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SLA Blog » September 2016RSS Feed RSS

The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

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Digital Direction Bringing Careers Guidance into the 21st Century

Three Minute Hero campaign offers students the chance to record their futures

Careers guidance company U-Explore is building a library of user-generated short films to help the nation's schools and businesses inspire young people with relevant and accessible information.

The Three Minute Hero initiative is a refreshingly new approach to providing careers advice. Video capture technology allows anyone in any profession to record their own short film using their computer, tablet or phone. Answering questions about their job, experience at school and what advice they would give their teenage self, the aim is to help young people get a better idea about what a particular role involves and the many routes that can be taken to get there.

With the provision of careers guidance in schools subject to funding cuts, often the quality of delivery ranges dramatically by postcode. What’s more, whilst there is a wealth of information available online, for young people there is often too much advice, or as the Careers Enterprise Company suggested recently, a ‘choice overload.’

All the Three Minute Hero videos will be hosted within U-Explore’s free careers product Start, a programme which matches users to jobs based on their qualities, skills and work preferences. Start is a free, online careers software created by U-Explore, delivering comprehensive, accessible and easy to understand careers guidance to all students. The role suggestions are brought to life through video content of people in that job, which can be filtered so students can be inspired by people from their school or area.

The Three Minute Hero technology also offers schools the opportunity to engage young people in directing their own career paths, by identifying their career heroes and recording the videos with them, to really get an insight into their work and career journey.

The programme is supported by a wealth of business leaders including entrepreneur Matthew Riley, one of Sir Alan Sugar’s advisers on The Apprentice.

Andy Pickles, CEO of U-Explore said: “Most teenagers, including my own, steer towards user-generated video to get the information they need, so it seemed a natural step to offer careers advice in this format.

“Watching a three-minute film of someone who went to your school or comes from your town talking about their job, what they do, how they got there and what they’ve learnt, provides a real source of inspiration to young people. We’re offering guidance from someone they can relate to and an insight into the world of work. There’s a huge opportunity for social mobility, empowering young people to work towards their goals, based on the achievements of real people with real experience.”

The campaign is part of an exciting growth plan for the Leeds-based U-Explore, which is looking to double in size within a year after receiving a £100,000 working capital package from Lloyds Bank.

To watch some of the Three Minute Hero videos and record your own film, please visit http://hero.startprofile.com.

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London Branch: Branch Events

The online librarian – reader promotion
Wednesday 9 November at 2.30pm
at Highgate School
Highgate Senior School, North Road, N6 4AY

More Details...

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Concluding profile of our School Librarian of the Year finalists: Lauren Thow

School Librarian of the Year Award 2016: Honour List Profile

Lauren Thow

Portobello High School, Edinburgh

   "Her role within school is pivotal." 

Praise doesn't come much higher than this, and it is a marvellous testament to Lauren Thow, Library Resource Centre Co-ordinator at Portobello High School, Edinburgh and the way she runs the library and supports her school's community.

At the more formal end of supporting the school's learning and teaching, Lauren is responsible for "benefits of reading" lessons and training in a wide variety of literacy and information skills including skimming and scanning, question types, reliability of sources, research and referencing. These lesson plans are shared through the Scottish Qualifications Authority website, evidencing Lauren's commitment to sharing her skills with peers. She teaches research lessons across all school departments bringing variety and excitement; recently Lauren transformed into Alan Sugar for a cross-curricular day with Business Studies. By effectively disseminating information and research skills Lauren has enabled the library truly to be seen as a learning centre, valued now throughout the school.

Lauren has worked hard to create a library which is "dynamic, welcoming, supportive and (hopefully!) enlightening". Having rediscovered the joy of book illustration as an adult, visual texts are now one of Lauren's favourite mediums, influencing how she's developed her library's atmosphere and stock.  When she first started at Portobello High School she took it upon herself to repaint part of the library to make it more welcoming and pleasant, and she always ensures the space is full with beautiful and informative displays, such as a recent reading challenge based on monopoly. Strongly believing that visual texts are really important for all ages and abilities Lauren established a graphic novel section in the library, and jointly runs a lunchtime Comics & Cookies club for all year groups.

Lauren is particularly proud of creating a positive environment for students in their final year. When Lauren first arrived at Portobello, there was a lot of negativity about the Library but through a combination of changing aesthetics, the library prefect scheme, "kindness, biscuits and bad jokes" the atmosphere has been transformed and Sixth Year students now value the Library highly and are active users of it.

Lauren, a former volunteer at Seven Stories the National Centre for Children's Books, has been known to make quite an entrance to her library; she's been spotted being pushed on a book returns trolley, wearing a furry coat, sunglasses and laden with jewellery (admittedly, not the normal style for this quietly spoken librarian but rather a special cameo feature in a reading/library promotion video created by library prefects). Without any additional funding, Lauren  established a school Literature Festival, an adjunct to the Portobello Community Book Festival. For the school festival Lauren typically mixes a variety of author visits (recently included Cathy Macphail, Keith Gray, Kirkland Ciccone and Philip Caveney) with workshops, covering everything from creative writing and illustration to comic craft, drawing on the skills of people in the local community, including the nearby Edinburgh College of Art.

This is just one example of the many partnerships outside school which Lauren has developed to tirelessly promote books and reading in a variety of ways. Work with local primaries isn't limited to transition events (though she has great fun with these, often creating book themed treasure hunts or races); primary schools also have a dedicated day in Lauren's literature festival. Lauren also reports for the free local newspaper and worked with local BBC staff to create the radio series The School That Went to War charting Portobello High School's journey as they researched the school's WWI role of Honour. This involved trips around the area to investigate the impact of the war on the local community and culminated in Lauren taking a small group of students from Portobello and another local school to Gallipoli to see the memorials/graves of some of the schools' ex-students.

Originally Lauren studied history and law, before taking up a variety of customer service/consumer advice type roles. Skills from such jobs are no doubt useful for any librarian, but it was actually the creative side of librarianship which drew Lauren in, and it was then a first job as a library assistant at a school in Newcastle which convinced her to gain her chartership. An example of this creativity is the school's 12 Days of Library Christmas which involves Christmas/library related activities, including carol singing, Christmas book craft and Christmas storytelling across 12 break and lunchtimes through December.

Lauren is continually inspired by the fantastic support network made up of Edinburgh school librarians. They have regular training and meet-ups to exchange ideas and information and this, as well as a variety of professional blogs and articles online and in print help feed Lauren's creative approach to her library. She constantly evaluates her own work through surveys and anecdotal evidence, and is able to provide strong evidence of the impact of her work. New ideas she is looking to introduce include work around health and wellbeing including bibliotherapy. When things get tough for Lauren, however, her own school librarian survival pack contains just two essential items: "Chocolate and Patrick Ness books"!

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Job Vacancies: Clifton College Preparatory School - Preparatory School Librarian, Maternity Cover

36 hours per week, Term Time plus 3 weeks per year outside of College Term-Time

We seek an enthusiastic and experienced individual to work in an extremely well resourced Library at Clifton College Preparatory School.

This role involves providing and managing resources for staff and pupils in the Preparatory School; delivering a cross-curricular information skills programme that facilitates the use of resources; integrating the Pre Library into the total life and work of the school. A good working knowledge of Library organisation and classification processes is needed, along with strong IT skills and a helpful and professional manner for assisting all library users.

The successful applicant will be able to demonstrate a good level of confidence and an ability to communicate in a helpful and professional manner at all levels, with children, staff and external agencies. Experience of working in school libraries is desirable.

The successful applicant will be a qualified, chartered librarian or working towards MCLIP.

Prep School Librarian Job Description

Word document, 75 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)


Closing date for all applications Tuesday 4 October 2016

Interviews 10 October 2016

Please see the Job Vacancies page of our website for full details and an application form:  www.cliftoncollege.com

Alternatively you can email HR on recruitment[at]cliftoncollege.comor call 0117 315 7116.

Clifton College is a large independent day and boarding school with over 1300 pupils aged 2 to 18, two large commercial sports facilities, a commercial theatre and over 600 staff.

A DBS disclosure (enhanced) will be requested for all successful applicants.  The school is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff to share this commitment.

Clifton College is an equal opportunities employer.

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Autumn Activities

Dr WhoThe start of term is always a frantic rush, meeting new students, making sure your LMS has updated properly, lots of inductions – as well as making contacts and re-establishing old contacts with staff!  Plus, in all that activity we also have many things we need to bring to your attention!

We have a great day lined up at our one day conference in Cardiff – Reading Outside the Box - at the wonderful Dr Who Experience.  I think this will be a day we don’t forget in a hurry – so do remember to book up (early bird booking closes on 30th September) but - we can take bookings beyond that date too!  The programme is packed with excellent speakers, and I’m sure your heads will be packed full of new ideas.

The School Librarian of the Year Award Honour List are gradually being revealed on the website – do look at their profiles and see some of the fascinating activities they are creating for their students.

The Information Book Award posters were sent out in your recent copy of School Librarian – if you would like some more please do contact the office as we have some we can send out.  Meanwhile do take part in the Children’s Choice voting on the website – it’s fascinating seeing whether the students agree with the judges choices.  This year there we have created a booklet of resources you might find useful for working with Information Books in your libraries and classes – check them out!

Have a great Autumn Term

Tricia Adams

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Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation

The Marsh Children’s Literature in Translation Award recognises the important role that translators play in opening up the world of literature to young readers.  The award was founded to celebrate the best translation of a children’s book from a foreign Mymarsh1language into English and published in the UK.  It highlights the quality and diversity of translated fiction for young readers.  Pre-registration is now open for the  brand NEW English-Speaking Union’s My Marsh competition.

Classic titles such as Pippi Longstocking, The Little Prince, Tintin and Asterix set the standard for this welcome addition to children’s literature.  These publications have the power to open up children’s eyes to the world around them.

The award is run by the English-Speaking Union on behalf of the Marsh Christian Trust.  The shortlist for the Marsh Award will be announced on the 20th October 2016

Customers can order the longlist/shortlist titles  from Browns Books for Students and enter the ‘My Marsh: Video review competition’ by uploading a video review of their favourite shortlisted title.  Prizes for the competition include a subscription to The Week Junior (a magazine aimed at young children explaining news and events in ways that children will understand), a copy of all the books entered into the 2016 Marsh Award, coverage of the winners entry in The Week Junior, a discount voucher for SLA training and a £100 voucher from BrownsBfS to spend on books.

Competition entries to be submitted by 20th December 2016 and the winner will be announced on the 9th January 2017.

Please find a link below to the English Speaking Union website, a copy of the pre-registration form  and a link to the  page on the BBFS website for more information: -



If you have any questions or queries regarding the Marsh Award please contact BBFS by telephone: 01482 384660 or by email: enquiries@brownsbfs.co.uk


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Job Vacancies: The Henrietta Barnett School, London - School Librarian

The Henrietta Barnett School, London - School Librarian

Term Time Only (36 hours per week – 39 weeks per year)
Salary: £20,000 - £24,000 full time (pro-rata £18,000 - £22,000)

An exciting opportunity to run the newly-refurbished library of this prestigious girls' grammar school. The successful candidate will be responsible for the management and development of this essential school resource, and for supporting academic staff to facilitate independent study and research and to encourage reading for pleasure. This is a permanent position, 36 hours per week during term time only, to start November 2016. We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. The successful applicant will be subject to an enhanced disclosure and disbarring service check. For further information and an application form, please see the School's website or contact Sandra Wright, the Head's PA. Applications must be submitted on the application form and be accompanied by a letter detailing reasons for applying for the post and suitability for it. Applications will be considered as they are received.

Closing date for applications: Thursday 29th September 2016 (noon) Interviews: w/c Monday 3rd October 2016

Job Description and Person Specification

Word document, 49 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)

More Details...

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Special member's offer on NEW magazine for 8-12's

Scoop is an exciting new monthly print magazine for children aged 8–12 launching on 22 September. Scoop

Perfect for collecting, sharing and inspiring discussion and creativity, Scoop will publish ten times a year.

Having seen an advance copy I can definitely confirm that it is beautifully produced on high quality matt paper and features
�... Spellbinding stories, poetry and graphic fiction from top children’s writers and illustrators:
Neil Gaiman �... Eoin Colfer �... Laura Dockrill �... Abi Elphinstone
Emerald Fennell �... David Roberts �... John Agard �... Catherine Johnson �... Gareth P. Jones �... Lucy Coats
Chris Priestley �... A. F. Harrold �... Philip Womack
�...Brain-boggling non-fiction covering current affairs, science, sport and MORE!
�...Inspiring illustrations by leading artists
�...Cool comic strips and cartoons
�...Entertaining activities, puzzles and jokes
�...Rousing reviews and recommendations
�...Engaging reader contributions and competitions

The seeds of Scoop were sown when founder and publisher Clementine Macmillan-Scott discoveredthe Children’s Newspaper while researching a book for her mother, Juliet Nicolson. Inspired by its thought-provoking content and popularity (it sold 500,000 copies a week in its heyday), and by her own literary background, Clementine began to explore the possibility of creating a child-focused print platform for the twenty-first century – a collectible, gorgeously designed magazine that celebrates the creative spirit in this Golden Age of children’s literature and illustration. After months of planning and fundraising, Clementine assembled a small team of respected publishing and design professionals and formed Curious Publishing Ltd as a platform through which to publish Scoop.

Scoop will be primarily sold through subscription, but also available in selected independent bookshops from October. The digital strategy is also being developed to create an online platform.

Subscriptions can be purchased from www.scoopthemag.co.uk from September.
Scoop costs £39.99 for an annual family subscription for ten issues, and £160 for an annual school subscription (five copies of ten issues)

SLA members can take advantage of a very special offer to try the magazine out

Use the code "Library Launch" to purchase an annual subscription to Scoop for £34.99 (usual price £39.99). Please go to 


NB if you have any difficulty using this code online

Please email scoop[at]servicehelpline.co.uk or call either of the numbers below, quoting “Library” as the discount code.

01795 412895  |  08443221232

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Extra books for older readers

Finally the extra reviews forthe 12-16's and above

Coakley, Lena. Worlds of Ink and Shadow. Amulet, 2016, pp352, £10.99. 978 1 4197 1034 6            Worlds of Ink

I must confess that my heart sank at the first line “Charlotte Bronte dipped her pen....” I have an aversion to books that seem to have been written for the sole purpose of linking with the National Curriculum, or of “teaching” the reader something worthy. However, once in full flow, the narrative swept me away. We join the Brontes as their imaginary world of Verdopolis takes a darker turn, and they realise that what began as a youthful adventure may cost more than they bargained for. The writing strikes a lovely balance between the frustrated romantic feelings of the characters and the simmering danger around them. I can honestly say that I found it difficult to put down.

The characters are detailed facsimiles of the real Brontes - thoroughly researched, and perhaps a little too exact. When the author decides to emphasise a point as being real, or true, it is like a splash of cold water in the reader's face. There really isn't any need to refer to a character by their full name throughout the book, and dropping hints about governesses and "wuthering" is like elbowing your reader in the ribs to make sure they get it. Another tiny niggle is the clanging use of "gotten". A little out of place, and a personal peeve.

Having said all of that this is a gripping, well researched, adventure that is satisfying and enjoyable. What more could anyone wish for?

Helen Thompson

Helfand, Lewisand Sharma, Lalit Kumar. Under the Shadow of the Swastika (World War Two)Campfire, 2016, pp148, £12.99. 978 93 81182 14 7

To young people today, the Second World War must seem not much more recent than ancient history, and of very little relevance to them, which is a difficult concept for post-war baby-boomers like me to grasp. But that is why this attempt to bring that horrific period into focus for youngsters today, in a format which they easily relate to, has to be applauded.

Through a basic chronological progress, this graphic ‘novel’ offers several angles on the conflict. The author is American, the illustrator Indian, and perhaps this is why there is no over-statement of the role of Britain in the war (and no over-emphasis on the American role either). The main themes that struck me most were an insistence on a tabloid view of the ‘evil’ Hitler, with little to explain the background to his rise, much on the treatment of the Jews, and a lot on various resistance movements. Inevitably much is either omitted or minimised, and I found the author’s preferred emphases interesting and at times educational.

The illustrations are in a typically gritty graphic novel style, with not too much blood and gore, and at times showing particularly difficult scenes quite sensitively. Particularly powerful are two full-page images at the end, of death and destruction, and of hope and freedom.

There are examples of cringe-worthy inaccuracies such as (on the raid on Coventry: ‘tens of thousands of buildings were obliterated’ and ‘an entire city was levelled’. And a map of Europe shows the Normandy landings taking place on the southern coast of Brittany! One always wonders how many more mistakes there are that one is not aware of.

That said, images of burning and bombing, of sheltering in the London Underground, and many more, will hit the mark with young people yet to appreciate that war is not a video game. This book will help to inform and educate, and should surely be on the shelves of every school library.   

Steve Hird

Hounam,Donald. Pariah. Corgi, 2016, pp394, £7.99. 978 0 552 57440 2     

PariahPariah is the sequel to Gifted. Once again the reader enters the complex and scary world inhabited by forensic teenage sorcerer Frank, as he attempts to overcome evil and solve seemingly intractable mysteries, while trying - and failing - to stay out of trouble.

Frank has lost his sorcerer’s license, and is supposed to be on a train to Rome, but feels compelled to return to Doughnut City, the devastated centre of Oxford, and home now to down-and-outs and criminals. There’s a corpse with strange magic symbols carved into its flesh in the mortuary, and there is something very odd about it. Meanwhile Detective Constable Magdalena Marvell, whose more than professional interest in Frank shows little sign of decreasing, is desperate for him to help her get to the bottom of the bizarre death of her younger brother. Things are complicated further by Kazia’s presence. Her powers as a sorcerer are dangerous and unpredictable, but Frank can’t rid himself of his attraction to her. Never far from his thoughts is the fact that in only a few years his magical powers will start to wain, and that by his mid-twenties they will have gone completely, leaving him with a bleak future. And if all this wasn’t enough, the Inquisition is on his trail.

Pariah is a long book with a labyrinthine plot. It will appeal strongly to readers with a penchant for mystery stories with a fantasy element. Frank is a convincingly fallible protagonist. The sorcery is satisfyingly intricate, and the setting of an alternative Oxford is intriguing.

Anne Harding

Kazerooni, Abias. The Boy With Two Lives. Allen & Unwin, 2015, pp264, £6.99. 978 1 74336689 9

This is the sequel to Abbas Kazerooni’s first memoir, On Two Feet and Wings, in which he recounted how his parents sent him, alone as a nine year old, via Istanbul to the UK in order to avoid conscription as a boy soldier in the Iranian army. In this new book, he arrives in Worcestershire and meets his irascible and violent cousin, Mehdi, who has been charged with putting him into a prep school. Over the next four years the young Abbas learns to speak English and become integrated into a totally different culture from the one into which he was born. He is a plucky and resourceful lad and quickly establishes himself as an excellent scholar, winning the hearts of teachers and peers alike. However, during his weekends and holidays he is at the mercy of the bullying Mehdi who abuses and exploits him cruelly. On top of this, Abbas’ mother dies in Iran, shattering his hopes of ever seeing her again. Eventually, he actually ends up homeless and sleeping rough while trying to continue his career at a top school – hence his ‘two lives’. It could be a depressing read but, instead, Abbas’ resilience and courage is moving and life-affirming. Young readers will be inspired by this real life tale of struggle and hope as Abbas refuses to be beaten by appalling odds.

Nigel Hinton

Leblanc, Maurice (Translated by David Carter)Arsene Lupin vs Sherlock Holmes. Alma Books, 2015, pp288, £6.99. 978 1 84749 561 7      Arsene  

Two classic stories for the price of one. Author Maurice Leblanc cleverly combines his creation, Arsene Lupin – a gentleman thief with that of Sherlock Holmes or we should say Herlock Sholmes (Conan Doyle objected to the use of Sherlock Holmes). These stories were written in the early 1900s and translated from the original French editions.

Of the detective genre, they really are classics of their time – they are, after all over 100 years old.

In the first story “The Blonde Lady”, Lupin undertakes a series of outrageous thefts and escapes with Herlock hot on his heels. Herlock needs to discover the identity of the Blonde Lady who always seems to be involved in the crimes in some way.

The second story “The Jewish Lamp” Herlock’s help is requested to help recover the Jewish Lamp. In the process he discovers that the lamp contains a precious jewel and an astonishing secret.

Whilst the language in these stories is fairly accessible and the adventures of Sherlock

Holmes will have a certain following due to recent TV and film exposure, I think students would have to be keen fans and willing to persevere to see the stories through to the end. It is worth doing so.

Janet Clarke

Lindstrom, Eric. Not If I See You First. HarperCollins, 2015, pp405, £12.99. 978 0 00 814630 6        

Parker was blinded as a child in an accident that killed her mother. As the novel opens she is dealing, perhaps unrealistically quickly, with her Dad’s death and the turmoil it has brought to her life.  Understandably, Parker is a closed character and fiercely protective of any independence she can grasp.  She has rules for how people are expected to deal with her and her blindness, and rule breaking can lead to instant cut off.  When her first love reappears though she is forced to accept that it's not only physically she's been blind. She’s been blind to her best friend's problems, blind to the pain she’s caused her extended family and blind in her refusal to listen rather than jump to conclusions. Blindness is well-handled throughout the book; the reality of losing one’s sight is realistic without being overly negative.  The publication of the book has also been well handed, with a simultaneous audio book and a Braille front cover.

Parker is a wonderfully strong character, who refuses to let her disability stop her living and rallies against those who’d wrap her in cotton wool.  Though this strength is occasionally her undoing, it makes for an intriguing read.  This is a surprisingly romantic book with depth that young teenage girls in particular may enjoy.

Amy McKay

Maas, Sarah. J. Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass)Bloomsbury, 2015, pp656, £7.99. 978 1408858615

The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series finds nineteen year old Aelin Galathynius, the rightful Queen of Terrasen and former assassin returning to the dangerous and evil city of Ritfthold before she can reclaim her throne. She is seeking revenge and is determined to find out if her closest friends and allies are safe. Aelin must confront her evil master Arobynn for the brutality she endured. And a still question remains -will magic ever be set free in the land again?

This is an epic fantasy with an action-driven plot and a huge host of well-rounded nuanced characters. Humans, fae, witches, wyverns and Valg warriors are amongst the large cast. Aelin is an appealing heroine – passionate, vain, idealistic and loyal. Maas is excellent at developing strong female characters who lead the action and support one another. They are equals in every way to the males and often surpass them in strength and cunning. Meanwhile romance and smouldering sexual tensions abound in every chapter. With 658 pages, the book is a real page-turner which fans will find it difficult to put down. The Throne of Glass series first evolved as online fantasy fiction when the author was just sixteen. It has won acclaim as a New York Times best seller and Queen of Shadows has already scooped the Good Reads Choice Awards 2015 for Young Adult Fantasy. The series will continue to inspire young authors to hone their writing skills online.

Rosemary Woodman

McCauley, Diana. Gone to Drift. Papillote Press, 2016, pp208, £7.99. 978 0 9931086 1 7  

Gone to DriftLloyd lives in a fishing village on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica.  His grandfather is a fisherman and is lost at sea or “gone to drift”.  Everyone tells him his grandfather must be dead but Lloyd is frustrated that no-one is trying hard enough to find him and sets about doing so himself.

His search leads him in many directions, he meets a marine conservationist who reluctantly trires to help him.  He stows away on a coastguard ship that tkes him to the distant islands that his grandfather was headed towards.  There a man broken by his experience in a central American prison gives him a clue that takes him to illegal dolphin takers.

The story is told in two voices.  The first is the third person narrative that follows Lloyd.  The other is what we have to assume at first is his grandfather alone on a rock slowly dying of starvation and thirst.  And it is this voice that gives us the better story.

We trace the grandfather’s life from boyhood in a fishing village and how much the sea plays a role in his life.  How life for him and his family declines and the family disintegrate.  How illegal methods of fishing take hold on the island and eventually how he comes to be alone on the island.

In the Lloyd narrative the characters fail to develop and as the plot concludes we are left with at least one character that appears to have no motivation for their actions and they are pretty drastic actions.

Much is made in the notes of the author’s love of Jamaica and her commitment to marine conservation and truly the book is more about those than Lloyd.  It is still quite a gripping adventure and the grandfather’s narrative is moving in its language and slightly regretful telling.

Caroline Downie

Pearce, Bryony. Phoenix burning. Stripes, 2016, pp416, £6.99. 9781 84715 670 9

All good books should start with an excellent sentence, like this brilliant sequel to Phoenix Rising. A sentence that immediately drew me into the exciting world of pirates, polluted junk filled oceans and a dangerous sun worshipping religious cult.  Toby and Ayla both need a vital component, a solar inverter that will enable their solar panels to function and power their ships, but they don’t have any. However, the sun worshippers do, they collect any artefact that is connected to the sun and believe that these artefacts will protect the world from another cataclysm. The teenagers hatch a desperate plan to present themselves as Sun and Moon candidates for the cult’s Solstice Festival which will enable them to locate and steal a couple of inverters. This involves them in dangerous trials, pits them against other desperate teenage pairs and fanatical cult members. The climax is dramatic, exciting, and full of action and involves Toby’s mother who is revealed to be a Greyman. The plot is fast paced, the characters are well drawn and the characters, both familiar and new are credible and interesting. It develops the relationship between Ayla and Toby into one that parallels that of Romeo and Juliet with subtle twists. This book can be read alone, but I feel that the reader will enjoy it more if they read Phoenix Risingfirst. I loved it and was fascinated by the ideas of what our dystopian future could look like.

 Judith Palka

Salisbury, Melinda. The Sleeping Prince. Scholastic, 2016, pp367, £7.99. 978 1 407147 64 2

The sequel to TheSin Eater’s Daughter returns to thatdark fantasy world on the brink of war with the newly awoken Sleeping Prince rampaging cruelly across Tregellian with his army of Golems. The story has shifted from the first novel to now be told from the perspective of strong willed Errin living as an illegal herbalist in a village under threat of evacuation as the war edges nearer. Her mother is plagued by an affliction which has left her on the edge of madness. Errin is trying desperately to shield her from the eyes of authority for fear she will be taken away. Her only ally is the hooded Silas who buys her poisons and potions and enables her to survive. She has strong feelings for him but is he the mysterious man she confides in as she dreams? When Silas seems to desert her and her mother is taken, Errin journeys across a ravaged land to seek help from the secret Conclave community with finding and curing her mother. She believes that her brother Lief is dead until a shocking revelation shows her otherwise, one of many surprising twists and turns throughout this well-crafted story. Lief is not the only character from the first bookwho crosses over into this story as Errin befriends Twylla the original Sin Eater. Together they make a pact to defeat the Sleeping Prince and Errin now in their enemy’s hands must make the ultimate sacrifice to keep their hopes alive. An absorbing story driven by a compelling narrative which will leave readers eager for the final part of this trilogy.

Sue Polchow

Strahan, Clare. Cracked. Allen & Unwin, 2015, pp320, £6.99. 978 1 74336684 4     Cracked

This story, set in Australia is about a 15 year old girl called Clover. She had an unusual upbringing with a single mother in a household with no Facebook or television. Clover experiences the normal woes of being a teenager with the added angst of being very angry and frustrated with the world. She is going through a tough time, fighting with her friends, her mother and experiencing heartache.

But she loves creative writing and is very good at it, highlighting that although she may have worries and woes, there is an outlet for everyone and for Clover its writing. Aside from all that though, Clover is a lovable character who loves her mother dearly.

This book is suitable for young teenagers and I think Clover is a character to whom many young readers could relate. This is an enjoyable read brushing on some serious issues that no doubt affect many teenagers today.

Celine Campbell

 Information Books

Powling,Joni. Coal Sacks for Curtains. Matador, 2014, pp250, £8.99. 978 1783061983

Although narrated in novel form, this story is based on personal recollections and seems to be a fictionalised memoir. Set in World War Two, beginning in 1939, and ending shortly after the D-Day landings in 1944, it tells the story of Josie Brownley, a working-class girl from London’s docklands, who is twelve when the war begins.

Considered as a novel, the book has its limitations. Josie’s cockney accent is consistent, but most other characters’ speech is ‘standard English’, which as the story progresses has the effect of making Josie seem younger than she is. At times the focus of the narrative changes suddenly, without warning, and events go off at tangents, sometimes ill-advisedly.

But the book’s unquestionable strength lies not in the story but its documentary range and detail, which are thoroughly convincing. World War Two’s effect on English life - the blitz, evacuation, the women’s Land Army, compulsory war work in an aircraft factory, rationing, the arrival of American forces and their reception, above all the fragile sexual encounters of young people with uncertain futures - are lifted out of stereotypes and made very real. Josie’s sexual and emotional awakening as a teenager is sensitively handled, though teachers should note that the book deals with teenage pregnancy and includes a false accusation of rape. For teenagers studying the history of World War Two, the book is a graphic memoir which brings the period to life.

Peter Hollindale

Royston, Angela. 50 Things You Should Know About the Human Body. QED, 2015, pp80, £8.99. 978 1 78493 134 6              

50 ThingsThis is an enjoyable and informative book concerning the human body and how it works, with good advice on eating well and keeping fit. There are highly coloured graphics, colour coded sections all presented in a lively style.  There are not a multitude of fonts which can end up just confusing the reader. Yes, the pages are busy but the information is still easy to access

The language is clearly expressed, again lively in tone and simple given the nature of the subject. More detailed notes/labels are put in much smaller size and I thought it was good to differentiate in this way – the basic information is in the largest size. There are catchy headings ‘Hair- raising!’ ‘Listen up!’ ’Stretchy stomach.’ The only thing that I could see that was missing was the reproductive system. There is a useful glossary and index. Highly recommended for the Library shelf –I can see two students pouring over this book at lunchtime 

Rosamund Charlish

16-19 extras

Reid, Raziel. When Everything Feels Like the Movies. Atom, 2016, pp163, £12.99. 978 1 4721 5126 1                       

This is a book which sets out to shock and outrage with its blunt, honest tone of voice, as Jude, the central character reveals himself to us. He lives his life as if he is on a film set and every chapter is a different cinematic experience. Jude does not hide anything: the language, the events, the people, the experiences are full on. Inspired by the true story of Larry Forbes King, this book reveals, in a very graphic way, just how difficult life can be for a young person; to be accepted for who they are and to be loved by others. As Jude takes us through his story, we meet his dysfunctional family and his outrageous friends and enemies. The reader learns how what we say and do can have a profound effect on those around us and Jude realises this himself - only too late.

Is this a book to recommend to your YA readers? It is a book that stays with you, but is that the graphic content or the tragic message that does that? You need to make your own mind up on this one.

Brenda Heathcote

Sullivan, Deirdre. Needle Work. Little Island, 2016, pp224,£7.99. 9781 910411 50 6     Needlework     

An odd title, which does admittedly relate to the subject matter of the book – the art of tattooing; a strange heroine / narrator with a strange name: Ces. The two are introduced on the first page: ‘Needles things that fascinate me always.’ Strange, too, are the narrative method and the style.

Ces is a sixteen year old struggling to emerge into adulthood from a horrifically deprived childhood. She lives with her mother whose life is chaotic: she neither cooks nor cleans and getting out of bed is only one of her many problems. Her husband has left her – in short a predictable, very familiar situation. Ces has a boyfriend who lives close by; it is a relationship which is hard to fathom – again the word ‘strange’ comes to mind.

The writer has chosen to allow Ces to use a ‘stream of consciousness’ technique to tell her story and express her thoughts and ideas. Interspersed at regular intervals with her narrative are passages which are presented in an italic type font. These often, but not always, relate to tattooing. Their relevance and indeed their significance are not always apparent. Clarity is often sacrificed in what would seem to be an attempt to achieve originality of approach. Young readers might find this fairly lengthy novel challenging.

Elizabeth Finlayson

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More books for Under 8's

There are always more reviews than can be squeezed into the print edition but all the hard work by our reviewers is not wasted. So here are some extras for the Under 8's

Bell, Davina and Colpoys, Allison.The Underwater Fancy Dress Parade. Scribble, 2016, pp32, £6.99. 978 1 925228 47 2

Alfie is due to take part in the underwater fancy dress parade, but the night before gets that sinking feeling…trouble is, Underwaterhe’s had it before and even though he knows he should face things, he’s just not up to it yet. He is in luck, however, as he has understanding parents who allow him to be himself and still love him in return. And what do they do to help? You have to read the book to find out, but suffice to say that they come up with an idea that will help him to grow. The pictures capture Alfie’s feelings well, and the story will make a good bedtime story whose message can easily and profitably be shared.

Rudolf Loewenstein

Blackburn, Katie and Smythe, Richard. Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep. Faber, 2016, pp32, £6.99. 978 0571 330195              

Reading children a calming, soothing story at bedtime, which actively encourages sleep, would seem an eminently sensible idea. This book uses known relaxation techniques, such repetitive, rhythmic language, to help young children unwind and fall into sleep. I can almost feel my eyelids going already. From personal experience, this book is a success.

Robin Barlow

Bowen,James, Jenkins,Garry and Kelley,Gerald. Bob to the Rescue. Red Fox, 2015, pp32, £6.99978-1782954859               

From the authors of A Street Cat Named Bob comes a new story, Bob the cat is back and this time he is coming to the rescue. Bob is a street cat who goes everywhere with James and so when he finds a lost puppy in the park he wants to do all he can to help.  Bob after all knows what it is like to be homeless, tired and hungry too.With its watercolour illustrations adding to the warmth of this story children and adults alike will be warmed by such a heartfelt story and if you read the first book then you will certainly enjoy this second one.

Louise Ellis-Barrett

Clay, Kathryn. Flowers(Celebrate Spring)Raintree, 2016. Pp24, £11.99. 978 1 4747 1237 8

FlowersThis book for children just beginning to read independently celebrates the colourful flowers that bloom in Spring including hyacinths, tulips, crocuses, roses and daisies.  Each double spread shows a photograph of a flower together with a simple written text in large print.   There are helpful ‘find out more’ suggestions listing books and websites.

Margaret Mallett.


Comeau, Joey and Lozano, Omar. Ninja-rella (Far Out Fairytales)Raintree, 2016, pp40, £4.99. 978 1 4747 1025 1 

One of a series called Far Out Fairy Tales, Ninja-rella is an alternative version of the very popular tale, Cinderella. It has all the traditional characters even though they appear in very different guises in martial arts Manga style. Despite the different presentation, all the important elements of the original tale are there. Familiarity with a story is useful ‘scaffolding’ to support young readers. The occasional departures into modern jargon (e.g. fairy god ninja) are entirely appropriate and make the reader’s experience even more enjoyable. The written text is well within the range of a less experienced reader of nine or older and the ninja theme makes it acceptable for older pupils to be seen reading a fairy tale.

Whilst the Manga images might not be attractive to all (especially the ‘really old’ like many teachers and librarians), they are exactly right for 6–9 year olds – especially those who lack stamina when faced with a page of print.

As folk tales have such an important role in our literary heritage, a particularly useful addition at the end of the book is a section on the history of the Cinderella story. There are also some other helpful pages: a guide to the twists in the alternative version; a quiz that requires visual literacy; and, a glossary.Ninja-rella is great fun and is likely to become a popular favourite in lower junior classrooms and beyond.

Prue Goodwin

Craig,Helen. Bedtime Fairy Tales. Orchard, 2015, pp96, £12.99. 9781408338407 

Helen Craig’s new book of ten bedtime fairy tales is both satisfying and essentially unchallenging. The fairy tales are ten of the best-known in this part of the world and, though it would be great to see tales from other cultures being included in such collections, there’s definitely something comforting about sticking with those with which we grown-ups are (hopefully) all familiar. Little Red Riding Hood, The Gingerbread Man, The Three Little Pigs – these stories all have great charm. Their rhythms are well-established. We know how to read or tell them. And Helen Craig does an excellent job in this respect. Children may ask questions (hopefully, they will) but the feeling is always of a good story well told. As for the illustrations, these are traditional in style and generally small with two or three per page. It’s the detail that draws you in and there’s always something fascinating. Sometimes, you turn a page to a surprise.  As he leans nonchalantly against a tree in The Gingerbread Man, Mr Fox is big and bright.  Again in Chicken Licken, he looks most inviting as he waves all the other characters towards his den instead of to the king’s palace. But in Little Red Riding Hood, he has to be carefully looked for. In each of four aerial views of a very big forest, he and the little girl are present at different points on the path to grandma’s house. What the book’s cover points out is that Helen Craig made this intriguing picture over 30 years ago to entertain her young son. Evidently, it became ‘the seed from which this book eventually grew’.

Mary Medlicott

Denton, Ella and Littler, Jamie. Intergalactic Ed and the Space Pirates. Oxford, 2016, pp32, £6.99. 978 0 19 273940 7

While his cat Sputnik dozes, young Ed is ready for bed and watching the moon through his telescope when he spots something Intergalacticseriously wrong. Within minutes he dons a space suit, helmet and boots from his intergalactic operations cupboard and they both zoom off into space in Ed’s space transporter. They soon discover that the biggest pirate spaceship in the galaxy is trying to steal the moon. None of Ed’s arguments can dissuade the pirates and he is forced to walk the plank. But canny Sputnik soon creates a diversion which could save Ed and the moon.

This is a very entertaining picture book by debut author Ella Denton. Lots of laughs intertwined with some interesting scientific facts make this a very pacy read. Bright bold cartoon-style illustrations fill each page and expand the text. Space fans will particularly enjoy poring over the detailed imaginative pictures. The illustrator’s depictions of light and shadow could be very thought-provoking for older readers.  A twist on the very last page will make children and adults laugh out loud. This is a great story for both school and home which will trigger lots of interesting conversations.

Rosemary Woodman    

Dicmas,Courtney. Home Tweet Home. Templar, 2015, pp32, £6.99. 978 1783703 142

High on a cliff a family of ten young swallows share a crowded, noisy nest.  Pippi and Burt, the eldest of the brothers and sisters, decide to fly off to explore the big wide world and to find a bigger nest.  Each attempt to find the perfect spot for a new nest leads to an encounter with a big, scary, uncomfortable or hungry creature with the result that Pippi and Burt finally realise that their cramped, noisy old nest is "home tweet home" after all.

This lively, colourful and humorous picture book has plenty to keep young children entertained.  The light pastel background colours act as an effective contrast to the black line outlines of the birds with their expressive shapes and faces and patterned bodies.  The endpapers give clues about some of the creatures the two birds land on and children will enjoy guessing each mystery animal before turning to the dramatic full page reveal.  The page space is well used, the birds' shapes, faces and movements are full of life and the different way in which the illustrator manages to wedge ten birds into one nest are very funny.

The final page amusingly reveals that Pippi and Burt have not given up on ingenious ideas for home improvement, a fitting ending for a vibrant, bright and funny picture book with a comforting message.

Sue Roe               

Doyle, Sheri. Horses (Farm Animals)Raintree, 2016, pp24, £11.99. 978 1 4747 1905 6       

A beautiful production from Raintree, but unfortunately I have several issues with this book.

If we are talking about horses and their markings, let’s have a photograph that clearly illustrates them – and anAppaloosa, if you are going to mention horses with spots!  Similarly, if you are going to try and get across the impression of size, give the reader a photograph of a horse next to the ‘minivan’ mentioned in the text. I’m not clear what a ‘minivan’ is and I doubt that the readers have a clear picture in their heads either.

 The chapter ‘Horses in action’ needs rewriting. The text is confusing:  there is no clear description of the various categories of ‘action’ and no clear progression from that to any examples.  Technical names and terminology are dropped into the text with no logical context to assist comprehension.

I think most young readers of this book will simply want to look at and stroke the beautiful animals in the photographs. Nonetheless, particularly for the very young, I feel it is extremely important to get it right. Any text should be accurate, clear, and use logical progression to introduce new concepts and language.

Rachel Ayers Nelson

Drescher, Daniela. Little Fairy Makes A Wish. Floris Books, 2016, pp32, £9.99. 978 178250 243 2

Little FairyLittle Fairy Makes a Wish, the latest in a series of picture books by German artist Daniela Drescher to appear in English, is a whimsical tale of a mole who desperately wants to fly. Mole’s friend, a little fairy named Faith, joins forces with a fallen star to heave him up into the air for a brief flight over a meadow, before returning a sleepy and satisfied mole to his underground lair. Drescher’s arresting paintings combine an intensity of colour with the fragility of fairy figures, flowers and plants that will certainly attract young viewers, although the narrative is too slight to warrant multiple readings.

Gillian Lathey

Dutta,Tutu and Peluso,Martina. Phoenix song, Lantana, 2015, pp32, £6.99. 978-0993225345        

Set in Malaysia Arohan is a talented musician but he longs for a guitar not the flute.  He is disappointed when he gets an old bamboo flute for his birthday and his mother tries to comfort him with the story of the Xiao, a flute that in the right hands could call the phoenix and bring the world to life in spring.

Arohan’s brothers decide to go off and play in the bamboo forest, ignoring the old stories of the guardian spirit that would punish those that show no respect.  Arohan finds them caught up and turned to trees by the spirit.  He makes a xiao from broken bamboo and with his playing frees his brothers.

The illustrations are in some places beautiful, the colours of the phoenix as it flies over the forest are truly amazing.  In other illustration the lushness of the forest comes across and the depiction of the bamboo closing in over Arohan is truly threatening.

This story tells us on an engaging and modern way both the story of Arohan but also of the xiao and the phoenix or cendrawasih.  This is an excellent introduction to traditional Malaysian stories in a modern setting.

Caroline Downie

Freedman, Claire and Smythe, Richard. Beep Beep Beep Time for Sleep. Simon & Schuster, 2016, pp32, £6.99. 978 1 4711 2114 2  

This picture book is made for the child (usually a boy, sorry) who is fascinated by vehicles. The rhyming text and bright illustrations combine to convey all the noise and action of busy motorway road works. Diggers, backhoe loaders, dump trucks etc. are all shown working at their allotted tasks, culminating in a central panoramic four-page spread. Then, at the end of the day, they are cleaned off and bedded down for the night. However, the anthropomorphism is confined to the text: “Grader yawns and off he lumbers, soon to snore in sleepy slumbers.” The machines (all apparently male) are well observed, although stylised. There is plenty of detail to look at and discuss on every page, and the onomatopoeic rhymes are fun to read aloud as well as helping to build a specialised vocabulary. There are some female characters among the workers for girls to identify with.

Kathryn Tyson

Gaiman Neil and Rex Adam. Chu’s Day at the Beach. Bloomsbury, 2015, pp30,978 1 4088 6435 1

This is the third in a series of books featuring Chu, the little panda with the powerful sneeze, and this time he is spending the day on the beach. He is having a lovely time, paddling about in the sea, eating his ice cream, until he gets an irresistible urge to sneeze and unfortunately splits the sea in half, causing sadness and distress to the creatures in it, understandably. The race is then on to make Chu sneeze again and put everything back as it was, but what will it take to make Chu sneeze?

This is a lovely book to share with a young child. The story is simply told in short, clear sentences but the colourful illustrations of the strange mix of creatures also on the beach offer so much material for conversation.  There are penguins, pigs, sun-bathing chimpanzees, book-reading crabs and an octopus selling ice creams, all of which could spark off questions and discussions.

June Hughes

Gibb,Sarah. Sleeping Beauty. HarperCollins, 2015, pp32, £12.99. 978 0 00 752629 1          

This book is part of the Best-Loved Classics series and has been enveloped in the full romanticSleeping Beauty treatment. The oldest and most powerful fairy, Malevola, casts a wicked spell on the beautiful young Princess Rosebud. A tiny fairy cannot undo this spell but manages to modify it into a hundred year sleep. The beautiful princess is finally awoken after her long sleep by the handsome young Prince Florizel.  Detail abounds both in the rich story language, the sumptuous flower-framed illustrations and elaborate silhouettes.  The whole essence of the large format book cries romantic elegant excess. It is easy to imagine a young reader with the book open on her knees, literally being submerged into the tale.  A classic tale, splendidly presented.

Carolyn Boyd

Goodhart, Pippa and Usher, Sam. What will Danny Do Today?Egmont, 2016, pp32, £6.99. 978 1 4052 7510 1

What will Danny do today? You decide! And you really do get to decide in this brilliantly thought out book. Follow Danny as he goes about his day and discover the choices he has for what he gets to eat, what lessons he will have, what he will wear – on each double page there is a host of illustrations for readers to pick through and choose. An excellent tool for discussion, this book will appeal to any child who likes making decisions! The vast collection of ideas for what Danny could do is impressive, and you will find something different in the illustrations every time you open the book. A fun, interactive and interesting book which I would definitely recommend for pre school age.

Hannah Breslin

Hardyman, Robyn. Camping (Adventures in the Great Outdoors)Raintree, 2016, pp32, £12.99   978 1 47471547 8

Camping and exploring the outdoors can be most enjoyable – this is the message in this well organised and inviting book which is organised into sections with clear headings. However you need to plan the trip carefully and learn to perform necessary tasks. The early pages make it clear that some research is required, perhaps on the Internet , so that you can make informed  decisions about location – do you, for example,  want to be at a campsite or out in the countryside . There is also good advice about choosing appropriate gear: you need to find the right tent,   a good sleeping bag, robust footwear and layers of warm clothing.  The book goes on to describe the skills you need to acquire for tasks like fishing, making a camp fire and tracking birds and animals.                                                                                                                                                                      The colourful photographs show children exploring, hiking, cooking and, when night time arrives, star gazing and storytelling. There is a glossary and index and so the book reinforces some of the features of non-fiction texts. Above all it shows that camping is a terrific way to spend time with friends and family.

Margaret Mallett

Hargreaves, Roger and Hargreaves Adam. Mr Men Adventure with Dinosaurs.Egmont, 2016, pp32, £4.99. 978 1 4052 8303 8               

The second instalment ofa new series of Mr Men & Little Miss books that explore a range of topics at a very basic level such as Egypt or asin this case:Dinosaurs. Guided by no other than the great Mr Clever (of course), our friends go on a series of adventures where they learn things like how tall dinosaurs were (taller than Mr Tall), or strong (stronger than Mr Strong) or whether they were ticklish at all (thank goodness, they were!). A double winner for fans of dinosaurs and Mr Men books alike.

Susana Sanchez-Gonzalez

Howarth,Daniel and Howarth,Heidi. Little Hedgehog's Big Day (Storytime)QED, 2015, pp24, £10.99. 978 1784932 442    

Little Hedgehog is about to start big school, but he's worried that he's not big enough. Thankfully, he can rely on his friends Rabbit, Squirrel, Badger and Ant to help him in their own way! And after all, he might know more that he thought he did….

This story, both written and beautifully illustrated by Daniel and Heidi Howarth, will help children who feel worried about going to school for the first time. Discussion points (feelings about children's first day at school, family photographs, etc.) for parents and teachers are also included.

Océane Toffoli

Jones,Ceri Wyn and Reynolds,Adrian. Ruck in the Muck. Pont, 2015, pp32, £5.99. 978-1785620676

RuckIn the shadow of the Millennium Stadium, we join two brothers who have a love of rugby as they play and 'ruck' in a muddy field. In their imaginations, they are playing in the stadium itself, the crowd is roaring, their team is winning. The descriptions of their surroundings, thoughts and feelings are detailed, putting the reader right there in their muddy field. This is a rhyming story, and although the rhymes scan awkwardly at times, stick with it because the message of playing in union at the end of the story is heart-warming. A great book for sports lovers – and you don't have to support Welsh rugby to enjoy it!

Hannah Breslin

Kazemi, Nahid (translated by Azita Rassi)The Orange House. Tiny Owl, 2016, pp24, £12.99. 978 1 910328 11 8             

There is much to be discussed and enjoyed in this handsome picturebook about change and becoming reconciled to it.  Another theme promotes being open to others, and offering and accepting friendship.  The orange house is the only original house left in what is now an alley of newly built houses.  She feels threatened by all the differences between herself and them.  In turn, the new houses are mystified as to why the orange house never speaks to them. Then the demolition gang arrives. The new houses remember the garden of the orange house with its trees and noisy birds, and how it brings breathing space to everybody. They decide to save the orange house by blocking her from the gang’s sight.  Old and new, the buildings will be friends and provide a pleasing environment for all to enjoy.  The art style, in full colour collage and pencil is beautiful indeed, apparently simple but actually highly skilful and imaginative.  Kazemi’s images of trees bend to the winds of change from the title page onwards.  Collage scraps of fabric portray personified houses which are thoroughly un-stereotypical and visually intriguing, being shown in plan and elevation simultaneously. 

Jane Doonan

Lewis,Rob. Mo Can't Go. Pont, 2015, pp32, £5.99. 978 1848519633           

Rob Lewis is an established author and illustrator based in Wales with a distinctive illustrating style. Mo Can’t Go is the story of Mo whose car stops working when she’s out going for a drive one morning. The story has a traditional feel, where the animals come one by one to help and offer Mo advice. They kick, search, rattle and push the car in an attempt to start it. Written in rhyming couplets and repetitive text, this is a humorous story accompanied by equally humorous and expressive illustrations. For the most part the story is illustrated with a series of vignettes interspersed with full page spreads. The only double page spread includes a detailed pencil landscape view of Cardiff which is amazing. An ideal picture book for reading aloud, story time and transport and helping one another projects.

Sioned Jacques

Lloyd-Jones, Sally and Jeram, Anita. Skip to the Loo My Darling. Walker, 2016, pp32,£11.99. 978 1 4063 2465 5             

The unmistakable palette of Anita Jeram is perfect for this charming rendition of a (slightly differently spelled) favourite song. The clues are all over the cover - toilet paper, potties and, just to make sure you know what you're getting into, a red balloon bearing the words "A Potty Book".

We meet Bunny and friends mid-picnic, but it isn't long before Bunny is looking decidedly uncomfortable. Only one thing for it - skip to the loo! But Bunny isn't the only one. All his friends follow as well as monsters, dragons and (suspiciously sheeted) ghosts! Lots to find in the gently riotous procession as it hops and skips to the waiting potties. Ah! The relief is palpable as everyone settles onto their very own. But what's this? Is someone missing?! A small mirror invites readers to see themselves as part of the potty party.

A lovely introduction to potties, or perhaps encouragement to give it another chance.

Helen Thomson

Mackenzie, Emily. Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat. Bloomsbury, 2016, pp32, £6.99. 978 1 4088 6048 9  Stanley

This book tells the story of Stanley, the cat who loves to knit. He knits everywhere and everything. With some lovely alliterations - balaclavas for the bunnies, jolly jumpers, silly socks and woolly onesies – Stanley especially loves to knit fantastic creations for his friends. One day he spots a knitting competition which calls for wacky woolly creations, so gets to work on a mysterious project, running out of wool and having to unravel his friends’ outfits in the process. There is a particularly lovely illustration of his friends, shy of their clothes and hiding behind a variety of objects. His choice of knitting competition over his friends’ comfort is the major dilemma and one that is solved in a satisfying and delightful way.

Throughout the book, the opportunity for audience participation in the storytelling is enhanced by changes in font size, to encourage a storytelling voice and lots of joining in. His knitting takes on its own voice too, with some lovely rhythmic pairings of knitting-related words. The illustrations are bright and busy. With lots to look at and to join in with, children will enjoy getting to know Stanley.

Julia Etheridge

McKay,Elizabeth and Maria Bogade. Wee Granny and the Ceilidh. Picture Kelpies,2015, pp32, £5.99. 978 1782502 098  

Maw Broon meets Mary Poppins in this cheerful story for young readers. It is the day of Emily and Harry’s school ceilidh but everything is going wrong. Thankfully Wee Granny, accompanied by her tartan clad wee dog (a Scottie, of course) saves the day – it’s all in the bag, literally!

Wee Granny appears to be a typical – or should I say “stereotypical” - Scottish granny, grey haired and rosy cheeked, definitely the kind of granny “ye cannae shove aff the bus”, but what she finds in her tartan bag totally redefines the term “bag of tricks” and is the source of much fun for young readers with a taste for the absurd.

Bogade's cartoon-like illustrations in ink and watercolour are reminiscent of the Scottish Comics tradition of the Beano and the Dandy. This adds yet another Scottish dimension to the title and works well with the preposterous situations which are depicted.

Agnès Guyon

McKee,David. Elmer and the Flood. Andersen, 2015, pp32, £11.99. 9781 78344 204 1

David McKee brings us another adventure about everyone’s favourite patchwork elephant Elmer. In this story Elmer becomes a hero. Having had enough of sheltering from the rain, Elmer decides to leave his herd and seek some fresh air and peace and goes for a walk. However, when he ventures out he discovers that the rain has caused a flood and left a young elephant stranded on higher ground. Will Elmer be able to save the elephant? Will Elmer ever find a bit of peace?

David Mckee maintains his high standard and distinctive illustration in this latest adventure. The story starts with the end-papers, which depict the “torrential rain” the elephants have been sheltering from. Throughout there is a distinctive sense of movement, rising water levels and happiness. Ideal for school weather projects and as an introduction to recent extremes in Britain’s weather system.

Sioned Jacques

Muller, Gerda. A Year in Our New Garden. Floris Books, 2016, pp36, £10.99. 978 178250 259 3    

The combination of text and illustrations make this the kind of book you can just keep coming back to.  The illustrations are reminiscent of children’s books from the 70’s and 80’s, which makes sense as it was first published in 1988.  For some the pictures may appear dated but I think the illustrations are full of such detail that you can return to them again and again.  The page with the baby birds in the tree is one of my favourites as well as the final winter scene which I would use as a teaching resource separate from the book. The book takes the reader on the life of a garden throughout the year in which the children plant, grow and enjoy their new garden.  There are some lovely examples to show children of how you can plan a plot to grow plants along with additional fact boxes and instructions to make things just like they have in the story.  This is a lovely book to share with a class when doing a topic on seasons and growing plants.

 Kate Keaveny

Oliver, Carmen and Claude, Jean. Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies. Curious Fox, 2016, pp32, £4.99. 978 1 78202427 9               

BearsThis school year, Adelaide doesn’t need Mrs. Fitz-Pea to assign her a reading buddy for she has brought her very own one: a real bear! Not convinced? Wait till you hear how bears make the best reading buddies...

Author Carmen Oliver’s reading buddy may have been a yellow duck ride-on toy as she once wrote, Adelaide’s bear is really impressive and the story is an ode to reading. Illustrator Jean Claude has made a great job too: cute illustrations and sweet characters make a marvellous duo.

Océane Toffoli

Parker, Steve. Space (A Journey Through)Illustrated by John Haslam. QED, 2016, pp48, £9.99. 978 1 78493 298 5             

Young readers are invited to board a rocket and blast off to explore the solar system and beyond. Learning a little about the history of space travel, they then zoom past the Moon and journey to the other planets, encountering asteroids, comets and constellations on the way. Explanations of galaxies, black holes and orbits are given in simple terms, accompanied by bright, cheerful illustrations, combining cartoon style figures with accurate representations of the planets.

This is a good introduction to the mysteries and wonders of space for would be astronomers or astronauts, with a quiz at the end to test their knowledge of what they have read. I would have preferred to see an index as well as a contents page and some suggestions for further reading would have been useful, for children who wanted to find out more. Having said that, the author and illustrator have wide experience of producing accessible information for children of all ages and this appealing book has its place on classroom or library shelves. It could certainly be a springboard for piquing interest and encouraging further research. The dust jacket folds out into a poster of the solar system.

Jane Gould

Percival,Tom. Herman's Holiday. Bloomsbury, 2015, pp32, £6.99. 978 1408852 088

Best friends, Herman, a bear and a Henry, a raccoon, dream of a luxurious summer holiday together but with few funds they can only afford a camping trip. While Herman embraces the great outdoors, Henry thinks it stinks and his lack of camping skills, like a terribly-built and collapsing-in-the-middle-of-the-night tent, only compound his feelings. Upset by his friend’s unhappiness, Herman turns to his other friends and through an Amazon-type animal postal service, transforms the campsite into the holiday destination of Henry’s dreams. In an instant Henry’s nightmare vacation becomes the stuff of legend. This simple tale of friendship and thoughtfulness becomes a glittering gem of a book with its genius lift-the-flap postcards and hilarious details like street signs and brochures advertising the most glamorous holiday destinations. It’s gently told but with a strong message that compassion for others, even when you’re having the time of your life is crucial. And to cap it all, in spite of the site improvements and Henry’s newfound luxury quarters, Herman insists on not abandoning his tent. Perfect for very young readers and their parents, this book is right up there with some of the picture book greats.

Jonny Zucker

Pigott, Louise. Squirrel Me Timbers. Curious Fox,2016, pp24, £6.99. 9781 78202 425 5     

This fast-paced, breathtaking story -written in verse- relates the colourful adventure of Sammy, a vigorous, cheerful character. Sammy the squirrel is pirate (at least that's what he says) who can't believe his luck when one day he finds a treasure map! Will you set sail with him and discover how exciting a pirate’s life can be? Will you spot the X mark and strike gold (i.e. nuts, which is even better, right?!) with Sammy the squirrel?  Squirrel me Timbers is Louise Pigott’s first solo picture book and this nutty book will crack you up!

Océane Toffoli

Rickards, Lynne and Mitchell, Jon. Skye the Puffling. Picture Kelpies, 2016, pp32, £5.99. 978 178250 255 5            

In this sweet story, we meet another member of Harris’ (of Harris the Hero) family. This time Harris is father to a charming little ball of fluff, Skye, who seems to be a bit too lively for her own good. One day, she falls off a cliff and, unable to fly, is lucky to land on a gannet’s back. A perilous ride ensues through the beautiful Scottish seascape to the Bass Rock. Meanwhile, her anxious parents fly to her rescue and, after talking to various sea animals, also end up on the Bass Rock. The rhyming text works well and carries the story along at the right pace. It would be particularly suitable for reading aloud.

I am particularly fond of the area of Scotland surrounding the Bass Rock and thought that Jon Mitchell’s watercolour illustrations really did it justice, but it is in his portrayal of Scottish sea life that these delightful illustrations really stand out. I particularly liked the attention to detail given to gannets, and Skye is just adorable!

Agnès Guyon

Robinson, Michelle and Ashdown, Rebecca. Odd Socks. Andersen Press, 2016, pp32, £11.99. 978 1 78344 337 6      Odd Socks       

This beautifully illustrated and presented book is a delight, from the embossed front cover to the punning back cover. Throughout Robinson uses rhyme and a jaunty metre to tell the story of woolly true love and the joy of being odd but together. It is a great read-aloud book as the metre is only rarely clunky (so do read to yourself first), and the illustrations have strong appeal and bright colours.

 The characterisation of the socks, especially Sosh, is very charming and humour is used well. I particularly like Sosh’s exclamation when he is snatched by the dog; “He watched his whole life flash by – WHOOSH- just like that. Why couldn’t the family have chosen a cat?” This is a book that will be reread often and could become a class favourite

Ingrid Spencer

Sharratt,Nick. Shark in the Park on a Windy Day. Picture Corgi, 2015, pp24, £6.99. 978-0552573108

As the third book in the Shark in the Park series, Sharratt’s story once again follows the character of Timothy Pope with his telescope in hand. Timothy and his dad are back at the park but the weather, on this occasion, is a little on the gusty side! This brings with it a special sense of drama and bedlam – the swirling leaves and kites gets everyone’s attention but Timothy’s. He’s determined to play with his telescope and keeps on getting a fright. He’s sure he’s spotting something rather sinister and frightening... This is a fun and energetic book that uses a simple, repeated refrain throughout. The peephole cut-outs add an extra dimension of excitement for the reader and the illustrations are wonderfully bold and striking. What more could you want from a picture book?

Claire Warren

Stephenson, Kristina. The Mummy's Gold (Sir Charlie Stinky Socks)Egmont, 2016, pp32, £7.99. 978 1 4052 6814 1             

This is the eighth adventure in the series following the brave knight, Sir Charlie Stinky Socks. This time we join Charlie, his faithful cat, Envelope, and his good grey mare on his latest quest; a trek across the desert to return a mysterious bag to its rightful owner. There is someone else who wants the bag though;could the contents and owner be linked to the missing gold of Pharaoh Aboo Ra?  Each new quest in this series is linked to the end of the previous book, a smart move by the author as this will undoubtedly lead children back to the last book as well as on to the next one. The author also uses some interesting features, such as large fold-out pages (extra pages without breaking the 32 page rule!), different fonts, font sizes, and frequent use of bold and italics. Combined with the playful language features, such as alliteration, rhyme and ellipses, this title really has fun with the idea of what a book can do and makes reading aloud a delight. However it must be noted that many of the features mentioned will be challenging for children with reading difficulties such as dyslexia

Lucy Rowland

Taghdis, Susan and Mafakheri,Ali. The Snowman and The Sun. Tiny Owl, 2015, pp24, £7.99. 978-1910328101               

Snowman and SunA snowman wonders what will happen as the sun heats up. And soon it melts – but what happens next (which we know to be part of the water cycle!) is illustrated simply and effectively by Mafakheri. Sharing this story at bedtime would be a lovely way of reminding children that not everything lasts forever, and with loss will eventually come some form of gain. The book would not be out of place in the EYFS classroom either.

Rudolf Loewenstein

Tapper, Lucy and Wilson, Steve. Horace and Hattiepillar (Hedgehugs)Maverick Arts, 2015, pp32, £6.99. 978 1 84886 163 3               

This is the second picture book about Hedgehugs Horace and Hattie by husband and wife team Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper. The hedgehugs are the firmest of friends, who love playing and enjoying nature together. One day they find something tiny and interesting under a leaf. Out of it crawls a wriggly, stripy thing with a huge appetite. The hedgehugs find it lots of leaves and it gets bigger and bigger. Then one day it stops eating and builds itself a soft silky bed. After lots of days and lots of nights out comes a beautiful creature that waves its wings at them and flies away. Horace has an idea. He and Hattie eat and eat, then make themselves a fluffy bed of flowers. When they wake up they too are beautiful. What’s more, they too can fly. (Only the pictures show that their new multi-coloured splendour is the result of flowers sticking to their spines, and that their flight is on swings.)

This is a simply told story introducing the life cycle of the butterfly, from the viewpoint of creatures who love what they see but have no knowledge of what is happening, much as young children do. The illustrations are stylised and unusual.

Anne Harding

Welsh,Clare Helen and Touliatou,Sophia. Aerodynamics of Biscuits. Maverick Arts, 2015, pp32, £6.99. 978-1848861817

With end pages that encourage the reader to think astrophysics – calculations for reaching the moon – you should not be put off but rather keep your eyes open for the little note that reads “and biscuits” for this is the key to the story.

Now that I have drawn you in what can you expect to see?  First you will meet Oliver, a good and kind but hungry little boy who makes a beeline straight for the biscuit barrel … but oh no, what is this; where are the biscuits?  Follow Oliver as he follows the biscuits … into the garden? Yes, that is right they are in the garden having been taken by the pirate mice, but why?  For a very special mission that Oliver soon finds himself involved in.  Now make sure that you continue to pay attention to the illustration, detailed and showing each step of the journey that Oliver is making, this is a delight to read and savour (it may make you quite hungry too)!

This is a clever and fun story told with great passion, humour and an understanding of the young audience at whom it is aimed.  It is brightly illustrated with lots of additional detail covering the pages and children will enjoy spending time looking at all the detail that has been packed in.

Louise Ellis-Barrett


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Work Smarter and Shine: Penrith, Cumbria, 18 October 2016


Our course Work Smarter and Shine, run by Sarah Pavey MSc FCLIP, will be held at Newton Rigg Conference Centre, Newton Rigg College, Penrith, Cumbria on 18 October 2016.

This new SLA course is aimed at anyone working is a secondary school library who wants to see how they can work more effectively in their role in order to achieve more productive outcomes.  The emphasis will be on practical exercises that can be used after the course in a workplace setting.

The closing date is 3 October 2016. Bookings received by 23 September 2016 are eligible for a £15 discount making the cost of the full days training just £90 (SLA members), £120 (delegates from non-SLA member schools which subscribe to Cumbria SLS) and £150 (non-members of either group).  Further discounts are available for a 2nd person attending from the same school - see SLA website for details.

Key Audience: secondary school library staff

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Alison Tarrant profiled for School Librarian of the Year: Our latest SLYA finalist

School Librarian of the Year Award 2016: Honour List Profile

Alison Tarrant

Cambourne Village College, Cambridgeshire

Described as "a walking hug, with the ability to make students quieten on approach", Alison Tarrant is the Librarian at Cambourne Village College, a Free School which forms part of the CAM Trust in Cambridgeshire. The school opened in 2013 and Alison has been in the very exciting position of starting and building the school library from scratch; indeed, the first time she visited her library-to-be she needed high visibility jacket and a hard hat! Three years on, these are the words which Alison feels best describes her library: Welcoming, engaging, proactive, inclusive and outreaching.

Located at the heart of the school, the library is open all day and is in constant use with reading and research lessons as well as homework clubs. Alison designed the school’s information literacy programme, tailoring it to different subjects across the school, making it easy to embed skills into lessons. Alison regularly sends presentations on new books to tutors across the school so they can keep their own book knowledge up to date and has worked closely with subject staff to map the school curriculum, ensuring relevant library material is always available to support teaching and learning. In an ideal world Alison would love the budget to pay for Heads of Department to have cover once a term so even better joint planning of that term’s events and required resources could take place.

Through various regular surveys Alison is able to identify students who need specific attention. Alison is committed to ensuring that literacy and reading can transform the lives of the less-able child, and her inclusive, proactive and thoughtful approach, engaging with students on a personal level informed by research, helps to make sure that all children in the school, including under-achieving students, are able to get the most out of what her library offers. This focus on the young people whom Alison works with shines through. When asked what gets her out of bed every day and into work, she's unequivocal: "The students – they are brilliant. It makes the job totally worth it."

As well as supporting teaching and learning across the school, Alison ensures there's always a programme of interesting events involving the library, whether for National Book Week, National Storytelling Week or the school's Non-Fiction week. Reading for pleasure is as key as reading for learning, in Alison's library: there are reading ambassadors, conversation cards on tables and book trailers created on iPads. All staff display and update a board showing what they are reading. There is a weekly book club and visiting author events, including from the school's Patron for Reading. An atmosphere which fosters a positive attitude and expectation around reading has been helped by DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) days, and working with other staff to ensure that one form session a week is dedicated to reading and that a reading book is now seen as part of everyday equipment that all pupils should have.

Outward looking, Alison's work isn't just in the school library. She works hard to create collaborations across the board, not only with parents (she ensures she has at least two articles in every school newsletter and invites parents to shadow the Carnegie at home), but also with other local schools and the public library. Outside links mean that Alison isn't always in the library, but she has trained a team of Pupil Library Helpers to run the welcoming, engaging and safe space which is known to everyone as the school library, when she's away.

Following a degree in English Literature at Reading, Alison took a Masters in Information and Library Studies in Aberystwyth, where she specialised in Children’s Librarianship, inspired especially by Ray Lonsdale. Before becoming a librarian, however, Alison worked back stage in the theatre and was even Dame’s Dresser for a Panto! These theatrical skills no doubt stand her in good stead for some of the more unusual events and activities she's run in her school library; for example she had a very interesting time using punch fountain to re-create the fountain of knowledge!

Alison also gains ideas and inspiration for engaging library programmes from the termly meetings she has with other school librarians in Cambridgeshire, the SLN email network, and contact with authors and booksellers, but the best inspiration comes from her pupils. For example, after a conversation with a Year 9 student about politics, that young person started reading books about injustices that had been committed, and this led to Alison setting up an Amnesty International Youth Group in the library.

Although as a child herself Alison found getting out of bed and to school on time something of a challenge (which may come as a surprise to the students who know her), "Knowing that my work is understood and valued by my staff, and that it is making a difference to our pupils," has made all the difference. Yes, her librarian survival kit ("A picture book, some chocolate cake, some bookmarks and tea. Endless amounts of tea.") is helpful, but it's the support from the school's staff and the enthusiasm of her students which now makes her get up and go, so much so that being early for work is the norm now!

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Amy McKay:

School Librarian of the Year Award 2016: Honour List Profile

Amy McKay

Corby Business Academy (www.corbybusinessacademy.org)

Home-made reward scratch cards, staff/student battles of the books, BBQs, sleepovers, Comic-con events and even zombie apocalypses have all taken place in the library at Corby Business Academy, thanks to their innovative and enthusiastic librarian, Amy McKay. It is perhaps not surprising to learn that this librarian, described as having "natural rapport" with all the young people she works with, believes learning best takes place when the school library is seen as fun, friendly and vibrant.

Amy found her vocation by surprise when she took a library post at a secondary school simply to gain some school-based experience before completing a PGCE. Within days, however, she knew librarianship was the career truly meant for her and since then, she's never looked back.

Being librarian at Corby Business Academy is an incredibly varied job and no two days are the same. Having co-written the school's literacy policy, Amy is responsible for delivering a rolling programme of library lessons to all Year 7 and 8 pupils. She also teaches information skills to Year 12 including academic performance, bibliographies and academic honesty and to KS4 in IGCSE English classes and works regularly with adults who form part of the wider school community - whether liaising with governors, ensuring all new staff receive a library induction or hosting the termly Parents' Reading Group.

As well as supporting teaching and learning, Amy eagerly offers many enjoyable reading promotion activities, trying to ensure that all the school's young people - especially those who aren't traditional library users - come to the library and discover how much fun (as well as useful!) it can be. Book themed parties, reading groups, reading mentors are all part of the mix, with special events such as author visits, a reading challenge and Book Buzz attracting extra funding which Amy can bid for from the school's central finances.  For Amy it is important that her library reflects the outside world, and so she creates lots of displays and events inspired by current affairs/events – whether it be a six- week Olympics programme of activities or a simple display based on Tinie Tempah lyrics.

Amy was fortunate to be involved with the school's library from the very beginning and whilst setting up a brand new library was a great challenge, she's very proud of what had been achieved. Of prime importance to Amy is the library's rich and varied stock, including magazines, graphic novels and manga. About 20% of books are bought on the basis of student requests: "An aesthetically impressive library is great, but it needs to be financially supported to allow for a consistent stream of exciting, new books.  Encouraging reading for pleasure is so much more effective if you offer the books young people want to read." Being able to bring new books into the library as soon as they are published is important to creating buzz; new stock arriving six months after paperback editions have been cheaply and widely available in supermarkets doesn't excite young readers.

Amy's school is hugely supportive of her work, giving her the freedom and time to develop those things she believes will best benefit students. Developing a library that is "a feast for the eye" as well as an incredible resource for learning, teaching and reading enjoyment is key to Amy's approach to her library. She aims to offer something tantalising to pick up and discover everywhere a pupil looks. Lots of forward facing book storage, comfy, movable furniture that can adapt to the needs of a busy library and a projector and large screen so that book trailers, performance poetry, plays etc. can be screened are all features she believes add real value to the library. Amy is especially proud of her work to narrow the gender gap in library use; boys now regularly borrow more than girls. Non-fiction stock (and ensuring it stays relevant and used, even in today's online world) is another focus of Amy's creativity.

Corby Business Academy is not the only beneficiary of Amy's skills, knowledge and enthusiasm. Amy works closely with feeder primaries to promote transition reading activities, hosting quizzes and providing reading lists. She also likes to include other local schools in her library events wherever possible. Somehow, Amy also finds time (despite being a secret reality TV addict) to sit on the national YLG committee and has recently taken on the role of Carnegie Kate Greenaway Coordinator, a position which means she reads much more widely than she might otherwise - a delight for her and a benefit to her school's pupils because her recommendations are much more varied as a result.

Despite clearly being a ball of energy, Amy is keen to stress that much of the success of her job comes from the people around her. "I benefit hugely from having a supportive Senior Management Team who recognise the value of and (very importantly) sufficiently fund the library.  I work with engaged staff who are always willing to get involved and in the library with an amazing colleague who is passionate, dedicated and a pleasure to work with." Ultimately, however, it's the young people who inspire Amy in her work: "I love books and reading, but it's the students who really make this job worthwhile."

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BookAward Winners 2016
BookAward Winners 2016

For the first time ever the judges for these unique book awards, which are the only awards judged by active classroom teachers, will come from Scotland, with the 56 judges spread right across the country from Aberdeen to Renfrewshire!

 There are 3 groups of judges for each age category and they have until the end of February to read the longlisted books, discuss them with their group leaders, and share them with pupils. All groups will then meet together for the difficult task of choosing their shortlist of 6 books in each category.

Teachers welcomed the opportunity to widen their knowledge of recent children’s titles.  For UKLA, giving classroom practitioners the opportunity to read a number of new children’s books is as important as finding an overall winner. Research carried out by members of UKLA (Cremin et al 2008) clearly demonstrated the links between teachers’ knowledge of children’s books and the likelihood of pupils becoming successful readers. Despite this evidence, teachers are seldom given time to read new books or funding to purchase them when they do.

 UKLA are grateful for the continued support of the award sponsors, which help the awards to grow and develop each year. Micro Librarian Services, Lovereading4schools and Lovereading4kids, recognise the value of the judging experience for schools and teachers.

Longlists are here - congratulations to all included!

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Into Film Festival 2016

IntoFilmFestival Image3The Into Film Festival is a free and annual educational film festival which aims to help educators bring learning to life for 5-19 year-olds by inspiring them to watch, make and understand film in new and creative ways. Taking place from 9-25 November across the UK, around 450,000 young people will attend one of the 2,500+ free Festival events including: A cinema screening programme of over 150 film choices, Industry expert Q&As, Career information sessions, Filmmaking workshops, Masterclasses and Special speaker sessions.  What's more, free education resources that support the delivery of the curriculum will be available to download to ensure each school's experience is not only fun but provides learning outcomes too.

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Friends Calendar for 2017

Children's Illustrator Calendar for 2017 in association with Farms for City Children

Friends Calendar 2017 CoverFollowing on from the terrific success of the Friends Calendar last year, Peter Sheldon (ex-Peters Bookselling Service and Hon YLG member!) has persuaded his illustrator friends to provide illustrations for another calendar for this year. So again, he will be producing a quality, spiral bound, A4 seasonal calendar, with illustrations from friends old and new.

So who's in? Well, Quentin Blake (he of the knighthood) is happy to maintain his presence along with Anthony Browne, Jane Ray, Nicholas Allan, Arthur Robins and Michael Foreman - spot his leaping Michael Morpurgo! Ruth Brown has promised a 'Stormy Night', and Emma Chichester Clark is back with Plumdog, whilst a warm welcome awaits Posy Simmonds with a couple of cunning foxes. Then we have Jacqui Hawkins who has uncovered a hidden treasure, oh, and there's bound to be some illustrative shenanigans from Tony Ross and Colin McNaughton . . . so I think we have another winner to keep you company throughout the events of 2017.

We are supporting Farms for City Children again, after a successful 2016, with all profits from the sale of calendars – over £500 last year - going to their charity. There will be a charge of £6.95 per copy including p&p, and distribution will take place by the end of November. If you would like to order a copy/copies (perfect for Christmas presents!), then please contact Anne Marley by October 21st deadline with your requirements.

You need to email: anne.marley@tiscali.co.uk. Please either send a cheque with your order (payable to E.A. Marley) to 8 Bolderwood Close, Bishopstoke, Eastleigh SO50 8PG   or use BACS: Account no: 40214168 Sort code: 30-99-71 and put your surname as the Reference, plus 'Cal'. You will also have to email me with your name and address and how many calendars you would like to buy. I cannot accept any orders without payment attached this year, sorry.

Many thanks for your interest
Peter Sheldon & Anne Marley.

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BookTrust and Egmont join forces

BooktrustBookTrust has partnered with Egmont, as their exclusive charity partner, in a new approach to understanding consumers and their reading habits.

Egmont and BookTrust will be sharing their research until the end of 2017 to inform key projects, the first of which is ‘Time to Read’, a campaign which launches on Thursday 8 September. Time to Read is aimed at ensuring parents, teachers, schools and policy makers understand the value of making time for reading together, of encouraging reading enjoyment and explaining the impact reading for pleasure has on children’s life chances.

Diana Gerald, BookTrust Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Egmont on research, as they also work tirelessly to encourage more children to enjoy the pleasure of reading. We will be releasing new research on shared reading to make sure families continue to enjoy stories, showing children the wonder of books from a very young age and taking them on reading journeys that are fun.”

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2 Katherine Rundell events - not to be missed!!

6:30pmThursday 8th September

Katherine Rundell and Peter Bunzl in conversation with Anna James

Waterstones, 24-26 High Street, Birmingham, B4 7SL


6pm Monday 12th September

Katherine Rundell and Emma Carroll in conversation with Anna James

Waterstones, 12 College Lane, Liverpool, L1 3DL


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Rachel Knight: School Librarian of the Year Award 2016: Honour List Profile

School Librarian of the Year Award 2016: Honour List Profile

Rachel Knight

Sherborne Girls, Dorset (www.sherborne.com)

What sort of librarian can strip down an SA80 rifle in 15 seconds and also loves the challenge of racing one of her school's sports scholars up the 54 steps to the Library at 8 in the morning?

It turns out to be one who is equally at home hosting a Jane Austen dinner party complete with bonnets, flickering candelabras and even a special guest appearance from Mr Darcy or co-ordinating an exciting month-long wellbeing event with Library yoga, storytelling, acoustic music and smoothie making, all in the name of bringing books to life for the whole school community.

And that librarian is Rachel Knight, from Sherborne Girls, an independent day and boarding school for 470 girls aged 11 to 18.

Described as "open, friendly and welcoming" and having "a lovely rapport with the girls", Rachel's time at Sherborne Girls has seen library use increase considerably thanks to her innovative and creative school-wide promotion of books, reading and library resources. Events have included poetry afternoons, guest speakers like Britain's No.1 female alpine skier Chemmy Alcott and the "Books That Changed Your Life" promotion. Her "Desert Island Books" campaign was designed to raise the profile, prominence and vibrancy of the Library at Sherborne Girls.

As well as instilling a sense of fun and energy, the promotion created a buzz around the Library with students excited and inspired to read more widely and in different genres. The event welcomed involvement from all members of the school community – from senior management to catering staff to international students and sixth form. Girls were given the opportunity to discuss and debate their favourite books with confidence and passion.

Rachel planned, promoted and delivered the three-day "Women and Adventure Festival". This was an exhilarating celebration of travel and adventure literature, guest speakers, films, photography, orienteering and outdoor challenges, all designed to raise the profile of the Library. Boosting the culture of books, reading and storytelling is at the very heart of Sherborne Girls' Library and both staff and students had the opportunity to hear a wealth of inspirational stories about endurance, strength, resilience and positivity during the festival. Girls were able to hear tenacious tales of mountaineering, endure the physical and psychological realities of climbing Everest, negotiate the wild Indian Ocean, surf big waves in California and experience the triumph and grit of the human spirit… all by coming to the Library.

These highpoints have taken place alongside regular and well attended book clubs for all staff (including support, catering and cleaning staff as well as teachers), reading groups for students (with reviews of the books read published on the vibrant library blog, (https://sherbornegirlslibrary.wordpress.com/), personalised book prescriptions from the Book Doctor (Rachel in disguise, complete with a white coat and stethoscope) who helped readers stuck in a rut find new enthusiasm for books, and competitions such as Extreme Reading and Guess the Shelfie.

Rachel, who has an MSc in Information Studies, first meets new students in Year 7, where she spends time with each girl individually, getting to know them and providing tailored, informal introductions to the library. She teaches engaging lessons on study skills both as part of the Year 9 PSHE course and also for Year 12 and 13, covering topics including essay writing, digital resources, referencing, mind mapping and academic honesty. Rachel has designed these specialist sixth form workshops in order to nurture independent learning, raise attainment and optimise the effectiveness of the Library and Library Staff.

She liaises closely with subject teachers who use the library for projects, providing subject-specific library support throughout the academic year. A new initiative is the creation of Summer Reading Lists for students who are moving into the sixth form, with subject-specific titles made up of three or four popular, thought-provoking texts to inspire girls in each of their chosen A Level or IB subjects, whether they be the sciences, humanities or languages. All new school staff receive an hour long library induction "with a clear message that the library is there to help."

In addition to the library blog, Rachel produces flyers, posters and mini postcards to promote the library of 25,000 titles, a space consisting of four areas including a collaborative space, silent working area and teaching room. Very aware of the needs of teenage girls (Rachel has also been a non-residential, pastoral tutor at Sherborne Girls), a relaxed and welcoming library environment is very important to Rachel.

In her time at Sherborne Girls, Rachel has also developed a reading strategy. The strategy reflects on reading as an integral part of personal and academic wellbeing for both pupils and staff. She talks about the school Library and the "mission to nurture the culture of reading and lay down reading foundations which will last a lifetime."

The five words Rachel would associate with her library are: energy, imagination, reflection, drive, passion. That passion is there for all to see: when asked what she would include in a school librarian survival kit, Rachel tellingly replied, "There has genuinely never been a day where I felt like I was simply 'surviving'... the rewards, job satisfaction and sense of fulfilment [have been] second-to-none."

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Job Vacancies: Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, Herts - Library Assistant

We are seeking to appoint a Library Assistant with immediate effect to work with the Head Librarian and Assistant Librarian in our state of the art, purpose built Learning Resource Centre.

The post is term time only and will attract an initial paid salary of £16,122 with the opportunity to progress on the school’s salary scale.

Library Assistant JD 1.9

Word document, 179 kB (Requires Microsoft Word 2007 or later)


The school offers an enviable working environment supporting inquisitive and responsible girls with their learning.  All staff are entitled to a free lunch, onsite parking, use of the pool and gym facilities and membership of the school’s contributory Group Personal Pension Plan.

Applications should be sent to staffvacancies[at]habgirls.org.uk  by  16th September.  Interviews are expected to take place the following week.  

Further details and application forms are available from Caroline Pluck on 020 8266 2346 or via our website www.habsgirls.org.uk.  

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Job Vacancies: St Paul’s School - LIBRARIAN



Salary: c £20,000 - £22,500pa term time only (plus 2 weeks)

We are looking for an enthusiastic and committed Librarian to manage, develop and promote our well used and well-resourced Library.  This is an opportunity to join a school that enjoys a reputation for academic and all-round excellence.

The ideal candidate will be a qualified librarian with very good experience and knowledge of working in a library. The candidate should possess excellent interpersonal skills and be able to communicate with boys, parents and staff.

Further details and an application form can be obtained from the school’s website, www.stpaulsschool.org.uk, or by email from humanresources[at]stpaulsschool.org.uk;

The closing date for receipt of applications is noon on Thursday 15 September 2016. Interviews will be held on Wednesday 21 September 2016.

St Paul’s School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.  Applicants will be required to undergo child protection screening appropriate to the post including checks with past employer and the Disclosure and Barring Service. St Paul’s School is an equal opportunities employer.

St Paul’s School is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England at Lonsdale Road, London SW13 9JT. Registered Company Number 6141973. Registered Charity Number 1119619.



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