Potter, Libraries, Peters and more!

Yesterday was Harry Potter Book Night; we LOVE this annual celebration of everything Potter-related, now in its second year. The 2016 theme was ‘Night of Spells’; voting took place on the Bloomsbury website and the most popular spell was Expecto Patronum (definitely the best spell in our opinion!). You can see the top 10 here on The Guardian website and we’d also recommend spending a good minute or too looking through the #HarryPotterBookNight tag on twitter- looks like everyone had such great fun at events across the country!

Tomorrow, Saturday 6th February, is National Libraries Day, a country-wide celebration where we praise how brilliant libraries are! There are lots of events taking place; there’s the big Norfolk Storytime where branches across the county will all be reading from Cressida Cowell’s How to be a Viking, along with other activities to support. You can find details here of which locations in Norfolk are taking part, though we would of course encourage you to visit a library anywhere regardless, to show them how important they are to you! All Norfolk branches and their opening times can be found here.

Libraries are important community hubs, about more than just books and reading, and we think it’s great when they’re supported so publicly. We still very much love Neil Gaiman’s 2013 Reading Agency lecture titled ‘Reading and Obligation’ (read and watch here), and this love-letter to libraries written by Phillipa Cochrane from Scottish Book Trust is wonderful: ‘If Walls Could Talk…’

We’ve also updated out Peters Book Award page with news of Phil Earle’s appointment as Book Trust’s 13th Online Writer in Residence. Phil’s book Demolition Dad is one of the titles being read by our Junior Book Award shadow readers, many of whom have been feeding back some really interesting thoughts on the titles they’ve been working their way through. Moorlands Deer Class in particular have been producing some very fine reviews on their own blog, which you can see here.

…and last but not least, see below for some Friday Reads from our team:

Apryl: Jane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault (illustrator)

FoxI picked this graphic novel from our shelves on a whim, in need of something to read one lunchtime, and I wasn’t disappointed; a wonderfully illustrated tale about a girl called Helene who finds solace in the pages of Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre. Helene’s struggles at school are offset by her daydreams about Jane and Mr Rochester and there is hope at the end when she begins to focus less on her former friends and more on how happy she can make herself. A must read!

(Walker Books, £15 hardback, ISBN 9781406353044)

Harriet: Harry Miller’s Run by David Almond, illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

Harry MillerThis is a lovely dreamy short story about memory, love and achievement. An old man, reminded of a life changing event when he was a boy, by the young narrator who is going in for the Junior Great North Run, tells the story of just one day when he was eleven. As with all Almond’s books it is set up in the Newcastle area, and here in Norfolk we will be unable perhaps to follow his route, and his accent is strong, but it is such a sweet powerful story this does not matter. Rubbino’s lively illustrations feel completely  integral to the story, and the way he has contrasted depicting the present in two-tone greys with the bright colour of old Harry’s memories is highlighted at the very end with the ghostly – heavenly even? – appearance of Harry and his mates running among the competitors of today.

(Walker Books, £9.99 hardback, ISBN 9781406362244)

Mandy: The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi, illustrated by Gregory O’Brien

ACBPerry and her Grandmother, Honora Lee, have a special bond, and that includes Honora’s friends at her care home. As Honora’s memory fails and words leave her, Perry collects words in a ACB scrapbook with special relevance to everyone at her retirement home as part of a school project.

Language and words form a central part of this story and this story portrays a wonderfully sharp but slightly confused grandmother and her adoring granddaughter in a positive light without a trace of sentimentality.

(Hot Key Books, £ 9.99 hardback, ISBN 9781471405051)

Zoë: Star Wars Joke Book by Emil Fortune

star warsA wide selection of Star Wars heroes and villains are attributed to ‘telling’ a variety of jokes for a Comedy Night Contest at the palace of Jabba the Hutt. There are some old favourites adapted to fit the Star Wars storylines as well as some new jokes and clever word play. I rather enjoyed the jokes from Stormtrooper and Lando Calrissian.

This would mainly suit Star Wars fans as you need to know the characters and stories to fully appreciate the meaning and humour.

(Egmont Books, £4.99 paperback, ISBN 9781405276306, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

You can read our previous Friday Read recommendations here.

 

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Busy Blogging and Friday Reads

We’ve been very busy on the blog this week and would encourage you to (please!) take a look at our other entries: congratulations Frances Hardinge here and Holocaust Memorial Day here.

Now: some Friday Reads to end the week!

Harriet: The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair by Lara Williamson

OceanThis story has been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Awards, and it is indeed a good read, funny and really sad by turns. Dad removes his two young sons from his girlfriend’s house without warning or explanation, much to their distress. They try to get the two adults back together, with partial success, but it takes a near tragedy to realise that this may not be the answer. The younger brother in particular is adorable and hilarious, while the older one and his new friends who also have big losses in their lives are to my mind rather unbelievably emotionally mature and articulate. There is a page at the back showing the reader how to make origami paper cranes, which are an almost magical recurring theme of the book, and introduce the reader to a lovely legend.

(Usborne, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781409576327)

Gail: Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah

dara palmerThis story would be great to read aloud- fun but with serious undertones. The narrator, Dara, is a Y6 girl, adopted as a baby from Cambodia. She’s a drama queen and mistakenly thinks she’s a fantastic actress; when she doesn’t get the lead role in her school musical she thinks it’s because she doesn’t look like the other girls in her class. Dara is a strong character, funny and ‘irrepressible’; likeable despite her sometimes stroppy behaviour! We follow her as she learns to empathise, act with feeling and consider ‘who she really is’. Great for discussions of feelings and race and also good for Jacqueline Wilson fans.

(Chicken House, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781910002322)

Zoë: Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz

SnakeheadI have really enjoyed the Alex Rider series so far and this instalment doesn’t fail to impress either. It was very frustrating having to put it down at the end of each lunch break. What would happen next?

This adventure starts at the conclusion of Alex’s previous outing, finally letting us know he has come down to earth safely. Landing off the coast of Australia, he finds himself embroiled with the Australian Secret Service (ASIS), who persuade him to team up with Ash who had been Alex’s father’s best friend. Will Alex finally get the answers he has been seeking?

Like many people, I get a small thrill when I read the name of my home town in a book so to read Tunbridge Wells twice in this story was incredibly unexpected as well.

(Walker Books, £7.99 paperback, ISBN 9781406360257, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

You can read our previous Friday Read recommendations here.

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Theme Thursday: Holocaust Memorial Day

Established in 2001, Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27th January every year, a date picked to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. A national event within the UK, people across the country commemorate the victims of past and more recent genocides whilst considering the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust.

The theme for HMD in 2016 is ‘Don’t Stand By’ which according to the Holocaust Educational Trust was selected ‘to consider the indifference or outright hostility which many European Jews encountered from neighbours and acquaintances, and the wider world, during the Holocaust whilst also encouraging us to honour the courageous individuals or communities who did assist or show solidarity with the victims of Nazism’.

More information about HMD, including teaching resources, can be found on the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s website here. Lots of engaging and poignant content was being shared across social media yesterday to commemorate the day, and we’d recommend checking the official HMD UK twitter page here.

In view of this, we’ve put together a list of books that address the theme of the Holocaust in a way that is sure to generate thoughtful discussion in the classroom. There are, of course, many more and we’d love to hear if you’ve come across a book that worked particularly well for you when discussing the sensitive subject with young people.

HMD

  • Anne Frank by Josephine Poole, an emotive retelling of Anne’s life accompanied by particularly wonderful illustrations by Angela Barrett.
  • Erika’s Story by Ruth Vander Zee and Roberto Innocenti. In 1995 Ruth met Erika, a German Jew, who shared the incredible story of how she survived the war.
  • Rose Blanche by Ian McEwan and Roberto Innocenti tells the story of a small girl who, when she learns about the suffering of those in concentration camps and tries to help in secret.
  • Morris Gleitzman’s Once (and the follow-up books Then, Now, After, and Soon) follows the story of Felix, a boy on a quest to find his parents.
  • Ian Serraillier’s classic The Silver Sword was published in 1956 tells the story of children surviving the dangers of World War II and the Nazi occupation of Poland, along with their search for their missing parents.

There are, of course, many others! John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Judith Kerr’s autobiographical When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and for older KS4 readers; Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus details the experiences of the author’s own father, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor, while Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief considers life in war-torn Europe.

You can see our other Theme Thursday lists here.

 

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Congratulations to Frances Hardinge for winning the overall Costa Prize! We love The Lie Tree too!

The Lie Tree

It is only the second time in the Costa Award’s 30 year history that a children’s novel has been overall winner (Philip Pullman was the other for ‘The Amber Spyglass’). If you haven’t read The Lie Tree yet do – you are in for a real treat. Our little review of her book is here.

You can also read what The Guardian had to say about the awards here, plus a page from the official book awards website here. Well done Frances!

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Fun at the Farm!

This week, on a cold and frosty day, we were lucky enough to visit some of the team at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse; though the museum is currently closed, Katie and Jan gave us a tour of the various buildings on the grounds- we loved the chapel and the old school hall! We even got to visit the farm where we saw, amongst other things, goats, sows (with piglets!) and even a farm cat called Smudge.

gressenhall

The museum, three miles from Dereham, reopens at the start of March, though they will be open for a week during February half-term. They have lots to offer schools as well as the general public, so we’d recommend looking at their website (linked above) if you’re interested in finding out more!

Now, a few Friday Reads!

Harriet:  Grumbug! by Adam Stower

grumbugFun sequel to Troll and the Oliver. A new story about young Oliver and the troll takes up from when they open their special café for trolls. Oliver’s toddler sister has wandered off and Oliver and the Troll go off in pursuit, despite fears from their customers that they might encounter the terrifying Grumbug. There is lots of opportunity for inference, there are speech bubbles, rhyming text- and a satisfying conclusion to the story

(Templar Publishing, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781783700523)

Mandy: Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Annabelle Arsenault

northernThis beautiful winter story just asks to be read at bedtime! A parent paints a verbal picture of a snowy night for a small child wrapped in a downy blanket. Snow, deer, an owl whose wings leave a “feathery sketch” in the show, snowshoe hares and a “fox in his auburn coat and long black boots” paint a beautiful image of the night, enhanced by the delicate, almost monochrome illustrations. A love song to a child- and perhaps an award winner?

(Walker Books, £11.99 hardback, ISBN 9781406362459

Zoë: The Jolley-Rogers and the Monster’s Gold by Jonny Duddle

monsterThis is the latest book in the Jolley-Rogers series by Jonny Duddle. As usual, there are plenty of madcap scrapes for the Jolley-Rogers family, along with their landlubber friend Matilda, accompanied by many wonderful illustrations as they encounter many quirky characters, including monkeys- and don’t forget the banana cake!

It all begins on a quiet Saturday when Matilda is sitting on the quayside, hoping to find a message from Jim Lad, with her father fishing alongside. She catches a bottle and HOW EXCITING! It contains a treasure map…

(Templar Publishing, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781783704453)

You can find all of our previous Friday Reads by following this link.

 

 

 

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Prize-winning books (& Friday Reads)!

We might be a little late to the party, but we’d like to congratulate Frances Hardinge whose book The Lie Tree recently won the 2015 Costa children’s book award; one of our team read the book back in September and you can read their review here. This Books for Keeps interview is great, and in it Frances shares a little insight into her creative process.

In other book awards news, the winners of the 2016 Newbery and Caldecott Illustration Medals were announced this week, the US equivalent of our CKG awards. The Newbury Medal was awarded to Matt De La Peña for his book Last Stop on Market which looks so lovely- we hope it’ll be published in the UK soon as we can’t wait to read it. Sophie Blackall won the Caldecott Medal for her illustrations in Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear written by Lindsay Mattick, a book which traces the history of the bear who inspired A.A. Milne to write Winnie-the-Pooh. Her blog has a great recap of the research behind the book, which we would recommend taking a look at!

Below are today’s Friday Reads!

Apryl: Lazy Dave by Peter Jarvis

daveLike most dogs, Dave loves sleeping- anywhere he possibly can. He’s also a sleepwalker and this wonderfully illustrated picture book reveals what he gets up to on his adventures during the day whilst his owner, Lilly, is at school. She thinks he’s the laziest dog in the world, unaware of what a hero he really is. Bright and colourful, I’m looking forward to seeing what Jarvis comes up with next!

(HarperCollins, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9780062355980)

Harriet: Soon by Morris Gleitzman

soonThis is the fifth in a series of short novels, all with similar single word titles, which open every chapter. Although the first, Once, was suitable for upper KS2 children, and this latest title still tells the story of Felix and his ordeals through and beyond the 2nd World War, there are scenes and events in this book which are not appropriate for primary pupils. Felix is always optimistic despite the terrible events he has lived through. In this book the war is over, but life in Poland continues to be terrifying and cruel, shocking to a British reader. Despite everything Felix retains his humanity and compassion, and we continue to hope with him and for him.

(Puffin, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780141362793, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

Mandy: The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

wolf.jpgIt is so good to find a new author of well written, ‘standalone’ children’s fiction! Katherine Rundell was so convincing about the Paris skyline in ‘Rooftoppers”, and it was so full of intriguing ideas that it was hard to imagine what she would do next. This engrossing follow-up to “Rooftoppers” has lived up to my expectations. Set in cold and snowy Russia during the revolution, and beautifully produced with authentically Russian illustrations, this has been well written and is clearly well researched. Feo is a wolf wilder, restoring tame wolves to their natural wildness. She loves her loyal wolves but when the Russian army threatens her life and existence she has to go on the run and takes refuge with a group of villagers. So follow many adventures for this feisty character. A gritty read in places, this is a great top KS2/KS3 crossover title.

(Bloomsbury, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781408862582)

Zoë: Superhero School: Curse of the Evil Custard by Alan MacDonald

superhero.jpgThis is the third book of the Superhero School series which blends comic strip with narrative and plenty of daft storylines to amuse the reader. It is a good book for newly independent readers as the language is relatively straightforward; nevertheless it remains a descriptive read.

With what sounds like an Ofsted inspection (enough to terrify any head teacher!) the head at Mighty High has even more to worry about as the school doesn’t teach regular subjects like reading, writing and maths. Instead it focuses on skills like mind control, flying and unarmed combat.

On the day of the inspection, things don’t go according to plan as Doctor Sinister needs victims, sorry guinea pigs; no – specimens – for his Evil Custard so infiltrates the school with his pea-brained bodyguard, Otto. Will Mighty High remain open as a result of Doctor Sinister’s actions?

(Bloomsbury, £4.99, ISBN 9781408825259)

Our archive of Friday Reads can be found here.

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Theme Thursday: Favourite Film Adaptations

While lots of people are getting excited at the prospect of today’s Oscar nominations, the award-season flurry had us thinking about some of our favourite books which have been transformed into films. Here’s some our office came up with- can you think of any others we may have missed?

Film Blog

Firstly, we’ll start with JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, all 7 of which were adapted over the course of 10 years. Even though it seems like yesterday, Harry, Ron and Hermione- or Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson- first appeared on the big screen back in 2001. We were sad to learn today that actor Alan Rickman has passed away, but we’ll always remember him fondly as the sinister Severus Snape.

Several of Roald Dahl’s books have been adapted; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory TWICE, first in 1971 and then in 2005, Danny and the Champion of the world in 1989, The Witches in 1990 (Anjelica Huston as the terrifying Grand High Witch), Matilda in 1996 (Danny DeVito as a perfect Mr Wormwood), Fantastic Mr Fox (Mr Fox voiced by George Clooney and directed by Wes Anderson in 2009), and before Christmas a trailer appeared online for the Steven Spielberg version of The BFG (which was also turned into an animated feature in 1989!), due for release this year.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s hefty Lord of the Rings has been adapted for radio, stage, television and most recently, turned into a three-film epic by Peter Jackson, who also took on Tolkien’s first novel, The Hobbit.

And some more:

  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

This book has been adapted for the big screen twice! An animated version was released in 1973 and 2006 saw live-action version staring Dakota Fanning and Oscar-winner Julia Roberts as the titular spider

  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman

A stop-motion adaptation of this creepy tale was directed by Henry Selick, who in 1996 adapted Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, another stop-motion film.

  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

This fantasy tale was turned into a magical animated adventure by Japan’s legendary Studio Ghibli. In the English language dub, Howl was voiced by Christian Bale.

  • Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Not many people realise that the 1996 board-game adventure starring Robin Williams actually had its roots in this wonderful book by writer and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, who also wrote The Polar Express, made into a film starring Tom Hanks!

  • Shrek by William Steig

Another film with picture books roots is Shrek, who was created by American cartoonist William Steig in 1990

  • Mary Poppins by PL Travers

Perhaps one of Disney’s greatest musicals was based on the books written by Australian author PL Travers, who notoriously disapproved of the studio’s take on her work.

  • Holes by Louis Sachar

This much-loved story was adapted in 2003 and starred Shia Labeouf as the unfortunate Stanley Yelnats, and Sigourney Weaver as The Warden.

Of course, there are also some classics which started life as books; Black Beauty by Anna Sewell has appeared on the big screen on 6 occasions (a few more on TV!), The Railway Children by E. Nesbit was turned into a film in 1970 (and has had 4 versions appear on Television), 7 versions of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women have been produced, along with 3 TV serials, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett has been a film 3 times and on television another 4 AND we’ve lost count how many adaptations there are of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland there have been!

PLUS: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson, Cressida Cowell’s amazing How to Train Your Dragon series, The Hunger Games, The Divergent trilogy, Twilight, countless YA novels in the last few years….!

What are your favourites?

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We’re 8 days into 2016 and busy with project boxes which will be making their way into schools next week. Our van will also be back out in school from Monday and we’ve got a busy term ahead- with lots of other exciting things on the horizon too (Peters Book Award shadowing! Our Language is Power Conference!)

Over the festive break, we were all busy reading and we’ve shared them below- with our first Friday Reads of the year!

Apryl: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

EarlMisfit and amateur filmmaker Greg Gaines is happy negotiating his way through his Senior year at Benson High when his life is disrupted by the news that a childhood friend, Rachel, has leukaemia. At the suggestion of his pushy mother, Greg begins visiting Rachel and the two rekindle their friendship, even if Greg has ulterior motives (a hope that his charity will impress Rachel’s friend, Madison). When things don’t improve for Rachel, Greg and his friend Earl are coerced into making a film for her, as she’s the only other person to have ever seen (and enjoyed) their home-made movies.

If you’ve read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ or ‘All the Bright Places’, you’re bound to love this, though for me it’s a cut above the usual YA-fayre; incredibly funny and heart-warming at the same time, without ever being too corny.

(Allen & Unwin, £7.99 paperback, ISBN 9781760290450, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

Harriet: Fireside Stories by Caitlin Matthews, illustrated by Helen Cann

FiresideNot many of us have a real fire to sit by nowadays, but even if you only have a radiator, curling up with this brightly illustrated book of traditional tales from Northern Europe will make you feel cosy and safe. Each is themed, and takes the reader from November to the beginning of spring.

 

(Barefoot Books, £14.99 hardback, ISBN 9781782852513, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

 

Mandy: Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks

black rabbit summerEnd of GCSEs, a lazy summer, then an invitation to the local funfair from an old girlfriend, lead to a night of madness when all the old conflicts and resentments surface. Pete’s loyalty to Raymond takes him to the limit when Raymond disappears and another old school ‘friend’ turned celebrity is murdered. Everyone else thinks the worst, but what really happened that hot summer night? Kevin Brookes cleverly reveals the story through everyone’s lies and anxieties. A gripping read for young adults that ably captures the life of teens who are ‘in between’. I downloaded this from the Norfolk eBook platform to my new Kobo. Job done!

(Penguin, £7.99 paperback, ISBN 9780141319117, find it here on the NLIS eBook platform)

Zoë: The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by Helen Moss

Whistling CavesThis is the first story in the Adventure Island series where we meet Scott and Jack Carter holidaying in Castle Key, much to their disgust as they can’t imagine anything exciting ever happening in this village in Cornwall.

On their first morning, Jack and Scott meet Emily Wild when they cross a field full of excitable heifers, mistakenly thinking they are bulls. She soon puts them straight! Not long after, the boys discover how wrong they are about Castle Key when a series of thefts from the Castle Museum occur. Scott and Jack join forces with Emily, a keen amateur sleuth, to discover who stole the items and ascertain why the Whistling Caves are silent on their first excursion to them in Emily’s boat.

(Orion Books, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781444003284, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

You can read all of our previous friday read entries here.

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A very SLS Christmas!

The final week of our Advent Book Doors is here and we’ve decided to choose four fabulously festive titles for you to take a look at.

We really hope you’ve enjoyed reading our third annual festive countdown and (if you haven’t already!), would recommend that you take a look at week one, week two and week three for some last-minute inspiration. We think everything we picked is GREAT and definitely worthy of your time.

This is our last entry of 2015 and we’d like to say thank you to anyone who has read or commented on our blog this year- we appreciate the support and hope to see you all in 2016; Happy New Year!

Advent 2015 Week 4 CHRISTMAS

  • The Nutcracker, illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat

This version of the classic Christmas tale (no individual author is credited) is given exquisite illustrations which climax with a cut-out pop-up of filigree delicacy. The style is reminiscent of Jan Pienkowski, with black silhouettes against strong colours – perfect festive fare. (Walker Books, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781406361759)

  • The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy, illus. by Emily Sutton

A familiar theme of an unwanted tree being rescued by a child is given added poignancy in this gorgeously illustrated picture book, by the fact the child is surviving in a homeless community. There is a happy ending for the tree, but we know nothing of the boy’s future, and can only hope that a child in a British city will be rescued and given a loving home.The author died before completing the story so maybe she would have resolved this. (Walker Books, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781406356496)

  • A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

This is an exciting story suitable for upper KS2, with a reluctant boy hero heading off to the snowy north to find his father and encountering all sorts of fantastic characters and situations. Chris Mould enhances the atmosphere with his black and white spiky illustrations. (Canongate, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781782117896)

  • Squishy McFluff Secret Santa by Pip Jones, illus. by Ella Okstad

For those who haven’t encountered Squishy McFluff yet this is the fourth in a series of very short, rhyming novels for first readers. Ava and her invisible cat have jolly, light-hearted little adventures, this one with a Christmas theme. (Faber, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9780571302567)

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Festive Countdown- Week Three!

ONE WEEK TO GO! Norfolk Schools will have finished for the holidays this week and while we’re looking forward to a little break, we’re also keeping busy putting together project boxes for the New Year. If you’re feeling particularly organised and are looking toward 2016, you can find a list of our spring term INSET courses here, as well as details about our ‘Language is Power’ conference which is taking place in March, and features the 2015 Carnegie winner, Tanya Landman!

Here’s the third instalment of our festive countdown, and some more books we think are worth taking a look at (or even buying or borrowing!)

Advent 2015 Week 3

  •  Heartsong by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illus. by Jane Ray

Venice and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons violin concerto are the themes of this short novel in Crossley-Holland’s story about a mute orphan who finds her voice by playing her flute. Jane Ray was inspired by the true life of Vivaldi and the Ospidale della Pieta, and her beautiful evocations of Venice contribute to this warm, magical story. If you enjoy this, read Jamila Gavin’s brilliant Coram Boy, again based on truth, in this caseThomas Coram’s orphans and composer Handel. (Orchard Books, £9.99 hardback, ISBN 9781408336069)

  • Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer, illus. by Oliver Jeffers

Another story with music as a theme, this is a lovely, and very funny, picture book about friendship, to reassure children who may feel different and lonely. (HarperCollins, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9780008126148)

  • One by Sarah Crossan

Tippi and Grace are 16 year-old conjoined twins who find themselves entering high school for the first time. Written in Crossan’s signature verse from the perspective of Grace this story is truly beautiful. I felt I was able to, in some way, comprehend what it must be like to live permanently attached your sibling. I believe this is a definite contender for Carnegie! (Bloomsbury, £10.99 hardback, ISBN 9781408863114)

  • Box by Min Flyte, illus. by Rosalind Beardshaw

For very young children, this is a flap book which encourages imaginative alternative uses for a box. Great fun to read aloud, children can respond and participate as questions are asked on each page. At the back of the book there is a small box to cut out and make, so perfect for a gift! (Nosy Crow, £9.99 hardback, ISBN 9780857634146)

Our first and second instalments of our festive countdown can be found here and here.

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