Judith Kerr – Mountains to Sea Festival 2017

Judith KerrWhat a treat to get to listen to much loved children’s author and illustrator Judith Kerr talk about her life and work at this year’s Mountains to Sea Festival in Dun Laoghaire! From her early childhood in Germany to the family’s flight to Switzerland just as Hitler took power, to their move to Paris before the family decided to settle in London. Despite all the moves and changes over those childhood years, all Judith wanted to do was draw and draw. She ended up studying textile design in London.

Her first stories were inspired by her own children and she wrote ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’ for her daughter. Stories about Mog, their family cat, soon followed. The ‘Mog’ stories like ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’ becoming classics, read by generations of children all over the world.’ Her novel, ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ was inspired by her own childhood during the Second World War.

As she talked with her editor, Ian Craig, we were treated to her wonderful art work. At 93 she is still writing and creating books which include ‘My Henry’ (about her and her late husband) and ‘The Great Granny Gang’. It was wonderful to see that creativity is both timeless and ageless, and Judith certainly inspired all of us in the audience.

It was great to meet up with Joanna Trollope. She talked to a packed audience with great honesty about her life as a writer and theme of her new book ‘City of Friends,’ which explores the working lives of women.

A discussion on Brexit chaired by journalist David Murphy with economics expert David McWilliams, journalist Martina Devlin and historian and lecturer Diarmaid Ferriter certainly provided lively views on what may or may not lie ahead for Ireland in the coming years as Brexit finally is triggered.

This year, as ever, Mountains to Sea provided a rich array of different events for festival goers to enjoy.

Thanks to all those who organised and planned the Festival programme.

World Book Day 2017

Chris Judge, Marita and Sarah Webb

What a lovely way to celebrate this year’s World Book Day by taking part in a special event in the fabulous Lexicon Library in Dun Laoghaire.

The morning was organised by Sarah Webb (DLR’s Writer in Residence). Chris Judge, illustrator and writer, Sarah and I all talked about our favourite books with a big audience from local schools. Reading was such a big thing for all of us when we were growing up and those books we first read were so special and have stayed with us always.

Chris, with his flip pad, illustrated the dangers that lurk in the toilet and in the classroom. Looking at the array of books we all picked, it was soon clear that we all loved some of the same books over the decades. The kids told us about their favourite books too.

It was the perfect way to celebrate books and writing and reading!

A Night of Book Launches!

Despite the wet weather it was great on the eve of World Book Day to go along to Dubray Books on Dublin’s Grafton Street for the launch of Ryan Tubridy and P.J. Lynch’s new picture book Patrick and the President which is about US President J.F. Kennedy’s visit to Ireland during the summer of 1963.

President Kennedy had a rapturous reception in Dublin before travelling down to New Ross to see the family homestead. His great-great grandfather Patrick Kennedy and his family had fled from there to America during the Great Famine. Ryan has a huge interest in JFK and has written about him previously but decided to do a book for children about the visit.

It was great to meet my good friend and former head of the National Library of Ireland, Pat Donlon there and to discover that P.J. had used her grandson Paddy Kelly as the model for Patrick, the boy in the book. Young Paddy is absolutely delighted to be on the cover of a book.

I headed off to nearby Idelwild afterwards for the crowded launch by Michael O’Brien of The O’Brien Press’ spring list with a wonderful array of new books and some brand new authors.

After a quiet January and February it is lovely to greet the spring with everyone talking about new books and writing.