Tadcu's Bobble Hat by Malachy Doyle


Tadcu's Bobble Hat by Malachy Doyle

A touching story that conveys the warmth and joy between two generations, and handles the universal themes of love, loss and renewal with gentleness.


Readers will welcome the arrival of author Malachy Doyle's hundredth publication, Tadcu's Bobble Hat, the most recent of his range of books for various ages. This touching picture book is reminiscent of his first, Owen and the Mountain, with its key relationship between grandchild and grandfather and a shared walking pursuit. However, this goes further in sensitively handling personal loss whilst celebrating continuity, love and respect for family history and heritage in a simple but effective way. I'll never forget the day I climbed Fron Goch with Tad-cu Wil, begins the boy storyteller, hooking the reader to his memory of a journey of panoramic local views, later spoiled by a snowstorm. Ailing Tad-cu, who is staying with his daughter and grandson, passes the boy his own bobble hat to keep him warm the one with CYMRU on which had been knitted for Wil by his grandmother when he himself was a boy. They make their way quickly down the mountain again but in the process the hat is lost. By the spring thaw Tad-cu's cough is silent. Mam and son eventually go back to the mountain and, to their joy, find the hat knitted by his mam's dad's mam's mam which helps him remember his lovely grandfather, their shared memories and the hopeful reassurance that there's always another day. He'll never again lose this symbol of family,he promises. In this book for youngsters aged 57, ideal for sharing at home or in school, the author has keyed into a relationship with grandparents enjoyed by many. As in John Burningham's Grandpa, there is no sentimental exploitation but straightforward storytelling with a careful choice of child-friendly vocabulary. The occasional use of bold lettering and the distribution of text and graphics enhance this feature, and all work towards promoting a response from the young reader and listener. Both children and adults will be helped to empathise by the spare narrative and highly evocative illustrations. As is often the case in quality picture books, the illustrations by Dorry Spikes do more than mimic or merely support the text. From the Fron Goch map with its picnic provisions, feather and compass to the stunning double page landscapes, portraits, photo album and evocations of home, (is that the feather collected on the Fron Goch journey in the bedroom picture?), to the poignant bobble hat and walking boots placed alone on white pages, Tad-cu's Bobble Hat exemplifies the creative cooperation of author, illustrator and editor at its best. The book also shows off the artist's sympathetic attention to detail, echoing and enhancing meaning. Malachy Doyle's memorable hundredth book merits a place on bookshelves and is highly recommended. M Lorna Herbert Egan It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council

About the Author

Malachy Doyle

Malachy Doyle was born in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland in 1954. His parents had recently moved up from Dublin and named him, their seventh child, after a local saint. They lived in Whitehead, a small town at the mouth of Belfast Lough all his childhood; his father still lives there. He went to secondary school (Saint Malachy’s College) in Belfast, and then to Bolton, Lancashire where he studied for a degree in Psychology. Malachy taught in Leeds for a year, followed by six months packing Polo Mints. He then worked for seven long years in advertising, firstly for Rowntree Mackintosh in York and later for general foods in Banbury, before buying a small holding in West Wales.

To feed his wife, Liz, their three young children, Naomi, Hannah and Liam (now teenagers), and numerous goats, pigs and chickens, Malachy took a job as a care assistant in a local Residential Special School. For the next seven years he darned socks, patched jeans and generally looked after the children there, before being offered the post of Deputy Head at another Special School. They moved to Machynlleth, a small town on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, and three years later he began to write for children. He now writes full time, apart from visiting schools or escaping into the mountains, and his books are available in eleven different languages.

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Book Info


32 pages


Malachy Doyle
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Publication date

17th October 2014



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