Information in November

November is the month in which UK books celebrate ‘Non-fiction November’ which is sponsored by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.  It is brilliant to see the resurgence of interest in this area and also the development of some truly excellent  publishers, bringing new ways of presenting information to young readers.


“Frida Kahlo” by Lucy Brownridge and Sandra Dieckmann is a wonderful  evocation of the artist’s life and art, aimed at younger children.  I have loved her work for a long time, but seeing the exhibition about her life at the V&A in 2018 really brought home how amazing she was.  This book  mentions her health issues but does not go in to tremendous detail, rather it focuses on her development as an artist and the influence she has had outside Mexico.  Sandra Dieckmann has done a tremendous job with the illustrations, bringing her own touches to the work whilst also paying ‘homage’ to Kahlo’s own style.  This will make a tremendous addition to any primary school.

“I’m not (very) afraid of the Dark” by Anna Milbourne and Daniel Rieley is a delightful look at coping with a fear of the dark.  The young hero  finds that he is a ‘bit’ afraid of the dark because of the shadows and various sounds that he cannot identify.  So when his father takes him on an overnight camping trip he is really worried by the idea of the dark.  However he has a revelation when it is truly dark; for it is then that he can really see all the stars in the night sky.  This is a story of finding the beautiful and positive in something that we are not sure about and it is great for young readers.  There are lovely illustrations and a really imaginative use of cutouts in many of the pages, which brings everything to life.

“The Usborne book of Night time” by Usborne and Bonnie Pang  is aimed at younger children, perhaps up to lower KS2.  It takes the concept of night and then gives us a double page spread to look at the various elements that make up the night.  There are factories and cities, the sea and the sky, nocturnal animals, northern lights and different parts of the world; all of these are working while we are sleeping.  This is a great introduction to understanding our world and can lead on to some really fascinating discoveries for the young readers.

“Apes to Zebras” by Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens is a collection of poetry, but importantly it is an A-Z of shape poetry.  I think most of us find writing poetry quite challenging, so to find that these poets have created stunning work and all in the shape of various animals is quite amazing.  The layout of the book and the simple use of colour really helps the words and shapes stand out but it is the imagination of the writers that really makes this book so stunning.

“Boy oh Boy” by Cliff Leek and Bene Rohlmann  is a look at 30  men, both living and dead, who have had an impact on the way that we look at men and our expectations of them. Many of these people are household names, but others have not made headlines outside their immediate areas, yet they have had an effect on the way that people think and behave and they have even changed the laws of the land.  These people are from around the world and from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, which shows that everyone has the potential to be great.  The illustrations are very bright and strong and are somewhat 1950s in style, making the work stand out from others.  After so many books about strong females recently it is good to see a book that looks at broadening the range of biographies.

“The book of Big Science Ideas” by Freya Hardy and Sara Mulvanney  is an introduction to many different concepts that we find in science.  The book is divided into different subject areas and gives us a double page spread of ‘big thinkers’ in that area and then it looks at the development of our knowledge.  Subjects covered vary from the periodic table, animal classification, and astronomy to computers, big data, and renewable energy.  Whilst this does not have an index it does have a good glossary which will help the readers understand the new terms thy come across.

I am looking forward to investigating some more new information books when I make a visit to Peters booksellers next week. I am sure that I will see some wonderful books and hope to tell everyone about them very soon.

Saying farewell to formal work?

2014-03-27 15.10.17This last week has been somewhat eventful for me.  With the closure of School Library Service in Bristol I have taken redundancy and am looking forward to the opportunities and time that this will give me.  I think it will take a while for me to get used to it, even though I have had periods out of work before, courtesy of a service life.

I was determined to go out with a bang not a whimper, so I organized a “Meet the Author” session for teachers and librarians and my wonderful writing colleagues did not let me down.  There were more than 20 authors and illustrators, ranging from old friends such as Chris Fisher, Anna Wilson, Hannah Shaw, Tracy Alexander  and John Dougherty,  to new friends Sam Gayton, Cecilia Busby,  and Paula Bowles.  The wonderful Jim Carrington traveled all the way from London whilst  other Bath Spa graduates came by the car load, including Julia Green, Sarah Benwell, Wendy Meddour, Alison Rattle,  Che Golden and Di Toft.  Poetry was represented by Liz Brownlee and new authors were represented by Kathryn Alton, Rachel Carter, Bernie Howley, Sandra Greaves and Huw Powell.

This was a fantastic opportunity for teachers and librarians to meet and talk to the authors and perhaps arrange for visits to schools.  John Dougherty also spoke about the “Patrons of Reading” scheme and hopefully this will help extend the work they do.  Perhaps the word most associated with the day was ‘cake’ and hopefully we sent all our guest home full of good food.  It made a fantastic end to the ‘official’ working schedule, but hopefully I will still be working with these wonderful people in the future.2014-03-26 13.49.31 2014-03-26 13.51.05 2014-03-26 13.51.09 2014-03-26 13.51.36 2014-03-26 14.01.10 2014-03-26 14.01.17 2014-03-26 22.10.58