Thursday, 30 September 2010

Polly Dunbar

Booktrust recently introduced its new writer in residence, Polly Dunbar. Polly has written and illustrated many much loved picture books including Dog Blue, Flyaway Katie and Penguin. She is also the illustrator of My Dad's a Birdman and The boy who climbed into the Moon, both written by David Almond. Penguin won the Nestle Silver Award 2007, Booktrust Early Years Award 2007, the Red House Award 2008 and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. For more information from Booktrust about her, see the Writers in Residence blog and resources. For information from elsewhere, see Walker Books, Wikipedia and the Guardian Gallery. To see our own library holdings click here (books written and / or illustrated by Polly Dunbar, covers below).

What's hot in picture books?

Today I've been following two of my Twitter friends (@nosycrow and @Booktrust) who've been tweeting from the Bookseller's annual children's conference in the British Library Conference Centre in London. One interesting thing I learnt (via the talk from Philip Stone, the Bookseller's Charts Editor) is that the overall market for books is down 4% for the year to date - adult non-fiction is down 8% and children's books are down 2%. However, within this last category, picture book sales are actually up 2%, driven by the likes of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Apparently, in picture books, animals and monsters are hot but princesses and fairies are not hot. So you might want to bear that in mind next time you choose books to go out on placement! Here are just a few animal and monster book suggestions that we have in stock - find locations through SUPrimo.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

It's Banned Books Week

We're in the middle of Banned Books Week which launched on 25 September and is a celebration of the freedom to read. It originally started in America in 1982 as a reflection on the rise in challenges faced by libraries, bookstores and schools regarding the content of books. The Banned Books week site has lists under various headings:
  • Corrosive to young minds
  • Politically incendiary
  • Downright sexy
  • Just wrong
We also have our own page, Banned: controversial books for teenagers and children, which covers similar ground:
  • Young upstarts: books written for younger children
  • Teen trouble and contentious kids
  • Controversial classics
  • Further reading
You will probably be surprised at some of the titles included! Here's just a taster:

Friday, 17 September 2010

Roald Dahl Funny Prize - shortlist announced

The shortlist has just been announced for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. Click on the link for full details, including reviews. The prize was founded in 2008 by Michael Rosen as part of his Children’s Laureateship and is the first prize of its kind, i.e. for those books that simply make children laugh. There are two categories, for children aged 6 and under and for children aged 7-14. As usual, we aim to stock all titles nominated for prizes, and in this case we already have half of them and will be adding the rest as soon as possible. The slideshow below illustrates the ones in stock now. The prize, administered by Booktrust, will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 17 November 2010.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

New literacy and football resources from NLT

The National Literacy Trust's Reading the Game is an initiative to promote reading, writing, and speaking and listening for all ages through the motivational power of sport. They've just added a new section to it - football-related literacy resources by children's writer Tom Palmer. There's a toolkit of ideas for activities and games, reading and writing exercises, stories and book reviews. It does feature English Premier League stars in places, but could easily be adapted to fit the Scottish football scene. There's also a competition.

We have a good collection ourselves of football stories for children and our Books for Boys webpage has reviews of some of them on its football page.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books

The shortlist for the 2010 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books was announced recently. The awards recognize excellence in Scottish writing and illustration for children across three categories: Early years (0-7 years), younger readers (8-11 years), older readers (12-16 years). There is also a special Gaelic and Scots category, which in 2010 will take the form of a creative writing competition for Gaelic-speaking children across Scotland. The winners of the awards are decided entirely by children and young people in schools and libraries across Scotland, reading and voting for their favourite books. Registration is now open for children who wish to be young judges either as individuals or as groups. The awards, which are run by Scottish Book Trust, will be made in February.

We've got about half the books already if you want to borrow them, check SUPrimo for locations:

0-7: What the ladybird heard; Stormy weather.
8-11: Secret of the black moon moth.
12-16: Grass; The witching hour.

The rest will be available as soon as possible.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Horn Book: family reading issue.

A new issue of the Horn Book has arrived in the library. It's theme is family reading and you'll find articles such as  What makes a good book for all ages, Boy books and Girl books. In addition, in Reading on the spectrum, Ashley Waring writes about the reading experiences of her two sons, one of whom is autistic, and Leonard Marcus discusses The size of things in relation to picture books - giant or miniature? Size matters.

The Horn Book is a US publication so the reviews aren't always relevant here, but the articles are usually interesting and you can keep up to date online via - they have a blog and newsletter.

Find the Horn Book going back to 1964 on the Serials Gallery at S808. If you check our catalogue, SUPrimo, you can also access it electronically (Strathclyde staff and students only).

It's Roald Dahl Day - 13/9/10

Roald Dahl Day is celebrated every year on the author's birthday - he would have been 94 today! Click on the link to download information about events and activities. There's also a challenge (to read 3 Roald Dahl books before December) in which 5000 children will win a Revolting Reader badge. You might also be interested in the official Dahl website and the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. Plus, of course, we have loads of books by and about Roald Dahl - see the list here. Which is your favourite?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Are some picture books too "creepy" in their message?

How carefully do you think about the underlying message in some of the picture books you read to young children? An article by Lisa Belkin in the New York Times Magazine yesterday caught my eye (via Achuka Blog) - Children’s books you (might) hate. It started with a discussion of The giving tree, by Shel Silverstein, about a boy and a tree who are friends, but the boy takes everything form the tree. To quote Belkin: "For the next 60 pages that little boy takes and takes and takes from the tree — selling her apples when he needs money, chopping off her branches when he needs shelter, cutting down her trunk when he needs a boat to sail far away. In the end, the boy is an old man, and he comes back to the tree and sits on her. Which, we are told, makes her happy." She asks if this is a good message, that you can keep taking without giving back. This leads on to further examples such as Marcus Pfister's Rainbow fish, about a beautiful fish who gives away all his scales, which could be read as a warning not to be unique or different. The article provoked lively discussion with lots of suggestions in the comments of books people disliked for similar reasons.

We have both the books mentioned above in the Library, multiple copies in the case of Rainbow fish which is always popular. When I checked this morning, The giving tree was out and also has an active loan history. So are Belkin and the others she quotes over-analysing? Or, if they are right but children like the books anyway, should we just let them get on with enjoying them? What do you think?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Children's Books about Libraries

Libraries are very much in the news just now, particularly in England where there seem to be serious moves to cut them. If children are to grow up as enthusiastic readers they should be encourgaed to appreciate the worth of a good library. What better way to start than with picture books about libraries? We have some of the titles listed in the link here and its comments, plus others such as:

Maisy goes to the library
Lucy Cousins
London : Walker 2005

Carlo and the really nice librarian
Jessica Spanyol
London : Walker 2004

The ghost library
David Melling
London : Hodder Children's 2004

When the library lights go out
Megan McDonald & Katherine Tillotson
London : Simon & Schuster 2006

If you agree with my point about libraries and want to support them, you might be interested in a new website, Voices for the Library, which has been set up as a place for everyone who loves libraries to share their stories and experiences of the value of public libraries. Please take a look.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Headteachers in books give lessons on authority

"Children’s literature that depicts headteachers as sadistic and evil helps youngsters learn about authority" a study has found, as reported in today's Glasgow Herald. The article continues "School-based novels encourage children to think about power and whether it is being used wisely, it is claimed. The research at Nottingham University considered the characteristics of headteachers in 19 children’s books written since 1970. Of these, nine are portrayed negatively, from the “evil and messianic” head in The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross to the “sadistic, child-hating” Miss Trunchbull in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. A further six are remote figures of power. Just one, Professor Dumbledore of the Harry Potter series, is seen positively, described as wise and moral." Read the full article through the link above, or borrow our copies of the books to check out the theory for yourself. Find their locations in our catalogue.