Category Archives: News

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:

To celebrate I threw together this poster riffing off Braveheart:

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

Mark Hamill tweeted my Star Wars Poster

I am not normally inclined towards bragging (usually – when awesome things happen I can’t help it) but yesterday the National Library of Scotland tweeted one of my Star Wars posters at Mark Hamill and he retweeted it with a message of support for Libraries.

So of course I have to share them here:


Charlie and Lola author says, “children today need more freedom to dream and imagine”

Lauren Child, artist and highly-acclaimed author and illustrator of the bestselling and award-winning Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean picture books and Ruby Redfort novels, has today (Wednesday 7 June) been crowned the 10th Waterstones Children’s Laureate. Child was presented with her medal from outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell at an afternoon ceremony at City Hall in Hull, which is UK City of Culture 2017.

The role of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate is awarded every two years to an eminent author or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field and recognise the important contribution children’s literature makes to cultural life.

Child, a former artist’s assistant to Damien Hirst, is celebrated not only for creating her own books, but translating them into other media – most significantly in her role as associate producer of global hit television series Charlie and Lola. Launching her laureateship by championing creativity, she said: “I want to inspire children to believe in their own creative potential, to make their own stories and drawings and ignite in them the delight of reading for pleasure. In an increasingly fast paced world, children need the freedom to dream and imagine; to enjoy reading, drawing and telling their own stories without value judgement or restraint”. She intends to encourage individuality and creativity in children by seeding ideas throughout her tenure that spark stories and drawings and to “celebrate random acts of imagination”.

Recognising the legacy of the role she is inheriting, Child said: I am honoured to be chosen as the Waterstones Children’s Laureate and proud to be following in the illustrious footsteps of such giants of literature as Sir Quentin Blake, continuing the League of Laureates’ great work in elevating the status of children’s books in the UK’s cultural landscape. She revealed plans to forge alliances with other expressive mediums during her term in office, saying: My books have taken inspiration from many different art forms – from the illustrations of E.H. Shepard through Scandinavian Design, dolls houses and miniatures as well as the films of Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock. Now I would like to focus on building stronger links between the world of children’s literature and other art forms such as fine art, film, music, television and design.

Child was presented with the specially commissioned solid silver Waterstones Children’s Laureate medal and a £15,000 bursary cheque by outgoing Laureate, Chris Riddell. Ceremony host was CBBC Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, one of the selection committee of the 2017 – 2019 Laureate, alongside Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Children’s Buyer at Waterstones Florentyna Martin and all members of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group.

Chair of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group, Abigail Campbell said: Lauren Child is utterly brilliant. Loved by adults as well as children, her work is witty, innovative and absolutely unique. We’re thrilled to announce her as the 10th Waterstones Children’s Laureate.

The post of Children’s Laureate was established in 1999. Previous Laureates are: Quentin Blake 1999 – 2001, Anne Fine 2001 – 2003, Michael Morpurgo 2003 – 2005, Jacqueline Wilson 2005 – 2007, Michael Rosen 2007 – 2009, Anthony Browne 2009 – 2011, Julia Donaldson 2011 – 2013, Malorie Blackman 2013 – 2015, Chris Riddell 2015 – 2017. Lauren Child is the 2017-2019 incumbent, with her tenure ending in June 2019, the 20th anniversary year of the post.

Waterstones is the lead sponsor of the Children’s Laureate post, with other sponsorship and funding coming from children’s publishers and Arts Council England. Independent literature charity BookTrust continues to manage the award.

Waterstones MD James Daunt comments on Child’s appointment: Children’s books are in the rudest of health, with sales charging ahead and children’s sections annexing ever greater parts of bookshops. Vital to our industry, there is a wave of creativity, spurred by exceptionally talented and generous authors with the Waterstones Children’s Laureate playing a huge part as a catalyst and inspiration. We could not be more delighted and grateful than to have Lauren Child pick up this baton.

BookTrust’s Chief Executive Diana Gerald said: Managing the Waterstones Children’s Laureate is an honour for BookTrust and we are delighted to be working with Lauren Child as Chris Riddell’s successor. Each of the Laureates has been wonderfully different from each other, but they share a core belief, one that underpins BookTrust’s own reason for being, and that is the power of reading, and its capacity to change children’s lives for the better. We want to inspire and unleash the love of reading for pleasure in children everywhere, whatever their background and I am delighted that our new Laureate is someone whose wonderful books and characters have already got so many children excited about reading. I can’t wait to experience the treasures that Lauren will no doubt bring to this role over the next couple of years.

Child will be returning to Hull later in the month for the opening day of The Big Malarkey, the city’s first children’s literature festival, as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. She will be in the Big Malarkey Tent on Monday 26 June between 4pm and 5pm to answer questions and sign books.

Free access to for Sixth Formers and their Teachers

The Financial Times and Lloyds Bank are offering free access to the to UK-based sixth formers and their teachers.

To register interest and for more information, follow this link:

The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize

Today marks the release of the shortlist of the 2017 Young People’s Book Prize, which celebrates the best books that communicate science to young people.

These six fantastic books were chosen by a panel of adult judges from entries submitted by publishers. Over the next five months, this shortlist will be judged by over 300 groups of young people across the UK – together they decide the winner.

2017 Shortlist

  • The Awesome Body Book by Adam Frost
  • A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček
  • Home Lab By Robert Winston
  • IF… A Mind-Bending Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J Smith, illustrated by Steve Adams
  • 100 things to know about Space by Alex Frith, Alice James and Jerome Martin, illustrated by Shaw Nielsen and Federico Mariani
  • The Little Pebble by Anna Claybourne, illustrated by Sally Garland
    Find out more here:


    Michael Rosen, children’s novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate, today announced the shortlist for the 2017 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards, now in its second year, created by Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, to celebrate the funniest children’s books. Having long championed humorous books for children Rosen said of the shortlist:
    This is a collection of 12 whizzy, crazy, hilarious books. They are guaranteed to tickle. Parents and teachers wondering how to keep your children interested in reading, why not start here? And you can always start them off by reading them out loud – funny voices an’ all!

    Rosen and his judging panel, consisting of Nicolette Jones, journalist and Sunday Times Children’s Book Editor and Katie Thistleton, presenter and host of the CBBC Children’s Book Club, were tasked with making the selected shortlist from over 130 books submitted by children’s publishers. The Lollies are awarded in three categories: Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8s and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13s. The shortlisted books in each category are as follows:

    Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book
    Oi Dog by Kes Gray and Jim Field (Hodder Children’s Books)
    Eat Your People by Lou Kuenzler and David Wojtowycz (Orchard Books)
    Prince of Pants by Alan Macdonald and Sarah McIntyre (Scholastic)
    Danny McGee Drinks the Sea by Andy Stanton and Neal Layton (Hodder Children’s Books)

    Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds
    Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake and Martin Chatterton (Firefly Press)
    Hamish and the Neverpeople by Danny Wallace and Jamie Littler (Simon and Schuster)
    Eddy Stone and the Epic Holiday Mash-Up by Simon Cherry (Usborne)
    Future Ratboy and the Invasion of the Nom Noms by Jim Smith (Egmont)

    Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds.
    I Don’t Like Poetry by Joshua Seigal (Bloomsbury)
    The Best Medicine by Christine Hamil (Little Island Books)
    My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons and Laura Ellen Anderson (Nosy Crow)
    AniMalcolm by David Baddiel and Jim Field (Harper Collins)

    The winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website,, or via the Scholastic channel on the PopJam app. The winning books will be announced at an awards ceremony in London in January 2018. The Lollies were created in response to findings from Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report, which found that what two-thirds of children aged 6-17 looked for when choosing books for themselves were ‘books that make me laugh’.

    Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty at The British Library

    A free exhibition

    1895, the trial of Oscar Wilde. 2017, the pardoning of gay men by the ‘Alan Turing Law’. How far have we come in 122 years?

    Personal testimony. Public protest. Art and culture. We tell the story of love, legislative change and the battles for equality experienced by gay men and women in the UK. 50 years after the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality, our exhibition looks at the build up to this monumental step, its impact, and asks what challenges still remain.

    Exhibition highlights include:

  • Original campaign material, journals and posters from groups such as the Gay Liberation Front, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and Outrage!
  • Sarah Waters’ notebook with character notes that she used while writing Tipping the Velvet, going on public display for the first time
  • Hanif Kureishi’s annotated script for My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and continuity polaroids from the set
  • The first edition of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando alongside a sound recording of Vita Sackville-West from 1954 talking about the inspiration for the book
  • Kenneth Williams’ diary entry from 9 August 1967, which covers the murder of his friend, playwright and author Joe Orton
  • Annotated script for A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney (1958)
  • Commissioned film by performer and artist Dickie Beau exploring the decriminalisation of homosexuality
  • Rachel Foss, Lead Curator of Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty at the British Library, says:

    “Since the passing of the Sexual Offences Act fifty years ago, there has been a transformation in society’s attitudes towards gay love and expression. Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty tells this story through objects and documents that are iconic, public, personal or seemingly ephemeral. These objects and documents are the tangible evidence of a living history that is fragmented, punctuated by gaps and still evolving. I hope that the exhibition will prompt visitors to consider not only how far we as a society have come but also, crucially, what still needs to be done to combat prejudice and realise true equality.”

    The British Library will be hosting an accompanying season of events to provoke debate on past and present understandings of individual identity, reflecting on how far we have come as a society.

    Event highlights include:

  • Jon Savage: 1967 A Summer of Love?, writer, broadcaster and filmmaker Jon Savage reflects on the social, cultural, sexual and political climate of a season of change
  • The Gender Games: Juno Dawson in Conversation, author Juno Dawson provides a personal insight into society’s expectations of gender
  • David Bowie Made Me Gay, a discussion on the transformation, impact and influence of LGBTQ+ music makers featuring broadcaster Simone Fanshawe, writers Julie Burchill and Darryl Bullock alongside DJ Princess Julia and performer K Anderson
  • Proud Poetry, featuring Maureen Duffy, Jackie Kay, Andrew McMillan, Richard Scott and Nick Drake reading their own poetry
  • See more at:

    Quirk Books Authors Out and About

    Love books and pop culture? Have a hankering for something geeky to do next Bank Holiday weekend but no firm plans?

    Fret ye not true believers because Quirk Books have an action-packed offering!

    For you!

    First up why not stop off at MCM ComicCon London? One minute hanging with Archie and the gang from Riverdale or having your photo taken with The (Incredible) Hulk; the next, camping out in Author Corner listening to awesome women in publishing talk about comics, amazing women in history, and twisted fairy-tales.

    If that does not exhaust you then grab a date and head on over to the book heaven that is Waterstones Piccadilly on Monday, 29th May for an evening of book-related chat and wine, plus the chance to grab swag and win awesome prizes.

    Please note that Quirk Books will not accept responsibility for overstimulated minds and having too much fun in one go but they will be secretly pleased by this!

    Exhausted new parents lose out on over 650 hours of sleep a year

    Research finds sleep deprivation is the most stressful challenge about becoming a parent

    Research out today by children’s reading charity BookTrust reveals new parents are completely sleep deprived in the child’s first few years, losing out on a whopping 657 hours per year, which equates to almost four weeks of less sleep a year.

    BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity also found:

  • Sleep deprivation is the most stressful challenge about becoming a parent, second only to worries about children’s health
  • A fifth of new parents (21%) have taken a day off work in order to catch up on lost sleep
  • Children not following a Bath, Book, Bed routine are less relaxed at bedtime, get up more often during the night and get fed more frequently
    The survey polled over 1,000 families on bedtime routines and sleeping habits and revealed that half of parents who don’t follow a Bath, Book, Bed routine would favour a night of uninterrupted sleep over romantic weekends and nights out with friends. Health, productivity and sense of humour also suffer in those who aren’t following the nightly routine with 34% eating poorly, 24% nodding off during the day and 34% taking a knock to their sense of humour.

    BookTrust’s annual Bath, Book, Bed campaign aims to solve these problems in three easy steps, encouraging parents to stick to a simple bedtime routine and asking families to share stories as a regular part of bedtime to help their little ones sleep soundly.

    Jo Frost, worldwide parenting expert and BookTrust Ambassador said:

    BookTrust’s Bath, Book, Bed campaign is a really straightforward approach to tackling a problem that most parents with young children face – the bedtime battle. Bedtime routines do not need to be complicated for especially-tired parents on their last legs. Implementing healthy sleeping habits, and a consistent bedtime routine will not only calm down the child and parents but, provide an environment so that both child and parent can read together helping them both relax and wind down. Meaning everyone will be well-rested, happier and healthier.

    Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust said:

    BookTrust understands how troublesome it can be for parents to get young children to sleep and we know that sometimes it can feel like a never-ending struggle, so we’re sending out 450,000 copies of our Bath, Book, Bed booklet filled with advice and tips to help families tackle bedtime head on and ensure everyone gets a good night’s sleep.

    Sweet dreams start with a simple routine. Families can get involved by attending events or visiting to register for tips, advice and recommended bedtime books. Get involved on social media @booktrust #bathbookbed

  • YA novel, Love Song, by Sophia Bennett, wins The Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year 2017

    London, 13th March 2017: Sophia Bennett triumphed over fellow competing authors to win the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s highest accolade, The Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year, with Love Song, published by Chicken House. This is only the second time in the award’s 57 year history that the RNA’s most prestigious prize has been awarded to a Young Adult title, reflecting the increasing popularity of this sub-genre. Prue Leith presented Sophia with her trophies and a cheque for £5,000 at a star-studded event, compèred by author and broadcaster Jane Wenham-Jones.

    Sophia Bennett was the winner of the Young Adult Novel of the Year category. Her book then went forward, along with those of the six other category winners – Contemporary, Epic, Historical Romantic Novel, Paranormal or Speculative Romantic Novel, Romantic Comedy and RoNA Rose – to contest the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) most coveted award, the Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year. For the first time in the awards’ history the shortlist included both traditionally and independently published authors.

    It was a double first for novelist Kate Johnson, who was named winner of the first Paranormal or Speculative Romantic Novel Award for Max Seventeen, and was also the first self-published author in the award’s 57 year history to win one of the prestigious RoNAs.

    A panel of independent judges read the seven category winners’ novels before meeting to debate the finer points of each book. The panel included Matt Bates, Fiction Buyer for WHSmith Travel; journalist and novelist Fanny Blake; Ron Johns, bookseller and publisher; and Caroline Sanderson, Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Worcester and Associate Editor for The Bookseller.

    Romantic Novel of the Year Category Winners

    Prior to announcing the overall award winner, Prue Leith revealed the winners of the individual categories and presented them with star-shaped crystal trophies.

    The winners were:

    Debbie Johnson, Summer at the Comfort Food Café, HarperImpulse
    Winner Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year
    (for mainstream romantic novels set post-1960)

    Janet Gover, Little Girl Lost, Choc Lit
    Winner Epic Romantic Novel of the Year
    (for novels containing serious issues or themes, including gritty, multi-generational stories)

    Kate Kerrigan, It Was Only Ever You, Head of Zeus
    Winner Historical Romantic Novel of the Year
    (for novels set in a period before 1960)

    Kate Johnson, Max Seventeen, independently published
    Winner Paranormal or Speculative Romantic Novel
    (for novels that include elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, whether paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, time slip or worlds that include ghosts, vampires or creatures of legend.)

    Penny Parkes, Out of Practice, Simon & Schuster
    Winner Romantic Comedy Romantic Novel of the Year
    (for consistently humorous or amusing novels)

    Scarlet Wilson, Christmas in the Boss’s Castle, Mills & Boon Cherish
    Winner RoNA Rose Award
    (for category/series and shorter romance)

    Sophia Bennett, Love Song, Chicken House
    Winner Young Adult Romantic Novel of the Year
    (featuring protagonists who are teenagers or young adults)

    Sophia Bennett’s Love Song was a unanimous choice among the judges, who were impressed by the strength and authenticity of the main character’s voice. They felt the book was well-written with plenty of detail, and great sensitivity in some of the scenes. The judges commented “Love Song is an intelligent and thoughtful read which handles the all-consuming emotion of a first crush rather beautifully.”

    Eileen Ramsay, Chairman of the RNA, said, “”This is the second year that a Young Adult novel has won the overall award, demonstrating the growing appeal of YA fiction. This wonderful story celebrates the sensitive treatment of first love. Huge congratulations to a very deserving winner!”

    David Headley, Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, commented, “The diversity of this year’s winners, including for the first time, a self-published author, confirms romantic fiction as an exciting and still innovative genre, which continues to delight readers.”

    Outstanding Achievement Awards

    Barbara Erskine is the author of thirteen bestselling novels and three collections of short stories that demonstrate her interest in both history and the supernatural. It is thirty years since the publication of her first novel, Lady of Hay, which has been in continuous publication since 1986 and sold over three million copies worldwide.

    Adele Parks has sold over three million UK edition copies of her novels and her books have been translated into over 26 languages. Every one of her 15 novels has been a bestseller in the UK. Both Barbara and Adele were presented with outstanding achievement awards for their continued championing of the RNA and romantic fiction.