Welsh tales with child appeal

20th May 2005 at 01:00
Nia Gruffydd is finding much to celebrate in a clutch of publications that should help to foster a love of literature in young readers at any level

Even though Welsh children's publishing continues to yield more of a trickle than a flood, it is heartening to see dynamic and original Welsh language and Anglo-Welsh books being published for children.

Top of any list must surely be a beautifully presented gift book comprising stories, poetry and selected pieces of writing from the grandfather of Welsh literature, T Llew Jones. Perfect for children aged nine to13, Trysorfa T.Llew Jones, dramatically illustrated by Jac Jones, features excerpts from some of T. Llew's best works, and will hopefully serve as an introduction to his books for the younger generation.

For the same age group, Dau Ddewis by Gareth William Jones features the trials and tribulations of teenage twin boys as they wrestle with school and family life as well as the challenges of playing for the local rugby team. Dau Ddewis is a much stronger story than its predecessor, featuring more human interest and sub-plots with romantic interest and further challenges in the shape of Robert, a new boy in school, who is also a keen rugby player and appears to have set his sights on one of the twins' places in the team.

Plant mewn Panig! by Gwyneth Glyn is a pacy read about a group of secondary pupils thrown together to raise pound;5,000 for Children in Need over the summer holidays. Their attempts at fund-raising takes second place to the personal stories of the five characters, who are themselves "in need" of different things in their sometimes turbulent lives.

For top juniors, Castell y Blaidd by Glenys Lloyd is an ambitious and challenging novel set in Wales around 600 AD, during the period of great cold, and wolves are in continuous battle with men for their survival.

Rina, the wolf-child, has to decide whether her future lies with the wolves or with people.

Popular storyteller Catherine Aran has written her first book for young children. Aimed at those of seven years upwards, Idris y Cawr is a tender tale of Idris the giant's love for Moon and his quest to find the silver path that will lead him to her. This undemanding read is beautifully constructed and brimming with allusions to Welsh folklore.

Cnoc cnoc, tic toc, tap tap is the latest offering from Carreg Gwalch's Cerddi Lloerig series, and features poems on the theme of machines. Most of those featured are on the humorous side, and will be an entertaining read.

A welcome addition to any young child's library would be Babi Blits, a Welsh adaptation of Theresa Tomlinson's Blitz Baby. Jams is less than happy about giving up his bedroom to Tad-cu when he comes to stay over Christmas and less than impressed when Tad-cu gives him an old and battered dough baby decoration to put on the Christmas tree. But in the night Jams is transported back to the blitz and the terrifying ordeal of running for the bomb shelter as the Luftwaffe swoop on Swansea. Babi Blits is a poignant, gripping and well-written story.

Stori Jes, one of two novels recently published in Helena Pielichaty's After School Club series, is certain to be a hit with girls. The story focuses on Jes, a feisty young model, and her glamorous and exciting life with her fashion photographer father and ex-model mum. This is a successful adaptation of a vibrant and modern novel.

For the youngest children, there is a series of beautifully designed board books by Dylan Williams featuring that perennial favourite, the sweet and generous Sali Mali. Simple text and clear illustrations, together with strong storylines make these a delight to read aloud.

Arhoswch i Fi!, an adaptation of Jonathan Emmet's Someone Bigger, is a bouncy story set in rhyme and follows Llyr's attempts to fly his kite, despite everybody's insistence that he is too small. Young children will delight in seeing adults and even the animals in the local zoo swept up high into the air by the kite's strings, until Llyr finally manages to grab the string and ensure that all come down safely. Adrian Reynolds's illustrations are bursting with colour and life.

Fy Mrawd Mawr Moc by Liz Pichon, an adaptation of My Big Brother Boris, is a story sure to resonate with families of teenage children. Little Croc has always relied on big brother Moc to play with him, but is suddenly bewildered when Moc seems to want to do nothing but spend time alone or with his friends. As Moc's party approaches things take a turn for the worse when Moc suddenly appears with a pierced nose. Tad-cu and Mam-gu offer some sensible advice and Little Croc is comforted to know that Moc is still Moc.

On the Anglo-Welsh publishing scene, two recent titles deserve a particular mention. The hugely talented author and illustrator Rob Lewis, who lives in Powys, has produced a sequel to the successful Cold Jac. What's Up Jac? is a picture book in rhyme with a distinct Welsh flavour. Jac, a lonely Welsh hill farmer is perplexed when his animals are suddenly stricken after seeing a poster advertising a farm sale. After calling Megan the vet, all is revealed. Jac learns that the animals are in love. An amusing story and entertaining illustrations make this volume a real gem - it is also available in Welsh as Beth sy, Jac?

For older readers of 10 years upwards, Hannah Goes to War is set in the Mumbles near Swansea in the run-up to the Second World War. It will be an invaluable resource for teachers, and children will undoubtedly learn about the real human cost of war in this well-researched and heart-wrenching novel.

Nia Gruffydd is children and young people's librarian at Gwynedd Library Service


Trysorfa T. Llew Jones ed. Tudur Dylan Jones, Gomer, pound;12.99

Dau Ddewis Gareth William Jones, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, pound;4.50

Plant mewn Panig! Gwyneth Glyn, Dref Wen, pound;4.99

Castell y Blaidd Glenys Lloyd, Gomer, pound;4.99

Idris y Cawr Catherine Aran, Gwasg Gwynedd, pound;3.95

Cnoc cnoc, tic toc, tap tap ed. Myrddin ap Dafydd, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Pounds 3.95

Babi Blits Theresa Tomlinson, Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigion, pound;4.50

Stori Jes Helena Pielichaty, Dref Wen, pound;4.99

Cacen Sali Mali; Jac y Jwc ar y Fferm; Methu Cysgu; Pawb yn Cuddio Dylan Williams, Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigion, pound;4.99

Arhoswch i Fi! Jonathan Emmet, Gomer, pound;4.99

Fy Mrawd Mawr Moc Liz Pichon, Dref Wen, pound;4.99

What's Up Jac? Rob Lewis, Pont, pound;4.99

Beth Sy, Jac? Rob Lewis, Gomer, pound;4.99

Hannah Goes to War Phil Carradice, Pont, pound;4.99

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