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The SSiW Welsh Book Club 📖 📚 👓


Thumbs up for #helynt by Rebecca Roberts, which won the Tir na n-Og Award for children’s fiction this year. (Young adult category.)

#helynt translates as #trouble, in the sense of getting in trouble, or someone being trouble. One day Rachel misses the bus to school, and ends up skiving off because she can’t afford to get a taxi. This turns out to be the start of a chain of events which changes her life forever.

I’d say it’s fairly easy to read, with fairly straightforward vocabulary and language. I’d put it on a par with Fi a Mr Huws i’n terms of difficulty. However domestic violence is a key theme, so be aware.

I cried repeatedly and I loved the main character. I can see why it won the prize and I definitely recommend. If only it were in English I’d be recommending it to the young adults in my life.


Sticking with the Tir na n-Og Award, Y Castell Siwgr by Angharad Tomos was a runner-up in the young adult category.

I’m not going to deny it, this wasn’t an easy read, more for the theme than the language. From the back:

“Two girls and one continent. One lord eager for profit. An unflinching story about a slave girl, a maid, a ship and a castle, and suffering beyond all imagination.”

So not an easy story, but worth reading. I knew nothing about Castell Penrhyn and its owners, for a start.

Theme warning: violence and sexual assault. I would say not graphic, but pretty unflinching about what’s happening.

Linguistically, its harder than Helynt and several of the Bethan Gwanas books I’ve read. Firstly, I’m not familiar with the vocabulary of eighteenth century life so there were a lot of new words. Secondly I believe it uses more literary and possibly some more archaic forms/wordings, to give a flavour of the period. It was written in 2020 for a modern audience so still readable, but took more effort.

If anyone else has read it I’d love to try and discuss in Welsh. Let me know.


I finished #helynt a couple of weeks ago and I completely agree with you - it’s an excellent book, the writing style is very engaging and sounds very authentic for a teenager (not that I know any Welsh teenagers, but I imagine that’s what a 15 y.o. girl would sound like). It’s also one of the most touching depictions of what victims of domestic violence feel - too often the authors concentrate on how bad the abusers are leaving the readers wondering why the victim doesn’t just run away, but Rebecca Roberts shows the complexity of the situation where the abuser also takes care of you and protects you, throwing the victim into an endless circle of being at the same time afraid of the abuser, feeling sorry for them and hoping they’ll go back to being the nice person they sometimes can be. Very sad and very true to life.


I would go with b) there were some inconsistencies but I felt it stacked up. Though you’ve got me wondering if I missed stuff now!


So I’ve also just finished Llechi by Manon Steffan Ros.

The theme of this year’s Tir na n-Og seems to have been violence. :frowning: Who killed beautiful, perfect Gwenno?

Emotionally this was an easier read for me than the other two as it’s a more conventional whodunit and not told from the point of view of the victim, though there are still themes of violence and abuse. Definitely gripping: I stayed up far too late last night finishing it off.

Linguistically a great next read once you’re ready to take the stabilisers off and read fiction not written for learners. The contemporary theme and the genre makes the vocab very accessible, and I don’t think the language was too complex either. It’s also comparatively short compared to most of the books I’ve reviewed above.


I hope this isn’t off-topic but I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good book about the history and development of the Welsh language? I’m interested in the linguistics side as well as the social history side, so something reasonably in-depth (but yn Saesneg) would be great - or failing that a good introduction! Diolch pawb. Happy to be redirected to a different thread if there is a better place to ask about this.


I have “A pocket guide - The Welsh Language” by Janet Davies ISBN 0-7083-1516-X which I can recommend. It’s not a very big book but I’d say it’s reasonably in-depth, but certainly a god introduction if you’re looking for something even more in-depth.


Thanks Siaron, I’ll look it up.


So I picked another happy story for my next read: I Ble’r Aeth Haul Y Bore gan Eirug Wyn.

This is a fictionalised account of the Long Walk of the Navajo, in which they were forcibly removed from their homelands and made to walk hundreds of miles to what was effectively an internment camp in Bosque Redondo, during the American Civil War. They were moved on order of the President so that white settlers moving west could occupy the land.

I didn’t know about the Long Walk so I’m really glad I read it, but clearly violence, abuse and death are recurring themes, and you know the outcome from the start, which makes it pretty grim reading.

Linguistically it wasn’t the easiest read because there’s a lot of period- and subject-specific vocabulary to learn at the start (e.g. Llwyth - tribe, Ceunant - canyon, ysgarmes - skirmish) and it also uses the literary verb forms. However once you’ve picked up the key vocab it’s fairly smooth sailing.

I’d say one tip is to write down who is Navajo and who is Apache at the start, and how they’re related. In addition to the Long Walk the characters make a number of other journeys, and it’ll be easier to follow the story if you know who’s connected to who. I was too busy trying to get into the story at the beginning to keep track of names, so had to go back and do it.

Overall thumbs up, and for me a marvellous example of how learning Welsh has broadened my horizons in non-obvious ways.


I enjoyed “I Ble’r Aeth Haul Y Bore” gan Eirug Wyn too Caroline! :slight_smile: I knew of the Long Walk and Canyon De Chelly as I visited the Navaho there some time ago - there are still visible signs of their forced removal - and its a credit to their strength and their bond with the land that they are still there now. I read “I Ble’r Aeth Haul Y Bore” as part of my plan to read all of the set texts for TGAU Llenyddiaeth Cymraeg :sweat_smile: and you might enjoy reading some more of the novels on that list too! Its very handy that the BBC produce revision notes and these can be very helpful! :slight_smile: :slightly_smiling_face: Follow this link and scroll down for the novels: There’s poetry on there too, but I haven’t ventured there yet! I’ve written an article about my visit to the Navajo - I’ll share it when it comes out later this year :slight_smile:


Next up is Llinyn Trons by Bethan Gwanas, about a group of teens on a school trip to an activity centre.

I’m a bit meh about this one to be honest. It’s a short, easy read and I found the main character likeable.

However as a story I can’t say it grabbed my interest. It all felt a bit superficial and never really moved me. #helynt and Lechi are in the same genre but I’d recommend them over this any time.


Just finished ‘reading’ Y Castell Siwgr I had to use a dictionary a lot so would have missed some subtler things. I think I will try Pluen by Manon Steffan Ros next.


I’ve read a couple of books written especially for learners, as s thought I should try and move on; so earlier this year I bought Y Bwthyn but it’s far too difficult for me at this stage. Then, last week we were in Cardigan and found this Welsh bookshop, and I bought two books: Llechi (which I will read at some later stage) and this one: Welsh legends retold for children. Perfect!


** A chance to join me to discuss books you’ve been reading recently and to help others decide on which books to read for welsh learners.

If you’d like to be in a video discussing a book you’ve enjoyed recently please contact me.

You can follow the #books-llyfrau channel on 6/6 support on slack or #clwb-darllen on Welsh Speaking Practice to view the two I’ve already made. I am a novice at this stuff but it’s very enjoyable and I hope it’s going to be a chance to meet new people ( and read more!) :tada::books:**


Syllu ar Wyliau - Ffion Dafis

You’ve probably seen Ffion Dafis in Amdani, Rownd a Rownd and/or Byw Celwydd, and she’s also made episodes of documentary series like Mynyddoedd, Waliau and one about the Gobi (probably called anialdiroedd). Ffion really laid herself bare with this autobiography and it made for a fantastic read, I really feel like I’ve come to know her as a person not just a face on the telebox.

There are sections about her travels making the documentaries, which are really interesting and informative, of course, and there are sections about her family and friends, which are great at building a picture of her day to day life, but it’s the other chapters that let you know who she is … like, really is. She talks about what it means to her to have never had children and how she reacts to societies pressures and expectations on this. She talks in depth also about her relationship with alcohol and a period of 9 months without drinking. I have a new found fondness of Ffion after reading this.

Advanced reading so definitely not for beginners. Dictionary recommended.


Beth sy’ ar y silff lyfrau - Michael yn siarad am Am Ddiwrnod, cyfres Amdani (


Beth sy’ ar y silff lyfrau? Nick Treharne a Ffenestri


Beth sy’ ar y silff lyfrau? Pauline a Sara yn siarad am Blodwen Jones gan Bethan Gwanas


Mae Efa’n cyrraedd fory :tada:Eva is arriving tomorrow @Cetra @oliver-llewellyn3F766FC0-C972-48F6-8872-984A73B41507


Fi ac Aaron Ramsey - Manon Steffan Ros

Translated from the back cover …
“Rambo. Aaron Ramsey. My hero. The poster of him was bigger than the others because he was my favourite.”

Sam loves football - playing with his friends and the local team, watching goals and videos with Mo, discussing games with his dad and supporting Wales of course.

But, to Sam, football is more important than just a game. It gives comfort when worrying about everything and gives him new and exciting experiences. But one aweful event on the field threatens his relationship with the game.

I think I like Manon more and more with every book I read. There’s always an important message behind the story and something always stays with you to think about.

This is just a story about a lad who likes football and as with Fi a Joe Allen you don’t need to like football to enjoy it. Very well written and extremely entertaining as you’ve come to expect from MSR.

There’s a great section about not correcting anyone’s grammar unless asked to do so. Another bit about the importance of talking through your worries with someone and that we’re never alone. Then a part about never giving up no matter how bad things may look in your life. Important lessons that aren’t taught in school … or weren’t when I were a lad.

This is aimed again at the young teenage market and the language reflects that. Easy enough for all levels.