Name upon Name

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It's Belfast and it's 1916. Britain is at war with Germany. Helen's family seems to be at war with itself.

Product Description

‘History is rarely clean and simple; the beauty of this book is that it embraces that complexity.’ – Dr Patrick Geoghegan, Professor of History at TCD and presenter of Newstalk’s Talking History.

Belfast in 1916. Fourteen-year-old Helen is shaped by her mixed background – rural, Catholic Irish values from her mother; urban, Protestant Ulster values from her father. Helen’s older cousins are her idols: Sandy, who joined the army straight from school and has already seen action in France, and Michael, who runs away from home to enlist. But before he leaves for France, Michael is deployed to Dublin to help quell the Rising, where he’s expected to open fire on his fellow Irishmen, and Sandy writes home about terrible things on the front. What exactly are they fighting for?

O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name …

Perfect class novel for the 1916 centenery by multi award-winning author Sheena Wilkinson.


‘Belfast-born Wilkinson masterfully combines the big questions of nationalism, pacifism and early feminism in a way so subtle that you would barely notice. Name Upon Name is a great way to introduce political understanding to young readers.’ – The Irish News

‘Helen, a bright young woman, is in tune with the “new” thinking on the role of women in domestic, political and educational contexts: further familial dissensions and tensions are created, especially between her and her mother … With its Yeatsian title and epigraph, Wilkinson’s novel aims high in its literary aspirations and, as its carefully and subtly crafted plot demonstrates, addresses them more than adequately. The key to its success lies in its portrayal of its heroine, caught up in a world whose puzzling assumptions defy, for the moment at least, rational explanation.’ – The Irish Times

‘the novel vividly captures the difficulties of a young girl caught between opposing sides, unsure who she should be helping, and how. There’s a saying that ‘If you don’t find Irish history confusing, you don’t understand Irish history’, and although the situation here will be unfamiliar to most young readers outside Ireland, they are guided through it with a sure hand – Sheena Wilkinson makes writing look easy, an admirable quality.’ – Editor’s Choice in Armadillo Magazine, Sept 2015

‘Sheena Wilkinson explores the theme of action and inaction beautifully. Helen is of her time in the best sense, her reactions aren’t those of a modern teenager, but her adolescence is every bit as keenly felt. My heart broke for Helen at times, but I admired the hell out of her. This novel understands that conflict is universal, and that the struggles in the sitting room are as real as those in the trenches. The honesty and tenderness with which she realises history is admirable. You read this book, but you also feel it, and it resonates with you even when it’s over. It’s a must read. As in you must read it. Preferably now.’ – Deirdre Sullivan, author of the Prim series and Needlework

‘Finely drawn characters and realistic circumstances paint a tangible picture of ordinary lives at a time of extraordinary events. The shock, turmoil and struggle for Helen just to be herself, but not knowing who she is, also makes this an evocative coming-of-age story. Everything about this book feels real; feels like historical biography, rather than historical fiction. Direct, complex and compelling, like all of Wilkinson’s books.’ – Rhian Ivory, author and children’s books reviewer

About Sheena Wilkinson

Sheena Wilkinson writes contemporary realistic fiction for children and young adults. Since the publication of her first novel, the multi-award-winning Taking Flight, she has been established as one of Ireland\'s most acclaimed writers for children and teenagers.Taking Flight (2010) won the CBI Honour Award for Fiction as well as the Children’s Choice Award. It was named as a White Raven by the International Youth Library and got a place on the IBBY Honour List. Its sequel, Grounded (2012) also won the CBI Children’s Choice award as well as the overall Book of the Year. Too Many Ponies, for readers 9+, was also shortlisted for the CBI awards, making that three out of three. Sheena\'s latest YA title, Still Falling, was published in 2015, as was Name upon Name, a historical novel for older children.In 2013-14 she was the first CBI Bringing to Book Writer in Residence at the Church of Ireland College of Education in Rathmines. She is a professional mentor for NUI Galway, and tutors for the Arvon Foundation. Sheena lives in County Down, and travels extensively in Ireland and beyond, talking about books and writing.

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2 reviews for Too Many Ponies

  1. Little Island
    5 out of 5


    ‘Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure … Emotionally charged and utterly believable, this is a novel that will remain with the reader long after the last page is read. Insightful, engaging and ultimately uplifting. Wilkinson has crafted an instant classic.’ – Inis Magazine, Children’s Books Ireland

  2. Bruno
    5 out of 5


    Amazing book!

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