Two summer books for young people

Two summer books for young people Author Prof. Phyllis Zagano. Photo: CNS.

Here are two books, for two different age groups, which will provide amusing and interesting reading for children this summer when they need to escape from the all too brilliant sun and sit in the shade and read.

The Most Irish Person

written by Shelly Corcoran, illustrated by Angelika Sowul

(Currach Books, €12.99)

The first is for 7-10-year-olds, and is a quite delightful thing. It opens with Anna asking her best friend Lucy, “What makes an Irish person Irish”?  Well, what indeed.

Anna was born in Poland and then moved to Longford, where Lucy was born. They decide they will hold a competition to find out. This makes up the body of the book, their search among those members of Ireland’s new communities who are most Irish. It is delightful and almost unbelievable fun, for they meet a wide array of children with very different experiences.

In the end though they are puzzled who to give the award to. So they decide to give it to everyone! At the end are two pages of photographs of the children who helped the author and perhaps the artist tell the tale. Altogether a hoot and half. It will delight those who are raised by the sight of how enthusiastically young Nigerian children play Gaelic games.

Elizabeth Visits the Abbey,

by Phyllis Zagano

(Clear Faith Publishing, $US11.00/ £9.00;

The second book is a surprising book for a Professor of Religion at Hofstra University, who sat on the Pontifical Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women. But you have to allow for the fact that Elizabeth Visits the Abbey is intended for those aged 10-14.

It is a novel which recounts the visit to Ireland of Elizabeth, a 12-year-old American girl who visits Ireland with her parents. The father is American, her mother is Irish and how they met is part of the story too. But meeting the Irish relations is a revelation.

Her aunt is the Abbess of a Cistercian abbey in rural Ireland, her uncle a commander in the Irish Naval Service (the first time I have ever encountered such a character in fiction, though a family member was in the service).

Slowly the author reveals the role of women in religion and their role in Irish life and history as family members and saints. The role of saints in everyday Irish life, from the names of ships in the navy and planes in the national air fleet, are delicately related.

This is a book which for the warmth and delicacy and quiet amusement of the writing is to be highly recommended so do try to order a copy. The book will be an education for girls about the roles that women have played in the past and will play in the future. The publishers are American, but can be reached through their website. A lovely book, and well worth a family read.