Sharjah ( Press Release )
It was in the winter of 1940s when a brutal storm hit the Atlantic Ocean close to the Island of Arranmore. A ship was drowning and 18 sailors were stranded with no help. One lifeboat tried to save them, but the sea took them captive before they could reach the sinking ship. Alas, when there was no hope left, one of the sailors made a call to the small Island of Arranmore where less than 400 people lived. Nine men volunteered to sail out into the unforgiving storm. Their families stood by the shore, praying and hoping that they would return.
After six hours, the men returned with 18 sailors. One of the brave nine men was Catherine Doyle’s great-grandfather. Catherine Doyle is a children’s author whose books were inspired by the tales from her family. She arrived in the UAE yesterday and made a bee-line to the 11th edition of Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival where school kids were eagerly awaiting with bated breath.
Her debut Middle Grade novel, ‘The Storm Keeper’s Island,’ is a tale about an Island that selects a storm keeper to maintain its power. Creatures like flying horses, sea barbarians and magical candles that store old memories thrive in this magical island. It’s a story about family and love, above all – it is a story that enthralled the students and even those who never read her book stood in line to buy her book and get it autographed.
In her session titled, ‘Magic, memory, & mystery’, she delved into Irish mythology exploring Dagda and Morrigan. These two ancient sorcerers formed the basis of her story where good battled evil and time stood still. The long battle ended with the sorcerers buried deep into the Island. Dagda, the good force, left five magical gifts for the people of the Island.
As Catherine explored the five magical gifts, the students wondered what they would do with the gifts. The hall was enveloped in silence as Catherine’s animated voice boomed: “The first gift was a whispering tree. Anyone who goes up to the whispering tree is allowed one question about their future.”
Young and excited students raised their hands with questions that baffled Catherine herself. A child wanted to know if our world would survive the pollution we keep throwing onto the earth, another wanted to know if we could ever end world hunger.
The second gift was a wishing cave and several kids wished they could go back home to their land in Syria & Palestine. The third gift was the merrows, magical creatures that could help you as well as eat you alive if you hold bad intentions. The fourth gift was Aonbharr, a winged horse, that could take you anywhere in the world and the last gift was the ‘Storm Keeper,’ a person who gets bestowed with all the powers of the island and can control the weather.
The session was filled with stories, wrapped with desires and wishes of young minds. With only three days left at this magnificent festival, parents and children should head to the Expo Center and engage in fun and interactive activities. SCRF is the leading event in the UAE as well as the region that promises fun-filled entertainment as well as cultural education for children.