Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

Tag: children’s laureate

Mr Badger and the Magic Mirror by Leigh Hobbs

Mr Badger and the Magic Mirror

Get this great book here…

Mr Badger is a portly badger who gets into scrapes and adventures in Boubles Grand Hotel, where he works very hard.

 Mr Badger and the Magic Mirror, is the fourth in the Mr Badger series from Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs.

One day a mirror is moved from the room of Sir Cecil Smothers-Carruthers to a place above the stairs.

But something is not quite right, Mr Badger inspects the mirror, and ends up falling straight through it, a magic mirror! The adventure has started and Mr Badger finds much more than he had bargained for!

A brilliant books with characters emerging from every page, illustrated with line drawings and bringing the book and Mr Badger to life.

Really good for children from 6 – 8 years,Mr Badger and for sharing with adults, who may just end up reading the book to themselves!

Leigh visits the UK regularly and we are pleased to work with Leigh for any events in the UK.

Sue Martin

Books Go Walkabout

Chris Riddell The Age of the Beautiful Book


The Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture 2017 was presented by Chris Riddell, award winning author, illustrator, political cartoonist and Children’s Laureate 2015-2017.

Not many lectures start with a cartoon of the anticipating audience and the back of the presenter’s head on the large screen! An intriguing way of getting the messages across, and amazing to see book characters come to life before your very eyes! Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, the first in the Goth Girl series, evolved in the screen in front of the audience at Homerton College, Cambridge

Discover Chris’s work on his web site here.

An exploration into the development of the book itself was a joy to listen to, so often we hear of the ideas behind the book but Chris was keen to portray the business of getting the book into print. A meeting with the book development side of the publishers meant that Goth Girl books have plenty of book bling, deep blue, silver foil, varnish effect and above all sprayed edges. At the back of the books is a tiny book in an envelope attached to the back cover; further information about Ishmael the mouse. Brilliant idea! 

The book then travels to the ends of the earth (that may mean China, I suspect!) and back to our country for sale.

The Age of the Beautiful Book was much more than a lecture about illustration in children’s books, but about how that precious book does become beautiful, something to keep and treasure.

Chris talked a little about his own childhood, as the son of a vicar, and how important  books are in exploring new worlds; he talked about finding worlds in wardrobes or indeed down rabbit holes. He has a warm and reassuring tone and when he mentioned that he had, ‘ a vague and reassuring feeling that God doesn’t mind that he doesn’t believe in him’, there were many quiet nods and mmm’s.

This empathy with people is shown throughout his illustrations and he has some ingenious ways of bringing books to life. Now, as he is thoroughly into social media, he has a good way of illustrating characters in all sorts of books and then sending photos to gain many, ‘ little blue thumb likes’! ‘Pictures turbo post words’ he said.

Chris is also an advocate for the real book, the attraction to the senses, tactile, the smell, the sound of turning the pages and being a feast for the eyes. Reading is a pleasurable thing to do and should not be turned into a grammatical exercise only. He  wants children to draw for fun and for expression and we had some amazing cartoons on what would happen if education ever created assessments for drawing; ‘analyse the makeup of the graphite, the ergonomics of pencil sharpening… it would suck the life joy out of it!’

An enthralling lecture, this Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture on  Friday evening September 8th with Chris Riddell will be remembered for its engagement, fun and how to bring the best in children’s books alive through beautiful books.

Sue Martin

Books go Walkabout, stories across the world



The Philippa Pearce Lecture, September 8th, Homerton College, Cambridge

Read more: Philippa Pearce Lecture

The Age of the Beautiful Book is the title of the 2017 Lecture which will be given by Chris Riddell, a multi award winning illustrator and political cartoonist, who was the Children’s Laureate from June 2015 – June 2017.

The series of lectures was established in 2008, as a living memorial to celebrate the achievement of author, Philippa Pearce, who lived close to Cambridge. Philippa’s most famous book was Tom’s Midnight Garden, which won the Carnegie Medal in 1958. There were many more books, including The Minnow on the Say. You can find lots of resources and information on The Philippa Pearce website.

Chris is going to talk about words and pictures working together for a reader both on the traditional page, and  in a digital age. He will explore how books are ever more covetable as objects in their own right, as well as valued for the words and illustrations inside, plus how libraries remain vital as repositories for these beautiful productions.

Chris has now published his Laureate’s Log as a book with PanMacmillan and is a beautiful journey of his time as Laureate.

This will be an excellent opportunity to explore the interests and ideas of an esteemed author working in illustration and the value of books in their own right for children.

In today’s world, we are surrounded by media, in digital and paper and formats. Often the value is only seen in what we can instantly gain and attain from reading and looking at the books. There is much more to be developed in the ongoing level of cognitive interaction and illustrations in books.

At Books Go Walkabout we work with illustrators and authors across the world, including Leigh Hobbs, the Australian Children’s Laureate, who was recently in conversation with Chris at The Children’s Bookfair in Bologna.

Looking forward to the lecture, exploring the Laureate’s Log and listening to further tales.

Sue Martin


Books go Walkabout, stories across the world

Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories
at Seven Stories

Part 2: This article was written by Sue Martin, FRSA. Sue is our Partnership Bookseller and literacy and Early Years education specialist. Sue leads on our literacy projects at home and overseas.

Discover Seven Stories on-line here…

Michael Morpurgo, A Lifetime in Stories; an exhibition curated by Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle upon Tyne from the 2nd July 2016 to June 2017…

This is a unique opportunity to visit this remarkable collection of notebooks, manuscripts and correspondence that have been part of Michael Morpurgo’s story writing, life and dreams. The exhibition combines much of his life and ethos and is woven into an iconic display, on the fourth floor of Seven Stories.

Take your time…this exhibition requires that you stop and dream a while, reminisce or ponder on the way Michael can find stories in places, wherever he is; stories from the past, stories of animals, children and people, from war time and in present day. He is a great story-teller and story writer and the author of over 150 books for children, Children’s Laureate and a voice for reason and peace.

This blog will take you on our journey through the exhibition and point you in some directions, we hope it will mean you also will have chance to make this journey one day over the next year. It’s worth it!

Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943 and went to boarding school at seven, and eventually into military officer training at Sandhurst and then he became a teacher. He found the military life difficult and as a teacher he wanted to help children to be creative, give them opportunities, take them out into the world and fire their imaginations, tell stories. There was a clash between curriculum driven tasks and this approach. Later, with his wife Clare, they moved to Devon, where they developed Farms for City Children.

He became friends with Ted Hughes and learnt that, as he said, “I have a story of my own to tell and a voice of my own with which to tell it.

Interesting quotes from the videos at the exhibition in the Dreamtime corner are;
“Live an interesting life. Fill your head with this world, of which you are part, care about it deeply, make up your mind to write about events, memories, conversations and something will emerge.”

“Lose yourself in the story, get into it and go for it; know the people, the place, let the dreams in your head reach the pen on your page, tell it as if to your best friend, as a secret.”

There are many orange notebooks in the exhibition, school notebooks filled with Michael’s writing, thoughts, changes, crossings out and revision. He works and receives inspiration wherever he is, but his favourite place is his converted shepherds hut.

There are too many books to mention them all, but my favourites are; War Horse, which only sold a few thousand copies until it was made into a stage production and is now his most famous book. Farm Boy, the sequel to Joey the war horse, Why the Wales Came, set on Samson island in The Scillies. Along with The Wreck of the Zanzibar, Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, The Dancing Bear and Waiting for Anya.


Seven Stories – nestling on the river bank…

There is a curiosity about the books, the man and his talents at finding the story and retelling in a wonderful style, which will mean further reading and an excuse to add more of his titles to our bookshelves.

A final quote…
“I know it, lying under the sun on a summer’s night. I know it watching buzzards floating over the valley where I live. It is a learnt belonging from children who stop to gaze, to breath in the world about them, to feel part of it.”

Michael Morpurgo, A Lifetime in Stories at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle upon Tyne. A digitised archive is available on www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection

Sue Martin

Books Go Walkabout and Dolphin Booksellers


Books and authors taken around the world…

The Children’s Bookshow

cbThe Children’s Book Show 2010 came to a triumphant end last night (17 November, 2010) with a sell out event at L’Institut Français, London. The popular event was also part of the Youth Festival.

Quentin Blake, the inaugural Children’s Laureate who has also been referred to as a ‘national institution’ and one of France’s most highly acclaimed illustrators illustrator Francois Place (best known in the UK for his illustrations for Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse) talked about their work, showing exquisite examples, and then treated an enthusiastic audience to an amazing drawing duel.

A wonderful evening watching and listening to two people who are good friends but also expert in their fields. They so much enjoyed their work and seemed unruffled by their fame. But then an audience of children are always good at asking the questions that you hadn’t thought about and didn’t really want to share on a wide scale. But Quentin and Francois just answered away.

Seeing a book in pictures first, meant that for Francois, he “ …wondered where the words would go?” and Quentin liked to tell the story in pictures and leave the words to children’s minds.

The artists took it in turns to transform each other’s drawings, keeping the audience guessing what would happen next. Much laughter later a splendid wordless story had been created on one sheet of paper. At the end of the show there was a round of applause when one young person asked the artists to do another drawing. The artists took up the challenge and picked up their pins, giving the audience another chance to see two masters of their craft at work.

A finale to a national programme that has seen children across the country involved with authors and illustrators, a great way to explore children’s books and we look forward to 2011 in even more places.

Sue MartinDolphin Booksellers – the best in children’s books always on line


ntPerform-a-Poem is a terrific concept. Children perform their own poems, which are put onto a video and safely uploaded on to the web site. All you have to do is stand back and watch the performance.

Michael Rosen launched Perform-a Poem on 3rd November at the National Theatre. He wanted to create a website where it was easy for children to upload their own videos and to browse other children’s poetry.

A fantastic concept and I guess its going to grow and grow. There’s a whole host of poems that are out of copyright, such as Edward Lear and the Book of Nonsense. And you will be able to find the poem that matches your feelings, and make it come alive.

A Michael Rosen quote from the website;

“Poetry is the sound of words in your ears, it’s the look of poets in motion and that can be you. Make your poems sing, whisper, shout and float. Let the words make the rhythm and give the viewers a buzz to see you.”

It has started with support from Booktrust and the London Grid for Learning and is available across the capital. But it can be hosted by other UK learning grids.

pfpThis is a web site for sharing and for children, teachers and parents to get involved in. Would be great for some Christmas poems?

Dolphin Booksellers supporting great books for children.

Children’s Laureate 2009- 2011


Anthony Browne, illustrator is the new Children’s Laureate for 2009- 2011.

Famous for many of his books, he is a brilliant choice and at Dolphin Books we send our congratulations.

It was fantastic to be present at the announcement and to feel part of the real uniqueness that the Children’s Laureateship brings to the future of children’s books for all our children.

Great to hear Anthony so enthusiastic about Picture Books, ” They’re special, perfect for sharing,. There’s a gap between pictures and words and they encourage a way of looking. They are for everyone, not just for younger children.”

goHis own picture books are certainly that, try Willy the Wimp or Gorilla. (…links to books below).

More details on the event and the speeches that were made will be added to the Dolphin site soon.

You can visit the home page of Dolphin Booksellers. Bringing information about the best in children’s books direct to you. Working with authors and illustrators in school book events and supporting literacy projects in a community nearby.

Amazon link for Anthony Browne

Amazon link for Willy the Wimp

Amazon link for Gorilla

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