Mountains to Sea 2015 Round Up

This was my fifth year volunteering at the Mountains to Sea Book Festival in Dún Laoghaire, and as always it was a lot of fun. I was working with the Family and Schools Programme, and this is a round up of the events I helped out at.

Cakes in Space Show – Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve


Dynamic duo Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve put on a great show for the school groups who came to the Pavilion Theatre. With readings, a demo of how to draw a robot, a message from aliens about spoons and the Cakes in Space theme song this was a jam-packed and fun-filled event.

Tips from the Top – Steve Cole, Judi Curtin, Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve


This panel discussion was chaired by Tom Donegan (of the Story Museum in Oxford) and offered much insight into the careers of these writers and illustrators. Steve Cole started out as an editor, Judi Curtin as a teacher, Philip Reeve as an illustrator and Sarah McIntyre worked in fine art rather than illustration and comics. Events like this are great for inspiring you to get back into writing, and the panelists offered good advice for emerging writers and illustrators – Sarah McIntyre advised setting small, achievable goals and not being afraid of creating bad books. Steve Cole said to write what you enjoy, and create for the love of it. One of the questions from the q&a was what careers the panelists would have if they weren’t writers or illustrators. Steve Cole would be a chat show host, Judi Curtin would still be teaching, Philip Reeve would still be a bookseller and Sarah McIntyre would be a milliner (she wore many of her fantastic hats and fascinators at the festival).

How to Catch a Star Workshops with Deirdre Sullivan


These workshops were a highlight of the festival for me, it was wonderful to see how much the kids enjoyed themselves. These multi-sensory workshops were designed for children with autism, and run by author and teacher Deirdre Sullivan. Based around Oliver Jeffers’ picture book How to Catch a Star, the workshops took place in a room decorated with stars, sails and lights. Deirdre read the book to the kids, and there were stars to find in buckets of sand, water and shaving foam. Best of all, there was a real starfish! I would love to see more events like this at the festival in future.

Sam McBratney in conversation with Robert Dunbar


Sam McBratney is best known as the writer of best-selling picture book Guess How Much I Love You, but this event really brought out the breadth of his work. His novel, The Chieftain’s Daughter, has the high praise of being children’s books critic Robert Dunbar’s favourite Irish children’s book. It was an engaging and entertaining discussion, I particularly enjoyed McBratney’s moving reading of Guess How Much I Love You. 

Being in my final year of college, I wasn’t as involved in the festival as I have been in previous years, but as always I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am already excited for next year!

Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

The very wonderful Patrick Ness will be at the Mountains to Sea festival this Saturday (tickets here). I’m very excited about this event, and of course about meeting Patrick Ness – in preparation, here’s my review of his new YA novel More Than This.

Proof copy of More Than This

Review copy of More Than This, in all its yellow glory!

Seth has just died. But then he wakes up, in a strange but somehow familiar place. There is no way he could have survived, so where is he now? Is this what comes next? Is it Seth’s personal hell, or is it all in his head? All he knows is that now, nothing is certain… 

Patrick Ness’ new YA novel is a thrilling read, because it is just so unpredictable. It raises many deep questions, to which there are no definitive answers. Through poignant flashbacks and Seth’s new experiences a story is slowly pieced together, packed with twists, surprises and possibilities. As well as being a compelling science fiction/dystopian read More Than This is also a sensitively written coming of age tale. It was utterly gripping, and stayed in my mind long after I had finished reading…it took a while before I was even able to write about it! This is not an easy book to categorise, and it is definitely one that will challenge readers.

I have never read anything quite like More Than This, and I was enthralled by its complex plot, while also connecting with it on an emotional level. Highly recommended for readers aged 14+ looking for a book that will make them think and question, and indeed for anyone who has ever wondered whether there is more than this…


Reviewed for LoveReading4Kids.