Brilliant Bath

I cannot believe that we have now finished the festival for this year.  Many thanks to all the people I had the pleasure of working with and especially to David Almond who was artistic director for the second year.  Next year we will be back in the very safe hands of John and Gill McLay, who founded the festival and were responsible for the impact it has had on children’s literature events in this country.  I was only able to help out for the first weekend as we were away on holiday for week two, however I still met up with some old friends, made some new friends and heard some fantastic sessions.

Miffy in Bath

Miffy in Bath

Perhaps the high spot was seeing the effort that people went to in making the Miffy event such a success.  Congratulations to Kelley Townley for her patience with the costume that was so heavy and hot – what a star she is.  I also had the pleasure of stewarding on the first night of the festival and saw Andy Stanton hosting a book quiz ( I did not totally disgrace myself with my knowledge, but some of the children were amazing) and then saw a panel discussion about the future of teaching.  Of course this was followed by the launch party at Waterstones and a real opportunity to catch up with the many friends I have made over the years.

Andy Stanton, a quiet moment!

Andy Stanton,
a quiet moment!

Saturday I had a day off, but on Sunday I was in Bath for the Miffy event and also a session by Thomas Williams, who was one of the curators of the “Vikings” exhibition at the British Museum, as he talked about his book concerning the life and death of King Harald of Norway. The only thing I had known about this king before is that he was defeated by our King Harold, who then went on to be killed at the battle of Hastings.




Monday saw me back at the Guildhall where Michael Rosen  spoke to several hundred children, all in his own inimitable style.  I then stayed on to hear the lovely Michaela Morgan talking about the two books she has written about Walter Tull (I hope to mention these in a special blog about WWI titles later this year.

with Michael Rosen

with Michael Rosen


with Michaela Morgan

with Michaela Morgan




I had hoped to go to the School Library Association Information Book Award on the Tuesday evening, but having been to the local Centurion Book Award ceremony in the morning (to receive the award on behalf of David Walliams) I really was beginning to run out of steam.


Martin Veal, Chair of B&NES council

Martin Veal,
Chair of B&NES council


I know that there were some great sessions later in the week, especially for teens and I know everyone had a great time.  I am sure that the team are already beavering away to create the programme for next year and they will have us stewards queueing up to help as it is such as friendly and enthusiastic event, with the most amazing yet down to earth writers and artists taking part.  I love this festival.

Nosy Crow conference


Saturday 13th September turned out to be a very long and tiring day for a variety of reasons, including the long delay at Westbury in Wiltshire while the police were called to escort several drunken men off the train, thankfully not in my carriage. However it was all worth it – I had a really great day at the second “Nosy Crow Conference”, so thank you Kate Wilson and Dom Kingston in particular for such an informative and inspiring day.


It was an event mainly aimed at those outside the field 2014-09-13 10.18.56of publishing  and a high percentage of the audience appeared to be aspiring authors and illustrators. The programme consisted of sessions about picture books, the process of getting your first book to publication, the bookseller perspective, social media and the work of the Agent.  We were also treated to sessions by Helen Peters, Tracey Corderoy and Jeff Norton; they are all relative newcomers as authors but gave tremendous insight into their work.



I still have to work my way through all the notes I took yesterday but there was such a great deal of information and I hope that it will be of use.  I particularly liked the session by Tracey about how an author should think about the sessions they do in schools, libraries etc.  I have always worked from the other viewpoint, which is how a school should treat their authors.

If you get the opportunity to go to the next conference (and I hope there will be one in 2015)  it is of interest not just to budding authors and illustrators but also to those of us who work with publishers and the artists.  It really does give an insight in to the issues they face, and how we as librarians can help and support our colleagues in publishing.

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Kate Wilson



Young and Fun books

I thought it was time for another round up of some beautiful and fun picture books that I have received over the last few months. The first of these is

Specs for Rex by Yasmeen Ismail

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Bloomsbury, 9781408836972

A really great story for all children, but especially for those who have something that makes them different from those around them.  This is the story of Rex, who needs glasses but hates to wear them as it makes him different.  He tries all sorts of ways to hide his specs, but then they help him find something that his teacher is lost and he is made to feel good.  The illustrations are vivid and full of energy; they use watercolours and have that naivety which we associate with the work of young people, but of course there is an underlying skill and complexity which really brings the illustrations alive.  This is one of those special books that hopefully will become a classic for the future.

The Dawn Chorus by  Suzanne Baron

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I really loved this charming story about a young bird called Peep.  One day he wakes to hear other birds singing and he is invited to join them in the Dawn Chorus, but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot wake up in time.  It is only when he meets another bird like himself that all is explained – he is a Nightingale and they are meant to sing in the evening.  Beautiful illustrations make this great for telling to young children and the message about having individual gifts and skills is subtly woven into the story.


Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

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This is the latest from the award winning illustrator Catherine Rayner.  It is the story of Louie and his endeavours to rid himself of the smell of roses and apple blossom, after his owner has given him a bath.  As always this is produced in the author’s distinctive style, which fits so well with the plot of the book.  It reminds me of earlier favourites on a similar theme, including the What-a-Mess  stories of Frank Muir and the tales of  Harry the dirty dog by Gene Zion.  I particularly love the touches of gold on the cover of the book, very luxurious.




The Flying Bath by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts

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It is always great to have a new book from the prolific and very popular Julia Donaldson, but when the illustrations are by the lovely David Roberts then you know you are in for a treat.  This is the tale of how the bath toys spend their day, travelling around the world in a magical flying bath tub and saving a variety of creatures.  The book is full of colour and action, and I love the multicoloured wings of the bath tub; is this a slight ‘homage’ to Elmer perhaps?




Snow by Walter de la Mare, illustrated by Carolina Rabei

This really is a beautiful evocation of a winter that we all hold in our imaginations, even though the reality is so different for many of us.  The poem is by one of the best known children’s poets of the early 20th century, and his stories for children won the Carnegie medal in 1947.  The illustrator has taken a very short work and really added to it with her simple colour palette and a quite retro 1950s feel to the background.  I can never have enough books about winter and Christmas and this is one to keep and read again every year as part of the build up to Christmas, just like the Muppet Christmas carol on DVD.

Faber and faber, 9780571312191

Faber and faber,

Frances Lincoln, 9781847804327

Frances Lincoln,









How the Library (NOT the Prince) saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown

For those of us who have been involved with libraries for most of their working lives it is wonderful to see the support that we are getting in this time of hardship and with this book Wendy really sings the praises of the library and what it can do to to widen our horizons.  This is a picture book, so it is aimed at young readers in a way that they can appreciate; the text is in rhyme and the illustrations are bright and vibrant .  It is full of energy and the humour that I have come to expect from Wendy’s work, having read some of the Wendy Quill books in the past.

Made by Raffi,   by  Craig Pomranz and Margaret Chamberlaimn

there seems to have been an increase in the number of books showing ‘diversity’ in its many forms and I have noted several about sewing and knitting particularly with boys as the main characters.  For older children there is Boys don’t knit by T.S  Easton and for younger readers we have this book .  It is about a young boy, Raffi, who enjoys sewing and knitting, but feels he has to keep it secret in order to avoid the teasing and bullying which could ensue from such un-boyish hobbies.  it is a bright cheerful affirmation of wanting to be yourself and not just following the crowd.

Frances Lincoln, 9781847804334

Frances Lincoln,