I am the author of The Butterfly Heart (Walker Books) and The Sleeping Baobab Tree (release date 5th May 2013. Both books are set in Zambia. This blog is about writing and about things that interest me. I also have a blog at www.thebutterflyheart.net with more on my books, Zambia and the issue of child marriage


Libraries in County Clare

Libraries in County Clare

Last week I spent a couple of days in Clare – visited Scarriff, Killaloe, Ennis and Shannon. This time of year always reminds me of the work being done in the libraries in Ireland – and always reinvigorates my hope that we do not go the way of Britain where public libraries are being closed. Hundreds closed so far I think. In the North as far as I know, one has already been closed and ten are…

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Children’s Book Festival

October here again, Children’s Book Festival – it’s a lovely month for children’s writers, booksellers, libraries, schools and children all over Ireland.

I am someone who finds it hard to switch my brain off from what is happening in the world – I never understand how it is possible for anyone to switch off. Sometimes it overwhelms. Cruelty, bigotry, prejudice, hatred, intolerance, brutality,…

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Hay Festival Kells

I feel very privileged that this year I was invited to participate in the Hay Festival in Kells. I am not usually nervous about the ‘performance’ side of writing – schools, writing workshops, festivals etc. – but for some reason I was nervous about this one.

white rose

Turned out there was no need. The Hay Festival staff and volunteers in Kells were, one and all, wonderful. So welcoming, helpful and…

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For Telling us how to Milk a Snake

For Telling us how to Milk a Snake

On the day of the CBI Awards Ceremony I received this email from Ms. Mackey’s wonderful class in St. John’s  School in Kilkenny. My own children went to this school and I hold it dear to my heart.

I got the email while I was waiting, with trepidation, for the awards ceremony to begin. What more did I need than these 29 awards!?

Dear Paula,

CONGRATULATIONS!  You are the winner of 29 AWARDS. Emoji Ms…

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CBI Special Judges Award 2014

CBI Special Judges Award 2014

Perfectly delighted to have been awarded the Special Judges Award in the CBI Book of the Year awards. A big thank you to CBI, to everyone I know and love and congratulations to all of those on the shortlist and to Marie Louise Fitzpatrick for her overall Book of the Year award.

What the judges said about The Sleeping Baobab Tree :

• Special Judges’ Award: Paula Leyden for The Sleeping Baobab…

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Happy Days

Yesterday was a happy writing day.

Robert Dunbar in the Irish Times had this to say about the Sleeping Baobab Tree …

Finally, with Paula Leyden’s The Sleeping Baobab Tree , we travel to Zambia for a mind-opening novel featuring twin sisters, the boy next door and his formidable greatgrandmother: a car journey involving all four provides a wonderfully sustained piece of comic writing in a novel…

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Welcome in our class, our school and our universe

Welcome in our class, our school and our universe

This warmed my heart today – the plays referred to in the letter are plays the class (a combined 4th and 5th Class) put on, each group taking a different section of the book. They were absolutely brilliant.


Dear Paula,

We FINISHED reading ‘The Sleeping Baobab Tree’ today.  In the words of Leah Anderson (5th Class) we have mixed emotions.  Every school day is going to be different from now…

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CBI Awards Shortlist 2014

CBI Awards Shortlist 2014

A dkayed post … I had written this a week ago when they were announced but it ended up in drafts!

So, here goes. I was thrilled to hear that my second book, The Sleeping Baobab Tree is on the 2014 shortlist for the CBI Awards.

.. So a big thank you to the judges for considering my book worthy of the honour. I am one of eight authors on the list and here’s what CBI said about it all …


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Hello Nelson. Cool shirt!

Hello Nelson. Cool shirt!

Yesterday on World Book Day while I was in Galway I did a small exercise with one of the groups, from Scoil Ida. It was on the subject of Mandela.

I was delighted to hear that they knew so much about him and so obviously admired him. Fair play to the teachers concerned!

I thought I would write down some of the things they wrote, which were things they would like to say to him if he had visited…

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Crawling with ghosts

This post  could not, in all honesty, be called a written post. No writing needed. What follows is a series of pictures drawn by Ms Mackey’s 4th and 5th Class in St.

Crawling with ghosts

This post  could not, in all honesty, be called a written post. No writing needed. What follows is a series of pictures drawn by Ms Mackey’s 4th and 5th Class in St.