Last week we at Little Island celebrated our fifth birthday in style – with a party at the National Library of Ireland and the launch of The Wordsmith, our 50th book. The National Library was the perfect setting for this bookish party, and it was fantastic to see so many friends and supporters of Little Island at the event.
Elaina Ryan, Director of Children’s Books Ireland, presided over the festivities and gave a beautiful speech about Little Island’s journey thus far. Of the 50 books published by Little Island to date, she said ‘[T]hese books are really special for their readers, and they bring them from remotest Sweden to Mexico or Derry, to imagined Dublins and real Belfasts, to cow beauty pageants in Finland and murder mystery in Muinbeo. Some of the books reflect home for young Irish readers and others take them far away, to a long time ago or what might lie ahead.’ Elaina’s speech also praised Little Island’s achievements over the last few years such as translations of international books, the first Little Island picture book (The Wizardling), Sheena Wilkinson’s Grounded winning CBI Book of the Year, and Deirdre Sullivan’s Primperfect being shortlisted for the EU Prize for Literature. Another exciting first is the forthcoming publication of Kevin Stevens’ A Lonely Note, a book for adults!
The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde was particularly suitable for the occasion, as it deals with the importance of language and the role of the arts. On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted from apprentice to wordsmith, charged with collecting and controlling words in dystopian society of Ark. When she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob the people of Ark of the power of speech, she must act to save words and culture before they are lost forever. This is a powerful book that makes the reader think about the role of words in their own life, and the importance of the arts for self-expression.
The Wordsmith was launched by Dr Amanda Piesse of Trinity College Dublin, whose speech thoroughly explored the many themes of the novel. She highlighted how it makes the reader think about their use of language and the beauty of words. Dr Piesse has also written an essay on The Wordsmith for Little Island. She states that The Wordsmith ‘continually reminds the reader of all that would be lost were that vocabulary not available to the telling of this tale. The structure of the narrative walks its reader through carefully calibrated degrees of dystopic experience which repeatedly invite reflection on different kinds of deprivation and damage, and different kinds of response to humankind’s relationship with its environment, its kinship groups and its means of self-expression.’ Her thoughtful speech reflected the power and fascination of Patricia Forde’s tale.
Patricia Forde gave a lovely speech, and best of all, she read an extract from The Wordsmith. The gripping passage Patricia Forde read, in which a mysterious visitor arrives at the wordsmith’s shop, ended on a note of suspense and left readers hungry for more.
And of course, what kind of a birthday party would it be without cake? We had a stunning book cake from Cathy’s Cakes n’ Bakes. The beautiful manuscript-like book with its Gothic lettering and curling pages was perfect for both The Wordsmith and the celebration of Little Island’s birthday. It wasn’t easy to cut into the cake, but it was as delicious as it looked! Check out all the photos from the event (taken by Mark Granier) here.
Thank you to everyone who came to the National Library to celebrate this milestone for Little Island, particularly Amanda Piesse and Elaina Ryan for their wonderful speeches, and Patricia Forde for her brilliant book and her reading. Here’s to the next five years!
And to celebrate our fifth birthday we are offering you, our wonderful readers, €5 off any book on the Little Island site using the code on the voucher below. Make sure to use it before the end of June. Happy reading!