Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Book Week Scotland 2015

Nora and Lisa Patron (4) celebrate the launch of Book Week Scotland 2015
Pictures copyright: Rob McDougall

It's here again! The 2015 Book Week Scotland programme was unveiled yesterday. Thanks to our friends at Scottish Book Trust, people across the country will be invited to celebrate the transformative power of books and reading from 23-29 November. Check out the programme for schools and families for some great children's events.

Yes, I want to shout about it too!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Theresa Breslin's Divided City: Mixing the Colours

It's over ten years since Theresa Breslin's Divided City came out, and I can't believe I haven't read it before now. I borrowed it recently from the Mixing the Colours collection (part of a project in which women speak about intra-Christian sectarianism) at Glasgow Women's Library. I meant to review it for their website, but stupidly didn't check if it had been done already. It had, so I'm posting my review here instead.

Theresa Breslin’s Divided City explodes onto the page. A boy is walking down a street in a part of Glasgow he knows isn’t safe. Footsteps sound behind him – and then there's a stabbing. The boy, Graham, a Rangers supporting football fanatic, stops to help the young man who has been injured - Kyoul, an asylum seeker - and the story takes off from here.

Next we meet Joe. He and Graham have just been at the same football practice and they played really well together. The coach is hoping to set up a team drawn from all Glasgow schools, and these two seem a certainty. But Joe is a Celtic supporter – can he and Graham be friends? It’s not just a matter of football teams, it’s religion too – Joe is from a Catholic family; Graham is a Protestant whose Grandfather is hoping to persuade him to take part in the next Orange Walk.

Breslin draws the relationship between the two boys well, with its contrast of conflict and co-operation. Neither boy can be honest with his family about his new friend, and yet it is Joe whom Graham trusts to help him get a message to Kyoul’s girlfriend. After the exciting beginning I found this part of the plot unconvincing, but I can see that Kyoul was there to show that the boys are not intolerant or fearful of “the other” – apart from the blind spot that growing up with sectarianism has given them. I like that this is not completely resolved by the end of the book – it wouldn’t be in real life – but that we are left with a sense of hope that initiatives such as the all-Glasgow football team will start to build bridges.

Theresa, a former librarian, is a great supporter of libraries and is currently Vice-President of CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). For more about her, there are many interviews and articles out there: the most recent one I've read is from the always entertaining Bookwitch. For more on Divided City, see its section on Theresa's webpage.

Other books for young people on the Mixing the Colours list include Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses series, Joan Lingard's Kevin and Sadie books, the Breadwinner trilogy by Deborah Ellis and Tribes by Cathy MacPhail.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Scottish Children's Book Awards: 2016 shortlist

Photo credit: Rob McDougall.

The shortlist for next year's Scottish Children's Book Awards, managed by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland, has been announced today. Above, you can see pupils from Royal Mile Nursery, Flora Stevenson Primary and Holyrood High demonstrating their support for the nominees on Edinburgh's Calton Hill.

Over the next five months, children throughout Scotland will be reading the three shortlisted books in their age category and voting for their favourite.

Bookbug Readers (3-7 years)

(Every child in Primary 1 will receive a free copy of each Bookbug title during Book Week Scotland in November.)
  • Never Tickle a Tiger by Pamela Butchart and Marc Boutavant (Bloomsbury)
  • Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit Book Burglar by Emily MacKenzie (Bloomsbury)
  • Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock and Ali Pye (Nosy Crow)

Younger Readers (8-11 years)

  • The Nowhere Emporium by Ross Mackenzie (Floris)
  • The Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island: The Lost Children by Gillian Philip (Orchard)
  • The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan)

Older Readers (12-16 years)

  • Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Egmont)
  • The Piper by Danny Weston (the pseudonym of Philip Caveney) (Andersen)
  • Trouble on Cable Street by Joan Lingard (Catnip)
As well as voting, children can also enter book review and book trailer competitions. To find out how to involve your class or book group, keep an eye on the SBT website. Finally, CALL Scotland has again worked with Scottish Book Trust and the publishers to create accessible digital versions of the nine shortlisted books for children and young people with physical, visual and reading or dyslexic difficulties, who can’t read the paper books. These are available free of charge from CALL Scotland.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The A to Z Challenge

This month I'm following the A to Z Challenge with two of my other blogs, both of which are WordPress. When I'm commenting on Blogger posts I sometimes forget to put in a link to my Challenge blogs, and the automatic link leads to this one. So if you've landed here unexpectedly, you might be looking for the A to Z of Gallus Glasgow on Anabel's Travel Blog or the A to Z of What's good about libraries? on Adventures of a Retired Librarian. I hope to meet you there!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A win for Alex McCall! Scottish Children's Book Awards 2015

The winners of the Scottish Children's Book Awards 2015, run by Scottish Book Trust and funded by Creative Scotland, were announced today. Two of the authors were on their third win - Ross Collins (3-7) and Cathy MacPhail (12-16) - but Alex McCall is a first-timer, and one of Scotland's youngest published authors. He won the 8-11 category with Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens.

Alex McCall. Photo credit: Rob McDougall

I've written about Alex before: first when the shortlists for the award were announced when I described how I'd met him (briefly), and second when I chose to send Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens to Japan for the International Book Giving Day Swap that I took part in. So I feel a sort of connection with him, and I'm very glad he won. So is Alex! He said:
“There’s something of a feeling of coming full circle here. This is my first book and it got published through the Kelpies Prize. But the only reason that I found out about the Kelpies Prize is through a previous winning author coming to my school, through the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Fund. So while I’m delighted to win I also feel very lucky that Scottish Book Trust exists in the first place. Being able to go into school and meet the children that you are writing for is fantastic enough as it is. Knowing that those kids have voted for you makes it even better. In general participating in the Awards has been a really good experience. It is just hard to believe that I’ve been lucky enough to actually win.”
Congratulations to Alex and, of course, massive thanks and congratulations to Scottish Book Trust for these fabulous awards. Here's the beautiful trophy Alex won.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The book swap: books duly swapped!

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about getting the details of my partner in Zoe's International Book Giving Day Book Swap. Since then I have picked my book, sent it off and heard that it has arrived in Japan! That's it on the left - I chose it because I wanted to get something Scottish, it's a prizewinning book and I've even met the author, Alex McCall (here's where I explain about that.)

What is Attack of the giant robot chickens about? This is what it says on the back of the book:
"Why did the chicken cross the road? To take over the world! Giant robot chickens are terrorising the city of Aberdeen. Their aim: to peck out all signs of human resistance. The streets are empty, the adults have vanished and those left behind must hide from the powerful poultry or get scrambled! Jesse and his friends hatch a plot to stop the fowl fiends and take back their city - but when a gang of kids takes on an army of angry robot chickens, things don't eggs-actly go to plan."
I'm guessing Alex likes puns a lot! I hope the humour is something that will appeal to the 10-year old bi-lingual boy in Japan who now owns the book.

And what have I received in return? Well, Jo (the recipient's Mum) and I have corresponded by email a few times, and I received a lovely letter and card in the post (see left). Then today, my book arrived from the Book Depository. It's My neighbour Totoro, a novelisation by Tsugiko Kubo of one of Hayoa Miyazaki's films. I confess that I have only seen one of those (Kiki's delivery service) so I'm not very familiar with his work. Time to find out! This is an on-going story...

More information:

International Book Giving Day 2015

Zoe's Book Swap

Jo's blog

Monday, 9 February 2015

National Libraries Day in Scotland

It was National Libraries Day on Saturday, with lots of activities going on for children and adults. Here are some examples.

I think Dundee Library looks like a great place to take kids. They have a squid!
And they were experimenting with Book Faces - this is a fabulous idea to try with the children in your school / library / home. My favourite:
Dunbar Library was having a great event with author Debi Gliori.
And Penicuik had Nick Sharratt.
Moray Library storytimes are popular.
Glasgow Libraries had a party with a clown at Langside to celebrate its 100th birthday.
Strathclyde showed off its Storysacks. Student teachers borrow these to take into the classroom.
It all looks great, doesn't it? But - despite the wonderful things going on in libraries, many of them are under threat. Here are some blog posts from children's authors and publishers reminding you why they are worth saving:

An Awfully Big Blog Adventure (by Dawn Finch) Happy National Libraries Day 2015!

Barrington Stoke National Libraries Day: Anthony McGowan and his teen narrator say it better than we ever could.

Jackie Morris Fighting talk.

Nicola Morgan Celebrating National Libraries Day.

And to take it back to a happy note before finishing, Playing by the book (Zoe Toft) describes a great book group she was running for children on Saturday, ACHUKAblog displays some lovely children's library cards designed by Jackie Morris and (not an NLD blog post but too good to miss) MinervaReads celebrates picture books on the theme of libraries.

Love libraries? Use 'em or lose 'em!

Monday, 2 February 2015

National Libraries Day 2015 - a YLG competition

National Libraries Day is coming up on Saturday, 7th February, and events are taking place throughout this week. Here's a message from the Youth Libraries Group about a great competition they are running:
"As this day becomes increasingly important as an advocacy tool for libraries, as well as an opportunity to celebrate all that we do, YLG have joined with the publishers to launch an easy to run competition for all libraries, nationally.
Using Twitter, we are asking all libraries to encourage their customers to take a photo of themselves in their local library on NLD, or during the week running up to NLD. We’d like them to send their photo (they can hold up a book in front of their face if they are shy!) to @Youthlibraries with #NLD15, Age **. 
Our ever generous publisher friends have donated lovely signed copies of some marvellous books, so having the age is very important for us to be able to send the randomly selected Tweeters an appropriate prize. A photo of the books (and a signed Chris Riddell!!!!!!) will be Tweeted by @Youthlibraries to launch the promotion, so be sure to follow us!"
 For those tweeting in Scotland about NLD, don't forget to add #nldscot too.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

An exciting book day

Two exciting book related happenings today! The postman called with an enormous parcel - 10 lovely books from Random House Children's Publishers which I won on Twitter. I haven't sorted through them yet to decide which ones to read and review and which libraries to donate them to afterwards - I'm sure there are a few more blog posts in there so I'll keep you posted.

The second thing was an email from Zoe Toft telling me the name of my partner in her International Book Giving Day swap, which I wrote about before Christmas. My partner is in Japan and would like a book suitable for her 10-year old son who is bilingual. She in turn will send me a book (in English) in the 8-13 age range. My plan is to find something Scottish if I can - watch this space!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Happy 100th Birthday Wallasey Children’s Library!

I saw this on Twitter the other day:
You probably can't read the text, but it says:
Wallasey Central Children’s Library is celebrating Its 100th Birthday! One of the first separate public libraries for children in the country, the library was opened during WW1, survived being bombed in WW2, has been much loved by generations of Wallasey children and reaches its centenary in 2015. Readers and Staff at Wallasey Library would like to invite anyone who loves libraries to help us celebrate by… Sending us a birthday card! Please send a 100th Birthday card – homemade cards welcome of course – as early in the year as possible to Wallasey Central Children’s Library, Earlston Road, Wallasey, CH45 5DX. Please include a mention of a children’s book you have particularly enjoyed. Wallasey children and their parents and carers are sharing and enjoying books every day.  They would love to hear from you. Thank You! From All at Wallasey Central Children’s Library.
Well, I couldn’t turn down a request like that – and, very appropriately, I even found a 100th birthday card illustrated by one of my favourite children’s illustrators, Quentin Blake.

As asked, I added a note about my favourite children’s book, Anne of Green Gables - which is even older than the library itself as it was first published in 1908. Then I sent my card off – why don’t you do the same? I’m sure the library would be delighted to hear from you.