Libraries Matter in the 21st Century #Article #LibraryMatters @CressidaCowell @PhilipArdagh #libraries #education

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century

Why, you should ask, when there are Kindles and other online platforms, do libraries matter now in the 21st Century. I have heard people saying that they may be becoming a thing of the past and don’t really matter. There are also people who don’t realise, even after the existence of libraries for many years, that they are free. That is one of the beauty’s of libraries – they are free. Whatsmore books can be borrowed and new books can be obtained for free. Librarians can also introduce you to a whole new author based on what you like. If you don’t know what you like, they can find out by different means through a nice chat.

Libraries have the latest books and follow the latest trends. Pick up a book and escape into different realms, away from reality for a bit, whatever age you are. Some adults think libraries are only for children, they are for every age. Reading for Pleasure isn’t just a trend however, it is for all ages and all it requires is time to be made to relax and unwind with a book. Books are proven to help de-stress after a hard day at school or further education or work.

Books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction all have something that can expand people’s knowledge, language, imagination, exploration of the world, expand tolerance, understanding and well-being.

Libraries have computers and apps with the latest technologies as well as WI-FI. There are also often great study areas within them for all ages.

Libraries offer more. They offer sanctuary through tough times and a source of joy when times are good. They also offer times to socialise and meet you friends. They offer places to unwind. A library is many things.

Libraries offer more even still:

They offer Bookbug Sessions in Scotland and equvelent of sessions such as Rhyme Times south of the border.

Libraries look at STEM and Lego Clubs and Builders Days are popping up across the country.

Libraries give people exciting opportunities to meet an author, get a book signed, hear a talk. In Scotland it is Bookweek Scotland coming up week beginning Monday 18th November. Check your local library to see how they are celebrating it and keep a look out to see how your child’s school is celebrating. Events happen nationally within schools and public library and some community libraries throughout the year, check with your library to see what is planned and how to attend (usually with consumate ease and most are free).

Think Netflix is the greatest thing? The next greatest thing to follow at libraries is Bookflix, cropping up in libraries and school library/book corners.

Books are lovely to share, whether they are children, young adults or adults and there are many benefits from doing this, including forming new friendships.

Libraries and their books and events really are for the youngest of babies to the oldest of adults.

School libraries have been disappearing, but Cressida Cowell and Phillip Aardagh seem to be on the case to work on getting them re-instated because they matter. School visits to local libraries also matter and count. Experiences matter as does making them as positive as possible.

Libraries in both the public and school domains matter. They need people to support them by using them. There seems to be a swath of people who still think libraries are lifeless and are all about stern librarians telling them what to do or not do etc. Libraries changed quite a number of years ago and are ever evolving. Yes, they suffer from lack of funding too, but passionate librarians work many hours to deliver a great service and are always striving to do their best for the public. Support them and enjoy them! They are not a luxury, but a necessity after all and not something to be taken for granted.
So, instead of walking by a library, whether at school or in an area that has a library open to all, why not pop in and see what is going on and what is on offer, you may be pleasantly surprised.

What I worry about the future of libraries is that one day in some places, people may wake up to their being no library in any form. Once something is lost it can be forever. Let’s try and keep libraries for the present and the future. Enjoy them by using them, having a chat with your librarian and seeing what is on offer.

Your library may have closed down already. My local library has and now sits within the third sector. I used to work for the local authority libraries. Jobs go though don’t they. I ironically only worked a couple of times in the library where I actually live. I now work there a lot, bringing it up to scratch and using every inch of experience to lead it and to bring it as close to the local authority run libraries as possible. I and other in other community libraries that try to compliment a council run library ensure we have a great selection of books, in every genre and that they are new, have school class visits, have (in Scotland) Bookbug sessions (I was trained under the council run libraries when I worked with them and the Bookbug co-ordinator for the area allows me to continue). Authors also kindly visit too.

Am I still passionate about libraries, even though I do not get paid anymore? Yes, although it is rather a worrying trend because always, I, anyway am wanting to deliver the absolute best possible library to people because libraries really do matter and can make a difference to people’s lives in many forms. Community libraries can be less recognised where and when it matters and I hope that changes soon, or people may find community libraries also ever more challenging to run, if they want to do it to compliment a local authority library. I feel that’s a whole other subject for another time.
Enjoy libraries and support them and reap the benefits from them before there is nothing left to pass on to present people and future generations.

Celebrating 100 Posts and Thank You #100 #Bloggers #ReadingCommunity #WritingCommunity #Article #Blog #Authors #Publishers

Celebrating 100 posts on my Blog

Today on my blog notifications it announced I had written 100 posts. I hadn’t realised it was so many over just over a year. I have enjoyed reviewing every book from crime to political thriller to up-lit to non-fiction; and every stage performance from musicals to plays to stand-up. Articles covering a number of subjects. I love writing my blog, but most of all, I thank you all for following direct from my blog, on Twitter and my Facebook Page. I also thank those who invite me to join their blog tours, the authors and publishers who send me books and for conversing with me via my social media and the contact section on my blog homepage. It really does feel like such a privilege to be able to review so many and such a diverse selection of books by so many authors.
I thank authors and book festival organisers who have added me to their contact lists, again such a privilege and an exciting one at that.

I have more great sounding books to read and review, theatre and thoughts for further articles as time moves ever forward on my blog. So, I hope you all continue to enjoy what I am doing and thanks again for your support by your nice comments, all which I read and try to respond to.

Thank you!

There are Mysterious Goings on in Literary Morecambe – A Review of the Morecambe and Vice Festival @MorecambeVice #Crime #Festival #Morecambe #Lancaster #Books #Review

There are Mysterious Goings on in Literary Morecambe

A Review of the Morecambe and Vice Festival

An array of hats, talk of murder and other crimes, music filling the air and an art deco-hotel mixed together with a sense of quirkiness – it could only be The Morecambe and Vice Festival.

The weekend just past (28th-29th September) found me in Morecambe at the Morecambe and Vice Festival. A diverse and quirky crime festival that is in its third year. I first came here last year to meet Hugh Fraser (played Captain Hastings in Poirot and many other roles and is an author) – that’s a whole other story…
I had barely started my blog when I was first at the festival, and now with my blog being a year old, and grown somewhat, I was so pleased that kindly, the organisers invited me to review their festival on my blog. It was such a pleasure and privilege. It was an incredible opportunity given by Tom Fisher and Ben Cooper-Muir.

Morecambe feels like it is on the up again. There is a second series of The Bay being filmed there and they are getting The Eden Project and there is of course this wonderful festival called Morecambe and Vice, which is not afraid of diverse subjects or of inviting authors and other speakers from across the UK.

All Ready to Begin with Tom and Ben

Morecambe and Vice is now, as previously mentioned, is in its third year, but the reality is so much different. It feels like it has been going for longer. It is so professional, welcoming and yet so relaxed. Tom and Ben have clearly put in a lot of effort into making this year, like last year, a success. This is a festival where authors (and audiences) seem to like to be able to return to, given the chance.

I arrived on Friday afternoon and took a look around the streets and of course along the seafront and got ready for the Saturday at The Midland Hotel. The Midland is a lovely art-deco hotel and has featured in some tv episodes of Poirot by Agatha Christie. It was a terrific venue. I loved The Winter Garden’s Theatre the year before, but The Midland was warmer. Who knows where the venue will be next year… 

Midland Hotel
All Art-Deco at The Midland Hotel

Registration to introduce yourself and collect your badge was between 9:00am and 9:30am. It’s all wonderfully stress free and it was quite exciting seeing not only my name, but also my blog name on the badge. That was very nicely done.

The air was filled with music, including the theme tune to the Poirot tv series, which really grabbed everyone’s attention. All the music was very fitting for the time period and place where we were, which added perfectly to the amazing welcoming and exciting atmosphere that was building up as people began to fill the room. The stage was dressed and looking so good. I loved all the hats, so simple and yet so effective.

Stage and HatsStage is Set, Complete With Great Hats

The weekend was split into sections, after each panel had spoken, there was a very adequate interval for book signing opportunities and time to get a beverage. 1 hour for lunch was also well factored in. The atmosphere is fabulous with a pianist playing very well at each interval between the panels.

Over the entire weekend, there were 12 different panels of speakers – 6 each day.

Saturday:

  • What’s the Worst That Could Happen – Crime and Thrillers in an Apocalyptic Setting with Lesley Kelly, Ceri Lowe and Matt Brolly. Moderated by Tom Fisher.
  • Let them Lead the Way – Children’s and YA Crime with Nicki Thornton, Sarah Todd Taylor and Sharna Jackson. Moderated by Anne Coates
  • Discussing Dyslexia with Fleur Hitchcock, Jane Elson and Jennie Finch. Participating Moderator – Margaret Murphy.
  • Who, What, Where, When, Why – What can crime fiction tell us about the way works? With Academics – Mary Evans, Hazel Johnstone and Sarah Moore. Crime writers – William Shaw and Gytha Lodge.
  • Partners in Crime with Adam Croft and surprise guest bring their podcast to the festival
  • In Conversation with Lin Anderson – best selling author discusses her life and career with debut author Noelle Holten.Morecambe Sea

Sunday:

  • Festival of Festivals – Festival organisers discuss what led them to partake in such insanity with Bob McDevitt, Quentin Bates, Dr. Jacky Collins. Moderator: Ben Cooper-Muir.
  • Winner Winner – Prize winning authors discuss the pros and cons of their wins with Robert Scragg, Rachel Sargeant, Alison Belsham and Margaret Kirk.
  • Till Death Do Us Part – What’s it like being in a relationship with another crime writer? with Nicola Upson and Mandy Morton. Interviewer – Graham Smith
  • Femme Fatales with Eileen Wharton, Danielle Ramsey, Sheila Quigley, KA Richardson and moderated by Dr. Jacky Collins
  • Let’s Talk: Mental Health Mental Health in Crime Fiction and how Crime Fiction can help with mental health with Dr. Liz Brewster and Dr. Chris Merritt and participating moderator – Barbara Nadel.
  • In Conversation with Professor Dame Sue Black. The anthropologist, academic and author discusses her life and work with Ben Cooper-Muir.Morecambe Boats

This is a festival, even with the amount of travelling I have to do to get to it (3 trains), is absolutely a festival, if invited again, I would be delighted to return to and review. It is attracting some great authors and I love all that is on offer and the diversity. It was so interesting to meet lots of authors, including some great children’s and YA authors and some doctors and a forensic scientist. It was lots of fun that they had a podcast. It was all very different for a festival and I liked that a lot. I had a very enjoyable time and many happy memories were created of the place, the people I met and the festival as a whole.

With the scene now set, I will be also sharing my reviews of each panel over the coming week or so.

Eric Morecambe      Eric Morecambe   

 

 

My Blog is One Years Old – First Year of Writing Reviews

First Year of Writing Reviews

As my blog turns one year old, I thought I would write about how it all began and I have included photos of the books I have reviewed below.

I was at the Edinburgh Book Festival sitting having coffee with author Wendy H. Jones when someone approached us. I figured the mysterious person and Wendy knew each other. It turned out she did and was introduced to me as being Kelly Lacey and she wrote a book blog. I vaguely knew what a blog was, it just wasn’t something that was totally on my radar. Kelly joined us for coffee. I was then asked if I reviewed books, if I wrote a blog and if I was on Twitter. My answer to all of these questions was a firm no. I then found myself being persuaded by both Kelly and Wendy. Kelly informed me how it was fun and all easy to set-up and there was Wendy telling Kelly how I support authors and would be good at reviews. Kelly then gave me her card with all her details, just in case I said yes, with instructions to contact her if I decided to set-up a blog.

I later went home, not feeling entirely sure whether a blog really was for me or not. I put the card somewhere safe, not sure whether I would actually need it or not. Night after night I thought about it. A few days later I had decided it would do no harm to do some research into blogs and on how to set one up, since I had no idea how to. I give Kelly and Wendy credit for getting me into blogging and to Kelly for giving me a couple of pieces of instruction when I needed. I also give another friend of mine credit for looking over it for me in the early days too at the design that you see in my reviews. Nicely she was complimentary and assisted in the gallery of photos. Although being a friend, I will say she is very honest in her opinions and friendship doesn’t come into it. As for the rest, I taught myself how to blog and review and very quickly I seemed to discover that I had a style. I also taught myself about the world of Twitter and how to set up a page on Facebook and decided on a name for my blog and for my Twitter account, which I played around with, with another creative friend until I was happy with how it sounded. I remembered I had made my mother a cross-stitched bookmark and decided that should be the profile picture to go with the Bookmarks and Stages name.

I started blogging essentially at Bloody Scotland. I wrote two reviews to try it out. I then went to the Morecambe and Vice Book Festival after conversing with Poirot and Sharpe actor Hugh Fraser, who was promoting his latest Rina Walker book – Stealth. So, I essentially went there to meet him and figured I might as well try and make myself useful, since it wasn’t until near the end of the second day I was going to meet him, so I started to take notes on the panels I saw at the festival. Once home again, I started to write it all up, first with an overview and then the individual panels. I remember also being really nervous that no one would read my blog. I needn’t of worried about that. Between the time of Bloody Scotland and Morecambe I started to introduce myself to some bloggers and they started to converse and to follow me. After Morecambe and Vice, the organisers started to follow and retweet on Twitter and I started to gain some author followers too, who still follow to this day. I am always so grateful to those who take the time to read what I write, often from a small room. Well, only need room for books, a laptop and tea or coffee.

I started to see more and more about Blog Tours and after asking a few folk what one was, I started to join them as organisers started to get to know my work and accept me. I now answer that question for other people starting out.

A group called Write Reads took a look at my blog and I joined up. What they do is feature blogs and decide on what and who makes it to blog or review of the day, which does wonders for blogs and for spreading the word about great books, essays etc. I have been featured as review of the day a few times and each time I am still amazed, mind you, it still makes me smile a lot when I discover I have new followers and/or nice comments to read about my work. I’ve had some of the most wonderful compliments from readers and authors about what I write. I am told that my reviews are well-thoughtout, thorough, understanding and thorough amongst other nice comments. One author said he was honoured to be reviewed by me too. I never take anything or anyone for granted though and I always hope the authors do well, after all, I only promote their work, but they’ve done all the work in creating a book, whether it is fiction or non-fiction.

No process is completely in isolation. An author may write alone to begin with, but then there’s the contact with their agent, publisher, editor, the publicity etc. Writing a blog isn’t completely in isolation either. If it is being invited to join a blog tour, there’s a bit of contact with the blog tour organiser and the author at different times and sometimes the publisher too. Sometimes I have had authors approach me to ask if I can review their book. Sometimes if I see a book I like the sounds of, I contact the author and ask if the person would like me to review their book. It’s about getting their book out there with and honest review. When they retweet, it can sometimes also nicely lead to adding followers, often, very nicely from the author and publisher too, so everyone concerned can benefit. There’s also other fellow bloggers who decide to follow too. I can’t say for other bloggers, but I certainly look to see what those I have had contact with are also doing in their blogging or writing careers and comment at times. It’s quite an extraordinary world really and not one I ever thought I would be part of at any point of my life and now that I am, I get such pleasure from what I am doing. So far the feedback has been positive from both fellow bloggers and authors alike, so I am happy to see where the next year in blogging takes me. It always feels like a priviedge to be able to review for authors. It is also always a pleasure to see people from all different parts of the UK and the world reading my reviews.

Thank you to all who give me such wonderful opportunities to review and who send me wonderful gifts of books to review from to those who share my reviews on their pages/social media and to those who read my reviews.

Adult Fiction Books

Stealth HF  Book RD  Book one RD   antiques and alibis bookXmas Reads   Bookweek Scotland Book   A Christmas GiftThe Wrong Direction Start  the 4th musketeer Time will tell book  Forgotten Authors closed  The Blue Salt Road Joanne Harris  Heady Heights Dark Blossom Front CoverLesley Kelly book  Birthday Girl book  Strawberry thief Serpent Book   Summer at Kindess Cover (1)   Sealed with a Death Book Cover  A Summer to Remember Cover

Non-Fiction

Lynn H book    zippy cover

The Longest Farewell book pic

Children and YA

princess poppy book  hangry hamster Bertie Cover William Ford Cover  The Treasure at the Top of the World cover  10 things book pic Toletis Cover

Extracts and Cover Reveals:

Hunter's Chase book cover (1)  death will Senseless Book Sea Babies Cover         settlement

Theatre Shows and Festivals

15398721253722621607279709738992  art pic  les mis

Edinburgh Fringe, Morecambe and Vice,
Bloody Scotland

Fringe sign  Theatre stage in Winter Gardens

Bloody Scotland Torchlight Procession

Essays – Books and Music and an Interview

Judy Blume Fudge music notes

 

 

Celebrating The Enduring Love of Roald Dahl for Children and Adults #RoaldDahl #RoaldDahlDay2019 @QuentinBlake #ChapterBooks #TalesoftheUnexpected #Kidslit #Fiction #Humour #Fantasy #Family #Friendship

Celebrating the Enduring Love of Roald Dahl

This is a short article on the enduring love of Roald Dahl. Today is the anniversary of his birthday and what we call Roald Dahl Day.

Roald Dahl Pic

In the Beginning

Roald Dahl was born in 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales. He wrote from his shed using HB pencils. He wrote for children and adults. His books live on in both book and film form. Sometimes the films are done well and sometimes they are not, that’s always the nature of films however, no matter who the original creator is. Some stories have also been adapted for TV and Radio.

Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day

Schools and libraries across the country tend to celebrate Roald Dahl every 13th September – his birthday. This year’s theme for Roald Dahl Day is Matilda. She is courageous and has a love of reading, even though it means going against her parents and isn’t seen as being trendy. The book is fun and has magic within it, but it is also sweet and gentle with Miss Honey, but then there is a marked contrast between her and Miss Trunchbull, which makes for great characterisation and story-telling.

The Books and Films

RD books

The books feed into children’s desires and imaginations. Take chocolate for example. There is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and what child wouldn’t want to join Charlie Bucket and the eccentric Willy Wonka in a factory that experiments and creates chocolate and sweets, even in this more health conscious society. The follow-up – Charlie and the Great Glass elevator has some adventure and also takes children a little into the political world and what the USA was like at the time Roald Dahl was writing about.
There is magic in The Witches, The Magic Finger and Matilda and family and school life as themes, that also have mild trepidation and villains and heroes. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was made into live action films – two of them.

James and the Giant Peach also has magic and heroes and villains. There is also friendship and adventure and a need for escape as James wants to escape his two gruesome aunts.

There is fun with The Enormous Crocodile that takes children through the jungle meeting different animals and with just enough scariness that children really enjoy when the crocodile wants to eat children.

Fantastic Mr Fox is also about nature and animals, but this time about the need to understand and look after them. It also has a political element, but on a child level about the landscape and fox hunting. This was also made into a CGI film and there was a song I remember learning when I was in primary school for the baby foxes. We acted it out and I was a baby fox.

There is also Daniel, Champion of the World about a boy and his plans. This was made into a live action film

There’s mischief to be had in the Twits and George’s Marvellous medicine. There’s also elements of inventiveness. George’s Marvellous Medicine was used for a Jackanory story on tv.

The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me shows teamwork, friendship and entrepreneurship as they set up their own window cleaning company and there is also some trepidation with a burglary in a grand house.

The BFG with his good dream catching skills befriends Sophie and the two become lovely friends.

Esio-Trot was the last book to be published in Roald Dahl’s lifetime. For those who haven’t worked it out, it is Tortoise spelt backwards.  Esio-Trot tackles loneliness and is about Mr Hopper trying to make a connection with Mrs Silver, who he has loved from afar. This was made into a film for tv.

Boy and Going Solo are both Non-Fiction and tell of Roald Dahl’s life. It may sit generally in the children’s non-fiction area, but really both children and adults will gain fascinating knowledge from them. There was a documentary style programme about them on tv.

Revolting Rhymes is exactly that and has twisted takes on fairy tales. There used to be a tv series also inspired by this with chef Gary Rhodes showing how to make revolting recipes inspired by the book with his assistant – actor, Pam Ferris.

There are books that are not only for children too, although the main emphasis seems to be on children. He also wrote really dark stories for young adults and adults alike that are twisted tales such as Skins and Tales of the Unexpected, which were on TV. Tales of plants that could talk; tattoos that someone wanted and could have straight from another person; tales of sinister bedsits etc.

There are also other books too that have been and are being produced.

Further Facts

Roald Dahl wrote everyday from 10 am to 12 noon and then from 4 pm to 6pm. His first book wasn’t what people imagined it to be – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it was The Gremlins, those furry, cute characters that change when wet and well, aren’t so cute after that.

This was not the end of his talent. He worked with illustrator Quentin Blake (more about him later) and with James Bond creator Ian Fleming and created Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and worked on the book for the film of this and of James Bond: You Only Live Twice. He and Ian Fleming worked together prior to this during the second world war, providing information for MI6. Roald had also been in battles during the war too. He was with the Royal Air Force (RAF) until 1946.

Roald Dahl had 5 children and married twice. He has a granddaughter still living – Sophie Dahl. 

Roald Dahl died on 23rd November 1990. He was 74 and was suffering with myeldysplastic syndrome (a type of blood disease). He is buried in the cemetery of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. He was buried with some of his favourite things, including: a power saw, HB pencils, chocolate, red wine and his snooker cues.

Inspiration and Importance

Roald Dahl’s stories and screenplays endure as does the love for them. He had a talent for knowing what people like and to be able to us universally broad themes to create magical worlds and fun and adventure. He had a talent to bring about some really dark stories and yet aiming them just right for his target audience. It now also helps that schools and libraries celebrate his life. He is still an important author within this age of computer technology as children and adults read less. Mention Roald Dahl and everyone knows his books, which is a good place to start. Curiosity about authors will hopefully come too as so many have led or do lead such fascinating lives. Roald Dahl is everywhere, in his own work and has inspired other authors and it is seen in their work, such as now there are people like David Walliams and other writers who are similar to him, whom it is evident must have been inspired by Roald Dahl.

Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake Books

Now it wouldn’t be right not to mention Quentin Blake too. He illustrated many of Roald’s books and has many fabulous books of his own creations too that are so full of fun and excellent illustrations. His books are now of many, his most well-known perhaps being Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage.

Children’s Laureate and other Awards

The Children’s Laureate seems to have been around forever, or so it is sometimes assumed, but it wasn’t until 1999 this post was created. Today in 2019, as I write, it is Cressida Cowell. In 1999, the very first Children’s Laureate was Quentin Blake.

He has also received so many awards for his books, including the Whitbred award. He has also been personally recognised and has certainly been living an illustrious life. He was made CBE in 2005, is an RDI and has numerous honorary degrees from universities throughout the UK. He received a knighthood for ‘services to illustration’ in the New Year’s Honours for 2013, and became an Honorary Freeman of the City of London in 2015. It is an impressive career and impressive to be recognised so much for all his work that endures and I am sure will also endure, not just through his collaboration with Roald Dahl, but also the work he has produced himself too, which is quite some body of work indeed as he has always worked in illustration and even illustrated for Punch magazine.

An Additional Career

Quentin also has another career. He works as a curator for exhibitions in well-known famous places – the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. In the last few years he has begun to make larger-scale work for hospitals and healthcare settings in the UK and France where his work can be seen in wards and public spaces.

In Conclusion

So, two great men who inspire and whose work will, I am sure will continue to for generations to come with libraries and schools and parents and children all playing their part. There books I am sure will always be somewhere in bookshops, on library shelves and hopefully also in the hands of readers. I am also sure that they will be inspiring other current and future authors for years to come.

Roald-Dahl

The Magic of Julia Donaldson and the Illustrators #JuliaDonaldson #NickSharrat #LydiaMonks #Williamaeford #MacMillanKidsUK #Bookbug #ScottishBookTrust #Kidslit #Picturebooks #ChapterBooks

The Magic of Julia Donaldson and the Illustrators

 

even-more-julia-donaldson-pics.jpg

Julia Donaldson, an author’s name who just trips off the tongue so easily when talking about children’s books. Who can’t help but love what she has done for children’s literature. From the Gruffalo to Stick Man and everything in-between. So many bookshops and libraries have them, even the community library I run here in Scotland has so many of her books.

What Perhaps Make her books so popular?

Perhaps it is the fact she is a genius at writing in rhyme. Children love rhythm in stories. There is also repetition and this in turn helps make them interactive as children can latch onto key repetitive sentences and say them out loud, once they are known. Perhaps it is the brilliantly vivid illustrations. Perhaps it is the stories, there’s just enough fun and trepidation and pace within them and they are excellent to read aloud, as so many parents and librarians and teachers have discovered over the years.

The Illustrators

The books all have been excellent illustrated. Possibly the best known  illustrators linked with Julia Donaldson’s books are – Axel Scheffler who also has his own series of books – Pip and Posy and has also illustrated for other books too. Nick Sharratt who illustrates so much like the ever popular Tracy Beaker and Shark in the Park series amongst many others. There is also Lydia Monks and David Roberts. These people also all add to the enduring love of her books. Children are really captured by the big, bold illustrations, which always pair up so well with the text. Their books are always worth looking out for. I plan to write more about a couple of these illustrators in a future blog/essay post.

Julia and Nick books                                        Julia D and Nick S

  Learning to Read and Using Her Books in a Fun Educational Sense

There are a great selection of books and have been for many years, which help children learn how to read. Julia Donaldson also has her own books to add to the plethora of stories which help children with phonics and beyond. Her series is Songbird Phonics and are again beautifully illustrated and are also well-conceived. They are an excellent addition. There are many books in this series to aid children’s development educationally in the 3Rs sense too (all her books have something that children can learn from as there are indeed from all books in one way or another, whether they are for children or for adults).

There are many resources that can be downloaded for free from her website, which contain many activities that are useful for both schools and libraries, which in my view is thoughtful and they do seem to be well-thought out and are sectioned into each book that she has written, so they can be part of a focused activity.

There is always something great that children can gain from her books and she even provides free resources, which are great as I have tried and tested them in the library. There are also soft toy merchandise so that her stories can be acted out or to just have them to accompany a story. I have seen them and they look and feel fabulous.

Chapter Books and Interactivity

There are also books that aren’t termed as picture books, there are books for slightly older children such as Swallows about the migration of birds and a message having to travel many miles. Again there are wonderful illustrations and something to learn from the story. It too has excellent scope for interactivity, given just a little imagination from the deliverer. I once, and may repeat it as it was so successful, played Chinese Whispers with a class of school children to show how a message may change as it travels. There are many other things you can do for this.

There are also books such as the Princess Mirror belle series, which is great for the more advanced readers and have less illustrations within them, but do have lovely front covers by Lydia Monks. They are about a princess with a purpose. 

Longevity

Julia Donaldson’s books are no doubt books that will be around forever, perhaps even have a longevity of someone like Enid Blyton for example. Some of them have already been in existence for over 10 years already, which is hard to believe, but time does fly. The Gruffalo and so many of her books are talked about as though they have just been written and are hot off the press. They still seem as fresh to new generations of children as they did when they first appeared on shelves.

Julia’s books have now been adapted for both tv and stage as well, to the delight of many. She does go to book festivals, especially the Edinburgh Book Festival. Have I ever met her? Sadly no, but never say never. Would I like to? Absolutely, to say a huge thank you to what she has brought to libraries and children’s literature. 

Children’s Laureate – 2011 – 2013

Julia Donaldson was appointed Children’s Laureate between 2011 and 2013, today as I write this it is Cressida Cowell, who I am sure will, like her predecessors, do something good within her role. In her laureate role Julia Donaldson has campaigned passionately against library cuts and closures. Sadly libraries are still closing and libraries (mine included and others and  the job went too and now I am leading a community library to compliment the local authority) are not always taken seriously enough by governments, even when there are people within government who claim to be passionate about books and education and libraries. There are also other factors at play too. The main thing is that she tried to have all libraries saved and has shown she cares as many authors etc do.

Bookbug Sessions

She is also instrumental to Bookbug sessions (rhymes, songs and stories that are provided for Free, often by libraries in Scotland). People are trained prior to leading a session and provided with the resources to deliver. There are also Bookbug                     Co-ordinators around Scotland.

Bookbug sessions help reduce the negative effects of poverty and every session is always free and benefits babies and young children.

Singing rhymes and sharing stories support children’s language, learning and social skills. They also support bonding between baby/child and the adult with them.

I lead Bookbug and they do involve some preparation work, but they are fun to do and knowing that it is something so worthwhile being to be involved in, makes it even better, but then I like to do things for communities and always have included books in some way or another and have done for over a decade in some form or another and still I am relatively young (under 40 at time of writing this). This time around it is for a community library and whenever the local authority libraries that I used to work in are in need too.

Conclusion

I think that the magic of Julia Donaldson will be around for generations to come as will Bookbug (so long as there are no more cuts). She goes to book festivals, the Edinburgh Book Festival in-particular to meet her audience and to bring her stories to life and that too will no doubt add to her appeal and her ability to be relevant and current, even though she has been writing since at least 1993 with A Squash and a Squeeze.
She has won many awards and deservedly so and is still writing today.

I totally rate her and the illustrators associated with her for bringing so many great stories that can be worked with more than one way as they can be read straight or can prompt a conversation of discovery for children.

There are some authors who write similarly to Julia Donaldson who are emerging. I of course rate Nick Sharratt, but the author who I am thinking about at this moment is William AE Ford who writes Timothy Mean and the Time Machine. I mention these people because it is important and good for children to be able to try out other authors too.

So here’s to Julia Donaldson and the illustrators who have and indeed the people who publish her books, which is now over 70 and long may it all continue.

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