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The Vanishing Lake


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About the Author

Paddy Donnelly is an Irish author and illustrator living in Belgium, who has illustrated many children’s books, including Dodos Are Not Extinct, Here Be Dragons, Míp, Hom, and Wolves in Helicopters. His work has achieved international acclaim. He has been nominated twice for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration, shortlisted for the World Illustration Awards, and in 2023 he won the Judges’ Special Award at the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards. Paddy’s first book as author and illustrator, the award-winning The Vanishing Lake, also features Meara and her grandad. His hugely popular Fox & Son Tailers was shortlisted for the An Post Irish Book Awards in 2022, and won the Literacy Association of Ireland Biennial Children’s Book Award in 2023. His books have been published in many languages. Paddy grew up on the beautiful north coast of Ireland, surrounded by mythical stories of giants, magical creatures and shape-shifting animals. His storytelling reflects his love of nature and animals.


A wonderful read for adults and children alike, as it is a journey of discovery.
*Children's Books Ireland*

We all really enjoyed this story and its surprise ending. We all gave it 10/10 - Junior Infants, Senior Infants and First Class, Drom NS, Co. Tipperary
*Seomra Ranga*

A magical melding of myth and science, this adds new layers of imagination to the story of the real Co Antrim lake Loughareema, whose appearance and disappearance may owe much to its chalk bed and unusual drainage pattern, but whose legends are much more intriguing. Ghosts of the drowned and of kelpie spirits have haunted the vanishing lake for centuries but Donnelly, who grew up near the North Antrim coast, creates a whole new web of possible - and impossible - explanations for the erratic behaviour of the lake’s water. When young Meara’s grandad suggests the water has been soaked up by the fleeces of swimming sheep, she sees straight through his story, so he tries a different tack. “The mermaids took the plug out again,” he offers. “Or I suppose it could have been narwhals doing headstands. They poke holes in the lake bed with their horns and all the water drains out.” His theories questioned by his logical granddaughter, Grandad asks: “Do you only believe what you can see?” It’s a question pertinent not just to Donnelly’s story, in which truth may be stranger than fiction, but to most of Ireland’s tourist and heritage sites, where the attractions of the natural landscape are augmented and enriched by the power of the accomplished storyteller
*Evening Echo*

a captivating tale that celebrates a young girl's determination, a granddad's wisdom, and the fantastical wonders of the natural world
*Irish Daily Star*

incredibly wonderful … a mysterious, charming, beautifully illustrated tale of natural wonder
*Fallen Star Stories*

Based on the author’s own childhood memories of a very real vanishing lake, this charming tale is a lovely nod to the Irish folklore with all its magic and mystery. Donnelly’s illustrations portray the remote landscapes of Ire- with beautiful simplicity and vibrancy on every page. The author’s notes on the final pages give the location and science behind the lake that inspired the book so the reader can have their own adventure. This warm and sweet book is the perfect bed-time story. Recommended for all ages
*Irish Examiner*

one of my absolute favourite books
*Milo & Gigi’s Bookshelf*

illustrated with rich, warm swathes of green and blues, Donnelly makes the most of the double-page spreads to celebrate this idyllic, Irish locale. As Meara explores the lake floor with a magnifying glass, Donnelly presents lush, green vistas with deep clouds and expansive spaces. Animals, both fantastical and real dot the frame and landscape and children will be drawn in by these visitors to mythical scenes. What is especially lovely though is granddad's fanciful yarns about why the water has vanished and whether the truth of the story lands on the magic of granddad's side or Meara's science. A narrative play that will keep young readers hooked until the end. I particularly liked the information text at the back in which Donnelly shares the story's origin based around a real lake he visited as a child in his home county in Ireland in which the water really did drain away. A fantastical delight and one that will be better shared 
*Books for Keeps*

the illustrations are richly textured and in themselves tell a story of the ever-changing beauty of the landscape … this picturebook explores the importance of family and curiosity and the wonders of the natural world
*Children's Books Ireland Reading Guide 2022*

a lovely book about believing in the impossible, and exploring the amazing nature around you. There is a page at the back explaining that this really does happen to Lake Loughareema in Northern Ireland and scientists have an explanation. (But Meara’s and Grandad’s is better!) Paddy Donnelly’s illustrations are friendly and bright, and portray weather and various textures brilliantly. You can feel the cold rain and the long grass! The story makes you look again at the pictures, where hills might suggest shapes of other things. Therefore, there is lots to discuss in the pictures – it’s also fun to spot Cara the otter – as well as the story. This book is ideal for talking about imagination and storytelling, plus it shows a gorgeous relationship with a grandfather

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