Sunday, 27 September 2009


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

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Kelpie's Prize

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

Word Pool

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

World Book Day

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

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

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Horn Book - the trouble issue.

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

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

Friday, 18 September 2009

Children who read books less likely to be in gangs

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

Friday, 11 September 2009

Name that cat!

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

Coming soon...

Some events coming up:

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

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

Children's literature round-up

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

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

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