Hello, Marino!

© Róisín White

Hello to the students and staff of Marino Institute of Education. Let me introduce myself. My name is Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick and I am your children’s writer-in-residence for 2017/18. I am a writer/illustrator and I’ve been making books for children since 1988. Here are some of my books:

Since 2006 I’ve also been writing novels for older kids:

My main interest as a picturebook creator is in charting the personal journeys we make in early childhood, the small events which change us, the little battles and triumphs as we grow up. I’m told that Izzy and Skunk has been used with children by psychiatrists and There is used in classrooms to introduce kids to philosophy. My novels are rooted in myth and legend but ultimately they are concerned (as so many stories are) with how we each twist and turn and struggle (and laugh and dance) towards adulthood.

Over my career I’ve worked with Irish, UK and US publishers and my books are in many languages. The Sleeping Giant has been my Irish bestseller; Izzy and Skunk, I’m a Tiger Too and There are probably my most widely read worldwide. Izzy even made it into Farsi. There has been popular in Japan and I was privileged to have the poet and philosopher Shozo Kajima translate – and write an introduction to – the Japanese edition.

My work has won many awards, including four overall Bisto/CBI Book of the Year Awards and six honours. There was an Eric Carle Museum Best Picturebooks of 2009 choice and The Long March is a Smithsonian Notable Book. My most recent book, Owl Bat Bat Owl, has just been designated a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2017 in the US.

Owl Bat Bat Owl is a wordless picturebook and I look forward to sharing it with you. I’ll speak about where the idea came from and how it developed, and also about how wordless books work with children and how much they can learn from them. For those of you who’ve met me already and heard me speak about Owl Bat Bat Owl, I will be designing a new talk for you. Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!

I will also be writing a series of blogs during my residency especially directed towards you, student teachers in Marino. If you have any questions about my work, about one of my books, about children’s books in general, about writing and illustrating, please send them my way. You can contact me via Ciara Ní Bhroin. I’d love to hear from you.


Marino Institute of Education (MIE) is an associated college of Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Dublin. MIE offers courses across the continuum of teacher education and prepares specialist education practitioners at early years, primary and further education levels.  This is my third year as writer-in-residence.

Photo of me at work © Róisín White

Going on the Telly


I’m not a natural when a microphone is clipped on me and the cameras are rolling, so it always helps if the interviewers are well prepped and ask decent questions. On Elev8 the interviewers are friendly and easy-going. Between their own researcher Kate and Aoife at CBI they’d been very well-prepared, so it was almost as if Diana and Sean had read Hagwitch themselves and had been following my career for years!

I had fun hanging out in the greenroom with Hannah (another guest on the show) and her mum. Once the show was live I had to go hide inside the ‘lift’ as I was on after the Chatty Chin. I could hear the various interviews with Eoin Colfer, Derek Landy, Sheena, Siobhán and Oliver while I waited for the ping that signaled it was time to emerge into the studio. I kept taking deep breaths and crossed my fingers that the door wouldn’t stick/I wouldn’t fall over the step as I came out.

The questions came thick and fast, We chatted about winning the CBI Book Award for the fourth time, about both strands of the story in Hagwitch – Flea’s story set in the world of the theatre in Tudor London, and Lally’s, set on the Puppet Theatre Barge in modern London. We also talked a bit about my latest picture book, The New Kid. It was fun and it was all over in a flash!

You can watch the 25 min programme here: The CBI award bit is about 2 mins in. Link will work till June 5th.

To Trailer or Not to Trailer?



Getting the camera ready to start filming the puppet for Hagwitch trailer

When I came across a book trailer for the first time a few years back my reaction was ‘We need mini movies to sell books now? You’re kidding, right?’

Hot on the heels of that first lot of slick publisher-produced book trailers came a crowd of author-produced trailers.

‘Nooooo,’ I said to Michael. ‘We come up with the ideas, write the books, illustrate the books, run around shops, schools and libraries talking about the books, and now we’re supposed to make trailers for them too? No way, enough already.’

But there’s no ignoring social media and its many possibilities for communicating with a wide audience about our work. For the past six months Michael and myself have been talking about which things we should engage with, which would be the best use our time. Do it all and no books get made.

We’ve decided to do stuff we feel we can do well and, most importantly, will enjoy doing. So we’ll keep doing school/library visits (but not so many that they become a blur) and keep on Face-booking (it’s already an established habit and a great way of keeping up with the children’s book world). We started this joint blog as we both love the idea of focusing on the visual, and keeping one short blog between the two of us has to be more fun and more do-able than keeping a long blog each… at least, that’s the theory!

And now here I am making trailers.

So far it has been really interesting and I’ve learnt loads. There’s been plenty of cursing and yelling at the computer while I grappled with the technical stuff – iMovie is not remotely intuitive – but I think I’ve probably sprouted a few new neural pathways in the process. Creatively, there are similarities to making picturebooks – blending words and images, stripping the idea back to it’s simplest, cutting, cutting and cutting again. The biggest difference is sound – the key element for adding atmosphere and holding the viewer to the screen.

Twitter? Maybe next year.

Niall (our neighbour and sound and music man) records Oisín (also a neighbour) narrating The New Kid trailer

Niall (our neighbour and sound and music man) records Oisín (also a neighbour) narrating The New Kid trailer

Anyone else making their own trailers out there?
What’s your favourite bit of ‘new medja’ – blogs? Twitter? Tumbler?

Strings and Things



We’ve visited the Puppet Theatre Barge in Little Venice, London, a few times over the last two years for research purposes (I used the barge as the setting for a novel) and last Saturday we were back on board to catch their latest show and do some filming with my lovely puppet-making, puppet-operating cousin, Sarah

The May Brent is an old barge which has been specially adapted so that the roof can be raised and panel walls slipped into place to create a mini theatre space when the barge is moored. Come on in and have a look around with us…

Tomorrow: the puppet show, both front and back stage.

Visit the Puppet Theatre Barge website here 

Drop in on Missfitz Marionettes here

If you’d like to share this with any puppet-loving friends, there be buttons: