Here’s to many hours of bibliotherapy over the Christmas season!
A challenge to you girls – bring me your definition of bibliotherapy, and we can display them in the library next term. What does reading mean to you?
Firstly I must congratulate the Year 6 Librarians on a great start to the school year. They have shown great enthusiasm and are full of ideas. I am looking forward to some of those ideas being realised in the New Year.
Book Fair thanks
Thank you very much for your wholehearted and generous support of this year’s Book Fair. Some new authors were discovered as well as new titles by old favourites, and the girls enjoyed sharing their excitement about their purchases with their friends.
We raised a significant sum in commission to support the school throughout the coming year. Thank you once again.
For our younger readers
‘The Song of the Golden Hare’ by Jackie Morris. “He had been waiting all his life, hoping to hear the hare’s song… The boy and his family are special. While others hunt the hares, his family search for leverets orphaned by the hunt and keep them safe. But this isn’t why they are special. It is because they hold the secret of the song of the golden hare.”
From the award-winning Philip Ardagh, and rising illustration talent Elissa Elwick, comes a brand-new picture book Leafy the Pet Leaf. This is the first in a new series. Meet the Little Adventurers – Finnegan, Sprat, Floss and Peanut. Each week they meet in their top-secret shed HQ, ready to share their fun with you with an activity idea and an information page for each story.
Oliver Jeffers presents A Child of Books, where a young heroine comes from the World of Stories and sails away on a sea of words – there aren’t any words to describe this book. Please try it!
You Must Bring a Hat by Simon Philip. The only rule for attending this party is . . .. you MUST bring a hat. But what if you don’t own a hat? Will bringing a monkey wearing a hat be enough? Find out in this tale that builds to a gloriously surreal and hilarious ending.
Another wonderful publication by Jackie Morris is ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’. (Morris is a past winner of the Tir na n-Og Award presented by the Welsh Books Council). The art work is extraordinary and the stories mythical. “From the moment she saw him, she knew the bear had come for her. How many times had she dreamt of the bear… . Now, here he was, as if spelled from her dreams. “I will come with you, Bear,” she said.” It is the beginning of an extraordinary journey for the girl. First to the bear’s secret palace in faraway mountains, where she is treated so courteously, but where she experiences the bear’s sadness, and a deep mystery. This beautiful, mysterious story of love, loyalty and above all, freedom, is inspired by fairy tale, and is magically told and illustrated by Jackie Morris.
How to Look After Your Human by Kim Sears. There are plenty of guides out there for humans about training their dogs – as if humans have ever been the ones in charge. One dog has at last agreed to share the insights gained through years of hard experience: Maggie Mayhem has trained some of the world’s most stubborn humans (including her co-author Kim Sears), and so there is no better dog to guide you as an owner. This story is full of fun and wit and great illustrations as well as some useful information for dog lovers.
Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster. What do you get if you cross a fairy with a vampire? Isadora Moon. This one of four stories about Isadora, a character that many of you girls will identify with. Enjoy getting to know her; perhaps you have faced similar dilemmas?
For our older girls
There May Be a Castle by Piers Torday. Piers came to visit our school earlier in the year and inspired some of our readers with his Last Wild series. His new book will, I believe, appeal to a wider audience. It is the emotionally powerful story of eleven-year-old Mouse, who is travelling to see his grandparents on Christmas Eve with his mother and two sisters. But it’s snowing, and visibility is bad, and the car goes off the road, and crashes. Mouse is thrown from the car. When he wakes, he’s not in his world any more. He begins a quest to find a castle in a world of wonder, a world of danger but also excitement. But why is he part of this search for a castle? As the cold grows, we realise it might just have something to do with the family he’s left behind; and that Mouse’s quest is more important than ever.
Abi Elphinstone’s (author of The Dreamsnatcher) collection of short stories from award-winning authors is called ‘Winter Magic’. She has curated a beautiful and classic anthology of frosty, magical short stories from acclaimed children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Berlie Doherty, Lauren St John and Katherine Woodfine. Geraldine McCaughrean, Jamila Gavin, Amy Alward, Michelle Harrison and Emma Carroll are also included. These wintery stories, featuring snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers, will be enjoyed for years to come, by readers of all ages.
The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison is a fantasy with a dark twist. You’ll have to concentrate as there are many layers and a complex plot!
Prize winning children’s fiction
Shortlisted for Children’s Book Award 2016 (the only children’s prize selected by children) in the Books for Younger Children (3-6 year olds) category, Fabulous Pie is a story where a bear calls out to the other inhabitants of the forest for help filling a pie he’s making. Mouse, otter, badger and squirrel all help bringing him their very favourite foods, but somehow Bear isn’t satisfied… Readers will quickly guess what Bear really wants for his pie! It all builds, Gruffalo-like, to a rip-roaring climax with a narrow escape for the little animals and a well-deserved come-uppance for the bear! Children will love the pictures, the bouncy rhyme, the funny story and – most of all – they’ll like being one step ahead of the characters. A tasty treat indeed! ~ Andrea Reece, Lovereading4Kids.
The Blue Peter Book Awards, now in their 17th year, aim to guide children towards quality literature, encouraging them to read and establish a love of reading for life. Lost Tales by Adam Murphy has been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Best Story award 2017. Fantastic, long-forgotten folktales from around the world, brought back to life and reimagined for the 21st century through the magic of comics. Many of you really enjoy stories presented as graphic novels. Fortunately there are many great comic artists out there and Adam Murphy is one of them.
In 2014 Bloomsbury Children’s Books and the National Literacy Trust launched a ‘New Children’s Author Prize’ targeting previously unpublished authors writing for the 8 – 12 year old age group.
The first winner was Emma Cox with Malkin Moonlight. This is the story of a cat called Malkin Moonlight who arrives one night at a Recycling Centre. He has lost the cat he loves – his friend Roux – and is looking for her, navigated only by the thing inside: the sixth sense that all cats possess. The cats that live in the Recycling Centre and Malkin quickly become friends. He helps them fight their battle against the Putrescibles: the vicious cats who live on the other side of the wall in a stinking wasteland, and proves himself a valuable ally, but will he find his long lost friend?
The 2016 CILIP Kate Greenaway medal was won by “The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by the current Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. “On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.” (The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards)
Have you and your family discovered poetry yet? Why not try ‘A Poem for Every Night of The Year’? The poems – together with introductory paragraphs – have a link to the date on which they appear. Shakespeare celebrates midsummer night, Maya Angelou International Women’s Day and Lewis Carroll April Fool’s day. Perfect for reading aloud and sharing with all the family, it contains a full spectrum of poetry from familiar favourites to exciting contemporary voices. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W. B. Yeats, A. A. Milne and Christina Rossetti sit alongside Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy and Benjamin Zephaniah.
Roger McGough at 79 years old is still brimming with words and inspiration. You may have heard him presenting the BBC Radio 4 programme Poetry Please, as well as performing his own poetry. His most recent collection of poems for children is Poetry Pie (shortlisted for the CLiPPA Poetry Awards 2016). This collection is an invitation to be excited about poetry and not be limited by the world. Food is a subject often chewed upon whether it’s the fate of a chip summed up in English and French or the delicious variety of ingredients that can be baked in a poetry pie.
Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat by T. S. Eliot. All aboard as Skimbleshanks stars in the third picture-book pairing from Arthur Robins and T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s cats, set on the Night Mail train where Skimbleshanks won’t let anything go wrong. This is the third of T.S. Eliot’s the Old Possum poems Robins has illustrated with great success. The world Eliot describes might be long gone, but the illustrator, Robins, makes it totally recognisable to the young ones. Skimbleshanks looks wonderful in his railwayman’s uniform, both kind and bossy.
The publication of gorgeously illustrated and imaginatively designed information books continues. One of the most arresting is Dieter Braun’s ‘Wild Animals of the North’ while Anna Wright’s paintings for ‘Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move’ are very special, as are Petr Horacek’s illustrations for ‘A First Book of Animals’, which also features a poetic text from Nicola Davies. Nicola Davies is an English zoologist and writer. She was one of the original presenters of the BBC children’s wildlife programme The Really Wild Show. She has written many of Walker Books’ Nature Storybooks and presents information about animals in an imaginative and very readable way.
‘Midnight Creatures’ is a must for all our young adventurers and some older budding artists. Switch off the lights, turn on your torch and come on a wonderful shadow adventure with Midnight Creatures! This book contains five beautifully crafted pop-up scenes full of creatures to find, from the fork-marked lemur in the jungle to the giant squid at the bottom of the ocean. A beautiful and unique pop-up adventure from talented paper artist Helen Friel.
Moving away from the natural world into the kitchen Nadiya Hussain’s ‘Bake Me a Story’ (15 recipes and stories) playfully links cooking with traditional tales, which all the family can enjoy. Meet Ruby-Red and the Three Bears, then bake your Very-Berry muffins – great fun!
Also not to be missed, Vincent’s Starry Night and other stories from Michael Bird is a history of art but presented in an imaginative way introducing the stories around artists, bringing them and their works to life. A visit to a gallery beckons.
A boxed set of King Rollo stories from David McKee, now in miniature editions would be ideal for small hands.
All four of A. A. Milne’s Pooh stories are available in an attractive slipcase, just the thing to go with The Best Bear in All the World, a collection of four brand new stories by some very well-known authors, which I thoroughly enjoyed. They really are in the spirit of the original stories and great for children and adults alike.
The Velveteen Rabbit, the classic by Margery Williams, has been republished and beautifully illustrated by Sarah Massimi (Nosy Crow Classics).
Finally, Odd and the Frost Giants from Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell cannot be missed.
‘The Official Minecraft Annual 2017’
‘The Christmasaurus’ by Tom Fletcher
David Walliams has two: ‘The Midnight Gang’, and a collection of short stories called ‘The World’s Worst Children’.
A fairy tale treat for all the family
Visit Hughenden Manor (near High Wycombe) and fall under the spell of the Brothers Grimm, with rooms full of fairy tales, romance and gingerbread men. Hughenden’s staff and volunteers have recreated scenes from the stories throughout the Manor. See Rapunzel’s golden locks tumbling from the top of the stairs, wonder at Rumpelstiltskin’s spinning wheel transforming hay into gold, see if you can find a wolfish imposter in granny’s bed, or ask the wicked stepmother’s mirror who is the fairest of them all.
Apps to entice and entertain
The traditional classics can be quite difficult to access and, although many of the girls enjoy works by Frances Hodgson Burnett and E. Nesbit, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle (amongst others) present a different challenge. Clever animated texts are bringing these author’s stories to life. iClassics is a new reading app encouraging us to read iDoyle and iDickens. The art on each page is detailed and quite stunning. Music and sound effects accompany the tale and you can also touch the page to activate new images. Everyone in the family will want one of these apps (each author has an individual app).
Stories on the stage
The Battersea Arts Centre’s Christmas show for children is a woodland story, starring a lively cast of forest animals. (3 to 7 year olds). The show is running from Saturday December 3 2016 until Sunday January 8 2017.
The Polka Theatre (Wimbledon) stages in-house productions, workshops and storytelling sessions for families. This winter ‘How to Hide a Lion’ (3-6) and ‘Babe, The Sheep-Pig’ (5-11) are showing over the Christmas holidays. If you are interested in their workshop days click on the link below to access their website: http://www.polkatheatre.com/workshops
Have you ever been to a Storytime session at The Mill theatre in Sonning. They are held on Wednesdays at 10.30am, and on Wednesday 21st December, Clement C. Moore’s ‘The Night before Christmas’ will be read. The magical storytelling session is held in the theatre, followed by colouring-in and dressing-up in the bar. Entry is £3.50 per child (payable on the door), which includes a snack and drink.
There are so many new books to share but I hope that I’ve given you a flavour of what’s out there. Enjoy!
Happy Christmas & Happy Reading!