Author Archives: Mattlibrarian

Libraries. Who needs ’em?


Libraries are old and dusty

They really need to go

and then a few days later:

“Reading really needs to grow”

Teachers need to share the love

and give all kids a kindle!

Everything is now online

So libraries who needs ‘em?

No-one uses books no more

Let alone to read ‘em!

It is a shame that no-one reads

It’s a thing we must promote

Quickly put some books in gyms

and a shelf of books on ‘planes

But we don’t need no libraries

The government explains!

They are far too expensive

and also past their best!

So fire the Librarians

and put their jobs to rest!

Sell off library buildings

Or make the public run ‘em!

Cut the hours, cut the stock

Cut to the very bone

and if some people shout and moan

Well they should have some books at home!

DadLife: Waking up & Peppa Pig

My little gingersnap woke up perky and vocal at 5:45 this morning.

We are currently weaning her off what she calls “boobas” so I am on morning milk call. I am not by nature a morning person, but having a gorgeous smiling child bouncing excitedly at the baby gate does wonders for motivation at springing up to face the day.

After a quick nappy change (her not me) I prepare a bottle of milk and we settle down on the couch for a feed and a cuddle.

Her request this morning is for Peppa Pig – actually it is this most mornings! Hler excited “Bebba Beeeg” is impossible to resist.

Peppa is her favourite cultural icon for littlies. The Mrs and I have watched so much of it we have developed a weird fascination with it, we are both convinced that local workaholic Miss Rabbit is having an affair with her twin sister’s husband Mr Rabbit – I mean it is pretty obvious as they do work together in some of Miss Rabbit’s jobs and you seldom see Mr & Mrs Rabbit together.

This is just a theory brought on by overexposure to a kiddy cartoon.

If I end up jumping in muddy puddles it is probably time to lock me away!

Teen Librarian Monthly July 2017

Download (PDF, Unknown)

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

    Launching the Bent Agency BAME scholarship

    Open for submissions until midnight Saturday 26th August 2017!

    The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is hosting its annual conference in the UK on 25th – 26th November 2017. It is entitled Seriously Funny: Bringing a Lighter Side to All Scribbles & Doodles During talks and workshops, it will offer writers and illustrators the chance to hone their craft and gain insight into the children’s publishing industry.

    As in previous years, two conference scholarships will continue to run in memory of Margaret Carey, children’s writer and illustrator and SCBWI British Isles volunteer, in the following two categories:

  • fiction author (Young Adult or Middle Grade)
  • picture book author or illustrator
  •  
    This year an ADDITIONAL scholarship, generously sponsored by the Bent Agency, will be awarded in the following category:

  • BAME author (Young Adult or Middle Grade)
  •  
    Each scholarship covers the cost of the conference attendance, a 1-1 manuscript critique with an editor, art director or agent*, hotel accommodation, and a grant towards travel to Winchester, where the conference will take place.

    The BAME scholarship winner’s manuscript critique will be with an agent from the Bent Agency. The Bent Agency will also pay for a year’s SCBWI membership.

    Molly Ker Hawn from the Bent Agency said:
    We at TBA are delighted to be involved in SCBWI-BI’s effort to encourage BAME writers. It’s important to us that all children can find books in which they can see themselves, and that won’t happen without diverse authors.

    Natascha Biebow and Kathy Evans, Co-Chairs of the SCBWI British Isles, said:
    The SCBWI-BI are proud to be part of this important initiative alongside the Bent Agency to support under-represented BAME children’s book authors. SCBWI’s international professional network and the development opportunities afforded by the annual conference have made a significant difference to SCBWI members’ careers and we are excited that we will be part of the scholarship winner’s journey to publication.

    Who can apply?

    For the Margaret Carey scholarships: Current members of SCBWI British Isles who seek professional development and show great promise in their work, but who are financially unable to come to the SCBWI BI annual conference, may apply. Unfortunately, we cannot consider applications from other SCBWI regions.

    For the Bent Agency BAME scholarship:

    Both SCBWI and non-SCBWI member BAME writers, resident in the British Isles, may apply. BAME is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “black, Asian and minority ethnic (used to refer to members of non-white communities in the UK)”. If the winner is already a SCBWI member, their membership will be extended by one year.

    SCBWI members may apply for both the Margaret Carey scholarships and the BAME scholarship if they are eligible.

    Submissions will be accepted until 26th August 2017. There is no submission fee. Applicants for all scholarships can be unpublished, self-published or may previously have been traditionally published, though applicants for the BAME scholarship must be unagented. Each submission will be judged solely on the work submitted and its potential, and the statement supplied.

    For further details on submission visit: http://britishisles.scbwi.org/conference2017/scholarship/

    Brock, Pike & Rook by Anthony McGowan some thoughts and a review

    It is grim up North – at least that is what they tell us! Peopled with cloth-hatted whippet fanciers that probably have ferrets down their trousers that mumble things like “Ee bah gum!” and suchlike! The problems with stereotypes is that they obscure the truth, and for people that do not venture out of their comfort zones then stereotypes is all they have to go on! This is just one reason why reading is so important – it gives us windows into parts of the world that we may not experience!

    There appears to have been a dearth of novels about the North and working class lads since the late, great Barry Hines’ seminal work A Kestrel for a Knave was published in 1968.

    Into this breach has stepped Anthony McGowan, I will not deny that I am a fan of his works, he is a great wordsmith and one that is too often pigeon-holed as a writer of lavatory humour, yes his works often contain laughs of the scatological variety but to pigeonhole on his works as solely of that style is to do him a grave disservice!

    His Kenny & Nicky trilogy: Brock, Pike and Rook are three wonderful, brief books that take you into the lives of two poor, single-parent boys that live in Yorkshire. Their lives appear grim but the brotherly bond between Nicky and his older, special needs brother is crafted as a thing of beauty. The boys are the main characters and the supporting cast, particularly their father, portrayed, initially as an unemployed, recovering alcoholic facing a potential jail sentence are wonderfully realised, and the three of them grow and develop through course the books.

    In Brock, the brothers have to contend with a gang of bullies that involve Kenny in badger baiting, the story is, as are the others, narrated by Nicky who has to balance keeping his brother safe, with avoiding the police and keeping his father in the dark as to what is happening around him.

    Pike continues the tale of the brothers, this time catching the glimpse of a flash of gold in the local pond, inhabited, or so the legend goes, by a monster pike that is large enough to pull down a human. This time the stakes are higher, involving the disappearance of a local hard man and his son stepping up and making the lives of Nicky and Kenny a misery.

    Rook, the third tale is more personal in nature; Nicky falls in love with a girl in his class; the sister of the school bully. The feelings of confusion engendered within Nicky threaten his relationship with his beloved brother and risk fracturing his family. The stresses in all their lives are focused around an injured Rook rescued by Kenny.

    Thinking further upon these novels, I realised that they are based on the elements: Earth for Brock, Water for Pike and Air for Rook, the symbolism of this only became clear a short time ago. We are introduced to Nicky and Kenny, their family is fractured and dirt-poor, living in squalor in Brock then moving on to Pike with the family fortunes gradually improve – with Water as a symbol for them being washed clean and finally with Rook Nicky is ready to fly in the Air filled with hope and love.

    If there is a fourth book to come I hope that it will have something to do with the brothers travelling beyond the bounds of their village life to visit their mother (Fire transporting them) but that is pure supposition on my part as Anthony has not commented one way or another as to whether there will be another.

    This trilogy is truly glorious! All three books are published by Barrington-Stoke and are available now!

    Rook, and the sense of place by Anthony McGowan

    I like to think that if the world were destroyed in some apocalypse, and a future race – perhaps descended from ants or koala bears or mung beans – tried to rebuild our world from literary sources, my books Brock, Pike, and Rook would enable a pretty accurate recreation of the Yorkshire village of Sherburn in Elmet.

    Although, in writing for young adults, I’ve invested most of my energies into characterisation and narrative, I’ve always known exactly where my books were set. It’s almost always been a version of my old school – Corpus Christi, in Leeds. The stained concrete and glass of the building, the polluted beck running past it, the tussocky field beyond where travellers would come and go in mysterious patterns, the surrounding Halton Moor council estate – these were where my characters worked through the dangers and joys of teenage life.

    Although I went to school in Leeds, I was actually brought up ten miles outside, in Sherburn. It’s an odd sort of place – once split between farming and mining – with the old village centre topped and tailed by large council estates, but now swollen with private housing, serving commuters to Leeds and York. As kids, it was glorious. The countryside was a short bike-ride away, and the building sites for the new estates were the perfect playground, in those pre-health and safety days. We built elaborate dens and fought huge wars against rival gangs of urchins. We played football all Winter, and cricket all Summer.

    It’s a place I can still see clearly, whenever I close my eyes. The high street with its four pubs, ranging from rough to dead rough. The Spa. The Co-op. Two fish and chip shops. There’s a joke about a Jewish man who washes up on a desert island. The first thing he does is to build two synagogues – the one he goes to and the one he wouldn’t be seen dead in. It was like that with the fish and chip shops. We went to Kirkgate, but wouldn’t dream of getting our chips from Huggan’s. The beautiful old church on the hill. The Methodist chapel down in the village. The old cinema converted into a Catholic church, where I served as an altar boy all through my childhood. Then, just out of the village, the Bacon factory – a huge meat processing plant. And next to it, the Bacon pond, where monstrous pike lurked, fattened, we were told, on rotten meat from the factory.

    I populated this remembered microverse with kids I knew or half knew. Nicky and Kenny live up on the Highfields council estate. At the beginning of the series, their world was falling apart, their family split, money short, hope all but gone. What saves them is love: the love of Nicky for his older but simpler brother, Kenny. Kenny’s own wide-beam love, which encompasses not only his family, but anything helpless and vulnerable they encounter. And so, over the first two books, things get better. Their dad begins to sort out his life. They move on.

    In Rook, the last (I think …) in the series, their problems change. Rather than survival, the issues are more typical teenage ones. Kenny has made new friends – one of who appears to be Doctor Who – and Nicky no longer feels quite so needed, quite so central to his brother’s being. And he’s fallen for a pretty girl at school, with the horrible complication that her brother is a vicious bully. There are twists, which follow, I trust, the organic patterns of life, rather than the artificial needs of plot. In the end things work out … OK.

    But I hope that I’ve been true both to my characters, and to that place – that particular small town in North Yorkshire, typical, and yet unique, seemingly ordinary, and yet overflowing with stories, with eccentrics, with danger and joy, with life.

    BrockPike and Rook are published by Barrington-Stoke and are available now

    BOOK PEOPLE REVEALS CLAUDIA WINKLEMAN AS HEAD JUDGE OF 2017 BEDTIME STORY COMPETITION

  • TV star set to front campaign encouraging entries to second edition of nationwide Bedtime Story competition
  • Book People will once again ask children to create a picture book of 200-800 words for a perfect bedtime read
  • Claudia will host with a live video event on Book People’s Facebook page on 19 July
  •  
    Leading direct bookseller Book People has revealed that one of the UK’s best known broadcasters, Claudia Winkleman, will be the head judge for its latest Bedtime Story competition. Accompanying Claudia on the judging panel will be broadcaster and children’s book author, Christian O’Connell and top illustrator Alison Brown.
     
    The nationwide competition challenges young authors aged between five and 11 to create a picture book on the theme of friendship. The winner will become a published author, with their book illustrated by Alison Brown, and published by Little Tiger.
     
    This summer the competition returns with Claudia Winkleman fronting the campaign to encourage primary school aged children to create their own stories on the theme of friendship. The Strictly presenter will host a live video event with illustrator Alison Brown on Book People’s Facebook page on Wednesday 19 July, and will lead the judging panel that picks the overall competition winner.
     
    The Bedtime Story competition is now in its second year, and follows the June publication of London schoolgirl Isabel Harris’ book, The Moon Man, which won the inaugural contest after being chosen from more than 1,000 entries last year. Since going on sale on 1 June, the book has also become Book People’s fastest selling title of 2017 so far.
     
    On becoming head judge for this year’s Bedtime Story campaign, Claudia said:
    I’m delighted to be involved in Book People’s fantastic Bedtime Story competition. I have always made a special effort to instil a love of books in my children, and encourage their imagination and creativity through reading and writing. This competition is a brilliant chance for children to let their imaginations run wild and immerse themselves in a fun and exciting project. I can’t wait to help encourage lots of kids to get involved and see the stories they create.
     
    Speaking about his involvement in this year’s campaign, Christian O’Connell said:
    I’m really looking forward to being on the judging panel for the upcoming Bedtime Story Competition. Having my own children’s book published was an amazing moment in my career, so to be able to be involved in helping a budding young author have their work come to life makes this a brilliant project to be a part of.
     
    Sarah Walden, Book People Group Buying and Merchandising Director, commented:
    We’re very pleased to launch Bedtime Story competition once more with Claudia and Christian on board as our ambassadors. We were blown away by the quality of the writing and imagination shown in last year’s Bedtime Story competition and we’re looking forward to making this year’s version even bigger and better.
     
    Book People will launch 2017’s Bedtime Story Competition on 10 July with entries open until 2 October this year. To register your interest in entering this year’s competition please visit thebookpeople.co.uk/bedtimestory.

    Bravereader: Celebrating the News about the Scottish School Library Development Strategy

    Today the news broke that owing to a sustained campaign by dedicated school library campaigners, the Scottish government has agreed to work on developing a school library strategy.

    Full details are available on the CILIP Scotland site here:
    http://www.cilips.org.uk/development-school-library-strategy-begin-autumn/

    To celebrate I threw together this poster riffing off Braveheart:

    If you wish to download a pdf, click on the image above.

    Get Ahead as an Author – Get a Dog

    Dogs make the very best muses. I know because I wrote a book about a boy and a dog, with two of my own fur babies constantly by my side. Goodnight, Boy is written to and about a dog, and it explores how, even in the very worst circumstances, a dog will keep you going. Any authors reading this will know that I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say that the badlands of 20,000 words into a first draft is a pretty bad place to find yourself. As is sitting down to the smell of freshly-sent editorial notes.

    So here is a rundown of why, if you want to get ahead in publishing, you should most definitely get a dog.

    1. Basics

    The only indispensable rule I know for writing is that you must have your bum on a seat, and your fingers on the keyboard to produce anything. So, if, as a dog owner, you’re forced to spend more time at home, this is a good start. If you also have a dog keeping your toes warm (as Edith Wharton put it, ‘a heartbeat at my feet’), it really does discourage you from wandering off and doing housework.

    1. Distractions

    Talking of housework, once you’re a dog owner, I can guarantee you’ll spend less time on housework, redecorating and the general maintenance of what is normally seen as an acceptable standard of hygiene because keeping up with the mess dogs create is pretty much futile. One of my dogs sheds like a dandelion clock mid blow, 24 hours a day. This may sound like a negative, but actually time spent not hoovering can be diverted into words, paragraphs, chapters, and head stroking.

     

    1. Hobbies

    Forget hobbies. Writing takes time; for thinking, drafting, editing, and Twitter stalking writers more successful than yourself. So the last thing you need is an interesting pastime, such as badminton or medieval battle enactment. It won’t matter though, because, as a writer you get to experience any number of strange locations and events in your head. And, if you’re ever asked at a publishing party what else you do, just say you have a dog because a dog is a hobby, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.

     

    1. Health and fitness

    There’s a syndrome, coined by the incomparable author Pip Jones, known as SAAD: Spreading Author Arse Disorder. Sedentary hours make SAAD pretty much inevitable, so you’re going to have to get some exercise in somehow. Dogs like walks even though they don’t have Fitbit buddies to impress. The longer and more frequent the better, and in absolutely any weather (unless they’re like one of mine, who is half cat, and won’t go out if showers are forecast). On walkies your dog will meet up with their mates and you’ll make friends with their owners too (think, park scene in 101 Dalmations, but, in my experience, less romantic). If you’re lucky, these humans will be the sort who don’t mind you bouncing book ideas off them or moaning about writing. Even if they do, they’re a lot more polite about it than your family are. And when you’re not exploiting the personal generosity of strangers, you get to spend time walking alone listening to music and audio books (consuming other people’s books is part of the job) or just walking in silence, which sometimes allows you hear those really shy, difficult voices that lurk at the back of your brain.

     

    1. Mental health

    Being a writer can be wonderful but, contrary to popular belief, it’s probably not the way to

    everlasting happiness. Granted, writing can be cathartic at times, but once you’ve catharted you have to live with the fact that other people, thousands of them, will be reading, judging, maybe even hurling across the room in disgust, the product of said catharsis. Fortunately, dogs probably can’t read – though, as the first draft of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was eaten by his dog, Max, you have to wonder. Generally speaking, however, your dog will not mind how bad your first draft is. They equally won’t care about reviews, prizes, foreign rights sales, or if you’re even any good or hopelessly derivative and commercially out of kilter. Dogs are all about here and now. And, as writers, if we can try to be more dog, and concentrate on the process rather than the product, I have a feeling that we’d not only be a lot happier, but better writers too.

     

    1. Love

    People worry about being lonely if they work from home, but I never feel alone. I work with fantastic colleagues who can’t talk to me. This means they can’t discuss the project they’re working on, ask what’s for dinner, or chat about school. They never disagree with me, or storm off to their bedroom, and they don’t judge me when I get in a strop because Scrivener is stupid. (It is – fact). Dogs take tolerance and unconditional love to saintly levels, and like nothing better than to soothe the furrowed brow of the needy writer with a lick, a well-placed head on the lap, or a paw in the hand. They’re philosophers, therapists, personal trainers, and friends. And that’s why authors need dogs.

     

    One last historical note; George Eliot’s publisher sent her a pug as part payment for one of her novels. A practice that, I hope my publisher will agree, should definitely be revived for 2017.

     

     

    Mother and daughter Labradoodles, Tinker (left) and Coco

     

    Nikki and Tinker


    Coco and Tinker playing with their friend, Snowy, at Brighton Beach