Monthly Archives: February 2012

International Book Giving Day

Did you know there was an International Book Giving Day? I knew about World Book Day and World Book Night but a day for giving any used or new children’s books to children? What a fantastic idea. And having it on February 14th, a date currently destroyed by crass commercialism, even better!

Amy from Delightful Children’s Books introduces International Book Giving Day and gives three simple options that anyone can do: Give, Donate or Leave a book.

International Book Giving Day is a day dedicated to getting new, used, or borrowed books in the hands of as many kids as possible.

If you’ve read my post Biblioholism, you may have seen that we wouldn’t miss one or two books (okay, I’ll still miss them, I’m an addict – but it’s for a good cause…) so I’ll definitely be joining in.

The idea is to get books into the hands of as many children as possible. I live in an area where getting books to children isn’t such a problem, but there are plenty of charities that would love to have more books to give – Zoe from Playing by the Book has an extensive list of charities that accept book donations, along with more ideas.

You don’t have to rush out and buy lots of books for your local hospital. One book, one child is all it takes:

Has it been a while since you went to the library? Take your child(ren) and borrow a book that’s new to them.

Has that board book outlived its welcome? Leave it in a waiting room for a bored toddler…

A rainbow of touchy feely board books

What will I be doing? Well, I did mention there were some board books that needed a new home. To start with, a little pile of That’s Not My… books which have been well-loved but are still in good condition.

I will donate several books to my local Helen and Douglas House shop. Helen and Douglas House charity supports Helen House and Douglas House hospices. The sale of the books will help children and young adults with life shortening conditions and their families, plus the books will get to be loved again by whoever buys them.

I’ll also be giving a couple of That’s Not My… books to friends whose first children are coming up for a year old, because they’re just the right age to really start enjoying them.

We got to a lovely little church cafe / toddler group on Tuesday mornings so I’ll leave a book or two there too, as they don’t have many.

I think I might keep That’s Not My Dragon though, it was the first That’s Not My… book I bought for MG. Oh, but can’t I keep the Tiger one too? And DG loved the Monkey one, and I got the Dolly one after MG borrowed it from the library so many times… No, no, I will give them up for adoption, I will!

You can keep up to date with International Book Giving Day news via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or their blog. You’ll also soon be able to download an exclusive bookplate designed by children’s author & illustrator Clara Vulliamy!

To join in with International Book Giving Day, give/donate/leave a book (or several) and share the love…

Love Monster, Hate Printing

Hate is a bit of an overstatement, but I’ve gone with artistic licence for the title of this post!

Love Monster is a lovely book about being different and being loved for who you are, not for being like everyone else. I really liked the book, and enjoy reading it to the girls. But what I didn’t realise until seeing the video below is that the pictures are created by printing, which is why they have the lovely quality that they have.

On seeing this, I was inspired. This is generally not a good thing, because I have the artistic talent of, um, a cluster of colour blind hedgehogs in a bag… But still, I wanted to do printing! Printing! The girls would love that. Wouldn’t they?

Light sensitive etching plates and printing presses aren’t a feasible option so I started to think lino printing because I remembered doing it at school, but didn’t think that was a particularly safe option for small children. After some great advice from Zoe at Playing by the Book I decided to get 4 colours of water based printing ink, a brayer (or roller) and tried to get the girls interested in attempting printing using biro drawings on styrofoam.

It didn’t really work very well. The girls didn’t really get the idea of drawing on the styrofoam (pizza packaging in our case); I couldn’t find a biro or the paper embossing tools that I’m sure I have somewhere and the blunt end of a paintbrush wasn’t the viable alternative I hoped it would be (although pencils worked well); and one roller between two children (and 4 colours) meant arguments and lots of roller cleaning…

I had a rethink. Foam sheets! Then the girls wouldn’t have to draw anything, just needed some foam stickers to stick on and instant printing. So I invested in 2 more rollers, thinking this would be a huge hit, and we tried again.

The girls weren’t interested. Mighty-Girl did one print, and then was far more interested in making patterns with the foam stickers (and ‘painting’ them with the ink) and although Destructo-Girl managed some prints with help, she much prefered making handprints.

Mummy got completely frustrated that her brilliant idea wasn’t appreciated, and sulked. Looking back at the pictures, it looks a lot more successful than I remembered!

On the bright side, Love Monster is a lovely book that I can read again and again. And we have all the tools we need for attempting printing again, at some point in the future…

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Love Monster by HarperCollins for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Fiction Fridays on Pinterest

You can now find the collected Fiction Fridays posts on Pinterest. For those not in the know, Pinterest is an online pinboard, where you can curate sites and posts that interest you in a visual way. For a quick visual reference, it beats a list of bookmarks…

From now on, I plan to ‘pin’ every Fiction Friday post to this board. If I’ve missed any out already, please contact me (see email address in sidebar). If you don’t know what Fiction Fridays is, you’re missing out on a great meme. Read more about Fiction Fridays here. Like to take part? Read the rules and guidelines and get the badge here.

Photobucket

Huge thanks to @homedad for creating this meme, and for giving me the go-ahead to ‘curate’ 🙂

Kennington Literary Festival 2011

Back in October I was fortunate enough to take Mighty Girl to the Kennington Literary Festival. Kennington is a village just south of Oxford which has a wonderful tiny library in the village centre which is threatened with cuts on an almost daily basis despite the huge number of people it supports, mainly through voluntary work as it is…

It also has its own literary festival, the second of which was in October 2011. The festival started on a Friday evening with a film showing and talk and continued throughout the Saturday with various author events. For such a small place, the festival organisers did brilliantly attracting SF legend Brian Aldiss, Joshua Files author M G Harris and Winnie-the-Witch illustrator Korky Paul, among others.

As a picture book fan with two small children, of course we went to see Korky Paul so this review is purely about that part of the festival. For other reviews and information, please visit the sites of: Mostly Books (review), Brian Aldiss (review), MG Harris, Save Kennington Library, The Oxford Times.

I really do love Korky Paul’s art, it is so detailed and funny. First introduced via Winnie the Witch, we have quite a collection of his books. He is also a very nice person in real life as we found out at the festival.

Obviously with a lot of experience of doing events for children, Korky Paul directed the staff to what he needed: which was basically a flip pad, two glasses of water for cleaning his brushes and a hat for putting raffle tickets in. Each child was given a raffle ticket, which was for a very special purpose (and a great idea).

To start with, he asked the children his name, and then pretended that one of them had said “Snorky Snorl”. He got one of the children to write how they thought that was spelt, and then talked about how the word sounded like a creature which he then sketched and painted whilst also talking about how to just experiment with colours and see how things turned out. Once the picture was complete, a raffle ticket was taken out of the hat and the child with that ticket got to keep the painting. What a fantastic idea!

Then he read the first Winnie the Witch book, taking time to talk about the words chosen by Valerie Thomas and how he thought they were just right, e.g. “Winnie was furious.” He really appeared to be enjoying reading, despite the fact he must have read it so many times at different events (we’d actually been fortunate to hear him read earlier in the year, also in Kennington, after a march protesting the library cuts).

After this, he used the raffle ticket system again to draw dinosaur portraits for each child selected. He managed to do four or five in the time allotted. I think this raffle ticket system was a very fair idea. He obviously would never have enough time to paint a portrait (he’s the world’s greatest portrait painter, didn’t you know…) for all the children at every event and this system is completely fair. We didn’t get one, but I think MG would have been too shy to stand at the front while he painted.

Finally, he gave out some prizes for a local children’s poetry and art competition and then was available for signing books. I said I didn’t think he would have time to paint a picture for every child, however he did take the time to sketch in each book he signed.

He is very approachable and chatty, and I really wish I wasn’t so shy in real life. This also sadly is rubbing off on my children although I do try, and they are more naturally confident compared to me. MG handed over a picture she’d drawn of Winnie, a pumpkin and Wilbur and Korky Paul accepted it graciously (although I’m sure he gets hundreds of these!)


All in all, it was a fantastic event. I’d absolutely recommend taking a child to a Korky Paul event if you ever get the opportunity. He will be at the Oxford Literary Festival in March, details can be found on the Oxford Literary Festival website. We won’t be going as I could only afford one event and we chose to see Clara Vulliamy and Emma Chichester Clark, which I’m really looking forward to.

Kennington also have more children’s book events, including one with Cressida Cowell in March, which I must sign us up for… I really enjoyed the Kennington Literary Festival, and would have loved to have seen more of it. I very much hope they have another festival this year.

Silent Sunday 05.02.2012

Silent Sunday

Biblioholism

My name is Anne-Marie, and I have an addiction…

Indulge me while I give you a little tour of my bookshelves. Let’s start in the living room. Here we have two tall bookcases plus a Tidy Books bookcase. Oh, and then there are the piles of books on the floor too. There are some “grown up” books in here which mainly belong to DH (he also has more books not mentioned in this post), but I’ve boxed up most of my books and put them in the garage to make space for the children’s books.

I’ve had a bit of a reshuffle recently, the Tidy Books bookcase now has most of the non-fiction books in.

The tall bookcases (and piles on the floor) have reading schemes, chapter books, anthology books, more non-fiction books, board books (that sadly will have to find new homes sometime soon… Well most of them, not all, never!), grown-up books, and my most expensive purchase: 75 years of DC comics.


.
Now onto the less interesting piles stashed around the house. The kitchen has a teeny selection of travel, nature and cookery books that are rarely looked at. There’s a small pile of Time Life planet earth books in the hallway that I spent months trying to get hold of and then didn’t have anywhere to put them so in the hallway they stayed. The garage has at least three (huge) plastic boxes of books in storage as I’m not reading them at the moment so it makes more sense to have the children’s books taking over the house. Not in the garage because they’re in three open crates are books I kept from my childhood that are mainly too grown up for my girls as yet plus there’s no room for them anywhere either! Oh, and there’s a complete set of Mr Men books out in the garage that I also need to find space for in the house…

The master bedroom has a tall bookcase of my books. I moved a lot of books into the garage when I started collecting books on education (which I still haven’t read most of). Remaining are mainly near-complete collections of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Iain (M) Banks and a shelf of graphic novels. My bedside table is precariously balanced, and also has my Kindle which is filled with another few hundred books! Oh, and there’s a coffee table covered in more children’s books, of course…

The girls’ bedroom has the bulk of the picture books. I used to have the Tidy Books bookcase in here but it wouldn’t fit them all so I changed it to this cube storage instead, but there’s still not enough room. For the curious, we have approximately 325 picture books. I count ‘picture books’ as having a single story per book (not anthologies / collections), not reading schemes, not first readers, not Disney / TV tie-ins (which to be fair, there aren’t that many of), not board books, not mini versions, not non-fiction! Also not counted the complete Mr Men or World of Peter Rabbit, or any not in the room while I was counting 😆

Just before MG was born I freecycled five boxes of books (mostly SF) to make space in the house plus sadly had to send a black sack full of books to the recycle due to water damage from being kept in the garage for so long (which is why everything is now in closed plastic boxes or indoors) and I’ve given at least 100 books to charity per year since then too…

I am a biblioholic. Anyone else want to join me?

THE BOOK HANDLER’S TEN COMMANDMENTS

ALL VISITORS shall show respect for the holy ground of this library by removing their shoes immediately upon entrance.
ALL PENS and other writing utensils shall be checked at the door.
BEFORE HANDLING a book, thou shalt cleanse thy hands in the bowl of rosewater provided at the door.
AFTER CLEANSING thy hands, thou shalt don a pair of the little plastic gloves also provided at the door.
THOU SHALT NOT GRAB a book by the top of the spine when removing it from the shelf. Rather, said book shall be handled as one handles a Ming Dynasty vase – with both hands.
THOU SHALT NOT BREATHE, spit, sneeze, cough, drool, or discharge sputum of any type in the direction of a book.
ALL WHO MARK a page by turning down a corner in any of these books, or even think about doing so, shall immediately be escorted to the guillotine in the garage.
ALL WHO WISH to turn pages in a book must use the specially made paper knives provided at the end of each stack.
ALL WHO WET their fingers to turn a page shall die a quick and immediate death by strangling.
YE WHO CREASE a spine shall immediately report to the owner of this library who shall crease thy skull.
Extract from Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction – Tom Raabe, 1992

Fiction Fridays #13: The Wolves in the Walls

FF#13
The Wolves in the Walls: Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean (2003)

Lucy walked around the house.

Read more about Fiction Fridays here.
Like to take part? Read the rules and guidelines and get the badge here.

Photobucket
Extra Info:
I’d not thought of reading Neil Gaiman to my girls because they are my books. Including the picture books! See how this is mine, it’s signed to ME! And I got it four years before my eldest was born…

Apparently this is a scary book. My girls, however, have been brought up on a diet of Scooby Doo and Doctor Who so this kind of ‘scary’ doesn’t bother them at all. The wicked stepmother in Snow White or wicked fairy in Sleeping Beauty? Terrifying, apparently. Monsters etc, no problem at all…

This looks like a scary picture to grown ups, but it’s not to children. That’s jam, you see, and if you read the book you know it’s jam, and what’s scary about wolves eating jam?

Which is not to say that there aren’t scary images in the book, depending on your definition of scary. For instance, a well-loved soft toy being left behind, well who wouldn’t find that terrifying?

This is typical Neil Gaiman in that it doesn’t talk down to children at all. And every strange happening is taken in a completely matter-of-fact manner: “We should go and live in the Arctic Circle,” said Lucy’s father. The Queen of Melanesia makes a brief cameo and of course Lucy, the youngest child, is the most sensible of them all. Partnered with Dave McKean’s atypical artwork, it makes for a picture book to stand out from the rest of the shelf.

Which are all things that make me love this book. But what about my two-and-almost-three-quarters year old and very-almost-five year old? This is a fairly long picture book, and my two girls sat silent and wrapped in the story the first time I read it to them. Afterwards I asked what parts they liked:
MG: When the wolves came out of the walls!
DG: Pig puppet!

DG’s two year old self of course being most concerned by the loss of a favourite toy and MG’s nearly five year old self loving the humour in the wolves. Pretty much spot-on developmentally I suspect…


On subsequent readings, they’ve still sat and listened intently but now with interjections from the eldest: “It’s all over!” MG is at a stage where she half-listens to books and then goes and draws whilst I continue reading (she is more interested in trying out her new reading skills and reading to us) and DG is definitely in a sensitive period for books as she regularly drops them on my lap demanding “You read it!” and “Again!” when I’ve finished.

I would hugely recommend this book, but some parents may find it too scary. The children should be fine though 😆

I suppose I’ll have to read my copy of The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish to my girls next then…

Opening Lines

I used to want to be an author. I used to read avidly, literally hundreds of books a year. And I wrote, and wrote. But this was way back in my teens and early 20’s, now I’m 36 it’s been 15 years since I wrote regularly and over 10 years since I wrote anything at all. But inspired by the Children’s Writer blog and behind-the-scenes writing comments from (too many to mention) picture book authors and illustrators on Twitter, I thought I might revisit a story that’s been in my head all that time and write it for my girls…

My aspirations to be an author have faded over time, and I don’t have the patience to really write at this stage in my life but I thought I could manage a short story just for my girls. I hoped to be able to pull the threads of my ideas together, put the words in some sort of order and sort out the ending so it worked. Ideas are easy, writing is the hard part!

With that in mind, I started to think of the opening sentence(s). Perhaps just writing the story down first would be the best idea, but it’s been in my head for so long I thought I’d start at the beginning. Fiction Fridays have taught me that the first sentence can really sell a book to the reader. The story is a non-traditional fairy tale, so I looked for inspiration:

“Once upon a time there lived a King and a Queen who weren’t very good at it.” The Tough Princess (Waddell & Benson)

“Once there was a Dragon who was convinced he was TOTALLY TERRIFYING.” The Totally Terrifying Three (Oram & Melling)

“Once upon a Tuesday the king was in a hurry as usual.” The Kiss That Missed (Melling)

“Once upon a time, there was a deep, dark forest, where monstrous trees groaned, terrible beasties moaned and wiggly woos waited to tickle your toes.” Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure (Stephenson)

“The trouble with Dragons is… Dragons make Dragons and they make some more till there are wall-to-wall Dragons making Dragons galore.” The Trouble With Dragons (Gliori)

“Long, and long ago, when Oberon was king of the fairies, there reigned over the fair country of Phantasmorania a monarch who had six beautiful daughters.” The Ordinary Princess (Kaye)

The Ordinary Princess isn’t a picture book. It is however a perfect fairy tale. I think it’s the book I want to write. Except it was already written over 30 years ago! It definitely deserves its own post.

After looking at the inspiration, I thought about the opening lines for “my” story. Hmmm, maybe I’ll think about writing again in another ten years… 🙂