Written in association with the Irish Farmers Journal, these two books – set in the fictional Glenmore Valley – offer a glimpse into what life is really like for a child growing up in a small Irish rural community. A Rosette for Maeve tells the story of nine-year-old Lisa O’Sullivan, who lives on a beef farm with her family. When Lisa is given the exciting task of showing a new calf at the Glenmore Valley Show, she has just a few days to learn how to train, groom and handle a Belgian Blue called Maeve, a boisterous bovine who fancies herself as a bit of a supermodel. It’s a sweet, simple tale about how a young girl deals with responsibility and is dotted with educational facts about calves which knowledge-hungry kids will enjoy.
While A Rosette for Maeve is light-hearted, Colm’s Lambs has a darker edge. It is lambing season on the O’Connor sheep farm, and eight-year-old Colm is helping his farmer Dad deliver the babies. When one of the lambs dies, Colm remains pragmatic yet pensive, whereas two visiting children from Dublin are utterly distraught at the notion of an animal dying. The reality of farming life is laid more bare in this book – Colm’s Dad is exhausted after pulling lambing all-nighters, and one poor newborn is abandoned by its mother – so it would be a good choice for a child who is bored of sugar-coated stories and fancies something a bit more emotionally challenging.
Both books are illustrated with charming watercolours by Paul Young and my three-year-old daughter, while too young to understand the content, really enjoyed looking at the pictures and making up her own story! Boys and girls from the age of six upwards will enjoy the Glenmore Valley series – be they from the country or a city – and will look forward to finding out more about the valley’s other residents, from Geraldine Brosnan the vet to the art-loving Caffrey family who run the local cafe.
To order either of these books, please visit the O’Brien Press Website