Foclóiropedia by Fatti & John Burke


If you’re like me you probably don’t have very fond memories of your English/Irish dictionary or Fócloir from primary school. But if I’d been lucky enough to own a copy of Foclóiropedia with Fatti Burke’s eye poppingly gorgeous Illustrations then learning Irish would have been a completely different experience altogether!

This father and daughter team have covered every word and phrase you’re likely to need  as Gaeilge and as an adult I’ve found really useful phrases that I didn’t know, for example: ‘Is math mar a tharla’ means ‘The story had a happy ending’. Everything is easy to find in the usual categories such as Numbers, Colours, and The Weather along with some creative new ones like Similes, Telling a Story and Small Talk!

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It’s very intuitively categorised so you’ll find useful phrases such as ‘Tá sé timpeall an chúinne’ (It’s around the corner) in the Around the Town section with words for Bank, Traffic Lights, Post Office etc. Or ‘Á, nach bhfuil sé gleoite?’ (Ah, isn’t it cute?) beside the illustration of the red panda in The Zoo section.

The illustrations are a delight and sprinkled with familiar cultural references throughout. My personal favourites are the Loop the Loop, the Aisling copybook and the bag of Siúcra in The Kitchen!

Little P just loves this book because it has pictures of all of her favourite things. Children, playgrounds, farms, zoos, food, vehicles….the list goes on. It functions as a picture book for now and when she starts to learn Irish it will be a valuable resource. This is one of those special kinds of books that can be brought into a home and used by everyone, no matter what stage they are at in the learning process, for many years to come.


The illustrations are so detailed and there are loads of them on every large page so Little P gets totally absorbed in her favourite categories (currently Ar an mBóthar, Ceol and An Zú!). And I know she’s going to get years of value out of it so this scores an EIGHT out of TEN on the P-OMETER.

Foclóiropedia by Fatti & John Burke is published by Gill Books. ISBN: 978-0-7171-7554-3

A Quiet Quiet House by Georgiana Deutsch & Ekaterina Trukhan


A quiet house on a quiet street begins to fill up one by one with noisy little mice. But what exactly are they all getting up to in there?

Deutsch’s book is just perfect for preschoolers. Their curiosity builds with every page turn as each little mouse goes in through the red door with a mysterious package. Trukhan’s beautifully graphic illustrations include plenty of detail such as cats and goldfish peeping out through the windows of the neighbouring house providing a running commentary on the proceedings. There are different cut-outs on each page giving a tiny glimpse inside the house at the mice shenanigans! Little P’s favourite was the fox hiding in the bin who doesn’t reveal himself until near the final page.

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Each mouse has their own little personality and mode of transport from a moped to skis! The pages even change with the weather, from sunshine and rain to a blanket of snow (hence the skis!). The mystery continues right to the last page. Convinced that the mice were all going to a party I was just as pleasantly surprised as Little P to discover they were all going to band practice! Each mouse has their own musical instrument and there’s an excellent picture glossary at the back of the book which names all the musical instruments, vehicles, colours and weather that feature in the story.


Little P is charmed by the quiet house particularly as she is a big music fan. The illustrations really tell the whole story so she can happily ‘read’ it by herself. This scores an EIGHT out of TEN on the P-OMETER.

A Quiet Quiet House by Georgiana Deutsch & Ekaterina Trukhan is published by Little Tiger Press. ISBN: 978-1-84869-845-1

Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones & Sara Ogilvie

BR-IG.1A little girl with a toolbag who invents useful gadgets and sometimes loses her temper. Not the usual kind of female character that populates children’s books. But then Izzy Gizmo isn’t the usual kind of book. Pip Jones’s story practically fizzes off the page with energy and exuberance. Matched perfectly by Sara Ogilvie’s vibrant illustrations.

Izzy is an inventor. When she finds a crow with broken wings she sets about working on an invention to help him to fly again. But when her inventions don’t quite work Izzy gets a bit frustrated (and cross)! Luckily her Grandad is on hand to give her some gentle encouragement. After trying again (and again) Izzy finally comes up with the perfect invention to get her feathered friend airborne.

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Izzy Gizmo is the picture book heroine I’ve been waiting for all my life! Luckily Little P is also smitten. I can’t imagine why she has fallen in love with this energetic, industrious little girl who is prone to a teeny tantrum here and there!! There are so many positive messages in this book. The main one is truly a valuable life lesson. Success comes with hard work and perseverance. I think this book should be on every family’s bookshelf.


Little P is a big fan of Izzy and loves the story about her helping the crow to fly. We’ve read it many times and she’ll happily look at the book by herself. So this scores an EIGHT out of TEN on the P-OMETER.

Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones & Sara Ogilvie is published by Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 978-0-8570-7513-0

‘Noddy’ Series by Enid Blyton & Harmsen Van Der Beek/Peter Wienk


Butterscotch Angel Delight. A memory of pure deliciousness from childhood but I tried it again recently only to be bitterly disappointed. Such is the case with Noddy. I have very fond memories of the little man with the red and yellow car so I was very excited to see these beautiful new editions. The illustrations by Van der Beek (and later Wienk) are still as charming as ever. Although the toys in Toyland are very much from the 1940s they are still as funny and playful for children today. But as I began to read I realised that the stories themselves should remain firmly back there.

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Enid Blyton has peppered her stories with endless moralistic judgment. Poor Noddy is constantly being punished or blamed for something or other. And every story ends with him learning his lesson. Don’t be too boastful, don’t go to places you don’t know, don’t have too much fun! I decided to make up my own version of the stories when I was reading them for Little P. She loved the characters but I felt there was a bit too much trial and retribution in the original stories. She also found some of the illustrations a little disturbing. For example in one of the stories Noddy is robbed by the goblins and there is an illustration of him in the wood crying without any clothes. Even I found that image a bit upsetting!


So although she loves the character the Noddy stories didn’t go down too well with Little P. They score a FIVE out of TEN on the P-OMETER.

Noddy and Tessie Bear written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Beek/Wienk is published by Hodder Children’s Books. ISBN: 978-1-444-93358-1

Noddy Goes To School written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Beek/Wienk is published by Hodder Children’s Books. ISBN: 978-1-444-93355-0

Here Comes Noddy written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Beek/Wienk is published by Hodder Children’s Books. ISBN: 978-1-444-93353-6

‘People of Peace’ by Sandrine Mirza & Le Duo


What do Eleanor Roosevelt, Pablo Picasso and Malala Yousafzai have in common? They are all people pf peace of course! Sandrine Mirza’s inspired book lists 40 people who have dedicated their lives to making the world a more peaceful place for everyone. Each person gets a double page spread in the book. On one side sits Le Duo’s graphically bold illustrations with some interesting facts. Each person is easily recognised by some important signature details. Ghandi’s white robe, Joan Baez’s guitar and Michael Moore’s baseball cap. The facing page gives a brief but complete biography with each person’s main achievements. It also includes a factfile style identity with date and place of birth, occupation etc.

This is obviously more suitable for an older child but it features a page on Little P’s hero John Lennon so that’s why she chose it! She loves the illustrations and although I don’t read the full text she enjoys listening to small details about each person. Joan Baez writes songs, Picasso paints and draws, Malala Yousafzai helps children to get to school etc.

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I can really see how inspirational this book would be for older children. It’s full of role models from every walk of life from creative to sport to politics. Now, more than ever, our children need some real life heroes and heroines to inspire them.

Although this isn’t written specifically for preschool children Little P loves hearing about the people of peace! She will also happily browse through the illustrations by herself. So this scores a SEVEN out of TEN on the P-OMETER.


People of Peace written by Sandrine Mirza & illustrated by Le Duo is published by Wide Eyed Editions. ISBN: 978-1-78603-148-8

There are also other titles available in this series.

‘Witchfairy’ by Brigitte Minne & Carll Cneut


Brigitte Minne is not afraid to tackle some difficult issues in ‘Witchfairy’ such as following your heart, no matter who may disagree. Rosemary is a fairy and fairies are sweet and neat and…….DULL! What she really wants is to be a witch. Witches can shout and get dirty and rollerskate! But Rosemary’s Mum is horrified, she doesn’t want a smelly witch for a daughter. So the independently minded little fairy heads off to the Witches Wood all by herself. Her Mum follows expecting to find Rosemary scared and alone. But she couldn’t be more wrong! Rosemary loves the Witches Wood. She has learned to ride a broom, build a treehouse and sail a boat. Even her Mum has to admit that the witches are lots of fun. Finally Rosemary decides that sometimes she wants to be a witch and sometimes she wants to be a fairy. So she’ll be a Witchfairy!

The illustrations are very special. Little faces full of character and Carll Cneut’s technique creates an evocative new world within the book of witches and fairies.

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Independently minded Little P really enjoys this book. Especially all the fun in the Witches Wood and  Rosemary’s absolute determination to do her own thing. It’s a wonderful message and not just for children!


Little P does ask for this one to be read over again but not as often as others. She does enjoy poring over the illustrations though. I suspect when she’s a bit older she’ll appreciate the story even more. It scores a SEVEN out of TEN on the P-OMETER.

Witchfairy written by Brigitte Minne and illustrated by Carll Cneut is published by Book Island. ISBN: 978-1-911496-07-6

‘You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger’ by Patricia Cleveland-Peck & David Tazzyman


There are plenty of reasons in this funny rhyming picture book why you don’t necessarily want any help with your daily routine from animals.

Some are a bit disgusting, like the stinky skunk in the bunk bed or the seal with his pile of raw fish for breakfast! Others are a little bit scary like the shark in the bath or the howling wolf telling bedtime stories! But the animals mean well really. They just want to help. So what’s the best idea of all? Forget about helping and lets all play together instead!

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Little P loves the animal antics in this book. The kangaroo who wees on the bathroom floor makes her laugh every time! Patricia Cleveland-Peck really understands the mind of a child. How to make them laugh and how to make them scared just enough ……but not too much. David Tazzyman’s illustrations are perfectly chaotic and capture the craziness of the animal mayhem!


Little P loves to re-read this one over again and she will take it away and ‘read’ it independently so this scores an EIGHT out of TEN on the ‘P-OMETER’!!

‘You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger’ written by Patricia Cleveland-Peck and illustrated by David Tazzyman is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books. ISBN: 978-1-4088-7914-6