Wicklow author Ellen Ryan gets second major nomination for ‘Girls Who Slay Monsters’

Accolades continue to flow in for Wicklow author Ellen Ryan’s book ‘Girls Who Slay Monsters’, which has received a second major award nomination following success at the Irish Book Awards last year.

Girls Who Slays Monsters’ has been selected as one of 10 picture books, short story collections and young adult novels shortlisted for the 2023 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards, which were announced this week, by RTÉ broadcaster Rick O’Shea at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast.

Ellen’s book is a collection of short stories, which puts strong female characters back at the heart of Ireland’s ancient myths and legends. The collect is illustrated by Shona Shirley MacDonald and won Children’s Book of the Year – Senior at the Irish Book Awards.

At the Children’s Books Ireland Awards, Ellen’s work is shortlisted in the category aimed at readers aged nine and up. She faces stiff competition from the likes of ‘Run For Your Life’, a moving story about a young girl’s experience of seeking asylum in Ireland by Jane Mitchell, and ‘The Lost Girl King’, a fantasy tale by Catherine Doyle that puts a twist on the myths of Tír na nÓg. 

Also shortlisted is ‘The Book of Secrets’, a supernatural story on traditional Irish folklore from debut author Alex Dunne and ‘Truth Be Told’, a young adult novel which explores family secrets, religious differences and suppressed sexuality, written by Derry-based writer and peace-worker, Sue Divin.

There are a further five books up for the younger readers’ category award, ‘An Slipéar Ghloine’ (Fearghas Mac Lochlainn), ‘The Boy Who Lost His Spark’ (Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini), ‘One & Everything’ (Sam Winston), ‘Be Wild, Little One’ (Daniel Egnéus), and ‘The Wilderness’ (Steve McCarthy).

These 11 books will compete for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year and five other awards, including honours for fiction, illustration and a Junior Juries’ Award which will be decided by young readers from across the country.

A total prize fund of €16,000 will be awarded to this year’s winners, who will be announced at a special ceremony at the International Literature Festival Dublin on Wednesday, May 24.

Speaking at the announcement of the 2023 shortlist, Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said: “Year after year, we are blown away by the incredible talent in Irish children’s writing and illustration, and this year’s shortlist raises the bar yet again.

“The shortlisted books announced today represent voices from across the island of Ireland, drawing on some of our most ancient myths and legends and the diverse experiences of children and young people today. We’re delighted that our Junior Juries will have such a rich tapestry of Irish writing and illustration to dig into!”

The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards and Junior Juries programme are supported by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Funding.


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