Wednesday’s Child (2006):
In three amazing stories childcare worker Shane Dunphy reveals a world of hidden heartbreak and survival against the odds. When Shane meets her, Gillian is starving herself to death and in thrall to a mother more interested in abusing and manipulating her daughter than cherishing and protecting her. Though he tries to help, it seems Shane is just another adult destined to fail Gillian … For the daughter of disturbed violent parents, Connie is an amazingly well-adjusted A-grade student. But when Shane finally gets behind the facade, he unearths a shattering truth behind her apparent normality… Cordelia, Victor and Ibar are three loving siblings left with a hopelessly alcoholic neglectful father. It’s a race against time to see if their father can ever become the kind of Dad he wants to be, or if they are destined to be split up and sucked into the childcare merry-go-round.
Wednesday’s Child went to Number 1 on the Irish bestseller listings and kept that position for five weeks. It charted in the UK at Number 18 and rose as high as Number 12.
Crying in the Dark (also published as Last Ditch House) (2007):
Four extraordinary true stories …
Bobby and Micky, six and four, controlled from beyond the grave by their evil father …
Mina, seventeen, who has Downs Syndrome, desperate to be like everyone else, falling into the hands of men who abuse her trust …
Sylvie, a fourteen-year-old mother being pimped by her father …
Twins Larry and Francey, ten, scarcely human after an upbringing of savage and unimaginable cruelty …
One inspiring account of how one man got to know these wounded children and tried to give them hope – and a future.
Crying in the Dark went to Number 3 on the Irish bestseller listings, and Number 15 on the UK lists.
Hush Little Baby (2008):
Five heart-stopping true stories of terror and triumph, told by the man who tried to make life better for these troubled children …
Clive, a thirteen-year-old victim of terrifying demonic visions, tells frightening stories of abuse and imprisonment. Could they be genuine?
Patrick, twelve, bravely setting out to find the truth about his birth family – however painful it may be …
Six-year-old Johnny, tiny and undernourished, desperately tries to recover from a brain-injury inflicted by his drunken and violent father …
At fourteen, Katie is so aggressive that the authorities have put her in special care, away from other children. What could be the cause of such fury?
And in a grim island prison, a lumbering bully ponders his crimes against his twin children, Larry and Francey – while his sadistic and conniving wife, the real monster behind his actions, tries to fool the state into returning the traumatised boy and girl to her care.
Hush Little Baby went to Number 8 on the Irish listings and Number 14 in the UK. It is still selling very well, and currently has the following listings on Amazon:
- #9 in Kindle Store > Books > Nonfiction > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Social Work
- #17 in Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Social Issues > Social Welfare & Services
- #72 in Books > Biography > Medical, Legal & Social Sciences > Psychology
The Boy in the Cupboard (2008)
Three heart-stopping stories of children trapped by their parents’ pasts …
Craig, the little boy who can’t speak English, isn’t allowed to use his real name and hides food around his playschool, afraid he’ll be hungry again. His parents are trying to make a fresh start, but their gangland bosses are about to catch up with the family and Craig will pay a terrible price…
Edgar is a twelve-year-old boy who nobody wants, not even the staff at the residential unit where he lives. Just when it seems that there might be a way of getting through to Edgar, his mother reveals a secret that changes everything …
Vinnie is a teenage boy who knows exactly what his gangster father is capable of, of how he makes problems disappear. He also knows that he had become a very big problem for his father…
The Boy in the Cupboard went to Number 12 on the Irish listings, and Number 20 in the UK. It still sells in very good numbers – its Amazon ranking is:
Will Mammy be Coming Back for Me (2009)
When childcare worker Shane Dunphy meets Jason in 1991, he is a tiny, frightened five-year-old who has stopped speaking and terrorizes even the older children in the care home with his angry, violent behaviour. Eleven years later, Shane is shocked to find Jason’s file on his desk again. Jason has committed some horrendous crimes and is facing a life of incarceration. Can Shane rebuild what had been a delicate friendship, and help Jason to face up to who he is, where he has come from, and what he has done?
Will Mummy be Coming Back for Me went to Number 16 on the Irish listings, and charted at Number 19 in the UK. It is still selling very well. Amazon tells us:
- #8 in Kindle Store > Books > Nonfiction > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Children’s Studies
- #14 in Kindle Store > Books > Nonfiction > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Violence in Society
- #70 in Books > Biography > Social & Health Issues > Child Abuse
Little Boy Lost (2010)
Dominic is a sixteen year-old man-child: while he has the body of a prize-fighter, as a result of a terrible seizure when he was a small child he has been left with the mind of a child. In the centre where he spends his days, Dominic is a challenge and an inspiration: someone who struggles against the odds and whose every victory over his limitations is a cause for celebration. But when a new member of staff at the centre breaks a sacred trust, the fall-out is horrific and Dominic becomes a pawn in a dangerous game. Little Boy Lost is the story of Dominic’s brave battle to face up to betrayal and show – one more time – that he is a survivor.
Little Boy Lost charted in the Irish listings at Number 20, and at Number 11 in the UK. Amazon listing:
The Girl Who Couldn’t Smile (2012)
When Shane Dunphy starts work at Little Scamps crèche, he has no idea what he has let himself in for. He had not worked in an early years setting for many years and on arriving for his first day he found that two members of staff, Susan and Tush, are at the end of their tether and on the verge of resigning. The children themselves are completely out of control. At the centre of this chaos Shane finds Tammy, a pretty, doll-like five-year-old who is a mystery to everyone: she does not talk, or even smile, yet shows signs of remarkable intelligence.
Through the course of the year, Shane attempts to bring order to this motley group and we learn the stories of some of the other children in the crèche: Milandra, an angry, violent four year old, the daughter of a Nigerian father and Irish mother; Rufus, a gypsy child who is direly neglected; Julie, a tiny, painfully shy little girl with Down’s Syndrome. How is Shane ever to find a way to communicate with and ultimately befriend such diverse and challenging personalities? Then one afternoon, Gus, the class tear away, receives the gift of a blue crayon – a crayon he claims is magic. And Shane begins to wonder if this magic could be the answer to all his problems …
Shane Dunphy’s moving portrait of a year at Little Scamps is a testament to the redemptive power of love and nurturing, of finding oneself through the care of others, as well as finding the secret of a girl who couldn’t smile.
The Girl Who Couldn’t Smile went to Number 20 on the Irish listings, but went to Number 5 in the UK. Amazon listing:
The Girl From Yesterday (2013)
After the death of his best friend, Shane Dunphy runs away from his life working at a special needs crèche, and attempts to avoid his child protection instincts. However, when a part time journalism job in rural Ireland leads him to a family in desperate need of intervention, and a young girl crying out for protection, Shane cannot stand idly by and watch…Little Emma Blaney lives with her three siblings in an ancient farmhouse, with a life that is like something from another time – no running water, no electricity, and no contact with the outside world. Whilst covering a land dispute between Emma’s father Tom and his powerful brother Gerry, Shane discovers that there is a lot more wrong with the family than just a feud. The children are filthy, nervous and and undernourished.
In order to protect Emma and her siblings, Shane finds himself at loggerheads with the church, local government, big business, property developers and industrial farmers. But Shane must discover the truth about the Girl from Yesterday, before it is too late, even if it will cost him his new life…
The Girl From Yesterday went to Number 15 on the Irish listings, and Number 19 in the UK. Amazon listings:
- #39 in Books > Biography > Social & Health Issues > Child Abuse
- #43 in Kindle Store > Books > Health & Fitness > Mental Health
- #124 in Kindle Store > Books > Biography & True Accounts > Memoirs
The Boy The Tried to Hide (2016)
The Boy They Tried to Hide is the startling, true account of how truth is sometimes stranger than fiction …
Shane Dunphy was working as a resource teacher in a rural town when he was approached by the mother of one of his pupils, seeking help. She is worried for her troubled young son, who has been found leaving the house late at night to go deep into the woods near their home. He has spoken of meetings with a friend, Thomas, but no one else has seen him or knows who he is.
As Shane tries to discover what’s going on, a sexual predator he helped bring to justice years before reappears. The man is looking to settle a score, and has picked someone close to Shane as his next victim.
In The Boy They Tried to Hide, Shane Dunphy revisits cases he encountered during his time as a child protection worker and journalist and, in doing so, once again discovers that leaving the world of child protection can be more difficult than it seems.
The Boy They Tried to Hide is currently being adapted for film by Rumble Film and Paragon Pictures.
The Boy They Tried to Hide went to Number 12 on the Irish listings, and Number 16 in the UK. Amazon tell us that it is still selling well: