Gomer Press is the largest independent publisher in Wales and one of the oldest. Established in 1892 and still owned by the same family, it focusses on books with a distinctive Welsh identity and publishes books for adults and children in both languages.
We’ll focus on the books for children released during 2018 in English:
Three Tales by Cynan Jones (£5.99)
Award-winning and respected writer for adults, Cynan Jones turns his hand to three folk tales or fables for children.
Inspiring discussion, ideal for school assemblies or in-class debates, Malachy Doyle exclaims these are “treats of the imagination for child and adult alike.”
Mamgu’s Campervan, Wendy White; Helen Flook (£5.99)
Wendy White is a real favourite of Nina’s. Her previous volumes, Welsh Cakes and Custard and St. David’s Day is Cancelled are both adored in our house.
Mamgu’s Campervan is a short volume following the adventures of Betsi Wynn and Mamgu around a castle.
Mamgu and Betsi Wyn get the camper van out of hibernation but it doesn’t seem to be working properly! They finally get it going and take it out for a spin. This is a heartwarming adventure story that children in Year 2 and Year 3 will love.
Nina says “I really liked all the Welsh words that Wendy White used – castell, diolch, da iawn, Ych a fi! – it gave the book a definite Welsh feel! I also loved the pictures: Helen Flook’s illustrations made the story come to life – the colourful front cover is especially good.”
This book comes highly recommended and we are looking forward to more from Wendy White soon.
The Last Big One, Dan Anthony (£8.99)
The Last Big One is an emotive and gritty story for older readers from trusted and accomplished author, Dan Anthony.
It follows the story of Clint, a teenager whose life seems to go from bad to worse – a school expulsion, a mother grieving, feelings of guilt and injustice and not belonging. He runs away to Parchman Farm.
Here he has to find himself and learn who to trust. Daddy Worm thought this was a brilliant book from a talented writer.
Wil and the Welsh Black Cattle, Phil Okwedy (£5.99)
Wil and the Welsh Black Cattle weaves together six Welsh tales to tell the story of how Wil cheats death and finds true love – but not before losing his fortune twice. Interwoven is the story of Al Capone’s Welsh right-hand man, Murray the Hump. The story takes us from Wales to London and the USA, mixing the real lives of cattle drovers with fantastical fairy elements.
Bananabeeyumio by Laura Sheldon (£6.99)
Bananabeeyumio is a bit of a mouthful – and maybe that’s how it’s meant to be, as here is a story about a secret recipe for a secret sweet treat. Take a bite of bananabeeyumio and you suddenly become able to jump to Olympic standards. But here’s the rub: bananabeeyumio must remain a secret – only to be known by the residents of Cwmbach.
However, one day 11 year old Charlie is spotted by a talent scout for a sports academy and is unable to reveal the real reason for his extreme jumping abilities. The story follows Charlie as he is heralded as the “next big thing” in junior athletics. Clearly things don’t go to plan and there are lessons to be learned about being honest, trustworthy and respecting the hard work of others. Should keeping a secret get you into so much hot water?
Well, the secret is in danger of being revealed several times during the book, as there are more twists and turns in this story than there are on the roads to Cwmbach. An engaging and well-written tale.
The Inn of Waking Shadows, Karla Brading (£6.99)
Emlyn has always stood out at school, and living at the Skirrid Inn doesn’t help. Other kids live with siblings or pets – but Emlyn shares his home with ghosts! Or so they say.
Emlyn doesn’t believe the stories that his home is the most haunted inn in Wales – that is, until he rings a servant’s bell and accidentally summons Fanny Price. Fanny’s presence disturbs some of the Inn’s angrier residents – namely ‘Hanging’ Judge Jeffries, a much older and more powerful ghost who is determined to add Fanny to his collection of feeble spirits.
With flesh-and-blood bullies making his school life miserable, and a ghostly one making his home life down right dangerous, will Emlyn be strong enough to help Fanny move on? And if he does… will he have lost his only friend?
The Lonely Bwbach, Graham Howells (£5.99)
This short tale tells of a little creature from Welsh folklore – the bwbach, a little hobgoblin who would live with a family and care for the home, doing chores in return for a bowl of cream.
The bwbach in this tale has been left alone for years in the house as it was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
Ultimately the cottage was dismantled brick by brick and the bwbach is left distraught.
All is not lost however has he learns that his house has been relocated to St Ffagans and it is his duty to protect it so he sets off on a quest…
An unusual and absorbing tale with great illustrations.
Juliet Jones and the Ginger Pig, Sue Reardon-Smith (£5.99)
Aberteg is a little village in the west of Wales, tucked between the hills and the sea. If you were to go there yourself, you might see Mansel Roberts going up the mountain to look for owls. You could bump into the Bevan twins or come across Mostyn, watching a pair of otters in the river. And if you stayed by the sea, you may see Sian and Juliet playing rounders on the beach. You might even catch a glimpse of Dabby Davies.
In these stories are eight children for you to meet. All of them are different, but all of them are just a little bit like you, too. They will help you learn why friendship is special, how good it is to believe in yourself, and why you must always, always be kind.
All of these titles are available to purchase direct from Gomer online. We are extremely grateful to them for providing review copies of many of these books and would like to thank them for their continued support.