The day Claire Balding came to King’s, Worcester

As told by librarian Annabel Jeffery:

‘On Tuesday October 3rd we were absolutely delighted to be chosen to host an author event with none other than Clare Balding. Pupils from all three foundation schools were present, along with children from three local primary schools. With so many young pupils queueing for signing and needing to be organised, we could not have done without the help of a group of U6 who enjoyed a rather different key Skills session to the Research Skills that was timetabled!  They were all fantastic on the day. 

From the moment she arrived -to be greeted by a very excited and delightful U6 Reception Committee – to the moment she left after entertaining 500 children and staff in College Hall and signing 100s of books, she created a buzz wherever she went.  (Even in the cathedral cloisters where lucky visitors may have noticed her whilst passing by her as she ate her lunch and chatted to Sixth formers.) 

Clare’s talk was full of enjoyable anecdotes about her childhood spent surrounded by animals, many of which taught her valuable life lessons (as well as being the inspiration for her new children’s books about racehorses), such as the importance of belief in yourself, doing what you enjoy, trying everything without fear of failure and not worrying about being different.   But the highlight was the way in which she engaged and interacted with the children. 

College Hall will never see the likes again of Clare Balding cavorting with great drama and commitment on stage, to re-enact great sporting moments of recent times with the help of King’s St Albans children who were brilliant.  Firstly she re-staged the final of the triathlon world series in September 2016 when Jonny (played by Henry Hawes of KSA)  was helped over the line by his brother Alistair, thus illustrating the power of selflessness in sport.  Fen Harper and Martha Burden from St Albans (by chance in their hockey kit) then had the chance to act as the favoured Dutch hockey players in the Rio Olympic final, taking on Clare as Maddie Hinchliffe.  Despite their skill, Clare (as Maddie) proved that belief and preparation can help you to win against the odds. 

She was also very brave in inviting up on stage young writers of the future from each school to interview them about their ideas for a story.  I don’t think she was expecting to have the kind of complex synopsis such as that given by Amalie Prewer-Jenkinson! 

The line of pupils queueing patiently with books seemed to be endless, but Clare waited until the last book had been signed and the last pupil hoping for a selfie (each one granted) had turned up. She was even happy to give Miss Jeffery’s spaniel a birthday hug!  

Clare Balding was a passionate and inspirational speaker, who will have left many of us with unforgettable memories of the day that she came to King’s.’

 

 

Celebrity authors and World Book Day books

It cannot have escaped your notice, if you are in the UK, that there is a lot of fuss about this year’s World Book day £1 book offering.  The problem centres around the fact that four of the books are by celebrities and one is a Marvel Comic.  Librarians and authors have been incensed by this, pointing out that in the past these WBD books have been successfully promoted as tasters, and children have gone on to read and love the authors represented – authors such as Malorie Blackman, Cressida Cowell, Robert Muchamore, David Almond to name but a few.  This article from the Guardian sums up the situation perfectly.  I know my Facebook feed and Twitter feed have been full in the last couple of days of people really angry about the fact that WBD isn’t about encouraging children to read books by excellent children’s authors, but seems to have fallen prey to the cult of celebrity instead.

This isn’t a new thought.  There have been questions about Zoella’s book club before, with opinion divided on what her choosing criteria are.  But this is different.  First World Book Day is turned into Dressing up Day – mostly by primaries and often nothing to do with books – and now there are fears that World Book Day is becoming just another outlet for already overexposed celebrities.

What do you think?  Do you think it is harmless, that children should just read? or do you support the authors who feel that their talent is being degraded by celebrities writing children’s books because, after all, how hard can it be? Very hard – judging by the Carnegie and Greenaway Award Winners!

Join in the debate!

Southwark Book Award 2017

 

 

Top to Bottom: Alex Wheatle, MG Leonard, Taran Matharu

On Thursday March 9th 2017, selected children from several different schools around Southwark packed into Canada Water Library to find out the results of the Southwark Book Award 2017. The Award had been relaunched this year, with six shortlisted books published during the school year 2015/2016, and voting was open to children in Years 7 & 8.

Three of the shortlisted authors – Taran Matharu (The Novice)  M.G.Leonard (Beetle Boy) and Alex Wheatle (Crongton Knights) were present at the ceremony, which caused an extra frisson of excitement amongst the children present. The three other shortlisted books were The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne, Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell.

The pupils had already voted for their favourite book online, but once at Canada Water Library they were split into groups to discuss and rank each book in terms of its style, characterisation, plot, setting and theme. Later, they were treated to a short talk from each of the authors present.

The highlight of the morning was the presentation of the Award. Jo Mead, Learning Resources Manager at Harris Boys’ Academy, East Dulwich, first announced the results of the morning’s discussion – which saw the honours for the different elements of the books fairly equally divided between the six titles. The overall winner of the Southwark Book Award 2017 however, was Andrew Norriss, for his book Jessica’s Ghost. Sadly, the author was unable to be with us on Thursday, but he sent a video in which he professed himself “absolutely delighted” and thanked all the students for their votes.

Before leaving to return to their respective schools, the students swarmed the authors present with requests for books, posters and bookmarks to be signed – a sure sign that a love of reading is alive and well in Southwark!

The Southwark Book Award is organised by the Southwark Education Librarians’ Forum, and we’re looking forward to making it even bigger and better next year. Southwark schools who would like to take part in future awards should contact Jo Mead (J.Mead@harrisdulwichboys.org.uk) to join our mailing list.

 

 

 

 

Harry Potter in many languages!

Jennifer Lees from Wolverhampton Girls’ High School tells us about her school’s obsession with Harry Potter – and how she became obsessed too!

‘The students at our school are OBSESSED with Harry Potter. When I first started 2 years ago (having never worked in a school library before) they were incredulous to hear that I had never read any of the books and from that day forth made it their mission to ‘encourage’ (or browbeat) me to get on board. I eventually did, and obviously fell in love with the whole series. A few weeks ago I ended up taking part in a Harry Potter quiz at a local arts centre. It turned out that a team of Sixth Form library ‘regulars’ from school were also taking part. I immediately knew my team was scuppered  – the girls won, of course! I thought you might be interested to see how our prefect has used the series to highlight different aspects of our library collection, even though we don’t have much space.”

 

hp-1 hp-2

Author Dan Freedman scores with QEGS!

Val Dewhurst, the librarian at QEGS, sent me this article:

Snip20150709_66“The senior school library recently received a wonderful gesture and gift from author Dan Freedman which included a copy of his prequel to the Jamie Johnson series, Born to Play to use as a prize for the most promising football player in Year 7, and to celebrate the end of the school year and football season. This was swiftly forwarded on to our PE Department where Mr Hindle took control and was quick to announce that Tom McCann 7NJP was the student who deserved this award.  The author Dan Freedman is eager to know of our student choice and has promised to include this news on his own website www.danfreedman.co.uk
 
Dan commented “over the last few weeks to celebrate the end of the school year we have been sending copies of Born to Play to some of the schools around the country, that I know well (QEGS being one of those schools) and have asked that they be presented to their most talented footballer in Year 7.  I’m sure it’s been a very difficult choice for them but I am very much looking forward to hearing their news.”
 
Dan Freedman who came to visit QEGS 2 years ago, has himself a strong passion for reading, writing and for football and loves nothing more than to encourage reading through sport and sport through reading… particularly football.”

Reasons to justify a visit from an Author/Illustrator

At a recent LibMeet author Chitra Soundar presented this great slideshare.  It gives lots of reasons why you should invite an author in, and ways you can justify it to your Senior Management Team.  Full of facts and quotes, this is an informative and useful piece of advocacy.  Thanks to Chitra for allowing me to share it more widely.

World Book Day with author Tom Palmer

Snip20150309_1Librarian Mrs Dewhurst from QEGS Blackburn tells us of a great World Book Day her pupils enjoyed with the author Tom Palmer:

On World Book Day, Thursday 5th March, a day full of sporty reading took place with visiting author Tom Palmer. An energetic Year 6, 7 and 8 all joined in with the reading football game which was a massive success, with prizes for all the winners. The buzz of books and reading echoed throughout school while the sound of the penalty shoot out could be heard loud and clearly from the Library Annexe.

Head of Library, Mrs Dewhurst was delighted with the week saying ” we’ve had a lot of events taking place this week – we wanted to give everyone the chance to join in, making it a whole school book week. It takes a lot of planning to put a book week together, but absolutely worth it – to see just how many students got involved this week has been fantastic. The author session was the icing on the cake and extremely touching to see the love and passion for books shine through , and the enthusiasm from Year 6 was breathtaking with over forty Tom Palmer books being sold! The lunchtime book signing session was extremely popular with students queueing with their books, footballs, sportswear – all for signing. The author really did ensure every student left happy.

More details about Tom Palmer’s books and photos of the day can be found at:
https://www.facebook.com/QegsLibraryBlackburn
http://tompalmer.co.uk/