Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The lure of picture books

Jenny Uglow's Guardian article, The lure of illustrated children's books argues that few things evoke childhood memories as powerfully as picture books and looks at favourites old and new. She also refers to two new books on the subject which you can find in the library: Duncan McCorquodale, Sophie Hallam & Libby Waite's Illustrated children's books (Black Dog, 2009) and Julia Eccleshare's 1001 children's books you must read before you grow up (Universe, 2009).

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Eric Carle's blog

Thanks to Tidy Books whose tweet alerted me to Eric Carle's blog and his lovely post about Christmas memories from his childhood in Germany. See also the official Eric Carle website and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. And of course we've got lots of his books in Jordanhill Library - see a few below.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Make reading fun by creating plays from books

Bringing books to life through drama by Fiona Ingram. Ideas for teachers on the following theme:
"Children who don’t enjoy reading may need a different kind of stimulus to get them interested in books. Since most children love dressing up and acting out a part, using stories to create a play or dramatizing a poem is an excellent way of allowing children to explore their creativity and bring their imaginations into use."

Teen Titles

Read interviews with Annemarie Allan, Theresa Breslin and Gill Arbuthnott in Issue 46, in the Libray now, plus reviews of books for teenagers, all done by teenagers themselves. Links are to the books by these authors in our catalogue, some of which are shown below.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Children's writing competitions

One set of winners, one competition announced:

Children's Poetry Bookshelf Competition: The judges of the Old Possum's Children's Poetry Competition, led by Chair Carol Ann Duffy, have selected twelve children as winners, with a further six receiving high commendations. The CPB held a gala celebration and prize-giving on Monday 14 December at the Unicorn Theatre in London, hosted by poets John Agard and Roger Stevens, both of whom were also judges of the competition. See more here, including a picture of the winners, and here, including the winning poems.

Young Muslim's Writers Awards: Muslim Writers Awards are now inviting submissions from Muslim writers from the ages of 8 through to 16. Winners of both Best Short Story and Best Poetry will be annonced at a televised awards ceremony scheduled for April 2010. Deadline for entries is Friday 5 February 2010. To download entry forms and view submission criteria here.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Storybook soldiers

Soliders in Afghanistan are recording bedtime stories on CD to send home, in a scheme similar to Storybook Dads, which was set up to help male prisoners keep in touch with their children. Thousands of families have discovered that there is nothing more evocative than the sound of a parent’s voice, reading - the top bedtime stories are:

The Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson)
The Snail and the Whale (Julia Donaldson)
Room on the Broom (Julia Donaldson)
The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Judith Kerr)
The Night Before Christmas (Clement Moore)
The Gigantic Turnip (Alexei Tolstoy)

Comic belief

When a Yorkshire secondary produced its own graphic novel, it provided a riposte to those who dismiss the genre as ‘dumbing down’ for low-achievers. Dearne High in Rotherham has ignored the critics to produce its own 132-page, high-end graphic novel. Fool’s Gold, written and produced by about 100 pupils with the input of 10 multi-award-winning writers, two famous photographers and a professional illustrator, went on sale last week. Read the full story by Meabh Ritchie in last week's TES.


"He's got a black tongue, orange eyes and a poisonous wart on the end of his nose, not to mention those purple nightmare-inducing prickles on his back. And this Christmas Day he's going to be on the telly."
Read more in Ailin Quinlan's article in the Irish Independent.

See also Julia Donaldson books in Jordanhill Library.

And PS - interview from Guardian 19/12/09

National Literacy Trust News

NLT's December newsletter features:

A vision for Scotland - examines the report and final recommendations of the Scottish Literacy Commission which assesses levels of literacy in  Scotland and proposes pre-school literacy support.

New research on writing - NLT research finds social network sites and blogs may have educational benefits such as greater confidence and a more positive attitude towards writing. Chrisitina Clark, Head of Research, adds commentary in To blog or not to blog, that isn't the question.

Scottish Premier League Reading Stars - this programme to raise motivation for reading has been funded for a second year.

Reading programmes for boys - research shows they have led to more boys at primary level reading for pleasure. See also DCSF news  and MLA news on this.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Scottish teen book of the month

Scottish Book Trust's Teen Book of the Month is The Comet's Child by John Ward. It's the first in a series about Fin in the forest, raised in secret by a woman without a name, who has no idea who he is. Out in the world, all are seeking the promised herald of the New Age, the Comet’s Child. The harsh Authority, the cunning Service, the desperate outlaws of the Order - each faction is determined to hang the title on Fin. But does he really want to be the chosen one?

You can win a copy of the book through the link above, and it's on order for the library so should be here very soon.

Beverley Naidoo at Yarls Wood Immigration Centre

Author Beverley Naidoo, who herself first came to the UK seeking refuge, is moved and saddened by the plight of children she meets detained in a UK immigration centre. In this Guardian article, she describes her visit to the centre to do a storytelling session with Karin Littlewood, the illustrator with whom she wrote a picture book, Baba's Gift.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Jon Scieszka

Jon Scieszka has just finished his term as the US's first national ambassador of young people's literature, and he is "pleased to report that the world of children's books is rocking." Read what he says in the LA Times and the Huffington Post and check our holdings of Jon's books.

Trailer trash - do web trailers help promote books?

An interesting Awfully Big Blog Adventure post from Elen Caldecott, with examples including a trailer for Ian Beck's Pastworld. And if you like clips of cats doing daft things, there's one of those thrown in for good measure!

Elen's book is in stock in Jordanhill Library and her next one, How Ali Ferguson saved Houdini, is due next year.

Children's books that tell the story of Christmas

A post from Trevor Cairney with extensive reviews of Christmas books for children under the headings:
  1. Books based closely on the biblical story of Jesus's birth
  2. Books that use the Christmas theme to offer moral lessons
  3. Stories based on Christmas traditions
I'll refer you back to my previous post about Christmas too.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Neil Gaiman ALA National Library Week Chair

Neil Gaiman is a fan of libraries and librarians and the American Library Association’s (ALA) Campaign for America’s Libraries has announced the 2009 Newbery Medal winning author of “The Graveyard Book” as the Honorary Chair of their National Library Week in April 2010.

Click here for Gaiman titles in Jordanhill Library.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Anthony Horowitz

Why young readers (especially boys) turn to Alex Rider is explained in this article from the Washington Post. However, Horowitz himself isn't too worried about the gender divide in reading as he thinks it "disguises questions that are much, much more serious that we should be asking, such as, for example, are wealthy children reading more than less privileged ones? Are white children reading more than children from ethnic minorities?"

We have a good stock of Anthony Horowitz books in Jordanhill Library.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

How NOT to run an author vist in school

Joan Lennon has had a bad experience, detailed on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. My favourite (in a bad way) memory of having a class visit to meet an author (a very famous one) when I worked in public libraries ended with the author complaining that the teacher sat there looking as if she "had a pickle up her bum". Couldn't disagree.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Best books of 2009

See Chicken Spaghettis's big list of lists - an international round up of "best of" lists of children's books and prizewinners for 2009. Have a look at the rest of the blog while you're there: the name comes from her favourite recipe - that's provided too!
Enough blogging for today.

Getting boys to read

Here's a blog about boys and reading. Getting boys to read is a (US) community based blog for parents, librarians, and teachers which provides information and support through articles, videos, interviews, and their forum. Recent posts include: Teen Boys and Young Adult Lit: An Important Relationship; Digital Storytelling: Engaging Boys with Technology; Should we Separate Genders in the Classroom?; 6 Reasons Why Boys Like Magazines, and Dr. Seuss Stories: Reading that Entertains.

Barrington Stoke's Secret Santa

Books from Scotland's Children's Choice this month is Secret Santa. A ghost story by Alan Combes, it is the latest in Barrington Stoke's Dead Man Files series of novels for teenagers with a reading age of six. Luke Smith is dead - killed in a drink driving accident. But this doesn't stop him looking out for his brother, who is at risk from an imposter in Santa's grotto. But is this secret Santa match even for ghostly Luke?

For more information about Barrington Stoke's range of novels for struggling and dyslexic readers, see their own website and Books for Scotland's earlier feature on them. Secret Santa is not yet in Jordanhill Library, but you can find a list of Barrington Stoke books we have in our catalogue here. The publisher also features on our Reluctant Readers page.

Happy Birthday - Dolly Parton's UK Imagination Library is 2

Dolly Parton’s UK Imagination Library is celebrating its second anniversary by announcing a new addition to the communities in its UK programme - children attending the Westbourne Children’s Centre in London are the latest under-5s to receive books through the scheme.

The music star launched the UK Imagination Library in London on December 4th 2007. The Library now delivers to thousands of children across the UK, earlier this year celebrating the delivery of its 100,000 book. More information.

Online writing and literacy

From: Blogging, literacy and an "innovative" school librarian:

An article in yesterday’s Independent, coinciding with the launch of the National Literacy Trust’s new report Young people’s writing: attitudes, behaviour, and the role of technology highlights the work done by Bev Humphrey, librarian at Woolwich Polytechnic School in London, is harnessing cutting-edge technology to get boys writing. For the past two years she has run The Write Path, an online writing project that links pupils around the world and enables them to write stories together. Read more about her work, and the new report, in "Don't knock blogging – it's the answer to our literacy problems" in the Independent's Education and Careers supplement, p3, 3 December 2009, or on the Independent's website.

The National Literacy Trust’s recent research has found that pupils who are active online tend to have a more positive attitude to writing, and also write more in traditional forms, such as short stories, letters, diaries or song lyrics. Download the report from the National Literacy Trust’s website.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Bookworms do better in life?

Studies by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show that children who read for pleasure are more likely to get ahead than those who don’t. This is why Miranda McKearney, the director of the Reading Agency charity, prefers to focus on the importance of enjoying reading, while avoiding talk of targets or government standards, or going into depth about functional literacy or phonics. See Let children turn the page to a better life from Times Online for more details.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Children's books on film

Snippets: there's Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox out now, I did a couple of recent posts on the film of Maurice Sendak's Where the wild things are, which I think is yet to come out in the UK, and KidsLit blog has more movie news. Sally Nicholls' first book, Ways to live forever is being made into a film right now, and look out for The Gruffalo on TV soon.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

A book lover's guide to building a brilliant children's library

Book corner: A book lover's guide to building a brilliant children's library, by Lucy Mangan in the Guardian, has reached its final round up. Her top 52 are listed below and the attached article considers some of the titles that nearly made it and had to be left out.

No 1 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster(1961)
No 2 Enid Blyton (1897-1968)
No 3 The Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley (1928)
No 4 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1909)
No 5 The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)
No 6 Just William by Richmal Crompton (1922)
No 7 Private - Keep Out! by Gwen Grant (1978)
No 8 The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett (1937)
No 9 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868-69)
No 10 The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (1950-56)
No 11 King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green (1953)
No 12 Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (1958)
No 13 Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (1955)
No 14 Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)
No 15 Dimsie Goes to School by Dorita Fairlie Bruce (1921)
No 16 Autumn Term by Antonia Forest (1948)
No 17 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
No 18 The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (1956)
No 19 The Wombles by Elizabeth Beresford (1968)
No 20 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (1963)
No 21 The Six Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren (1947)
No 22 A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich (1935)
No 23 What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872)
No 24 Life with Lisa by Sybil Burr (1958)
No 25 Charlotte's Web by EB White (1952)
No 26 The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat (1847)
No 27 The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1952)
No 28 Dear Teddy Robinson by Joan G Robinson (1953)
No 29 Tottie: the Story of a Doll's House by Rumer Godden (1947)
No 30 The Borribles by Michael de Larrabeiti (1976)
No 31 The Railway Children by E Nesbit (1906)
No 32 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)
No 33 Grow up, Cupid by June Oldham (1988)
No 34 Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian (1981)
No 35 Fireweed by Jill Paton Walsh (1970)
No 36 The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson (1968)
No 37 Grinny by Nicholas Fisk (1973)
No 38 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951)
No 39 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright (1941)
No 40 Alison Uttley's A Traveller in Time (1939)
No 41 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
No 42 Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (1912)
No 43 My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards (1952)
No 44 The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse (1938)
No 45 The Trouble with Donovan Croft by Bernard Ashley (1974)
No 46 Ladybird books
No 47 Alices Adventures in Wonderland: by Lewis Carroll (1865)
No 48 Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret: by Judy Blume (1970)
No 49 The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy (1974)
No 50 Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (1908)
No 51 Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O'Brien (1971)
No 52 Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson (1948)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Author updates: Crompton, Grey, McKay, Willems

Some articles about authors which have been lurking in my inbox for a while:

Richmal Crompton in the Times.

Mini Grey in the Oxford Mail.

Hilary McKay in Bookbag.

Mo Willems in the School Library Journal.

International children's reading groups

Authors including former children's laureate Michael Morpurgo and the Carnegie medal-winning Frank Cottrell Boyce are taking part in a pilot project from the British Council that will link young readers in the UK with peers in China, Ghana, Egypt and Pakistan. In the case of Pakistan. the link is with Glasgow schools. See the Guardian report for more details.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Scottish Children's Books Award

The winners of the 2009 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books have just been announced. They are:

Early Years (0-7) Winner:

Manfred the Baddie by John Fardell

Younger Readers (8-11) Winner:
First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts by Larid Don

Older Readers (12-16) Winner:
Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

Acceptance speeches can be seen via Youtube

All titles are in Jordanhill Library.

School libraries in the developing world

I'm re-posting this from the CILIP Information and Advice blog:

Room to Read - school libraries in the developing world

The Financial Times' 2009 Seasonal Appeal is for Room to Read, a charity that promotes literacy and educational opportunities for children in the developing world. One of the ways they do this is by building and stocking school libraries, and as a result of their work libraries have been established in countries such as Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Nepal. The FT reports that, at one school in Sri Lanka, a teacher described their new library as "like heaven for the children, a reader’s paradise".

Further details are on the FT website
See also

Monday, 23 November 2009

What do teens want?

In What do teens want Carol Fitzgerald details the results of the 2009 Reader Survey. It covers a wide range of topics including what teenagers read, when they read, who influences them, use of social media and e-books. Points to bear in mind are that most of the 11-18 year-old respondents (87%) were from the US, the results reflect teens who are already drawn to books (they did not study what keeps nonreaders from picking up a book) and, while they purposely marketed the survey to attract male readers, the vast majority (96%) of returns were from female readers. However there is still a lot of useful information to be gleaned from the survey.

Horn Book

Fanfiction, and what makes a good pop-up book are two of the topics in the latest Horn Book (Nov/Dec 2009) to come into the library. Other than that, there's a bit of  New Zealand theme with an interview with prize-winning author Margaret Mahy, including a poem she has written Christmas in New Zealand, and an article by Lynne D Jackett on the history of children's reading in NZ. For more information about Margaret Mahy, see the pages from Christchurch City Libraries where she worked before becoming a full time writer, and see our library catalogue for a list of the titles we hold.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Great resource for English teachers?

60 Second Recap: Every week, Jenny Sawyer, the host on this site, offers up the “inside insight” on a new book, a classic work of literature, and boils it all down to a handful of 60 second video recaps. It's a US site, but you'll recognise the books, for example, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird. Here's an example of how it works: the thumbnail for Lord of the Flies offers "Famous for: The Beast, a talking pig’s head on a stake, a horrific descent into chaos and savagery." Clicking on the link reveals a brief text summary and ten 60-second videos of Jenny's ideas entitled:
  1. A teaser trailer
  2. The overview
  3. The plot
  4. Meet the cast
  5. Simon
  6. Motifs
  7. Symbols
  8. Themes
  9. About the protagonist
  10. In conclusion
She's very enthusiastic - will that enthuse your students in turn?

Friday, 20 November 2009

Museum of Story & Storytelling (Oxford)

From Lewis Carroll's Wonderland to JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth, CS Lewis's Narnia and the parallel universes of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, Oxford has played host to some of the UK's most enduring literary creations. Now a £2.5m donation from an anonymous private benefactor means the first steps have been taken towards the creation of a museum dedicated to storytelling in the city. Read reports from the Guardian and CMIS Evaluation Primary Focus.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Neil Gaiman wins Booktrust Teenage prize

Neil Gaiman has today won the Booktrust Teenage Prize with The Graveyard Book. The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens, a child abandoned in a graveyard after the vicious murder of his parents and sister by The Man Jack. Raised and educated by the ghosts that live there, Bod encounters terrible and unexpected menaces in the horror of the pit of the Sleer and the city of Ghouls. It is in the land of the living that the real danger lies as The Man Jack is determined to find Bod and finish him off. The book, and several other Gaiman titles, are listed in our library catalogue. See also the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph write-ups about the prize and Gaiman's own blog.

Michelle Paver

There's a feature in yesterday's Times about Michelle Paver, author of the popular Chronicles of ancient darkness series about a boy and a wolf saving the Stone Age world from demonic magic. Her research took her to Finland, Norway, Greenland and Canada where she had close encounters with polar bears, killer whales and wolves. She's just back from another fact-finding trip to the Arctic, this time for an adult book, so young fans will have to wait. You can borrow her books from this library here's a list from our catalogue.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Robert Louis Stevenson - new site

The life and work of RLS has been gathered together for the first time in a huge online archive which was launched yesterday to mark the 159th anniversary of his birth. As an example, if you look up Treasure Island you get a full synopsis and a virtual book with page turner facilities. It's not just books though, there are photographs, letters and other personal material, some of it never seen before in public. A Schools section contains information and resources for school students, including activity packs and a reading list. The site was put together by Edinburgh Napier University with a grant from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Paul and Chris tour the Highlands

In September 2009, Scottish Book Trust took Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, the creators of the multi-million selling Edge Chronicles, on a two-week long Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour of schools in the Highlands of Scotland. They've created an 8 minute video of the highlights.

Comic books

A new study in America finds that comics have no disadvantage compared to traditional prose. Carol L. Tilley, a professor of library and information science at the University of Illinois and expert in children’s literature, says that comics are indeed just as sophisticated as other forms of literature, and children benefit from reading them at least as much as they do from reading other types of books.

Book awards round-up

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize has been won by a "disgusting and horrible" story of a smelly man in an oddball town, Philip Ardagh's Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky. See an interview with Ardagh in the Independent.

The shortlist has been announce for CBBC's Blue Peter Book Awards 2010.

The Snow Goose (Paul Gallico) came top of a BBC poll to find the neglected novel most deserving of rediscovery.

Nominations have been announced for the Carnegie and Greenaway Awards.

We aim to stock all prizewinners.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Ripping yarns.

We don't have a historic children's literature section here - ours is very much a working collection for teaching practice purposes. However, our nearest neighbour, University of Glasgow, has recently acquired a wonderful collection of items, dating from the middle of the nineteen century up to the nineteen thirties. It includes examples of all the popular contemporary genres, such as school stories, stories with a strong religious/moral element, and adventure stories. Find out more on their blog and flickr.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Children's book blogs

I come across more and more blogs, especially since I started using Twitter to find them, so I can't mention them all, but here are three I really like. Bookwitch has interesting posts herself as well as two useful features - lists of interviews with and links to the blogs of many famous children's writers.

If you want recommendations from young readers themselves, try these two. I'm impressed with East Renfrewshire's Teenage Book Blog, and The Books I Read which is by a 9-year-old boy living in London who shows amazing review skills for one so young (or for anyone really).

For other blogs, I will usually post here about interesting information picked up or re-tweet it on my own Twitter stream rather than the library one which I keep for more general announcements (including occasional reminders that this blog has been updated).

There's a useful article here on children's book blogs with links to 10 "you can't live without".

Gruffalo nation's favourite bedtime story

The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, has been voted the nation's favourite bedtime story by Radio 2 listeners. Others on the shortlist included Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and Where The Wild Things Are. The Gruffalo has also been adapted by BBC1 - with Robbie Coltrane in the title role - and will be screened at Christmas. Read a fuller report in yesterday's Herald.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Books for Keeps / Classroom

Lots of useful articles in these two publications which have just arrived in the library:

BROWNE, Anthony

Knight, G. (2009). Anthony Browne interviewed. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 18-20.


Foster, A. (2009). It’s got to be funny: about the Roald Dahl museum. Classroom, no. 9, pp.50-51.


Gibson, M. (2009). The war of the worlds? : classics, comics and ways of thinking about adaptations. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 11-13.

INGPEN, Robert

Hammill, E. (2009). Authorgraph no. 179: Robert Ingpen. Books for Keeps,179, pp. 10-11.

LEAR, Edward

Alderson, B. (2009). Classics in short no. 78: Single-poet collections? How about single genius? Books for Keeps, 179, p. 28.


Evans, J. (2009). You can never be too old for picture books: children’s thoughts about reading picture books. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 44-46.


Alderson, B. (2009). A conversation about poetry. Books for Keeps,179, pp 8-9.

Blake, J. (2009). “The road less travelled”: migrations songs by Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, George Szirtes, Fleur Adcock, James Berry, Fred D’Aguiar and Michael Schmidt. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 33-35.
Quick guides to six poems about migration by poets living and working in Britain who were born elsewhere.

Kelly, A. & Collins, F. (2009). A poem a day: student teachers and poetry. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 28-29.


Lewis, P. (2009). Books aloud. Classroom, no. 9, pp. 55-57.
On the benefits of reading whole books aloud to the class.


Collins, F. et al. (2009). Developing teachers knowledge of children’s literature: teachers as readers, phase ii. Books For Keeps, 179, pp. 6-7.

Goodwin, P. (2009). Literate classrooms: teachers, readers and books: a consideration of the importance of children’s books in the teaching of reading. Classroom, no.9, pp. 8-10.

Seven Stones competition

Do you know a child who would like to be a character in a book? Supported by several national organisations, the Seven Stones Competition offers just that - to be part of the new adventure series: Terry, the Torus and the Tumblestones. To enter, readers of the first book in the series should write about their favourite character. The judging panel includes representatives from: Federation of Children's Book Groups, School Library Association, Renaissance Learning, Booktrust and N. A. T. E. Entries are administered by Schools and Libraries, and full details can be found on the series website.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Boys and girls and literacy

Girls are often self-motivators when it comes to literacy while boys respond to a dynamic teaching style. But how do you engage one group without alienating the other? Nick Morrison's article In the balance (Times Educational Supplement Magazine, p23-25, 30 October 2009) explores ideas for engaging both sexes in the classroom and providing both boy-friendly and girl-friendly books.

Noddy is back

The first new Noddy book for 40 years has been published by Enid Blyton's grandaughter, see The Times for more information. Not sure the world needed any more Noddy books, but at least the golliwogs have gone.

Christmas books for kids

I was horrified to see Tesco had their Christmas tree up at the weekend and it was still Halloween. However, it got me thinking that if students are going out into school and teaching about Christmas they will probably be starting to look for books now. Here's the list of what we have on our catalogue - it's arranged with the newest ones at the top and is a mix of fiction and non-fiction. You can refine the search by choosing one of the other subject limits down the right hand side or, when you find a title you like, clicking on its subject headings to find more the same. There are too many to start making recommendations, but you can find those on other websites, e.g. Word Pool's Choosing Children's Books page has a section on Christmas.

Monday, 2 November 2009

A life in libraries: Library Routes

Ok, this is probably off-message for a children's literature blog but please indulge me this once. CILIP, the professional organisation I belong to, is promoting a page where members blog about how they became librarians, and this is my contribution.
I was a complete bookworm as a child. There were always loads of books around the house and my Mum and Dad took us to the library regularly. I kept my own books in strict order and decided aged about 8 that I wanted to work in a library - I had no idea what that really involved, I just wanted to be around books all day. I can't really say that the library staff I met as a child had inspired me. The only interaction in the public library I can remember from when I was primary age was getting a row from the lady behind the counter for not getting my sixpence (oh, how that dates me) for a request out quickly enough. I was more impressed at secondary age - by then, I was old enough to see over the top of the counter and was intrigued by all the Browne tickets and wondered how on earth they ever found mine (especially as they seemed to be in a different place each time). The only time I remember asking for help was when we had a kitchen planning project for Cookery and the person I asked took me straight to the right shelf which I thought was very clever. My school was a recently merged comprehensive, formed from separate boys' and girls' grammars on the same campus, so there were libraries in both buildings. The one for the lower school was unstaffed and we used it at lunchtime, mainly to hide from Lorraine, a rather scary prefect who was always looking for sporting duds to practice her netball team against. There was a librarian in the upper school, but I can't remember any sort of input from her at all. Things are so much better now with lots of wonderful school and public librarians encouraging children to read.
In my early teens I remember reading my way through the shelves of historical romances like Jean Plaidy - not exactly literature, but these (and an inspiring teacher) awoke my love of history and I moved onto "real" history books, all borrowed, so the library was instrumental in my development there. I wanted to study history at university, and went off to Sheffield to do so which put off serious career choices for another 3 years. In my last year, I did a bit of research, found out what librarians actually did and thought it was probably still for me, so started applying for graduate trainee posts - you had to have a year's experience before you could get into library school. However, there has never been any great career plan. Serendipity kicked in here and has done ever since, I went with the flow. I had no strong feelings about whether I wanted to be an academic or public librarian, but the first post I was offered was with Hampshire Public Libraries so off I went and had a great year. When it came to choosing a library school, going back to Sheffield seemed the obvious thing to do, and as part of the course you chose academic or public options. Because of where I had worked I chose the latter so that was my career set firmly on the public library path.

While I was at library school, I met my husband who lived in the student flat above mine. This is relevant because it meant there were now two careers to consider and any moves had to be to places where we could both find work. I spent time with Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and East Kilbride Public Libraries, before making the cross-over (again serendipitous) to an academic library where I have been ever since. I was fed up driving from Glasgow to East Kilbride through the rush hour traffic every day when I saw an advert for Reader Services Librarian at Jordanhill College which was within walking distance from our house. Now some people might think that is a terrible reason to apply for a job, and it's obviously not one you would ever divulge at interview, but it was my initial motivation - though I then looked at the job and realised I had a lot of transferrable skills to bring to it. I had built up substantial experience of customer service and staff management over the years and these are the same wherever you go. Also, although the stock is very different in some areas, the biggest group of students at Jordanhill is the trainee teachers and there is a large teaching practice collection of children's books which I already knew a lot about. So it was a good match and I have been here ever since. The institution has changed (now part of the University of Strathclyde) and the job has grown and changed immeasurably over the years but I'm still happy with it.

So what are my conclusions from all this?
  1. Libraries are terribly important in growing and nurturing young readers and they are so much better now at doing this than when I was a child. Even so, I became an avid reader, discovered what I was interested in and became a librarian all through using libraries. I hope in my career I've managed to help other people do that.
  2. You don't have to have a grand plan to be happy. Some careers just happen, and you fall into your niche. Sometimes compromises have to be made to get the work/life balance right.
  3. What works in one sector can work in another so if you want to make a change, just do it.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Kate Cleminson - Booktrust award winner

Kate Cleminson won the Booktrust's Award for Best Emerging Illustrator 2009 with her book, Box of tricks. In this interview, she describes how she came to write the book.

Other Booktrust Award winners were Ed Vere (Baby Book Award for Chick) and Mara Bergman (Pre-school Award for Oliver who travelled far and wide).

Children's literature internet sites

I've made a couple of additons to our page of children's literature internet sites.

I read kid’s books and its associated blog, which I posted about the other day, is one of them. Kid's Compass is the other - this site has news about upcoming releases, reviews of children's books based on age range and top picks to expand children's reading horizons. At the moment, it has a topical section on Halloween.

I've also added Shannon Dipple's Primary Education Oasis to our Schools and the Internet page. Shannon responded to one of my previous posts - her (US based) site has lots of ideas for teaching reading and writing.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Diverse Voices award

The Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children's Book Award is for a manuscript that celebrates cultural diversity in the widest possible sense, either in terms of its story or in terms of the ethnic and cultural origins of its author. The prize of £1,500, plus the option for Frances Lincoln Children's Books to publish the novel, will be awarded to the best work of unpublished fiction for 8-to-12-year-olds by a writer, aged 16 years or over, who has not previously published a novel for children. The work must be written in English and it must be a minimum of 15,000 words and a maximum of 35,000 words. The closing date for all entries is 26th February 2010. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony at Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books, at the beginning of June 2010. For full details of how to enter visit the award website.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

I read kids books

I read kids books is from a Master of Education in Children's Literature, who is particularly interested in myth and folklore, and has established this blog as a way to archive fairy tales from around the world. There are many fairy tales that most of us are familiar with, but there are so many that go unnoticed. You can vote for your favourite fairy tale too. There is also a more general review site.

Heidi revisited

I haven't read Heidi since I was a child but this blog post* by Leslie Wilson has inspired me to go back and look. I just remember it being a good story and I'm sure the subtext about poverty, and the way the poor are exploited by the wealthy, totally passed me by at the time. Leslie has an interesting perspective on the book, being half-German and having read it in German for the first time. This family background also informs her own books, Last train from Kummersdorf and Saving Rafael, both of which we have in the library.

* From An Awfully Big Blog Adventure - the ramblings of a few scattered authors.

Where the wild things are 2

Read a review of the new movie from Claire E. Gross of the Horn Book.

Reading and language

What gives kids good reading and language skills? A couple of articles have been languishing in my in-box for a few days. Jean Gross, the Government’s first speech chief, told the Times last week that the next generation lack basic speaking skills because parents now spend less time talking to their children over family meals or reading them bedtime stories. She also blamed an over-emphasis on literacy and numeracy teaching in schools at the expense of language training and wants GP surgeries to play DVDs of adults reading to children and interacting with babies to teach parents how to talk to their offspring.

In similar vein, Book Trust  reports on a survey of over 3,000 parents, carers and children in the UK which showed that 3% of parents and carers never or rarely read with their children. For those who do, just one in three read with their children on a daily basis and half of the children spent more time in front of a TV or computer screen than they did reading. More encouragingly 96% of all children surveyed said that they enjoyed reading and the top 3 favourite characters were Harry Potter, Horrid Henry and Tracy Beaker. The Book Trust page above has a link to the full results and the BBC also covered the story.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne is interviewed in START 33 - the magazine for primary and pre-school teachers of art, craft and design. He discusses art, reading and picture books and worries about visual illiteracy. Find START at S700 on the Serials Gallery.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Reader development: looked after children.

See the article by Stella Therbridge in Public Library Journal which reports on the "Switched on to Reading" project with looked after children in Warwickshire, plus details of where to download the full report.

Primary school libraries

The Cambridge Primary Review, published last week, applies to England but is still of interest to Scottish teachers and librarians. As well as addressing issues such as school starting age, the curriculum and supporting pupils with special needs, the study says that "libraries must not be replaced by banks of computers… To see screens as the 21st-century replacement for books is a grave mistake" and the authors also call for libraries that are "currently disappearing from schools" to be preserved.

See Independent and Guardian, both 16 October 2009

Where the wild things are.

From the Brothers Grimm to Roald Dahl, a good scare has been a part of children's books. Now the film of Maurice Sendak's classic morality tale has started a debate on whether it is still acceptable to frighten young readers. Vanessa Thorpe and Anushka Asthana consider the arguments in yesterday's Observer.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Mal Peet wins Guardian prize

Mal Peet has won the 2009 Guardian children's fiction prize with a version of Othello casting the Moor of Venice as a South American football star (with a pop-star wife - remind you of anyone?) beating off hot competition, including Terry Pratchett. There's a role in the book too for journalist Paul Faustino who has appeared in Peet's other football-themed books, e.g. Keeper. I must confess I haven't read the football titles, but I have read the wartime adventure, Tamar, which I found absolutely gripping so I know he's an excellent story-teller.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Heroes and heroines or just like us?

See Susan Elsley's article in Children in Scotland, cited below, in which she summarises surveys she has done with children in the P6 and S2 age groups about their reading interests and their views on how childhood is portrayed in children's books. The work formed the basis of a thesis at Edinburgh University, Heroes and heroines or just like us?

Elsley, S. (2009). Not just The Little House on the Prairie. Children in Scotland, 100, pp.20-21.

Cuttings update.

A couple of newspaper articles from the last 10 days or so:

In the Guardian, Maev Kennedy writes about the sequel to AA Milne's Pooh books, Return to Hundred Acre Wood, which has just been written by David Benedictus. Not in the Library yet, but will be soon.

In the Times, Tim Rushby-Smith argues that more children's books should feature disabled kids. He hopes that this will help change attitudes and tackle bullying.

You can read these articles by following the links, or we have copies in our cuttings file.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Books from Scotland Children's Choice

Children's Choice in the latest newsletter from Books for Scotland is Magnus Fin and the Ocean Quest by Janis MacKay. There has always been something unusual about Magnus Fin, a school misfit. On his 11th birthday Magnus throws a message in a bottle out to sea, wishing for a best friend and to be more brave - and he gets a lot more than he bargained for - you can read the first chapter on the BfS site. Janis won the Kelpies prize for debut novels for this title and a copy will be added to stock just as soon as it's available.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Going Graphic: IBBY Conference

The 16th annual conference co-organised by British IBBY (International Board of Books for Young People) and Roehampton University will take place on Saturday 14th November 2009. The theme this year is Going Graphic: Comics and Graphic Novels for Young People. For more information see:

Friday, 2 October 2009

National Literacy Trust

Children's football fiction author, Tom Palmer, is working with the National Literacy Trust to create a toolkit of ideas and activities for using football to promote reading for pleasure. The toolkit will be available from early 2010 and Tom is looking for effective ideas that have worked in schools such as events, games, book groups, visits, displays and resources.

The Trust is also launching an online survey which will look at attitudes towards reading, attitudes towards writing and the extent to which pupils (9-16) engage in literacy activities at home with their family. Schools who wish to take part will need to register their interest before 23 October 2009.

Read about both initiatives in the latest edition of the National Literacy Trust newsletter

David Almond and Michael Foreman

IBBY UK (International Board on Books for Young People) has announced that author David Almond and illustrator Michael Foreman have been nominated for the prestigious Hans Andersen Awards which are awarded biennially by an international jury. More than thirty authors and illustrators have been nominated by other IBBY member sections and the winners will be announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair next spring. We have many books by each in stock - check out library catalogue, SUPrimo.

Sunday, 27 September 2009


The Scottish Government is to spend £580,000 on a campaign, Play, Talk, Read to remind parents that these activities can boost young children's development. See the article in Saturday's Herald for details. The Reading section of the associated playtalkread website has reading tips and reading games that might also be useful to those of you working in nurseries. And good that they advocate joining a library!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Kelpie's Prize

The Kelpies Prize is an annual prize for new Scottish writing for children. Janis Mackay's novel Magnus Fin and the Ocean Quest won the 2009 prize with the author receiving a cheque for £2,000 at a packed award ceremony at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The book will be published on 21 October 2009 and I'll be buying a copy for stock. For more details, including lists of past winners, see Floris Books' site.

Word Pool

Word Pool is a great site with lots of children's literature ides. You can sign up for their newsletter - the latest one has new books added to their First and Second World War and Refugees lists (see our Refugees list too), and lists of books with a disabled main character. Plus there are tips for potential writers and on organising authors visits to schools, and news of Usborne's writing competition for children.

World Book Day

Take part in this year's World Book Day Short Stories competition and you could see your students' stories published in the next World Book Day anthologies. 10 famous authors and 1 famous poet have provided opening lines, so primary and secondary school children from all around the UK and Ireland can take part in the World Book Day Short Stories competition 2009-2010. Register with sponsors, Evans.

Find our own Read Around the World list on this page, made up for the last World Book Day. We'll update it in time for the next one.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Horn Book - the trouble issue.

A fascinating edition of the Horn Book has just come in, which is billed as a salute to troublemakers. There are several articles on censorship and challenged or banned books*(see Betsy Hearne, Susan Patron and Pat Scales); Madelyn Travis writes about the Middle East conflict in British children's books; Marc Aronson bemoans the problems of writing non-fiction in the age of Google; Stephen Roxburgh reminisces about his time as Roald Dahl's editor; Rukhsana Khan discusses stereotyping of ethnic minorities and Lelac Almagor discusses narratives for black urban children. As if all that wasn't enough, there are shorter pieces interspersed with the main articles in which authors remember times when they were in (or caused) trouble.

* To follow up on this idea, see our own Banned Books list of controversial titles. Some of them will surprise you!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Children who read books less likely to be in gangs

Reading books could prevent children growing up to become violent gang members, according to a senior police officer, Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, of the Violence Reduction Unit, who was talking to a Books Trust conference. Read a fuller summary of his views in the Scotsman.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Name that cat!

Here's an unusual one. Sally Nicholls, author of Ways to live forever is busy finishing off her next book and has decided to put a cat in it - she's holding a competition to find a suitable name, with the prize of being acknowledged in the book if she chooses your suggestion. See her website for more details. I've told her my last cat was called Sally, but I'm sure she won't pick that!

Coming soon...

Some events coming up:

Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle, has a Judith Kerr retrospective starting this month. In 2008, Kerr deposited an extensive collection of work with the centre, including finished artwork for The tiger who came to tea, all the Mog books and the line drawings for When Hitler stole Pink Rabbit.

Nearer to home, the Scottish Storytelling Centre is organising Tell-a-Story Day on 30th October. To take part in your school or other organisation, contact them for advice, inspiration and resources. See also our own page on storytelling.

Children's literature round-up

I've sadly neglected children's books over the summer, so there's lots to catch up on. The new editions of Books for Keeps and Teen Titles have just arrived. The former has articles on Morris Gleitzman, Tony Ross and Andy Stanton amongst many other features, and the latter has interviews with Alex Nye, Linda Strachan, Patrick Ness and Derek Landy.

Sticking with information about authors, Saturday's Herald's arts and books supplements had a feature on Michael Morpurgo - you can find this in the Library's cuttings file. Books from currently has the first chapter of Lari Don's new book Wolf notes and other musical mishaps online for you to read. This is a follow up to First aid for fairies and other fabled beasts and picks up the story of young Helen and her remarkable affinity for healing magical beasts - but now a war is brewing against the evil Faery Queen. Lari lives and works as a storyteller in Leith. Books from Scotland has also added some new names to its author profiles, including Keith Gray, Linda Strachan and J K Rowling.

Finally, you can read Anne Fine's views on the gritty realism of modern children's books in the Times on 25th August and an interview with Tommy Donbavand on the National Literacy Trust website (you might know him better as B. Strange, author of the Too Ghoul for School series).

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Scottish Book Trust - again!

After blogging about the August newsletter, I realised I still had the July one in my in-box because it came in while I was on holiday (now a distant memory) and I'm still not caught up properly. Its main feature was a link to their audio interview with Catherine Rayner who won the Greenaway Medal in June.

Titles for Scottish Teens

The Scottish Book Trust's Teen's and Young People's Newsletter for August features their new weekly quiz. The current quiz is on banned books, and they've also got a "Censored Hit List" section - the title that really surprised me was Alice in Wonderland. It used to be banned in China, apparently, for the portrayal of anthropomorphized animals that have the same status as humans. For much more information, check out our own Banned Books list - not, I hasten to add, books that we've banned, but titles (some as surprising as Alice) that have been banned or censored in the past.

Other features in SBT's newsletter are Teen Hit Lists, e.g. Books with Bite or Books that make you LOL, and an interview with Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (authors of the Edge Chronicles).

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Booktrust Early Years Awards

The shortlist has been announce for the Booktrust Early Years Awards, which celebrate, publicise and reward the exciting range of books being published today for babies, toddlers and pre-school children. One of the judges this year is the BBC's Edith Bowman who said ‘It has been such a wonderful experience being on the judging panel this year; I've been able to read so many books to my little boy and it's only made me enjoy reading to him even more. Books are such an important thing in children’s lives and the high standard on offer is incredible.’

The winners in the three categories (Baby Book Award, Pre-school Award and Best Emerging Illustrator) will be announced on 23rd September.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Neil Gaiman and the Newbery Medal

See the July/August Horn Book for Neil Gaiman's Newbery Medal acceptance speech (he won for The graveyard book), plus an article about him by his editor, Elise Howard. The book, about a boy raised by ghosts, has won other awards since the Newbery, picking up the Hugo best novel prize at the fantasy convention Worldcon in Montreal recently, as reported in the Guardian last week.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Reading champions for boys

The National Literacy Trust's Reading Champions team has created two new toolkits - one for secondary and one for primary - to support schools to get their boys hooked on reading. The new toolkits are packed full of ideas, activities and case studies to give you plenty of inspiration to start using the Reading Champions framework.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Books for Keeps

In Books for Keeps 177 (July 2009), Michael Rosen writes his last "Laureate Log" before handing over as Children's Laureate to Anthony Browne. Michael features in the "Classics in short" slot too, for his book Mind your own business. There's an interesting piece by the English Education team at Roehampton University about their work with student teachers on children's literature, based on their belief that teachers who demonstrate a love of reading have a large impact on their pupils' reading habits. You'll also find articles about board books; prize-winning picture book author Emily Gravett; author of the Chronicles of Darkness series, Michelle Paver, and writer for young adults, Kevin Brooks. Normally, as well as links to their websites, I would give you URLs to find these authors' books in our catalogue but we're changing to an exciting new interface on Monday so they wouldn't work for very long! More on that later.

BfK has, of course, all its usual news and reviews. It's in the library now.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Catherine Rayner article

The Herald's abc magazine carried an interview with Catherine Rayner on Saturday. Catherine, who has just won the Greenaway Medal for her picture book Harris finds his feet, is based in Edinburgh - in fact her frst book, Augustus and his smile, was commissioned by Little Tiger Press as a result of her degree show from Edinburgh College of Art. In the interview, she tells Rosemary Goring how her childhood love of animals has fed into her books - we have a copy of the article in the Library (Cuttings File no 1207) or you can access it online through our Nexis UK account. We also have both books mentioned, Augustus being part of a storysack.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Summer Reading Challenge

Children all over the UK are about to embark on a fantastical adventure and become Quest Seekers in the Reading Agency's 11th Summer Reading Challenge. The theme, the power of the imagination, will take young readers into a mysterious and wondrous land where they can discover the joy of reading and nurture a life-long love affair with books. As Scottish schools broke up yesterday, the challenge opens here on Monday in almost all Scottish public libraries.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Carnegie / Greenaway

CILIP's Carnegie and Greenaway Awards for 2009 have been announced. Siobhan Dowd has won the Carnegie Award for Bog child (David Fickling, 2008) and Catherine Rayner has won the Greenaway Award for Harris finds his feet (Little Tiger, 2008). Follow the link to the site for information about the authors and their books and video of the ceremony.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Lauren Child

See Sunday's Observer Magazine for an interview with Lauren Child, author of the popular Charlie and Lola books.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Children's writing

A couple of articles on creative writing in the latest edition of the National Association for the Teaching of English's Classroom journal, which is now in stock:

Gibbons, A. (2009). Back to the future – or putting the creative back in writing. NATE Classroom, Summer pp. 29-31.

Wrigley, S. (2009). Using storyboxes to develop language and thought. NATE Classroom, Summer pp. 14-17.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Deathwatch dash!

A new record has been set by author Nicola Morgan for the greatest number of separate school talks by one author in one day. To celebrate the publication of teen thriller Deathwatch, the Edinburgh based author visited six schools on Monday 15 June and spoke to over 700 pupils over the course of the day. The 'Deathwatch Dash' had audiences of pupils crammed into all available spaces, almost literally hanging from the rafters in the case of one school where the students were peering through the bars of a gallery. Deathwatch, a contemporary thriller featuring a stalker, insects, social networking sites and mental illness, is the culmination of a two-year project with pupils of Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh, who helped to write the book. Nicola is continuing her run of events this week and will be signing copies of Deathwatch at the Children's Bookshop, Edinburgh on Saturday 20 June, 11-1pm.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Picture books symposium

Glasgow University is hosting the 2nd International Symposium on Picturebooks, entitled Beyond borders: art, narrative and culture in picturebooks. It's a three day event, but there's one day, Saturday 19th September, specifically for practicioners in the field - e.g. teachers and librarians.

The focus on the Saturday morning will be on Scottish picturebooks, highlighted with a talk from Mairi Hedderwick, author of the famous Katie Morag picturebooks, who will also be exhibiting some of her artwork during the Symposium. Dr Maureen Farrell will introduce this topic with a talk on Scottish picturebooks: “Jings! Crivens! Help ma Boab! - It’s a Scottish Picturebook!”

The rest of the day will include papers by expert international speakers on different aspects of picturebooks, ranging from literary and artistic features to children’s responses to picturebooks in the classroom. The topics will be of particular relevance to those working with the new definitions of text and literacy within the Curriculum for Excellence. There will also be opportunities to participate in discussions after each panel.

The event costs £30 - for more information and to book, see its website.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Scottish Book News

The Scottish Book Trust Children and Young People's Newsletter for June is out. Its book of the month is Nicola Morgan's novel Deathwatch, an exciting and gripping read about young Cat McPherson, a girl who finds herself being watched - but by whom? We haven't got this one yet (it's on order) but have plenty of other titles by Morgan. There are also interviews with the shortlisted authors for the Royal Mail Awards in three categories - Early Years, Younger Readers and Older Readers - in the Listen Up podcast section. Sign up for the email newsletter on the SBT site.

New Children's Laureate - Anthony Browne

The 6th Children's Laureate was announced yesterday - he's Anthony Browne. He takes over from Michael Rosen and will serve until 2011. Browne is a prize-winning author and illustrator (famous titles include Gorilla and Willy the Wimp - for more see our catalogue) and intends to use his term as Laureate to promote picture books. In his acceptance speech, he said: "'Picture books are special – they're not like anything else. Sometimes I hear parents encouraging their children to read what they call proper books (books without pictures), at an earlier and earlier age. This makes me sad, as picture books are perfect for sharing, and not just with the youngest children. As a father, I understand the importance of the bond that develops through reading picture books with your child. We have in Britain some of the best picture book makers in the world, and I want to see their books appreciated for what they are – works of art." The BBC has also published an interview and video to mark the occasion.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Shiver and Chill

Books from Scotland's children's choice this month is a hotly-anticipated read - Shiver (Floris, 2009) is the sequel to Alex Nye's award-winning Chill (Floris, 2006). A year on from laying the ghost of Catherine Morton to rest, the Morton children thought that they had uncovered all their family secrets. But when Dunadd House looks set to be sold, the unexpected starts happening again and the children discover that history has one more surprise up its sleeve...Chill won the 2007 Royal Mail Award for 8-11 year olds and many of the book's young fans suspected that there was still some unfinished business at Dunadd House. Will the author resolve the mystery once and for all or keep them guessing? There's only one way to find out! You can borrow Chill from the library already; Shiver is on order.

To mark the launch of the book, Alex will be visiting schools, libraries and bookshops across Scotland to inspire, educate and motivate young readers. Contact Laura Armstrong at Floris Books for details, or to arrange an event.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Horn Book

The May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine has just arrived. It has a running theme of "Food for thought" with various food-related snippets, and a longer article by Linda Sue Park: Still hot: great food moments in children's literature. Food is deeply ingrained in our different cultures - apparently, it is only the fourth thing that immigrants lose through the generations after dress, language and religion. Park approaches the subject both as a writer (using food can identify characters and settings, and putting people together to develop relationships is easily done over a meal) and as a reader (she goes through each meal of the day picking out favourite passages from books). I was delighted that for dinner she picked a section from one of my favourite books - Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. Not read it? Then you're missing a wonderful heroine, Dicey Tillerman, who leads her younger siblings on a walk hundreds of miles long to reach their estranged grandmother when their mother disappears. It's the start of a series, so lots more in store after that.

Other articles include an interview with Sarah Dessen. I hadn't heard of her, but we do have one of her books, Truth about forever (Puffin, 2008), a teenage novel in which the death of the heroine's father takes place before the book actually begins, but sets in motion all the things that happen to her. Lizza Aiken writes about her mother, the respected children's author Joan Aiken, and Debby Dahl Edwardson writes about the implications of worldview in children's books, those that reflect the child's own worldview and those that allow them insight into another culture. She uses the experience of her own children growing up in Alaska to illustrate this. Finally, Janet Hamilton asks What makes a good science book?

Check out the Horn Book in the library, or see its website.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Dads in children's books

A recent Times article asks: Where are all the nice normal dads in children's books? The author, Damon Syson, found few role-model dads when he was looking for picture books to read to his young daughter, and thinks more books should reflect shifting gender roles and show dads doing more child care. To find books about fathers, you could use our theme index which checks the library catalogue for children's fiction on particular subjects. Recent examples include My dad is brilliant by Nick Butterworth (Walker, 2008) and Grizzly dad : why dads are great (even the grumpy ones) by Joanna Harrison (David Fickling, 2008).

Monday, 18 May 2009

The Gruffalo ten years on.

The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, has become a modern classic since it was first published in 1999, and it's also soon to be a film. In yesterday's Observer, Robert McCrum puts it in its place in the great tradition of British storytelling for children.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Margaret Mahy

The latest Notes from the Horn Book features an interview with Margaret Mahy, the veteran author from New Zealand. Since 1969, when her first book was published, Mahy has written for every age group, from picture book readers to teenagers. She's won many awards, including the Carnegie Medal twice for The Haunting and The Changeover - the latter was the first of her books I ever read. It's a powerful, supernatural romance which I strongly recommend. In 2006, she also won the Hans Christian Andersen Award, which is given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to honour an author who has made a lasting contribution to international children's literature. For more information about Margaret Mahy, see the pages from Christchurch City Libraries where she worked before becoming a full time writer, and see our library catalogue for a list of the titles we hold.