Just received my first independent book review from Paula Xiberras, a reporter/book reviewer living in Tasmania. Paula has posted the review in the Western Australia’s Irish Scene magazine. Because the full review is 2 columns in length, I’ve re-printed a shortened version here for you to read through.
“June Duffy tells me she is very excited about the two Australian candidates for the Dublin writing prize, the Tasmanian Richard Flanagan and the Australian Hannah Kent. Although she hasn’t been to Australia or Tasmania yet… June hopes to visit Australia one day soon, because she has discovered that a relative had immigrated here.
June… has worked as a teacher both in England and Ireland. After meeting her husband she moved with him to Ballyhaunis in Mayo Ireland… and has happily lived in rural Ireland for 17 years. It is rural Ireland that is the setting for her two books …The name June means young and recently June suitably started writing children’s books….her stories which are aimed at 4 to 8 year olds are unique in a couple of ways, one is that they are written in the form of rhyme…. June’s stories are also unique in that they have a spiritual theme.
In the first book, “I’ve Seen Granddad”, a young boy called Sean returns home to tell his mother he has been speaking to his late granddad. Sean’s Mum and sisters are not impressed but when they notice dad outside talking to a man time seems to stand still as if suspended between two worlds, physical and spiritual. The supernatural stillness passes and things return to normal as mum calls the family to dinner.
In the second book ,”You Know Who”, Sean is more cautious in sharing his observations. The book recounts Sean’s play with an unnamed red haired boy. In the first story Sean’s dad seemed to have a spiritual openness….and it is dad who engages Sean in conversation regarding his mysterious playmate known as “You Know Who”. Dad tells Sean through an explanation of the photos on the wall about a child born before him called Seamus that became ill and was taken from the family too early.
The pictures accompanying the text are both beautifully realised and heartbreaking – a door open featuring a suitcase with Seamus’s name written on it, a teddy bear and a path leading from the door into the distance. June, who is a very spiritual person, believes writing about spiritual issues resonates and helps those who have experienced situations of loss in their own lives.
June says when she is invited into schools to talk about her books the imagination of the children takes over as they interpret the stories in a totally different way to her own but she welcomes their imaginative storytelling and how the excellent illustrations encourage their creativity.
June tells me there has been a buzz in reaction to the books which is understandable considering their uniqueness, both in telling their story in rhyme and in touching on the spiritual dimensions in life.”