Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Red House Children's Book Award Winners 2013

Red House Children's Book Award Winners
The Federation of Children’s Book Groups (FCBG) announced yesterday the winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award in a spectacular ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank in London. The award-­‐winning national organisation dedicated to ‘bringing books and children together’, showcased the finest authors and illustrators in the UK today as voted for by children all over the country.
The award for the overall winning book The Spooky Spooky House written by Andrew Weale and illustrated by Lee Wildish was presented by last year’s winner Patrick Ness.
The category winners were as follows:
Younger Children: The Spooky Spooky House Written by Andrew Weale and illustrated by Lee Wildish.
Younger Readers: Gangsta Granny Written by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross.
Older Readers: The Medusa Project: Hit SquadBy Sophie McKenzie. Michale Linge
Over 800 books were submitted over the course of the year for the award by all major UK publishers with more than 53,000 votes cast for the top ten books in this year’s shortlist. Each shortlisted author and illustrator received a beautifully unique, hand-­‐made themed portfolio of reviews and drawings submitted by children, the voters for the award.
The FCBG would also like to congratulate all the shortlisted authors and illustrators this year and thank those able to attend:
Sam Usher, Louise Yates, Caryl Hart, Ed Eaves, David Walliams, Tony Ross, Jonathan Meres, Donough O'Malley, Elen Caldecott, Suzanne Lafleur and Pittacus Lore.
Julia Miller, Chair of the FCBG National Executive had the following to say:
‘This year’s award has been another fantastic event. Spooky Spooky House has proven its appeal to children of all ages and is a wonderful winner of the award. Our congratulations to Andrew and Lee.’

The FCBG has over 150 official members reaching out to children and parents in their local area, and 27 groups across the country. More information about the FCBG, its aims and its history can be accessed at:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

World Read Aloud Day

Calling all parents, grandparents, nannies, teachers, SENCOs, librarians
everyone who reads to children!
World Read Aloud Day

is an annual event celebrating the global literacy movement. Literacy is the foundation of school success, maximising children’s selfesteem and opening the doors to further education, job satisfaction and life-long learning.

Noël Janis-Norton

UK spokesperson for World Read Aloud Day, will give an

interactive talk exploring how to make the most of the reading-aloud experience:

how to keep children engaged all ages, from toddlers to teens

• how to use reading aloud to expand children’s imaginations

how to ask the kinds of questions that get children thinking

how to use reading aloud to painlessly improve literacy skills: listening, speaking,

reading and writing

how to use reading aloud to teach empathy, tolerance and resilience

and much more.

Venue: Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting Centre

211 Sumatra Road, West Hampstead, London NW6 1PF

Date: Wednesday 6 March 2013

Time: 7:30 to 9:30 pm

This event is free; please contact Noël to reserve your place:


Wednesday 6 March 2013

FAQs about World Read Aloud Day


What is World Read Aloud Day?

World Read Aloud Day is a special day set aside to celebrate reading aloud: adults reading

to children and children reading to adults, also children reading to children and adults

reading to adults.

World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and

write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults

worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one

person to another, and

creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a

safe education and access to books and technology.

By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their

future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the



When and how did WRAD start?

Four years ago an extraordinary woman, Pam Allyn, who is passionate about reading,

started the first World Read Aloud Day. Since then millions of children have been motivated

to love reading.

So far World Read Aloud Day has:

Reached 35 countries and 40,000 participants on 3 March 2010

Reached 60 countries and 200,000 participants on 9 March 2011

Reached 65 countries and hundreds of thousands of participants on 7 March 2012


Why is reading aloud so important?

Reading aloud to children, even after the age when children can read to themselves,

expands their imagination and knowledge, improves their literacy skills and their thinking

skills, teaches them about the world, and forges a strong bond of affection between reader

and listener.

Reading aloud exposes children to people, places and ideas that they would not otherwise

experience. Reading aloud whets their appetite and fires their curiosity.

Sadly, when children learn to read, parents no longer see reading aloud as part of their job

description. But at any age, reading aloud exposes children to more varied and more mature

vocabulary, sentence construction and ideas than they usually would come across in books

that they might choose to read to themselves.


Why are you passionate about reading aloud?

Here’s an anecdote that says it all:

When my children were 10 and 8 I read “The Prince and The Pauper,” by Mark Twain, to

them. Several months later I took them to see the film. When I asked my son which he liked better, the book or the film, he said, “The book because the costumes were more colourful”. Books ignite the imagination!


How can parents find out more about reading aloud?

Parents, and teachers as well, are invited to attend the World Read Aloud Day UK inaugural

event on Wednesday 6 March 2013, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm at the Calmer, Easier, Happier

Parenting Centre in London.

Parents can also

read my new book, “Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework” (Hodder &

Stoughton, 2013). In it I give tips and strategies for making reading aloud enjoyable for

parent and child and educational at the same time.

Our website,”, will soon be operational.

About Noël Janis-Norton

Noël Janis-Norton is the founder and director of Calmer, Easier, Happier

Parenting and Teaching, a not-for-profit consultancy and training

organisation which works with families and also with professionals who

work with families. She teaches techniques for guiding children and young

adults to become more cooperative, confident, motivated, self-reliant and


Noël’s fifth book, ‘Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting’ was published in the UK by

Hodder and Stoughton in May 2012. It will be published in the US by Penguin in

the spring of 2013 and will soon be published in French, Russian, Chinese

and Italian.

Noël’s latest book, ‘Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework’ (Hodder &

Stoughton) is now available in paperback and e-book.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Barbara Firth Tribute

A tribute to Barbara Firth by David Lloyd

Barbara Firth, who has died aged 84, was an illustrator of children's books of great sensitivity, insight, humour and imagination. Her best-known works were probably the five Little Bear books, written by Martin Waddell, of which the first, Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?, won the Smarties Book Prize and the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1988, and is as perfect a picture-book as anyone could hope to make. Barbara was modest to a fault, a lover of animals and nature generally, a woman of strong will, however gently she might apply it. She told the truth in a distinctive warm and quiet way; she did not write her own stories, but a perfect sense of story informed every line of her drawing. Late in her career she said there was a story she had always wanted to write, but could never find the words; it concerned a chicken who longed to smile but was unable to, having no lips; who wanted to show her teeth when she smiled, but had none; who wondered about the qualities of lipstick and dentures.

Her own favourite of her books was The Park in the Dark, also written by Martin Waddell, which won the Kurt Maschler award in 1989. It told a late-night adventure story about three characters - Me and Loopy and Little Gee, whom Barbara imagined to be a monkey, a knitted elephant, and a very small black and white pet of uncertain breed, in a pinafore - all soft toy animals she had found and bought at a local jumble sale. It was understood between the author and illustrator, that while the author might give the characters their names, their exact physical nature was a matter for the illustrator to decide. Barbara and Martin made a perfect, very popular and entertaining story-telling team.

Barbara was born in Cheshire and was always proud of her family background - she came of strong Yorkshire stock, farmers and blacksmiths until the depression, when her father took a job on the railways. She drew plants and animals from the earliest age, partly inspired by her father's love of horses, and encouraged by her teachers. But art and illustration played little part in her early career, which progressed through pattern cutting, design and show cards for Marks and Spencer, to knitting and crochet instruction diagrams for Vogue, for whom she worked for 15 years. And then, in the 1970s, she met Amelia Edwards, the great art director of illustrated books, at Marshall Cavendish, and step by step they moved from the part-work Golden Hands towards Sebastian Walker, Walker Books and the glorious picture-book years of the 1980s.

I was lucky enough to work with Amelia and Barbara on many books, by many authors, over many years; but first of all, Barbara illustrated a series of six animal stories, which I wrote in 1983-4, called Great Escapes. For Barbara these books were particularly significant, because in them she moved from the exact and careful practice of non-fiction illustration, to something more personal and original, the heartfelt portrayal of character and the visual exposition of story. In these arts she proved exceptionally gifted. Speaking of this change, she said later, in an interview with Stephanie Nettall, with wonder, "My style started to get more lively: now I can be too exuberant, but once I'd found it was acceptable to draw in that way, there was no holding me. It worked, didn't it?" For me the pleasure was extraordinarily great - as Barbara brought to vibrant and visible life the old man, Angel, and his performing dog, Jack; Lady Loudly, the goose, who kept saying to herself, "I'm very important. It's time I told the world!"; Waldo, the tortoise, who was accidentally fired from a cannon; and so many others. Though she was a very private person, Barbara knew much about people, animals and the world. And she shared her knowledge with deep feeling and sensibility. Generations of children have loved, and will always love, her books; and her long collaboration with Martin Waddell brought a joyful richness - at once emotional and comical - to storytimes across the world.

Barbara lived in Harrow, London, for the greater part of her adult life, with her sister Betty. who survives her, with a large family of animals always at hand - including the original Waldo, the tortoise, now more than 100 years old.

Barbara Firth: 1928-2013

Booktrust launches the ‘Get Dads Reading’ campaign

Only one in eight dads take the lead with

reading to their children


25% of fathers blame working late for not reading to their children


HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall and bestselling author, James Patterson, mark launch of campaign with visit to dads’ reading group in the Royal Borough of Greenwich


UK’s leading reading charity Booktrust launches the ‘Get Dads Reading’ campaign and challenges dads to match mums in reading with their children




UK dads trail far behind their partners when it comes to reading to their children. A new poll, carried out for Booktrust by Opinium, reveals that just 13% are the main reader with their child, with a quarter of fathers saying that the demand for them to work late means that they do not have time to read together more often. 


These findings are a major concern as a father’s involvement in their child’s early reading is proven to boost academic success, leading to improved social and emotional wellbeing. To fight this crisis Booktrust is launching a major campaign to raise awareness of the importance of dads as reading role models for their children.


Further research, commissioned by Booktrust from the Institute of Education, sheds more light on this hidden crisis. A series of in-depth interviews reveals that many fathers see reading as a female domain, and are working in isolation, rather than sharing practices and drawing on the networks available to mothers. When they do read to their children, fathers favour their daughters over their sons, reading to them for longer, and more often.


Booktrust is calling on dads up and down the country to match mums’ efforts in reading with their children. To launch the campaign Booktrust’s patron, HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall and bestselling author James Patterson2010 Children’s Choice Book Award Author of the Year and founding partner of the Booktrust’s Children’s Reading Fund in association with his publisher Random House – will this afternoon visit a thriving dads reading group to see how dads and their children benefit from sharing books. At the moment, research shows that at formal literacy events for children, only 10% of the parents attending are dads.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The 2013 Sebastian Walker Award for Most Promising Student

Congratulations to Jemima Sharpe, winner of The 2013 Sebastian Walker Award for Most Promising Student
On Thursday 7th February, the Second Annual Sebastian Walker Award for the Most Promising Student was awarded to Jemima Sharpe at a private view of the Graduation Exhibition, Foyles Bookshop Gallery, Charing Cross Road.

The Sebastian Walker Award is presented to the most promising graduate; Jemima received a cheque for £500 presented by the late Sebastian Walker’s sister, Mirabel Cecil. Her MA project will now be considered on a first option basis by Walker Books.
Jemima was delighted with her win, and has said of the prize;
“I am over the moon to win the Sebastian Walker Award, it is such an honour to have been recognised by Walker Books. It is particularly special to have received the award from Mirabel Cecil, and was fantastic to meet her and hear her kind words of support.

Walker Books are publishing some of the most inspiring books in the market at the moment, I’m particularly a fan of Jon Klassen and Birgitta Sif.
I’m also lucky to have had such an inspiring and talented class and teachers on the MA Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.”
Deirdre McDermott, Walker Books Picture Book Publisher, added;
“We are delighted to once again run the Sebastian Walker Award with the Cambridge MA, a well-known hotbed for illustration and picture book talent.
We have to commend the fantastic work and dedication of Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration and Pam Smy along with their band of tutors − Alexis Deacon, James Mayhew, Salvatore Rubbino, John Lawrence and David Hughes − for nurturing and developing such strong visionaries and maintaining an exceptional standard year-on-year.
Deciding the winner of the Sebastian walker Award winner was very difficult. Really, we could have awarded it four times over! In the end, we made a unanimous decision between us and Jemima Sharpe edged ahead of her very talented peers with her vibrant, witty and lively pictures. Her humorous details, the warmth and the distinctive palette of Jemima's work make her a very promising contender in the world of picture books.
This year, we were also delighted to have Mirabel Cecil, Sebastian’s sister, present to award Jemima with the £500 cheque and signed Jon Klassen books. She stressed how thrilled Sebastian would be to see that his company continues to support new burgeoning talent.”
Martin Salisbury, course leader at Cambridge School of Art adds;
“Congratulations to Jemima Sharpe on winning this award. We are thrilled for her, a thoroughly deserving winner who has worked incredibly hard throughout the course. Jemima is a talented and original picture book artist. Thanks again to everyone at Walker for sponsoring this marvellous award.”
About the Award
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Sebastian Walker’s death in 2011, Walker Books established a brand new illustration award for students in his memory. The award is run in collaboration with the MA course in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University.
The inaugural award was split between two winners, Heidi Deedman and Becky Palmer, who both won £500 prize, however many illustrators’ exemplary work caught the eye of Walker Books, and a number were signed up to join Walker’s illustrious list of illustrators.
Walker Books Picture Book Publisher Deirdre McDermott heads up the award alongside Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.
The MA Children’s Book Illustration Graduation Exhibition will run at The Gallery, Foyles, Charing Cross Road from 7th – 9th February.
Also showing at the Ruskin Gallery, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 27th February – 14th March.

Herve Tullet at Imagine Children's Festival - Southbank - 23rd Feb 2013