Posted By Jacob Hope,
08 June 2019
Updated: 08 June 2019
Founded in 1980 by national children's reading charity, the Federation of Children's Book Groups, the Children's Book Award is now in its 39th Year. It is the only National UK Children's Book Award to be voted for entirely by children. Each year an impressive 150,000+ votes are cast, involving nearly 250 schools across the UK.
The winneers have been announced today at a special awards ceremony and Arree Chung's Mixed, a book exploring colour, tolerance and embracing difference has come first. Aree won the Books for Younger Children before winning the overall prize this year. Commenting on his win Arree said, 'It touches me to know that the message of diversity, acceptance and love has resonated with the harts of the youth in the UK. The world indeed is a colourful blend of people and culture.'
Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer has won the Older Reader category and The Dog Who Lost His Bark, written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by PJ Lynch is named the Books for Younger Readers Category winner.
Congratulations to all of the winners and to the Federation of Children's Book Groups for a superb initiative.
The Youth Libraries Group blog is delighted to be part of 'The Tunnels Below' blog tour. Celebrating the publication of a compelling new fantasy, here author Nadine Wild-Palmer talks about how a passion for libraries and working with children influenced her debut.
I discovered I had a real passion for working with children after university when I was hired by The House of Fairy Tales to travel around festivals with a caravan of creatives, running workshops that focused on creative storytelling, singing songs and immersive play. However, like so much of life this job was seasonal and I found myself needing and wanting to develop my skills in a more concrete way. I did a lot of soul searching and discovered I was missing a connection – Books! This was very much a eureka moment for me, I had spent my childhood writing and reciting poetry and making up languages so it made perfect sense to literally hit the books. I was going to embark on a mission to become a Children’s Librarian and that, is just what I did.
I applied for a part time job at St Nicholas Preparatory school (Part time because I still needed time off for writing) and the head teacher at the time - Jill Aisher – Invited me in for an interview. I remember discussing my love of books and children with her during the interview and that I was very keen to start writing my own books. I landed the job and I believe it was at this point that The Tunnels Below, although already deeply seeded in my mind began take roots. I was in an environment that was filled with thousands of doorways to different worlds all aimed at the people I was working with: Children. It was magical. I know now, that when you are conscious you are being given an opportunity, even though you don’t know where it might lead it is full of anticipation and this excited energy is what I used to create the world of The Tunnels Below.
However, once I actually started working with the children I discovered that what I thought about what made a good book, was more often than not at odds with what the children I was working with actually wanted to read. Despite already having a masters in Creative and Critical writing there is nothing like hands on experience to really highlight what you don’t know about your chosen field of study or your profession! I learnt a lot about language, illustration, style and subject matters from the children and the librarians I worked with. A big thank you to: Mrs Skipworth, Ms Pepper and Mr Bruce is deserved here, a trio of kind intelligent people who generously shared their wealth of knowledge with me and which, I have never forgotten.
Working in the library brought me back to the feeling of reverent calm that I had as a child walking to the local library in Balham. I’m grateful for that, especially when so many of our local Libraries are under threat.
After a year or so working in the Library the school and parents of St Nicholas presented me with an opportunity I could not refuse. I was commissioned me to write and illustrate my first children’s book for the Library and Chicken & Egg was born. The process of creating this book made me realise that I had more to say than a picture book would allow and that, although I was alright at drawing I was no illustrator. So I kept going back to The Tunnels Below, flashes of inspiration followed me around London until I had written the first four chapters at which time a chance meeting with my editor Sarah Odedina, flung the doors wide open.
However, I know, in my heart of hearts, that had I never spent the hours I did in the Library, I may never have been brave enough to write a book. I am dyslexic and dyspraxic and as a child I was a painfully slow reader (I am still pretty slow but I remember books in a lot of detail). Being back in a children’s library gave me a chance to catch up on the titles I couldn’t keep up with as a child, which gave me a chance to reconcile some of the negative feelings I harboured about books. Libraries have always evoked a sense of wonder in me but working as a Librarian in one showed me how much healing they can provide as well as how much magic they can work on a non-believer who needs reminding that they have the power within them too!
Wow this year is really flying by. I can’t believe it’s May already and we have had the fifth meeting of the Reading Rebels. Reading rebels are a tween book group that meet the second Friday of each month in Ystrad Mynach Library (South Wales). The group consists of four girls, two from the local English medium high school and two from the local Welsh medium school. I am pleased to say they all get on well and sometimes it’s hard to get a word in as they are so eager to discuss the books they are reading as well as what they have been up to in school that day. They all love reading different books and I normally take along proof copies I have received from publishers. They love looking through the choices. The one book they did all read and enjoy was Storm Witch by Ellen Renner. They are not so keen on writing reviews though so I suggested making a collage of the books they have been reading. It is not completed yet otherwise I would have included a picture. At the last meeting we looked at the short list for the CILIP Kate Greenaway award and they were amazed by the illustrations which they hadn’t previously thought about. For their next meeting they requested a book quiz so that is my homework sorted for a while. I’ve been told not to make it too difficult and choose questions about books they have read. We’ll see about that. It wasn’t a group I set up but when a member of staff took retirement I stepped in. I had never run a teenage reading group before and I was a bit apprehensive but it’s the best thing I have done in a long while. They are so enthusiastic about books and reading it is a pleasure to be part of it.
Many of you will know that the Youth Libraries Group has been looking at its governance and communication over the past year. We want to make sure that the group is best positioned to serve the needs of its members and has a stable future. As part of this, we have worked with multi award-winning illustrator Yu Rong in creating a new logo that reflects the work of the group and also includes our name in order that the role of the group can easily be acknowledged when working with partner organisations and on collaborative projects and events.
We are very excited to have had the chance to partner with Yu Rong. She was winner of the Quentin Blake Award for Narrative Illustration, Yu Rong's techniques combines the traditional craft of papercut from the Shaanxi Province of China, together with pencil sketches to create an immediately distinctive style that brings both depth and detail to her illustration. Yu Rong taught in a primary school and went on to study a BA in Chinese Painting and Contemporary Design before moving to the UK in 1997. Yu Rong has worked with the Youth Libraries Group to create a new logo that more directly eflects the aims of the group. We were delighted to work with an llustrator whose artistic style offers readers such a rich visual experience. We are also pleased that Yu Rong involved her ten year-old son in creating the lettering. This feels very much in keeping with the focus of the group. Yu Rong is currently illustrating 'Shu Lin's Grandpa' which will be published by Otter Barry Books in 2020.
"I become an illustrator, as a way to create an imaginative world based on the understanding and passion of the real world. I love children, I was a primary school teacher and was influenced by Quentin Blake when I studied at Royal College of Art. Working with Chinese publishers and publishers in West, gives the variety of the taste of different culture and of team spirit. Often I think people's life experience can easily be reflected in their art work, I do hope the readers can see the integration of my observation of West and East and that we are a big family living on the earth together."
The new YLG logo has been used for the first time in CILIP's new children's supplement 'Pen & Inc' the magazine and listing guide to promote diversity and inclusion in children's publishing. For more information and to see Yu Rong's stunning cover illustration please visit https://www.cilip.org.uk/page/penandinc
To celebrate the launch of their 'Proud' anthology of poems, stories and art Stripes Publishing offered LGBT groups in schools a chance to pitch to win, read & review & hype about on social media 10 copies of the book & bunting for LGBT month to create a display for their libraries. I pitched for our college's Gay Straight Alliance group and we were lucky enough to be one of the ones chosen.#
My friend and colleague at Colaiste Feirste was also kind enough to invite a group of us over to meet transgender author Juno Dawson, stay for a talk and Q & A and do some rainbow painting. One of the pupils also designed identity aesthetics for a flag which they were allowed to keep and it is currently in the library.
Here are some extracts from the pupils' reviews. I've also attached their art work in response to the stories they read.
The Courage of Dragons
"Really enjoyable story that allowed me to gain an insight into the struggles of non-binary teens. The story was told in a way that was fun and more enjoyable for someone who likes fantasy books. My favourite part was the fact that it was told like an adventurous quest that really made the characters feel like heroes and inspired me to really want to make a change to the way things work in my own school."
What did you think of it?
I thought it was strange but I really liked it.
Your favourite part?
I like the repetition because it gives you the idea that the event is being relived over and over.
It’s very chaotic and the art reflects it. I think the room could be a metaphor to reflect chaos in the mind.
I was able to relate to it.
What did you think of it?
I thought it was really cool. The imagery reminds me of being on a stage. I think the contracting corridors could portray how a room shrinks when anxiety takes hold of you. I thought the art work was really impressive too.
Your favourite part?
The windowless woman breaking down walls within herself was really vivid and I thought about the imagery of a porcelain doll breaking – how fragile feelings can be.
Anything you hated?
What would you say to the author if you could?
Does your poem describe how someone feels when they have an anxiety attack?
What did you think of it?
I loved it. I thought it was a beautiful story told from a realistic perspective.
Your favourite part?
The part at the end with Aaron when they came out to each other.
The part describing the penguins which made me laugh.
I want to read more Simon James Green because I enjoyed it so much.
Anything you hated?
What would you say to the author if you could?
Where did your inspiration for the story come from?
Did you use your own experiences to reflect what the characters felt?
What did you read?
Love Poems to the City
What did you think of it?
I really enjoyed the story. I loved the art work, the imagery, the use of poetry and the relevant storyline.
Your favourite part?
The ending because of the sense of unity, togetherness, hope and rainbow imagery reflecting the LGBT story.
Anything you hated?
What would you say to the author if you could?
Thank you for writing such a relevant and powerful story in such a beautiful way.
What do you like most about the city of Dublin?
I was asked by an English teacher on Wednesday to do a presentation /talk on Gothic Literature of the 19th Century (I studied it at university) as an overview for her fourth years focusing on Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Dracula & Jekyll and Hyde. It took place yesterday. It included outlining Gothic themes and reading extracts from the selected texts. I put together a PowerPoint focusing on definition, location, psychology, central themes & a brief analysis of each of the texts. I also included movie clips and a look at Edgar Allan Poe. The response was positive so I was asked to reprise the talk at the end of the day for her 5th years and present it to classes next week also. It was great as all the enthusiasm I felt for the Gothic module at university came flooding back to me and I was able to share my insights with the students. They were particularly enthralled by Mary Shelley's story. They asked if it was real!
I thought I would post about the talk as it is an example of how librarians can support teaching and learning. I'm also happy that following the presentation Poe and Wuthering Heights went straight out on loan.
“Now in its 5th year, SPINE festival is a partnership between London Libraries and Apples and Snakes, England’s leading Spoken Word organisation. The festival celebrates creativity and community in libraries across London. SPINE 2019 offers creative events and opportunities for young people enabling them to explore their local library and the pertinent theme of wellbeing in unexpected ways. The theme of SPINE 2019 is wellbeing.”
When the Children and Families Manager in Bromley asked me to plan, promote and run all the SPINE Festival events in Petts Wood Library, I felt a massive rush of excitement. Later, reality kicked in and I wondered how I would manage it all and could it be achieved. Luckily I have a fantastic team at Petts Wood and all our SPINE events proved to be successful and enjoyed by all. The ‘SPINE’ in the title refers to a spine of a book. Normally, events for the SPINE Festival take place in a larger library so it was wonderful to have them in a smaller branch. Funding for SPINE is mainly from The Arts Council and this year events were run in 17 London boroughs. In addition there is also funding for library staff training and in Bromley we will be having training in running successful teenage reading groups from an independent trainer who specialises in children’s and young people’s reading.
Meetings and Networking
A number of meetings were planned and set up by Apples and Snakes at their base in The Albany Centre. I found these meeting to be really useful and informative; it was great meeting other library staff from different boroughs and sharing our ideas and initiatives for SPINE.
SPINE Planning Group
I have two very active teen groups and some of the older teens volunteered to form a SPINE Planning Group they were incredibly helpful during the planning stages but also the promotional and implementation phases.
For the first time Apples and Snakes wanted to use peer assessors to help with the evaluation of the events. My group were asked if they were able to be the first peer assessors and to hand out the questionnaires, ask specific questions and record the answers. This worked extremely well and I’m sure that young people talking to others around the same age encouraged fuller answers. Apples and Snakes were incredibly supportive and we were visited by Fiona and Jackie who talked to us about promotion and evaluation.
Links with Secondary Schools and other organisations
I started promoting the SPINE Festival in December amongst colleagues in other Bromley libraries. I asked the network if I could go along to their meetings and talk about the Spine Festival and the events we had planned. They were all very keen to hear about it as ‘wellbeing’ amongst their students was high up on their agenda. Once the posters were ready for the events I sent these to the schools. I feel I have strong links with local primary school and pre-schools in my area but was anxious to establish links with secondary schools. The SPINE Festival gave a focus to this and I hoped that new links would be forged and maintained. I had visited one school’s shadowing group and a class came to see the show ‘Crowded’ performed by The Half Moon Theatre.
PR Toolkit and other materials
In the New Year we were sent a PR Toolkit from Apples and Snakes which was incredibly useful and had a number of templates for posters, press releases and examples of tweets, posts etc. for social media. Apples and Snakes also provided some tailor made posters for all our open events which we were very pleased with and felt they were eye catching and visually attractive. Stickers and bookmarks were used for promoting purposes but also at the events themselves.
Bromley Libraries has a very active Facebook Page and Twitter Feed. However it didn’t have an Instagram and I realised that we really needed this in order to reach out to a younger audience which was our target market. So earlier this year Bromley set up an Instagram page and we started to use it to let people know about SPINE.
At Petts Wood we have a huge window which is great for displays but is a large area to fill. This was a bit of a challenge when it came to SPINE. We had the posters promoting our events which we managed to enlarge and piece together, but we need something else. During the meetings with Apples and Snakes it was suggested that we promote the Shelf Help books (which are part of the Reading Agency’s Reading Well initiative), specifically aimed at young people and their wellbeing, so fitted in perfectly with SPINE this year. We didn’t want to put the actual books in the window as they warp due to the sunlight and obviously we wanted the books on display so inside the library easily accessible to borrow. I emailed the Reading Agency and asked for permission to copy the book jackets, laminate and put in the window. They were more than happy to oblige and even sent us a file with all the book jackets attached. This was great and gave a brilliant focus to the display. Other displays were mainly in the teen section and involved the Shelf Help books, posters promoting the events and post it notes suggesting ways to relax.
-“Excellent performance. Illuminating poetry.”
Our first event on 7th March (World Book Day – hence I was dressed up as Pippi Longstocking) was held in the evening from 6.30-7.30. Mr Gee is a performance poet and shared some of his brilliant poems with us.
-“It was very well performed and inspiring.”
-“It was a new way to raise awareness about topics which people tend to shy away from. I also really liked the songs and how they flowed so well with the dialogue.”
On the 8th March three poets from the Half Moon Theatre Company came to Petts Wood to perform ‘Crowded’. The library is classed as a neighbourhood library so isn’t very large at all and I was quite concerned about the whole of a Yr 9 class fitting in. We have had primary school classes but they usually sit on the floor, I realised the Yr 9 students would need chairs! Apples and Snakes understood my concerns and talked to Half Moon who sketched out a plan for me on how to arrange the seating, this was great and I felt much happier about the whole thing. We did need to close the Children’s area for the afternoon but we made sure the picture books were accessible elsewhere. We had never had a play performed in the library before so it was very exciting and the performance proved to be incredibly powerful and moving. The feedback was very positive and encouraging:
-“It was unique, and told a story in a very interesting and fun way. It was very informative on mental health.”
Exam Advice Sessions
-“It was a great chance to speak about how exams make you feel. Also gave some great tips to help with preparation for exams.”
These were held throughout the Festival and were drop in sessions. I asked the School Librarians network if anyone was able to come and talk about exams and stress etc. One librarian called Jacqui volunteered and is also an exam invigilator which meant she was able to give some practical insights on the structure and format of exams. All these sessions went well and I hope that some of the young people who came to these sessions feel slightly less anxious about exams as a result. For myself and, I believe, the other adults too attending gained a real understanding into the worries and stresses that exams bring to young people. Jacqui was incredibly helpful and we produced a short leaflet with some tips and advice on preparing for exams and also some useful revision tips. We also promoted the Shelf Help books and told people who came long about the two reading groups we run at a number of Bromley Libraries including Petts Wood. Plus there were snacks!
-“It was very informative and eye-opening. I learnt some good techniques to handle exam stress”
-“Interesting, inclusive, fun and informative. It was engaging and I enjoyed it.”
Our final event at Petts Wood was an author talk given by Margaret Bateson-Hill. This was very interesting as Margaret normally writes for much younger children, but her work in progress is a novel aimed at younger teens. Here’s a little bit about the forthcoming book: ‘Tears for a Bluebird’ explores a young carer’s (Sam) mixed emotions about his parents and the impact that has on his own life by letting him escape to the fantasy world of Golden Sands, made from the lost and forgotten debris that has fallen through the cracks of our world. The seemingly wonderful world of Golden Sands slowly turns threatening and demanding and why do the Guardians want his tears? To overcome them Sam needs to discover his own inner strengths and in doing so come to terms with his own deepest hopes and fears.’
It was fascinating to hear how Margaret was putting this book together, she showed us her sketchbooks and mind maps and how she had drawn inspiration from various museums and galleries. We had an interesting discussion during the session on how books, particularly fantasy books can take you away from your worries and the actual act of reading can make you feel much calmer and relaxed.
-“It was my first author talk, so it was good to hear about her process.”
-“Very interesting and informative about the new book. I really enjoyed it.”
Petts Wood Library were delighted to be given the opportunity to host the SPINE Festival – it was a rewarding, inspiring and positive experience for the young people who came along to the events, the Petts Wood team and myself. I’m very grateful to Apples and Snakes for their great resources and their advice and expertise on running a festival.
The importance of networking and building partnerships was in evidence at the first "cross border" Calderdale/Kirklees secondary schools network meeting earlier this week. Hosted by Calderdale Libraries, this gave delegates the opportunity for a tour of Halifax Library, which opened its doors in 2017. In addition to staff from Calderdale Libraries and SLS, delegates included librarians from Kirklees Libraries and Gillian Bennet, Subject Librarian at Kirklees College, who gave a presentation on the new Level 3 Apprenticeship in Library Information and Archive Services. The new apprenticeship will be rolled out at the college in September 2019. The 18-month course reflects the nature of a profession which is changing; in part, as an anticipated 45% of the workforce is due to retire in the next decade. The apprenticeship has already attracted attention and enquiries from local authorities across the country, in addition to the MOD and Bodleian Library. Secondary school librarians also had the chance to share good practice and to hear more about Kirklees Libraries' project work in the areas of mental health and well-being and early intervention for pupils at risk of exclusion. I was pleased to update everyone on the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, as the 2019 shortlists will be announced on 19th March. The meeting was so productive that we are aiming for another joint network meeting in the summer term at the new Springfield Sixth Form Centre (one of Kirklees College's six centres), Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
World Book Day has come and gone and it was yet another successful Kirklees World Book Day Quiz event at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday afternoon. A total of 32 teams participated in the 7th edition of this annual celebration of reading for pleasure. The 20-strong reading list featured fiction, poetry, non-fiction, picture books and novellas and the 2019 trophy was eventually awarded to the team from Birkby Junior School...for the fifth successive year! Teams from Colne Valley High School and King James' School finished in second and third place, respectively, with a tense tie-break for third place. Pupils from Heckmondwike Primary School and Crowlees CE Junior and Infant School narrowly missed out but gave very strong performances. The ongoing success of the annual quiz is a testament to the hard work and commitment of booksplus, Kirklees' schools library service, who organise and promote the event. They continue to deliver an invaluable service to local schools despite the challenges faced by SLSs across the country. The quiz also underlines the importance of reading for pleasure, that children are still reading; they enjoy and appreciate the power of a good story and deserve access to a high-quality, diverse range of books.
The Children's Book Awards run by the Federation of Children's Book Groups and the only National awards where the judging is done entirely by children, have announced their shortlists. We congratulate all authors and illustrators on the lists.
Books for Younger Children
MIXED, written and illustrated by Arree Chung, published by Macmillan Children’s Books The Last Chip: The Story of a Very Hungry Pigeon, written and illustrated by Duncan Beedie, published by Templar The Wondrous Dinosaurium, written by John Condon and illustrated by Steve Brown, published by Maverick What Do You Do if Your house is a Zoo, written by John Kelly and illustrated by Steph Laberis, published by Little Tiger Press
Books for Younger Readers
Funny Kid Stand Up, written and illustrated by Matt Stanton, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books Mr Penguin and The Fortress of Secrets, written and illustrated by Alex T Smith, published by Hodder Children’s Books The Dog Who Lost His Bark, written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by PJ Lynch, published by Walker Books
Books for Older Readers
Armistice Runner, written by Tom Palmer, published by Barrington Stoke The Light Jar, written by Lisa Thompson, published by Scholastic The Storm Keeper’s Island, written by Catherine Doyle, published by Bloomsbury
Vote online here - http://www.childrensbookaward.org.uk/
Sarah Stuffins, Children’s Book Award Coordinator says ‘Last year saw the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ 50th year, and more children than ever engaging with the Children’s Book Award. This year’s shortlist really does have something for everything and shows the incredible breadth of talent in the children’s book world. We are in a golden age of children’s publishing - something to be celebrated - and access to books has never been more important. We congratulate all our Top Ten authors and can’t wait to find out who is the children’s choice this year. We’re thrilled to have BookLife on board again this year as our sponsors – many thanks to them and all the publishers who submit books for their support of the award.’