Thursday, 7 July 2011

30 years of Shirley Hughes' Alfie

I've just discovered the 30th Anniversary site for Shirley Hughes' Alfie books. It's lovely - full of information about the books, messages and illustrations from Shirley, resources to download, such as colouring sheets, and a set of teaching notes. There's also a complete bibliography of Shirley's work. If you want to borrow any of her books, here's what we have in the Library.

Many years ago we had a children's books' event at Jordanhill at which Shirley Hughes was one of the speakers, so I've been lucky enough to meet her. I bought a signed copy of Alfie gets in first for a friend's wee girl and was mortified when I read it to her and she cried! She couldn't bear the thought of Alfie being on the wrong side of the front door from his Mum. This was most unexpected so I hope the children you read it to enjoy it more. (NB that little girl is now grown up and shows no sign of lasting damage so I've stopped feeling guilty.)

Branford Boase Award

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace, edited by Charlie Sheppard and published by Andersen Press, has won the 2011 Branford Boase Award. The Branford Boase Award was set up to encourage new writers and is given each year to the most promising work of fiction for children by a debut novelist. The award also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. Out of Shadows also won the Costa Children’s Book Award and was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal.

The book is set in Zimbabwe in the 1980s - independence has been won and Robert Mugabe has come to power offering hope, land and freedom to black Africans. For Robert Jacklin it's all new: new continent, new country, new school, but very quickly he learns that for some of his classmates the sound of guns is still loud, and their battles still rage on. Find it in our catalogue here.

For more information, go to:

Books for Keeps announcement
Books for Keeps interview with Jason Wallace
Achockablog post with video
Bookwitch post with photos

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A Stranger Came Ashore by Mollie Hunter - guest post by Carol Cisman

Mollie Hunter's books are perhaps not as popular as they used to be, but they are really good reads and have Scottish settings. Carol Cisman, one of my colleagues, is a big fan and has written this guest post on A stranger came ashore.
This classic children's tale is based on the folklore of the Shetland Isles and, although first published in 1975, its morals are as relevant today as they were then. I first read it as a youngster at school and enjoyed reading it again as an adult as much as I did then.

It tells the story of a stranger, Finn Learson, coming ashore during a storm to the village of Black Ness on Shetland, supposedly the only survivor of a shipwreck. He is taken in by the Henderson family: Robbie, the 12 year old hero of the story, his parents Peter and Janet, his older sister Elspeth, Tam the sheepdog and Old Da, Robbie's grandfather.

Old Da is full of tales of the Selkie Folk, seals who can take on human form to come ashore and charm unsuspecting villagers with captivating yarns of travel and treasure. Robbie has always been fascinated by these and it soon becomes clear that there is more to Finn Learson than meets the eye. He doesn't trust him and soon enough his fears are confirmed. Robbie realises that he is one of the few villagers not taken in by the charms of the stranger and he turns to his schoolmaster for help when he discovers that Elspeth is in grave danger.

Mollie Hunter uses traditional language which conveys a sense of history and the time in which the tale is set. A mysterious and gripping story of the forces of good and evil and of the magic of land and sea, it ends with a thrilling twist which will continue to capture the imaginations of older children and young adults alike.
If you are inspired by Carol's review to read this, or any other Mollie Hunter books, we have a good selection in the library. For other Scottish-set books, see our web page on Children's Literature in Scotland.

Monday, 4 July 2011

More summer activities for young readers and writers

I blogged last month about various competitions going on for young writers over the summer, and here are some more book related activities that children might be interested in.

Head down to your local library for the Summer Reading Challenge - this year's theme is Circus Stars. It's free and children get a stage set and stickers to start them off. As they read their way through six books, they help the Circus Stars progress through Practice and Rehearsal to their ultimate goal – Showtime! There's lots of online fun as well as reading. The Challenge was launched in Scotland by Julia Donaldson, the new Children's Laureate.

2012 will be the 25th anniversary of the bestselling Winnie the Witch books, so The Guardian has teamed up with Winnie's publisher, Oxford University Press, and WH Smith, to offer four lucky winners the chance to have their artwork featured as the endpapers for the anniversary edition of Winnie the Witch. The closing date for the competiton (for children aged 5-10) is 22nd August 2011 and the book will be published in July next year.

Another Guardian competiton is their Children's Fiction Prize Book Club. Every week they are featuring one of the books in the running for the Guardian children's fiction prize. They kicked off on Friday with Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout by Andy Stanton. The Young Critics competition is for young readers to share their views on any of the longlisted books. Anyone under 16 can enter by writing a review of no more than 200 words of one of the books longlisted for the prize - the deadline for entries is Monday 26 September 2011.

Finally, Macmillan Children's books and ITV's Daybreak have launched a writing competition today. "What's The Story", invites children aged 7-12 to write a 500-word story, to be submitted by 25th July. Illustrator Lydia Monks (see our selection of her books here) has created a number of characters to be included in the story, with the winning book, complete with Monks' illustrations, to be published by Macmillan next year.