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Children’s Book Salon

Online talks and conversations celebrating Irish and international children’s books, writers and illustrators, hosted by Sarah Webb, in conjunction with Halfway up the Stairs.

Discover new Irish and international children’s titles and hear experienced children’s writers and illustrators talk about their craft.

Love children’s books? Want to connect with and learn from talented Irish children’s writers and illustrators? Want to kick start your own creativity and/or write a children’s book? Join us!

Tickets are €5, and are redeemable against a speaker’s book. Buy tickets here.

Our first Children’s Book Salon took place on 14th January. We were joined by Natasha Farrant, Chris Haughton and Dave O’Callaghan. Natasha spoke about the inspiration for her Costa award winning novel “Voyage of the Sparrowhalk“. Chris Haughton read from his latest book “Maybe…” (out in March), and Dave O’Callaghan (from Eason) told us about exciting new titles coming this year. Trish Hennessy spoke about Halfway up the Stairs’ top 20 bestsellers of 2020. Ruth Ennis wrote up the event and you can read her blog here.

Our next event takes place this Thursday 28th January. We will be joined by authors Paul Howard, Emma Carroll, Lesley Parr, Alan Nolan and Lorraine Levis. Buy tickets here!

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Our top sellers of 2020

I am so proud of this list of our top selling titles for 2020, especially the fact that 15 of the 20 books are by Irish authors, and that an Irish language book is included! These are all books that we recommend and hand sell on a regular basis. I am especially proud of the fact that so many of the books on this list send a strong message of kindness and tolerance which is particularly relevant in these difficult times. There have been quite a few changes since our Bestseller’s list from our first full year in business, published in October 2020- see here.

1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy (Gift Book). This is one of the most beautiful books you will ever lay your hands on and it makes a wonderful gift for anyone and everyone in your life. It is a particularly special gift for anyone going through a tough time. You can also buy a limited edition tote bag here.
2. The Dead Zoo by Peter Donnelly (picture book, Irish). A beautifully illustrated and joyful book, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, told in one of Ireland’s favourite museums. Peter kindly dropped in to sign lots of copies!(Published September 2020).
3. Elsetime by Eve McDonnell (age 9-12, Irish) – we have dubbed this our book of the year! This historical novel is a page turner, with time travel, friendship, peril and humour thrown in too! Eve visited us on publication day, and signed loads of copies , and gave us some wonderful momentos! (Published September 2020).
4. Follow the Track all the Way Back by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Ben Mantle (Picture Book). We are donating €5 from the sale of each copy of this book to Greystones Cancer Support, in memory of little Oisin Linehan from Greystones, who sadly passed away recently, age 2. This was Oisin’s favourite book and it tells the story of a little train who gets lost but finds his way back to his parents.
5. The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle (age 9-12, Irish). This was the book chosen for our first (and only…so far) 9-12 bookclub. It is based in Arranmore, Co Donegal and is a clever, page turning adventure mixing magic and legend with sibling rivalry and a boy coming to terms with big changes in his life. There are two books in this series, with a third due to be published later this year.
6. Here we Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers (Picture Books, Irish). This is our go-to recommendation for a new baby present. It was written for his baby boy as a way to introduce him to Planet Earth. It is beautifully illustrated and conveys a message of kindness.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FRONTCOVER-79.jpg7. Boot by Shane Hegarty (5-8, Irish). The first in the series, this was the book we chose for our first (and only!) 7-9 bookclub. It tells the story of a lost robot, who only has two-and-a-half memories trying to find his owner. Funny and heartwarming. We were very lucky to have Shane come to visit us to sign the latest book in the series – The Creaky Creatures.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FRONTCOVER-10.jpg8. While We Can’t Hug by Eoin McLaughlin, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Picture Book, Irish). A touching and perfect picture book for these times, very popular with grandparents, aunts and uncles. (Published June 2020)
9. Dog Man: Grime & Punishment by Dav Pilkey (age 5-8). The latest in the hugely popular Dog Man series, which saw us take in our highest number of preorders to date! There were squeals of excitement from many kids when this book arrived into the shop! (Published September 2020).
10. Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp (age 5-8) – the Pig series is the most popular series in the shop. Children love the mischief of Pig and his friends and the fact that there is LOTS of poo and farts! Emer was due to travel from the UK to launch her latest book “Pests” in April in Halfway up the Stairs but alas, this event was cancelled due to COVID-19.
11. A Place called Perfect by Helena Duggan (age 9-12, Irish). Helena very kindly came to visit St Laurence’s NS in Greystones in November 2019, and as you can see her book proved to be very popular! It tells the tale of a town that is not quite as it seems.
12. Rabbit’s Bad Habits by Julian Gough & Jim Field (age 5-8, Irish)- the first in the series, these books are both funny and heartwarming, and hugely popular!
13. All to Play For by Donn McClean (age 9-12, Irish). We were very excited to stock this great book by local author and sportswriter, Donn McClean. It is Donn’s first children’s book and it tells the story of Anna coming to terms with the loss of her father, new beginnings and lots of exciting sports action too. Donn visited us when the book was published and signed lots of copies! (Published August 2020).
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is What-well-build.jpg14. What We’ll Build by Oliver Jeffers (Picture Book, Irish) who wrote this wonderful new book for his daughter. With glorious illustrations and quirky humour, this book carries a strong and important message about tolerance and love. (Published October 2020).
15. Only a Tree Knows how to be a Tree by Mary Murphy (Picture Book, Irish). A beautiful book celebrating our individuality and promoting tolerance. (Published March 2020)
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Break-the-mould.jpg16. Break the Mould by Sinéad Burke, illustrated by Natalie Byrne (Guidance, Irish). A guide on how to take your place in the world, this important book helps children to accept themselves and to be comfortable in their own skin. (Published October 2020)
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FRONTCOVER-102.jpg17. Poppy & Sam’s Animal Hide and Seek by Jenny Tyler, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright (Baby & Toddler). A wonderful touchy-feely, lift the flap book with strong durable pages and exciting things to spot.
18. Have you seen the Dublin Vampire? by Úna Woods (Picture book, Irish). The cutest vampire takes a stroll through Dublin – with vivid illustrations and simple text, this book was a huge hit for Halloween and continues to sell really well. Again, we were very lucky that Úna came to visit and sign her gorgeous book (Published September 2020).
19. The Great Irish Science Book by Luke O’Neill (Reference, Irish). This oversized reference book contains incredible illustrations, easy to digest facts and is a book to be treasured.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Geansai-Otto.jpg20. Geansaí Ottó by Sadhbh Devlin, illustrated by Róisín Hahessy (Irish, Irish Language Picture Book). How wonderful to have an Irish Language book in our Top 20 bestsellers! A gorgeous book about a Mamó who keeps knitting jumpers for Ottó! Again, we were very lucky to have Sadhbh drop by to sign copies of her fab book! (Published August 2020)

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The top sellers of our first year!

We are now open one year, and what a year it’s been! It’s been really interesting to analyse the top selling books of the year. I’m delighted there are so many Irish books in the top 20 (11), and of all the authors & illustrators featured, 10 of them are Irish!

The following are the top selling books of our first year (18th Oct 2019 – 17th Oct 2020):

1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. This is one of the most beautiful books you will ever lay your hands on and it makes a wonderful gift for anyone and everyone in your life. It is a particularly special gift for anyone going through a tough time. You can also buy a limited edition tote bag here.
2. A Place called Perfect by Helena Duggan (age 9-12, Irish). Helena very kindly came to visit St Laurence’s NS in Greystones last November, and as you can see her book proved to be very popular! It tells the tale of a town that is not quite as it seems. The second book in the series, The Trouble with Perfect has come in at number 17!
3. Here we Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers (Picture Books, Irish). This is our go-to recommendation for a new baby present. It was written for his baby boy as a way to introduce him to Planet Earth. It is beautifully illustrated and conveys a message of kindness. Oliver Jeffers has written a new book for his daughter called What We’ll Build.
4. The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle (age 9-12, Irish). This was the book chosen for our first (and only…so far) 9-12 bookclub. It is based in Arranmore, Co Donegal and is a clever, page turning adventure mixing magic and legend with sibling rivalry and a boy coming to terms with big changes in his life. There are two books in this series, with a third due to be published next year.
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball by Jeff Kinney – last year’s addition to the very popular series (age 9-12).
6. Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp (age 5-8) – the Pig series is the most popular series in the shop, with all four books in our top 23! Children love the mischief of Pig and his friends and the fact that there is LOTS of poo and farts! Emer was due to travel from the UK to launch her latest book “Pests” in April in Halfway up the Stairs but alas, this event was cancelled due to COVID-19.

7. Big Fat Totally Bonkers Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp
(age 5-8) – as above!
8. Follow the Track all the Way Back by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Ben Mantle (Picture Book). We are donating €5 from the sale of each copy of this book to Greystones Cancer Support, in memory of little Oisin Linehan from Greystones, who sadly passed away recently, age 2. This was Oisin’s favourite book and it tells the story of a little train who gets lost but finds his way back to his parents.
9. No-one is too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg (Reference). This pocket sized book containing Greta Thunberg’s speeches brings Greta’s message to both children and adults, and has found it’s way into many homes in Greystones.
10. Dog Man: Grime & Punishment by Dav Pilkey (5-8). The latest in the hugely popular Dog Man series, which saw us take in our highest number of preorders to date! There were squeals of excitement from many kids when this book arrived into the shop!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FRONTCOVER-79.jpg
11. Boot by Shane Hegarty (5-8, Irish). The first in the series, this was the book we chose for our first (and only!) 7-9 bookclub. It tells the story of a lost robot, who only has two-and-a-half memories trying to find his owner. Funny and heartwarming. We were very lucky to have Shane come to visit us to sign the latest book in the series – The Creaky Creatures.
12. Slime by David Walliams (5-8). David Walliams’ books are always very popular!
-13. The Seriously Extraordinary Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp
(age 5-8). The third of the Pig books in our top 20 , and “The Super Amazing Adventures of Me, Pig” comes in at number 23!
– 13. All to Play For by Donn McClean (age 9-12, Irish). We were very excited to stock this great book by local author and sportswriter, Donn McClean. It is Donn’s first children’s book and it tells the story of Anna coming to terms with the loss of her father, new beginnings and lots of exciting sports action too. Donn visited us when the book was published and signed lots of copies! (Published Aug 2020).
– 13. Elsetime by Eve McDonnell (age 9-12, Irish) – one of our books of the year! This historical novel is a page turner, with time travel, friendship, peril and humour thrown in too! Eve visited us on publication day, and signed loads of copies , and gave us some wonderful momentos! (Published Sept 2020).
16. Rabbit’s Bad Habits by Julian Gough & Jim Field (5-8, Irish)- the first in the series, these books are both funny and heartwarming, and hugely popular!
17. The Trouble with Perfect by Helena Duggan (9-12, Irish). The second in the Perfect series and the second of this series in our top 20!
18. The Dead Zoo by Peter Donnelly (picture book, Irish). A beautifully illustrated and joyful book, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, told in one of Ireland’s favourite museums. Peter kindly dropped in to sign lots of copies!(Published Sept 2020).
19. Have you seen the Dublin Vampire? by Úna Woods (picture book, Irish). The cutest vampire takes a stroll through Dublin – with vivid illustrations and simple text, this book was a huge hit for Halloween and continues to sell really well. Again, we were very lucky that Úna came to visit and sign her gorgeous book (Published September 2020).
20. The Great Irish Science Book by Luke O’Neill (Reference, Irish). This oversized reference book contains incredible illustrations, easy to digest facts and is a book to be treasured.

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Ask the Experts

THE BEST IRISH CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR THE SEASON AHEAD

7:30pm, Wednesday October 21st,2020

Join children’s book expert Lorraine Levis, and award-winning children’s writer & children’s book reviewer, Sarah Webb for an evening of children’s book recommendations and book chat, hosted by Trish Hennessy of Halfway up the Stairs Children’s Bookshop.

They will recommend some of their favourite Irish books of 2020 and answer all your reading and book questions, including advice on the best books to give as gifts for the season ahead. Come with questions, leave with answers!

 To register for this free zoom event, please email info@halfwayupthestairs.ie

Lorriane Levis, author of Once Upon a Reader
Sarah Webb, author of The One with the Waggly Tail and many more!
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First Anniversary Competition!

FIRST ANNIVERSARY/ IRISH BOOK WEEK COMPETITION

We have put together a number of prizes to celebrate our first anniversary (on Sunday 18th October) and Irish Book Week (running from 17th – 24th October). 

For children up to age 10, we have themed bundles to win! To enter, we are asking children to pick a theme (Unicorn, Dinosaur, Halloween and Nature & Space) and submit a picture or a story based on that theme and to include “Halfway up the Stairs” in their story or picture.

For older children, we are asking them to submit a review of their favourite book – just a few lines about why they loved it. We have a bundle of books for each age group to win – 9-12; Young Teen and Young Adult.

Pictures, stories and reviews can be dropped into the shop, or emailed to info@halfwayupthestairs.ie

We are also running a “Like & Share” competition on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the grownups – the prize is a copy of the beautiful “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” and a limited edition tote bag, designed by the author Charlie Mackesy.

Competition ends on Sunday 25th October. Winners announced the following week. Judges decision is final.