Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where's Wally? At MALAHIDE HAS IT festival...

Village Books, the bookshop at the heart of the community in Malahide, were delighted to be one of the official supporters of the MALAHIDE HAS IT Festival. Always great supporters of children's reading, we came up with a fantastic fun event for children to tie-in with the festival and get them reading even more.
As part of the MALAHIDE HAS IT weekend, we sent Wally, star of the Where’s Wally? books, roaming around Malahide on Saturday afternoon, July 24th, checking out the festivities. We invited children to keep an eye out for the famous red and white stripy jumper and hat because if they spotted him, and spoke to him, they were given a fantastic voucher for a free Where's Wally? book to be collected from Village Books. Easy Peasy! 
At 2pm sharp the search was on as children all over Malahide kept their eyes peeled and sought high and low for that elusive but distinctive character Wally! Wally, who was trying to remain  anonymous, sauntered around Malahide village for a few hours in his red and white striped jumper, those striking black glasses, bobble hat and eccentric cane and for every lucky child that found him, which was not easy given the crowds that turned up in the village for the festival, they were rewarded with a free Where's Wally? book voucher. 
It wasn't long until a large group of children spotted the famous children's book character wandering amidst the revelry on the green and the chase was on, as they raced across the green to him, poor Wally ran for his life but was ultimately caught by the speedy and tenacious youngsters and vouchers were distributed to the delighted children who immediately made their way up to Village Books to collect their free books. 
Hat back on, and skew-whif jumper rearranged, Wally continued his tour of the village but as the word spread he was spotted by more eagle-eyed children who had been eagerly waiting for a sighting and with screeches of delight he handed out more book vouchers to the excited fans, even posing for a number of pictures along the way.
By 2.30pm Village Books was fast filling up with children collecting their free books, with over 200 vouchers to give out though Wally's work was not done. He continued on up New Street, swiftly avoiding the lure of Gibneys, only to be sighted again and as children high-fived him and claimed their reward crowds were beginning to gather. There's really no hiding when you look as super-sophisticated as Wally so by 3pm almost 100 free book vouchers were given out and the ladies in the book shop were kept busy handing over the books to the lucky kids who'd spotted and chatted to the famous hide-and-seek champion. 
Stopping for some sustenance, kindly provided by the genial Peter in the form of marshmallow flogs (Wally's favourite food), he continued on his way, heading back down to the green again to check out the children's art competition which Siobhan was managing with aplomb. As soon as the children caught sight of him though the chase was back on! Another hour later and there were another very happy 100 children who had cashed in their vouchers for free books in Village Books and Wally was fit to drop! 
With a smile on his face, and a slight ache in his legs he happily returned to Village Books to say hello to the children who were still collecting books, thank Mary, Orna, Siobhan, Peter and Sadashni for all their hard work, pose for a few last photos and be on his way once more, this time to get lost for a bit longer!
It was a fantastic afternoon, that saw hundreds of children absolutely delighted to not only meet their children's book hero, but also to receive a wonderful free book from Village Books for their efforts. 
Who knows, Wally may be back again soon... keep your eyes peeled! 

Booker Long List 2010

The 2010 Booker prize long list was released yesterday.

Peter Carey Parrot and Oliver in America (Faber and Faber)

Emma Donoghue Room (Pan MacMillan - Picador)

Helen Dunmore The Betrayal (Penguin - Fig Tree)

Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Grove Atlantic - Atlantic Books)

Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)

Andrea Levy The Long Song (Headline Publishing Group – Headline Review)

Tom McCarthy C (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

David Mitchell The Thousand Autumns of Zacob de Zoet (Hodder & Stoughton - Sceptre)

Lisa Moore February (Random House - Chatto & Windus)

Paul Murray Skippy Dies (Penguin - Hamish Hamilton)

Rose Tremain Trespass (Random House - Chatto & Windus)

Christos Tsiolkas The Slap (Grove Atlantic - Tuskar Rock)

Alan Warner The Stars in the Bright Sky (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

For details

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: Festival fun at the Village Books Junior Art Competition

What a turnout on Saturday for the Village Books art competition at the 'Malahide has it' Festival on the Green!  And what creative talent too!  It was brilliant to see such a range of storybook characters being drawn (without us suggesting!) like Angelina Ballerina, Princess Poppy, Captain Underpants, Horrid Henry, The Famous Five and a few old favourites such as Snow White and Cinderella.  

Not only is Malahide full of budding readers,  we have great artists too!

Overall Winner, Hickory Dickory Dock by Dara Fine 

We had a prize giving that afternoon, however a few people couldn't make it back for it.  So if you see your name below and you haven't received your prize yet, please drop into us in Village Books!

Rachael & Sarah Pye with their drawings
of Spongebob and the Faraway Tree
Dara Fine age 10 (Overall winner)
Laragh Featonby age 10
Rachael Pye age 10

Maya Keyes age 9
Therese Shannon age 8
Ciara Scully age 8

Sarah Pye age 7
Aimee age 7
Alex Irwin 
Mia Challoner age 5

Overall Winner; Dara Fine

A BIG congratulations to all our winners and to everyone that took part!

Rover & the Gigglers
 by Ciara Scully
The Centipede
from James & the Giant Peach

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dublin named 'city of literature'

Dublin has been named the UN city of literature. Here is an article from The Irish Times.
Dublin named 'city of literature'


Mon, Jul 26, 2010

Dublin has today been designated a city of literature by the cultural arm of the United Nations, Unesco. It is the fourth city to receive the award.

Minister for Culture and Tourism Mary Hanafin said Dublin was granted the accolade “because of the rich historical literary past of the city, the vibrant contemporary literature, the variety of festivals and attractions available and because it is the birthplace and home of literary greats”.

The title was bestowed on Dublin by Unesco director-general Irina Bokova. The previous recipients of the title, which is permanent, are Edinburgh, Melbourne and Iowa City.

A detailed application for the designation was made to Unesco last November by a group led by Dublin City Council’s library service. Unesco was also lobbied by political and cultural bodies from Ireland.

Ms Hanafin said the designation would be a welcome boost for cultural tourism in Dublin in the coming years.

“Dublin is now part of the Unesco creative cities network and there will be numerous opportunities to showcase all that is happening on the cultural and literary fronts in the months and years ahead,” she said.

“Being one of only four cities in the world to achieve the status of Unesco city of literature, will enable Dublin to increase its market share of tourists and attract more people to both the city and the island of Ireland.”

The National Library of Ireland, Dublin City Council and the Arts Council have all welcomed the news.

“Literature has the unique power to distinguish us as a culture and as a people. It helps us understand what it means to be human. In Dublin, the city has been defined by its writers, and continues to be remade and discovered through their words,” Arts Council director Mary Cloake said.

© 2010

Check out the new city of literature website

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't forget to join us for some festival fun!

Don't forget to join us tomorrow (Sat 24 July) on the Village Green as part of the 'Malahide has it! Festival'.  We'll be there from 2pm with crayons, pencils and an artistic flair at the ready, waiting for you to draw us your favourite storyboard character.  Prizes to be won!

Not only that as part of the ever popular 'Where's Wally' series, Wally will be wandering around the village and if you find him, make sure to say hello and you will get a token to exchange in Village Books for your free gift!

When Cuba came to Village Books

Inspired by Michelle Jackson’ s 3rd novel ‘One Kiss in Havana’, we decided to bring Cuba to Village Books, as well as Michelle and ‘just a few’ booklovers.

Michelle signed copies of her new novel to a packed out shop, full in the flow of mojitos and salsa beats.

The fiesta continued next door in That's AmorĂ© where a fine spread of Cuban cuisine was enjoyed by all. Followed by a salsa lesson which we’d like to think justified the big slice of cake afterwards!

We had great fun and here in Village Books we feel that maybe we’re on to a good thing… perhaps Brazil, samba and caipirinha’s next? And not forgetting a book!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cuban Night Out

Preparations for tonights "Cuban Night Out" are well underway. Buena Vista Social Club was downloaded from itunes. The Village Books staff have been intensely discussing the best recipe for Mojitos. Fifty copies of "One Kiss and Havana" are ready for Michelle Jackson to sign tonight. VIVA CUBA

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Due to the summer holidays, the first meeting of the VILLAGE BOOKS Book Club has been moved back to August 10th at 6.30pm. This month’s book is The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker.

The Twin recently won the International IMPAC Literary Award 2010.

If you haven’t got a copy yet, it is available in store and at a 10% discount for book club members.

If you would like to join our book club, email us, or call 845 5073 and we will add your name to our waiting list.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: One Kiss in Havana, Michelle Jackson

A thumbs up from the Irish Independant book review on Michelle Jackson's latest novel 'One Kiss in Havana'.  This book is a sure fire winner to pack in your bag for a holiday read.

Irish Independant, Saturday 10 July 2010
Review: One Kiss in Havana
Michelle Jackson

Michelle Jackson is back on the shelves with the latest in a successful series of novels based on a winning format -- a life-changing foreign holiday and the dramatic aftermath back in Dublin.

Previous locations were Biarritz and New York.  This time its Cuba's turn to come under her spell, in a tale featuring three sisters, Emma, Louise and Sophie.

Six months after husband Paul's sudden and puzzling death, Emma gets a surprise in the post -- tickets for a trip to Cuba, from her late husband.  But this is no PS I Love You.  She takes her youngest sister Sophie along, unaware that Sophie had been sleeping with Paul and that the trip was intended for himself and Sophie.

At the idyllic beach paradise of Varadero, Emma meets the gentle and gorgeous Felipe who takes her to the music-filled haunts of Havana, while Sophie meets Greg, a Canadian art dealer.  But they could be merely holiday romances.

Back in Dublin, Louise's marriage is floundering and when she meets an old flame, her world is turned upside-down.  By the time Sophie and Emma return home, their entire family is in turmoil.  Decisions need to be taken and it takes a huge crisis to change the family dynamics.

A former art teacher, Jackson's wonderfully evocative descriptions set her books aside from the rest, transporting readers down dusty streets in Havana and into Hemingway's house, making it a perfect holiday read.

She is currently writing her fourth novel, set in Las Vegas and her non-fiction collaboration with Dr Juilet Bressan, What Women Know, is due out in August.

Irish Independant

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Eliot, Lise

There was a great review of  this book in The Sunday Times 11/07.  Looking forward to reading it.  We will have copies in the shop later in the week.

Pink Brain, Blue Brain : How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps - And What We Can Do About it, By: Eliot, Lise

Turning conventional thinking about gender differences on its head, Lise Eliot issues a startling call to close the troubling gaps between boys and girls, and help all children reach their fullest potential. Drawing on years of exhaustive research and her own work in the field of neuroplasticity, Eliot argues that infant brains are so malleable that small differences at birth become amplified over time as parents, teachers, and the culture at large unwittingly reinforce gender stereotypes. By focussing on the ways in which differences emerge such prescriptive behaviours can be eradicated, and the boundaries that prevent boys and girls from achieving can be destroyed.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Part of the MALAHIDE HAS IT weekend.

Wally, star of the Where’s Wally books will be roaming around Malahide on Saturday afternoon, July 24th, checking out the Malahide Has It festivities.

Keep an eye out for the famous red and white stripy jumper and hat because if you spot him, talk to him and you will get a voucher for a free book to be collected from VILLAGE BOOKS, 11 Townyard Lane

(Where's Wally Image Copyright © 1987 - 2010 From the WHERE S WALLY? books by Martin Handford)

Friday, July 9, 2010


Who's your favourite storybook character of all time?

Part of the 'Malahide Has It' weekend

Come join us down on the Village Green on Saturday July 24th and create a piece of art illustrating your favourite storybook character.

Harry Potter, Alfie Green, Matilda, Skuldugger Pleasant, Thomas, Horrid Henry, the Gruffalo, Winnie the Pooh, Padington... Whoever! The choice is yours and we'll supply all the materials.

Why not make the day extra special and come in fancy dress? Dress as your character of choice of as something completely different!

To book your place simply email us or call us on 845 5073 and give us your name and age.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


The first meeting of the VILLAGE BOOKS Book Club will take place on Monday the 19th July. This month's book is The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker, who recently won the International IMPAC Literary Award.

If you would like to join our book club, email us, or call 845 5073 and we will add your name to our waiting list.

Cuban Night Out

Thursday 22nd July

As part of the ‘MALAHIDE HAS IT’ weekend VILLAGE BOOKS invites you to One Kiss in Havana.

Celebrate the launch of Michelle Jackson’s new book, One Kiss in Havana, in style with a mojito reception in shop followed by an array of authentic Cuban food next door in That’s Amore. And why not start or finish your Caribbean night with a spicy salsa lesson!

This exclusive night not to be missed will take place on Thursday July 22nd. Begin with a drink with Michelle Jackson, bestselling author of Three Nights in New York in VILLAGE BOOKS at 6.30pm and savour the flavour of Cuba for one night only.

Limited places available. Book now to avoid disappointment.

Telephone 845 5073 or Email

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Rick Riordan’s first instalment of the Percy Jackson series is one of the books on our JUNIOR BOOK CLUB SUMMER RECOMMENDATIONS as chosen by our book club members.

I really enjoyed it!

As a committed Harry Potter fan, I thought there was not going to be any more space in my life for another fictional hero… How wrong I was. Percy is edgier, more rebellious and has a myriad of monsters to fight.

It’s not easy being the son of a Greek God but Percy tries his best and in this action packed story he comes into battle with Zeus, God of the Sky and Hades, God of the Underworld.

I must admit, I still do favour the magic of Harry Potter. But if it’s action and adventure you’re after, Percy is the way to go!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

To kill a mocking bird is 50 years old

Eileen Battersby celebrates the 50th anniversary of "To Kill a Mocking Bird" this week with a great article in The Irish Times. Here it is

If you're going to write only one book . . .


Sat, Jul 03, 2010

‘ To Kill a Mockingbird ’ is as bright and fresh as it was when it was published, 50 years ago next week. As its author, Harper Lee, knows, that’s in part because people don’t change: prejudices still linger, old hatreds still fester and no grown-up ever sees as clearly as a child

IT’S A VOICE we know so well, a voice that has changed not a quaver since we first heard it as children. On returning to it as adults, battered by life yet still capable of responding to a sense of discovery, the realisation endures that To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel with something important to say. Its author, Harper Lee, practical and forthright, has never lost sight of that either. When asked to write a foreword to a new edition, she was wary, and wrote: “Mockingbird still says what it has to say . . .”

She is right: her one and only work remains as fresh as the first time we encountered it, as bright and as full of purpose as when it was first published, on July 11th, 1960, 50 years ago next week. The world she was writing about, Maycomb, “a tired old town” in Alabama, where rain turned the streets to “red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the court-house sagged in the square”, may have changed, but people haven’t. Prejudices linger, old hatreds fester and no grown-up ever sees as clearly as a child.

Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed Scout, tells the story. By way of introduction she provides a brief family history. She has an older brother, Jem, who once suffered a serious injury to his arm. Her mother died when Scout was two years old, “so I never felt her absence”, she says.

Scout is not sentimental; nor is she interested in sympathy. But in Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem have a parent of rare value, a good man with an unwavering sense of justice. He is also one of the most revered characters in US fiction and about the closest thing to a genuine if unlikely hero: he is a lawyer. Atticus is unique; this quiet, detached widower doesn’t crack jokes, is not eccentric, moves slowly and seems tired most of the time, but when he has to act quickly he can. It is Atticus who shoots the rabid dog. He is “Maycomb County born and bred; he knew his people, they knew him . . . Atticus was related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town”. He is also burdened by the difficulties facing anyone determined to abide by a code of fairness for all, regardless of colour, in what is a segregated, unforgiving community.

Scout is interested in life as it is lived outside her own experience. This is what makes her so much more interesting than the self-absorbed Holden Caulfield, and what makes To Kill a Mockingbird superior to a cult book from a slightly earlier generation, The Catcher in the Rye (1951). JD Salinger’s manifesto of rebellion now seems increasingly dated when compared with Lee’s engaging and subversive moral polemic. Scout is intrigued by others, interested to the point of being nosy. When she reluctantly begins school she immediately feels obliged to assist the young teacher, Miss Caroline, by providing information about the financial situation of young Walter Cunningham, who could never hope to repay the lunch money the teacher is offering him.

Scout’s interventions irritate the teacher; that first day at school could have gone better. But Scout is not stupid; her lively intelligence guides her to a rare understanding of life and people. Near the close of the novel, when attending her aunt’s women’s society tea party, Scout is wearing a dress and has figured out adult behaviour to such an extent that when she is asked what she wants to be when she grows up, her reply is prompt and politic: “a young lady”. This from the definitive tomboy, who has asserted herself in the cloistered enclave of a 1930s small town in the Deep South by outfighting and outsassing all comers. Four years younger than Jem, Scout reacts but she also observes. Her candour shapes her personality.

The brother and sister are pals, realists, yet also imaginative and still inhabiting the wonderland of childhood. They are fascinated by the shadowy presence of Boo Radley, the mysterious, reclusive grown son of a cantankerous neighbour. Boo has a dark history of madness and violence. His father keeps him prisoner in the dark and gloomy house known as the Radley place, where “Jem reckoned that Mr Radley kept him chained to the bed most of the time”. A sighting of Boo becomes both a thrilling game and a symbolic quest. Into this brother-and-sister alliance steps the wonderful Dill, who introduces himself with aplomb: “I’m Charles Baker Harris. I can read.” Scout’s reply is characteristically direct. “So what?” Dill, making the best of an unhappy home life – and one of Lee’s great creations, modelled on her friend Truman Capote – is tenacious. “I just thought you’d like to know I can read. You got anything needs readin’ I can do it.”

Small for his age, he is gracious when Jem guesses him to be only four and a half. Dill is “goin’ on seven” and announces with the courage he shows throughout, “I’m little but I’m old.” Scout has a flair for saying the wrong thing that, in fact, is invariably the right thing, although few of the adults around her want to hear it. She has inherited the instinctive sense of justice her father has always lived by. He has given them an unusual level of freedom and, above all, allows them think for themselves. When he does bow “to the inevitable” and buys them air guns, he cautions them, saying that they can “shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”. But Scout is not a paragon: having had to play as an equal with boys, she believes that most playground disputes can be settled by a punch in the face. Her narrative is comic, precocious and honest. It is this blunt honesty that frequently places her at odds with adults such as her aunt, who find the truth an uncomfortable proposition.

Lee brings a wealth of talents to the story; humour, characterisation, an instinctive feel for story and an insider’s grasp of a small town’s social dynamics. Above all, Lee, who was born in 1926 in Munroeville, Alabama, and grew up next door to Capote, is aware of the rhythms of southern speech as natural to her as breathing.

Scout is true to that voice. She could have seemed too intelligent, had Lee not skilfully balanced vivid memory with the perception of hindsight, and in doing so conveys a sense of childhood remembered. It is a sympathetic, sensitive narrative, never sentimental and not even particularly nostalgic. Atticus, Miss Maudie, the sheriff Mr Tate and Judge Taylor are all strongly drawn without appearing saintly.

Through Scout’s reportage and her presentation of various incidents, the community emerges. To read Lee’s novel and listen to Scout’s voice is to walk the streets of Maycomb, to join the crowd packing into the hot courthouse for the trial that is the heart of the story.

The Finch children experience anger and eventually fear when targeted by local resentment as it becomes known that Atticus is to defend Tom Robinson, a black man charged with raping a white woman named Mayella Ewell. Scout says it came to her that Ewell “must have been the loneliest person in the world. She was even lonelier than Boo Radley, who had not been out of the house in twenty-five years”. It is obvious that Ewell was not raped by Robinson. Her father, known locally as a vicious thug, is the culprit. He has a history of beating his daughter, and he later sets out to settle his score with Atticus by stalking Jem and Scout, a pursuit that culminates in an attack.

Lee makes no attempt to conceal the polemical intent. In the trial, which proves so distressing to the sensitive Dill, Atticus (played so well by Gregory Peck in the 1962 movie version) articulates the driving force of the narrative as he concludes his defence of Tom Robinson by stressing to the jury in his calm, reasonable way: “You know the truth, and the truth is this: some negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women – black and white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men.” Lee had no intention of writing a fairy tale, and the abiding stroke of genius is that Atticus does not win the case, while Tom is shot dead while trying to escape.

Scout ponders her teacher’s avowed hatred of Hitler and his treatment of the Jews, considering that she had heard the same lady, Miss Gates, making racist remarks on her way out of the courthouse after Tom Robinson’s trial. Scout mentions to Jem that she had overheard the teacher. “She was goin’ down the steps in front of us, you musta not seen her – she was talkin’ with Miss Stephanie Crawford. I heard her say it’s time somebody taught ’em a lesson, they were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home -?”.

After many years living in New York, Harper Lee returned to Munroeville, where she still lives. She stands apart from major stylists such as Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers and Eudora Welty. Lee is famous for her only book, a Pulitzer-winning novel that pre-empted Toni Morrison’s achievement, 28 years later, with another Pulitzer winner, Beloved. It was Lee who accompanied Truman Capote to Kansas while he was researching the crime that inspired In Cold Blood (1966).

Independence Day dawns tomorrow. It’s worth remembering that several years before the civil-rights movement was to consolidate its protest, Harper Lee exposed the rhetoric of righteousness and the concept of independence in practice through the eyes of a child.

© 2010 The Irish Times