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No! Nobrow!

I have been a fan of Nobrow and their picture book imprint Flying Eye Books for a good few years now. I have reviewed a number of their titles (you can find the reviews here and here). I have written about them for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups here. I have interviewed their authors and illustrators and championed their books for years as they produce works of quality and beauty that catch the eye of readers of all ages. I have used them to turn reluctant readers on to the joys of reading many times over the years.

Over the past few days on twitter I found several threads accusing them of exploiting new and upcoming authors & illustrators and acting in a less than ethical manner against other small press publishers. Several years ago at a publisher event in London I was chatting to a publicist and mentioned that I was a fan of their work and the publicist (off the record) asked if I had heard the rumours about their low payment of creators and claiming rights to works created by authors and illustrators they published. I said that I had not and thereafter dug around but was never able to find anything about this so I marked it as unproven and moved on.

Below is a screenshot of an email allegedly sent by Alexander Latsis in 2013

Source: https://twitter.com/deadtreesanddye/status/1253762564032520195

Illustrator Lucy Haslam has been creating an epic twitter thread about ELCAF (the East London Comic Art Festival) and Nobrow. It is definitely worth a read for detailed background information about what has been happening for a number of years.

Illustrator Eleni Kalorkoti tweeted this about an offer from Nobrow in 2018:

This discussion was not a total pile-on, several creators spoke up positively about their interactions with Nobrow, including CILIP Kate Greenaway winning illustrator William Grill:

Astrocat creator Ben Newman:

Kellie Strøm:

and a few others.

Nobrow has also released an official statement that can be read here:

A Statement from Nobrow

It should definitely be read in full. In the statement they challenge the claims that their contracts are unfair and have promised to do research into comparative advances and royalties. They also go on to deny that they do not prevent their creators from working with other publishers and state that the screenshot of the e-mail was released without permission and out of context although it is hard to imagine what the context was without further information about that discussion as the e-mail alone appears to be pretty damning.

The full statement rather than allaying the fears and allegations seems to have inflamed opinion in more areas, with Paul Duffield‘s take being worth a read:

When this type of situation erupts it is not always easy to identify who is in the right, I support small publishers and creator rights but I think in this instance the number of dissenting voices that have been raised about unfair treatment as well as those raised in defense show that this situation is not clear cut to outside observers. I think that Valerie Pezeron‘s views as laid out in the thread below most closely match up with mine – they are definitely worth a read.

The vocalization of the long-term unhappiness of many of the authors and illustrators is an indication that people are no longer going to be quiet if they perceive themselves to be treated unfairly, this is good as it can act as a warning to others that may find themselves in a similar situation and can strengthen collective bargaining if enough creators band together. We may be witnessing the birth of unionisation in the author/illustrator world beyond what the Society of Authors and other groups that already exist.

I remain a fan of many of the authors and illustrators published by Nobrow, but this fandom is now tinged with a concern over what they may have experienced during the creation of their works for their publisher. Is it a fair and rational feeling? I don’t know, but it is human to have concern for the welfare of others and I am also concerned for those currently furloughed by the publisher and for everyone else impacted by the Covid-19 shutdowns across the world.

Akissi: Tales of Mischief


What do flying sheep, super-missiles, and grandmother-attacking coconuts have in common?

One feisty little girl!

Join Akissi and friends as they get up to all sorts of antics around their town in the Ivory coast.

There’s loads of fun to be had… as long as they manage to stay out of trouble!

I have been aware of Marguerite Abouet’s work for a few years now as a friend introduced me to her Aya series of graphic novels about a young woman living in Yop City in Côte d’Ivoire in the 1970’s. Written by Marguerite and illustrated by her husband and partner Clément Oubrerie.

Akissi, published in English by Flying Eye Books was a welcome return to West Africa, a series of the comic misadventures about the eponymous heroine, a small girl living in a village somewhere in the Côte d’Ivoire. Written for a young audience, this comic will be a hit with readers of all ages.

Marguerite Abouet is a keen observer of the lives of small children, she has captured several things that I have found my toddler doing and going by the cartoons I have many more to look forward to; although I hope and pray that we never acquire a pet monkey! There was one incident in the book involving Akissi and her older brother Fofana that took place one night when she was too afraid to go outside that mirrored an event from my childhood (I am not going to say which one in case my brother ever reads this).

My favourite vignette (and there are so many to choose from) was Sunday Feast, it made me laugh out loud (although the hilarity as tinged with a hint of guilt at the potential blasphemy)

Akissi is funny, heartfelt and a very real look into the lives of children!

The art in this volume is by Mathieu Sapin who captures the frenetic energy of children running around or just being, perfectly!

Refugees, Immigrants & Asylum-Seekers: a short list

This list is a companion to http://teenlibrarian.co.uk/2015/11/20/book-list-refugees/

As we become immersed in the 2016 Christmas it is important to remember that the reason for the season was a refugee for a large part of his early life, not only that he was the son of a single mother from Palestine.

We are exhorted to welcome him into our hearts, what do you think the chances are of he and his family being welcomed to seek sanctuary in the UK in this day and age?

I have put together a short list of books about refugees, immigrants and asylum-seekers for readers of all ages below.

refuge-booth
Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher, it is the Christmas story seen through the eyes of the Donkey, simply told with beautiful illustrations it is a timeless work that could be the story of a refugee family today.

Refuge is published by Nosy Crow

Alpha SOFTCOVER 13mm.indd
Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord by Bessora and Barroux, translated by Sarah Ardizzone is a heart-breaking, award-winning graphic novel detailing the journey Alpha takes from his village in Cote d’Ivoire to Europe. With a visa this would only take a few hours but for refugees it is a dangerous, life-threatening journey of many months.

Alpha is published by Barrington Stoke
sun-star-yoon
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon a love set in New York City, between Daniel a Korean-American and Natasha the daughter of illegal immigrants from Jamaica and the 12 hours they spend together before her family is deported.

The Sun is Also a Star is published by Penguin

arrival-tan
The Arrival by Shaun Tan is a wordless graphic novel detailing the arrival of a migrant in a strange, foreign land. The Arrival is a masterclass of wordless storytelling, showing through imagery the difficulty migrants often face when arriving in an alien culture.

The Arrival is published by Hodder Children’s Books

falling-star
Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland is the chilling memoir of Sungju Lee’s life as a street child and later his escape from North Korea to a new life in Canada.

Every Falling Star is published by Amulet Books

journey-sanna
The Journey by Francesca Sanna is a picture book that has an effect like an unexpected punch to the stomach. After the death of her husband in a civil war, a woman takes her two children on a journey towards safety. I have never read a picture book that affected me so deeply, perfect for discussing war and refugees with readers of all ages.

The Journey is published by Flying Eye Books

A Thing of Beauty: Arthur and the Golden Rope

arthur rope
Imagine a vault so cavernous that it could contain the world’s greatest treasures, from mummified remains of ancient monarchs to glistening swords brandished by legendary warriors. How did Professor Brownstone come into possession of such a collection?

Hear the tale of the very first Brownstone and his quest for the golden rope as we travel back to the land of the Vikings. A place filled with magical objects, powerful gods and legendary beasts to be conquered!

I am a bit of a fan-boy when it comes to Flying Eye Books and Nobrow and not just for the amazing stories they are publishing but for the frankly amazing care and attention to detail they put into creating books that are beautiful to look at as well as read.

Arthur and the Golden Rope continues in that vein, the cover is one that I spent several minutes admiring before opening it, the golden highlights of the title and on the strands of the rope glinted in the sun distracting me from the beast fading into the shadows of the background, it’s slavering jaws lit up by a burning brand held by the small figure, looking back at the reader as if unsure of what they were doing there.

Opening the book revealed still more treasures – maps on the endpapers, the first of Iceland showing Arthur’s town and the second showing Yggdrasil – the World Tree connecting Valhalla with Midgard and Helheim. The Æsir: Thor, Baldr, Freyja and Odin appear in the map corners of the front and the giant monsters Nidhoggr, Fenrir, Jotnar and Jormungandr appearing on the back.

The true treasure is the story itself, tied in with the wonderfully intricate illustrations with each page rewarding the reader that closely examines each wonderful work of art.

As you may have guessed this story is steeped in Norse lore and focuses on Arthur Brownstone the first adventurer of the famed and legendary Brownstone family and his quest to save his village.

Arthur is not your typical adventurer, looking like he would be more at home with his nose stuck in the pages of a book he is nevertheless an ardent explorer and brave beyond his years and size, living in a world replete with gods and monsters.

Professor Brownstone’s Mythical Collection would give Hogwarts a run for its money, brimming as it is with gods, monsters and all manner of marvellous artifacts.

Written and illustrated by the sickeningly talented Joe Todd-Stanton, Arthur and the Golden Rope straddles the line between picture book and graphic novel comfortably and will appeal to readers of all ages.

Arthur and the Golden Rope, the first book in Brownstone’s Mythical Collection is available from good book shops everywhere from September.

The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill

currumpaw
I first encountered William Grill‘s work during my first year as a CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals Judge, his book Shackleton’s Journey won the 2015 Kate Greenaway Medal, this made William the second youngest recipient of the Medal.

His new book The Wolves of Currumpaw swaps the icy wastes of the Antarctic for the rich and fertile Currumpaw Valley of New Mexico. Based in part on Ernest Thompson Seton’s short story Lobo: King of Currumpaw and research about Seton himself it details the fate of a wolf pack and the man who hunted them, and in the process changed from a destroyer to protector of American wildlife.

William is a phenomenal artist, his work on Shackleton’s Journey is sublime, and I can honestly say that with The Wolves of Currumpaw he has surpassed himself. His attention to detail and humour in his sequential drawings is wonderful and expertise in showing the scale of the landscape and the enormous wide-open skies is sheer perfection!

The sense of movement and vitality that he brings to the wolves and other animals on the page is shows us that he is a master of his art!

The Wolves of Currumpaw is sad, beautiful and a wonderful introduction to characters whose work heralded the start of the conservation movement in America.

Published by Flying Eye Books, The Wolves of Currumpaw is out on the 26th May.

Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption by José Domingo

pablojanex

Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is one of my favourite books, published by Flying Eye Books (the people that brought you the Kate Greenaway Medal winning Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill).

It is a brightly-coloured insane romp that appeals to the cartoon, adventure and monster loving young reader inside of me! The artwork sears itself onto the back of my eyelids so that each time I blink I catch flashes of the story, It is a bit like after-images of the sun when you walk inside on a really bright day.

But – for all the brightness, Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is a dark, twisty adventure story filled with insane cat scientists, monsters, a heroic mouse and two children on an urgent journey through the monster dimension. The artwork is beautiful and incredibly intricate, it is what you get if you mash up Where’s Wally, Billy & Mandy and fever dreams that Roman Dirge & Jhonen Vasquez would shelve as being too far out there!

It is not just the story and art that is fantastic! Flying Eye has gone all out to make sure that Pablo & Jane feels as wonderful as it looks, from the gleaming soft-to-touch cover to sumptuous end-papers and high quality paper the book is a work of book-making art as well as being a bright and beautiful book to read!

This is an adventure comic book to read again and again, to revel in the art, and work your way over the pages marvelling at all the little things that you missed the first 50 times you paged through the book. If it was purely a written work it may be as long as War and Peace as so much is going on in the pages!

Seriously take a look at the image below:
pjpagepiece

and that is just a part of one page.

If there was ever a book to buy to keep your kids quiet or partner out of the way or even just to full hours of time with looking in amazement at and enjoying the story; then Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is it!

I don’t often say this, but, buy this book! Support Flying Eye Books and Nobrow Press as they challenge the boundaries of what picture books are and can be!

Find out more about the book and where to get it here:

Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption

PABLOJANEbbb

Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption written & illustrated by José Domingo and published by Flying Eye Books is available now!

Wild by Emily Hughes

It is the BIG, shiny eyes on the cover that grab me first, then the glorious tangle of hair around the wild girl’s face. The only other shiny things on the cover is the text but next to the eyes they are not immediately noticeable, only when one’s eyes start looking at the book as a whole do they become apparent.

“You cannot tame something so happily wild…”

In this beautiful picture book by Hawaiian artist Emily Hughes we meet a little girl who has known nothing but nature from birth – she was taught to talk by birds, to eat by bears and to play by foxes – she is unashamedly, irrefutably, irrepressibly wild. That is, until she is snared by some very strange animals that look oddly like her, but they don’t talk right, eat right, or play correctly. She’s puzzled by their behaviour and their insistence to live in these strange concrete structures known as ‘apartments’. There’s no green here, no animals, no trees, no rivers.

Now she lives in the comfort of civilisation. But will civilisation get comfortable with her?

The text is sparse and the artwork gorgeous, Wild is a book that can be read and shared time and time again. There is so much to look at and find on all the pages from crabs in the river to skulls underground and more!

I love the story, it is so simply told with the most beautiful illustrations! The faces and body language of both humans and animals are so expressive in their joy, anger, confusion and sadness that they render text almost unnecessary.

I will finish with one last observation on the eyes (I am not ocularly obsessed) I noticed that the girl’s eyes mirror those of the animals in the story with large black pupils and no irises unlike the other humans in the story – it was this small bit of attention to detail that made me love the story even more!

Disclaimer: I won the copy of Wild that I have from Flying Eye Books along with a print of one of the pages.

The British Isles Chapter of the SCBWI 7th Annual Conference

Cathy Cassidy, Nick Butterworth and Sally Gardner to deliver keynotes at the SCBWI British Isles’ Annual Conference. An exciting new PULSE professional development track specifically aimed at published authors is introduced.
The British Isles Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators
announces speakers for its 7th Annual Conference

The British Isles Chapter of the SCBWI, a professional organisation of writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people, announces a star-studded line-up for their 7th annual conference, to be held on November 1st and 2nd 2014 at the University of Winchester.

Keynote speakers this year are Cathy Cassidy, Nick Butterworth and, for the all-new PULSE strand aimed at published children’s authors, Sally Gardner. Adhering to the theme of Riding the Waves of Change, this year’s SCBWI conference will focus on the changing face of children’s book publishing, offering on the Saturday specialist industry panels with speakers from the very largest houses to representatives of vibrant indies. Additional panels for illustrators and non-fiction writers cover developments in the world of picture books and educational publishing. Published members will be able to participate in a discussion on self-promotion best practices. Saturday evening’s exclusive party will give delegates the chance to celebrate new members’ 2014 publications and network with a stellar list of industry professionals.

Sunday will open with PULSE keynote, Sally Gardner. The rest of the day is devoted to craft intensives and a new PULSE track for published authors and illustrators.

The craft intensives will feature: For writers, everything from how to plot your novel, led by Melvin Burgess, to writing for reluctant readers, led by Anthony McGowan and his Barrington Stoke editor, Mairi Kidd, to crafting a picture book, led by Erzsi Deak and Mike Brownlow, to an intensive for beginners on how to get your precious manuscript published. Illustrators can join in a hands-on craft session on pop-up books. One-to-one manuscript and portfolio reviews with agents and editors will be offered.

The PULSE track will feature a workshop on interview techniques, hosted by BBC presenter, Claire Bolderson, a Twitter Triage, hosted by social media guru, Michelle Goodall, a panel on how to reach schools, hosted by educators and librarians and finally, a workshop on building your online presence with website designer and author, Candy Gourlay.

The SCBWI Annual conference has never before offered such incredible opportunities to both published and unpublished authors to develop their craft, raise their profile and market their work!

Admission to the entire conference is £210 for SCBWI members and £240 for non-members, with a charge of £120 for those members only attending the new PULSE track on the Sunday (£180 for non-members who opt for Sunday-only PULSE). More information and a registration form can be found at our website: http://britishisles.scbwi.org/conference2014/programme/

  • Author keynote by Cathy Cassidy, the bestselling author of many novels for children and young teens, including the Chocolate Box Girls series. Cathy trained as an illustrator, once worked as Fiction Editor on the legendary Jackie magazine and also spent twelve years as an agony aunt on pre-teen mag Shout.
  • Illustrator keynote by Nick Butterworth, writer and illustrator of children’s books whose popularity has ensured that, for nearly three decades, he has been featured in the UK bestsellers’ list for picture books. His books have been published in thirty languages worldwide, with international sales in the region of thirteen million. He is almost a permanent fixture on awards short lists, and has won many, including the top award from the Society of Illustrators (for One Snowy Night) and the prestigious Nestlé Gold Award for the critically acclaimed, The Whisperer. He has written and/or illustrated more than sixty titles, and is probably best known for his Percy the Park Keeper series. In 2009 he co-founded Snapper Productions with his son, Ben Butterworth, and his wife, Annette Butterworth. Their first production is based on Butterworth’s books about the friendly alien, Q Pootle 5.
  • PULSE keynote by Sally Gardner, the award winning novelist who has sold over 2 million books in the UK and her work has been translated in to more than 22 languages, Her stories range from retellings of fairy stories for emerging readers, to the Wings & Co series for younger junior age children, through to I, Coriander and Maggot Moon for teenagers, for which she won the prestigious Carnegie Medal and the Costa Children’s Book Prize. Her historical fiction novel for Young Adults, I, Coriander, won the Smarties Children’s Book Prize in 2005. Her action-packed French Revolution thriller The Silver Blade, sequel to The Red Necklace, was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2009. Actor, Dominic West (‘The Wire’) has bought the film rights to both The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade. Sally Gardner, who is dyslexic, continues to be an avid spokesperson for Dyslexia, working to change the way it is perceived by society.
  • The faculty also includes: Tricia Adams, Librarian, Sam Arthur, Director of Flying Eye Books, Juliette Clare Bell, Author, Natascha Biebow, Author & Editor, Claire Bolderson, Journalist, Commentator & Analyst, Mike Brownlow, Author/Illustrator, Melvin Burgess, Author, Amber Caraveo, Editorial Director of Orion Children’s Books, Catherine Coe, Editor, Rebecca Colby, Author, Joy Court, Librarian, Shannon Cullen, Publisher of Puffin Fiction, Erzsi Deak, Literary Agent, Jude Evans, Publisher of Little Tiger Press, Michelle Goodall, Social Media Consultant, Candy Gourlay, Author, Sara Grant, Author, Penny Holdroyd, Literary Agent, Eric Huang, Development Director of Made in Me, Louise Jackson, Art Director at Walker Books, Mairi Kidd, MD of Barrington Stoke, George Kirk, Educator, Adam Lancaster, Literary Consultant, Anthony McGowan, Author, Kate Nash, Literary Agent, Sara O’Connor, Digital & Editorial Director, Hot Key Books, Scott Pack, Publisher of The Friday Project & Authonomy, Amanda Punter, Publishing Director of Puffin Fiction, Steve Rickard, Publisher of Ransom Publishing, Paul Stickland, Illustrator, Sallyanne Sweeney, Literary Agent, Sophie Thomson, Commissioning Editor at Pearson, Jo Unwin, Literary Agent, Kersti Worsley, Commissioning Editor at OUP.
  • There is an optional critique meet on the evening of Friday 31st October, an open portfolio exhibition on Saturday 1st November and various other competitions for authors and illustrators. Delegates and invited industry guests will be celebrating our members’ 2014 publishing successes at our exclusive party and Mass Book Launch on Saturday night!

    For more information about the conference programme visit: http://britishisles.scbwi.org/conference2014/programme/
    Booking deadline is midnight, 17th October 2014.

    About SCBWI:

    SCBWI British Isles is a chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a group form in 1968 by some Los Angeles-based writers for children. It is the only international organisation to offer a variety of services to people who write, illustrate, or share a vital interest in children’s literature. It has over 22,000 members worldwide working in all areas of writing and illustrating for children, from picture books to YA. It is the only professional organisation for those specifically working in mediums of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia, and makes an annual presentation of the Golden and Crystal Kite Awards, the only award presented to children’s book authors and artists by their peers.

    SCBWI British Isles hosts a number of events during the year, from a professional development lecture series to masterclasses and a writing retreat.

    For more information:
    SCBWI: www.scbwi.org
    SCBWI British Isles: www.britishisles.scbwi.org
    2014 Conference: http://britishisles.scbwi.org/conference2014/programme/

    Is It A Plane? Is It A Library? No It’s A Flybrary!

    EASYJET’S BOOK CLUB LIFTS OFF TO GET CHILDREN HOOKED ON A BOOK THIS SUMMER

  • easyJet launches new initiative to encourage children to get into a good book by installing holiday reading libraries across its entire UK fleet this summer
  • Campaign follows research by easyJet, which reveals that over 8 in 10 British parents (83%) say children are reading less in comparison to when they were younger
  • Campaign ambassador and leading children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson has selected books for kids to enjoy in-flight
  • Children’s classics including; Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, The Railway Children and The Wizard of Oz, will be made available in passenger seat-pockets
  • The easyJet Book Club will see seven thousand copies of the books take to the skies as 147 ‘Flybraries’ lift off today
  • Statistics from the Department of Education show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11*
  • Figures from the National Foundation of Education Research show most children in England do not read on a daily basis with just over a third (37%) of 10 year-olds surveyed reported reading for pleasure every day**
  • easyJet launch new 'Flybraries' from Taylor Herring on Vimeo.

    LONDON, Tuesday 18th July 2017: Europe’s leading airline easyJet have launched a new initiative today to launch ‘Flybraries’ (flying libraries) following new research that suggests that the number of children reading for pleasure is at an all-time low.

    This summer easyJet will fly 750,000 families out of UK airports on their holidays. That means it has a unique opportunity to get kids hooked on a book while they’re on the plane.

    Former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson, who is supporting the Flybrary campaign designed to promote literacy and encourage kids to read, has selected a range of classic children’s books to be stocked on board that encompass the spirit of travel and adventure. Dame Jacqueline unveiled her selection at the official launch of the Book Club at Gatwick Airport.

    Seven thousand copies of children’s classics including Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz, and The Railway Children will be made available on easyJet’s UK fleet of 147 aircraft as the new holiday reading campaign takes flight today across European destinations for free. Kids can start reading them on the flight and then when they land download free samples of other classics to try, plus a sample of Wilson’s latest bestseller, Wave Me Goodbye, from easyjet.com/bookclub. Children will leave the books on board for the next passenger to enjoy.

    Speaking at London Gatwick Airport where she launched the initiative, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, whose 106 children’s books have collectively sold over 40 million copies in the UK alone, said: The long summer break is the ideal opportunity for children to get stuck into a great story. Books stimulate a child’s imagination and development. Reading soothes, entertains, grows vocabulary and exercises the mind and a flight is the perfect place to escape into a literary adventure. That’s why I think this campaign is such a clever match. I’ve chosen books that children might not have 
read, but are familiar with, maybe from film and television. I also
wanted stories that would appeal equally to boys and girls.

    easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall said: This summer easyJet will transport three quarters of a million families from UK airports to popular holiday destinations across Europe – the largest number yet due to our range of parent-friendly initiatives to make it easier for parents and kids alike. The launch of our summer kids book club is another initiative designed to make flying with us more fun and help to get kids hooked on a book at the start of the holiday season at the same time. Our in-flight lending library means young passengers can pick up a brilliant book during their flight and then return it to the seat pocket at the end of the flight for the next customer to enjoy onboard. We think it will be popular with parents and children alike.

    The initiative follows research by easyJet who polled 2,000 British parents with children aged 8 – 12, which reveals that over 8 in 10 parents (83%) say children are reading less in comparison to when they were younger. The research reveals that kids are reading an average of three books over the course of their entire summer holidays, in contrast to an average of four books which their parents would have devoured at the same age – a drop of 25% over the course of a generation.

    The study found that the majority of respondents (84%) agreed that people tended to read more for pleasure 25 years ago than they do today, due to us living in a fast moving digital world with endless entertainment options. The research reveals a seismic shift in reading across generations, with the decline in the number of books being read by children today attributed to the vast choice of entertainment available to them on digital devices.

    Statistics from the Department of Education show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11*. Figures from the National Foundation of Education Research show most children in England do not read on a daily basis with just over a third (37%) of 10 year-olds surveyed reported reading for pleasure every day**.

    Gatwick Airport’s Head of Terminals & Passenger Services Nikki Barton said: We are right behind this brilliant summer initiative by easyJet and were honoured to welcome Dame Jacqueline to Gatwick to launch the Book Club and sign some of her books for our younger passengers. There’s nothing like a great book, and kids heading off to the many holiday destinations served by easyJet from Gatwick this summer will certainly have plenty to keep them amused on-board.

    Of those surveyed, nine in ten parents (90%) said that they believed the breadth of electronic entertainment devices available to children has led to a decline in reading for pleasure.

    Questioned on why they believe this trend has occurred, over a half (57%) said it was due to an increase of availability of digital devices from a young age.

    Furthermore, of those surveyed eight in ten (80%) believe that the widespread presence of digital entertainment has had an adverse effect on literacy levels. Over half (53%) of British parents charted the rise of ‘digital devices’ (smartphones and tablets) as a reason for the decline in children reading for pleasure on holiday.

    * Statistics from the Department of Education show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/409409/Reading_the_next_steps.pdf

    **Figures from the National Foundation of Education Research show most children in England do not read on a daily basis: in 2011 just over a third (37%) of 10 year-olds surveyed reported reading for pleasure every day- https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/PRTZ01/PRTZ01.pdf

    A few thoughts on Zoella, Ghost-writers & Getting Teens to Read

    aaZoe Sugg (Zoella) and Penguin seem to have taken a lot of flak over the weekend as rumours (now confirmed) abounded about the use of a ghost-writer to produce Girl Online, the fastest selling début novel ever. I have seen a number of sub-tweets about this in my twitter network, and thought that the furore would die down, but if anything it has grown larger and more frenzied.

    I am not totally sure why people seem to be getting more upset than usual; it is not as if ghost-writing is a new phenomenon, even in the YA and Children’s book market; series like Sweet Valley High, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew spring to mind.

    The thought of celebrities getting publishing deals because of who they are upsets a lot of people, some of whom may feel that authors should be published on the merits of their manuscripts rather than because of who they are. Publishing is a business much like any other and books are published to make money, authors that do well are groomed and promoted to sell more.

    Superstars get publishing deals because publishers know they come with a built-in fan-base, a percentage of whom are almost guaranteed to buy the book, even if they have not purchased (or read many) books before.

    As someone who knows absolutely nothing about fashion, beauty and the difficulties of being a young woman I am pretty sure that Zoella is doing something right with her Youtube channel – she has over six million followers that listen to her for a reason.

    As a librarian I am less concerned with the perceived iniquities of ghost-writing and more interested in how celebrity books can be used to get young people hooked on reading. Around 78 thousand copies of Girl Online were sold last week – I am sure that a percentage of those went to teenagers who do not often pick up a book through choice. As many librarians, teachers and anyone that works with young people may know, getting teenagers that view reading as a pointless waste of time to read is one of the more Sisyphean tasks that we can face. So when someone that young people look up to attaches their name to a book I will not question its provenance too deeply.

    I will celebrate anyone who will get young people enthusiastic about books & reading so I am a BIG fan of Zoe Suggs – more power to her!

    So if you had a student or child that read and loved Girl Online by Zoe Suggs and would like to encourage them in their reading pursuits then they may also enjoy:

    adorkable
    Adorkable by Sara Manning

    Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

    Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

    They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop snogging?
    white barrier

    adEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

    Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.

    Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by.

    Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose.
    white barrier

    addGuitar Girl Sara Manning

    Seventeen-year-old Molly Montgomery never planned on becoming famous. Molly’s band, The Hormones, was just supposed to be about mucking around with her best mates, Jane and Tara, and having fun. But when the deliciously dangerous Dean and his friend T join the band, things start happening fast. Soon The Hormones are front-page news, and their debut album is rocketing up the charts. Molly is the force behind the band, but the hazards of fame, first love, screaming fans, and sleazy managers are forcing the newly crowned teen queen of grrl angst close to the edge. Fame never comes for free, and Molly’s about to find out what it costs.
    white barrier

    adddGeek Girl by Holly Smale

    Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

    She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

    As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.

    And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

    abFan Girl by Rainbow Rowell

    Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

    Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

    But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

    Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

    Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

    acCode Red Lipstick by Sarah Sky

    Models, spies and lipstick gadgets… When Jessica’s father, a former spy, vanishes mysteriously, Jessica takes matters into her own hands. She’s not just a daddy’s girl who’s good at striking a pose; she’s a trained spook who knows how to take on MI6 and beat them at their own game.