New books provide readers with wormholes to the final frontier

Titles celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing are perfect choices to inspire future astronauts

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July 20th, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  Whether you were alive or not in 1969 to see the first broadcast of that one small step, watching the black and white footage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin setting foot where no man had gone before is still likely to be one that has had a lasting impact on any subsequent viewer.

(Just to clarify I’m not quite old enough to remember the original, only the reruns, despite my children’s belief I was alive in “the olden days”).

Field Trip to the MoonCelebrating the anniversary gives the opportunity for a new generation to be inspired by the final frontier and I was delighted when my six-year-old’s choice of new book was Field Trip to the Moon by Jeanne Willis and John Hare (Macmillan Children’s Books, £6.99).

Can you imagine a class outing to the moon?  What would happen if you went with a teacher whose head counting skills didn’t match up to the task and you got stranded in outer space?  Exploration, creativity and making friends are at the heart of this sweet story that fortunately is set in a time where it isn’t too difficult to make the 384,400 km return trip to Earth’s natural satellite to pick up a young straggler.

There are plenty of other titles that have been published to mark the historic date too and I asked two Lincoln book sellers to pick their current favourites for younger readers.

Gill Hart’s (Lindum Books, Bailgate, Lincoln) recommendations revolve around the satellite that revolves around us…

MoonLandingMoon Landing (Campbell Books, £5.99) is a lovely board book for the littlest astronomers in Campbell’s First explorers series. Blast off in the rocket, moon walk across the surface and splash down back to Earth with the Apollo 11 astronauts as they made history in 1969.  Each scene has chunky push, pull and slide mechanisms perfect for little hands with fun facts about the Moon Landing.

MoonstruckMoonstruck! Poems About Our Moon edited by Roger Stevens (Otter-Barry, £6.99) features new poems about the moon from well-known and up-and-coming poets combined with classic poems with a moon theme.  This inspirational and beautifully illustrated anthology includes poets Roger Stevens, Brian Moses, Valerie Bloom, Mandy Coe, Grace Nichols, Liz Brownlee, James Carter, Jay Hulme, Tony Mitton, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Rachel Rooney, as well as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Emily Bronte.

NeilArmstrongLifeThe Extraordinary Life of Neil Armstrong by Martin Howard (Puffin, £6.99) – One little boy who loved the idea of flying became the first person to set foot on the moon.  From his childhood playing with model planes to becoming one of the most famous astronauts of all time, discover the incredible story of Neil Armstrong’s life in this beautifully illustrated book, complete with narrative biography, facts and timelines.

SpaceRaceBlast off on a journey through space exploration history, from the Apollo Moon landings to mind-boggling plans for living on Mars, with The Space Race, The Journey to the Moon and Beyond by Sarah Cruddas  (Dorling Kindersley, £16.99).  How did we land on the Moon? What will the space jobs of the future look like? And why did we send a car to space? Sarah Cruddas brings to life the hidden stories behind the most famous space missions, before taking the reader on a journey through our space future. This children’s book includes a foreword by NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission. It also includes fascinating insights from Sarah’s interviews with real-life astronauts including Apollo 17’s Eugene Cernan and Virgin Galactic Test Pilot Kelly Latimer.

And, indeed, humans have only extended their reach into the galaxy due to the individuals involved and the titles Deborah Holland (Waterstone’s, High Street, Lincoln) has chosen provide perfect role models for those dreaming of walking an astral path when they grow up…

GalaxyHerOwnA Galaxy of Her Own – Amazing Stories of Women in Space by Libby Jackson (Penguin, £16.99) goes from the origins of space travel to space in the future. It’s also one of my favourite non-fiction books for children (and adults).  The influence and number of women involved in space travel is greater than you think and largely their contribution has gone under the radar.  This book reveals those individuals, shining a light on them and reinforces that knowledge that no dreams are impossible.  Each individual listed has a written biography on one page with an illustration of them on the opposite. Every illustration done by graduates or students of London College of Communication. Just incredible.  A forever book for 9 years old to 109.

HowtobeAstronautHow to Be an Astronaut (and other jobs) by Dr Sheila Kanani & Sol Linero (Nosy Crow, £7.99) combines great illustrations with information laid out in a simple format that makes it really accessible to younger children, perfect when it is recommended for ages 5 to 8 years old.  What is really clever is how interactive it is with more than 100 stickers, a press-out rocket and fold out space scenes.  This is a winner with my 7 year old.

StephenHawkingStephen Hawking by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & Matt Hunt (Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd, £9.99) – Though not strictly the moon or space, I could not not include at least one of the Little People, Big Dreams series.  Stephen Hawking may not have travelled in space but he was the most famous cosmologist of all time, studying astronomy and the universe, how could I not?  This biography, as with many in the series (which includes David Bowie, Ada Lovelace and Rosa Parks to name a few), is stylishly illustrated yet quirky.  With its age appropriate and simple content this makes it accessible to children as young as 5 or 6 years old.

PlanetraiumPlanetarium curated by Chris Wormell and Raman Prinja (Templar Publishing, £20) is a great addition to the Welcome to the Museum series.  You essentially get an exhibition in a large format book. Amazing for a budding stargazer or potential intergalactic traveler.  Explore the wonders of space from your armchair. Ages 9+.

WheresMrAstronautWhere’s Mr Astronaut by Ingela P Arrhenius (Nosy Crow, £6.99).  Love these lift-the-felt flap board books as they are ingenious in design and very funny too. This one is no different. A fabulous introduction to space for any 0 to 2 year old. Bold and colourful illustrations.  Perfect for the very young.

Do you love a tale of intergalactic adventure that you’d recommend to other readers?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

Something for readers of all ages

Newark Book Festival 2019

NBF1This July the Newark Book Festival is once again set to captivate young readers with a whole host of family-friendly fun.  Alongside its numerous adults’ events, the programme includes children’s panel talks, writing and craft workshops, storytellers and street theatre, as its organisers explain…

Between July 12th and 14th, this year’s festival theme of Home and Away will be brought to life with tales from Newark and beyond, circus and carnival themed entertainment at Newark Castle and seaside fun, Paddington Bear crafts and the Greatest Show in the centre of the town.

With a wide selection of both ticketed and free events, there is something for everyone to see and do.

The children’s programme includes a schools’ event featuring young adult (YA) fiction award-winning and bestselling authors, Kim Slater, Sara Barnard and Paula Rawsthorne.

On Sunday 14th July, there is also a chance to meet the authors of some of this year’s biggest new fiction titles for ages 9 to 12 in the Magic, A Malamander and Mystery event. Thomas Taylor, illustrator of the first ever cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, talks about his stunning new novel Malamander. He is joined by Michelle Harrison, author of beautiful new spell-binding story, A Pinch of Magic, and Newark Book Festival favourite, Elly Griffiths, who has released her first children’s book, A Girl Called Justice.

In 2018, the minis enjoyed mask making, story stone crafting and
fairy house hunting as part of the Newark Book Festival.

Interactive fun happening across the Festival weekend aiming to get young readers and artists inspired includes a promenade theatre performance of Robin Hood and the Monk and Fairy Tales for under-fives at St Mary Magdalene Church, poetry workshops with Troy Jenkinson, Chitra Soundar and celebrity children’s author, potty poet and illustrator, Chris White.

At Newark Library, the festival and the creators of Super Kitty will be helping to launch this year’s Summer Reading Challenge and there will also be the chance to meet Maisy Mouse and see the Festival’s Helen Cresswell Exhibition.

The market place and town hall will be alive with activity all weekend with street theatre performances from Adambara and Zhim, Frroojamaflip and Fred and Angie Mack Hula Street Show.  On the Newark Book Festival market stall, visitors will be able to find information about events and pick up for free this year’s special festival postcard produced by illustrator Mark Chambers.

In 2019, the Festival is also introducing its first ever Primary School programme, matching authors Gareth Baker, Chris White, James Nicol, Ian Douglas, Wilf Morgan, Daniel Henshaw, Frances Stickley and Thomas Taylor with schools across Newark for a day of writing and art workshops, readings and inspiring a love of books and reading.

For the full programme of events visit www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk or pick up the festival brochure from venues across Newark and beyond including the theatre, festival venues, coffee shops and libraries.  To book tickets call Newark Palace Theatre on 01636 655755 or visit www.palacenewarktickets.com.  Stay up to date with the latest festival news on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Putting the story into Easter

Literary family fun can be found throughout Lincolnshire this Easter with perfect events and activities to encourage your mini readers to celebrate stories off as well as on the page.

If your bookworms are keen to go down the rabbit hole then they have a choice of three venues to visit that are currently celebrating the curious world of Alice in Wonderland.

Castle1Follow the White Rabbit and solve the riddles to claim your chocolate reward at Lincoln Castle which is also currently hosting a first edition of the imaginative novel in its Magna Carta Vault.  A Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Flamingo Croquet, An Audience with Lewis Carroll and Easter Weekend events are also planned in support of the exhibit and quest.

Events are also getting curiouser and curiouser at Rushmoor Farm Park and Falconry Centre near Louth.  Crafts, scavenger and egg hunts, small fluffy animal handling and a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party are part of its Easter Special activities.

And, if you need reminding of the storyline of the fantastical tale, head down the rabbit hole to the Trinity Arts Centre in Gainsborough for a musical performance featuring the colourful characters.

It’s the turn of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit to stand in for the Easter Bunny at Ark Wildlife Park in Stickney with a treasure trail and the chance to meet the long-eared children’s favourite in “Mr McGregor’s Tropical House Garden”.

WizardOzFantastical theatrics at the New Theatre Royal in Lincoln are taking L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz as inspiration for its Easter pantomime.  Follow the yellow brick road to the Clasketgate venue to join Dorothy, Toto, the Lion, Tin Man and the Scarecrow on their perilous journey to the Emerald City.

tigertea.jpgJudith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea is celebrating its 50th anniversary and having sold more than five million copies and National Trust property Gunby Hall near Spilsby is the latest stop for a touring exhibition that brings the story to life with a giant cuddly tiger and an interactive kitchen.

With a frog-themed storytime at Waterstone’s, High Street, Lincoln and interactive storytimes with Rhubarb Theatre at Tattershall Farm Park, there’s plenty of book-themed fun to be had during this school break.

Looking for other Easter holiday ideas?  Click on Lincoln Mums or Visit Lincoln for more events taking place across the county.

Author school tours will launch Newark Book Festival 2019

NBF1Children’s authors are set to visit Newark’s schools as Newark Book Festival returns for 2019 with an even bigger programme of events for children.

This year’s theme, Home and Away, will be brought to life with tales from Newark and beyond, circus and carnival themed entertainment at Newark Castle, seaside fun, Paddington Bear crafts, stories from the moon and back, plus The Greatest Show in the centre of Newark to launch the festival which will take place from July 12th to 14th.

In 2018, the more than 30 authors, poets and illustrators that hosted talks and workshops attracted 3,500 avid readers and aspiring writers to visit the town.  This year, the festival will take over 12 venues across three packed days, including the Church of Mary Magdalene and the Buttermarket for the very first time, and includes an expanded children’s programme.

LincolnPeter & the Wolf will be performed at the popular Music for Market concert in the Church, while an 8ft tall living fruit and vegetable man named Froojamaflip and his friend, Fred the gardener, will be sharing stories of the spring-time garden.  Adambara and Zhim, an elephant and mouse duo, will tell the enchanting Indian Panchtantra tale in a puppet show for all ages. Both imaginative acts are the work of Lincoln-based theatre production company, Curious Creations.

The stories of people who have passed through Newark throughout history will be unpacked in a suitcase-themed show from Can Do Theatre at Newark Castle. “Roll up, roll up” tells the tales of the Ringling Bros. Circus, once billed as the greatest show on Earth, which came to the town from America during its travels. Visitors of all ages can also take part in a circus skills workshop with NSDC arts team.

Newark Book Festival Paddington SuitcaseCraft workshops dedicated to Darkest Peru’s most famous bear will be available for children who want to make and create, while a children’s 9-12 year-old panel highlighting the golden age of children’s literature will also give visitors a chance to hear more about the rise in popular fiction for younger audiences.

CWpic3NEWARK FESTIVALFor the first time, Newark Book Festival will hit the road ahead of the event.  Authors including Gareth Baker, Chris White, Ian Douglas, James Nicol and Thomas Taylor will be visiting local schools to work with the children through writing and art workshops, readings and inspiring a love of books and reading to all.

Sara Bullimore, organiser for Newark Book Festival, said: “We had an incredible turn out and response last year from local people and visitors from across the country.  This year, we’re building on that momentum to create a rich tapestry of events woven across the lovely town of Newark.  We’re partnering with more authors, local businesses and artists than ever before to make sure that happens.

9781406386288“From lively performances and spectacular children’s authors to calming craft workshops and storytelling, the festival is set to be an incredible celebration of the concept of home and away – no matter what that means to each individual person. We’d love for more local people to support the hard work of everyone involved by becoming a Friend of the Festival, visiting us or by sponsoring an event.”

For more information visit www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk or follow on Facebook www.facebook.com/newarkbookfest/ and on Twitter www.twitter.com/NewarkBookFest.

Finding yourself in books makes reading powerful

WBDLogoEncouraging “children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own” is the main aim of World Book Day.

As part of its 22nd event it has also introduced a Reading is Power Manifesto created “for and by young people” – it highlights the benefits of 1. Growth, 2. Choice, 3. Power and 4. Knowledge and challenges you to add or write your own. 

The explanation of point number one Growth: “When we find good books, we find ourselves” I find a particularly interesting one.  What if you can’t find yourself?

Children’s authors Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo conducted bookcase experiment The Ugly Truth of Children’s Books highlighting under-representation of female characters.  And last year the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) published their Reflecting Realities report a “study of ethnic representation in children’s literature” which found that only 4% of the children’s books published in the UK in 2017 featured BAME characters and only 1% had a BAME main character.

But what about children with disabilities, are they represented too?  Oscar-winner Rachel Shenton and The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson are just two people who this year are calling for more diversity in this area too.

And, whilst many of us can probably name a few titles that feature a disabled character giving a chance for all to gain greater understanding and/or a “this is me” moment for those with the same condition, how many titles are there simply featuring the adventures of children where one or two just happen to have a disability rather than it being central to the narrative?

The illustrations in the early Bookstart books are one place to look but another local author who’s proved herself forward thinking is Lesley Berrington.

HattieandFriends2

Following attending a course about the Disability Discrimination Act in 2004, the NNEB qualified former nurseries and kids’ clubs owner then began searching for story books featuring disability to use in her nurseries.

“It was very difficult to find any,” she writes.  “The ones that I did find used the story to explain the disability, which was not what I wanted.  I wanted the character with a disability to be part of the story, to introduce the disability to other children, but not draw attention to it.  After some further research I decided to create my own books to meet the growing demand for inclusive resources.

“Hattie and friends was born in 2005 with the first title A Day at the Zoo on sale from January 2006.”

Since then another three titles have been added to the series and more than 8,000 books have been sold.

HattieandFriends

“Disability is part of everyday life and I believe children, from a young age, should see characters with disabilities in their story books,” says Berrington.

“Inclusion means accepting everyone and the differences we have, therefore the character’s disability should be entirely incidental, in my opinion.  I didn’t want my characters to be special, have magic powers or appear different.

“If young children see positive images of disability and receive a consistent message of tolerance and acceptance I believe this would have many benefits to society.  Unfortunately people with disabilities face daily struggles with disrespectful attitudes towards them.  We can improve these attitudes, which have been developed over many years, be addressing how we present disability to our children.

“I regularly visit primary school to talk about my books and I don’t mention the disability aspect, intentionally, until the end.  When I ask the children if they can see anything different about my characters they often can’t see any differences which is exactly the point!

“The important message is that all children can be friends and have fun, abilities are not important.  All young children accept differences, their curiosity will raise questions and they develop attitudes from the answers they receive.

“We must show, through our attitudes and actions, that we value all children equally.”

Hattie and friends are celebrating World Book Day this year by showing off their newly released second editions which have an improved layout aiming to be even more inclusive – the text is now on a separate page to the illustration so it is very clear and easy to read for everyone.

Usually priced at £6.99 each or £24 for the set of four, to celebrate their new editions the set of four is available for £20 throughout March.  Email lesley@hattieandfriends.co.uk to enquire about ordering.

Click here to find out more about World Book Day or here to find out more about Hattie and Friends.

Theatrical tale of tails inspires audience to want to take part

img_10341.jpgAlways one to enjoy it when cast members run around the audience, Luke started enjoying a stage adaptation of Tabby McTat even before the characters took to the stage.

It was Terence who made it up the stairs to introduce himself to those seated in the circle and his continuing goofy clowning antics throughout the show confirmed him as Luke’s favourite.

The minis were the guests of the New Theatre Royal Lincoln for Freckle Productions’s late afternoon performance of Julia Donaldson’s musical tale of feline adventure on Sunday.

Willow enjoyed all of the opportunities to join in with the tale of friendship and loyalty and has since been attempting to teach her friends at nursery how to do the special paw shake apparently.

Advertised “for all ages”, Faith enjoyed the “heroic and epic lighting changes” as well as the harmonious songs and mummy enjoyed the inventiveness of some of the staging, including the depiction of the brass band, on the sparse set.

Presented by Samuel Spratt telling his father’s story, the other three actors swapped hats to indicate which role they were performing as the tail tale took us through Tabby’s life from street cat to home cat to cat on a mission to find his friend.

Called up on stage one by one to fulfil Samuel’s storytelling needs, Luke was convinced that the only reason he hadn’t fit the bill of being able to help act out McTat’s journey was his lack of appropriate hat and knowing all the words in advance – cue on returning home him immediately looking for his beloved summer baseball cap mummy had tried putting away for the winter and requesting another reading of the book.  Considering he hadn’t been feeling well before we went, the show fully captured his, and his sisters’ imaginations, and provided all of us with some much needed theatrical magic.

Are Freckle Productions performing Tabby McTat in a theatre near you?  Find out at www.tabbymctat.com 

The next family production to be hosted by the New Theatre Royal Lincoln is pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but there’s lots of fun promised for 2019 too with There Was An Old Lady, Twirlywoos, Wizard of Oz, the Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio, Dear Zoo, Sooty’s Magic Show and The Tiger Who Came to Tea already programmed into the venue’s next season – find out more at www.newtheatreroyallincoln.co.uk 

Fantasy titles make fantastic festive gifts

Are you splashing out on a book advent calendar and need some suggestions to make up your 24 titles?  Are you following the more frugal four gift rule of want, need, wear and read and would like to make sure each gift is extra special?  Or are you just looking for something easy to wrap?  Here Gill Hart of Lindum Books picks out a few of her fantastical and seasonal favourites that might prove the perfect present if you’re buying for mini ones this year…

OUaWWOnce Upon a Wild Wood – Chris Riddell (Pan Macmillan, HB, £12.99)
Little Green Raincape is on her way to Rapunzel’s party, deep in the wild woods. The way is long and dark, but Green is a smart girl. Smart enough to turn down apples offered by kindly old ladies, smart enough to turn down travel advice from helpful wolves, and above all, smart enough to solve a wealth of classic fairy tale problems – not least mend a lovelorn beast’s broken heart.  Once Upon a Wild Wood is a richly imagined story packed full of familiar fairy tale characters as you’ve never seen them before.  Including Red Riding Hood, Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, the three bears, the seven dwarfs and many more!  A visual feast on every page, illustrated with warmth and humour and full of witty details to discover – this is ex Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell at his picture book best!

TTPThe Truth Pixie – Matt Haig (Cannongate, HB, £9.99)
Matt Haig has become known as an ambassador for the importance of talking about mental health and this heartwarming story, brilliantly illustrated throughout by Chris Mould, is being called the Reason’s to Stay Alive for seven-year olds.  “Wherever she is, whatever the day, She only has one kind of thing to say. Just as cats go miaow and cows go moo, The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true.”  A very funny and lovable tale of how one special pixie learned to love herself.  The Truth Pixie is an enchanting, rhyming story that will delight younger readers.

TSMMThe Snowman – Michael Morpurgo (Penguin, HB, £12.99)
Michael Morpurgo has re-imagined Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman for a new generation of readers.  One December morning, James is thrilled to wake up to see snow falling. He spends the whole day making his perfect snowman; he has coal eyes, an old green hat and scarf and a tangerine nose, just like the snowman from his favourite story.  That night, something magical happens – the Snowman comes to life!  He and James take to the skies on a magical adventure where they meet someone very special.  Inspired by the timeless tale, Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Robin Shaw have created the perfect Christmas story for the whole family.

NSCSNoel Streatfeild’s Christmas Stories – Noel Streatfeild (Little Brown, HB, £12.99)
A captivating collection of festive stories from the author of Ballet Shoes.  There are auditions on stage and antics on ice, trips to the pantomime, holiday adventures, and laughter shared with family and friends.  Originally written for annuals, magazines and the radio from the 1940s-60s, these stories by this much-loved author have never been collected before and are sure to be a hit with readers of all ages.

SWCThe Spiderwick Chronicles: The Completely Fantastical Edition – Tony Diterlizzi & Holly Black (Simon & Schuster, HB, £14.99)
When the Grace children moved into the old, abandoned Spiderwick Mansion, little did they realise that their lives would never be the same again. Having uncovered a fantastical world of sprites, faeries and goblins there’s no turning back. The Ultimate Spiderwick Chronicles features all five of the original books plus great new bonus content!  Discover the three “lost” chapters that were included in the Nestle Cereal Partners cereal boxes, and the special “development” section showing sketches and early drafts. Readers both old and new, young and old will be completely immersed in the world of Spiderwick with this ultimate collection.

BoDPPLa Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One – Philip Pullman (Penguin, PB, £7.99)
Philip Pullman’s prequel to his Dark Materials series is both for fans and those new to Lyra’s world.  Malcolm Polstead’s Oxford life has been one of routine, ordinary even.  He is happiest playing with his daemon, Asta, in their canoe, La Belle Sauvage.  But now as the rain builds, the world around Malcolm and Asta it seems is set to become increasingly far from ordinary.  Finding himself linked to a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua, Malcolm is forced to undertake the challenge of his life and to make a dangerous journey that will change him and Lyra forever.

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

For more Christmas gift guides visit www.arepops.com