Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Foyles Young Poets of the Year

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award opens for entries
Open for Submissions: 12 March
Deadline: 31st July 2012
Judges: Helen Mort and Christopher Reid

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Campaign for the Book: Lobby 13 March

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey is giving evidence to the Culture, Sport and Media Select Committee on the same day, March 13th as the Speak Up for Libraries coalition, supported by the Campaign for the Book, holds a rally and lobby of parliament in support of the public library service.

We need your support to highlight the threat to our libraries.

Hundreds face the withdrawal of local authority funding. Full time library staff are being made redundant at a worrying rate. Annie Mauger, chief executive of CILIP, put the figure of jobs lost at 20% of the total.
*Attend the march and lobby. So that we have an idea of numbers please leave a comment confirming you can attend on the Speak Up for Libraries Facebook page. (See below).

*Among the speakers confirmed are Kate Mosse, author, Dan Jarvis MP, Shadow Culture Minister, Ruth Bond (National Federation of Women’s Institutes), Dave Prentis (Unison), Mar Dixon, Andrew Coburn and Laura Swaffield (The Library Campaign), Alan
Gibbons (Campaign for the Book). Further speakers including those from CILIP and Voices for the Library will be announced soon.

Lobby your MP on 13 March

During the lobby of Parliament, on 13 March, we want local library users, campaigners and staff to help us highlight the importance of libraries in providing access to learning and as a vital lifeline for many communities.

Library services have borne the considerable brunt of public spending cuts since the Coalition government took office in 2010. Of the 4,612 libraries in the UK, an estimated 10% are currently either closed or under threat of closure.

The number of paid staff in libraries has fallen by 4% over the past year, whilst the number of volunteers has increased by 22%.

Local campaigns are happening all over the UK to counter threats to library services, but at the lobby we will join together to send a clear message to MPs.

Public libraries and staff have a long and proud tradition of providing open access to information and promoting literacy, and during times of recession they are more vital than ever.

We are calling on MPs to take action to ensure library services are sustained and developed into the 21st century.

Join the rally and lobby

1. Come and attend the rally and hear high profile speakers entertainment and films all telling the same story - libraries are a valued and vital resource.

2. Visit the 'pop up' library and see for yourself the many faces a modern library.

3. Arrange to meet with your MP and tell them now is the time to act to protect libraries. Email your MP to arrange to meet them.

4. Support the campaign, and let us know if you are coming to the lobby.

The rally will take place from 11.30am at Central Hall Westminster, Storey's Gate, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH. The lobby of Parliament will start at 2.30pm.

More here:


Friday, February 24, 2012

Scottish Children's Book Awards

Ross Collins, Ross MacKenzie and Nicola Morgan have been named as this year’s winners of the 2011 SCOTTISH CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARDS, Scotland’s largest Children’s Book Prize (each winner receives £3,000 ) which is voted for exclusively by Scottish children themselves. The winners were announced yesterday during a special ceremony at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, attended by 600 young people from all over

Originally set up by the Scottish Arts Council in 1999, the Scottish Children’s Book Awards are now run by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland.
Record numbers of children took part in the awards in 2011, with over 23,000 children from all over Scotland voting for their favourite books – a staggering 40% more than last year - and over a quarter of all Scottish schools registering to take part. Votes were cast from every single Scottish education authority, from Dumfries
and Galloway to Shetland, in schools, libraries and nurseries.

Award-winning author Ross Collins won the Bookbug Readers Category (0-7 Years) for his picture book Dear Vampa (published by Hodder). Ross said:
“I am delighted and honoured to win the Bookbug Category of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2011 for ‘Dear Vampa’. I’d like to thank all the schools and children who participated this year. I only wish that I could bite each one of them personally.”

Debut young-fiction author Ross MacKenzie won the Younger Readers Category (8-11 Years) for his first novel, Zac and the Dream Pirates (published by Chicken House). He said: “I'm delighted (and stunned!) to hear that ‘Zac and the Dream Pirates’ has won the Younger Readers category of the Scottish Children's Book Awards 2011. Knowing that thousands of children across Scotland have enjoyed my book enough to vote for it is incredible. Perhaps it's fitting that the story is about dreams – I can't help thinking I'm going to wake from this one at any minute!”

Popular teenage fiction author Nicola Morgan won the Older Readers Category (12-16 Years) for Wasted (published by Walker). Nicola commented:
“I am overwhelmed and still can't quite believe it. ‘Wasted’ was a risky book to write, because it's unusual - well, ok, weird - and that meant it was really hard to predict whether readers would respond well. But the risk paid off and I'm utterly thrilled and incredibly grateful to all the readers who voted and the adults who worked so hard toorganise the awards.”

The total prize fund is £12,000, with the shortlisted authors and illustrators receiving £500 per book, and the winning authors and illustrators winning £3,000 per book at the award ceremony. Last year’s winning Bookbug Readers Category title, What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson, was also gifted to all primary 1 children in
Scotland in November 2011.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Essex Book Festival

Those living in Essex are spoilt for choice during March with a goodly array of authors appearing across the county, both for adults and children. Check out the details on their website Children's events just ring the Just Imagine Story Centre open Monday to Friday 9.30-5pm 01245 267748...but check the programme first!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Red House Children's Book Award 2012

The overall award has been won by Patrick Ness for "A Monster Calls" from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. "Scruffy Bear and the Six White Mice" by Chris Wormell has won the Younger Children's section with Younger Readers going to Liz Pichon for "The Brilliant World of Tom Gates".

Manchester Children's Book Festival

You can see the early line-up for this Festival at which takes place 28 June - 8 July.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sebastian Walker Award

The Inaugural Sebastian Walker Award for the Most Promising Student 2012 was awarded at a private view of the MA Children’s Book Illustration Graduation Exhibition at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London. The award, run in collaboration with the MA course in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University, was hotly contested with the £500 prize being jointly awarded to
graduates Heidi Deedman and Becky Palmer. Both will also have their MA project considered on a first option basis by Walker Books.

Deirdre McDermott, Walker Books Picture Book Publisher comments:

“The high standard of illustration from the Cambridge MA students is recognised worldwide, and the students' work this year is no exception. Walker Books are so pleased to be collaborating with Cambridge School of Art’s MA and extend admiration to Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration and Pam Smy along with their band of tutors - Alexis Deacon, James Mayhew, Salvatore Rubbino and David Hughes - for enabling the exceptional standard of work on view at this year’s exhibition. Heidi Deedman is a joint prize winner because we think that her art is very original and her characters are amusingly expressive. Heidi also has a unique colour sense but, most importantly for a budding picture book maker, she draws funny pictures! We also chose Becky Palmer as a prize winner because we think that her draughtsmanship is simply extraordinary – it's so refreshing for us to see a student who can really, really DRAW! Becky also writes very well; her storytelling is witty and the keen observation and characterisation of people in her art is perfect for picture book publishing.”

The Sebastian Walker Award was established in 2011 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Sebastian Walker’s Death.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Campaign for the Book: Meeting the Minister

Alan Gibbons reports: Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, Gloucestershire Library
Campaigner John Holland, Voices for the Library Representative Gary Green and I met Culture Minister Ed Vaizey at the palace of Westminster on Wednesday, 1st February to discuss the future of libraries. The meeting was arranged by Jo Swinson MP and comes at a crucial time.

National Libraries Day is this Saturday, 4th February with events taking place all over the UK, the Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport starts taking evidence next week and a coalition of library campaign groups has called a lobby of parliament for Tuesday, 13th March. There is a good reason for all this activity. The future of a coherent, national library service hangs in the balance. The Campaign for the Book has consistently pointed to the ‘hollowing out’ of the service through:
*library branch closure
*the handing over of libraries to community volunteers
*opening hour reductions
*book fund cuts
*the sacking of library staff

I have endeavoured to give as honest a report of our discussions with Mr Vaizey as possible. I am happy to make amendments if anyone thinks the account is inaccurate.

JULIA DONALDSON argued that libraries are vital and where possible branches should be within walking distance of users. She argued that children’s reading is fundamental. Initiatives such as Bookstart, the Summer Reading Challenge and well-attended literary events are needed to instill a love of reading and a feeling for language. She insisted that we do not just need a plush city centre library that does not fit the needs of the community. A library should be local, a place where youngsters can do homework and people can access a full range of services. She voiced concerns that volunteers were replacing full time staff.

ALAN GIBBONS continued by stressing the importance of reading for pleasure, pointing to the evidence in the World Literacy Foundation report that illiteracy costs the UK £81 billion a year. He stressed that libraries were an important vehicle in combating illiteracy especially for people from less privileged backgrounds. He quoted Mr Vaizey’s words in March, 2009 when he was Shadow Minister for Culture. Mr Vaizey lambasted the then Minister Andy Burnham for not intervening in the Wirral situation (Burnham later changed his mind and commissioned the Charteris Report and stopped the library closure programme):
"Andy Burnham's refusal to take action in the Wirral effectively renders the 1964 Public Libraries Act meaningless. While it is local authorities' responsibility to provide libraries, the Act very clearly lays responsibility for ensuring a good service at the culture secretary's door. It Andy Burnham is not prepared to intervene when library provision is slashed in a local authority such as the Wirral, it is clear that he is ignoring his responsibilities as secretary of state, which in the process renders any sense of libraries being a statutory requirement for local authorities meaningless."

Alan asked under what conditions the Secretary of State would intervene when there were many situations, highlighted by recent legal challenges as serious as Wirral. He mentioned Gloucestershire, Somerset, Lewisham, Bolton and Surrey.

JOHN HOLLAND reported that Gloucestershire County Council had tried to make 43% cuts in its library service on the basis of a one-dimensional review. This was on top of a 25% cut the previous year. In addition the book fund was being slashed and mobile libraries stopped. It was as if Gloucestershire had taken everything Wirral had done wrong as an example of how to proceed. There was no local needs assessment and no focus on children. Gloucestershire ignored two of Ed Vaizey’s own recommendations made in a letter to local councils. He reported on the campaigners’ successful Judicial Review and the judge’s government that the County Council was guilty of bad government and had acted unlawfully. The judge effectively agreed with the Charteris Report into the Wirral closures. John pointed out that the judge had said the real duty of superintendence was the responsibility of the Secretary of State.

GARY GREEN argued that the councils making cuts did not understand the value of what libraries do. He attacked the myths that everyone can buy their books in commercial outlets and that librarianship was not a professional job. He argued that public libraries are a social equalizer. Not everyone has ICT skills. Librarians promote social cohesion through a series of events and informal learning. He attacked the notion that there had to be a commercial outcome from the work of libraries. Everything seemed to be about saving money rather than properly trained staff providing a vital service.

In reply ED VAIZEY said he was optimistic about the future of libraries and argued that the vast majority of libraries were doing well. He said the library service was not in crisis and argued that it was sometimes appropriate to close libraries. He was in favour of intervention in Wirral because there was no proper libraries review. He was glad when Andy Burnham called Wirral in. He argued that the library service should be configured to the interests of local councils and that the provision of a comprehensive and efficient service should remain. He said he could not intervene ‘on a political whim’ and would only act on the advice of his officials. He argued that there was a clear division of responsibilities between the judiciary and the Secretary of State and they should not be confused.

He said that Wirral was the only case of intervention in the history of the 1964 Act and that the other example, Derbyshire, was a threatened intervention which resulted in action. The Secretary of State could not intervene over every situation.

IN DISCUSSION the campaigners argued the series of legal actions indicated that the Secretary of State should have intervened and a number of areas were acting in a manner comparable to Wirral. They argued that there should be more up to date advice to councils within the framework set by Charteris. They also argued that there should be a reinstatement of public library standards.

Mr Vaizey said he had no plans for any of these measures but was prepared to listen if campaigners made representations. The campaigners stressed the need for a strong core of salaried, trained librarians. Mr Vaizey said these were important but put more stress on some libraries being run by volunteers to sustain small branches.

There was clear disagreement over many issues, but it was a blunt, purposeful exchange of views. The campaign to save the public library service will continue.

Alan Gibbons


Friday, February 03, 2012

Island a play for children at the National Theatre, London


National Theatre Learning presents Nicky Singer's absorbing new play for young audiences. 15-25 February

In the middle of the Arctic Ocean lies an island where it is always day. The ice groans and cracks, the ground shifts under your feet, and skies flash with ice storms that freeze flesh in thirty seconds flat. Little wonder Cameron is reluctant to spend a week of his school holidays there.

Cut off from the rest of the world on this deserted island, he has no computer or phone and his iPod is fast running out of battery. Armed with dustbin lids to ward off any danger, he sets out to see if the island is, indeed, uninhabited.

Suitable for 8yrs+ | Tickets: Adults £12, under-18yrs £8

Blue Peter: best children's book of the last ten years

Blue Peter commences its search to find the best children’s book of the last decade, with the launch of an online vote in which its young viewers will be able to choose from a shortlist of 10 iconic titles.

From a young James Bond to a reluctant teenage superspy, an infamous boy wizard and an underage First World War soldier, miniature action heroes abound in the list which features the bestselling children’s fiction books published in the last 10 years, with only one book per author included.

The 10 books competing for the accolade (in title order) are:

· Alex Rider Mission 3: Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz (Walker Books, 2002)

· Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Random House Children’s Books, 2006)

· Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (Puffin, 2008)

· Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling (Bloomsbury, 2003)

· Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend by Francesca Simon, illustrated by Tony Ross (Orion Children’s Books, 2006)

· Mr Stink by David Walliams, illustrated by Quentin Blake (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2009)

· Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2003)

· The Series of Unfortunate Events: Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket (Egmont Books, 2002)

· Theodore Boone by John Grisham (Hodder & Stoughton, 2010)

· Young Bond: SilverFin ─ A James Bond Adventure by Charlie Higson (Puffin, 2005)

The shortlist for the vote is made up of the 10 bestselling (by volume) fiction books of the last 10 years for 5─11 year olds with a first publication date between January 2002 and December 2011. Only the top-selling book per individual, named author is included. (Source: Nielsen BookScan TCM Top 5000 Children’s Fiction (Y2) from 200101 to 201152 filtered by CMBC Interest Level 5─11 years.)

Tim Levell, Editor of Blue Peter and Chair of Judges for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2012 comments:
‘Children care as much about books as adults do ─ if not more so. We wanted to capture that by creating a vote to find out which book from the last ten years they love the most. This is a fantastic list: every single book on the shortlist is a corker. Normally I'm all for playground harmony, but if on this occasion there is the odd playground argument about which book is better, then bring it on!’

The shortlist will be featured on Blue Peter’s website for three weeks, during which time children under the age of 16 can log on with their BBC iD and vote for their favourite. The vote will close at 4pm on Thursday 23 February.
The winning book will be announced on Blue Peter on 1 March (5.45pm, CBBC), alongside the winner of the annual Blue Peter Book of the Year Award on a special show dedicated to books to tie-in with World Book Day. Blue Peter will invite the winning author to collect a ‘Best Children’s Book of the Last 10 Years’ trophy on the show.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Imagine Festival, South Bank, London 10-26 February

A cornucopia of events for children with music, storytelling, book swops, drama taking place at various venues in and around the Royal Festival Hall. Authors include Cressida Cowell, Morris Gleitzman, Francesca Simon, Jeremy Strong, Jacqueline Wilson, Mackenzie Crook and a poetry platform with Roger McGough, Jackie Kay and Lemn Sissay. Drama includes "Private Peaceful" and the glorious sounding "Trial of Dennis the Menace".

This year for the first time the Red House Children's Book Award takes place in February and tickets can be bought on the Imagine website. Alas as far as I can see there is no mention of any link with the Federation of Children's Books who run the award but perhaps they will be present on the day or throughout the festival. Seems the perfect opportunity to raise the profile and get new members.

Half Term at National Portrait Gallery

Activities all week of which the two below are merely examples.

Tour & Draw


13 February 2012, 11:00-11:45
Meet at the Welcome Desk
Discover the hidden stories behind portraits in the Collections with our team of artist and storytellers
Suitable for ages 3+ and their carers. No ticket required. The session will last approximately 45 minutes.

Family Art Workshops: Ruffs and Cuffs
Family Art Workshops: Ruffs and Cuffs


13 February 2012, 11:30-13:00
Meet at the Welcome Desk
Join costume and set designer Georgia Lowe from the Royal Shakespeare Company to create an amazing accessory, and weave your own story into your creation about one of the portraits from the Imagined Lives display.
Suitable for ages 5+ and their carers. Free ticket required and available on the day one hour before the event starts from the Welcome Desk. The session will last approximately 90 minutes. Places are limited to 20 per session, maximum 4 tickets per adult.