Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Junior Education PLUS

The most recent edition of Junior Education PLUS has the following literature based articles:

Campbell, M. (2008). A light at the end of the tunnel. Junior Education PLUS, 32(12), pp. 15-17.
How picture books can lead children through an exciting multimedia journey, based on Anthony Browne's The Tunnel.

Thomas, H. (2008). In the frame. Junior Education PLUS, 32(12), pp. 24-25.
Using Blue Bailliett’s Chasing Vermeer, which has been described as a Da Vinci Code for kids, to put children’s detective skills to the test.

Also, on page 29 there are suggestions for December's National Year of Reading theme ("Write the future" - see yesterday's post) and on pages 58-59, reviews of favourite books by the guest editor's Year 6 class.


According to an article in today's Herald, sales of children's comic books have rocketed, despite the lure of modern hobbies and pastimes. Clever branding has meant new titles enjoying success are often TV tie-ins, such as Dr Who and In the Night Garden. These are found to be a good way of encouraging young children, especially boys, to read.

Children's writers' blog

If you're interested in how children's books are written, take a look at this blog written by a group of children's authors. It's called An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, subtitled "the ramblings of a few scattered authors...." and contributors include Anne Cassidy and Susan Price. There are also links to the authors' websites.

I was directed to this by the Wordpool newsletter - that's another good site with lots of reviews and advice on children's books.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

National Year of Reading - December

We are almost at the end of the National Year of Reading. December's theme is “Write the future”, a celebration of all forms of writing. I've suggested 3 possible approached to this on our webpage and on leaflets in the Library. These are:

  • What one person writes, others read and technology is bringing reading and writing closer together. Think about blogging, texting or creative writing with a futuristic theme. Investigate the language that new media has created, virtual reality and the future of communication. Think about immediacy in reporting versus thinking first.
  • Pledge reading themed New Year’s resolutions. Tie in the end of the year with the season’s activities and get pupils to pledge to read more. Download “My 2009 reading resolutions” from the National Literacy Trust.
  • “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do things worth the writing.” Benjamin Franklin, polymath and statesman. (1706-1790)
    Get pupils to write about their own lives and their ambitions for the future, perhaps in a diary format. For this section, I've suggested some books to inspire them, from picture books to teenage novels. See our webpage for full details.

Monday, 24 November 2008

School libraries

Philip Pullman has warned a school in Derbyshire that it will become a "byword for philistinism and ignorance” if it closes its library, reports yesterday's Observer. He joins fellow author Alan Gibbons in a campaign to save the concept of reading for pleasure, including through school libraries. Gibbon's Campaign for the Book is described in a recent article, and if you are interested you can contact him through his website. He also has a blog - the latest posting asserts that Aberdeen city council is planning to make cuts to its Schools Library Service.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Horn Book

Here are some highlights of the November / December issue of the Horn Book Magazine - Vol 84 (6):

Greenstone, D. (2008). Ain’t I great! The problem with self-esteem, pp. 675-680.
A history of the concept of self-esteem and how books can promote it.

McDonnell, C. (2008). Safe passages, pp. 667-673.
What makes a good early-expert-reader book?

Roxburgh, S., Ruth, S. & Ferriter, B. (2008). When e- is for reading, pp. 633-643.
Three children’s book experts share their thoughts about the future of reading in a screen-based world.

Wynne-Jones, Tim. (2008). Tink and Wittgenstein: or, the correspondence between things, pp. 658-662.
Text of a talk ranging over philosophy, the meaning of language and Peter Pan.

Don't forget the Horn Book website where you can access some of the magazine's content, read the editor's blog, sign up for a monthly newsletter or subscribe to their podcast. The last email newsletter contained, for example, an interview with Mini Grey, author of Traction Man.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Journals round-up

Time for a clear-out of articles that have been lurking in my in-tray for a while. All are available in Jordanhill Library, either in the journals themselves or in our cuttings file.


Macfarlane, T. (2008). Age ranging: a step forward? Speaking English, 41(2), pp. 16-19.


Walker, L. (2008, November 19). Skellig the opera prepares to soar. Herald, p. 16.
Cuttings file no 1189.


Calvert, R. (2008). Animals in children’s fiction. Use of English, 60(1), pp.17-46.


Foster, M. and Syme, S. (2008). An illustration of success. Information Scotland, 6(5), p. 13.
Cuttings file no 1184.
The Dundee Picture Book Award.

Guyon, A. (2008). Out of the shadows. . Information Scotland, 6(5), p. 10.
Cuttings file no 1185.
Getting children involved in reading by shadowing the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals.

DAHL, Roald

Day, E. (2008, November 9). My years with Roald, by the “love of his life”. Observer Review, pp. 10-11.
Cuttings file no 1187.
Interview with Dahl’s widow.


Agnew, K. (2008, October 7). Imaginary worlds where everyone is the same colour. Guardian Education, p. 5.
Cuttings file no 1183.
Why are there still so few attractive reading books featuring black and Asian children?

FUNKE, Cornelia.

Johnstone, A. (2008, November 1). “I learned what sort of stories stuck to children’s fingers”. Herald Magazine, pp. 19-23.


Morpurgo, M. (2008). From the horse’s mouth. Radio Times, 8-14 November, pp. 126-127.
Cuttings file no 1188.
Morpurgo has adapted War Horse for the stage and radio.


Frankel, H. (2008, October 3). Rhyme and reason. TES Magazine.
Cuttings file no 1182.
Taking poetry off the page and onto the stage.

Williams, B. (2008). Year 1 Poetry unit 1: pattern and rhyme. Child Education PLUS,85(12), pp. 26-27.


Awesome ambassador (2008). Reading Today, 26(2), p. 26.

WILLIS, Jeanne

Powell, C. (2008). Does size matter? Child Education PLUS, 85(12), pp. 24-25.
Using Mine’s bigger than yours to show small people can still be brave and achieve great things.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Roald Dahl Funny Prize

The winners have now been announced:

Funniest book for children aged 6 and under:

The witch's children go to school by Ursula Jones

Funniest book for children aged 7-14:

Mr Gum and the dancing bear by Andy Stanton

Read more about it here.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Planet of the Dogs

I've received an email about an American series called Planet of the Dogs. Here's the information if you want to check it out:

"We are introducing our Planet of the Dogs series of children's books to the UK. For more information and sample chapters, please visit

For information on our involvement with therapy dog reading programs, please visit
Best regards,

Robert McCarty
Barking Planet Productions"

Friday, 7 November 2008

Books for Keeps

Issue 173 of Books for Keeps (November 2008) is now out and jammed full of interesting articles and reviews. It starts with a piece by Jill Bennett on "noisy" picture books - not, as I first thought, books with sound effects, but stories with lots of repetition, rhyming and sounds for the children to make. This is intended to provide fun and enjoyment while also paying attention to phonics - all the books she refers to are either in Jordanhill Library already, or soon will be.

Philippa Pearce, author of one of my favourite childrens' books, Tom's midnight garden, died in December 2006, and a series of memorial lectures has been organised. The first was by writer and academic Victor Watson, and a shortened version is published here. He concentrates on Pearce's "word perfect" skills - "every word, every nuance, every detonation and connotation, the sound, shape and melody of every phrase and sentence were considered, tried out and sounded out, and finally approved by a profoundly self-critical and discriminating wordsmith."

In some of the regular features, the "Authorgraph" is about Ralph Steadman, Michael Rosen writes about the death of his father in his Laureate's Log and the "classic in short" is Judith Kerr's Mog, the forgetful cat. This is another favourite - as a cat-lover myself I appreciate the accuracy of Mog's generally loveable gormlessness, and admit to shedding a tear when she finally used up her nine lives in Goodbye Mog. The usual comprehensive, age-defined review pages are complemented this month by a section on ten of the best Christmas books.

Follow the links for Jordanhill Library holdings of books by Philippa Pearce and Judith Kerr.