Friday, 28 September 2012

Next week is packed with book events!

Next week is packed with book-related celebrations. It's Children's Book Week from 1st - 7th October - follow the link for posters (see illustration, left, by Rebecca Cobb) and resources. This year's theme is "Heroes and Heroines".

In the same week falls National Poetry Day - Thursday 4th - for which the theme is "Stars". There are lots of Star poems on the official site and the Scottish Poetry Library has some fabulous posters to download. Even though I am no longer working in an Education Library I intend to put some of those up. No reason why agriculture students should not enjoy a good bit of poetry!

Next week is also Banned Books Week. This is a US event, but books can be challenged in this country too, sometimes for very unexpected reasons. The University of Strathclyde has an excellent reading list Banned: controversial books for teenagers and children which is worth investigating for more information. As Oscar Wilde said: "There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written, that is all." Do you agree?

Finally, an ongoing event to bring to your attention is the exhibition Take Five Illustrators at the Scottish National Gallery which features Alice Melvin, Cate James, Barroux, Sara Ogilvie and Bruce Ingman, all of whom work on books for children. It's been on all summer and finishes on 30th October, so there's still time to catch it. No excuses, then, not to do something book related next week - there's plenty to choose from!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Wolfie and the string of coincidences

I'm a sucker for book competitions, as long as I don't have to do too much to win! Retweeting, making a comment on a blog or sending a simple email are about my limits - slogans and other brain-troubling demands are not for me. And I have a pretty good track record - at least once a month a new title wings its way towards me. I read them all, and those that I don't keep get passed on either to friends or to the library. That way, more people get to hear about the authors so I think it's great publicity for them.
My latest acquisition is Wolfie by Emma Barnes (Strident, 2012). This is how the blurb describes it:
"Lucie has always longed for a dog. But not one this big. Or with such sharp teeth. Or with such a hungry look in its eyes. Lucie realises her new pet is not a dog...but a wolf. Not only that, but a wolf with magical powers. A talking wolf is not an easy thing to hide from your family and friends. Or from the bully next door. And as Lucie grows to love Wolfie, she also realises that her new companion is in terrible danger…"
Intrigued? I was. Mind you, at first I wasn't too keen on Lucie who was looking forward to her uncle's visit only because she knew he was bringing a present (the "dog"). However, her relationship with Wolfie soon proves she's not as self-centred as I thought, but is loving and loyal. The pair are very protective of each other because of the secret they share about Wolfie's special powers, and Lucie has to use all her ingenuity to prevent it being found out. Along the way, they have some magical experiences, make some good new friends and outwit Marcus, the bully next door. Although all the ends are tied together at the end, Wolfie's parting shot is "Something tells me this will not be the last of our adventures!" so I think we can look forward to a sequel.

Who else would like this book? Confident readers from about 7 onwards - apart from the power of the story, it's not too long (132p), the type is clear and it's illustrated throughout by Emma Chichester Clark whose style many young readers will already be familiar with from her picture books. For more information about Emma Barnes, see this interview on Books Events for Children. Her own website is here and she also writes on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, including this post which is very supportive of libraries.

And where do the coincidences come in? Well, I won this book from the publisher (Strident) whose Managing Director wrote to say: "We had entries from all around the country, but when my London-based colleague gave me your address details I found she’d chosen a winner who lives around the corner from our editor and works in the library near the building my father used to run (Jordanhill College). And Strident is based not so very far away in East Kilbride. You couldn’t be closer!" I glanced at his name - Keith Charters - and instantly remembered his father, Graham Charters, who was College Secretary when I first went to Jordanhill. In my reply, I mentioned that I had previously worked in East Kilbride Libraries. Turns out Keith takes his six-year old son there! Maybe not coincidences exactly, but it does show the intertwined, and friendly, nature of the book and library world.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

John and Carole E Barrowman: Hollow Earth - a review

Guest review by Gordana Nesterovic:

I recently listened to the audio book Hollow Earth, read by one of the authors, John Barrowman.  I usually listen to audiobooks while walking my dog and I can say that my dog had the walks of his life with this one, as I stayed out for ages wanting to hear more and more of what happened.  I enjoyed it so much that I then read the print copy to make sure I did not miss anything.

The main characters are twelve year old twins, Mat and Em who have very special powers. The story begins in the National Gallery, in London, where they live with their mother, a talented artist who does a restoration work. Once the extent of their powers is discovered, they are forced to flee to an island off the west coast of Scotland to be protected by their grandfather who has certain powers of his own.

The story twists and turns and is truly gripping. The facts are intertwined with fiction in a wonderful way and the book is inspiring. This amazing story could be a useful tool for teaching different subjects. I could see that children (and adults) would want to visit the National Gallery in London as well as other art galleries after reading it, and I think they would look at art work in different way. I would hope that children would want to be on a train journey from London to Glasgow and on to the small coastal town of Largs from where you could be taken on a boat trip to neighbouring islands. This book could help teaching about Scotland and its history, about art or just get the imagination flowing. I, myself, could not help wondering what artwork was the inspiration for which scene in the book, what was real and what was fiction. I also liked how, at the end of the book, the authors acknowledge that feeling, and give a few facts about where the inspiration for certain things came from. I am sure that the book will make children want to draw as well, and maybe the drawings will be an inspiration for stories of their own. The relationships between some of the characters are heart-warming, as well as thought provoking, and could provide a platform for discussions on many different levels.

The book is aimed at children aged 9 do 12, but I would not entirely agree with that. I think it is a wonderful story that would appeal to young adults and adults as well in a similar way to the Harry Potter series. The end of the book does not give us all the answers and I hope we will not have to wait very long for the sequel. I could also imagine a film. Both versions of the book, audio and print, can be found in the Children's Literature Collection of Strathclyde University Library, or try your public library. For more information, including a link to the Hollow Earth website, see John Barrowman's Books page.

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Today is Roald Dahl Day. There are celebrations at Scottish Book Trust and, although it might be too late to join in live, follow the links on their page to find out how to access the event afterwards. SBT also offers the chance to win a 15-book Roald Dahl box set from Puffin. Simply tweet your top three favourite Roald Dahl books to @ScottishBkTrust using the #Top3DahlBooks hashtag or email with your three choices. There's still time for that - enter by 17:00 Friday 14 September 2012. The winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Children's Laureate Library Tour

This is another guest post by my friend and former colleague, Gordana Nesterovic:

Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson will be embarking on a national tour of 35 libraries in England, Wales and Scotland, from the Highlands to Penzance, over six weeks. The tour begins today with an event at Thurso Library in the Northern Highlands and will celebrate libraries as a precious community resource at a time when a great many are threatened with closure. The full list of the libraries that Julia Donaldson will be visiting in this autumn's Children's Laureate Library Tour can be found here (events are aimed at groups of school children who will be able see Julia bringing her characters to life, but who will also have a chance to perform to Julia - so not all events will be open to public.)

Julia will also be visiting local independent bookshops, celebrating community relations between libraries, bookshops and schools. To coincide with the launch of her libraries tour, Julia will also be launching a new website for teachers (details yet to be announced) to help them to use drama and performance to bring picture books to life in the classroom. I feel this will be of particular importance as teachers, as well as librarians, are in position to help each child find the right book for them and ignite the spark of enjoying reading that will last a lifetime. The author of Gruffalo, amongst 75 other books, has always been very passionate about libraries and has worked very hard campaigning against library closures, including sending an open letter to the newly appointed Culture Secretary.

Yesterday, the Sunday Telegraph published the list of five of the best children's books about libraries, chosen by Julia Donaldson : Otto the book bear (2011) by Katie Cleminson, Delilah Darling is in the library (2007) by Jeanne Willis, Library lion (2008) by Michelle Knudsen, Wolves (2006) by Emily Gravett and Little Bo Peep's library book (1999) by Cressida Cowell.

If you are a Strathclyde University Library member, you will find the first four book in stock in the Children's Literature Collection. The last one is out of print at the moment, but might be found in your local library.