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Praise for Mother Tongue

‘Subtle, humane and inspiring. An amazing book.’ – Anne Booth, author of  Across the Divide

‘Letta is the best of heroines: brave and determined and full of heart.’ – Jane Mitchell, author of A Dangerous Crossing

‘Taut, thrilling and thought-provoking.’  – Sinead O’Hart, author of The Star-Spun Web

Imagine a world where your very language is taken from you. That is the reality for Letta and the other inhabitants of Ark, a world post environmental collapse. While others accept the new reality of a world of limited words, wordsmith Letta understands that words are power and if they let their words be taken by the dictator of Ark, then they are lost forever. In this follow up novel to The Wordsmith, Letta is living with the rebels teaching in a hidden school, determined to pass her language on to others. When the rebels are captured, she is cast adrift in the frightening world of Ark, facing a new dictator who not only wants to limit the words that can be used, but to take words away from the people completely. Now with babies disappearing, Letta must figure out what is going on before it is too late. With climate disaster high on the agenda and protests happening across the globe, Letta’s reality seems chillingly possible and this is what draws you into the story. Letta’s fear and determination become those of the reader as we will her on to save the very thing that makes us human – our words. This is a fast-paced, inspiring tale of determination and hope in a world that seems to have very little. There are lots of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged right down to figuring out who can be trusted and who can’t, and Letta is a fallible yet brave hero that we can all get behind. An of-the-moment page-turner for anyone aged 9-12. - Children's Books Ireland

MOTHER TONGUE is the standalone follow-up to the award-winning and critically acclaimed THE WORDSMITH (published in North America as THE LIST) by Galway native Patricia Forde. After global warming came the Melting. Then came Ark. The new dictator of Ark wants to silence speech for ever. But Letta is the wordsmith, tasked with keeping words alive. Out in the woods, she and the rebels secretly teach children language, music and art. Now there are rumours that babies are going missing. When Letta makes a horrifying discovery, she has to find a way to save the children of Ark – even if it is at the cost of her own life. - Caroline Fielding, Teenage Librarian


It is most unusual that the sequel to a wonderful book is anywhere near as good as the first one. In 2015 Patricia Forde’s The Wordsmith was published to great acclaim, winning several awards, and introducing readers to Letta the Wordsmith, whose job it is to hand out words to people who need them.

The Wordsmith tells the story of how Letta discovered that Noa, the leader of the Ark, is out to destroy language altogether. Letta has to find a way to stop him silencing what remains of the human race. Packed with action, it is one of the best children’s books published in Ireland for quite some time.

Little Island recently published the sequel, Mother Tongue. There is a new leader in Ark and she is even more vicious than her predecessor, with language now being kept from children from birth. Letta has escaped and moved into the rebel community where she is running a clandestine school, trying to keep words alive. Now there are rumours that babies are going missing.

The rebels are captured and Letta goes on the run, finding her family and new allies along the way. The book moves at a cracking pace as they ready for the final battle for language, art, and music.

There is a growing confidence in Forde’s writing which adds immensely to the power of the book especially when she describes the Baby Farms. The rumours of babies going missing prove to be too true and one of the more moving passages of the book is when Letta discovers the Baby Farms in which these babies are being held in a world where there is no language:

“She saw a long and white room. Each wall was lined with small white cots. A woman dressed in white was standing over one cot with her back to the window...the woman bent down and picked up a baby. Slowly she turned with the infant in her arms and Letta’s heart almost stopped beating. The woman’s mouth was taped shut with heavy grey duct tape and Letta recognised her immediately.”

From the beginning of Mother Tongue, Forde’s development of Letta’s character is masterful. She is an extraordinary heroine, impulsive, brave and determined, and the description of her triumph in the final pages of the book is one is one of the most powerful passages in the book.

Mother Tongue is dedicated to the “memory of the Tuam babies and for children without a voice everywhere”. The chapter headings words that are allowed in Ark such as “Imagine To form a thought, a picture or an image in the mind" and “Think to use power of mind To have opinion”. The book is a major triumph to be enjoyed by adults and children alike, especially in these uncertain days. - Des Kenny, The Galway Advertiser

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