Book Monitor - books from across the world

Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

School Librarian of the Year 2020/21

The School Librarian of the Year Award is the SLA’s prestigious honour to recognise the excellent work that is carried out in school libraries every day, and to highlight the current practice of those whose work is outstanding.

The School Librarian of the Year Award was proposed in 2003 by Aidan Chambers, who was the President of the School Library Association at that time. It was intended to be an award for excellent practice and to be given annually ‘in recognition of outstanding and exemplary work by a school librarian… whose work may be within the conventional bounds of library and information resource centres or be in unconventional areas.’ (Aidan Chambers’ initial proposal, October 2003)

In 2021 the awards were announced at a virtual event on Friday 11th June.

And the School Librarian of the Year for 2020/21 is Kristabelle  Williams from Addey and Stanhope School, Lewisham, London.

Congratulations Kristabelle !

Kristabelle is the librarian in Addey & Stanhope state secondary school, and has an unremitting and consistent focus on ensuring the best futures for her students, making reading, researching and library use the norm. There are weekly KS3 library classes and book clubs – focusing on RfP, book talks and information skills, activities including discussions, debates, Book Pen Pals, Kahoot quizzes, Padlet activities and Ms Williams’ popular mash up of Taboo and Heads Up called “Books Up”.

By working with teaching departments and with student groups, booklists related to the curriculum, and empathy, inclusion and social justice are promoted across the school. Kristabelle has been instrumental in celebrating how reading for pleasure and mental health/well-being are intertwined, never stopping adapting and innovating to engage and encourage students.

There was a very strong list of candidates on the Honour List and the SLA CEO Alison Tarrant praised the librarians for their dedication in this most unusual of years 2020/21. Librarians have been key in the renewed focus of importance and power of reading (for pleasure, learning and wellbeing) and information literacy skills, as this generation will rely on these to determine the truth from scare mongering, and educational website from fake news.

Delighted to support School Library Association, they make such a difference!

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World…

The Corinthian Girl by Christina Balit

A slave girl with no name…

A girl with no name becomes a champion in the Herean Games in the great stadium of Olympia. This amazing story tells the tale of a girl abandoned by her father in Corinth as he had no need of a girl. Instead of taking her to the Temple for a special ceremony , he turned into the marketplace and left her on a bench.

She became a slave girl, but always wore the small Doric coin around her neck from her father to show that she was from a worthy family. By good fortune, her owner saw her playing with his son, recognised her potential as an athlete  and took her to train for the Herean Games, which were only for women. She won the games and was then given a name!

Winner of the Herean Games

A beautiful book from Otter-Barry Books with a wonderful story  bringing to life an event held so long ago, and a girl who rose to fortune by her ability. The illustrations and text are brilliant and whatever age the reader, this will bring real interest and joy.  There is an information section about the Herean Games, which were held before the Olympic Games which were started in 776BCE.

The author and illustrator is Christina Balit who has illustrated many children’s books and twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

I became fascinated by The Corinthian Girl and have so much enjoyed reading more about the Herean Games… it has given a real step into the past.

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World…

Finn’s Garden Friends by Rachel Lawston &Lisa Visirin

This is such a beautiful and heart-warming book. The importance  of spending time in nature shines through on every page. The story explores a move from the country for Finn, to the city where dull, grey buildings are all that he can see. But  wild spaces, can be found in cities as well as the countryside,  where creatures of all shapes and sizes can roam freely. Finn discovers a hibernating hedgehog and a hungry fox along with different plants and birds galore.  It is an inspiring story of adventure close at home and a helpful Grandpa who lends a gentle hand along the way.

Hedgehog discovery…

At a time when we are all spending time in our own neighbourhoods, whether in towns or the countryside, Finn’s Garden Friends is a great way to explore the outside, find real creatures, large and small, move away from the ‘screens’ and explore together into our wonderful world.

Rachel Lawston is the author and she is a keen amateur orchid hunter bird watcher and bat detector.  She is also a designer with publishers  such as Walker Books and Penguin Random House. Rachel lives in London and near the Wetland Centre in Barnes, where she is a very keen volunteer.

Lisa Visirin is a new illustrator and is highly talented with children’s books themes. Her illustrations match beautifully with the text in Finn’s Garden Friends.

Allotments are just the thing in 2021…

Pikku Publishers produce very thoughtful, original books with high quality illustrations. They are inventive and creative only publishing titles and books they are passionate about. Many of their books are award winning and at Books Go Walkabout we love being part of their story.

I’m now off to take this book into the garden with me, to find out if I too can find these creatures under the hedge or maybe behind the wooden shed.

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

I Am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell and Lauren Mark Baldo

34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from past & present

An outstanding book about people first and how they have carved out their lives and thoughts against a number of odds and issues which could so easily have prevented them from living their lives. Society does like to label! This is a book which clearly shows that we just should not do that!!



In this stylishly illustrated biography anthology, meet 30 artists, thinkers, athletes, and activists with disabilities, from past and present. From Frida Kahlo to Stephen Hawking, find out how these iconic figures have overcome obstacles, owned their differences, and paved the way for others by making their bodies and minds work for them.

These short biographies tell the stories of people who have faced unique challenges that have not stopped them from becoming trailblazers, innovators, advocates, and makers. Each person is a leading figure in their field, be it sports, science, math, art, breakdancing, or the world of pop.

Read about Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Kirchoff, Henri Matisse, Eliza Suggs, Helen Keller, Frida Kahlo, John Nash, Stephen Hawking, Temple Grandin, Stevie Wonder, Nabil Shaban, Terry Fox, Jonas Jacobsson, Trischa Zorn, Ade Adepitan, and many others.

Cerrie Burnell is an actress, singer, playwright, author, and former television presenter for CBeebies (2009–2017). She was born with half a right arm and has sought to increase visibility of disabled people through her career in presenting, writing, and acting.

Shooter, swimmer and basketball player

Lauren Baldo is an illustrator based in the Philippines. He has worked as a storyboard artist, comic artist, graphic designer, and children’s book illustrator.

Publishers are Wide Eyed Editions, part of Quarto Knows. An amazing gift for excellent books which highlight research, people and subjects in a format which is modern and attractive. Just a great way to read and extend your knowledge.

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World

The Secret Life of Bees, by Moira Butterfield and Vivian Mineker

Published by Words and Pictures, Quarto Knows…
Follow Buzzwing the honeybee on a beautifully illustrated journey through the world of bees filled with amazing science and intriguing folklore. This is a brilliant book which will enable children of any age to acquire knowledge and interest in the life of the bee. Each story is a honeycomb of adventure, each page a new discovery.

Welcome to my honey hive home.
It’s where I live with my family.
I’m small and fuzzy and striped black and gold.
I’m Buzzwing the hardworking honeybee!


Did you know that bees love to dance? Or that they have an amazing sense of smell to help them find the best flowers? In The Secret Life of BeesBuzzwing shares with you all the details of her life as a bee, in and out of the hive, starting with the day she was born.

Learn the secrets of this worker bee’s tiny world, including: The bee life cycle Bee anatomy How bees collect nectar and make honey What happens inside the hive The different types of bees Why bees are so important to humans How bees can thrive in the city Bee folk tales from around the world With things to search for and find throughout, tips for making your own environment welcoming to bees, and even a poetry-writing exercise, The Secret Life of Bees is brimming with reasons to admire and respect the hardworking honeybee.

Sumptuous and detailed illustrations have pride of place in this magical guide to bees that mixes natural history with a splash of fantasy—a book to be pored over time and again.
Lovely images…
Moira Butterfield has written numerous children’s books, including award-winning work for under-5s, highly commended historical, science, and natural history nonfiction. Moira lives in Bath, England.

Vivian Mineker is a Taiwanese American from Taipei and Portland, currently working out of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her interest in art began at a young age, using drawing to express herself and her inner imaginary world. She uses watercolor, colored pencil, and digital processes to create a blend of traditional texture with a modern look and feel. She is the proud owner of a mini goldendoodle, called Darlie.

Now to spend time reading the book again and checking my garden in rural Norfolk, UK, for plants that are bee friendly, with invisible ultra violet stripes or purple and blue colour flowers.

Sue Martin

Little People, Big Dreams -Earth Heroes

I am an enormous follower of the Little People,Big Dream from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books series of books. They are remarkably inspirational. They get us in touch with people who have made a huge difference in the world. They are appealing for children of all ages, from 6 years, at home and at school. The schools I work with are keen to build libraries of these titles as starters for research projects.

Meet three inspirational Earth Heroes whose love of the natural world inspires them to make a difference: Jane Goodall, Greta Thunberg, and David Attenborough! This boxed gift set of three hardback books from the internationally best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series introduces little dreamers to the lives of these incredible people who work to understand and protect this amazing planet.

A captivating book…


In these remarkable true stories, three very different people use their voice to speak up for animals and the environment. When Jane was little, her father gave her a toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. This inspired her lifelong love of animals, and after living with chimpanzees in their natural habitat, she now educates the public on animal rights.

When young  Greta learned of the climate crisis, she couldn’t understand why people in power were not doing anything to save our Earth. But her “School Strike for Climate” has now inspired millions, and taught everyone her valuable message: “No one is too small to make a difference.”

Captivating illustrations…

As a child, David spent hours in the science library, collating his own specimens and creating a mini animal museum. Now, he is loved all over the world for telling the untold stories of these animals. Each of these moving books features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the Earth Hero’s life.

Settle in for a really good story…

Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, born in Barcelona, Spain, is a writer and creative director in constant search of new concepts for children’s books and the author of the multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series of picture books that explore the lives of outstanding people. Working for more than fifteen years for clients in top advertising agencies, her books combine creativity with learning, aiming to establish a new and fresh relationship between children and pop culture. ​

Anke Weckmann is originally from a small town in northern Germany, and now lives in London. She studied illustration at Camberwell College of Art and Kingston University and works as a freelance illustrator. Her work is hand-inked on paper and digitally coloured.

Mikyo Nohis an illustrator based in London, United Kingdom. Originally from South Korea, she worked as a fashion designer. Her works are used across stationery, children’s magazines, and children’s books.

Beatrice Cerocchi is an illustrator and architect based in Rome, Italy. Her awards include the 2017 AOI World Illustration award, and the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair award.

As part of Earth Day 2021, my advice is to get out there and buy these books straight away. I have so much enjoyed reading about Jane, Greta and David, already an Earth Convert they have convinced me to take action.

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Award winning book…

“Another impossible dream,” Ma said, looking at the plain rice in her bowl with bitterness.

Minli’s family were living in tough times and her parents Ma and Ba had different ideas about things. Ba, her father told Minli stories, which filled her imagination with tales of wonder and adventure. One night he told her about the Old Man of the Moon, who knows the answers to everything. The family live in the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, where they have to work so hard in the fields.

Minli decides to set out one day  on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon, she wants to seek good fortune for her family. Along the way, she meets many magical friends, including a talking fish, a powerful king and a dragon who can’t fly.

This is a powerful story of ambition, love and adventure with a family who desperately love their daughter but who just can’t move away from their life of hardship.

It is also a story about life in ancient China with many parallel characters and traits, alongside a modern approach shown through the writing style and books’ format.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a beautiful book to read and to lose yourself in its pages. The illustrations and chapter headings provide a wonderful aid to the developing story, enabling readers to glance ahead and see how the story is developing. It was awarded the 2010 Newbery Honour, chosen for Al Roker’s Today Show Kid’s Book Club and was a NY Times Bestseller.

Grace Lin

Grace Lin is an award-winning author, living in USA, her parents were originally from Taiwan. Grace has written many award winning books and she has a picture book series, Ling and Ting plus books for early readers and novels for older children. In 2019, Grace’s picture book “A Big Mooncake For Little Star” was awarded a Caldecott Honour. Grace, herself, was recognized as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.

Little, Brown are the publishers with enormously successful and intriguing books for children. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a fantastic part of that book list.

I read this book now over a month ago and have found I can’t add it to the bookshelf as I just love to keep opening the book and re reading different sections.

Books Go Walkabout have added Where the Mountain Meets the Moon to its list on dragons on Bookshop.org and it has been an amazing success with our schools.

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World

Storm Dragon by Dianne Hofmeyr & illustrated by Carol Thompson

Storm! Storm!

Rain raps the windows, wind rattles the door.

‘Let’s look for storm dragons,” says Grandpa.

Watch  out dragons. We’re coming.”

Off they go, Grandpa and grandchild, down to the beach for a wild and wonderful adventure…And what do they find? Dragon footprints, dragon jewels and even a dragon baby, but who is the REAL storm dragon.

A great story and amazingly engaging illustrations as Grandpa and grandchild find their way along the beach as the storm blows, and waves crash on the shore. There are chants and repetitions to shout out as the adventure progresses.

The loving friendship and imaginative play between the generations is wonderfully expressed, both with the words and in the illustrations.

Dianne Hofmeyr, an award-winning author, livening in London, was born in South Africa and grew up between the mountains and the sea. Author of many books for young children including Zeraffa Giraffa, Tiger Walk and The Glassmaker’s Daughter.

Carol Thompson is an internationally acclaimed illustrator of books for young children with a huge skill in seeing the world through their eyes. She has received honours for many of her books  and is a member of IBBY UK.

Otter-Barry are the publishers who have an enormous skill in publishing beautiful children’s books which children love and enjoy for years. Storm Dragon was published in March 2021. Time to reserve a first copy edition!

We love this book and will take home this weekend to share online with a very young person, who just loves books at the age of nearly 2!

Sue Martin

Stories around the world…

World Book Day 4th March – Antarctic Stories to Shanghai

Books Go Walkabout is working with Harrow International School in Shanghai to deliver online author visits direct to classrooms. Working globally is no problem online!

Harrow International School, Shanghai

Our second event at Harrow International School, this time with author and polar explorer Joanna Grochowicz from New Zealand. The audience of Years 4-6 came ready dressed up as book characters and armed with questions at the end of Joanna’s presentation .

Joanna and model Amundsen

Joanna enthralled the children from the start with slides and tales of life in the Antarctic in the early 19Century. This is real history and gives amazing insights into how tough life could be. Imagine having your fingers so badly frost bitten they are the size of sausages for instance, I could hear some sounds of ‘Yukk!” from the children.

Then there were the orcas, who surrounded Scott’s photographer, Ponting, on an ice floe. He thought he was going to take a photo. The orcas thought he looked like lunch! They tipped the ice floe and Ponting was only saved by landing on another ice floe.

Orcas looking for lunch!

Or the story of the dog on the Terra Nova who went overboard in a terrible storm in the Southern Sea and the Roaring Forties, fortunately  a wave brought him crashing back.

Joanna is expert at great detail of research around the expeditions of Scott, from Britain, Amundsen from Norway and Shackleton from Britain(her next book).

Amundsen’s Crew in the Antarctic

Children from Harrow International School were exceptionally well led by Tess St Clair Ford, who organised Book Week in 2021, not an easy task  with many places still in lockdown. The pupils’ questions to Joanna showed that good listening skills were in place and they had done their homework too.

World Book Day 2021 and a great way for Books Go Walkabout to engage with Harrow International Shanghai, far away but really very close!

Joanna’s new book Shackleton’s Endurance is out soon to join her Polar Explorer’s Trilogy Into the White and Amundsen’s Way.

Sue Martin

World Book Day 2021 Shanghai & UK

Books go Walkabout is working with Harrow International School in Shanghai to deliver online author visits direct to classrooms. Working globally is no problem online!

Harrow International School, Shanghai

On March 3rd Cheryl Moskowitz, poet, translator and writing facilitator met with six classes of eager children from Years 1-3, ages from 5-7 years. We had a brilliant session, delivering direct into classrooms for children and teachers. It was the end of their day and the beginning of ours but spanning time travel online meant we could work together.

Harrow International School created active learning classrooms and the children were ready and eager to learn. BGW worked with Tess St Clair-Ford, Head of English and Whole School Literacy Coordinator to create bespoke sessions matching the needs of classes and curriculum. By the end of the session with Cheryl, the children had listened to, and engaged with the poems, especially on their class names, such as Confucius and Dickens.

Confucius Class

They learnt about syllables, cinquains and how poetry can be created, a real learning journey. I imagine they will return back to school in the morning with a poem in their heads and a spark of imagination on their learning journey. Working with an author will have inspired them to become readers and writers.

A great start to World Book Day 2021 and a great way for Books Go Walkabout to engage with Harrow International Shanghai, far away but really very close!

Sue Martin

Page 1 of 31

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén