Theme Thursday: School’s Out- and Summer’s here!

We’re nearing the end of the first week of the holidays and we’re dreaming of the ways we’d fill our long break (if we weren’t in office keeping busy!). Enthused by a new KS2 novel by Julia Green: The Wilderness War, which is a lovely story with a strong environmental theme set over a school summer holiday, Harriet, one of our SLS Librarians, has produced a mini booklist of titles with a sultry summery feel…

Summer Books


  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

It all begins on a summer afternoon, when it’s too hot outside to do anything but sit with your big sister, who is reading a very dull looking book…

  • Summer Evening by Walter De la Mare, illustrated by Carolina Rabei

Another seasonal poem by de la Mare that Rabei has selected to illustrate as a picture book, with a suitably warm glowing palette.

  • Days Like This by Simon James

More poems for the very youngest children; simple and carefree verses matched by his free style illustrations

  • Lob by Linda Newbery

A gentle story of family loss and the healing qualities of nature, with a touch of the supernatural – is Lob real or the legendary Green Man?

  • A Summery Saturday Morning by Margaret Mahy

A rollicking, bouncy rhyme in Mahy’s inimitable style, brightly illustrated by Selina Young

And ending with one of my own favourites from childhood:

  • The Children Who Lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham

This was so memorable for me because the story of a whole family of siblings, seemingly abandoned by their parents and having to find ways to survive on their own felt wonderfully free and exciting. Ever since I’ve always wanted to try cooking in a hay box, but never have – maybe the reality wouldn’t be so interesting?

PLUS, some non-fiction…

  • Nature Adventures by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

This and other nature books by this wonderful pair of writers just beg to be taken outside. Get your binoculars, put on your boots and out you go!

  • Usborne Spotter’s Guides

Children like to count things off, and I remember loving schemes like the I-Spy books which encouraged young enthusiasts to spot different items and win rewards. These little books also let users tick each flower, bird etc found, then score according to rarity!

  • British Mammals by Victoria Munson

A little Wayland series which also includes British Birds with simple entries and clear photographs.

Our other Theme Thursday lists can be found here.


Boxes, Boxes EVERYWHERE…

The end of the academic term is finally here and for us that means the return of lots and lots of project boxes and more orders coming in for the beginning of September. It also means any spare bits of space in our office now look a lot like this: Boxes

They’re EVERYWHERE (not that we’re complaining of course)! We hope that all schools who used our resources this term found them useful and we’re already looking forward to seeing what you’d like for next term- we love a challenge!

Now schools are closed for the next month or so, our SLS van has had its annual makeover and has been transformed for the Big Friendly Read. It’ll be visiting various locations across Norfolk to promote the Summer Reading Challenge and here’s a sneak peak of what you’ll see should you make it on board…how great does it look?

BFG van

As a final send off before it goes on a brief hiatus over the summer holidays, we have SIX Friday Reads for you to cast your eyes over:

Apryl: Gorilla Loves Vanilla by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne

GorillaGiven the weather has been so delightful lately and that our office has been so warm, this seemed like the perfect picture book to momentarily distract me from wanting to nip out and buy my own frozen treat…

Jellybean Street has a very popular ice cream parlour owned by the (conveniently named) Sam Sundae. Always putting his customers first, Sam is always able to whip up a veritable feast to match whatever strange flavour request his patrons have. Blue cheese cone for a mouse? Sure! A squirmy wormy sundae for a Hen? Of course!

As someone whose preference for vanilla ice cream has always been described as “boring”, I loved this little rhyming tale accompanied by Nicola O’Byrne’s bright and colourful illustrations. Very befitting of the countdown to summer, and sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. Is that the faint sound of the ice cream van I hear in the distance..?

(Scholastic, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781407148106, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Gail: There’s a Moose on the Loose by Lucy Feather, illustrated by Stephan Lomp

mooseThis is a colourful interactive puzzle book for young children (Rec/Y1). There are arrows to follow tracing the naughty moose’s path and lots to spot as the moose chases through the public buildings in the city. Could be used as part of Our Environment; also good for discussion/speaking and listening skills/reading for pleasure.


(Nosy Crow, £10.99 hardback, ISBN 9780857635853)

Harriet: The House on Hummingbird Island by Sam Angus

HummingbirdA thoughtful novel for KS3 readers which while starting out as an animal-y mystery for younger readers in the vein of Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, develops into a mature questioning of how Britain expected its whole Empire to join in fighting in the Great War, along with the aftershocks of slavery and racism. While I think it could have been edited to remove slight repetition, it is a thoroughly good read, incorporating a sweet love story, a cast of strange and interesting characters, a dark mystery and possible murder, all set on the gorgeously colourful Caribbean island of the title.

(Macmillan’s Children’s Books, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781447263036)

Sweet Pizza by G.R. Gemin

PizzaI like to take a topical book on my summer holiday if possible; this year the closest I could get to my Italian destination was this new KS2 novel by G.R. Gemin – well, it had pizza in the title! Even though it is actually set in the small Welsh town of his first terrific novel, Cowgirl, there is, in fact, a strong Italian theme, as the hero is half Italian, half Welsh. The Italian half of Joe’s family were immigrants back in his great-grandfather’s time, and some of the most interesting parts of the novel are his grandad Nonno’s reminiscences of his life during the Second World War. Because Italy sided with Hitler, all Italians were considered enemy aliens, and so we hear about a less well-known aspect of the war. A new wave of immigrants has now come to town, and this is a timely reminder that Britain has accepted and been enriched by other nations over and over through the years. Joe’s amazing success at reviving his (somewhat depressed) mum’s café, is perhaps a little unrealistic, but this is a warm read with the bonus of some Italian recipes at the end! And to really get into the mood, you should read this while eating sweet pizza (yes, really!) and listening to a Verdi opera, which the author also describes with great enthusiasm.

(Nosy Crow, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780857636300)

Mandy: The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce, illustrated by Steve Lenton

Broccoli Boy.jpgFirst one, then two then three children turn green and spark a national security crisis involving the Prime Minister’s phone and a very dramatic crane rescue!

For those who love David Walliams this is a great read drawing on the (heavily disguised!) old East Anglian story of the Green Children. Full of drama, Rory Roony is the one who rescues his nemesis, the bully Tommy Lee, and discovers that everyone has superpowers and even bullies can be afraid.

(Macmillan’s Children’s Books, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780330440875, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Zoë: Operation Blackout by Victor Watson

Operation BlackoutThis is a really exciting adventure which begins during the Christmas bombings of London, 1940.

Hannah has suffered the misfortune of being bombed out twice – at her gran’s house (who sadly dies as a result) and then at a neighbour’s. After several days of wandering, and spending time in various air-raid shelters, she encounters a man known as ‘Cyclops’. He drops a list that also includes the name of a village – Great Deeping. Meanwhile in a German school, Konrad Friedmann is given some very bad news by his head master. In order for him to bring restitution he has to carry out a secret mission in the east of England: Operation Blackout.

Two very different lives of two children are about to collide yet someone is watching from the shadows…

(Catnip Publishing, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781910611005)

Our archive of Friday Reads can be found here– they’ll be back in the Autumn!


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Young Poetry and a Castle Takeover!

Young Norfolk Arts Festival took place across the county between 1st– 10th July, with a plethora of events in all aspects of art and culture. We attended two events at the tail-end of last week; the Young Norfolk Poetry Competition, hosted by Writers’ Centre Norwich, and the British Art Show 8 Norwich Castle Takeover, with lots of brilliant workshops taking place between 5-10pm on Saturday evening.

Only in its first year, the Young Norfolk Poetry Competition gave poets aged 14-18 the opportunity to showcase their talents by submitting poems or lyrics of no longer than 40 lines in length. Also at the ceremony was rapper and street poet, Franco Fraize, who performed one of his songs a-cappella. Writers’ Centre have posted the winning entrants online here and as you can see, the quality of work was incredibly high.

Poetry Comp

(Franco performing and then with the winners along with Lucy Farrant (YNAF), Sophie Scott-Brown (Writers’ Centre Norwich) and Robert Rickard from Norfolk County Council )

The British Art Show Takeover was a brilliant opportunity to visit Norwich Castle for free on a sunny afternoon. As well as getting to take in the wonderful surroundings and the visiting BAS8 exhibition, there were also lots of activities taking place in the museum’s rotunda including arts and crafts inspired by the touring collection of modern contemporary art. Well done to the YNAF and Norwich Castle teams for organising such an engaging event!


And last, but not least, the Big Friendly Read launches at libraries this weekend! If you haven’t heard about this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, where on earth have you been? Be sure to pop along to your local branch to sign up and start your reading journey. Don’t forget, for 11-18 year olds in Norfolk, there’s also the ImagiNation project, which you can read about here.

Below are this week’s Friday Reads:

Apryl: Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies by Carmen Oliver, illustrated by Jean Claude

bearAs someone who likes reading and bears, this book is very relevant to my interests.

When Adelaide’s class are assigned reading buddies for the year, she doesn’t need Mrs Fitz-Pea to match her up with someone as she already has a friend in mind- a Bear. Her teacher is obviously apprehensive that a wild, potentially aggressive mammal wants to participate in class reading, but Adelaide lays out her reasoning in a very persuasive way (my favourite of which is that they always have a jar of honey to repair books with- must try this in office).

The illustrations which accompany this pro-reading story are wonderful and by the end of it, I wished that I had my own reading buddy bear. Is this something someone can arrange?

(Curious Fox, £4.99 paperback, ISBN 9781782024279, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Zoë: Oodles of Noodles by Diana Hendry, illustrated by Sarah Massini

NoodlesThis amusing story is reminiscent of ‘The Magic Porridge Pot’.

With illustrations by Sarah Massini that capture the magnitude of the noodles, this would be a lovely story to read aloud. There are several fonts used throughout the story to good effect although some readers may find decoding words in certain fonts tricky. As such, it would be suitable to model text types to older readers where they are writing for specific audiences.

I did enjoy the daftness of the story and I’m sure children will too!

(Little Tiger Press, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781845064501)

You can find an archive of our Friday Reads here.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Norfolk Children’s Book Festival 2016

At the beginning of this week, two of our team made their way down to the beautiful setting of Norwich Cathedral to attend the Norfolk Children’s Book Festival, taking place as part of the Young Norfolk Arts Festival. Hosted by Norwich School, the day event is now in its fifth year and is a wonderful way to promote literacy and books by giving pupils the opportunity to see and hear from authors they know and love. We’re always grateful to attend and one of our team, Zoë, writes a recap below:

This year the festival, previously held in the grounds of Norwich School, was in the stunning surroundings of Norwich Cathedral. Many more schools and pupils were able to attend and listen to the many different speakers on offer, taking away plenty of ideas to inspire them.

As we were in the cloisters and the Cathedral was still open to the public, Harriet and I alternated listening to various speakers.

Harriet listened to Philip Reeve, Ruth Eastham and Jonathan Stroud. She particularly liked Jonathan’s interaction with the audience, with his volunteer dressing up like a Ghostbusters character.

There were several break-out sessions of which I attended two. Ivan Bates is a successful illustrator from Norfolk and his session was very active. He encouraged us, his audience, to think like an illustrator. He said the thing illustrators dislike most is a blank page. Ivan explained how the layout of children’s books, picture books in particular, has changed over the years and how he likes to create images which not only support the text but add subtext too.

Kevin Graal led an engaging interactive story-telling session involving bells, actions and responses. The children were absorbed as he incorporated their reactions and comments into his repartee. Repetition, being a key feature of traditional stories, featured highly.

As always, the hospitality was wonderful and lunch-time gave both of us a chance to chat to school staff, both of Norwich School and visiting schools. We also spoke to pupils at our stall in the cloisters. One girl, who told us last year she wants to publish her own stories when she’s older, was pleased I had remembered her!

As always, the line-up was wonderfully curated and we look forward to seeing what Cheryl and the rest of the Norwich School team come up with next year!

Another event taking place this week was an author visit arranged in partnership with ourselves and the YNAF team. Julian Sedgwick (author and knife-juggler!) joined pupils at Litcham School for a transition event which Amelia recounts on the school’s Books and Beyond blog (it’s also on the Shelf Talk and YNAF Backstage blogs too!). Moby from the YNAF Comms team attended the event and has written a recap which you can read here, PLUS keep your eyes peeled for a special schools event we’ll be advertising soon as Julian is coming back to Norwich in September to take part in Noirwich, the city’s crime writing festival.

Below are some Friday Reads! Why not leave us a comment to let us know what you’re reading as with the summer coming, we’re going to have a little time to catch up with anything we may have missed…!

Harriet: I’ve recently become aware of two fun series published by Nosy Crow, which are Wigglereally good reads for children just taking off with reading ‘chapter books’. They’re both light-hearted with lots of illustrations, and told in the first person so that children will easily relate to the characters.

Wigglesbottom Primary: The Magic Hamster by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Becka Moor

The Magic Hamster from this series, just 94 pages long, contains three different stories about a class of children, told by one of them – unidentified, cleverly. What little plot there is usually consists of misunderstandings which get sorted out in a humorous way. Themes of diversity and inclusion are discreetly incorporated, both in the themes and the illustrations. The font is sans-serif and has lots of words emphasised in upper case to encourage reading with FEELING!

(Nosy Crow, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9780857635303, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Piglet.jpgThe Invincibles: The Piglet Pickle by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

The Piglet Pickle is a lovely warm family story, with a – slightly! – absurd plot involving a burglar and intelligent piglet Kevin. It is just a little longer than the other series at 106 pages, with one continuous plot line told in very short chapters, with conventional font and lots of appealing illustrations. Great fun.

(Nosy Crow, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9780857636256)

Zoë: The Water Horse by Holly Webb

Water horseIn this first book of a new series set in Venice, Princess Olivia learns more about her magical powers, as well as those of her father, the king, and how important their magic is regards the safety of the city. No magic and the waters will rise, drowning everyone and everything.

Despite her privileged position, Olivia has no-one to turn to for help when her father falls ill (she distrusts her aunt and cousin) and, because of her age, her magic is not yet strong enough to control the waters alone. She comes up with a plan to save Venice and, in doing so, encounters a water horse – Lucian.

It is a pleasant enough story that fans of Holly Webb will enjoy, with some interesting characters plus the added interest of magic plus water horses that only Olivia can see. Personally I wasn’t struck with it as much as the Maisie Hitchins series so won’t be reading the sequel, The Mermaid’s Sister.

(Orchard Books, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781408327623, find it at a Norfolk Library)

You can find an archive of our Friday Reads here.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Young Norfolk Arts & Having a Write Laugh…

This week we helped the Young Norfolk Arts Festival establish their Backstage blog which gives an insight into the festival, including interviews with performers and behind-the-scenes glimpses of events taking place between 1st-10th July 2016. Content is produced by young members of the YNAF Comms team themselves and you can find it online here; be sure to check the blog and their twitter feed regularly for updates over the next few weeks as there’s lots going on across the county.

It’s true (as if you didn’t already know) boys respond positively to comedy. New Literacy Trust research shows that though boys (8-16) read less than girls, they are more likely to read comedy than anything else. Boys are also twice as likely as girls to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) to write comedy.

The perfect time then to get them writing, as the school year is winding down, with the BBC’s Comedy Classroom competition, Having a Write Laugh Entry is open for Year 9 & 10s until 24th July. Follow the link above for plenty of resources to get them tittering!

See below for this week’s Friday Reads…

Gail: Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce, illustrated by Steve Lenton

SputnikFrank Cottrell Boyce’s newest book is typically madcap, with a gentle underlying reality check. The protagonist is a ‘looked-after’ boy who doesn’t like to speak; his Grandad has dementia and doesn’t recognise him. The book is uplifting and surreal and features an alien dog, lots of dashing about doing things kids probably wish they could do, plus some interesting information about Space and a sideways look at ‘normal’ things which- it is hoped- will save our endangered planet.

(Macmillan’s Children’s Books, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9780230771376)

Harriet: Walter Tull’s Scrapbook by Michaela Morgan.

TullIn this anniversary year of the first Battle of the Somme, I have looked again at the fascinating story of Walter Tull, first black officer in the British Army, and a talented football player who was signed up to play for Tottenham Hotspur. This is a real ‘fairy tale’ of rags to fame – but with a tragic ending. Tull was one of six children from a mixed marriage, but both his parents were dead by the time he was 9, and he was sent to a Methodist children’s home.  The war interrupted burgeoning fame as a professional footballer, even though he had to fight racial prejudice. He survived the first onslaught of the Somme, suffered shell shock but was sent back to the front and even survived Paschendaele, but was killed in 1918 back at the Somme, aged 29. This book tells his remarkable story as a fictionalised diary, illustrated with genuine photographs and documents.

(Frances Lincoln, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781847804914, find it at a Norfolk library)

Mandy: Braille- Animals, On the Move, It Can’t be True!, Counting, Shapes

DK Braille.jpgIt’s rare to find really good publications for children with visual impairments incorporating both braille and tactile elements- but here is a set of 5 from Dorling Kindersley in association with the RNIB. Branded with the strapline “Knowledge you can touch” these will appeal to sighted children, but are well designed for those with a degree of visual impairment using bold line and colour and good tactile qualities- the cover zebra is subtly fuzzy. Counting and Shapes are aimed at Foundation, the other 3 titles at KS1 or 2, brilliant for your sensory collections.

(Pictured: Dorling Kindersley, £15.99 hardback, ISBN 9780241228395)

Zoe: Crowns and Codebreakers by Elen Caldecott

crowns and codesThis is the second instalment from the Marsh Road Mysteries’ series and as with the first, it is an enjoyable storyline with the children discovering another mystery to solve.

Minnie’s Gran, who lives in Nigeria, comes to stay with her son, Minnie’s Father, and the family. Upon her arrival, she requests the hibiscus tea from her suitcase as she is not a fan of English tea. However, when Minnie opens the black suitcase, instead of finding the things she expected – Nigerian snacks, Lagos tea, print dresses and large knickers – she discovers some boys’ clothes and a teddy bear. As expected, Minnie’s Gran is really upset she cannot drink her favourite tea and then she hears the really bad news that her case is not at the airport. How will she get her case back?

The mystery deepens the next day as, when the family return from church, their home has been broken into yet the only thing stolen was the black suitcase. It is time for Minnie to get the Marsh Road Investigators – Andrew, Piotr, Flora and Sylvie – onto the case…

(Bloomsbury, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781408852712)

You can find our previous recommendations here.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

CKG & FLY week 2016

It’s been all go in our office this week, so please bear with us as we take you on a quick whizz through the last five days…

On Monday, we were in school at our annual Carnegie Greenaway shadowing event (this year hosted by the lovely Wymondham High!) discussing the shortlisted titles and who we all thought would win. One of our Librarians, Harriet, has written a little recap of our morning which you can read below. You can also read Litcham High’s recap of the event over on their Books and Beyond blog.

Sarah Crossan

Apryl and I had a wonderful morning, as ever, celebrating the culmination of a year’s reading and enjoying books eligible for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards. These are chosen and judged by librarians, but there are shadowing groups in schools all over the country whose responses and thoughts are caught wonderfully on the shadowing website Three school groups, from Litcham High, Caister High and Long Stratton High, joined our hosts Wymondham High Academy, to network (and make instant friendships!), discuss, protest, advocate and finally vote for their favourites. Amazingly – we think this was a first! – our young Norfolk readers chose the same titles as the librarian panel nationally; Sarah Crossan’s ‘One’ and ‘The Sleeper and the Spindle’ by Neil Gaiman, with winning illustrations from Chris Riddell. The celebration in London was live streamed and those who could stay and had the patience to wait through the speeches were well rewarded. We were also really interested = and delighted – to hear about the new Amnesty/CILIP Honour awards, which were selected from the shortlists. Ross Collins’ fun ‘There’s a Bear on My Chair’ won the award for a picture book, showing tolerance and patience with great humour and warmth. By contrast ‘Lies We Tell Ourselves’ which won the novel Amnesty award is harrowing and shocking in its detailed descriptions of racism, violent bullying and religious intolerance in southern USA in the late 1950s.

Caister 1

(The Caister High CKG shadowing group, pictured at our event!)

Also this week, we’ve been catching some of the brilliant talks and events the UEA FLY Festival has had to offer. Perhaps the most exciting was seeing Chris Riddell on Tuesday afternoon, fresh from his Kate Greenaway win the day before.

Chris Riddell

It’s not the first time our paths have crossed (we saw him at a conference last year) but it’s always so wonderful to hear him talk, especially as in his awards speech he praised libraries and the importance of librarians (here here!). He even signed our copy of his award-winning book- in gold pen, no less!


Author Elizabeth Wein has been on tour around Norfolk this week, working in partnership with Scottish Booktrust to visit 9 schools in 5 days. Yesterday afternoon, she appeared at FLY in the City at Norwich’s Millennium Library and we were so pleased we managed to catch her. She gave visiting students a fabulous overview of the historical inspiration behind her three novels, revealed she’s a qualified pilot AND that she frequently reads some of the fan-fiction readers have written about her books. We’ve been so fortunate to have her in the county this week and by all accounts, her school visits have been a resounding success- come back soon, Elizabeth!image3

Below are this week’s Friday Reads and, in case you missed our post earlier this week, you’ll also find some recommendations to support Refugee Week and SMSC in your school here.

Harriet: Continuing the theme of Refugee Week, I am reminded of a life changing book shades of graywhich was on the Carnegie shortlist a few years ago: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, which was harrowing and revealed a little known part of WW2 history, and I’m really looking forward to reading her new novel, also about WW2 refugees, Salt to the Sea. My favourite book as a child of about 10 was Ian Seraillier’s The Silver Sword, and I’ve just realised my daughter’s favourite at a similar age was Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. The former was published only 11 years after the end of the war, and must have made quite an impact, with its tragic story of children struggling to survive in a ruined Europe while searching for their families, while the latter is a memoir of Kerr’s own childhood, fleeing Nazi Germany.

Mandy: The Girl with a Parrot on her Head by Daisy Hirst

ParrotThis is a really good debut picture book and already shortlisted for a prize. When this little girl’s best friend moves away she is first of all angry, and then becomes very quiet and organises her once exuberant stuff into boxes…but the wolf threatens to escape at night. It’s only when looking for a bigger box to contain the wolf that she finds another potential friend and I, for one, breathed sigh of relief!

The characters are quirky – ( who is good with newts?!) and the illustrations charming. The story will be great for your KS1 toolbox: friendship, moving house, depression, PSHE, emotions, SMSC…the lot!

(Walker Books, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 978104635528, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Zoë: It’s Elementary by Robert Winston

robert winstonFor anyone fascinated by natural elements and chemistry, this is a great book to find out more.

It begins with the history of alchemy, including one Nicolas Flamel (yes, him from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!) and how this science developed into chemistry, over many hundreds of years. A timeline charts many important discoveries and the scientists involved.

Naturally the periodic table is included, with facts about many elements, and a number of common elements are covered in detail, from where they are found to how they are used and more in-between. You can even find out the make-up of a dog! Brightly coloured images and a range of different sized fonts make this a dynamic read which can be easily dipped in and out of.

(Dorling Kindersley, £8.99 paperback, ISBN 9781405358040, find it at a Norfolk Library)

You’ll find our past Friday Read recommendations here.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Refugee Week 2016

Yesterday saw the start of Refugee Week, the 2016 theme of which is ‘Different Pasts, Shared Future’. The UK-wide celebration is- as the organisers say themselves- “a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.”. More information about Refugee Week can be found on their official website here, and there are even a plethora of educational resources available here, including items for use in class.

One of our Librarians, Gail, has put together a mini-list of titles to support Refugee Week, all of which we have here at SLS. She writes:

Refugee week

The Colour of Home is suitable for KS1/2 as a starting point about how young refugee children might feel. Refugees is a newly published nonfiction title with up-to-date photos and facts, suitable for KS2. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel with much detail; Azzi in Between is also in a comic format (and one we’ve referred to before!) The Silence Seeker is based on the misheard phrase ‘Asylum Seeker’ and is a picture book suitable for all primary; again a great starting point for discussion. These books would also promote SMSC in your school.

  • The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Karin Littlewood (Frances Lincoln, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780711219915)
  • Refugees by Harriet Brundle (Book Life, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781786370242)
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Hodder, £14.99 hardback, ISBN 9780340969939)
  • Azzi In Between by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln, £7.99 paperback, ISBN 9781847806512)
  • The Silence Seeker by Ben Morley, illustrated by Carl Pearce (Random House, £7.99 paperback, ISBN 9781848530034)



Tagged , , , , , ,

What’s That I See? CKG on the Horizon…

There are now just THREE DAYS before the winner of the 2016 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards are revealed and we’re really excited for our shadowing event on Monday, not just because by lunchtime we’ll FINALLY know who the winner is, but because we get to discuss all of the titles with groups of students from three of our Norfolk schools. We just know they’ll have interesting things to say about what they’ve been reading- they’re often even more opinionated than us!

If you still need bringing up to speed, we recommend taking a look at the CKG shadowing site here; to date (as we write this!), over 9631 reviews have been shared by young readers. According to the site’s reading barometer, Nick Lake’s ‘There Will Be Lies’ is currently “burning”, so who knows if the young people’s opinions will match those of the judges whose choice will be announced on 20th June. We’ll post a recap of our day once it’s taken place but in the meantime, why not take a look at Litcham School’s blog? As our Shelf Talk hosts, they’ve been sharing their thoughts on many of the titles shortlisted for both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway and will be one of the schools we’ll be getting together with next week. You’ll be able to stream the official awards event live from London here– it’s almost the same as being there (almost)!

The Summer Reading Challenge Big Friendly Read trailer launched recently and you can view it below; we’re really excited for a summer of reading and for young people in East Anglia, there’s also the ImagiNation project. You can read some more information about it here, and there’s even a pdf to download and share with those you think may be interested in the creative reading project for 11-18 year olds.

Finally: we won’t elaborate too much (because we wrote a post about it yesterday), but we were incredibly sad to hear that the Guardian Children’s Book site is to close after five years. You can read a special retrospective here and while the resources available on the page will still be available online, we’ll miss the diverse and distinctive voice the team brought to the world of children’s books, in particular giving children the opportunity to make their voices heard.

You’ll find this week’s Friday Reads below:

Apryl: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

SleeperAsk me which book I think should win the Kate Greenaway Award this year and I will (after a little bit of deliberation) tell you that it’s this, Neil Gaiman’s unique take on Sleeping Beauty, accompanied by simply amazing illustrations by Chris Riddell, the Children’s Laureate (and one of my favourites!). Not only is the story a wonderful twist on a well-trodden tale, but the whole book itself is a pleasure to behold, from cover to cover! Definitely one worth popping on your shelf and something I know I’ll come back to for years to come.

(Bloomsbury, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781408859643, find it at a Norfolk Library or on our SLS eBook platform)

Gail: Welcome to the Neighbourwood by Shawn Sheehy

WoodA brilliant pop-up book about how animals build homes. Sturdy(ish) constructions and clear information. If you’ve been watching Springwatch you’ll be pleased to hear there’s even a stickleback in there! Great for work on habitats, building, animals, homes, neighbourhoods and for Forest Schools.


(Walker Books, £14.99 hardback, ISBN 9781406358766)

Harriet: When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson

MarnieI may have read this way back in 1967, but hadn’t been to Norfolk then. The new film has alerted me to this quiet, lovely story set very definitely on the coast around west and north Norfolk. The new animated film is set elsewhere, but I do encourage everyone aged 9 to 99, to go back to the original story and enjoy its haunted, melancholy character. Anna is a foster child sent to the coast to profit from the sea air after an attack of asthma. Believing herself unloved and too difficult to form friendships, she does nevertheless make close friends with the mysterious but lively Marnie, and later, with the jolly family who move into the house on the marsh where Marnie herself had lived. This new edition has an interesting postscript by the author’s daughter, talking about the Norfolk setting, which is a vital, constant presence in the novel.

(HarperCollins, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780007591350, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Mandy:  How to look for a Lost Dog by Ann. M. Martin

DogI had Ann M. Martin “pigeonholed” in a category marked ‘Babysitters Club’ but this title is a little gem. Rose’s beloved dog Rain is lost during a massive storm. The story of how to find her, what happens next and how Rose copes at school and at home as someone with autism, with no mum and an angry dad combine to give a moving and engaging story.

To find a story about a girl with autism is a rare thing, this is also very readable and engaging as well as giving the reader a real insight into life with autism. And if you’re a dog lover, who could resist Rain’s seven white toes?

(Usborne, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781474906470, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Zoë: Dead Man’s Cove by Lauren St John

CoveThis is the first book in a series about Laura Marlin which I found to be an enjoyable read, tempted by the quote from The Times on the front cover: “Dead Man’s Cove will delight fans of Enid Blyton”.

Laura is orphaned and spends her first years living in a Children’s Home. An avid reader, she longs for excitement like many of the characters in the books she reads. Matron warns her to be careful what she wishes for. Like many children, Laura frequently asks ‘Why?’ When we first meet her, Laura wants to know why it has taken eleven years for her uncle, who is willing to adopt her, to be found.

This question is answered as the story develops, once she moves to Cornwall to live with her uncle, Calvin Redfern. Along the way, Laura encounters many mysteries (which generate yet more questions) getting the excitement she has longed for, and discovers adventures are not quite like those in books.

(Orion, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781444001488, find it at a Norfolk Library)

You can view our previous Friday Reads here.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Goodbye Guardian Children’s Books!

A large cry of “oh no!” echoed around our office this morning when we read the news that the Guardian’s Children’s Book site was to close after five years (more details here).

We’ve always found it to be a brilliant resource, not just for its coverage of children’s books- from early years to YA- but because of the way it gave young people the opportunity to voice their opinions about what they’re reading by sharing with their peers.

Allowing young people to create their own dialogue about books is a wonderful way to instil and foster a love of reading from an early age, and to have a platform on which to do this beyond the immediate realms of their classroom is a rare opportunity, something that should be cherished. After all, their voices and opinions deserve to be heard and celebrated as much as everyone else’s!

The site was one we checked and shared content from regularly and it’s been heart-warming to see the responses from writers, readers and followers on twitter echoing our feelings of overwhelming sadness that the coverage of children’s books will now be integrated into the main books site and aimed towards adults. It’s a real shame and we wish everyone involved all the best for the future- thank you for five years of your wonderful website!


Write on Norfolk

Write on Norfolk logo copyThis week saw the launch of Write on Norfolk, a county-wide summer writing competition for 5-13 year olds. Norfolk County Council are working in partnership with EDP for the initiative, designed to run alongside the annual Summer Reading Challenge.

The theme is (as you may have guessed) Norfolk! Entries must be no more than 500 words but can take any form you wish, as long as they do not exceed the word count. Winning work will be published in the EDP and there are book-token prizes to be had too. Participants will also receive a certificate which, if taken to a library, will gain a Children’s University credit. There’s a special submission page on the NCC website (here) and for more information, visit this page which explains a little more about the campaign.

This week’s Friday Reads are below:

Apryl: Willy’s Stories by Anthony Browne

storiesAnother Greenaway title from me, this time from the legendary Anthony Browne. A trip to the library sends Willy on an imaginative journey in this wonderful picture book, full to the brim of literary references you’ll know and love.


(Walker Books, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781406360899)

Harriet: Little Bits of Sky by S.E. Durrant

skyAn adult looks back to her arrival at a children’s home with her younger brother in 1989.  This is a warm, ultimately reassuring story of troubled children longing for proper families and home life. Maybe the resolution is too storybook perfect, but anything else would be hard to bear, as the author makes us empathise with the narrator and her brother. The main adults featured in the book are portrayed as well-meaning and kind on the whole, which for this readership (KS2) is appropriate. Nosy Crow have created a very appealing ‘package’ with attractive illustrations by Katie Harnett (they would look even lovelier in colour).

(Nosy Crow, £7.99 paperback, ISBN 9780857633996)

Mandy: A Cake for Tea by Sue Graves, illustrated by Richard Watson

cakeThis sweet ‘short read’ was a perfect choice for a brand new reader of my acquaintance called Tilly. Nearing the end of her year in Reception she came back to this book about 5 times in a few days while staying with her Grandma recently. It both reinforced her understanding of an everyday setting that she could read about and gave her good holiday reading practice. Though her mum would never have made such a mess with a cake and her grandma does not have grey hair we were pleased that it was said grandma who saved the day!

(Franklin Watts, £3.99 paperback, ISBN 9780749693947, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)

You can find our previous Friday Read recommendations here.


Tagged , , , , ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 226 other followers