Cáca don Rí written by Ailbhe Nic Giolla Bhrighde and illustrated by Steve Simpson

We weren’t specifically looking for a book as Gaeilge but when we spotted Cáca don Rí by Ailbhe Nic Giolla Bhrighde Little P was instantly drawn to Steve Simpson’s vibrant illustrations. Rúbaí Rua is a star baker bunny and people come from miles around to sample her macaroons, her meringues, her pancakes and her pies. She has some special mouse pals who love living in the bakery with Rúbaí but they don’t get much chance to help because she insists on doing everything by herself.

Rúbaí is particularly famous for her birthday cakes and when she gets a visit from the king himself looking for one of her special cakes for his birthday there is great excitement in the bakery. Rúbaí creates a real showstopper for the king’s birthday on her own of course as she refuses all help from the mice. After bedtime the mice can’t resist coming out of their hole for one last peek at the cake. But as they climb onto each other’s shoulders disaster strikes! They take a tumble and knock the king’s birthday cake onto the ground in smithereens! Rúbaí hasn’t got enough time to make a new cake by herself so she finally accepts some help from the mice. They all work together right through the night to make an even more impressive cake just in time for the king’s birthday.

This is a wonderful story about the benefits of cooperation and learning to work as part of a team. If you have decent Leaving Certificate Irish you will have no problem translating the story for little ones who are just learning. Meanwhile primary school children will enjoy the easy to read Irish (not to mention parents like me who want to expand their cúpla focail). The illustrations are so vibrant and full of detail. Little P spends ages poring over them. She loves hearing the story over and over again particularly when disaster strikes and the cake crashes to the ground! Cáca don Rí scores an eight out of ten on the P-OMETER.

Cáca don Rí written by Ailbhe Nic Giolla Bhrighde and illustrated by Steve Simpson is published by Futa Fata. ISBN: 978-1-910945-29-2

The Hug written by Eoin McLaughlin and illustrated by Polly Dunbar

It’s very special to read a picture book to a child and watch the emotions play out on their faces as the story unfolds. The Hug had that very effect on Little P. It contains two stories, one at the front of the book and one at the back, read separately but both coming to the same heart warming conclusion in the centre of the book.

The first story is about hedgehog who really needs a hug but all the animals that he meets find an excuse not to give him one. Then he meets Owl who explains that maybe the other animals are put off by hedgehog’s prickles. ‘But don’t worry there’s someone for everyone’ Owl tells the sad little hedgehog.

The second story is about tortoise who ALSO really needs a hug but all the animals that he meets find an excuse not to give him one. Then he meets Owl who explains that maybe the other animals are put off by tortoise’s hard shell. ‘But don’t worry there’s someone for everyone’ Owl tells the sad little tortoise.

Finally destiny intervenes and brings hedgehog and tortoise together in the warmest, cuddliest, happiest of hugs. Owl was right there really is someone for everyone!

Polly Dunbar brings all the characters to life with her vivid illustrations in Eoin McLaughlin’s wonderful story about emotions, love and empathy.

It was a joy to watch Little P get lost in this book. She fell in love with hedgehog and tortoise, full of sympathy when they had nobody to give them a hug. When they finally meet and hug each other she has the widest smile on her face every time we read it! She also gets a lot of fun from the two stories in one book. The Hug scores a nine out of ten on the P-OMETER.

The Hug written by Eoin McLaughlin and illustrated by Polly Dunbar is published by Faber & Faber. ISBN: 9780571340019