Shane’s First Book – I Hate Mustard

I Hate Mustard was a book published in 1984 by the Women’s Community Press, a collective committed to providing creative opportunities for all, regardless of age, gender or social class.

The call for stories written by children for children went out in the summer of 1983 on The Gay Byrne Show, the most popular radio programme in Ireland at that time, and as luck would have it, Shane’s mother happened to be listening.

Knowing her son was already filling notebook after notebook with his own stories and illustrations, she sent in her favourite, an adventure story featuring a community of germs Shane imagined might live under the housing estate where the Dunphy family lived in Wexford in South East Ireland.

It became the first story in the collection, which was featured on the Late Late Toy Show in the Christmas of 1984 – Gay Byrne (presenter of that show too) commented on a page of Shane’s illustrations.

Shane was eleven years old when the book was published, and even though it is long out of print, it is, officially, his first work to appear on the shelves of bookshops. And, of course, it is a piece of social history – an example of community arts in practice.

Here’s a scan of Germs, Shane’s story, and of the poem that gave the book it’s title, the charming I Hate Mustard, by a young man named Luke T Thompson.