Picture Books In The Pub – CPD Opportunities

Amanda Childs shares her experience of joining in with our Picture Books In The Pub events…

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At the age of seven I wanted to be a librarian. From an early age – I guess I was about nine I would visit Eccles Library on my way home from primary school and help the library staff – whether they wanted me to help or not!

At eleven we moved and at thirteen/fourteen I discovered a new library to help out at.

For my work experience, no prizes for guessing …. I went to a library which led me onto getting a Saturday job and some holiday work. I went to university and gained a degree in librarianship and from leaving university until today I have almost always been a librarian – both in schools and the public arena. During my twenty five plus years in this wonderful job, I have been fortunate to have encountered a wide range of CPD. For the majority of these days (as we know) the best part is getting together with other librarians to discuss what we love most – books and our jobs.

 

…what I have professionally and personally gained from the last few months have been almost indescribable

This year I have been lucky enough to be involved with the North West Committee of YLG. Last July two of the group headed to the North East for a training day and learnt of a project there – Picture Books in the pub. My ears pricked up – how does this work? Getting books out to more people is of course one of the joys of our jobs and I wanted to learn how to get involved. In reality it hasn’t been as I imagined but what I have professionally and personally gained from the last few months have been almost indescribable. Since the Greenaway List was announced a number of the committee and others have met in a pub in Manchester to discuss the shortlist. Our first meeting involved looking at all 8 on the shortlist and Emma the North West CKG representative gave us a brief overview of why these had been selected. It was marvellous. We then planned on what two books we were going to look at in detail two weeks later….

It was amazing how looking at the criteria with others truly enhanced the experience with the books.

The format for the sessions became – we would order food and drink first (priorities, priorities) then settle with the first book and go through the criteria item by item and discuss whatever pages would catch our eyes. Some folk would email in their thoughts and these were discussed too along with our own analysis. I absorbed every comment, analysis and pages of these books. It was amazing how looking at the criteria with others truly enhanced the experience with the books.

After the first sessions I devised a library lesson for my Year 7 groups sharing the Greenaway books with them, something it had never occurred to me to do before – I know, 25+ years in the field of librarianship, where every year I devoured and loved reading all the Carnegie books but had never really taken much notice of the Greenaway! I was very much ashamed of this and now I can’t wait to explore the backlist of past shortlisted books with my students.

After the discussions of the two books was over we would vote – which one we thought would possibly win/our favourite? It was always such a tough choice. We of course ate, drank and chatted more about work and I have found these times enormously helpful professionally but also because we all love literature I have had the best of fun.

If you ever get the chance to join us please do I know you won’t regret it.

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Greenaway Shortlist: Alphabets, Bears & Holes

So the announcement is looming, it’s less than a week ‘til we know the winners of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals; we’re hoping to have posted reviews of all of the shortlisted titles by then so we’re kicking off with a bumper three in one Greenaway edition.

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Something About A Bear – Jackie Morris

First of all, let me just say this book is BEAUTIFUL. If asked to describe it in one word, that’s what pops to mind first, or possibly lyrical, or maybe rich… but you get the idea. This book has lots of visual appeal but as we all know that’s not enough to impress the judges, so looking in a bit more detail…IMG_1010

The judging criteria mentions something about the medium and artistic style being appropriate to the subject matter and this is where the watercolour illustrations really excel – they lend a fluidity of movement both to the bears themselves and their habitats (I love the rushing waterfall of the Brown Bear spread). There’s character there too in abundance (see the spectacled bear cubs) but I think what I most enjoyed, and perhaps is where the book’s strength lies, is the way that the illustration puts you in the habitat with the bears.

The illustrations are full page with the colour bleeding right to the edges of the spreads. The use of colour is masterful – it’s used to convey temperature so that we experience these habitats – they are not mere pictorial upholstery. Perspective too plays a part; we’re up in the trees with the spectacled bears or down  in the churning water amongst the salmon. It gave me the sense of having travelled, of having journeyed as part of the reading experience. And what’s more it left me wanting to know more: Jackie’s words and pictures gave real characters to these bears and their surroundings and that in turn made me want to know more – just imagine what the song of a spectacled bear would sound like…

Read more about the genesis of the book on Jackie’s blog.

Sam and Dave Dig A Hole – Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

When I think about this book it conjures in my head a sense of crumbly soil and the intense desire to find one of those spectacular jewels! Testament again to a book which is experienced rather than just words on a page.IMG_1011

Ostensibly very simple, the textured and muted illustrations set the scene for this comedy of errors beautifully. Though a character can look exactly the same from page to page a slight change in expression and most particularly the eyes (the dog might be one of my all-time picture book characters for this reason) can change the whole story. There’s a pantomime ‘it’s behind you’ quality about the book –the cross sectional illustrations give a special knowledge about the unfolding action that the hapless Sam and Dave are completely unaware of. Very much in the vein of the classic Rosie’s Walk, the illustrations in fact reveal something quite different than the text might suggest. In decoding the pictures we become actively involved in the storytelling process.

One of my favourite things about this book though is that it has given us this: 6 Theories on The Ending of Sam and Dave Dig A Hole. How wonderful and how powerful that a book can cause such flights of fancy and speculation.

Once Upon An Alphabet – Oliver Jeffers

Conceptually brilliant, Jeffers takes the idea of an alphabet book and explodes it into a 112 page narrative. It’s as wry and witty as you’d expect from a Oliver Jeffers book with all the tender and humorous little touches that have characterized his work so far. Colour is used to great effect, setting the mood or tone for the words (of course Danger Delilah was going to wear a purple super hero cape). The use of white space focuses attention adding extra poignancy or emphasis, it also means that despite the plethora of materials used in the illustrations (there’s watercolour, pastels, crayons, pencils, collage and I particularly loved the turned back and crumpled pages of the letter Q) the effect is never overwhelming or fussy.IMG_1004

Each letter is illustrated in a way that adds extra layers of narrative to the words. There’s extra details and conversation added in handwriting as well as plenty of signposts to send you doubling backwards (or forwards) checking where a character last appeared. The book actively encourages movement between the pages beyond the traditional page turn: so that if you want to know the solution to the enigma of the letter E then you need to turn straight to the letter N.

Though we’re ostensibly following the alphabet, Jeffers shows us that stories can be fluid and that their life continues beyond the page. It’s certainly a book that will keep on offering new details or nuances each time you pick it up.

What We’re Reading Wednesday: Greenaway Shortlist – Willy’s Stories

Every time I walk through these doors something incredible happens. I go on AMAZING adventures.

Come with me and I’ll show you…”

Thus begins Willy’s Stories by former Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne – I don’t think that it spoils anything to say that Willy goes on his adventures by reading books and that those doors that he speaks of probably belong to a Library…P1020624

In this beautiful celebration of storytelling and imagination every page turn brings with it a new adventure. There’s a shipwreck, a tornado and even a tumble down a rabbit hole; it doesn’t take long for readers to recognise that Willy is standing in for such stalwarts of Children’s Literature as Alice in Wonderland, Robin Hood and Peter Pan to name but a few. Even the marbled endpapers hark back to a kind of golden age of Children’s Literature and hint at the richness within. Continue reading

What We’re Reading Wednesday: Bear & Hare: SNOW!

This week we’ve been making our way through some of the nominated titles for the 2016 Greenaway Medal. Bear and Hare: SNOW!  by Emily Gravett seemed an appropriately seasonal choice to share with you this Wednesday…

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A simple story with minimal words but full of Emily Gravett’s trademark wit and charm. We’re told that “Hare loves snow”, but what of Bear? What ensues is the story of a whole friendship in microcosm. Continue reading

What We’re Reading Wednesday:Reading Around the Books – Shackleton’s Journey & The Snowman

This Wednesday we’ve taken a slightly different approach to our What We’re Reading post: It’s not so much the books themselves that we’ve been reading but articles and interviews based around them. Lizzie explains more…

This week I’ve been looking at wintry/icy activities to run with a weekly sketchbook group for teens that takes place in the Library. Inspired by the Five Point Plan outlined by Chris Riddell in his role as Children’s Laureate (which seeks to promote the joy of sketchbooks through daily doodling) we link a drawing/sketching activity to a book each week.

Shackleton's Journey

The need for something wintry, the desire to introduce colour into our thus far monochrome sketchbooks and the necessity of achieving this with limited resources (i.e a box of old pencil crayons!) were all pressing concerns as I began my search. Add to this the fact that we only have a 25 minute slot in which to achieve something meaningful and I was running out of ideas – that is until I happily alighted upon Will Grill’s Greenaway award winning Shackleton’s Journey . Continue reading