#TakeoverChallenge 2015!

The Takeover Challenge is a project established by the Children’s Commisioner in which businesses across England are encouraged to invite young people to take over adult roles for the day which they hope will “puts children and young people into decision-making positions and encourages organisations and businesses to hear their views”. Involvement is often shared on twitter, with the hashtag #TakeoverChallenge giving an insight into the types of roles that have been taken over across the country – a couple of young people even ended up on BBC breakfast news!

Allowing young people to share their opinions is something that we think is super important and we value their input greatly; the pages for young people on the Norfolk public libraries website were revised last year in direct response to feedback given by young people – they felt the website wasn’t great and that a blog would be better- and that young people should be involved with it. They asked, we listened: https://norfolkshelftalk.edublogs.org/

This year, the county is looking at what it offers to young people, such as fun activities that encourage a love of reading, and how we can use the media and social media to engage with them better.

This morning we were joined with two young people involved in this year’s Takeover Challenge – Abby and Jasmyn! They spent some time with Library and Information Service Head of Service, Jennifer Holland and Manager – Schools and Young People’s Library Services, Kirsten Francis in our base at County Hall, learning about what the library service offers and how it’s about more than just borrowing books.

photographers at work

It was a brilliant conversation full of sharing ideas and suggestions for encouraging young people to read more and make the most of their school libraries and public libraries.

Abby and Jasmyn made some great suggestions to encourage everyone working and volunteering in school libraries to be mindful of how important it is to encourage young people’s free reading choices and experimentation without putting them off a book or putting them off going in that will be the basis for an article for the next SLS High Schools newsletter.

We moved on to think about how to use social media to encourage young people to read more and be more – as reading is the out of school hobby that makes THE MOST difference to how good a job you get after school. We talked about how young people often don’t realise what other young people are reading, or even that they do read out of school as it’s something young people often do at home in their own time and don’t tend to talk about.

Apryl Abby Jasmyn looking at Twitter

They were inspired to encourage young people to reflect on how reading makes a “massive difference to everything – not just reading but writing, learning, listening, all your subjects at school and everything you need to do at work and knowing more about other people’s lives and how they feel” also “Reading stories are a really interesting way to find out more about the world, and more about history without having too much of the horror from some things that have happened in the past in books that are written especially for young people” and that there is something for everyone and that “Whatever age you are you can learn so much from reading!”

Abby and Jasmyn liked the idea of using a Reading Agency ‘Reading Hack’ activity – Bookface – to encourage young people to go in to libraries to look at and have fun with books. Norfolk is a pilot for the Reading Hack project and this is one of the first activities that young people have undertaken. They had a good look at all the Young adult books at the SLS base at County Hall and found some books they wanted to read and some they had already read and wanted to recommend to others, then took selfies and pictures of each other and other people, choosing books with covers that looked great in photos!

Jasmyn Apryl Kirsten Abby

The Fools Girl

This means that they have launched a #Bookface campaign that there will be lots of encouragement for other young people to get involved in over the coming months… this is the kind of activity that we call ‘micro-volunteering’ so thanks Abby and Jasmyn!

Before they left, we asked them to put in their own words about what they thought of libraries and reading now that they’ve spent time within the department:


Reading can open up a whole other world of possibilities and experiences that I and I’m sure many other young people never knew were available.

No matter who you are; age, race or ‘social status’, don’t be afraid to read, don’t be afraid of what people will think. Don’t be afraid to make a change!

It’s been a fantastic morning filled with fun, excitement and selfies.

Libraries aren’t just good for reading the books – they can offer groups, books, computers and can help people reconnect.

It’s been so easy to talk to Kirsten and Apryl, it made me realise that there is more to libraries than just ordering books.


I have had a fantastic time this morning working with Jennifer, Kirsten and Apryl!

We took pictures of each other with covers of books covering our faces (#bookface)

Listening to the way they have all spoken about what they do has made me realise how organised and exciting a library is.

This morning has made me change my perspective on reading and that it opens up a new world and can take you on an adventure by just turning pages.

I now think that I will be reading and going to my local library more often.

I have loved ‘taking over’ their jobs and seeing what they do.

I would recommend going to the library and reading to everyone! Even if you don’t think you will enjoy it, just try it!

I have learnt so much about how a library works and I very much enjoyed getting to know Jennifer, Kirsten and Apryl. Thank you for giving me this amazing opportunity!


We profiled Abby and Jasmyn’s takeover on our twitter page, so why not have a look here and see what they got up to? They were also on the Norfolk Libraries twitter page which you can find here!

In Norfolk young people also visited Kings Lynn and the Millenium Library to TakeOver, doing activities like choosing what books we should be buying and putting in our Norfolk libraries!

(We’ll be back next week with our usual Friday reads!)


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Kids’ Lit Quiz 2015- the Norfolk heat!

On Thursday afternoon, our SLS team headed to The Thetford Academy for the 2015 Norfolk heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz. 26 teams from 14 schools joined us for the competition, a whirl-wind three hours in which even the most brilliant minds were tested with an array of book-based questions.

Every year were are impressed by how knowledgeable the competing students were, and Quizmaster Wayne Mills confirmed that in his experience of the UK heats so far this year, the calibre has been especially high.

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(Wayne Mills giving the teams a pre-quiz pep talk!)

As always, there was a great atmosphere, the passion and enthusiasm for reading evident in the way the teams eagerly answered the 100 questions put to them by Wayne. The scores felt very close this year but by 6pm, we knew who’d triumphed- Team A from Litcham School who scored 89 points (a 9-point lead). This team included two of the returning champions, winners of last year’s Norfolk and UK finals and it was great to see their hard-work pay off for a second year running; we’d like to congratulate them once again on their success! The UK national final takes place in Oxford on December 4th and we look forward to seeing how they get on- we’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Second place was awarded to Thorpe St Andrew’s B team who scored 80 points, and third place went to team A from Thetford Grammar who achieved 75.5 points.  The author and librarian team, comprising of authors Alexander Gordon Smith, Alex Scarrow and Helen Moss, with help from librarian Julie Glasel, racked up 87 points, proving they could hold their own against the room full of young people!


(Our author and librarian team hard at work: Alex, Julie, Helen and Gordon looking flummoxed!)

The final top 10 can be found below, but it’s worth noting that all of the schools did incredibly well- the amount of tied positions are testament to this! We’re proud of each and every one of you and we hope you continue with your voracious love of reading.

1 Litcham School A 89
2 Thorpe St Andrew B 80
3 Thetford Grammar A 75.5
4 Litcham School B 74
5 Jane Austen College 73
6 Long Stratton High A 72
7 Hethersett Academy A 71
8 Flegg High School B 69
8 Ormiston Venture B 69
9 Culford Prep School 68
9 Flegg High School A 68
9 Wymondham High B 68
10 Long Stratton High B 67
10 Wymondham High A 67

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(The teams from Litcham School, with quiz-master Wayne)

We’d like to thank librarian Jackie Browne and the rest of the staff and pupils at The Thetford Academy for hosting the event- they were so hospitable, providing us with refreshments and helping to co-ordinate the afternoon with great precision!

Thanks also Alexander Gordon Smith, Alex Scarrow and Helen Moss for coming along and not only taking part, but meeting everyone and signing books- we understand how amazing it can be to meet authors and we were so pleased to see students chatting away to you all throughout the afternoon.  Please come back next year- but maybe you’d better start revising now!

Finally- and perhaps most importantly of all- we’d like to thank every school who attended;  it was a real pleasure to meet and chat to so many of you (new and returning schools alike!) and we loved how enthusiastic you all were about taking part; it was so wonderful to see! If you were on a participating team or just came along for the afternoon, we hope you enjoyed the day as much we all did and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

We profiled the event on our Norfolk SLS twitter account which you can find here: http://www.twitter.com/norfolksls or alternatively, you can see the storify we’ve  begun to collate here: https://storify.com/NorfolkSLS/kids-lit-quiz-2015-norfolk-heat; this will be updated continually over the next few days, so if you have any tweets to share, make sure you tag them with #NorfolkKLQ15!


Books of the Year and Kids’ Lit Quiz!

Two exciting things happened in our office this week:

Firstly, the Peters Book of the Year shortlists were announced (see them all here); both of our KS2 fiction discussion groups will be championing the event, reading all of the books on the junior fiction list and sharing them with their classes. We’ll be profiling their progress here on the blog, and you can see our special PBOTY16 page here. Some really wonderful books made the shortlist this year, so we’re keen to hear their thoughts between now and March, when the winner is announced.

Secondly, yesterday afternoon saw our annual foray into the world of quiz-hosting when our team traveled to The Thetford Academy for the Norfolk regional heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz. We’ll be posting a full account of the event next week, but we’d like to give a HUGE congratulations to returning winners Litcham School’s A Team who triumphed once again and won with 89 points! Thorpe St Andrew’s B team came second with 80 points, and Thetford Grammar’s A team came third with 75.5 points. As you’ll see next week, the scores were incredibly close which means Norfolk really is home to some incredibly well-read young people- well done to you all! If you can’t wait for our full report and wanted a run-down of the afternoon, why not take a look at our storify page for the event here– we’ll be adding to it!

A couple of quick friday reads, anyone?

Georgie: Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams

grandpaIn some ways, I am not really sure why I am writing this review. I imagine every single child (and some adults!) will have read this book by now. Funny, witty, and sadness combined, Walliams has once again managed to embed real-life situations into a hilarious plot. My favourite character had to be the newsagent, Raj. I loved how he tried to sell Jack a thousand Christmas cards and a pre-licked lollipop!

Dementia is something that so many young people will be dealing with right now and I believe this story will help towards their own understanding of this truly terrible disease. FANTASTIC!

(Harper Colins, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9780007494019, find it here on the NLIS catalogue or on our eBook platform)

Harriet: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

murderThis is a boarding school murder mystery story set in the 1930s. It must feel like a total fantasy world to the average contemporary child, so the serious nature of the plot will seem remote and not disturb unduly. However, although fairly light it does touch on racism, as the narrator arrives from Hong Kong to join the school at a time when few Asian children were coming to England. It is one of a series for girls, years 6 to 7 who enjoy the Agatha Christie/Angela Brazil type yarn.

(Corgi, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780552570725, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

(you can view our previous friday read recommendations here)

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National Non-Fiction November

Established by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, National Non-Fiction November is a month-long celebration drawing attention to the ‘wonderful world of non-fiction for children and young people’. Chris Routh wrote a brilliant write-up about on the CILIP blog about the importance of non-fiction, which you can see here– we wholeheartedly agree!

This year’s theme is maps, which went down particularly well in our office as we’re always expressing our love for all things map-centric. Here are a few recommendations we came up to share with your children; all of these are available from us here at the School Library Service, so do get in touch if you’d like to borrow a few for your school!

Maps part 1

  • City Atlas by Georgina Cherry, illustrated by Martin Haake 

One of the latest wonderful products from Wide Eyed Books, this large format picture book in popular retro style will be lovely to browse.

(Aurum Press, £20 hardback, ISBN 9781847806482)

  • Barefoot Books World Atlas by Nicholas Crane, illustrated by David Dean

The wonderful enthusiastic Mr Crane introduces this attractive atlas which includes a pull-out map.

(Barefoot Books, £14.99 hardback, ISBN 9781846863325)

  • People On Earth by Jon Richards and Ed Simkins

Maps are symbols of the real world, and this infographics book takes that concept even further, by conveying hundreds of facts about the world in icons, graphics and pictograms.

(Wayland, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9780750291514)

  • Journeys by Harry Cory Wright

OK, so it’s not a book of maps, but we all need maps when we go on journeys, big or small.  This is a book of photographs captioned with the simplest questions to make us think and discuss.  There is a page of suggestions and ideas at the end.

(Watts, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9780749688493)

Now- some other non-fiction friday reads!

Apryl: A Walk in New York by Salvatore Rubbino 

NYCI have a complete soft-spot for anything about New York, and I love Rubbino’s illustrations, so it’s almost like this book was made specifically with me in mind! A boy and his dad spend the day walking around the city, taking in the sights from Grand Central to Greenwich Village. The narrative is peppered with interesting facts about the city; for example, did you know that the two lions outside the New York Public Library are called Patience and Fortitude, or that more hot dogs are eaten in New York than in any other city in America? There are two other titles in this series (one about Paris, and one about London), and they’re a great way to learn interesting facts and figures about cities.

(Walker Books, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781406321807)

Georgie: Ali’s Story: A Real-Life Account of his Journey from Afghanistan by Salvador Maldonado and Andy Glynne



This is a superb visualisation of life for a child in a war-torn country. This book helps young people in our society to understand the devastation that war can have on children and families. Excellent SMSC text and perfect for class and personal enjoyment

(Wayland, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780750292078)

Harriet: The Wonder Garden by Jenny Broom, illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams

wonder gardenThere is an abundance of gorgeous large format picture books around at the moment, as we’re sure you will have discovered.  Sophisticated in style, they are as lovely and appealing for a high school audience – indeed for anyone aged to 99 and beyond! This title is a new one about different habitats, using a collage of Victorian engravings with bright neon colours, and lovely descriptive information about the various scenes. Wallow and enjoy.

(Frances Lincoln, £20 hardback, ISBN 9781847806475)



You can find our previous friday reads here.

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Hello Half Term!

It’s been quiet in our office this week; it’s half term, but though the phones haven’t been ringing quite as much as normal, we’ve been preparing ourselves for a busy November out and about at a few conferences, as well as some INSET training and the Norfolk heat of the 2015 Kids’ Lit Quiz!

A couple of things worth taking a look at:

  • Firstly, the entry window for the SLA pupil library assistant of the year has been extended until 13th November, details of which can be found here. Last year’s winner, Abbi, attended Aylsham High in Norfolk and her account of winning the prize makes for a wonderful read. If you have any students you feel deserve recognition, make sure you nominate them before the closing date.
  • You can now register to enter the 2016 National Short Story Week Young Writer competition and there are only spaces for 300 schools, so visit the page here ASAP to sign up your school! The top stories will be published in a paperback and ebook during National Short Story Week 2016 and all royalties generated from sales will go to Teenage Cancer Trust.
  • The 2016 World Book Day award was launched last week, a competition sponsored by author James Patterson which gives schools the opportunity to win £10,000 worth of books for their library. There are also second and third place prizes of £5000 and £3000 up for grabs! To enter, schools must respond creatively to the question “where does your reading take you?” with competition due by 1st December 2015. Winners will be selected by James Patterson himself with help from children’s laureate Chris Riddell. For more information about the competition, including details of how to enter, visit the website here: http://worldbookday.com/wobod/

…and now for some friday reads!

Georgie: Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

fire colour“I call my mother Hannah because she told me to. When I was about seven, she said it was time to stop being a baby and start using her proper name”

Fire Colour One is the story of Iris, a teenage girl who is sent – by her mother – to visit her dying father in England in the hope that he might leave his considerable estate to her. The language is beautiful and characters described painstakingly well. Iris’ obsession with fire is clearly a metaphor for money and makes parallels between their destructive powers. It is definitely a book that will stay in your mind for weeks after!

(Harper Collins, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780007512362, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

Harriet: Writing in the Sand by Helen Brandom 

writingAfter a traumatic and visceral beginning, this young adult novel settles into a sweet and at times heart-wrenching very contemporary tale.  Although it covers many issues including teenage pregnancy, child carers, special needs and fostering, it doesn’t feel over-loaded and ends on an optimistic note.

(Usborne, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781409563914, find it here on the NLIS eBook catalogue)

Zoë: A Royal Tea for Royalty by Ellie Simmonds

royalThis is a charming story is the fourth in the ‘Ellie’s Magical Bakery’ series from Paralympian Swimmer, Ellie Simmonds, who features as the main character and was clearly inspired by her appearance in the ‘Great Comic Relief Bake-Off’.

Wonderful illustrations and descriptive language bring the characters alive in this book for readers who are extending themselves with chapter books. And Ellie’s bakes sound mouth-watering!

Ellie is a great baker, with villagers far and wide coming to buy her delicious cakes. Victoria Sponge, a fairy, is the secret to her success, as with Ellie’s father who had also been a great baker. She also loves swimming and longs to swim in the pool at the Olympic Park in London. A sudden gust of wind brings a piece of paper to Ellie’s feet. It gives details for a baking competition with a VIP judge and a prize of £1000 at the village hall. Basil, her best friend, suggests she enters as he knows she would win. Ellie thinks of a plan to help her relations win as the national finals are at the Olympic Park.

(Red Fox, £5.99, ISBN 9781782952695, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

(You can find our previous Friday Reads here)

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Very special visitors!

We had some visitors to our office at the beginning of this week!

Visitors are of course nothing new but these ones were particularly special, because it was a class of 27 children from a local school- the FIRST full class we’ve ever had come and see us! They were here as part of North Norfolk Stories, a project partnership from Museums Norfolk. Their day began at the Norfolk Record Office learning about the history of their town and in the afternoon, we ran an activity looking at railways in the past. A great time was had by all and it was so lovely to see how children reacted when presented with the vastness of our stock- they were amazed!

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19th Oct 2015 015

(Our office, ready for the arrival of 27 excitable children and some of the class hard at work!)

We’re pleased to report that the visit was a real success and we’re excited to have another school visit soon!

Now, this week’s friday reads!

23rd ot

Apryl: Star Wars: The Complete Saga by Jason Fry

I’m very excited for ‘The Force Awakens’ and after buying my tickets for a midnight screening on December’s release day, I decided to have a quick look through this full-colour retrospective of the Star Wars saga. Packed with pictures from the previous six films, the book is a great visual introduction to the two trilogies, accompanied with narrative text succinctly summarising the story’s lengthy plot. Great for new and old fans alike!

(Scholastic, £9.99 paperback, ISBN 9780545356312, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

Harriet: Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux
This is a most stylish, simple and colourful way of demonstrating the enormous threats that hang over the wildlife of our planet, caused by our destruction of habitats. Inspired by Where’s Wally?, as it contains a puzzle element, it also reminds me of the wonderful novelty book ‘Into the Forest’ by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud.

(Egmont Books, £10.99 hardback, ISBN 9781405276481)

Mandy: Bird by Crystal Chan

Bird is an impressive first novel, for your sophisticated Y6 readers and up to Y8. Jewel’s family is devastated by her older brothers’ death on the day Jewel was born. Each locked into sadness and silence and with Grandad’s mute presence in the house the tension is unbearable for 12 year old Jewel. A boy comes to town, staying with his Uncle, and befriends Jewel, but is he all he seems?  From the moment they meet in Jewel’s oak tree everything starts to change.

(Tamarid Books, £7.99 paperback, ISBN 9781848531253, find it here on the NLIS catalogue),

Zoë: Shark in the Park on a Windy Day by Nick Sharratt

This is a thoroughly enjoyable rhyming story about a little boy, Timothy Pope, who, with his favourite toy, a telescope, goes to the park. There is lots of repetition which will add interest and excitement for readers and/or listeners.

Timothy is a keen observer and informs everyone when he keeps seeing something that looks like a shark’s fin. Nick Sharratt’s excellent illustrations are bold and bright. The hole pages encourage imaginative thinking and there is a surprise ending for Timothy. This would be a great story to read aloud!

(Picture Corgi, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780552573108, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

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Congratulations All Saints Primary!

At the beginning of last week, the 2015 SLA Inspiration Award was won by not one but TWO schools- one of which was from Norfolk: All Saints CEVA Primary in Stibbard!

Everyone in our team was pleased to hear that the school had triumphed, not just because they’re within our region but also because we worked with them on aspects of their library refurbishment. Their library space underwent a huge transformation and we were so pleased to see that their vision and hard-work received such praise; congratulations to the school and staff, and of course the children who now have an even better library to use!

You can see what the SLA had to say about the school here, and All Saints themselves created a brilliant prezi presentation about their library and its changes, which you can view here!

We’d also like to congratulate the other winning school, Valley Park in Maidstone, and also give a big well done to those who were nominated (including another Norfolk school, Howard Junior!)

Now: some Friday Reads!

Georgie: Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss

jessica“Francis has never had a friend like Jessica before. She’s the first person he’s met who can make him feel completely himself. Jessica has never had a friend like Francis before. Not just because he’s someone to laugh with every day – but because he’s the first person who has ever been able to see her.” 

This YA Novel is about a lonely boy and a lonely girl who find sanctuary in each other’s company. The only problem: Jessica is dead. As the tale unfolds we follow Jessica and Francis’ friendship including the highs and lows of their own existence.

I really enjoyed this eBook because although the story uses the supernatural the actual issues it addresses are very real. Norriss shows the reader how difficult life can be when you’re a teenager who is considered ‘different’.

(David Fickling Books, £10.99 hardback, ISBN 9781910200339, available on our Norfolk SLS eBook Lending Platform)

Harriet: Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre


I’m not sure how much children will learn factually about the Frozen North from this story if read alongside the new curriculum, but it’s great fun, and a very moral tale with some lovely language right from the first sentence: ‘Winter came in the night, like a white sheet laid over the world’. Also available as an ebook, it’s a most attractive hardback production, as are the two earlier stories by this talented pair: Oliver and the Seawigs and Cakes in Space.

(Oxford University Press, £8.99 hardback, ISBN 9780192734570, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

Mandy: A Rock is Lovely by Diana Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long


This beautifully illustrated narrative non-fiction book would certainly help to enliven your Rock and Minerals and Stone Age topics. Language is poetic, layout is imaginative. Teachers on a recent Outstanding English course were very excited about the possibilities this book offers. Who knew rocks could be lively?!

(Chronicle Books, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781452145556)

Zoë: Blitzcat by Robert Westall


Lord Gort gets confused when her owners move house because of a military posting. She has many adventures, whilst seeking out her master, which take her around the country, as well as into France.

From the cat’s perspective, this is a beautifully written book about her travels during World War II. It is aimed at mature readers in UKS2, due to the language and story content.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the story as this is not my usual choice of genre. Nevertheless I couldn’t put it down as I was keen to know where Lord Gort would go next, whom she would encounter and how her presence would impact on their lives.

(Macmillan, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781447284604, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

You can find all of our previous friday reads here.

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Getting Poetic on a Friday Afternoon…

What’s that saying? You wait for a themed week and then three come along at once….?

We kicked-off the 2015 Chatterbooks week with a special event at Norwich’s Millennium Library on Tuesday at which author (and Chatterbooks champion) Guy Bass appeared and spoke to lots of keen children! Here he is below, in action and showing us his very official Chatterbooks badge:Guy Bass NML

Guy Bass NML 2

Lots of great Chatterbooks content was being shared via the #CBXweek hashtag (take a look if you can!), plus The Reading Agency shared some tips for setting up a Chatterbooks group, a Chatterbooks Champions activity pack AND a poetry Chatterbooks pack! Phew!

It’s also Dyslexia awareness week (until 11th October); both the British Dyslexia Association and Dyslexia Action have lots of information and resources available, plus The Guardian also shared two brilliant poems by Sally Gardner and Ros Asquith. We loved too this tweet from the publisher Barrington Stoke explaining what goes into their dyslexia-friendly books:


It was also National Poetry Day yesterday, this year with a theme of ‘Light’. The Forward Arts Foundation has great resouces and for this week’s Friday Reads, one of our Librarians, Harriet, has shared some poetry books she thinks are worth taking a look at…

Pick Up a Poem!

There’s lots of poetry all over the place this week.  Why limit it to this week?  The new curriculum is full of poetry, so Embrace and Enjoy!


For Early Years:

Over the Hills and Far Away collected by Elizabeth Hammill

Described as ‘A treasury of nursery rhymes from around the world’ this is a beautiful compilation with multiple illustrators. Buy for school and every young child you know.

(Frances Lincoln, £14.99 hardback, ISBN 9781847804068find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

For Key Stage 1:

Blue Balloons and Rabbit Ears Poems written and illustrated by Hilda Offen

This is a very varied mix of themes and poetry styles, fun and appealing to the younger child.  It was shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Prize this year.

(Troika Books, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781909991033)

For Key Stage 2:

All the Wild Wonders edited by Wendy Cooling; illustrations by. Piet Grobler

Linked by a common theme of the beauty of the natural world and the very real environmental dangers it faces this is a lovely mix of old and new, with colourful but delicate watercolours from Grobler.

(Frances Lincoln, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781847806260find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

For Key Stage 3:

Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt

The verse novel is apparently much more familiar in the USA, but I’m glad this has been published here, as it is a clever, quick read about a delinquent lad who is full of anger, but who finds redemption through words.

Malorie Blackman’s Cloud Busting about bullying, and Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog, another popular verse novel, are also both suitable for KS2 or KS3

(Chronicle Books, £19.99 hardback, ISBN 9781452127002)

And here, is Harriet’s ‘poem of the week’- a stanza from Lord Cozens Hardy by John Betjeman:

Oh Lord Cozens Hardy
  Your mausoleum is cold,
The dry brown grass is brittle
  And frozen hard the mould
And where those Grecian columns rise
  So white among the dark
Of yew trees and of hollies in
  That corner of the park
By Norfolk oaks surrounded
  Whose branches seem to talk,
I know, Lord Cozens Hardy,
  I would not like to walk.

You can read our previous Friday Read posts here.

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Friday Reads- now with links to your local library catalogue!

It’s OCTOBER! How did that happen? Three weeks until half term and then…no, we won’t discuss Christmas just yet!

This week’s Friday Reads post is special for two reasons:

  1. There are double the usual suggestions (we didn’t post last week, so we’re in catch-up mode) and,
  2. Some of the books we recommend are now linked to the Norfolk Library and Information Service catalogue! This is particularly exciting because it means that if you see anything you like and there’s a link accompanying it, you can check whether your local branch has a copy for you to borrow. If they don’t, you can place a reservation!

Harriet: Harriet

Probes to the Planets and Looking Beyond by Steve Parker

Two new and very attractive books about space by our favourite non-fiction writer, Steve Parker (If you are interested in a visit by Steve to your school get in touch with us!).  They touch on our current interest in Pluto, by looking at probes which are exploring space, and the origins of the universe itself.  They are full of clear explanations, up-to-date illustrations and photographs, and – a nice touch – quotes from scientists at the top of every double spread; for example, ‘The WMAP result confirms that our Cosmos is much, much stranger than we ever imagined’. from Science Magazine 2003, ‘Breakthrough of the Year’.

(Watts, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781445140476) & (Watts, £12.99, ISBN 9781445140483, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

Tales of Mystery and Magic by Hugh Lupton

With lovely illustrations by Agnese Baruzzi, this is a typically high quality product from Barefoot Books, and comes with a CD of the great storyteller himself reading these world folk tales aloud.  I actually found the Scottish tale veeery scary – but perhaps that’s because I’m not so far off the age when the visitor might come calling on me! All the tales beg to be read aloud.

(Barefoot Books, £9.99 paperback, ISBN 9781782852544)

Mandy: mandy

Max the Champion by Sean Stockdale

This very inclusive picture book would be a great support for PSHE and sport and likeable Max just happens to have one or two health problems that don’t seem to get in his way!

(Frances Lincoln, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781847805195, find it on the NLIS catalogue here)

Lucky by David Mackintosh

This book is a great warning not to let your imagination run away with you when someone promises a surprise- and haven’t we all done it?! Two brothers speculate on everything from crinkly chips to a free holiday with hilarious results. Exaggeration has it’s pitfalls but all is well in the end. This would read aloud well and has plenty of possibilities for creative writing and discussion.

(Harper Collins, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780007463046find it here on the NLIS catalogue)


Fair’s Fair by Leon Garfield

A heart-warming story about a homeless boy and his adventure with a black dog, ‘Fair’s fair’ is probably set in the Victorian period.

Jackson is freezing as he huddles on a doorstep, trying to shelter from the snow with a precious hot pie he has earned from some casual work. A huge black dog appears and, as Jackson’s motto is ‘Fair’s fair’, he shares the pie with the dog. This bargain leads to another and Jackson reaps an unexpected reward because he shared.

(Wayland, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9780750256513)

Mr Crookodile by John Bush, illustrated by Korky Paul

Mrs Crocodile is fed up of living in a dark, dank river bank so she suggests that Mr Crocodile gets a job so they can move. Mr Crocodile comes up with lots of ideas but they are all rejected by his wife. Finally he comes up with a brilliant scheme but it doesn’t go according to plan…

This is funny story for developing readers with fabulous illustrations by Korky Paul.

(Egmont Books, £4.99 paperback, ISBN 9781405222297find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

Our previous Friday Read suggestions can be found here

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How to Train Your Dragon…in Norwich!

This week began with great excitement- Cressida Cowell came to visit Norwich! The author of the popular How to Train Your Dragon series was in our city to promote her newest book, ‘How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury’ and spoke to a full audience at the Open venue in the city on Monday night. It was lovely to meet Cressida, who took the time to speak to all of her keen fans who queued up to have their books signed after the event. We re-tweeted some photos from the evening over on our twitter page, so be sure to take a look. We hope she enjoyed her trip to Norwich- we’re big fans of dragons here, so I’m sure she felt right at home!

Now- some Friday Reads!

Gail: Mel Foster and the Demon Butler by Julia Golding

Mel Foster

Julia Golding’s new novel is an enjoyable gothic fantasy set in the Victorian period with reference to real historical and literary characters ( but with lots of artistic licence!)

There are weird and wonderful monsters, lots of action and rich imagery. Would suit good readers at top end of KS2/lower KS3.

(Egmont, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781405277341)

Harriet: Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

Fire Colour One

A young arsonist meets her estranged father who is dying of cancer.  The author tries to look behind the reasons someone lights fires, and with flashbacks tells the poignant, tragic story of a dysfunctional family.  With a shocking discovery at the end,  no easy answers are offered, but young Iris’s mother is certainly punished.  She and her partner struck me as rather caricature characters with few if any redeeming features, but this is nevertheless a cracking good read.

(Harper Colins, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780007512362)

Zoë: The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

ClockworkThis is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery set in a department, not unlike Selfridges and others in London, during Edwardian times.

Our heroine, Miss Sophie Taylor, is a determined young lady who finds herself in unfortunate circumstances yet does not allow herself to dwell on her misfortune. Instead she attains employment at the soon-to-open Sinclair’s Department Store, in the Millinery Department, where she stumbles right into a criminal plot. Over its several floors, Sinclair’s is bursting with a myriad of luxuries. It sounds a most marvellous place!

With the help of her new friends, Miss Lilian Rose (one of the Captain’s Girls and aspiring actress) and Billy Parker (apprentice porter), secret messages are decoded, a terrified lad is befriended, priceless jewels are recovered and the identity of The Baron is…, well, you’ll have to read the book to find out about him!

(Egmont, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 971405276177)

You can read our previous friday read recommendations here.

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