Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Sunday, 19 July 2009
On Tuesday evening we celebrated the 10th birthday of the utterly fabulous Clarice Bean. Author Lauren Child joined friends, family, booksellers, librarians and others in a small and hidden gem in the heart of London - The House of Barnabas once a women’s refuge now conference and meeting venue. We were lucky enough that the rain held off allowing us to enjoy a relaxed evening in the garden. Everyone there was given a personalised Clarice Bean badge and the excitement buzzing in the air was palpable.
A number of well-loved children’s books and their characters are celebrating birthday’s and other anniversaries this year and in order to help this one stand out a limited edition linen-bound copy of Clarice Bean is being published. Lauren will find herself busy personally signing each copy and she was thrilled to be able to talk to some of her young fans during the evening.
Lauren explained how she was thrilled to have made it to 10 years old with Clarice, a character very close to her heart, because she tried for a long time to find anyone to accept the story, constantly being told the picture books in the first person would not work. Luckily she has proved the publishers wrong and gone from strength to strength.
It was a very special birthday and party and a real pleasure to be able to celebrate with Lauren, Orchard Books, her publishers, and the assembled guests.
The Animals are not Rubbish’ competition on Monday 13th kicking off a busy week last week.
Run by the Orion publishing group in conjunction with the Born Free Foundation and Waterstone’s children under the age of 12 were challenged to design and make a model of an endangered animal entirely from recycled material. With over 250 entries from groups and individuals around the country the entries were outstanding and Lauren St John, whose idea the competition was explained how impressed she had been with the standard and variety of entries.
The judging she explained had been great fun but a big challenge! She had been blown away by the response and enthusiasm shown.
During the evening Bill Travers of the Born Free Foundation explained their work and Lauren took the opportunity to explain her passion for their work, her own background and the influence it has had on her work and mention her ‘Last Leopard Fund’ that will raise money for some very special rescue work around the world.
The winners of the competition were the Phil and Jim Art Club at SS Philip and SS James Primary School in Oxford for their Dodo made of individual bees – an extinct animal made up of endangered animals.
Visit http://www.animalsarenotrubbish.co.uk/images/winners.jpg for pictures of all the entries and more information.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Joel Stewart, Katie Cleminson, Hannah Shaw, Lizzie Finlay and Louise Yates displayed examples of their published picture books, work in progress, sketchbooks and portfolios for us to pour over. Whilst we all happily chatted they were able to fill us in with stories of how they came to be such talented author/illustrators, where they get their inspiration from and the directions they would like to take their work in. From Louise who lives in an old school to Joel who has included a bagpipe player in his latest work as a dedication to his father, Katie who has a love of lemurs, Lizzie with her bright colours and Hannah with gorgeous flamingos each of them has a wonderful story to tell.
It was a great pleasure to spend time talking to them and a lovely opportunity to understand more about the way in which they work, how they came to be children's book illustrators and have a sneak preview of their latest projects. It was a charming and exciting evening.
Alan Gibbons has launched his campaign with passion and commitment, and has achieved a wonderful and important feat in bringing together people from the hitherto fragmented children’s book world to protest against the closure of libraries and the dismissal of school librarians, to fight for the continuation (or in some cases restoration) of schools’ library services, and to make it a statutory requirement that every school must have a well-stocked library. This day conference, held at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, hosted by librarian Jean Allen, brought together speakers from various backgrounds and interest groups. After the conference had been opened by author Celia Rees and year 10 student Charlie Alcock, the first item was a Question Time session, with Ed Vaizey, Shadow Minister for Culture, Lib-Dem MP Richard Younger Ross, Roy Clare of the MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Council), Jonathan Douglas, direction of the National Literacy Trust, Miranda McKearney of the Reading Agency, and Alan Gibbons himself, chaired by author Steve Skidmore. Questions were raised about school libraries, public libraries and schools’ library services – how to safeguard them and how to prevent cuts from threatening their existence. Various speakers said that library provision should come under the aegis of central government rather than devolve to local authorities, while Ed Vaizey spoke in favour of a central cultural services agency which would include responsibility for libraries.
In the second session, Facing the Challenges, we heard from librarians Clare Broadbelt, whose school librarian post had recently been made obsolete, and Cath McNally from the Wirral. Clare told us of the promises made by senior management that although the library would no longer exist, there would be a Reading Centre – which, strangely, has failed to materialize. Cath McNally was moved almost to tears as she told us of some of the people who would be most affected by the loss of the branch library; libraries should form user groups now, she suggested, in advance of any threatened cuts. Joy Court, chair of YLG (Youth Libraries’ Group) spoke of the different status schools’ library services have in various authorities, and of the importance of raising their prestige in order to secure adequate funding.
Author Gillian Cross introduced her session, Seizing the Opportunities, by stressing that we must not be a negative campaign. Marilyn Mottram of UKLA and Miranda McKearney of the Reading Agency spoke of their work with teachers and readers, and Southwark head teacher Martyn Coles told us how the library is seen as central to the life of his school. The collapse of the national literacy strategy for primary school was announced last week, giving opportunities for flexibility in teaching and learning and reduced dependency on objectives and outcomes.
After small-group sessions which included workshops led by author Bali Rai, Christine Lewis of Unison and Tricia Adams of the School Library Association, the final address, on Literature and Freedom, was given by authors Beverley Naidoo and Frank Cottrell Boyce. Quoting Susan Sontag, Beverley Naidoo summed up: “Our libraries should be regarded as our country’s precious treasure chest.”
Of course, no one present needed much convincing, but our task now is to continue to unite and to make our presence felt. Alan Gibbons, in his closing remarks, said that this conference was a launchpad; campaigning will continue no matter which party is in power; whenever a library is threatened or a librarian made redundant, the Campaign for the Book will be there, and, quoting Sting, “We’ll be watching you.”
Congratulations to Alan and to host Jean Allen for organising such an inspirational day, and for making everyone present feel that together we can bring about change. If you’re not involved in the campaign yet and would like to be, visit www.alangibbons.net