#30DaysWild Day 5 – A Busy Day For Birds

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_05Have you been doing the Bookstart Bird Boogie this week?

The chosen book for this year’s National Bookstart Week (June 4th-10th) is A Busy Day for Birds by Lucy Cousins and we picked one up this morning at a Children’s Centre group.

ABusyDayForBirdsSimilar to last year’s Everybunny Dance, the title has proved a hit with the minis this evening as it is extremely enactable.

Shouting cock-a-doodle-doo, flapping their wings, hopping, swooping and wiggling their feathers along with the story, they copied the illustrations of woodpeckers, swans, parrots, starlings, flamingos, penguins, ostriches, peacocks, owls and more.

If you’re a friend of the feathered then you might like to know that the first Swift Awareness Week (June 16th-23rd) is coming up.

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The destination for your imagination this July

Newark Book Festival 2018

NBF1The fantastical tales we read as children often stay very real within our imaginations but isn’t it fabulous when they sometimes take actual 3D form too?

PlaceCalledHomeNewark Book Festival 2018 (July 13th-15th) will see knights, bookworms, the Gruffalo, very, very, very long dogs and fat cats, aliens, gardeners and much more popping out of the pages of a book into storytimes, dramatic presentations and character appearances.  And you can even transform yourself into a literary character too and take part in the fancy dress competition.

LongDogInteraction is always key in any children’s event but there are also dedicated workshops to make sure your mini one’s own imagination takes centre stage including a fantasy writing workshop with Gareth Baker (recommended ages 8-12) and the chance to make a concertina stand-up book (all ages).  Author and illustrator Julia Patton will also be helping Newark Library launch the Summer Reading Challenge (age 4-11) encouraging young readers to keep celebrating their love of stories long after the weekend is over.

LittleRedReadingAnd it’s not surprising that at a book festival the love of reading itself becomes the subject of events.  Little Red Reading Hood by Lucy Rowland and Ben Mantle sounds a perfect title for little literary lovers and, for us older ones who still hold fairytales close BookwormLMto our hearts, Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading (among the many adults events on offer) will see the author and her interviewer Tina Bettison “take a trip down a rabbit hole and a visit to Narnia” as “she relives our best-loved books, their extraordinary creators and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives”.

Whether you’re cruising down the river on the Ship of Stories or exploring fairy trails in the Castle’s Enchanted Forest, Newark will be a very magical place for all literary lovers to visit in July.

Find out more at www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk and join in the conversation using #newarkbf.

What the ladybird wore

World Book Day 2018

wbdlogoThe wintry weather experienced in the UK at the beginning of March threatened to make Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman the most popular costume for this year’s World Book Day celebrations.

However, the depth of the white stuff meant schools and nurseries were shut and the literary-inspired day postponed.

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My little ladybird in March 2017

Willow wasn’t attending her nursery on the day of their rescheduled Alice in Wonderland tea party although she’d previously helped to make some of the heart decorations.

Luke’s school saved their crumpets and hot chocolate for the following week too, highlighting the pleasure and importance of bedtime stories, but that meant he merely needed to don his pyjamas for the day rather than choose a costume even though I’d saved last year’s just in case.

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My little ladybird in March 2018

So it was left up to Faith on this occasion to fulfil mummy’s desire to dress up at least one of her children on a semi-regular basis.

And just look how much my little ladybird has grown!

On the verge of sitting independently, she still rocks a red and black outfit at any angle and I think Julia Donaldson’s rhyming tales will be a staple of storytimes in our house for many years to come.

But will I be able to find a ladybird costume in her size next year?

Escape into literary winter wonderlands

Whether as part of an advent calendar, included in a Christmas Eve box, a stocking filler or a main present, there’s no doubt that books make great Christmas presents – they even make the cut in the “four gift rule” of want, need, wear and read – so no wonder there are so many great titles to choose from.  Here Deborah Holland of Waterstones, Lincoln picks out a few of her favourites with a wintery theme to look out for if you’re buying for mini ones this year.

polarbearexplorersThe Polar Bear Explorers’ Club – Alex Bell (Faber & Faber, PB, £6.99)
This book is a brilliant fantastical adventure story with a stunning cover and illustrations by Tomislav Tomic.  On this expedition to the Icelands join Stella, Beanie, Ethan and Shay for a thrilling tale with snow pirates, carnivorous cabbages, unicorns, wolves and pygmy T-Rex to name a few!  This is Alex Bell’s first book for younger readers as she usually writes for young adults.  I’m very excited about what will come next.  If you were looking for that extra stocking filler for your own bookworm then this is a must.  Perfect for any child aged 9 years old onwards.  Chosen as November’s Book of the Month at Waterstones it’s not hard to see why.

invisiblechildThe Invisible Child & The Fir Tree – Tove Jansson (Sort of Books, HB, £4.99)
This book is available exclusively through Waterstones, Oxfam and the Moomin shop.  Two short stories in a beautiful hardback with gorgeous illustrations.  The Invisible Child is about someone finding their voice with the help of a simple Moomin recipe.  The Fir Tree is perfect for this time of year showing the Moomins unselfish take on Christmas.  My children love these stories and I love their message of respect and tolerance.  Perfect for ages 6 to 106 years old.  Aside from being a huge Moomin fan – 100% of the sale of this book will go to Oxfam’s projects empowering women and girls around the world.  A perfect gift.

WalkingWinterWonderlandWalking in a Winter Wonderland – Tim Hopgood (Oxford University Press, PB with CD, £8.99)
Tim Hopgood’s illustrations are amazing in this stylish picture book of Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith’s song Winter Wonderland.  Stunning pictures of wildlife to spot on each page and everything blanketed in snow.  A brilliant book to read to your young one over the festive season and an added bonus CD of Peggy Lee singing the song!  Festive spirit, nostalgia and a sing song too.  I dare it not to get you and your little one in the mood for Christmas.

ADotintheSnowA Dot in the Snow – Corrinne Averiss (Oxford University Press, PB, £6.99)
I read this out at a story time recently and though very simply told it really engage the young ones of 3 years onwards and is beautifully illustrated by a new talent – Fiona Woodcock.  Her sparkly snow is a particular winner in our household!  This is a tale of a polar bear cub, Miki and a girl who get separated from their mothers.  Miki sees a red dot in the snow and slowly gets bigger until Dot reveal herself a human girl.  This is a lovely story of friendship, a changing polar landscape and a heart-warming story to end a wintery day.

Need more suggestions?  See what Gill Hart from Lindum Books recommends here: Seasonal stories make perfect presents.

For more recommendations from the Lincoln bookseller pop into their store in High Street, Lincoln. 

Seasonal stories make perfect presents

Whether as part of an advent calendar, included in a Christmas Eve box, a stocking filler or a main present, there’s no doubt that books make great Christmas presents – they even make the cut in the “four gift rule” of want, need, wear and read – so no wonder there are so many great titles to choose from.  Here Gill Hart of Lindum Books picks out a few of her favourites with a seasonal theme to look out for if you’re buying for mini ones this year.

SnowSamUsherSnow – Sam Usher (Templar Publishing, HB, £5.99)
A charming little book all a-sparkle with snow!  The ground is covered in snow and one little boy can’t WAIT to get outside and play.  But his grandad is taking SO LONG to get ready.  When they finally leave the house, they have a very surprising adventure!  A beautiful mini hardback gift edition of Sam Usher’s bestseller.

AllTheWayHomeDebiGloriAll the Way Home – Debi Gliori (Bloomsbury, HB, £12.99)
Daddy Penguin has to look after the egg while Mummy is finding fish.  But he wanders away from the Dad Huddle and he and the egg are whisked up into the air by a gust of wind, landing in the Arctic.  Brave Daddy must find out where he is and how to get home.  But the Arctic creatures aren’t that friendly and he stumbles along in the cold, lost, until he bumps into a reindeer, who takes them to breakfast with the Special Air Navigation Transport Authority.  Can brave Daddy Penguin and his new little one get all the way home before Mummy returns?  If only penguins could fly…

SnowAngelLaurenStJohnThe Snow Angel – Lauren St John (Head of Zeus, HB, £10.99)
Lauren St John’s stunning Christmas classic is about forgotten children, the power of nature to heal us and a girl who will climb mountains in search of a place to call home.  Growing up in vibrant, crowded Nairobi, Makena has only one dream: to climb Mount Kenya like her hero, her mountain guide father.  But when her beautiful world is shattered, she finds that in the city’s dark places there are a thousand ways to fall, each more deadly than any crevasse.  In a world of strangers, does she dare trust Snow, whose ballet dreams are haunted by a past she’s still running from?  And is the sparkling fox friend or foe?  After a fresh start in the Scottish Highlands turns bad, Makena flees to the mountains.  But will they betray her or be the making of her?

FatherChristmasAndMeFather Christmas and Me – Matt Haig (Canongate, HB, £12.99)
It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas.  For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs everyday – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests.  Also it can get very, very cold.  But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive.  Before it’s too late…

OneChristmasWishOne Christmas Wish – Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury, HB, £14.99)
It’s Christmas Eve and Theo – left at home with a babysitter – sees an odd-looking star out of his window and decides to make a wish.  He wishes that he had some friends to keep him company.  Moments later the Christmas decorations begin to disentangle themselves from the tree behind him, ready to wreak a little havoc.  Written with generous helpings of warmth and humour, this is a story about treasuring the people and values that really matter at this time of year from master storyteller and bestselling children’s author Katherine Rundell.  Emily Sutton’s breathtaking illustrations perfectly capture the magic of Christmas in stunning detail.

For more recommendations from the Lincoln bookseller call 01522 262374 or pop into their store in Bailgate, Lincoln.

Author event may inspire children to write

Dan Walker Book Signing PosterBilled as “amazing, action packed stories,” you can find out more about from the author of Desert Thieves and Sky Thieves himself when Dan Walker visits a Lincoln bookshop on Saturday (October 14th, 2017).

Aimed at ages 9-12, the swashbuckling adventure series includes flying galleons, floating islands and long lost treasure.

And Walker is looking forward to his appearance at the High Street branch of Waterstones from 11am to 2pm just as much as any of his young fans are.

“As a children’s writer, events are super-exciting,” the Nottingham writer explains.

“Writing stories is something children do at school, so the understand the process well.  It is not an abstract thing for them.  So when they meet someone who does it for a living – someone who can give them tips and tricks, talk about structure and characters – it’s really interesting.

“In terms of reading as a hobby, kids are always fascinated by the inspiration for characters, events, settings, everything!  I also get a lot of feedback from children who had given up on their writing, but were inspired by meeting an author to get back on it again.”

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Author Dan Walker

And it’s not just the children who might find the event inspirational as Walker finds meeting his young readers very beneficial too.

“For a writer, events are great because it means you get to speak to your readers, ” he says.  Writing is a solitary job, and sometimes you get so buried in the details of a story that you lose touch with why you’re putting words on the paper.

“When you go out to an event, and meet readers, it reminds you of the end-point of your story.  You remember who you’re writing for, and the joy it hopefully brings.

“Practically, it gives you a little boost, so that next time you sit down at the computer you’re ready and raring to go.  From a craft perspective, it’s also good to know which bits of your books kids particularly enjoyed, and which bits they didn’t.

“Feedback is good in every station of life; writing is no different.”

Find out more at: www.waterstones.com

On the trail of the Lincoln Knights (part three)

We took advantage of a rare dry day recently to finally finish the Lincoln Knights Trail that celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln and the sealing of the Charter of the Forest.

You can, of course, complete the quest to find the 36 sculptures across the city centre in one go but then you probably won’t have had a run around The Lawn’s play park, stopped for a lesson in a Victorian schoolroom and got lost around the University’s building works along the way and your legs are probably a lot longer than the minis are.

The third installment of our hunt for the guardians on horseback saw us finally take in knight number one as we took to Lincoln’s uphill streets with Willow often leading the way calling “knight, where are you?”

This day’s selection included Luke’s favourite – 07 The Battle of Lincoln Knight – as he has always been drawn to white horses.  And also Daddy Malpi’s favourite – 10 Lincoln City Knight.

Having found all the green shields hidden on the knights and completed the key to reveal the phrase and find the answer to the quest we finished at the Lincoln Visitor Information Centre where the minis were awarded their certificates and badges and we claimed the discount on the children’s book 1217 The Battle of Lincoln book.  It might be aimed at children older than ours and we had planned to put it to one side for when they are a bit bigger but Willow was determined to do her own reading of it for us at bedtime that night.

Just because we know we’ve seen them all now hasn’t diminished their enthusiasm much and, as well as stopping for another photo each time we pass a full size one, they’re also very keen to point out the half-sized education knights designed by local children from 42 primary, secondary and special schools and the mini ones in numerous shop windows around the city.

And, on another day, we also had the chance to stop by the Knights’ Central Pop-up Shop and Activity Centre in the Cornhill to indulge in some themed colouring and crafting, making woven shields.

It’s been lovely to see so many other people of all ages taking part in the trail too whenever we’ve been in town (which makes the couple of incidences of vandalism particularly sad) and we’ll miss their colourful presence after they are auctioned off for charity.

They’ll be on their separate plinths until September 3rd so you’ve still got plenty of time to conquer Steep Hill or take them in in sections like us.  If your summer holidays are already spoken for however you also have the opportunity to take them in in one fell swoop at Lincoln Castle at The Reunion from Wednesday, September 20th to Wednesday, September 27th.

Find out more here: www.knightstrail.com