Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

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When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle

A boy, a silver back gorilla and bombs falling…

1941. War is raging. One angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love?

An extraordinary story with historical and family truth at its heart, that tells us as much about the present as the past. Deeply felt, movingly written, a remarkable achievement’ Michael Morpurgo

‘A magnificent story … It deserves every prize going’ Philip Pullman‘

From the start of the story, Joseph shows how determined he can be. His life so far has not given many signs of working out, the war, parents nowhere near. As he was marched along the streets by the indomitable Mrs F he looked up towards the sound of the wailing air raid siren in a London street…

He did look skywards but could see nothing. No sun, no bomber and most importantly, no hope.’

Phil Earle, the award winning author has many children’s book titles to his credit. He grew up in Hull and now lives on a hill in West Yorkshire.

Andersen Press have an amazing list of publications and When the Sky Falls is a great addition.

An extraordinary story of love, loss, compassion and kindness amongst a war time setting of cruelty, bombing, destruction and survival.

This book is a story that needs to be told, the story of a Silver back gorilla and a boy called Joseph.

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

10 Stories to Make a Difference Pop up Projects

One heart and mind… ten stories…

A very special collection of new illustrated stories and poems by children’s writers and illustrators to support Pop Up’s vital work in schools, and communities.

The British Library is presenting the 10 Stories launch event on Thursday 24th June both in venue and live streamed. Registration is open to all.

A shelf full of stories celebrating difference is a great leap forward towards diversity by UK children’s publishing. Pop Up has collaborated with 20 writers and illustrators ,plus editing and design professionals from 12 publishers to create a wonderful set of 10 books, unique in their style and presentation. They range from books for ages 5 – 11, covering diverse and creative subjects ad themes.

All the books are beautifully  presented  in hardback with information about the project and the stories, they are so much more than just the book itself.

Books we like especially  are…

Mistaken for a Bear ( age 9 and up…)by Philip Ardagh and illustrated by Jamie Beard

In the melting pot of London in 1839, two young dock workers chase a tiger on the loose- a dangerous splash of colour in a world of soot and grime!

That Thing  ( age 10 and up) by Avital Balwit & illustrated by Alexis Deacon

A close encounter with an intelligent octopus provides a lesson in curiosity and kindness to animals.

Forbidden ( age 11 and up)  by Anjala Tiwari & illustrated by Danica Da Silva Pereira

Two girls with very different lives are drawn into a passionate friendship- and bound by a desire to break the taboos that divide them.

Pop Up Projects CIC is a non-profit national children’s literature development agency with a mission to transform lives through literature. For ten years Pop Up has been bringing literature to life for over 120,000 children and young people and families.

They have provided 7,000 hours of author workshop and 58,000 books to schools, and helped 18 young writers and illustrators from under represented backgrounds into print through Pathways into Children’s Publishing.

Join the conversation on June 24th, we will be there too…

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World…

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…

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…

THE CHILDREN’S BOOKSHOW AND THE JOY OF POETRY

The Children’s Bookshow is a charity that inspires school children with a love of reading through an annual programme of theatre performances and in-school workshops with the very best authors and illustrators from around the world.

In 2020, everything is different and the good news is that you can access the poets reading and sharing great videos much longer than one month! There are some amazing poems by outstanding poets. Just click through and visit the poet for each week. You are sure to find a poem that will be just right for you.

THE CHILDREN’S BOOKSHOW team had been thinking a lot about the joy of poetry. One of the Directors, Siân Williams, was pulling poetry collections down from her shelves and revisiting all of the marvellous poets we have worked with over the years, and some we hope to work in the near future.


In November 2020 they are focusing on a different poet every week, giving you an overview of their life and work as well as some videos of them reading and performing their poetry. Follow each poet as below. It’s a great way to get the fun and meaning too back into poetry.
   
   Poets for each week are


Books Go Walkabout
A landscape of poetry…

Tree Beings by Raymond Huber and Sandra Severgnini

Incredible trees, incredible graphics

Tree Beings takes you inside the incredible world of trees. How do they talk to each other and how do they enrich the whole planet. There is a foreword from Dr Jane Goodall, who brings real soul and understanding to just why we should all know and understand about trees. They are a big clue in how we can save the planet.

This is a book where you will become engrossed in stories, facts and a future. The stories include…

  • A young woman who lived up a giant tree for two years
  • A scientist who discovered trees have their own internet
  • A woman who faced a dangerous dictator to protect trees
  • Young people who fought to save their last native trees
  • A nine year old boy who found a way to plant a trillion trees

Raymond Huber is an author, freelance editor and creative writing teacher. He has a passion for writing about nature and making worlds come alive for children. Tree Beings is  a book that will bring a new world dimension to all children.

Sandra Severgnini is an amazing illustrator with some wonderful children’s books and botanical illustrations too. The intricate and evocative illustrations are intriguing and keep the facts alive.

The book is a resource and teacher workshop all in one, the covers have hidden creatures , there are mazes, hidden insects and a wealth of images and facts to keep you reading this book for ages.

EKBooks is part of Exisle publishing based in Australia and New Zealand. Established five years ago they have a great publication list on issues that matter, books to make a better world.

I really love this book and as a girl who spent much of her youth reading books in the boughs of a leaning oak tree, I know exactly what it means when it says that trees can communicate!

Sue Martin

diamonds by Armin Greder

A powerful book in graphic black and white images, showing the true relationships between diamonds, the mine diggers and gift receivers. Through the images we follow a journey from a home, where the mother is explaining about diamonds to her daughter before she goes out. The young girl is put to bed by her African Nanny Amina, and later has a nightmare.

It is a book for us all, as we learn more about the differences between wealth and poverty, and the corruption the diamond industry brings to financing wars and conflicts. It is a hard hitting book. The Afterword by Riccardo Noury, a spokesperson for Amnesty International, Italy,explains how the diamond industry works, and how there is now a certification process called the ‘Kimberley Process’ which aims to reduce the sales of diamonds to finance conflict.

Armin Greder lives in Australia and is an artist who illustrates highly impactful graphic novels in startling black and white style, packed with meaning. Other books include The Island and The Mediterranean. There is an excellent review on Playing by the Book about Armin.

Allen and Unwin are Australian publishers who have an excellent commitment to books which enable us to think outside the box and not accept our world as it is.

Definitely a book to engage with students and with your own mind on issues today and stop our complacency in our Western world.

Sue Martin

Authors around the world…

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

A tale full of adventure, exploration and excitement as four children find their way home from the deepest part of the Amazon jungle.

A pacy and exciting book, nearly impossible to put down and with an ending that does more than just conclude the story; as life is at risk and new skills have to be learnt so fast. 

A tale full of adventure, exploration and excitement

Four children, who had never met before, are flying  across the Amazon jungle, when the pilot loses consciousness and the plane crashes into the trees. Fred, Lila, her little brother Max and a girl called Con have to help each other to; find food, survive the creepy crawlies and to escape. On their way they find a map, make a raft and discover a ruined city, where they meet The Explorer, who is not exactly friendly but helpful in an eccentric way. But in a terrifying situation they are forced to leave as quickly as they could. 

 Katherine Rundell, author of The Rooftoppers is an award winning author who  lives in Oxford, UK and The Explorer was; Winner of the Children’s Book Prize 2017, winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award 2017 and winner of the London Book Fair Children’s Travel Book of the Year for 2017. She has an amazing talent for creating adventure and in this book she brings her love of places and adventure to children’s minds. 

Publishers are Bloomsbury who have created The Explorer in paperback filled with black and white chapter headed illustrations and beautiful sketches throughout the book. 

Wonderful storytelling, delightfully delivered…

It’s a truly great book and children of all ages will love the adventure, the sense of place, the maps, the ruined city and see themselves as one of the characters, in an adventure of a lifetime. 

In the video clip Katherine introduces  The Explorer and you can just feel her own love of adventure which creeps in every corner of the book. 

A must read for lockdown 2020 and for anytime at all, home, school and library. 

Sue Martin 


 

Creating Poetry during Lockdown

In this global pandemic we have been thinking of just how to reach out to others across the world.  Poetry is a way of finding and releasing feelings.  

And do you know what, children are so good at it! 

Cheryl is a profoundly interesting, engaging and empathetic poet – with children or adults…we think so!

Cheryl Moskowitz is a poet, narrator and writer who works with us at Books Go Walkabout . Since March 2020, when school closures were announced in the UK, Cheryl has been talking to children, their parents and staff at schools. What is life like in this Covid19 world?

Shrewsbury School, Hong Kong is an International School and have experienced huge amount of lock-down time at school. Beth McNeilly, the school librarian talked about a plan with Books Go Walkabout to get children writing. A poem from Wilfred is shown on the page in the link above, what a star!

A great school, committed to poetry and creativity…

At Books Go Walkabout we put the two together and Cheryl and Beth worked on a poetry plan for children in Years 1 and 2. We Zoomed across the world and heard the most amazing poems, and it all started with a poem of Cheryl’s that begins…

Just supposing…

you woke up tomorrow

and there weren’t all these rules

like: YOU HAVE TO STAY HOME!

and: YOU CAN’T GO TO SCHOOL!

The children wrote and they wrote, and they came up with the most amazing collections of thoughts, poems and words( vocabulary was awesome!)

Parents and teachers and librarians were part of the video, the writing and the Zoom session. It was a BRILLIANT session. Releasing fears and worries, turning them into creative and imaginative pieces of written work.

Great job Shrewsbury and Cheryl!! At Books Go Walkabout we loved it! You can read more on Books Go Walkabout.

Sue Martin


Joanna Grochowicz, Antarctic Explorer author, Zooms to Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong

Joanna and statue of Amundsen

Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong have been working with Books Go Walkabout for some years. We had planned a wonderful author visit to the school in October 2019, by Joanna Grochowicz, New Zealand author of Polar Explorers. But then the Hong Kong protests meant it was no longer safe.

With children still working from home, due to Covid 19, in the spring of 2020, Beth McNeilly, school librarian and a passionate believer in the benefit of direct contact with authors, helped us to find a way. So, along with three quarters of the world in June 2020 we used Zoom. And hey it was fantastic!

A great school…

We had over 300 children, staff and parents joining the Zoom presentation with Joanna. We found our way to the Antarctic; where Joanna had visited in February this year, we reached the South Pole, and saw the photographer Ponting taking a photo of killer whales, we heard that the ice block he was standing on was upended by the whales, but he managed to escape, which was good as they would have eaten him.

Joanna in disguise as Herbert Ponting

There was so much fascinating detail of the journeys of both R.F Scott from the UK, and R. Amundsen from Norway in the early 1900’s, that the stories of adventure, courage, determination, skill and expertise were incredible. All the stories which brought the presentation and the books to life had been meticulously researched by Joanna with visits to many places to gather the story behind the journey. Joanna visited Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, UK, where she also came to Books Go Walkabout office.

Joanna in disguise as Amundsen

Her books are just made for reading, the first in the series is, Into the White, Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey and her second book is, Amundsen’s Way, with her third book about Shackleton being published later this year. They are some incredible stories and immensely well written, good for ages above 9 years and including all adults.

Into the White

We are indebted to Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong for their perseverance in enabling the visit for Joanna to take place and especially to Beth McNeilly and staff for their commitment to the project and of course, to all the children who joined into the presentation. It must have been as hard for them to sit still for an hour without asking direct questions as it was for Joanna to present her stories to many, many black screens.

Amundsen's Way - The Race to the South Pole

We hope that one day all will be well and international travel will enable Joanna to make a direct visit to Hong Kong. But there is also so much scope now for children to have virtual visits with authors who have so much to bring to learning and adventure.

At Books Go Walkabout, we are committed to an international dimension to with books, and authors; stories across the world and knowledge transfer through reading and sharing.

Sue Martin

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