Love Letters To Libraries: Jane Ray

Our next writer in our Love Letters to Libraries series, is the inestimable Jane Ray. Jane has illustrated over 70 children’s books and has worked with authors such as Michael Rosen, Carol Ann Duffy, Jeanette Winterson, Dianne Hofmeyr and Kevin Crossley Holland. She is IBBY UK’s nomination for the 2108 Hans Christian Andersen Award, alongside Melvin Burgess.

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Why I Like Libraries

A love of libraries was instilled in me early by my parents, whose own families had few educational aspirations and certainly no money for books. The local library had been crucial to their educational development and they were the first in their families not to leave school at 14 but to go on to Higher Education, and careers as teachers. So my mum took me and my sisters to our library every Thursday evening, teaching us how the library worked and how to find the books we might enjoy.

I have fond memories of that first local library of my childhood – the smell of books, the pink cardboard tickets in their little buff coloured envelopes, the rubber date stamp and the pleasure of leaving with an armful of new possibilities – Noel Streatfield, Tove Janson, Louisa M Alcott, Milly Molly Mandy, My Naughty Little Sister, Teddy Robinson… so many new friends!

There was no library at Primary school, but Secondary School had a wonderfully well-stocked library with an enthusiastic librarian and a selection of art books that filled me with complete joy! Here I discovered how a fresco was painted, the drawings of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci and the illustrations of Arthur Rackham.

There was a sense of growth, of independence, in being free to select books that developed my interests in art, that began to signpost the direction I might go in. (I do also have to admit here, with suitable shame, that for a while I was a part of a group of very noisy girls at school who loved being in the library but talked and mucked about and eventually got barred… not my finest hour – sorry Mrs Brooke!)

School libraries and skilled specialist School Librarians are a vital (and vanishing) part of every school. Occasionally, usually through the unstinting fund raising efforts of Parent Teacher groups, a new library is opened in a primary school – I have been lucky enough to be asked to cut the ribbon for a few of these and they are such a joy and cause for celebration – bright, airy colourful rooms, with cushions, pictures and books, books, books…

My first experience of a proper ‘grown up’ scholarly library was when I was writing my thesis for my degree. My subject was Oriental Puppetry and I found myself ensconced among the stacks of the Library of SOAS – The School of Oriental and African Studies. It was a little intimidating until I’d worked out how to use the cataloguing system and access the books I needed, but from the beginning I was enthralled by the quietly serious atmosphere, and a feeling that what I was writing and researching mattered.

When I had my first child we spent many hours looking at picture books together at Wood Green Library in North London, somewhere meaningful to go where you didn’t have to spend any money, where the whole point was to look and be inspired and make a choice and then take that choice home with you. All three of my children were avid library users throughout their childhoods.

It is vitally important to provide a place to study for children and young people who don’t have access to quiet space at home. The social gap in opportunity is widened by such inequality and public libraries are a huge help in bridging that gap. Specialist children’s librarians also help, by creating events in libraries with authors and illustrators that give children who don’t visit bookshops, an opportunity to experience books and their creators at first hand.

I work as Artist in Residence at a Refugee Centre and the local public library is of huge value to people who have fled their homelands with nothing. Here they can read, study, research, use the internet, sit in peace and think. The freedom this represents to someone who has fled repression of thought and education is incalculable.

Libraries are not just about books – they are local cultural hubs – noticeboards full of opportunities for classes, life drawing, language classes…

As a young illustrator, it was my local library in Crouch End that gave me and a group of fellow artists, all sharing a studio, the chance to exhibit our work for the first time. Professional contacts were made and careers boosted.

In these days of prohibitively expensive university education, public libraries have come to represent more and more a place where access to education and development is free.

As important too, in my view, is the quiet and calm they offer in a world which buzzes with constant ‘noise’.

Libraries represent the best in our society – education, enlightenment, information, peace, trust – and all for free. We should treasure them for we lose them at our peril.

Jane Ray, 2018

Jane’s latest book for Boxer Books, The Elephant’s Garden was nominated for the 2018 Greenaway Medal.

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Love Letters To Libraries: Ali Limentani

To see us through the summer months we’re launching a new blog feature: Love Letters to Libraries. A collection of missives from authors and illustrators reminding us of the far reaching influence of the humble Public Library and the effects a love of reading and a thirst for knowledge can have on an individual as well as a career

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To kick us off we have Alison Limentani. Alison has always been fascinated by animals and wildlife. She has a Degree in Animal Behaviour, and worked as a Zoo Keeper in Jersey before training as a veterinary nurse. She is passionate about drawing animals, and sharing her knowledge about them.

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Why I like libraries

Well let’s get one thing straight. I don’t like libraries… I love libraries!

Where else do you get the opportunity to visit a multitude of other cities, countries or universes absolutely free?

I love being able to lose myself in a world full of facts and information. The ideas for my books are often triggered by discovering just one amazing fact, which starts a cascade of other ideas, leading me on a fact-finding mission that allows me to build a whole book around one astounding piece of the puzzle.

Sometimes I enjoy escaping into a fiction book to find refuge from real life amongst the pages. It’s exciting to take on a new identity and walk around for a while. That’s why we read books, right? Your body doesn’t go anywhere, but your mind gets to travel beyond the reaches of your own imagination, into someone else’s.

I love libraries.

Alison’s debut picture book How much does a Ladybird weigh?’ was published in 2016. This stylish book uses an array of native wild animals to explain how heavy each animal is relative to the others. It was nominated for Cambridgeshire Libraries ‘Read it again’ award 2017 and was also on the New York Public Libraries Best Books for Kids 2016 list.

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Her most recent book ‘How Tall Was A T-Rex?’ uses traditional printmaking techniques and digital editing to create vivid and engaging comparisons to profile this notorious dinosaur.

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You can find out more about Alison, including her work as a children’s art facilitator, via her website: http://alisonlimentani.wixsite.com/alisonlimentani

CKG19 Nominations

Though the dust has barely settled after the excitement of the Carnegie and Greenaway medal announcements in June, we’re already busy thinking about what we’ll be nominating for the 2019 awards. Our marvellous committee met up to discuss the books that have caught our attention over the past few months…

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After much discussion we came up with two shortlists of books to be read over the summer months. If you’d like to read along with us you can find our shortlists below.

We will be holding a discussion day in September looking at how our shortlists measure up against the Carnegie and Greenaway criteria  and selecting the two books from each list we think are most worthy of being nominated.

It is also worth bearing in mind that all CILIP members can make nominations in their own right. Eligible titles must be published between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2018. You can read more about eligibility for the awards on the Medal’s website.

 

Carnegie Shortlist for Nominations

  • Moonrise – Sarah Crossan
  • The House With Chicken Legs – Sophie Anderson
  • Notes On My Family – Emily Critchley
  • Satellite – Nick Lake
  • The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevado
  • Orphan Monster Spy – Matt Killeen
  • The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

Greenaway Shortlist for Nominations

  • Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes – Mehrdokht Amini (Hena Khan)
  • The Lost Words – Jackie Morris (Robert Macfarlane)
  • The Last Wolf – Mini Grey
  • Space Tortoise – David Litchfield (Ross Montgomery)
  • Rebel Voices: The Rise of Votes For Women – Eve Lloyd Knight (Louise K Stewart)
  • Suffragette: The Battle for Equality – David Roberts
  • The Squirrels Who Squabbled – Jim Field (Rachel Bright)

 

 

CKG Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Here we are at last! The day the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medal winners for 2018 are finally announced, as well as the Amnesty CILIP Honours, and we can’t wait to see which books have been chose to receive the top prizes in children’s literature.

The shortlists this year have been outstanding as always, and we’ve really enjoyed reading and reviewing the shortlisted titles. This morning we round off our reviews with Emma’s thoughts on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which is shortlisted for the Carnegie award.

What the publisher says…

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. 

http://www.walker.co.uk/The-Hate-U-Give-9781406372151.aspx

The Hate U Give

 

What we say…

The Hate U Give gave me bags under my eyes! I just couldn’t stop reading until I finished it (at 3am!). The book addresses some really big issues, such as police shootings of unarmed black people and white privilege, through telling the story of one ordinary girl, Starr Carter, who finds herself in an extraordinary and horrific situation, having witnessed the fatal shooting of her unarmed friend by an officer. 

 It is the characters and the relationships between them that make this a truly exceptional book for me. The balance of the awful things Starr is having to deal with and the everyday teenage-ness of her character is perfect and the strong family dynamic of the Carters is a joy to experience.

Emma

See Angie Thomas talk about The Hate U Give here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=13

View the full CKG 2018 shortlists here:

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/carnegie-current-shortlist.php

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/greenaway-current-shortlist.php

 

CKG review: A First Book of Animals – illustrated by Petr Horacek

Not one, not two, but three reviews in one day! We’re so close to he CKG winners announcement now – and so close to getting all our reviews of the shortlisted titles posted! Here are Lizzie’s thoughts on A First Book of Animals from the Greenaway list, which sees Petr Horacek shortlisted for his stunning illustrations.

What the publisher says…

Nicola Davies, the award-winning author of A First Book of Nature, presents a spellbinding treasury of poems about the animal world, illustrated in breathtaking detail by Petr Horacek. … From blue whales to bumblebee bats and everything in between, A First Book of Animals takes you all over the planet to visit all kinds of different creatures. 

http://www.walker.co.uk/A-First-Book-of-Animals-9781406359633.aspx

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What we say…

It’s impossible to tell which came first here – the text or the illustrations – as both work so perfectly together to create an outstanding work of vivacity and exuberance. Nature bursts from the page in abundance. Petr Horacek’s double page spreads allow Nicola Davies’ poetic text to dance across the page whilst his jewel-like colours and textured collages express the remarkable diversity of the natural world on a grand scale. Clever layout and design, with the occasional nod to works of natural history from yesteryear, make this a book which works on several levels with appeal across a wide age and ability range, A true treasury!” 

Lizzie

See Petr Horacek talk about A First Book of Animals here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=4

View the full CKG 2018 shortlists here:

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/carnegie-current-shortlist.php

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/greenaway-current-shortlist.php