Thursday, 30 January 2014

Books for Brownies - International Book Giving Day

International Book Giving Day is dedicated to getting new, used and borrowed books into the hands of as many children as possible - check the site for ideas of how to take part. I'm going to be helping my friends at Glasgow Women's Library who have been collecting books for younger women for some time. Now that they have moved to new premises, they are home to a Brownie Pack whose members are wondering why there are no books for them. Also, children's books are always useful to keep the young ones occupied while their mothers are in the library choosing books or attending an event. I've been collecting books for GWL for a couple of weeks now, and here's the result so far:


It's great to get second-hand books in good condition - and if it helps another charity too, so much the better. A search of my local Oxfam shop yielded Emily Gravett's picture book Wolves, a signed copy of The mountain's blood by Lari Don and Gene Kemp's classic Turbulent term of Tyke Tyler. The latter has a great twist in the tail, but I wonder if it would be as surprising today as when it was written in the 1970s? For teenagers, I got Theresa Breslin's Remembrance, which is about the First World War and therefore very topical in this centenary year, and Solace of the road by the late Siobhan Dowd.


Sometimes publishers send me books to review, and sometimes I'm lucky enough to win them in draws by email or social media. I have three to add at the moment, so thanks to Templar for sending me Firebird by Saviour Pirotta and Catherine Hyde, a retelling of the Russian folktale which inspired Stravinsky's ballet, and Yokococo's Hans and Matilda Show about a school talent competition. From O'Brien I received Eva and the hidden diary, one of a series by author Judi Curtin. In this story, Eva and her friend Kate find an old diary and try to put right mistakes that were made long ago.

Book shops

Of course, you can just go into a regular book shop and buy something! I chose these two - one a classic, Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking, and one more modern, Clarice Bean utterly me by Lauren Child. Can you spot the link? Lauren Child illustrated them both in her highly distinctive style. Both books feature enormously engaging heroines.

How can you help?

As I said at the beginning, there are plenty of ideas on the IGBD website, where you'll also find posters, book marks and book plates to go with your gifts. However, should anyone who happens to read this live in Glasgow and just happen to have some spare books suitable for girls of all ages (though I'm particularly keen to help out the Brownies who are around 7-11 years old) - let me know! Maybe you have daughters or nieces who have outgrown some of their books? Leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

Update 12/2/14

I catalogued all the above books at GWL this morning - ready to be borrowed on IGBD!


Friday, 17 January 2014

National Libraries Day is coming - 8th February

If you look at the sidebar, you'll see that I've sprouted two new badges. They're for National Libraries Day and International Book Giving Day. Each is important for children's literature and I have plans for both - however, I'll leave IGBD for later and concentrate on NLD for now.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that One Man and His Beard was collecting photos of people holding up their library cards to illustrate the video for his song We need libraries. Well, it's here! You can see my picture at approximately 3.15 and my Mum and Dad are also there at 1.47. A banner runs underneath the photos listing the reasons we need libraries, many of which involve children's reading. If you love libraries too, please share the video widely.

In Scotland, we're also hoping to collect reasons to love libraries with The Big Question: "What did you do in your library today?" Read more via CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland) and take part if you can. And keep using your library!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Natasha Mac a'Bhaird: Missing Ellen

Natasha Mac a'Bhaird: Missing Ellen

Teenagers Maggie and Ellen have been best friends since they were five. Ellen is lively, outgoing and impetuous while Maggie is quieter and more sensible. The story starts with a new school year. Ellen is missing, though we don't yet know why, and Maggie is missing her dreadfully - this dual meaning of "missing" is reflected in the story's two voices. Both are Maggie's - one a narrative from the point where she thinks Ellen's problem started until the time she disappeared, and the other a set of letters to her friend in which she tells her what her life is like now.

It's not difficult to guess where Ellen's story is going as she gets involved with a different crowd and makes choices that Maggie doesn't agree with. She's an attractive character on the surface, but thoughtless and reckless, and I much prefer Maggie who is left bereft at Ellen's disappearance and tortured by "what ifs", wondering if she could have changed the outcome by behaving differently herself. Her family and other school friends don't know how to help her and she has to find her own way through the grief and guilt.

It's hard to say much more without giving away the plot, so I'll leave it at that. I thought the story was very well told and the breakdown, in different ways, of both girls sensitively handled. It's not all gloom though - there's a glimmer of hope for Maggie at the end when she finally realises that she has to let Ellen go, and there's also a hint of romance ahead.

Thanks to O'Brien Press for sending me this book, which I won in a draw. I will now be donating it to Glasgow Women's Library for their younger women's collection.