KILDARE author and entrepreneur Emma-Jane Leeson has launched her latest book in the Johnny Magory series – Johnny Magory and the Forest Fleadh Cheoil.
The newest addition, which features animal characters named after children following a competition during the summer, was illustrated by legendary Irish artist Don Conroy. It’s the fourth book in the series and aims to achieve two things for the children who read it – to educate them about traditional Irish music in a fun way and encourage them to get outside and explore.
“This book is so special to me … Having Don bring his magic to the illustrations brings me right back to my own childhood,” said Emma-Jane. “When we decided to leave the animal character names open for a number of lucky kids, I didn’t realise the diversity of names that now exists in Ireland. Beautiful, non-traditional names such as Thalia, Rihanna and Brayson feature alongside more traditional names such as Ben, Joey and Meabh. Having their photographs inside the cover will hopefully encourage children to read it and continue reading books.”
Virtually all children in Ireland during the eighties and nineties – myself included – were glued to RTÉ’s The Den after school. ‘Draw with Don’ is undoubtedly an important piece of their memories of growing up in Ireland and Don is a childhood hero to many from that generation.
He played a major role in developing Emma-Jane’s love for animals, art and writing. So, when his book The owl who couldn’t give a hoot randomly turned up in her house over two decades after she originally read it, the idea occurred to her to ask Don if he would work on her next story.
“I really enjoyed the process of illustrating this book, which is all about exploring the outdoors and learning and Irish wildlife and music,” the man himself explained. “Well done to Emma-Jane on a great story and concept – one all Irish children are sure to love.”
Johnny Magory and the Forest Fleadh Cheoil is essentially a book of nostalgia for people who grew up in the seventies, eighties and nineties and a fantastic story that will captivate children today. Retailing at €10, it’s available from www.johnnymagory.com.