Kathleen Watkins’ Pigín of Howth, was awarded the Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior) at the Irish Book Awards last night. Published as Kathleen turned 82, the book debuted at No1 in the Irish children’s book charts and is the fastest-selling picture book in Ireland.
The tales of a little pig and his pals in the Dublin seaside town of Howth bring to life the stories Kathleen has been telling her grandchildren for the past ten years. The book has captured the imagination of people all over Ireland – in particular grandparents – and has gone back to press for the third time in just a few weeks since publication. Described by Ryan Tubridy as ‘a beautiful book, written by a beautiful woman, for beautiful children’, Pigín of Howth has captured the heart of the nation.
Gill Books’ Director Nicki Howard said, “It’s been a joy to help bring Kathleen’s stories into the world and I’m so happy that children are enjoying them as much as Kathleen’s grandchildren did. Publishing is a team sport and there were many talented people involved in the making of this book including the illustrator, Margaret Anne Suggs, the editor, Síne Quinn and the designer Graham Thew. I would also like to thank our colleagues in the book trade for their huge support.”
“Every year the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards gets bigger and better and it’s such a thrill to be in a room with so many talented, booky people! Many congratulations to all the nominees and winners and all the people who work so hard to make the Irish book industry such an exciting, thriving place.”
Tune in this Saturday the 19th of November to RTE 1 and watch coverage from this year’s ceremony. Coverage starts at 11.15pm. This year, anyone who casts their vote for overall Book of the Year from the category of winners on www.bgeirishbookawards.ie will be in with the chance of winning a €100 voucher from National Book Tokens. Terms & conditions apply. The Irish Book of the Year 2016 will be announced on 13th December.
Pigín of Howth, contains three standalone stories – Pigs Can’t Fly, but They Can Swim!, Pigín’s Magical Midnight Adventure and A Day to Wear a Top Hat – and is published by Gill Books, priced at €16.99, £14.99. The stories are accompanied by illustrations from Margaret Anne Suggs.
Kathleen Watkins was a well-known harpist and folk singer when she became the first continuity announcer to appear on screen on Teilifís Éireann’s launch night in 1960. She married the broadcaster Gay Byrne and lived for many years in Howth where the Pigín stories are set. Although her Pigín stories have been told many times, this is her first book. Kathleen has served on the board of the Arts Council of Ireland and National Gallery of Ireland. In recent years she has done poetry readings in the National Library and National Gallery of Ireland.