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Citywide Read for Children: Animal Crackers by Sarah Webb and Alan Nolan

Which are the biggest and smallest animals? Which are the most dangerous? Why do dogs love people so much? What animals can live in the heat of the desert, or deep below the oceans? Sarah Webb and Alan Nolan are animal crazy and have put the answers to all these questions and more in Animal Crackers, a book bursting with information and illustrations about animals of all types.

We are delighted to announce Animal Crackers by Sarah Webb and Alan Nolan (The O’Brien Press) as the 2021 Citywide Reading for Children choice.

This book of animal facts, illustrated with animal art/doodles, activities and quiz pages, is a highly interactive and fun book suitable for boys and girls aged 6-12 years.


The campaign is run by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Libraries, in partnership with The O’Brien Press, and runs during October and November 2021. The aim of the initiative is to encourage children to read for pleasure.

There will be author and illustrator events for primary school classes organised by Dublin City Libraries.

An online family quiz and draw-along will take place on Wednesday 27th October at 10.30am. Book Now

There will also be a fun midterm break event for children in Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, and an online class event in the National Library of Ireland. All events are free.

 “We are delighted and honoured that Animal Crackers has been chosen as the 2021 Citywide Read. We love libraries! As children we borrowed and read all kinds of books, especially animal books, and we’ve never stopped visiting the library. In fact lots of the research for Animal Crackers was done in our local libraries. We hope that children all over Dublin will enjoy reading our book and discovering lots of new animal facts. We can’t wait to go Animal Crackers with young book fans and their parents and teachers!” Sarah Webb and Alan Nolan.

Multiple copies of the book will be available in all Dublin City Libraries as well as in all good bookshops.  Children can borrow the book in any library across the country. An activity booklet and other online resources to accompany the book will be available for children and teachers on

The project is funded by Dublin City Council’s Public Library Service and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb is an award-winning children’s writer. Her books include Blazing a Trail: Irish Women who Changed the World (illustrated by Lauren O’Neill) and A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea: Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood (illustrated by Steve McCarthy), both winners of Irish Book Awards.

Sarah also runs creative writing clubs for children and teens, reviews children’s books for the Irish Independent, and programmes children’s and family events for book festivals and MoLI (Museum of Literature Ireland). A part-time children’s bookseller, Sarah is passionate about bringing children and books together and was awarded the Children’s Books Ireland Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Books in Ireland. Her latest book, The Little Bee Charmer of Henrietta Street will be published in September.

Alan Nolan

Alan Nolan is the author and illustrator of Fintan’s Fifteen, Conor’s Caveman and the Sam Hannigan series for the O’Brien Press. His latest books, Sam Hannigan and the Last Dodo, and Animal Crackers (with Sarah Webb) are both out now. Alan lives in Bray, County Wicklow with his wife, three sons and an evil cat called Chewie.  Alan also featured regularly on during lockdown with fun ‘how to draw’ segments.

The Book:

Crammed full of facts, pictures and cartoons from Sarah Webb and Alan Nolan, Animal Crackers is the perfect book for children who want to know more about our furry, feathered (and scaly!) friends.

With a special section on Irish wildlife, and the ‘Irish Animal Detective’ activities, children will want to explore their gardens, parks and beaches to seek out all kinds of native animals. Animal Crackers also provides fun facts and engaging activities that kids will love – from how to draw your favourite animals to suggestions on how you can help save the planet!


New City of Books Podcast with Rosaleen McDonagh

Photo by Derek Speirs


Playwright Rosaleen McDonagh talks about her activism, disability campaigning, journey through adult education which led to a Phd, and weaving together elements of Traveller culture and settled culture, forging an identity from them.

She tells her powerful story in a collection of essays, Unsettled, dedicated to her family. And she speaks with pride about the current generation of articulate, engaged, ambitious Travellers.

Produced and presented by Martina Devlin

For more on Unsettled

City of Books is funded by the Arts Council and supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and the Museum of Literature Ireland, MOLI.

Produced and presented by Martina Devlin. Music by Daragh Dukes.

New City of Books Podcast with Paul Perry

A delicate, rare bloom which is “like the blood diamonds of the flower world” and fetches millions of euro is the subject of author and poet Paul Perry’s first solo novel.

The Garden centres on an orchid farm in Florida, where the owner is desperate to revive his fortunes by growing specimens of the highly-prized ghost orchid, whose roots are so well camouflaged on the tree that the flower seems to float in mid-air. But to find one of the orchids, the owner needs the help of the local Seminole tribe living on a nearby reservation.

Paul, who worked on an orchid farm in Florida for three years in the 1990s, says:  “That experience had such an impact on me that it never really went away. Images and stories came back to me until I sat down to flesh them out in the novel The Garden.

“When I worked on this orchid farm I worked as a casual labourer. What I saw was cultivation of these beautiful plants that people paid money for.” But he also saw new varieties modified in the laboratory there, and the operation of a shadow economy.

“An underbelly and black economy has grown up around them, so you have poachers and a whole other economy parallel to the legitimate ones,” Paul tells Martina Devlin during the City of Books podcast.

Paul is one half of the successful Karen Perry writing duo, with four bestselling literary thrillers under their belts, and he also talks about why he and Karen have ended their partnership.

More about The Garden here:



Open Submissions Call – Dedalus Press – LOCAL WONDERS: Poems from Our Immediate Surrounds


Dedalus Press as we’re currently accepting submissions for a new anthology, Local Wonders: Poems of our Immediate Surrounds

Submission Deadline: 30 August, 2021

Entry Fee: No entry fee

The pandemic has had enormous and widespread effects on how we live our lives. It has challenged us like no other collective experience in our lifetimes, and many of the changes it has brought about have yet to be fully felt or understood.

It has also caused many of us to look again at the things we value, at what brings us hope, comfort, diversion, joy and consolation. It has gifted us a new awareness of the world of our immediate surrounds.

To recognise and celebrate this renewed interest in the local, the near-to-hand, and the within-reach, Dedalus Press will publish an anthology of Irish poetry entitled Local Wonders, drawn from the wide community of Irish and Irish-based voices, presenting poems written since the early months of 2020 to date — not so much a diary of the pandemic as a handbook of the things, places and activities that have sustained us throughout.

Please submit up to three poems, not longer than 60 lines each.

Submissions URL and full details:


Departures by Dublin Book Festival

Dublin Book Festival explores the influence of landscape on music and literature in a special summer series of conversation and music filmed in some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland


By Dublin Book Festival
 Featuring: Mike McCormack, Billy O’Callaghan, Michael Fewer, Alice Taylor,
Jane Clarke, Alice Kinsella, and music by Cormac Mac Diarmada and Ruth Clinton, Anna Mieke, Jack O’Rourke & Aisling Fitzpatrick
Presented by Manchán Magan
Three part limited series – discover a new episode online each Tuesday, from July 6th
Since 2006 the Dublin Book Festival has been a mainstay of the Irish writing and publishing scene and a highlight of the literary year. With its special focus on Irish-published authors, the 2021 Festival continues that tradition of promoting and supporting Irish literary voices, both established and emerging. This year the festival is creating a specially curated once-off digital summer series. Departures will be a vibrant series of conversation and music set amidst some of the most beautiful scenery around Ireland. 
The Irish ever-changing landscape is a constant that has long been as source of inspiration and interwoven in artists’ work, whether it be through stories and literature or poems and songwriting. These recent times, trying though they have been, have seen us reconnect with each other and with the land in ways many have forgotten, this series reflects on the deep connection between landscape and place in all art forms. Many of those involved spoke of how they especially look back on, and are inspired by their childhood memories of where they spent time growing up.
Filmed in three locations around Ireland the series will celebrate the importance of our surroundings and their endless inspiration with some of our most talented contemporary artists, including Mike McCormack, Billy O’Callaghan, Michael Fewer, Alice Taylor, Jane Clarke, Alice Kinsella and music from Cormac MacDiarmada (of Lankum) and Ruth Clinton (Landless), Anna Mieke, Jack O’Rourke and cellist Aisling Fitzpatrick. Join presenter Manchán Magan as he takes viewers on a journey through Ireland discovering the places and spaces that have stirred the artistic spirit of some of Ireland’s most loved authors, poets & musicians. 
The journey begins in Macreddin, Co. Wicklow, moving across to Westport Co. Mayo and finishing in Cobh, Co. Cork. 
Experience free online at
Stream on Tuesday 6th July
Author: Michael Fewer 
Poet: Jane Clarke 
Musician: Anna Mieke 
Filmed in Brooklodge in the Wicklow Mountains, Manchán Magan will be joined by author Michael Fewer exploring his connection with the landscape and the inspiration behind his work throughout his career. Manchán’s second guest is poet Jane Clarke, discussing the impact of the natural beauty of her surroundings on her poetry, and reads her poems “Ballinabarney” and “Mullacor”. Interwoven with scenes of the stirring landscape, musician Anna Mieke delivers a spellbinding performance of two songs from her debut album Idle Mind, independently released in 2019 and inspired by her connection to her surroundings. 
Stream on Tuesday 13th July
Author: Mike McCormack 
Poet: Alice Kinsella 
Musicians: Cormaic McDiarmuid (of Lankum) & Ruth Clinton (Landless) 
Filmed in Westport, Co Mayo
Manchán Magan travels to Westport, Co. Mayo to speak with novelist Mike McCormack and poet Alice Kinsella. On the shores of Clew Bay, Mike and Alice discuss the power and resonant beauty of the Irish landscape in their art as actor Paul O’Brien reads some of their works inspired by the scenery. There will be musical interludes throughout from Town Hall Theatre in Westport from Cormac MacDiarmada from RTE Folk Award and Choice Music Prizing winning band Lankum and Ruth Clinton from Landless as they combine forces to perform their own songs from the landscape. 
Stream on Tuesday 20th July
Author: Billy O’Callaghan 
Poet: Alice Taylor 
Musician: Jack O’Rourke and Aisling Fitzpatrick (cellist)
Filmed in Cóbh, Co Cork
From Cóbh harbour in Co. Cork host Manchán Magan will be joined by acclaimed writer Billy O’Callaghan and author and poet Alice Taylor to discuss the impact of the scenic harbour landscape on their writing and discuss their inspiration from their surroundings and the effects of the changing landscape in Cork. Filmed at Cobh’s Sirius Arts Centre, with imagery from the dramatic Sipke Island. Cork musicians Jack O’Rourke and Aisling Fitzpatrick treat us to a performance of two new songs from Jack’s upcoming album. This episode reflects the beauty and contrasts of Cork and includes actor Irene Kelleher reading from Billy’s novel Life Sentences (Jonathan Cape, 2020) and a selection of Alice Taylor’s poems.  
The Dublin Book Festival is supported by Arts Council of Ireland, Irish Copyright Licensing Agency, Dublin City Council, Dublin UNESCO City of Literature. Venue partners include Brooklodge Hotel, Westport Townhall Theatre, Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh and Spike Island Tours.
 Departures is made possible by funding from The Arts Council of Ireland 


New City of Books Podcast Featuring Evelyn Conlon


Violet Gibson, an Irishwoman who attempted to shoot Italy’s fascist leader Mussolini, is one among a host of fascinating characters in Evelyn Conlon’s new short story collection, Moving About The Place.

In 1926, the 50-year-old woman, fired on ‘Il Duce’ as he walked among the crowd in a piazza in Rome. He moved his head, and her bullet skimmed his nose, causing a slight injury.

When she tried to shoot again, the revolver misfired, Evelyn tells Martina Devlin in the latest episode of the City of Books podcast, supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.

The crowd attacked the would-be assassin, the police intervened, and she was imprisoned.

Later, Dublin-born Violet was committed to an asylum, and never released – a thirty-year sentence, because she didn’t die until 1956. It was the same institution in Northampton, England where Lucia Joyce spent more than thirty years. 

Violet was the daughter of Lord Ashbourne, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and had been presented as a debutante to Queen Victoria.

“Difficult women were locked up for all sorts of reasons,” says Evelyn during the interview. “Difficult being a rather interesting word. What’s one person’s difficulty is another person’s thing to be absolutely adored or lauded.”

Recently, Dublin City Council approved the placement of a plaque outside Violet’s childhood home in Merrion Square, noting she was a “committed anti-fascist”.

Evelyn also talks about visiting Death Row in the United States for her novel dealing with capital punishment, Skin of Dreams.

“What I felt on that one day will never leave me. I think it was pretty traumatic,” she recalls. “There’s a savagery in standing in a place where the state believes it can kill somebody.”


More here  on Moving About The Place by Evelyn Conlon, published by Blackstaff:

Literature Mentorships Available



We’re delighted to be one of the sponsors of the Words Ireland 2021 National Mentoring Programme. These mentorships are available for writers living on the island of Ireland. There is no application fee or costs involved.

Words Ireland is initiating 29 literature mentoring relationships to begin in September 2021. Closing date for applications is noon, Thursday 22 July, 2021. The opportunity is available to writers of:

  • literary fiction
  • creative non-fiction
  • children’s / YA fiction
  • poetry

Writers from all thirty-two counties can apply. 23 of the 29 mentorships are made possible thanks to the generous support of 15 different arts offices, arts centres, libraries and literature organisations. 

For a second year running, they’re pleased to announce the Embassy of Colombia in Ireland is supporting a special mentorship, offered to a novelist, who will be mentored by acclaimed Colombian writer Margarita García Robayo.

Five mentorships are available to writers living in ‘all other counties’ thanks to funding from the Arts Council, who also make the administration of the National Mentoring Programme viable.

Mentors are nominated by selected mentees from Words Ireland’s growing panel of experienced, professional writers.

This opportunity is specifically for:

  • emerging writers who can demonstrate a commitment to writing e.g. creative writing training or courses undertaken, journal publications, awards or notable mentions, or other recognisable achievements.
  • Writers who have published one or two books and who feel they could benefit from further professional guidance and feedback on their work-in-progress.
  • Writers with 3+ book publications who have begun writing in a form in which they have yet to publish a book.

Each mentorship consists of four meetings with an experienced writer over a period of approximately 6–8 months. The mentor will read your work in advance of each meeting, and will give feedback and advice at each meeting. They may also provide professional information and advice.

Mentee opportunities are open to writers of any age, race, gender, nationality who are resident in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. All mentees will avail of the relationship for free. There is no fee for application. Words Ireland actively encourages applications from writers from diverse social, economic or cultural backgrounds.

For details on how to apply see

City of Books Podcast featuring Lisa McInerney

From gender reassignment to Lady Gregory, and from reflections on social in Ireland to the challenges of writing for television – a conversation with Lisa McInerney covers a lot of ground.
The Glorious Heresies author also talks about how she was raised by her grandparents, who adopted her after her birth mother had her at the age of 20.
It meant her mother was legally her sister, and the multi-award-winning author questions why the State retained the concept of illegitimacy until the late 1980s.
But having a strong, loving grandmother has given a template for robust female characters with an instinct for survival – showcased again in the latest and final part of her trilogy, The Rules of Revelation.
Lisa has adapted her Heresies trilogy for a television series and, while Covid-19 has delayed it, she hopes it will soon be back in track, she tells Martina Devlin in an interview with the City of Books podcast.


More here on The Rules of Revelation, which maps present day Ireland as experienced by a group of people on the fringes of society in Cork:
City of Books is funded by the Arts Council and supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and MOLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli wins the 2021 Dublin Literary Award

Mexican author Valeria Luiselli has won the 2021 DUBLIN Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council, for her novel Lost Children Archive  (published by 4th Estate (Harper Collins) in the UK and Vintage Books (Alfred A. Knopf) in the USA. With prize money of €100,000, the Award is the world’s largest prize for a single novel published in English. Valeria Luiselli is the first writer from Mexico and the fifth woman to claim the prestigious award in its 26 year history.

Valeria Luiselli, winner of the 2021 Dublin Literary Award at the New York Irish Consul General’s Residence, New York. Photo: James Higgins

Uniquely, the Award receives its nominations from public libraries in cities around the globe and recognises both writers and translators. The winner was announced on Thursday the 20th May at a special online event, at the opening of the International Literature Festival Dublin, which runs until May 30th.  Lord Mayor Hazel Chu made the announcement from Dublin, with the presentation to the winner taking place at the Irish Consulate in New York City, where Valeria Luiselli resides. Consul General Ciarán Madden, and previous winner of the DUBLIN Literary Award Colm Tóibín, were delighted to present  Luiselli with her award on behalf of Dublin City Council. Irish author Colm Tóibín won the DUBLIN Literary Award in 2006 for his novel The Master.

Accepting her award, winner Valeria Luiselli spoke passionately about the importance of literature now more than ever:

I can say, without a hint of doubt, that without books – without sharing in the company of other writers’ human experiences – we would not have made it through these months. If our spirits have found renewal, if we have found strength to carry on, if we have maintained a sense of enthusiasm for life, it is thanks to the worlds that books have given us. Each time, we found solace in the companions that live in our bookshelves.’

CEO of Dublin City Council, Owen Keegan, said:

 ‘I wish to extend huge congratulations to Valeria Luiselli on winning the Dublin Literary Award. I’m immensely proud that Dublin City Council sponsors this international prize, which brings the literature of the world to Dublin, and it was especially important to be able to reach out to international library colleagues to make the Award happen this year.’

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. An acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she is the author of the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth, which won the 2016 LA Times Book Prize for Fiction; the essay collection Sidewalks; and Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions. She is the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and an American Book Award, and has twice been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize. She has been a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s, among other publications, and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Lost Children Archive which won the 2020 Rathbones Folio Prize is her first novel written in English. She lives in New York City.

About Lost Children Archive

In Valeria Luiselli’s fiercely imaginative follow-up to the American Book Award-winning Tell Me How It Ends, an artist couple set out with their two children on a road trip from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. As the family travels west, the bonds between them begin to fray: a fracture is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet. Through ephemera such as songs, maps and a Polaroid camera, the children try to make sense of both their family’s crisis and the larger one engulfing the news: the stories of thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States but getting detained—or lost in the desert along the way. A breath-taking feat of literary virtuosity, Lost Children Archive is timely, compassionate, subtly hilarious, and formally inventive—a powerful, urgent story about what it is to be human in an inhuman world.

Borrow the Book

Copies of the winning title, the shortlisted novels and the full list of longlisted novels for the 2021 award are available to borrow from Dublin City libraries and from public libraries throughout Ireland. Readers can also borrow the winning novel on BorrowBox: eBooks and eAudiobooks for limited periods by way of digital loans. Further details about the Award and the winning novel are available on the Award website at

The 2021 Judging Panel, which is led by Professor Chris Morash of Trinity College Dublin, and includes Jan Carson, David James Karashima, Dr. Rita Sakr, Dr. Martín Veiga and Enda Wyley, commented:

‘While all of the books on this year’s Shortlist provided outstanding instances of what the novel can do in the twenty-first century, the Judges felt that one book in particular pushed the boundaries of contemporary fiction, while at the same time telling a compelling story.  Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive manages to do many things at once.  At its most basic level, it is the story of a couple and their children driving across the United States, from New York to the Southwest border with Mexico.  The parents, who are sound recordists, want to make recordings of absences; she, of the children who have been lost crossing the border, he of the Native Americans who used to live in the area.  However, woven into this framework are reflections on sound, on silence, a magic realist story read by the children, and artefacts, including an entire chapter made of Polaroid photographs.  The result is a richly textured novel that reminds us that the novel is always capable of being pushed in new directions.  As the title suggests, this is the novel as archive, as a repository of memory.’

Lost Children  Archive was nominated by Biblioteca Vila De Gràcia, a public library in Barcelona, Spain. The winning novel was chosen from a shortlist of 6 novels by writers from Ireland, Mexico, the UK and the USA.

Watch the 2021 DUBLIN Literary Award Winner Announcement✨


ILFDublin Finale Event: Colm Toíbín in conversation with Valeria Luiselli

As a fitting finale to ILFDublin 2021, Valeria Luiselli will be welcomed to the festival, for an in-depth conversation about her novel,  with previous DUBLIN Literary Award winner Colm Toíbín, and to take questions from the audience.

Complimentary tickets can be booked now 

Wonju UNESCO City of Literature Residency Opportunity

Call for UNESCO City of Literature 2021 Wonju Residency

Wonju City of Literature offers a chance for writers from Cities of Literature to come to Wonju and stay in Toji Cultural Centre for our very first Residency program, as an international level contribution to the cities of literature sub-network, designed to promote the understanding and the friendship of cities of literature. In this year’s call, one writer from cities of literature and/or who have a close connection to cities of literature will benefit from CoL 2021 Wonju Residency.

Residency Details

  • Closing Date of Application: June 6
  • 1st Phase and 2nd Phase of Application Assessment: June 7 thru June 17
  • Announcement of Final Winner: June 18
  • Place for Residency: Toji Cultural Centre
  • Residency Duration: Up to eight weeks (excluding 2 weeks of self-quarantine)
  • Round-trip Air Ticket Provided
  • Transportation for official purposes while in Korea provided
  • Initiating Date of Residency: Officially on September 1
  • Meals (all organic) are provided at the cafeteria of Toji Cultural Centre (Exceptions: Only lunch on Saturdays are provided and no prepared meals are available on public holidays.)
  • Writing Room: One of Rooms for Writers at Toji Cultural Centre provided during Residency

How to Apply

  • Let us know about yourself
  • Let us know about your literary works, achievements, awards, etc
  • Let us know about your literary world
  • Tell us about why you would like to come to Wonju and stay in Toji Cultural Centre
  • Please tell us about how your literary world is or can be connected to Wonju.


Please note that you can write not more than one A4 sheet (10 to 12 font size) per each numbered subject above. Portfolio is optional. You can learn more about Wonju by visiting and reading the section of UNESCO City of Literature, Wonju.


Selection and Notification

We will go through 2nd phase of assessment based on the submitted document. One final recipient for the Residency will be decided by an independent panel designated by Toji Cultural Centre. Final notification will be available to both the recipient and the coordinator on June 18.


COVID-19 Self-quarantine

Payments (only lodging and meals) incurred during the duration of the COVID-19 self-quarantine in Korea will be covered by Wonju City. Two weeks’ of self-quarantine is mandatory in Korea. Factoring this duration in, we ask the recipient to arrive before August 18. The residency in Toji Cultural Centre officially starts on September 1.

Requirements during Residency

There are no specific requirements for the recipient to bear. We want the recipient to relax and engage in his/her creative activity as much as possible during the Residency. Besides, as Korean writers will be staying in Toji Cultural Centre, forging friendship with them is recommended, too. As for cultural activities in and outside of Wonju, I will further talk with the selected recipient.

Please send your application to (Drake Yang)  no later than June 6.