Wonderful Wednesday Reads!

mobile display sept 14A few weeks into the new term and we’re excited to be back in the swing of things- projects have been sent and our mobile has had its first full week of school visits. Before heading back out across the county, though, it was given a post-summer makeover inside.

If you or your pupils have the chance to pop onboard during a visit this term, make sure you add a note to our current interactive display! We’d love to know your favourite book or even what you’re enjoying at the moment.

With that in mind (a seemless segue indeed!), here is this week’s edition of What we’re reading Wednesday!

Apryl: A friend of mine gave me a copy of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay sometime last year and it had been sitting on my shelf until a recent trip to the cinema where I saw a trailer for the new film adaptation. This caused me to pick it up and finally give it a read; while I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed by it, I did think it was an incredibly interesting concept for a book and I very much liked that it was set in the Pacific North-West of the United States: any book which references my favourite city in North America (Portland, Oregon) earns a few brownie points with me!

Gail: I have just started The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett and have been immediately drawn in by the rich writing and rounded characters. Set in WW2, it also weaves in a  ghost story from the Plantagenet period. Would be suitable for Y6’s

Harriet: Global Kids, published by Big & Small, is a series of stories written originally in Korean, each set in a different – so far Asian – country, and suitable for upper KS1/lower KS2.  They have all been translated by Joy Cowley, but the original authors and illustrators are all different. They offer an interesting and attractive addition to our books reflecting global dimensions.  Each starts with an illustrated story, usually about customs and incorporating indigenous vocabulary which are explained in  brief notes at the bottom of the page.  Further expanded notes, photographs and a map come after the story.  Countries published so far include Mongolia and Vietnam. Those in the series I’ve enjoyed so far include Where the Winds Meet and Dad’s Favourite Cookie. 

Kirsten: I am lucky enough to have had a week in the sun and spent it catching up with recommendations…

I read Goose by Dawn O’Porter as a library E book that I downloaded on my smart phone…  it was so easy to do – why  haven’t I done it before?! Perfect for reading while travelling.. if a bit tear-jerking in parts…it certainly took my mind off lifting off and landing! This sequel is just as full of the mix of light hearted cultural ‘coming of age’ references and tragedy that the first book Paper Aeroplanes has…. the consequences of ill thought out actions are about as bad as they can get…  Although it is Teen / YA there are sexual references meaning it is unlikely to be suitable for younger teens but it’s not erotic or ‘sexy’… more frank and informatively cautionary.

Holiday ‘reading’ also included an E audio book from the library – downloaded to my phone (again – so easy!) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is simply delightful – the subtle sound effects in the audio book bring the story of an orphan in 1930s Paris to life as the illustrations do for the book.

I have also nearly finished Gone Girl – I am relishing the whiplash inducing twists and turns of the plot, and looking forward to seeing the film adaptation due out on the 3rd October – not long to wait! I do love a good bit of crime fiction and this is a full on page turner.. depending on the Age Rating of the film this may boost it’s popularity even more with young people. 

Mandy:  Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner; I know that summer is over (boo) but we may get a few more trips to the beach and here is a great book to share with your KS1 children. Each spread is cleverly designed to reveal  creatures hiding in the rock pool, shell or under the sand, but only when you hold the page up to the light or shine a light through the page. The engaging illustrations conceal the creature without looking empty, and the text is very simple but lively.

All past Wednesday read posts can be found here.


Book Trolley Birthday!

Last year, on 20th August, a wonderful thing happened…our blog was born! They say that time flies when you’re having fun and it’s definitely true- we didn’t realise that a whole year had passed (which is why we’re celebrating this momentous occasion 1 year and 1 month later…)

august 2013

In the last year we have shared with you 74 individual blog posts (this is the 75th!) and we’ve had 1,948 views- perhaps not much to some, but we are SO pleased! It’s lovely to know that out there across the world wide web people are interested in what our team here in Norfolk have to say- from news to reviews, to our thoughts on book awards and other literary events. We’ve also had real success with our sister blog used by one of our school clusters; the Methwold Reading Group have been sharing their work and have really enjoyed the interaction with Authors that the blog has allowed:


Looking ahead to the next 12 months and we have new exciting things planned- in a few weeks time we’re hosting a workshop specifically about blogging in which we hope to use everything we’ve learnt to show schools how great blogging is and how valuable it can be when used in a school setting. There might still be places, so if you’re interested then get in touch!

In the mean time, we’d like to thank every single person who has read what we have to say, anyone who has followed, commented, linked or tweeted about our posts. You are brilliant and we hope you’ll stick around for another year. Also important- we’ve given the blog a little tiny makeover in the last few weeks…had you noticed that the photo at the top of the page had changed? If the answer is no, then definitely take a peek!

Other things we’d like to draw your attention to while we’re in the celebratory mood: the latest editions of our newsletters are now available online (Bookbites here and HighLights here) and you can also find the current list of INSET courses we’re offering for the Autumn term- there’s lots to choose from so why not take a look and book a place?

Here’s to 12 more months, maybe another 70+ posts, and lots of other adventures in between!


Hello September!

Well, somehow it’s September- the summer holidays are officially over and don’t we know it; we’ve been inundated with project loan requests in the last few days which is a definite sign that teachers are back in and looking toward the new term and the new curriculum. We’ve had the usual mix of interesting topics, but we’ve noticed how the new curriculum has taken hold- we’ve issued more stone age, iron age and bronze age projects than ever!

Though lots of our time recently has been occupied with “new year” work, we have found a little bit time to read a few books, so here is our What we’re reading Wednesday recap…

Apryl:  Much hyped on twitter and in the blogosphere, We Were Liars by E.L. Lockhart was a book I’d been waiting to read for months. I’d missed out on Hot Key Books official readalong (absolutely brilliant idea) but at 9am on a soggy sunday I finally sat down to read it and by 1.30pm I was done! WHAT A READ!! I’d been really worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations but I was really impressed- a story full of suspense, intrigue and twists I didn’t see coming, and full characters I immediately fell in love with. Definitely worth a look and definitely worth inclusion on the longlist for the guardian children’s fiction prize, which was announced in July.

Caroline: I recently read Heather Butler’s moving Us Minus Mum, a story of two young brothers dealing with the loss of their Mum. The story was lovely and sensitively deals with a very difficult subject.

Gail: I am reading The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M Valente. The third in a fairytale fantasy series, and best for capable girl readers! The prose is a delicious feast of unusual vocabulary and long sentences with an old-fashioned feel. I’m enjoying it but it does make the narrative slowgoing and would probably deter some readers.

Harriet: Bone Jack by Sara Crowe- I have just finished, and cried over, this most exciting, atmospheric and haunting novel.  It is the story of the frailty of humans, and how when sometimes the tragedies of life become too much for one person to bear there are terrible repercussions for their families and the people who love them.  A major character of this book is the landscape: the rugged mountains and valleys of Wales, and the ghosts and traditions which are as old as that landscape.  It is a story of broken friendship and grief, yet there is still plenty of humour, and the mundanity of everyday life keeps it from feeling too fey and artificial.  One for lovers of Alan Garner, perhaps, and anyone who enjoys an exciting adventure with an element of the supernatural, but made really compelling because the heroes are likeable young people struggling to understand the fallibilities of relationships and the adults who are supposed to protect them.

Mandy: Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field- A certain 3 year old I know very well, and her dad, loved this book! The endpapers alone, covered in delightful frogs, are enough to sell this book to me. It celebrates language and rhyme and will support your reception class and Y1 with phonics while making them giggle – just what DO dogs sit on??

Read anything good lately? Why not let us know! You can also find the archive of our past wednesday reads here.


Song of Myshelf…

The title of today’s post (thank you Walt Whitman for the pun inspiration!) might alert you to the poetic theme of the post- today we’re sharing our third team shelfie (the first two can be seen here) which comes courtesy of another of our SLS Librarians, Gail. She writes:

We moved to a smaller house a year ago and, unfortunately, our books don’t all fit in. Many of them are still in our attic; we’re having an extension built, partly to have the books around us again! This ‘shelfie’ shows our poetry books which we do need to have at hand as we attend a poetry night once a month. This poetry evening is a lovely chance to share favourite poems around a theme and even try our hand at writing our own.

gail Shelfie



Marvellous Microbes

tinyBooks about microbes are usually illustrated with amazing photographs of a miniscule world.  This book for younger readers takes a different approach, with simple descriptions of what microbes are and very beautiful illustrations to accompany the text.  Here’s another title which it would be nice to see on the School Library Association Information Book Award list – it’s yummy.


Tiny: the Invisible World of Microbes by Nicola Davies and illustrated by  Emily Sutton (Walker, £11.99, 9781406341041)


Splendid summer of literally literary festival festivities!

It’s fair to say that this summer our team have been out and about all over the place, but we’ve not just been on our holidays, oh no – we’ve managed to attend and work at some brilliant Literary Festivals too! Kirsten has been the busiest of us all and she’s written a brilliant recap below…

“I am such a happy bunny! Without even having to travel too far I have had a summer full of authors and books in the most lovely festival settings imaginable, and have added to my treasured collection of books signed by authors I love!

Do I have favourites? Of course (you know who you are)! To be fair to all authors and festivals, the top highlights below are in chronological order – with the most recent first… Did you miss them? WOW you missed out! Don’t let it happen again!

Voewood Festival (15-17th August)- In the most magnificent Arts and Crafts house and garden imaginable I had a weekend of wonderful and intimate experiences with authors and their books…

KF and PAPhilip Ardagh simply MUST come back to Norfolk soon! All our children need to be entertained by him and his beatific beard! Also, so lucky to have as Norfolk residents the talented, 2014 Baileys Prize winning and inspiring beyond words Eimear McBride and the most consummate of interviewers – Chris Gribble of the Writers Centre Norwich… thanks to Norwich independent publishers Galley Beggar Press for believing in the book! The delightful children’s books and art works of local illustrator and artist Lucy Loveheart brought EVEN more magical glitter and sparkle to the whole weekend… and I have to mention Jodi Ann Bickley too – http://onemillionlovelyletters.com/ – she is a new talent and if she has her way the whole world will be lifted and comforted by lovely letters. This adorable young woman is one to watch and is looking for volunteers to help her write letters and raise money for the stamp fund! Help if you can!  (picture courtesy of Philip Ardagh himself!)

Latitude (16th-19th July)- Michael Rosen shared Chocolate Cake with a huge audience! Also the verbally virtuosic Luke Wright was hugely entertaining to all age audiences in the Poetry tent… and comedian, political activist and author Mark Thomas is my enduring programme anchor every year he has been at Latitude… “whatever else is on at the same time – I HAVE to see Mark Thomas” … if he is not there next year I will be devastated!

Norwich Children’s Book Festival (2nd July) (and not just because I closed it, which was an honour!) Thanks to all at Norwich School who arranged it and entertained us – Marcus Sedgwick, Paul Dowswell, Cathy Macphail and Simon Mayo! What a treat! it was such a thrill to talk with students from 24 schools about how much they were enjoying the day too! See Apryl’s mention about the day here.

UEA Festival of Literature For Young People (23rd-27th June)- hard to know how to summarise with such a packed programme of wonderful authors working directly with young people… but our Norfolk SLS Author In Residence, Dee Shulman was fantastic (and is still available to book to work in any school in Norfolk!). Also, I was delighted to be of service to the splendidly fabulous Sally Gardner, when dinner, lunch AND a spot of shoe shopping in Norwich was needed! Her CILIP Carnegie Medal winning book Maggot Moon was my ABSOLUTE standout children’s book last year.

The Autumn is looking promising too – with a selection of delightful and accommodating authors who will be at our Norfolk leg of the International Kids Lit Quiz (we take schools from neighbouring authorities too). And a conference in the planning including authors, books, children and lots of engaging workshops… watch this space!”

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Summer Holiday Wednesday Reads

Well, the Summer holidays soon crept up on us quickly- yikes! We’re three weeks in already and though our phones have been quiet, we’ve been catching up with our usual holiday jobs:  selecting books for projects, cataloguing lovely new books, weeding our stock, preparing for the autumn term, and of course, the thing we like to do the most- reading books!

So in the interest of getting back to our lengthy to-do lists, here is What we’re reading Wednesday!

Apryl: I caught up with lots of my ‘grown up’ to-read pile on my recent (honeymoon) adventure to the US, though I did buy several titles from the many brilliant bookshops I visited on my travels, even if my suitcase wasn’t best pleased with how much I tried to pack in it. Many of those I brought back with me were Newbery Medal winning or honored title books (the US equivalent of the Carnegie)- from the 2002 list, I’ve just started Polly Horvath’s Everything on a Waffle about a girl named Primrose whose parents disappear in a typhoon, leaving her to find comfort in a local diner.

Harriet: The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald. Aaah!  a story as warm as freshly baked apple tart – which is the point of course.  It is a tale of first love, misunderstandings, and devious and manipulative people who act selfishly out of envy and a need for power.  The theme is dark, opening on the funeral of a 14 year old boy who is thought to have committed suicide – except there is no body.  The scene is described by Meg, who continues to narrate some of the chapters, while for the rest we hear the boy Oscar’s voice.  Slightly reminiscent of Anne Fine’s The Tulip Touch, it will be enjoyed by KS3 readers.

Kirsten: The Grunts in Trouble by Philip Ardagh and A Girl is A Half Formed Thing – by Eimear McBride… reading both at the same time – and hugely enjoyed both their sessions at the Voewood Festival this weekend!

Mandy: Animal Opposites by Petr Horecek caught my eye this week. I love the vibrant colour used by this illustrator. His opposites are unusual: Heavy Hippo, Light Butterfly. His kangaroo positively bounds across the page and the page folds hide the surprise. Use this in your nursery and reception classes. It will be a good Maths Café book for KS1 too!

An archive of our wednesday reads can be found here.


Let’s all read ALOUD!

Summer holidays allow for lovely leisure time to listen to the radio, and this morning’s Fry’s English Delight caught my ear, as the theme was Reading Aloud.   If you didn’t hear it, do listen on BBC iplayer as it was fascinating, nostalgic (though most of us are probably a bit too old to remember Listen With Mother?) and instructive.  The programme featured The Reader Organisation, a charity based in Liverpool which encourages groups of people, including looked after children, to read aloud together, which they have found has benefits one might not expect, of encouraging self esteem, confidence and well-being.

A special anthology has been edited by Angela Macmillan called ‘A Little, Aloud For Children’ which is a collection of timed fiction and poetry.  See http://www.thereader.org.uk

And of course essential listening on a long car journey is Martin Jarvis, master of voices, reading Just William – hilarious.

a little aloud

just william

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Who’s left in the office this wednesday?

There aren’t many of us in the office at the moment, so this fortnight’s reading update is thinner than usual – the others are on the beach catching up with some good books – watch this space!  However, a couple of us are here, so- What we’re reading (this) wednesday:

Kirsten: Phoenix by S.F. Said- Beautifully illustrated (by Dave McKean).  Imaginative Sci-fi tale that weaves strong messages about friendship, integrity, loyalty, love and courage.  Absorbing and uplifting!

Harriet:  go to sleepThe evenings are still light, it’s the holidays and you are wanting a night out – but how will the babysitter cope?  The one in this book has the answer to any troublesome children resisting going to sleep.  It is great fun and has an hilarious twist at the end.

Steve Cole and Bruce Ingman- Go To Sleep Or I Let Loose the Leopard  

I’ve also just finished my first Jonathan Stroud (yes, high time…), and would strongly recommend The Screaming Staircase to year 7s and above.  It’s  packed full of ghosts, as the whole country has become ‘infested’ with them, and because young people are the most aware of their presence, it is often young people who have to deal with and destroy them – or be destroyed themselves in the process.  So this is a very tense and exciting read, but with funny and even farcical moments as well to lighten the mood.  Lockwood & Co. are the young investigators who will no doubt feature in a further ghostly adventure.

Mandy: Wreckers by Julie Hearn.  Not finished yet, but it is an interesting mix of Cornish mystery with Greek and Roman mythology.

For past editions of what we’re reading wednesday, click here.

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A cautionary tale for every child – and teenager

Are you a fan of Tadpole’s Promise?  If so you will love this latest picture book from the same brilliant pair, Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross.  I can really say no more; it would give the game away, but this chicken is at least as foolish as its early relation in Chicken Licken (this title has echoes, does it not!).  Every child should read this, chicken clickingand beware!

Chicken Clicking by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, Andersen Press,11.99, 9781783440528


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