award 2017. She loves living in Dublin with her husband, son and two little dogs, Pixel and Tag. See more reviews of books illustrated and/or written by Tarsila and read about the logos she designed for Picture Book Snob.
Read an interview with Juliette and Tarsila and learn more about their award-winning books, their creative process, their favourite stories, what they love most about this country and their amazing work with Children's Books Ireland here...