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The Comics Exhibition at Seven Stories in Newcastle, UK

Approaching Seven Stories - image

Approaching Seven Stories….

Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children’s Books. Nowhere else in the UK matches the uniqueness of Seven Stories.

There are collections from authors with titles galore and notes of their work as it progressed. There are amazing original pieces of artwork from illustrators, as well as the printed book.

Seven Stories are custodians of the only collection in the world of British authors from 1930’s to present day.

Children’s books change the lives of those who read them, they capture thoughts and feelings, they create adventure and exploration, they help children to face and understand the world.

The centre has many roles and activities, including workshops, events for children of all ages, connections with schools in the North-East. It has a wonderful bookshop and a café for lunches, with a view over the Ouseburn river.

Exhibitions have a big place in Seven Stories. The two exhibitions running now are about Bears and Comics. There are also exhibitions with material from previous exhibitions, archived digitally and accessible as a resource. Once the exhibitions have finished at Seven Stories they often go on tour around the country, such as the recent Michael Morpurgo exhibition, on tour this year.

Always worth a visit to Seven Stories - Comics image

Always worth a visit to Seven Stories…

The Comics exhibition, is showing until Summer 2018 on the fifth floor and once you enter, you are immersed in the world of comics, old and new.

Comics, illustrations, graphic novels, adventure, showing a whole world of characters and story. One page of a comic would lead you into another world with weekly episodes keeping you on the edge of your seat. There are many favourite characters, heroes and superheroes, good guys and bad guys.

The exhibition is set out to show the different aspects of comics; story, character, setting, props and power, and style. As you journey through the exhibition there is a really good sense of the components of creating a comic adventure, with characters and plots larger than life! The quality of the illustrations and huge amount of time involved in creating a page with many panels of sketches is enormous.

Ahoy there? - panels image at the Comics Exhibition, Seven Stories

Ahoy there?

A story for a comic is generally made in a series of panels, with each panel including some words in speech bubbles or a displayed text, but often there are no words at all!

Characters can be anyone really, monsters, jokers, friends, people you know or even yourself. The exhibition shows how you can define your character in clothes, height, features and special powers.

Other areas are Props and Power; an amazing collection held in some drawers of destiny and a wardrobe full of ideas or possible impossibilities!

Alongside the comics with superheroes and other characters were also some well-known novels, made into comic or graphic style. My favourite was Tom’s Midnight Garden, which looked amazing and also Moomin on the Riviera, The Snowman, Guardians of the Galaxy and Asterix.

Would you enter the wardrobe - image

Would you enter the wardrobe?

This is a fantastic exhibition and we could well have spent a whole day there.

The team at Seven Stories, who collate and present the exhibitions, have real professionalism and flair in the creation of this amazing space, especially the interactivity of many of the displayed artefacts.

Maybe one day soon, I will go back and wander into the Wardrobe of Impossible Possibilities. If you visit the exhibition and find the wardrobe you may discover new  solar systems, characters and stories within.

A visit to Seven Stories and the Comics Exhibition is a must for the school holidays or at any time.

Sue Martin

Further reading and exploration of ‘the comic’?

https://comicswap.wordpress.com/       https://comicsclub.blog/

Great archive and news stories on a theme, featured links at the exhibition.


Image Credits: With thanks to Seven Stories for the images of the 'front door' and the magical wardrobe...

 

Brian Alderson donates rare children’s book collection to Newcastle University and Seven Stories

Brian Wouldhave Alderson, a Freeman of the City of Newcastle and a renowned children’s literature scholar, is donating his extraordinary collection of children’s books to Newcastle University and Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books. Believed to be the largest privately-owned children’s literature collection in the UK, it is made up of more than 20,000 books, dating from the 17th century to the present day.

Source: Press Release –  Newcastle University

Books Go Walkabout is delighted to be visiting Seven Stories in Newcastle upon Tyne and sharing this good news with our contacts in different countries. The collections will be a wonderful resource for children around the world.

Works come from the United States, France, Germany and Britain, and the collection includes original illustrations and papers related to Brian’s diverse career. Brian is a respected author, editor, critic, and scholar who has curated many exhibitions and is a former children’s books editor of The Times (1967 – 1996).

”His interest in children’s books  soon became a passion. The donation is a mark of Brian’s long-standing and ongoing support for both Newcastle University and Seven Stories. He was awarded an honorary degree by the University in 2016.

He said: ‘With the University’s scholarly interests in children’s literature and historic children’s book collections, and with Seven Stories being the national home of contemporary children’s books, I am delighted to be able to augment the City’s prominence in fostering interest in what is an unduly neglected subject.”

Jill Taylor-Roe, Acting University Librarian at Newcastle University, said: “The Alderson Collection enhances and extends the University Library’s unique and distinctive holdings in Children’s Literature, and together with Seven Stories’ holdings, will create an incredibly rich resource for anyone interested in the history and further development of children’s literature.”

Sarah Lawrance, Collections and Exhibitions Director at Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books, said: “We are immensely grateful to Brian Alderson for the generous gift of his collection, which includes many rare and unique books – now to be made publicly accessible for the first time – and complements the holdings of Seven Stories and the Philip Robinson Library perfectly.”

The donation of the Collection jointly to the two organisations is a key outcome of Seven Stories’ and Newcastle University’s Vital North Partnership, funded by Arts Council England.

The two organisations are marking Brian’s generous donation with a free exhibition of some of the highlights from the Collection at Newcastle University’s Philip Robinson Library, opening in June 2017 and running throughout the summer”.

Sue Martin

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.
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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.

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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

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Books and authors taken around the world…

Michael Morpurgo
at Seven Stories

Newcastle - Shining City image of the TyneNewcastle, shining city in the North…

Part 1: This article was first published on the pages of conversationsEAST, another project of SmithMartin LLP in the East of England. Part of a series of articles celebrating culture, technology and the arts in The North.

Continuing our theme of ‘Northern Energy’, we were in Newcastle upon Tyne this week and, on Friday afternoon, took time to visit Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. They have an important exhibition and research project into the donated archive of the writer Michael Morpurgo. Below is what we thought.


”Michael Morpurgo Exhibition 2 July 2016 – Sunday 2 July 2017, Newcastle UK. A Lifetime in Stories.
Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books introduces an exclusive exhibition drawn directly from Michael Morpurgo’s extensive archive donated to Seven Stories in 2015”.  


Seven Stories summer 2016 events Pic-m

View, print or download this Guide here…pdf

Through one of our our sister projects, Books go Walkabout, an international delivery system to get authors, illustrators and poets, and their books,  to corners of the world previously unreached, we have an abiding interest in children’s literature as you would expect.

The Seven Stories Morpurgo exhibition is certainly about a fantastic canon of work dedicated to the young imagination. However, the research team have extracted illustrative and delightful insights into, and evidence of, the writing process, using the archive generously donated to the Centre by Michael Morpurgo in 2015.

What the display and featured narrative does offer, in the broadest terms, is an insight into the creative process, the research and writing of a book, much of which in this Seven Stories gallery has taken place before the arrival and dominance of the word processor.

Not only an exhibition in praise of the work of Michael Morpurgo, but an illustration in itself of what can be achieved with a simple notebook and a pen or pencil. The imagination does not need an elecrical socket and plug to thrive apparently!

Some key exhibition elements:

Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943, and his early life was beset by sadness and conflicting tensions. It was interesting to see the detail of Michael’s school, home life and reaction to his early experiences in the British Army. This thematic thread of war and militarism can be traced through the exhibition, as in Michael’s life. His mother’s grief at the loss of her brother in the Second World War was an equally powerful emotional driver for the writing.

In 1962 Michael met his future wife Clare, and it was the summons home by his mother, with the pretence of an imaginary illness, that offered the opportunity for them to get married, against the prevailing condition that cadets of the Royal Military College Sandhurst must be single. A signal turning point in a creative life which solidified his pacifism, well evidenced and illustrated by this exhibition.

Wombat Goes Walkabout Pic-m

Own your own Wombat here, from Amazon.co.uk

His first short book, published in 1974, was It Never Rained, an interconnected narrative about five children.  By 1999 Mopurgo was ready to publish Wombat Goes Walkabout, with wonderful illustrations by Christian Birmingham. A great story about digging holes and how a wombat can save the day.

1982 saw the release of War Horse, perhaps Mopurgo’s most famous creation. The exhibition offers the visitor a display of many of the notebooks, first drafts, corrections and re-typed double spaced manuscripts that drove the creation of this seminal work.

This series of displays offers, we thought, a powerful illustration of how writing is both a physical and an intellectually layered process, but which requires a gritty determination to see the story through to the final end – publication. It is this revisiting and deterministic approach to his craft of writing that makes a Mopurgo novel so dramatic and engaging we suspect.

War Horse cover image

You can buy this book from Amazon.co.uk here…

To an archivist this is vital in determining the writers emotional condition on any particular creative day. As his pen moves rapidly across the notebook page, Michael has left a marker, a measure of intensity, for later researchers seeking to determine his emotional or creative state. Something a plastic keyboard, no matter how powerful the micro-processor it is connected to, could ever offer the interested reader in years to come.

Looking at the Morpurgo ‘war’ material, we pondered on what must be a pivotal issue for the contemporary archivist or researcher. With ready access to technology, publishing processes and cloud storage – how will future archivists and seekers of process engage with material that is electronic and resting, potentially, in a thousand different formats, storage facilities and locations around the globe.

Interestingly, MIT Technology Review has just published an article on the use of computing and data mining techniques to show that there are, it contests, only six basic ’emotional arcs’ in storytelling. These are…

…a steady, ongoing rise in emotional valence, as in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll. A steady ongoing fall in emotional valence, as in a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet. A fall then a rise, such as the man-in-a-hole story, discussed by Vonnegut. A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus. Rise-fall-rise, such as Cinderella. Fall-rise-fall, such as Oedipus.

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601848/data-mining-reveals-the-six-basic-emotional-arcs-of-storytelling/  Article – Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling  Accessed: 09.07.2016

We are intense users of the notebook and pen ourselves, in our ordinary workaday lives, but have to recognise that research and analysis would now be immeasurably diminished without technology. We wondered, travelling through the Michael Morpurgo exhibition, an historical audit trail of the creative mind, what other contemporary children’s and young adult writers take on ‘techno’ is today?

Perhaps this is a Seven Stories seminar series in the making? Pen or Processor, the creative methodology in contemporary children’s literature. We would buy a ticket! (Ed.)

A visual treat:

Towards the end of the exhibition content is a section dedicated to Michael Morpurgo’s artistic collaborators, the artists who have contributed to the written work.

It offers the visitor a fascinating insight into how the imagination is populated by the story, how the psyche is suggested a character and landscape by Michael Morpurgo’s writing. It is also, within the context of this article, a soaring endorsement of the power and durability of putting a hand to paper. Surely no machine can replace the creative evocation of story by the artists below?

The work on display includes artwork from Quentin Blake, Gary Blythe, Peter Bailey, Christian Brimingham and Tony Kerins amongst others. We particularly warmed to the diversity of images in the exhibition that depicted the sea. Whether Kensuke’s Kingdom or When the Wales Came, the original cover art to be seen provokes an imaginative dream of action, wind, water and a tale to be told.

We loved it.

(A list of artists on show…Gary Blythe, Quentin Blake, Loretta Schauer, Gemma O’Callaghan, Michael Foreman, Sarah Young, Sam Usher, Peter Bailey, Faye Hanson,Francois Place,   Emma Chichester-Clark, Christian  Birmingham and Tony Kerins.)

It was wonderful to see this collection of individual artistic work within the context of theSeven Stories Michael Morpurgo exhibition. But each artist has a separate body of work which is lively, imagination capturing and enchanting in equal measure. We hope  you can use the links above to explore this on-line collection ‘gallery of galleries’ too.

Getting to Seven Stories NE1 2PQ :

If you leave the impressive Newcastle Central Station and turn right down towards Quayside, you can turn left along Quayside and walk, past the Pitcher and Piano until you come to St. Ann’s Steps on the left. Ascend them. At the top, look back down the river to the bridges receding into the distance. Turn and  cross the road and right down to Cut Bank on the left, following the river left along for a couple of hundred yards and Seven Stories will apppear on your right.

The journey there, if the sun is shining, can be as uplifting as your visit to The National Centre for Children’s Books. This is a fascinating insight into the work of our national story teller. Seven Stories offers a whole rainbow of experience around ‘the children’s book’, whether a holidaying family looking to stimulate young imaginations, a visit to the cafe and bookshop, or a serious academic look at the sweep of children’s literature.

Editor Notes:

‘Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition from Michael Morpurgo through support from Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Collecting Cultures’ programme, which has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature’.

Source: Seven Stories web site. Accessed 09.07.2016 See http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection/collection-highlights/michael-morpurgo

The exhibition is delivered and developed through a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Seven Stories and Newcastle University’s School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics.

The KTP is possibly the first of its kind between a university English department and an external organisation, and is being funded by InnovateUK and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

You can read Dr. Jessica Sage’s blog for more insights into her exploration of the archive here.


Header image: The Shining Tyne 2016: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

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Good Causes – Vote for Seven Stories

Image 1Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books has reached the finals of the National Lottery Award.

This is a fantastic centre with a wealth of exhibitions and information on children’s books in the UK.

It deserves your vote!!

“Children’s books are an essential part of our childhood, national heritage and culture. Everything we do at Seven Stories is aimed at inspiring children and adults to be curious, imaginative and creative. We strive to ensure people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can take part and enjoy a lifetime of reading for pleasure. It is a tremendous honour to be nominated for a National Lottery Award and we hope we can harness the energy and support of everyone young and old to vote for us and make us a winner.” Kate Edwards, Chief Executive

The Awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery–funded projects, and they aim to recognise the difference that those projects have made to people, places and communities all across the UK.

With the mission to save, share and celebrate our rich heritage of children’s books to inspire a love of reading across generations, Seven Stories is competing against six other projects for the title of Best Education Project. The winner will accept the award on BBCTV and receive a £2,000 cash prize. Voting has opened and closes at midnight on 24 July.

Vote at National Lottery Good Causes or at Seven Stories.

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

The Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award 2013 –

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Now in its fourth year, the Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award, will announce the winner on Thursday May 23rd at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle upon Tyne.Image 3

 

Image 2The award, continues the Frances Lincoln’s tradition of promoting writing which celebrates cultural diversity and cultural and social tolerance. It provides a platform for new authors to present their work and celebrate aspects of their own culture through the world of children’s books.

The award is also supported by The Arts Council and encourages writers to have a voice and to reach out to all children, and especially for children who can find reflections of their own lives in the stories.

“Diversity in children’s books is crucial – in this ever-shrinking world we are all foreigners somewhere. I’m delighted to be part of an award recognising the importance of this element in young people’s fiction.”
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties)

This year the short list is

One of a Kind by Jude (Najoud) Ensaff

Samosa Girl by Swapna Haddow

You’re Not Proper by Tariq Mehmood

From dark secrets, from characters whose existence is shaped by issues of war,to children with multiple identities, these are all great books to be short listed.

Dolphin Booksellers will post the announcements.

Sue Martin – Dolphin Booksellers, best in children’s books, always on line.

Om Shanti Babe

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Winner of the 2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award,Helen Limon’s novel Om Shanti Babe is a real winner of a story, hard to put down from beginning to end.

Cassia can’t wait for her first visit to India… Bollywood glamour, new friends, a new adventure into this exciting world.

But it doesn’t work out quite like that!

Kerala has a life all of it’s own and the culture shock is HUGE! and then her Mum’s new romance with ‘call me V’ Mr Chaudury, her own stand off with fashion mad Priyanka takes over. But pop idol Jonny Gold arrives on the beach with his new song, Om Shanti, Babe, sparking a mystery, new friendships, a race to save the mangrove swamps…

Om Shanti, Babe, a roller coaster journey of discovery with an exciting environmental twist- all against the backdrop of beautiful Kerala.

The Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award encourages and promotes diversity in children’s fiction. Jointly founded by Frances Lincoln Ltd and Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books it is a powerful voice for the world of children.

Om Shanti, Babe is published by Janetta Otter-Barry at Frances Lincoln. Buy direct from Frances Lincoln or through Dolphin Booksellers.

Dolphin Booksellers- the best in children’s books always on line.

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Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices
Children’s Book Award 2011

Helen Limon has won the 2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award to Helen Limon for Om Shanti, Babe, a story about growing up, family and friendships that the judges described as ‘…fabulous . . . laugh-out-loud funny’.

dv 2011
The tale of teenage Cassia, who is forced to drop her preconceived ideas when she joins her mother on a business trip to south India, takes in fair trade and environmental issues alongside Cassia’s struggles to accept her mother’s new Indian partner, her spiky tussles with fashion-mad friend-to-be Priyanka and her crushes on pop star Jonny Gold and Dev, a boy she meets on a train.

Pictured: Helen Limon (2011 winner) Tom Avery (2010 winner – Too Much Trouble is published today) and Karon Alderman (2011 runner up)

The Award, was founded jointly by Frances Lincoln Limited and Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books, in memory of Frances Lincoln (1945-2001) to encourage and promote diversity in children’s fiction.

The prize of £1,500 plus the option for Janetta Otter-Barry at Frances Lincoln Children’s Books to publish the novel is awarded to the best manuscript for eight to 12-year-olds that celebrates diversity in the widest possible sense.

Australian author Michelle Richardson received a Special Mention for Tek, a book about a young girl from the Aboriginal Australian Murrinh-Patha community who can communicate with the
ngepan, the spirits of the dead.

Tom Avery, was the winner of the award in 2010 also celebrated the publication on June 23rd of Too Much Trouble.

Sue Martin: Dolphin Booksellers the best in children’s books always on line.

Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award

dvTime for sending your entries for the Diverse Voices Award. This is the third year that Frances Lincoln in partnership with Seven Stories will be searching through entries.

The Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award promotes diversity in children’s books, it encourages new authors to write about aspects which touch children from all over the world. It enables books to be published which recognise and celebrate diversity.

flThe award is held in memory of Frances Lincoln who was an advocate for hearing the voice of children in all sorts of situations, especially those who were unable to access books and reading.

For the winner there is a prize of £1500 plus an option for Frances Lincoln to publish the novel.

The details are on the Seven Stories website, which is great site for a wander. There’s lots happening.

The winner of last year’s Diverse Voices Award was Tom Avery with Too Much Trouble

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Closing date for entries is February 25th. So get writing, it’s worth it just to get that story finished!

Sue Martin Dolphin Booksellers – the best in children’s books always on line.

Nuffin Like a Puffin

70 years of Puffin Books – what an amazing feat!! And celebrated by the opening of an exhibition at Seven Stories, Newcastle featuring a whole host of brilliant authors and illustrators.

This is an exhibition about everyone’s childhood reading, whichever generation is yours, you can find books that will take you straight back to your own memories. As we approached Stig of the Dump‘s Cave I touched the Stig type clothes, someone next to me said’
‘I’m not going in there! I always worried about the smoke from Stig’s fire.’

Mr Big is there with his piano and author Ed Vere is delighted to be in the exhibition,
“ It’s a real honour for me to be part of Puffin’s 70th birthday celebrations and this wonderful exhibition.”

A real gem of the exhibition has to be the Kaye Webb Collection . Kaye was the second editor at Puffin and much of her work inspired the addition of so many titles and new authors and illustrators.
Along with her complete archive of children’s books, which was the first major purchase of Seven Stories, there are letters written to authors and friends. Written on the old style type writer and with a soft way of expression, they make enchanting reading, especially when there is the odd correction, crossed out and over written.

There are some very modern ways too of interacting with characters, The Borrowers , by Mary Norton is well worth stopping at, just past the grandfather clock….. thanks to the team at Newcastle University for providing support.

If you are in Newcastle, then do visit the exhibition and Seven Stories, its just up from the Quayside and make sure you get to find the little boat in the Ouseburn…..

And even if you can’t get to Seven Stories in Newcastle on Tyne, you can still take part.

Everyone has a favourite place to read. In a comfy chair, on a bus, up a tree… It could be anywhere! Email Seven Stories a picture of you reading in your favourite spot and you can be on the super screen in the exhibition too!

Sue Martin at Dolphin Booksellers – information and books always on line

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