One Book, One Community


Marilyn Taylor reading at the launch of One Book, One InchicoreOne Book, One Community hardly comes close to summing up the scale and success of this project that has been sweeping across Ireland over the last couple of years. It's turned out to be a constellation of celebrations of great books, of reading and of community spirit as libraries, schools, publishers and authors all work together to inspire kids to love books. It's grass-roots activism and something to be very proud of.

We're thrilled to have had O'Brien Press books used in an ever-growing number of One Book, One Community projects around Ireland, including the selection of Marilyn Taylor's 17 Martin Street for Dublin's first project -- One Book, One Inchicore in 2010. Our support for these projects has included

  • supply of teaching materials and guides for the books
  • supply of posters, bookmarks, cover blow-ups and other display material
  • assistance in getting the authors involved directly in the projects
  • collaboration in the production of audio versions of the books (for Faraway Home)

In many cases the authors have become actively involved in the projects. And there are more coming! For now, we'd like to thank all the communities who have chosen The O'Brien Press for such a worthwhile venture and we wish all the upcoming projects great success.

If you are considering running a One Book, One Community project, you could consider the titles listed below: they have all been used before and you can draw on the success and experience of the communities who used them. Of course, there are lots of other great O'Brien Press titles and authors that could be perfect for your community. If you would like to talk about title selection, project ideas or direct purchase of books for your project, please contact Aoife Harrison (aoife.harrison@obrien.ie).

Select any book or cover for more information on the title: extracts and teaching guides are available for free viewing.

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Yellow Flag: For readers aged 6+ (includes Flyers)

Written by Joe O'Brien, Illustrated by Jean Texier

Budsville's chocolate fair cancelled? No way, Alfie decides. The wise old plant tells him of the Roaring Rainforest in Arcania where he can collect chocolate seeds. But it won't be easy. Alfie first has to brave the vicious Spider Plants and the Forest Ogre. And even if he escapes from them, the Chocolate Vine is waiting to catapult him through the gateway of the Chocolate Cosmos. Not even his crystal orchid will be able to save him then.

Existing projects: Ballyfermot
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Red Flag: For readers aged 8+

Written by Gillian Perdue, Illustrated by Barry Reynolds

Adam's Starling tells the story of a nine year old boy who is finding life difficult. At home, no-one has any time for him. At school things are even worse – a gang of bullies has singled Adam out for punishment. Life is becoming increasingly difficult for Adam. But then a scruffy little starling comes into Adam's life. This is Adam's secret, his own special friend. But can Adam's defend his small friend against the bullies? Will he find the courage he has needed all along?

Existing projects: Mahon
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Green Flag: For readers aged 13+

Shortlisted for the Bookseller YA Prize 2015! Jo could never have guessed that the friendship she so desperately craves would come in the shape of a severely disabled boy. He can’t even speak. Maybe it is because he can’t speak that she finds herself telling him how difficult it is living with her eccentric, mentally fragile mother. Behind Chris’ lopsided grin and gigantic blue wheelchair is a real person — with a sense of humour, a tremendous stubborn streak and a secret he has kept from everyone. For a while it seems life may actually get better. But as Jo finds out just how terrible life is for Chris, and as her own life spirals out of control, she becomes desperate to change things for both of them. In a dramatic turn of events, Jo makes a decision that could end in tragedy. This is the story of how an unusual friendship unlocks the words that neither knew they had.

Existing projects: Wexford
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Blue Flag: For readers aged 10+

A web of secrets can risk lives … When Hetty’s family move to Martin Street near Portobello bridge in Dublin, they’re not sure of their welcome. And next door, Ben’s family are not sure about their new Jewish neighbours: it’s The Emergency and they are suspicious of strangers. But for Ben, the chance to earn a few pence is too great and secretly he does odd jobs for them. And there’s a bigger secret: Renata, a World War Two refugee, is on the run in the city. Hetty is determined to rescue her. The web of secrets begins to unravel and there are lives at risk. Can Hetty and Ben overcome their differences and save Renata, or are they just meddling in things they know too little about?

Existing projects: Inchicore, Liberties

What Happens When Your Best Friend ought to be Your Enemy? Liam and Nora form an unlikely friendship when he lends her a helping hand during a music competition. Liam's father, a mechanic, is a proud trade union member, while Nora's father is a prosperous wine importer. When Jim Larkin takes on the might of the employers in 1913, resulting in strikes, riots and lockouts, Liam and Nora's friendship is challenged and their loyalties torn. Caught up in events that they don't fully understand, the two come face to face with hardship and danger, but also find humour and generosity as they set out on an adventure that may make or break their friendship, but will definitely change their lives forever. The historical events of the Dublin 1913 Lockout vividly portrayed through the lives of two young friends.

Existing projects: Dún Laoghaire, Fairview

Karl and Rosa's family watch in horror as Hitler's troops parade down the streets of their home city -- Vienna. It has become very dangerous to be a Jew in Austria, and after their uncle is sent to Dachau, Karl and Rosa's parents decide to send the children out of the country on a Kindertransport, one of the many ships carrying refugee children away from Nazi danger. Isolated and homesick, Karl ends up in Millisle, a run-down farm in Ards in Northern Ireland, which has become a Jewish refugee centre, while Rosa is fostered by a local family. Hard work on the farm keeps Karl occupied, although he still waits desperately for any news from home. Then he makes friends with locals Peewee and Wee Billy, and also with the girls from neutral Dublin who come to help on the farm, especially Judy. But Northern Ireland is in the war too, with rationing and air-raid warnings, and, in April 1941 the bombs of the Belfast Blitz bring the reality of war right to their doorstep. And for Karl and Rosa and the other refugees there is the constant fear that they may never see their parents again. Based on a true story -- there was a refugee farm at Millisle and among its occupants was a young boy called Karl.

Existing projects: Ballymun

Beverley, a bit of a snob, cooks up a plot to visit the island off the coast. She manages to convince the somewhat cautious Elizabeth and her slob of a brother, Gerard, to come along. A surprise companion is Kevin, the cool guy who works in the local shop. This motley crew must find ways to support each other and put up with one another's shortcomings, when they become stranded on the island and encounter a strange inhabitant.

Existing projects: Letterkenny

When her home is destroyed in the Luftwaffe bombing of the North Strand, Dublin in 1941, Grace Ryan is forced to move in with relatives in a different part of the city. There she meets Barry Malone, an English boy sent to neutral Ireland to escape the terrible air raids on his native city of Liverpool. Wary of each other at first, Grace and Barry become friends when she acts to stop him being bullied in his new school. Barry later saves Grace from losing her part-time job in a shop and, with school about to end, a summer of fun stretches before them in the sports club run by his teacher, Mr Pawlek. However, Barry begins to suspect Mr Pawlek of spying for the Nazis and he enrols Grace in his attempts to find proof. But what starts as an exciting challenge becomes increasingly risky, and their friendship is put to the test when their very lives hang in the balance.

Existing projects: Wexford, Dublin 7

One of the most dramatic seafaring tragedies ever … Thirteen-year-old Finbar Kennedy runs away from home in Queenstown (Cobh) to follow his sea-captain father onto the Lusitania. On the return journey from New York, Finbar works as a deck-hand, and running messages gives him a lot of information. He begins to understand that something strange is happening. But what can he do? And whom can he trust? Fact is stranger than fiction: In May 1915 the huge liner, the Lusitania, sank off the Cork coast near the Old Head of Kinsale. This happened during the First World War. But, unlike the Titanic tragedy, this was no accident. The ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. Rumour had it that there were spies, arms and gold on board the Lusitania. These rumours were true.

Existing projects: Cobh, Co. Cork
Written by Nicola Pierce, Illustrated by Emma Byrne

Fifteen-year-old Samuel Scott died while building the Titanic. As the ship sails to her doom, his ghost moves restlessly alongside the passengers and crew: Frederick Fleet: the young look-out who spotted the iceberg and who survived in a life-boat with (the unsinkable) Molly Brown; Howard Hartley Wallace: the heroic band-leader who played ragtime music as the freezing waters lapped at his feet; Harold Bride: the junior radio operator whose messages echoed on, long after the ship had disappeared to its icy grave …

Existing projects: Ardee, Cobh, Limerick, Newbridge, Wexford, Kildare, The Curragh

In the Dublin of 1922 with Civil War about to break out, working class Annie Reilly is thrilled to win a scholarship to Eccles Street Convent School. A little frozen out by her old friends, yet not wholly accepted by all of her new classmates, she is pleased to be befriended by Susie O'Neill an easy-going girl from a much more comfortable background. Through Susie's brother, Annie meets Peter Scanlon, a neighbour of the O'Neill's and a pupil at Belvedere college. Having been radicalised by the execution of Kevin Barry, another Belvedere pupil, Peter becomes involved with the rebels who oppose the Treaty with Britain, and who are in conflict with the forces of the newly formed Irish Free State. As families and friends across the nation are forced to choose sides, and with Peter's conservative parents unaware of the dangerous role their son is adopting, Annie and Peter find their friendship coming under strain. Torn socially between her old friends and the exciting opportunities her new school presents, Annie is further confused when fighting breaks out on the streets of the city, with Irishmen now fighting other Irishmen. When Peter comes under suspicion from the police he asks Annie to cover for him. Reluctantly she provides him with an alibi, knowing that this also places her at risk of arrest - and with it the loss of her vitally-important scholarship. While all of the friends try to enjoy normal life - engaging in after-school classes, sports and concerts - there is no escaping the conflict that is rocking the country. Annie and Peter argue, but despite disagreeing with his secret activities as a messenger for the Die Hards, Annie keeps his secret. Annie's father, who drives a hackney that is often used by government officials, is targeted by the rebels, and Annie is kidnapped at gunpoint to force her father to co-operate in an assassination bid. Knowing that both sides have become increasingly brutal and ruthless, Peter is horrified when he learns of the danger that Annie now faces. Torn between his convictions and the debt that he owes to Annie, Peter has a stark choice to make. And when he risks everything for his friend, Annie too has to struggle with loyalty and the notion of informing on a friend, when other peoples' lives are in the balance.

Existing projects: Fairview, Larkin Community VEC
Written by Marita Conlon-McKenna, Illustrated by Donald Teskey

A remarkable story of growing up in extraordinary circumstances that will touch the hearts of all readers. Katie's whole world is turned upside down when her family's home is destroyed by fire. Everything they had is gone, and instead of pulling together it seems as though her family is falling apart. They move to a new house, to a school where nobody wants to know her, and Katie wonders just how many changes she can take. In her fight for acceptance and to keep the family together, she learns a lot about herself.

Existing projects: Fairview

It is 1916 and Europe is at war. From the poverty of the Dublin slums twelve-year-old Jimmy Conway sees it all as glorious, and loves the British Army for which his father is fighting. But when war comes to his own streets Jimmy's loyalties are divided. The rebels occupy the General Post Office and other parts of the city, and Jimmy's uncle is among them. Dublin's streets are destroyed, business comes to a halt. In an attempt to find food for his family, Jimmy crosses the city, avoiding the shooting, weaving through the army patrols, hoping to make it home before curfew. But his quest is not easy and danger threatens at every corner.

Existing projects: Athlone
Written by Eithne Massey, Illustrated by Cartoon Saloon

History, myth and legend collide in this inspiring animated feature film. Twelve-year-old Brendan’s life in the monastery at Kells is not very exciting until Aidan arrives. Suddenly life is one big adventure. In the forest Brendan is rescued from wolves by Aisling, a mysterious green-eyed girl. In the cave of the Dark One, he risks his life to steal the eye of the serpent god, Crom Cruach. Meanwhile Aidan is keeping a secret that will become Brendan’s biggest challenge, and the Vikings get nearer and nearer ...
The first animated feature film ever produced in Ireland, The Secret of Kells has won praise from critics and audiences alike.  

Existing projects: Kilkenny, Tuam

It’s spring 1919. Ireland’s War of Independence has just begun. In a cottage in County Westmeath, thirteen-year-old Colm Conneely longs to join the local Volunteers, the ‘Rainbow Chasers’ who dream of an independent Ireland. Caught up in republican fever, he smuggles guns, stands up to the RIC during a house raid and raises the tricolour on a lake island. But Colm is also chasing another rainbow — he dreams of a life in America working as a fiddle player and involved in the republican movement there. The arrival in the area of spirited Belfast girl Alice McCluskey is a new development in Colm’s life. She speaks Irish, shares his love of Irish music and is also committed to the ‘cause’. Will Colm stay in Ireland and join the Volunteers or will he fulfil his dream of working as a musician in America? A long-held family secret comes to light, rocks Colm’s world and shows him the way to go.

Existing projects: Monaghan
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Black Flag: Picture books and storytelling to read aloud

Written by Tomm Moore, Retold by Mary Webb, Illustrated by Cartoon Saloon

History, myth and legend collide in this full-colour illustrated storybook of the animated feature Brendan and the Secret of Kells. Twelve-year-old Brendan’s life in the monastery at Kells is not very exciting until Aidan arrives. Suddenly life is one big adventure. In the forest Brendan is rescued from wolves by Aisling, a mysterious green-eyed girl. In the cave of the Dark One, he risks his life to steal the eye of the serpent god, Crom Cruach. Meanwhile Aidan is keeping a secret that will become Brendan’s biggest challenge, and the Vikings get nearer and nearer ...
This exciting story is brought to life through stunning visuals and includes a section of facts about the real Book of Kells.

Existing projects: Kilkenny, Tuam