The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane & Jackie Morris

I have never been able to say that a book took my breath away; after encountering The Lost Words I am no longer able to say that.

It is not that the book whisked my breath away, but rather that the magic of the book entranced me while I was looking at and reading it my autonomic nervous system slowed and I forgot to draw breath, until my body, starved of oxygen, demanded that I inhale.

Through some subtle alchemy Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris have captured some of the magic of the wild on fragile pieces of paper. With his words, in verse so spare that not a word is wasted nor extra ones required Robert has written the movement of the animals and captured the essence the floral kingdom in ways that I have never encountered in print before before. Jackie, whose work I have adored for years has truly outdone herself, I keep expecting the animals to dart off the page and the gentle breeze to whistle through the brambles or conkers and acorns to fall from their branches.

The Lost Words is a memory of the wild and a reminder of the potency of words that exist and should not be forgotten.

Poster: Be a REBEL!

Click on the image to download a .pdf of the poster.

An open letter on #LibrariesWeek

FAO: John Glen MP, Libraries Taskforce, the DCMS, Arts Council England, Local Governments all over the UK

RE: LIBRARIES WEEK

Dear all

It is an exciting day today, with the launch of the first National UK Libraries Week, celebrating libraries of all shapes and sizes across the UK. Going by your twitter feeds this morning you are all big supporters of this initiative.

It gladdens my heart that you are all believers in equality of service, and that citizens of this United Kingdom, home to Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes, Rowling, Riddell, Crossan and other giants of literature, both ancient and modern, deserve equal access to literature, learning and information through their local library service.

In fact as you are no doubt all aware, Public Libraries are a statutory service as enshrined in the Public Libraries and Museums Act of 1964, with the Secretary for DCMS (currently YOU Mr Glen) having a right and a duty to make sure that local authorities do this (see below)

  • have regard to encouraging both adults and children to make full use of the library service (section 7(2)(b))
  • lend books and other printed material free of charge for those who live, work or study in the area (section 8(3)(b))

    It is the statutory duty of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to:

  • superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England (section 1(1))
  • secure the proper discharge by local authorities of the functions in relation to libraries conferred on them as library authorities
  • Read the full act here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1964/75

    I would like to welcome you all to join with librarians, campaigners, authors and others who have worked tirelessly since 2011 (and before) to ensure the survival of the library service as we know it.

    I am aware that in the past other secretaries of state have not been minded to intervene or just sat on their hands while the service burned (whatever happened to them?), I also know that it many in government thought the public library question was best answered by local government (sadly many of those answers have been soul-destroying).

    Now I am confident that the online signals of support from yourselves and official twitter accounts from councils across the country that we can move past this unfortunate episode and work together to bring library services back under the umbrella of local government with full backing from the DCMS, bringing an end to piecemeal funding of special projects and making sure that libraries are funded in the way that they should be!

    While you are at it could you have a word with your colleagues at OFSTED about the importance of making school libraries and librarians statutory rather than leaving it up to individual heads as we can all see how that has ended up.

    All the best and happy Libraries Week

    Matt

    A few thoughts on World Book Day 2018

    World Book Day is the British manifestation of a UNESCO organised event to promote reading, publishing & copyright

    World Book Day is built on the work of authors, many of whom live by the word

    Over the 20 years of its existence it has celebrated the works of many authors – some famous, others merely well-known

    It is important for readers (both young and old) to see themselves reflected in the books as well as seeing people that look like them writing the books

    Celebrity names sell books

    Celebrities can be and are authors too

    Many celebrities that now write books started out writing sketches, music and shows so celebrity-written does not automatically = ghost-written or bad

    I think it is wrong to have a list made up predominantly of celebrities

    I can understand that the organisers of WBD may want to jazz it up by using celebrities to catch the attention of reluctant and non-readers

    It sends a message that to be able to write a book you need to be a celebrity

    It excludes people that are not fans of the celebrities chosen and limits their choices in the £1 books

    I think that it is a shame that the books are aimed at the younger end of Children and Young People which will exclude teenage readers and potentially alienate those that already feel marginalised

    I had no idea who Tom Fletcher was before the list was released…

    I have just seen the announcement that the teen selection for WBD is going to be made in ‘coming weeks’ this smacks of poor planning or they forgot to add YA in and had to wait for finished titles; either way separating the lists will weaken the second announcement and may reinforce the message that teen books are of secondary importance

    The Corbyn Comic Book

    Politics and Cartoons have gone together since man first put pen to paper to pillory politicians for perfidy in print and picture.

    It is far rarer I think that our ruling classes are celebrated in cartoon form, Barack Obama was one such leader and now (thanks to the folks at SelfMadeHero) Jeremy Corbyn is another.

    A few years ago Mr Corbyn seemed like an archaic left-over from Labour’s more left-wing militant past; a reminder that politicians were not all slick carbon copies with PPE degrees from prestigious universities.

    Then one day he was chosen to run against his more centrist colleagues in a leadership contest…

    and he won.

    The words “Labour will be unelectable for a generation” were bandied around, murmurs of mutiny from the Parliamentary Labour Party became louder, votes of no confidence to remove him happened; attempts to undermine him became an almost daily occurrence, with briefings to the press and high-profile resignations happening with tiresome regularity.

    Throughout all of this he became more and more popular with the electorate; not that you would believe this considering the vituperative attacks by Britains right-wing press.

    Theresa May, believing what she read & heard from the news about Labour being fatally weakened by an unelectable Corbyn; saw her chance to destroy all meaningful opposition to her Brexit plans and called a snap election.

    She did not win.

    Labour under Corbyn pulled them back enough to prevent a Conservative parliamentary majority, wiping out the Tories’ electoral lead and forcing them to go hat in hand to smaller parties to prop up their failing government.

    Written and drawn in a variety of styles The Corbyn Comic Book is a collection of over 30 one to three page comic strips celebrating Corbyn the man, the jam lover, the Prime Minister?

    Yes this comic is an indulgence, but it is wonderful and a window into how Jeremy Corbyn is seen in the minds of some wonderful comic artists.

    I am a fan*!

    Get it today!

    *Of both Corbyn and this comic

    #TeenLibrarian Monthly September 2017

    Download (PDF, Unknown)

    Unspooling The Red Ribbon… an Interview with Lucy Adlington


    Hi Lucy, welcome to Teen Librarian and thank you for giving up your time to answer a few questions about The Red Ribbon.

    Can you please introduce yourself to the audience?

    Hello, I’m Lucy Adlington. I’m a writer and costume historian (which means I get to find out fantastic stories about people’s lives in the past, using clothes as clues). I live on a farm in Yorkshire and I love my work.

    How would you describe The Red Ribbon to catch the attention of a potential reader?

    The Red Ribbon is a story of four girls, each looking to survive in extreme circumstances. It’s also about love, courage, hope… and the power of clothes to transform our lives.

    What inspired you to write the story?

    The story of The Red Ribbon is based on real events in history. During World War Two, in the middle of Auschwitz – the Nazi concentration camp – there really was a dressmaking studio where prisoners could literally sew to save their lives. I was so staggered to discover this I just knew I had to share it with readers.

    If readers would like to find out more information about the true story behind The Red Ribbon where would you recommend they look?

    I’m working on a non-fiction book about the Auschwitz dressmakers. In the meanwhile, readers might like to read testimonies of Auschwitz survivors. I recommend Eva’s Story by Eva Schloss. She was Anne Frank’s stepsister. She survived Auschwitz as a teenager and still tours the UK speaking on behalf of refugees, and against discrimination.

    Writing about historical events such as the Holocaust can be harrowing – did you find any parts of writing The Red Ribbon difficult?

    The greatest challenge was daring to create fiction out of such a significant era of history, all the while remembering that while it’s history for us, it was people’s lives. I wanted to respect the truth even while weaving the fates of my own characters. I never, ever feel dulled to the horrors of warfare or genocide while reading or writing about them. They fed my anger against injustice and violent tribalism.

    Can you recommend any other books based on the same time period to fans of your book?

    My To Read pile is vast, and topping it are Elizabeth Wein’s books Codename Verity and Rose Under Fire. I loved Judith Kerr’s memoirs Bombs on Aunt Daisy (also When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit) And of course, Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mr Tom.

    At the end of the Second World War world leaders started working towards a world where such atrocities could never take place again, now with the resurgence of the neo-Nazi movement and growth in hate crimes do you think the world is at risk at tipping towards fascism again?

    There have always been extremists who seek to impose their constrictions on all levels of society. No matter how many times we say Never Again there are countries and cultures that promote right-wing doctrines. If we have the luxury of freedom we must use our voices against hate-speech. If we enjoy the luxury of living in a free society we must, in our daily lives and daily acts, promote community and connectedness.

    Lastly will you be visiting libraries and schools once The Red Ribbon is published? If yes what is the best way to contact you?

    I LOVE visiting libraries most of all – in schools, or in towns. As a child I would have lived in a library if I could (next best thing – being allowed to take home 12 library books a week). Librarians throughout my life have inspired me to read more, and to read more widely – I thank them all. You can see where I’ll be presenting talks about The Red Ribbon on my website www.historywardrobe.com There’s an online events diary.

    #BAME authored books currently eligible to be nominated for the 2018 CILIP Carnegie Medal

    The CILIP Carnegie Medal was rocked by controversy this year as the long and short lists for 2017 featured no books by Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) authors. At the time as a former judge and observer of the CKG Medals I made my views publicly known and am not going to go through most of them here.

    I believe that it is possible for books to slip past fairly easily, due to the sheer volume of books published for children and young readers and the limits that publishers publicity departments face with regard to budget, many books are released with little or no official fanfare at all.

    I also know that BAME authors do not face a level playing-field when it comes to being published, although the initiatives that have been springing up recently to remedy this is a step in the right direction.

    In the interests of trying to help make sure that no authors are left behind, I am promoting all the BAME authors I can find that are eligible for nomination for 2018.

    SO! If you are a Librarian and a member of CILIP then good news! You are eligible to nominate two books for the CILIP Carnegie Medal as well as two books for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal – I hope to put together a list of Greenaway eligible titles soon. I am not telling you to nominate books from the list below, but if you have read one or more (as I have) and you think that they deserve a chance at going for gold then nominate them!

  • Randa Abdel-Fatteh – The Lines We Cross
  • S.K. Ali – Saints and Misfits
  • Amy Alward – Potion Diaries Going Viral
  • Sita Brahmachari – Tender Earth
  • Jack Chen – See You in the Cosmos
  • Michaela DePrince – Ballerina Dreams (illus Ella Okstad)
  • Lorraine Gregory – Mold and the Poison Plot
  • Swapna Haddow – Dave Pigeon Nuggets (illus Sheena Dempsey)
  • Polly Ho-Yen – Fly Me Home
  • Catherine Johnson – Blade and Bone
  • Patrice Lawrence – Indigo Donut
  • Irfan Master – Out of Heart
  • Taran Matharu – Battlemage
  • Sandhya Menon – When Dimple Met Rishi
  • Kiran Milwood Hargrave – The Island at the End of Everything
  • Nick Mohamed – Young Magicians
  • Pooja Puri – The Jungle
  • Bali Rai – The Harder they Fall
  • Chitra Soundar – A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice (illus Uma Krishnaswamy)
  • Chitra Soundar – Pattan’s Pumpkin (illus Frane Lessac)
  • Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give
  • Alex Wheatle – Straight Outta Crongton
  • Nicola Yoon – The Sun is Also a Star
  •  
    If you have already made your choices then speak to colleagues that have not yet nominated! ALL members of CILIP are able to nominate – not just the ones working in Children’s & Young Peoples Librarianship.

    I will add more authors and titles as they pop up on my radar. If you know ones that are eligible please leave a comment and I will add them!

    l’bibliothèque, ç’est moi

    Paraphrasing the Sun King there although there is a bit of a dispute as to whether or not he actually said L’Etat, ç’est moi! (I am the State)

    I am stealing it and re-purposing it for the 21st century and for Librarians.

    So L’Bibliothèque, ç’est moi! – I am the Library!

    While a Librarian without a Library is still a Librarian, the opposite is not true – a Library without a Librarian becomes a room or building full of books and other resources that people without the requisite know-how are unable to access fully. So yes the Librarian makes the Library and can be said to actually be the Library.; at the very least the Librarian is the interface through which many people can access the services on offer.

    This train of thought led me to consider why so many schools have re-branded their Libraries as ‘Learning Resource Centres’, many are still run by Librarians, some are managed by Resource Centre Managers and still others are unstaffed; after all who needs a Librarian if you no longer have a Library?

    Use the Damn Library!

    Dear Teachers

    Now that the summer holidays are fading into a dim and distant memory and you are facing a school year full of students, teaching, marking and meetings. You probably feel a faint dread deep in your gut that you may be on your own in this! Sure you have fellow teachers, but they are facing challenges identical to yours!

    You know that you have to provide information to your students and find resources to use in your lessons, if you are a new teacher you may have to create these from scratch and if you are an old hand you may feel that what you have already may need refreshing or updating.

    If you feel overwhelmed or are not sure where to turn then may I make a suggestion?

    Many schools still have Librarians on either a full or part-time basis! Apart from shelving books, cataloguing and making sure that students do not destroy the place during break times the Librarian can:

  • Offer you resources to support your lesson plans – all you have to do is let the Librarian know what your information needs are for the year
  • Make space available for a break-out lesson in the Library, not just providing space but also assisting students in researching using books and online resources too
  • If you do not have the time or opportunity to bring your class to the Library, the he Librarian will happily put together a box (or more) of books and other resources and deliver them to your classroom ahead of the lesson (it does help to give advance notification and not five minutes
    before the lesson starts)

  • Provide a quiet place if you are feeling overwhelmed; while Librarians no longer do the shushing thing we do keep raucous behaviour to a minimum.
     
    Libraries offer all these services and more! We are also able to customise the library offer to your needs, all it takes is a quick visit and chat to let us know your requirements.

    To those of you that do use the Library thank you and please introduce your colleagues to this fantastic service and to everyone else what are you waiting for? Join hundreds… nay thousands of your colleagues that are already in on this awesome offer and USE THE DAMN LIBRARY!

    All the best

    Your Librarian