Refugee Narratives in Children’s Literature

In 2017 I attended a one-day interdisciplinary workshop about Refugee Narratives in Children’s Literature at Birkbeck College organised by The Reluctant Internationalists.

Apart from making excellent contacts and meeting some old friends I contributed towards the creation of a bibliography of children’s books on migration, refugees / migrants and multicultural living. I have no idea why I have never shared it before, but it can be downloaded below.

Download (PDF, 294KB)

Chinese New Year Craft: Peppa Pig Lantern

The Chinese New Year begins tomorrow Tuesday 5th February and it is the Year of the Pig. I have created a simple paper lantern craft activity featuring Peppa Pig and her family. This will be suitable for younger Library users.  

“新年快乐” translates as Happy New Year: Xin Nian Kuai Le
Pronounced “sheen neean kwai luh,” kuai le means “happy” or “joyous” and xin nian means “new year.”

You can download a .pdf of the lantern here: Peppa Pig Lantern

Peppa Pig was created by Mark Baker, Neville Astley and Phil Davies.

Peppa Pig‘s trademark and copyright is held by Entertainment One

Feeling crafty?

SearchPress publish loads of amazing arts and crafts books, for beginning projects up to daunting expertise, and they very kindly offered to share a couple of free projects with us to entice you to their website. I know lots of libraries run or host craft sessions, and you will definitely have some manga fans, so have a look for some inspiration…

From Crocheted Cactuses comes this really cute (but baffling to a non-crochet-er) plan for, you guessed it, a crocheted cactus!

They have loads of manga titles, but the pages they’ve shared with us are from How to Draw Manga (in simple steps) by Yishan Li:

There are other free projects available on their website too!

Voices is back for 2019!

Coram Voice is excited to announce the return of Voices, its annual writing competition for children in care and young care leavers across the country. The competition is open for
entries until 10 February 2019.

Coram Voice, a charity that provides a range of services for children and young people in
and around the care system, first launched the competition in 2016 as a platform for care-
experienced young people to express their creative talents and to celebrate their voices.
The theme of this year’s competition, ‘Growing Up’, was chosen by young people who took part in the competition last year.  Entries can be in any written form including poems, short stories, raps or newspaper articles, with a 500 word limit.

There are four age categories:

  • primary school,
  • lower secondary school (age 11-14),
  • upper secondary school (age 15-18)
  • care leavers (age 19-25).
  • Entries will be judged by a panel of high-profile authors, poets and presenters:

  • Kit de Waal, the award-winning author of My Name is Leon which tells the story of a vulnerable young boy who is taken into care
  • Jarvis, whose book Alan’s Big Scary Teeth was selected by the BookTrust to be distributed to children across the country
  • Kiran Millwood-Hargrave, the Waterstones Children’s Book award-winner for 2017
  • Mr Gee, the Sony Gold award-winning poet, comedian and presenter
  • Ashley John-Baptiste, care leaver and ground-breaking BBC reporter, who was shortlisted for the Royal Television Society Young Talent Of The Year award in 2018
  • Alice Broadway, best-selling Young Adult Fiction author of the Skinbooks Trilogy
  • Jenny Molloy, care leaver and inspiring novelist, author of the Times bestseller, Hackney Child
  • Ric Flo, care leaver, innovative rap artist and creative director of the hip-hop collective Jungle Brown
  • Louise, who was a runner up in last year’s competition and met the Queen in December, said: “I entered Voices 2018 on a whim and I’m glad I did! Since entering, I was fortunate enough to read my entry for the Queen. This was a scary experience however getting to share my experience as a care leaver with the Queen was a privilege. I am passionate about making the voices of care experienced people heard and I am very thankful for this
    experience.”

    Previous competition entrants said that participating had inspired them to write more, made them feel appreciated and valued for their talents and helped them to express their emotions about being in care.* One young writer said: “The competition is a safe opportunity to share your personal story – it’s a wonderful way to embrace your history and yourself”, while
    another added “to put what you feel on a piece of paper is quite therapeutic.”

    Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice said, “We are delighted to launch our Voices competition for the fourth year running and can’t wait to see children and young people’s amazing entries.. We are continually inspired by the talent of the young people, their creativity is immense and we hope their stories improve understanding of their experiences.”

    Entries can be submitted on the Coram Voice website until 10 February 2019.

    #TeenLibrarian Monthly January 2018

    Download (PDF, 512KB)

    Does this Poster Spark Joy?

    Inspired by the new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Click on the image below to save a copy of the poster.   School Library Edition Once you have tidied your living area you will have more space for Library books!

    Black History Month Ideas: The Potato King of the World

    Born into slavery on a plantation near Kentucky, Junius G. Groves was six years of age when slavery was abolished in the USA.

    20 years later he joined the Exoduster movement and made his way to Kansas.

    In 1902 he became known as the Potato King of the World, for growing more bushels of potatoes per acre than anyone in the world up to that point in time.

    As a farmer and landowner he employed both whites and blacks on his farm and worked hard on uplifting African–Americans. His employment practices did a lot to combat racism at the time.

    Celebrate Black History Month by teaching the attendees about Junius Groves and then running a potato print workshop, giving children the opportunity to carve potatoes into shapes and then printing them onto strips of paper.

    Once that is done, you can introduce them to the art of Kente fabric weaving while their potato print strips dry. They can then weave the paper print strips into a paper version of Kente cloth.

    Learn about Junius Groves here: https://blackpast.org/aaw/groves-junius-george-1859-1925

    Or you could read No Small Potatoes by Tonya Bolden and Don Tate

    Find out more about Kente Cloth paper weaving here: https://kinderart.com/art-lessons/multic/kente-cloth-strips/

    When planning the colors you wish to use for the workshop, it is worth keeping their symbolic meanings in mind:

    • black: maturation, intensified spiritual energy
    • blue: peacefulness, harmony and love
    • green: vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
    • gold: royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
    • grey: healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
    • maroon: the color of mother earth; associated with healing
    • pink: associated with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
    • purple: associated with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
    • red: political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
    • silver: serenity, purity, joy; associated with the moon
    • white: purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
    • yellow: preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility, beauty

    The Third Degree with David Owen

    David Owen’s latest book, All The Lonely People, is released on 10th January. It is a fantastic read with a fascinating premise: can you be so lonely that you actually disappear? There are two main characters, who rarely meet but their paths are entwined when Wesley’s “friends” choose Kat as a target for an online hate campaign with the intention of hounding her off the internet. Kat (like me as a teenager tbh) only feels like she can be herself online, and so as she deletes her accounts she herself begins to fade in real life. The Kat storyline resonated but Wesley’s side was the outstanding side for me – he’s trying to find a place to fit in but has chosen a toxic community that he realises he doesn’t agree with but fears he’s in too deep to get out. I was so impressed with his confused and also lonely voice, and hope it isn’t too much of a spoiler to say I was very pleased with his redemption without forgiveness. It is a brilliant examination of the damage of toxic masculinity and the ease with which lonely boys can be indoctrinated by misogynistic online groups, something I’ve not seen in YA before, as well as a touching look at the prevalence of lonliness in teens and how important it is to remember that no one has it together but some people fake it better. There is no “get off the internet and find a real friend” moral, but it does lead the reader to think about the potential pitfalls of social media use.

    In fact, I loved it so much that I pinned him down to ask a few questions:

    Hi David, welcome to TeenLibrarian and thank you for giving up your time to undergo the third degree!

    All the Lonely People is about online culture, did you spend a lot of your teenage years online?

    Waaay too much time! I was part of the first generation to grow up with online culture. I spent an inordinate amount of time in chat rooms and forums, and I had LiveJournal, MySpace, and was an early adopter of Facebook. I’ve been online since I was about ten years old. 

    I spent most of my online time on an RPG video game forum that had quite a small but very active community. The opinions of these people came to really matter to me. If I said something stupid or accidentally broke a rule there, I’d feel bad about it for days. It was so stupid! That was my first taste of how an online life can have a significant impact on your wellbeing.  

    Do you have any words of wisdom for teenagers, like Kat, who feel like their online presence is more important than their real world presence?

    I’m not sure about words of wisdom. It’s so easy for me to encourage people to disconnect a little and not take it quite so seriously, but the reality is very different. Social media is such an integral part of the lives of young people now, much more so than when I was a teenager. There is a sense that if you’re not online, or if you don’t get enough attention there, you don’t exist. And one wrong move can be instantly seen by the entire world. 

    I suppose all I can say is to encourage teenagers to seek out people, whether online or in the ‘real world’, who share similar values, who have similar interests, and who will treat them with kindness. Those are the people that matter, rather than striving to gain the approval of people who don’t care about you. Use your online presence to enhance your life – if the negatives begin to outweigh the positives, it’s time to reassess how you use the internet. 

    What inspired the title?

    It is shamelessly lifted from the Beatles song ‘Eleanor Rigby’. I listened to it a lot while I was writing the book, because it’s such a terrifically melancholy song, and quite succinctly sums up the isolating experience of loneliness. And, of course, it fitted in well with the Lonely People group in the story, and the idea that more people than you realise are struggling with feeling alone. 

    Your day job as a journalist obviously involves a lot of writing, how easy is it to switch between researching for articles and writing fiction?

    Switching between the two modes of writing isn’t something I find too difficult. They’re sufficiently different that my brain can easily differentiate them. The fact I go to an office for my day job and then write fiction at my desk at home also helps! The only real problem is time and tiredness – after a day of work, especially one that’s involved a lot of writing, the last thing I want to do is sit down at a computer and write some more, even if it is something different. So sometimes fiction has to wait. 

    You’ve chaired a few panels at events in recent years, who were your favourite panellists and what would you love to chair next?

    I’m going to give a cop out answer here and say I’ve loved everybody I’ve chaired – but it’s true. It was an honour to chair Melvin Burgess because he’s such a titan of YA fiction and listening to him talk is fascinating. Taran Matharu talks really eloquently about fantasy fiction, and Alice Oseman was also a delight to chair. 

    I’d love to chair a panel of authors of really weird YA fiction – like Andrew Smith, Margo Lanagan, M. T. Anderson, authors that really push what YA can be. I think that would be really interesting.  

    If you go into schools, do you prefer writing workshops or author talks?

    I like a mix of both! A talk is a good way to introduce yourself and your books and talk about the things that really matter to you to hopefully get them thinking. But not many school kids want to be talked at for an hour straight, and doing workshops is a great way to keep them engaged and to encourage a love for reading and writing, which is ultimately what we’re trying to do. Young people are so creative, I think authors often get more out of the workshops than they do!


    What are you currently reading and who would you recommend it to?

    I’ve just (figuratively) cracked the new Alex Wheatle novel ‘Home Girl’, which is the next in his brilliant Crongton series. They’re such unique books, packed with the types of characters we don’t see enough in YA, and the writing is just brilliant. I’d recommend to pretty much anyone, but particularly to people who are cynical about YA and how tremendously powerful it can be. 

    What are you hoping 2019 will bring?

    In books? Better representation of marginalised voices, better coverage of children’s books in the national press, and for our libraries to be protected. In the world? For everything to be significantly less terrible.

    I also wouldn’t mind All the Lonely People being a bestseller…

    You won’t regret it!

    From This American Life: The Room of Requirement

    Noooo! Not the one from Harry Potter (although it is named for that) rather this is a podcast from the awesome people at This American Life about Libraries.

    Libraries aren’t just for books. They’re often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It’s actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required. 

    You can take a listen here:
    https://www.thisamericanlife.org/664/the-room-of-requirement

    The Night Before Christmas: Lark by Anthony McGowan

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
    Out in his sett the old badger was resting
    In the eves of my house a rook was still nesting.
    The pike it was swimming in the depths of the lake
    Just waiting for prey to make a mistake!
    On my nightstand lay McGowan’s book Lark
    The perfect read for bed after dark!

    The final story about Kenny & Nicky,
    Two brothers who have come through situations quite sticky!
    The strength of the books lies in the love that they had
    One for the other, their dog and their dad!
    But in this dark tale the stakes are so high
    Will the brothers both live, or will one of them die…
    Out on the moors with the temperature dropping,
    with a bitter, cold wind and snow that’s not stopping?

    I read this story with my heart in my throat
    My tea grew ice cold but I did not know it!
    The reading was fretful, I wanted to stop!
    When out in the hall there came a soft ‘pop’
    My daughter was roaming so I took a break
    and put her to bed, my head I did shake.

    Oh! Lark I did finish and so went to bed
    With thoughts of the brothers and the North, in my head

    The Truth of All Things sequence is a masterpiece! I have covered Tony’s work quite a bit over the years and do not want to rehash what I have already said. You can read my opinions on the first three books here.

    I will just say that I stand by my words and to my mind Lark is a fitting coda to the story and slots in very well with my theory of the books being based on the elements.

    Thank you Tony! It has been an honour and a pleasure following and sharing in Nicky and Kenny’s exploits over the years!

    Lark is a must-read book for 2019 – along with Brock, Pike and Rook!

    All the books are written by Anthony McGowan and published by Barrington Stoke.

    Lark will be released in January 2019