She has published more than twenty books since 1992, winning numerous awards, and her books have been translated into multiple languages. She has written in both Irish and English, and also translated from German into English.
As of 2011, she was commissioning editor and publisher with Little Island, an imprint of New Island Books. She is a former co-editor of Bookbird, the magazine of international children's literature organisation IBBY, and former editor of Inis, published by Children's Books Ireland (CBI). She also teaches creative writing at Marino Institute of Education, and has held numerous Writers-in-Schools short-term residencies, with a particular emphasis on working with children with special needs. She has been writer in residence to Dublin City and the Irish Writers' Centre, to Waterford City, and the Church of Ireland College of Education; she is a former board member of CBI and was on the CBI working group to renovate the Bisto Book of the Year awards.
On 10 May 2010, Parkinson was conferred by President of Ireland Mary McAleese as the first ever Laureate na nÓg, a position she would hold until 2012. In her capacity as laureate she expressed the wish that "every child in the country would have access to a [...] library where they could go and find the books that are going to open their minds".
List of works
- Books for children
- Four Kids, Three Cats, Two Cows, One Witch (Maybe) (Won the Bisto Merit Award)
- The Moon King (Won the Bisto Merit Award; also awarded Certificate of Honour for Writing by IBBY in 2000)
- Sisters... No Way! (won the Bisto Book of the Year Award 1996/97)
- Breaking the Wishbone
- The Love Bean
- Kathleen: The Celtic Knot
- Second Fiddle: How to Tell a Blackbird From a Sausage
- Something Invisible (Bisto Honour Award 2006)
- No Peace for Amelia
- Animals Don't Have Ghosts
- Cows Are Vegetarians
- Blue Like Friday
- The Henny Penny Tree
- The Leprechaun Who Wished He Wasn't
- Dialann Sár-Rúnda Amy Ní Chonchúir
- Call of the Whales
- Other books
- All Shining in the Spring: The Story of a Baby Who Died - a non-fiction book, intended for children and families dealing with the death of a young child.
- The Thirteenth Room (2005) - a novel for adults.
- Painted Ladies (2010) - a novel for adults.
- The Great Rabbit Revenge Plan by Burkhard Spinnen
- Over the Wall by Renate Ahrens
Awards and honours
Parkinson has been shortlisted eleven times for the Bisto Book of the Year award, which she won on one occasion, for Sisters... No Way!, in 1997. She has received Bisto Merit and Honour Book awards four times and has had two IBBY Honours and several White Ravens. Most recently she won an Oireachtas award for Dialann Sár-Rúnda Amy Ní Chonchúir.