Chinese New Year!

恭喜发财 or, in English, Happy Chinese New Year!

Today we say farewell to the Year of the Horse and hello to the Year of the Goat as China begins their New Year celebrations. What follows will be fifteen days of celebrating, finishing with the Lantern Festival to be held on March 5th.  The date of China’s biggest festival varies from year to year as it is dictated by the lunar calendar; for example last year, celebrations took place on 31st January.

In honor of the festivities, we’ve selected a few of our favourite China-themed books which you can see below!

chinese new year

  • ‘Chopsticks’ by Jon Berkley
  • ‘Spilled Water’ by Sally Grindley
  • ‘The Firework-Maker’s Daughter’ by Philip Pullman
  • ‘The Kite Rider’ by Geraldine McCaughrean
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KS2 Fiction Discussion- Autumn Term

This post comes a little late, but we’ll blame our pre & post-christmas busyness for the delay! As well as our group based in Fakenham, the autumn term saw the introduction of a new Reading for Pleasure group based in Norwich, which we were very excited about.

Led by one of our Librarians, Harriet, our inaugural meeting of the Norwich KS2 Reading 4 Pleasure Group (adults) was held at West Earlham Junior School, and was very entertaining and enjoyable- thanks to our hosts and all the participants for an excellent afternoon.  As well as the titles below, we had general book chat and discussed how schools share the books; for example, West Earlham tantalised with reading a chapter aloud then loaning out the books; while Valley kept the books in the classroom and children could borrow.

Norwich FDG

Tall Tales from Pitch End by Nigel McDowell

  • Very much top end of KS2, probably better for KS3
  • Quite hard going with long and complicated plot
  • Lots of interesting ideas but maybe wouldn’t be understood by children
  • Too dark

Fright Forest (Elf Girl and Raven Boy series) by Marcus Sedgwick

  • Children are really enjoying it
  • Good banter between the characters
  • Perfect for years 5 & 6 – more please!

Poems to Perform edited by Julia Donaldson

  • Good mix of old and new
  • Good variety including some previously unknown
  • Nice hints on how to be performed and website to support (useful resource!)
  • Cover a bit old fashioned and unappealing to children
  • Good for dipping into

The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon by Jonny Duddle

  • Very popular!
  • Useful that it is part of a series
  • Good for the whole of KS2
  • Short chapters and good illustrations
  • Good for reading aloud the pirate voices!
  • Informative glossary
  • Kenzie thought: “it was interesting and funny at the beginning.  It was funny in the middle.  It was interesting and at the end it was exciting”

Boy in Tights by Kate Scott

  • Good for discussion about stereotyping – good for diversity
  • Very pacey and exciting
  • Boys really enjoyed it once they got past the dress!
  • Kenzie would recommend this because “it was a good story; it was funny and weird”

Our Fakenham Reading For Pleasure group also met last term and discussed the titles below.

Fakenham FDG

Weasels by Elys Dolan

  • Enjoyed by pupils, who loved the illustrations.
  • Read aloud well to a small class

Sally Frere-Smith from Great Massingham Primary provided us with a brilliant review produced by some of her pupils!

Weasels review

Monkey and Me by David Gilman (NB. this is currently on Carnegie longlist!)

  • Interesting concept and good for Year 6, maybe not Year 5.
  • Dylan said: “it was funny because I liked the monkey.  He’s a cheeky one.”

The Eye of the Wolf by Daniel Pennac

  • Intriguing
  • Can feel for both characters
  • Enjoyed it.

What Are We Fighting For? edited by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens

  • Poems about war
  • Good collection
  • Empathy
  • Good to support scheme of work for KS2

SuperCat vs the Chip Thief by Jeanne Willis

  • Charlotte: “It was awesome”
  • Tegan: “It was a bit boring”
  • Better for younger KS2 and less able readers
  • Painful jokes

Previous fiction discussion entries cane be found here.

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Peters Book of the Year 2015- the shortlists

pbotyReaders of this blog may recall that last year we held a picture book party in honor of the 2014 Peters Book of the Year. If you don’t remember seeing us mention it, you can read our write-up here; as you can see, much fun was had by all!

Peters are the largest specialist seller of children’s books to libraries and schools across the country and their annual award is broken into three categories: picture book, junior fiction and teen fiction. The shortlists for 2015 were announced before Christmas and we were pleased to see that many of our favourite books from last year had made the cut! Full lists are below:

Picture Books

  • Quest by Aaron Becker
  • Meet the Parents by Peter Bently, illustrated by Sarah Ogilvie
  • Those Magnificent Sheep in their Flying Machine by Peter Bently, illustrated by David Roberts
  • The New Small Person by Lauren Child
  • Snow Day by Richard Curtis, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
  • Nuts in Space by Elys Dolan
  • Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble by Tatyana Feeney
  • Oi Frog! by Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field
  • Rex by Simon James
  • Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

Junior Fiction

  • The Ransom of Dond by Siobhan Dowd
  • Brilliant by Roddy Doyle
  • A Room Full of Chocolate by Jane Elson
  • Von Doogan and the Curse of the Golden Monkey by Lorenzo Etherington
  • The Imaginary by A F Harrold
  • Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen
  • Harvey Drew and the Bin Men from Outer Space by Cas Lester, illustrated by Sam Hearn
  • The Tin Snail by Cameron McAllister, illustrated by Sam Usher
  • Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve, illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
  • The Wrong Side of the Galaxy by Jamie Thomson, illustrated by Jamie Lenman

Teen Fiction

  • A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
  • I Predict a Riot by Catherine Bruton
  • Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman
  • When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan
  • Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  • Boys Don’t Knit by T S Easton
  • The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee
  • Trouble by Non Pratt
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

You can make your choices online now and voting is open until 20th March. If your school decides to get involved in the voting fun (and we suggest you do!) Peters have provided lots of resources online to support you, which can be found here.

If you’re local to Norfolk, you can vote for the award in person in the children’s library at the Norfolk and Norwich Millenium Library and those who do will automatically be entered into a free prize draw to win a copy of the shortlisted titles!

More information about the award can be found on the official book award website here.

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CILIP Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenaway Prize Longlists 2015

It seems like such a long time ago now, but back in October we got very excited when the nominations for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards were announced. The lists themselves at this point were incredibly lengthy- as the official press release described; ‘All nominations published have been checked and verified for their eligibility and have received at least one nomination from a CILIP member’. 

Initially, 91 titles were suggested for the Carnegie and 71 were put forward for the Greenaway, however yesterday morning came the announcement of the longlists which you can see below. They’re both a varied bunch and we’re eager to see which books make the shortlists, which will both be announced in a month’s time on Tuesday 17th March.

The books on the Carnegie longlist are:

  • My Brother’s Shadow by Tom Avery (Andersen Press)
  • Us Minus Mum by Heather Butler (Little Brown, Young Readers)
  • When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)
  • Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
  • The Company of Ghosts by Berlie Doherty (Andersen Press)
  • The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
  • Tinder by Sally Gardner (author) and David Roberts (illustrator) (Orion Children’s Books)
  • Monkey and Me by David Gilman (Templar)
  • Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman (Walker Books)
  • Scarlet Ibis by Gill Lewis (Oxford University Press)
  • The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne Books)
  • Hello Darkness by Anthony McGowan (Walker Books)
  • More Than This by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
  • Close Your Pretty Eyes by Sally Nicholls (Marion Lloyd Books)
  • Trouble by Non Pratt (Walker Books)
  • Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff (Penguin Books)
  • Smart: a Mysterious Crime, a Different Detective by Kim Slater (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Electric Monkey)

The books on the Kate Greenaway longlist are:

  • Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • What If? by Anthony Browne (Doubleday Children’s Books)
  • The Promise by Laura Carlin (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (author) (Walker Books)
  • The Something by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • On Sudden Hill by Benji Davies (illustrator) and Linda Sarah (author) (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
  • Jim’s Lion by Alexis Deacon (illustrator) and Russell Hoban (author) (Walker Books)
  • Hermelin: the Detective Mouse by Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape)
  • Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)
  • Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
  • Dark Satanic Mills by John Higgins and Marc Olivent (illustrators) and Julian Sedgwick and Marcus Sedgwick (authors) (Walker Books)
  • The Great War: an Anthology of Stories Inspired by Objects from the First World War by Jim Kay (illustrator) and various (authors) (Walker Books)
  • Wayland by John Lawrence (illustrator) and Tony Mitton (author) (David Fickling Books, Penguin Random House)
  • Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Fortunately, the Milk… by Chris Riddell (illustrator) and Neil Gaiman (author) (Bloomsbury)
  • Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Tinder by David Roberts (illustrator) and Sally Gardner (author) (Orion Children’s Books)
  • The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sís (Pushkin Children’s Books)
  • Tiny: the Invisible World of Microbes by Emily Sutton (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (author) (Walker Books)
  • The Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner (Andersen Press)

More information can be found on the official CILIP CKG website here and the shadowing site for schools is here.

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National Libraries Day 2015; SLS Shelfies!

As a School Library Service, we obviously understand the importance of libraries – after all, we are one really! We loan our books to schools across Norfolk and know first hand just how well these are received by the children who use them; all the smiling faces we encounter on our Mobile Library visits are testament to that!

Tomorrow is National Libraries Day, a nationwide event celebrating libraries and those staff that work within them. Any kind of library is cause for celebration in our eyes, whether it’s your local public library, the library at your school or university, or even a workplace library!

Our office is full of book-lovers and one of the proposed ways to get involved with this year’s celebrations is to share a library shelfie. We know all about shelfies – we’ve blogged about them before, sharing the bookshelves belonging to members of our team – but we love any excuse to post pictures of our own shelves…..!

Kirsten’s shelf

Kirsten Shelf

Georgie’s shelves

Georgie Shelf 1

Georgie Shelf 2

Zoe’s shelf

Zoe Shelf

Mandy’s shelf

Mandy Shelf

Apryl’s shelf

Book Shelf

Harriet’s shelf

Harriet Shelfie

Gail’s shelf

gail Shelfie

(some of these were originally posted with much longer explanations, all of which you can see here).

There are lots of resources available on the official National Libraries Day website, as well as a long list of the ways in which you can get inolved. We would also really recommend searching twitter for the hashtag #NLD15 to see what other people have been sharing.

We love libraries and hope you do too- be sure to visit one tomorrow if you can!



News from Schools: Hillside Avenue

We love it when schools share with us photos of their libraries and today’s post comes from Hillside Avenue in Norwich who recently had their space refurbished- the furniture comes from Trudy and features their unique ‘amphitheatre’ which children love using (even if they have to take their shoes off first!)



Here’s what one of the pupils had to say:

“Our new library”

I really like the seating area in our new library!  It is fun and everybody wants to sit and read their books there. I think the library is better because it is more colourful and there is more space.

– Adele, Hillside Avenue Primary School, Norwich

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Harry New Year!

Quick question: are you still allowed to say Happy New Year if in fact it’s nearly the end of January…? Cue a rapturous response of “where on earth has the time gone?!”

We’ve already got lots of exciting things planned on the horizon – author visits, picture book parties, Carnegie shadowing events – but for our first post of 2015 we’d thought we’d show you this half term’s display in our Mobile Library van which is Harry Potter themed:

tut 008tut 015

(Only one very very battered copy of The Philosopher’s Stone was harmed in the making of this display).

You may be wondering, “why Harry Potter?” Well, aside from having several big HP fans in our office, Bloomsbury recently republished the books with new cover illustrations by the ever-brilliant Jonny Duddle AND this time next week – Thursday 5th February – will see the inaugural Harry Potter Book Night, where children, grown-ups, schools, libraries and everyone else across the globe will be celebrating and sharing their love for JK Rowling’s books and characters. The first in the series was published 18(!) years ago this year and while there are generations who experienced the exciting publication of each new installment between 1997-2007, there are many more just discovering the magical adventures of Harry and his friends.

If you live in Norfolk, several branches across the county are holding special sessions, brief details of which are below. If you’re interested in attending or would like additional information, we would really advise contacting the branches directly – you can find all the information you need on the Norfolk Libraries website.

  • Hellesdon Library: Thursday 5th Feb, 6-7.30pm
  • Mile Cross Library: Thursday 5th Feb, 3.30-5pm (advanced booking required!)
  • Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library: Thursday 5th February, 5.45-7.30pm (advanced booking required!)
  • North Walsham Library: Thursday 5th February, 5-6.30pm
  • Plumstead Road Library: Thursday 5th February, 5-6.30pm
  • Taverham Library: Thursday 5th February, 6-7.30pm
  • Earlham Library: Saturday 7th February 11am-12.30pm

Our local Waterstones in Norwich is also hosting an event, details of which can be found here.

If you’re looking for resources, there is lots on the official website including this great event kit. If your school does something special, or you visit one of the library events- we’d love to see!

Harry Potter Book Night - twitter image

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Merry Christmas from the SLS team!

The last few weeks have flown by and the final week of our Advent Book Doors is upon us- and it’s suitably christmas themed, especially as there are now less than 24 hours until “the big day”!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our festive countdown and would encourage you to look back through the last three weeks entry’s here if you haven’t already done so- we think we selected some great books! This is our last official entry of 2014 and though we’ll be back in the New Year, we’d like to thank everyone who has read our blog this year and hope that you’ll continue to support us in 2015!

Now- some more books!

Advent Week 4

Non-fiction:  Christmas Poems, edited by Gaby Morgan

Described as ‘decorated by Axel Scheffler’ this is a lovely collection of the new and the familiar, carols as well as poems, roughly in thematic order. It includes the well-known anonymous ‘Christmas Blessing’:

God bless the master of this house,

The mistress also,

And all the little children

That round the table go;

And all your kin and kinsfolk

That dwell both far and near:

We wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year.

Picture book: Bear and Hare: Snow! by Emily Gravett

One of a sweet series of little stories about best friends Bear and Hare. With a minimal amount of text, the delightful illustrations express plenty of emotions as Bear reluctantly goes out to play in the snow with the very enthusiastic Hare…but of course they end up having a great time!

Novel: Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie, illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Not new, but we can’t resist, as Peter Pan is playing at Norwich Theatre Royal for Christmas, and Hughes’ illustrations are as charming and warm as ever.

Teen: The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

OK, it’s a well-known classic – but how many have actually read it? The description of Christmas is gorgeous, and won’t fail to put the reader into the best of spirits. The whole book is delightfully entertaining and full of Dickens’ most eccentric characters. Don’t pass it by.

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Peters Book of the Year and Advent, Week 3!

This time next week, Christmas will be over! *pause for contemplative sigh at the prospect of mince pies disappearing from the shelves*.  2014 has certainly whizzed past and by the time you read this, schools across Norfolk will have finished for the holidays- we can only begin to imagine how much excitement was felt across the county at 3pm today!

The end of another 12 calendar months means one thing: end of year lists and book awards, and one we always look forward to is the book of the year prize awarded by Peters Books and Furniture. Last year we held a picture book party at a local school in honour of this section of the shortlist and in 2015 we’ll be doing the same as Champions! We are SO excited already;  the picture book short list is particularly strong this year, so we’re interested to see what comes out on top- we can’t possibly choose (yet).

Voting for the award is now open, and the official website has lots of resources for schools to use if   you’re interested in shadowing the event; there are also prizes for Junior and Teen fiction, so the possibilities are endless! For more information, including the shortlists and voting information, why not take a look at  .

Now, onto week 3 of our Advent Book Doors, and make sure you check back next week for our CHRISTMAS EVE SPECIAL!

Advent Week 3

Non-fiction: Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, Illustrated by  Christopher Silas Neal

A gorgeous picture book about how animals survive in the snow.  Unfortunately, the habitat is American so a few of the animals featured would not be found in this country, but most are, and there are more details about the individual creatures at the back of the book.  The text is lyrical and it will read nicely just as a KS1 level story.

Picture book: Use Your Imagination by Nicola O’Byrne

Need your children to use their imaginations?  This could help – maybe!  Rabbit is bored, and Wolf offers to help, but immediately our suspicions are roused of course, and as Rabbit seems more and more likely to end up as Wolf’s dinner, we get more and more anxious about the outcome…

Lots for children to anticipate and ‘use their imaginations’ with.

Novel: Blue Moon Day by Anne Fine

A boy, feigning illness to get off school for the day, staves off boredom while having to accompany his mum at work, by reading a book of short stories.  They are all about coping with different types of school experience.  At the same time as gaining insight into other children’s experiences, he learns more about the adult world he is part of, including the difficulties his dad must go through every time he returns to family life after a spell as a soldier on duty.

This sounds much heavier than it is, as Fine is such a skilled story teller.

Teen: Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

We LOVE Marcus in our office and several of our team were utterly captivated by She is Not Invisible when they finally got round to reading it this year. Ghosts of Heaven, however, is more evocative of the Carnegie-nominated Midwinterblood which we also loved ; his newest book sees four interwoven and connected stories,  beautifully written and taking us from the dawn of time to a place in the future. A wonderful concept and one of the most interesting reads we’ve had this year!

You can see weeks 1 and 2 of our countdown here.

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Festive Countdown: Week 2!


Baffling but true fact of the day: there are only 13 days until Christmas..! As we creep ever closer to the end of term, we’re up to our eyes in project box assembling but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time for other frivolities- below you can see the second week of book selections as we reveal what’s inside our Advent Book Doors…

Advent Week 2

Non-fiction: DK Eye Wonder- Dinosaurs

OK so they’re not new, but to a new generation of children the DK Eyewonder and Pocket Eyewitness series are fabulous value: hardbacks at only £4.99.  Unbeatable.  Usborne have led the way with cheap excellent value non-fiction hardbacks (love their ribbon bookmarks too!) and DK are following suit, with their trademark excellent quality photography.  We recently bought some of the reprint editions for our school mobile library on popular topics like dinosaurs, reptiles and horses and they’re flying off the shelves –  what’s not to love??

Picture book: Vanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham

Graham does it again! This is a beautiful story, told more in pictures than words, about the wonder of how we are all connected.  It moves from India to Australia in the company of one small sparrow, and turns tiny seemingly non-events into something momentous and awe-inspiring.

Novel: Dog In No-Man’s-Land by Damian Kelleher and illlustrated by Gary Blythe        

There is a plethora of stories around at the moment about animals involved in war, but this one is particularly unusual in its approach.  It is partly epistolary, and the letters come in actual small envelopes attached onto the page.  Full of atmospheric drawings by Blythe, it is quite a short read, and is quite as moving as one could expect from the theme.

Teen: Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman

This is a dystopian novel for teens, in which a young man’s trust and belief in the goodness of his world gradually crumbles and more and more adults reveal their treachery and corruption.  Enjoyable, with echoes of other novels, including 1984, but with a more upbeat ending.

You can see the first week of our countdown here.

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