Thursday, 8 March 2012

Children's Book Day!

Today was Children's Book Day. This is a special event that happens every year for Bedfordshire Libraries.
We are given a list of books to read and then on the day we all come together, Library Assistants and Librarians and discuss the books, then vote for our favourite.

This year we were given 7 Children's Fiction books and 8 Picture books. Here's the list of what they were: (click on the title to go to my review)

Children's Fiction:
- The Memory Cage by Ruth Eastham
- Tall Story by Candy Gourlay
- For The Record by Ellie Irving
- A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler
- Zac & The Dream Pirates by Ross MacKenzie
- The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
- Monkey Business by Anna Wilson

The Picture Books:
- Mine! by Rachel Bright
- Millicent & Meer by Richard Byrne
- When Titus Took The Train by Anne Cottringer
- First Week At Cow School by Andy Cutbill
- Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell by Sue Hendra
- When I Woke Up I Was A Hippopotamus by Tom MacRae
- Don't Worry Douglas! by David Melling
- Bedtime For Monsters by Ed Vere

Quite an odd selection compared to other years but I was looking forward to some good discussions.

The day was hosted in one of the libraries as it has quite a bit meeting room. We got there for a 9.30 start and all found a seat. After a quick intro from one of the Children's librarians we had 'Steve May' in for a talk.
Steve May is an illustrator of many books including the 'Buster Bayliss' series. He talked to us about his work and a bit of his background, then introduced some ideas for the Summer Reading Challenge - which he is designing for this year. It was interesting and good to see lots of different designs.

We then had a quick break then broke up into small groups to discuss the children's fiction books. There were about 8 of us in each group. We did a quick summary of each book then discussed what we thought about each one. I tried to push my favourite and really sell it. The discussion was good, we didn't all agree about everything but we did on some things. And I started to look at some of the books differently after the discussions.

We then had another talk, this time the wonderful Liz Pichon came in. (Yes her book is on our list, but we had already voted by that point and we weren't to let it sway our vote)
 Here's a picture of Liz when she was younger.

Liz Pichon of course wrote the 'Brilliant World of Tom Gates'. She started off by telling us how she got into Illustrating, and her love of design and drawing from a very early age.
Liz has illustrated some great picture books such as 'The Ugly Bug', "Bored Bill' and 'Spinderella'.

We had a fun game of 'Drawing consequences' - we had to design a monster but one body area at a time, starting with the head then the body then the legs & feet. Our monster had an egg shaped head with horns and hairy ears, with a triangular eye and warts, then 7 arms and a hairy chest covered with tattoos then a tutu with clown pants and platform shoes with fish in them. It looked fab when put all together, if not very odd.

She was very nice and funny and engaging and I really enjoyed her talk. I did enjoy her book anyway and it was one of my favourites and I am going to read the next parts in the series. :D

I was disappointed at the end though, as apparently an email had been sent round the libraries saying that we could bring one of Liz's books with us and she would sign it, but I never got the email and so didn't know which meant I missed out on a signed book (anyone who knows me, knows I love to collect signed books.) But never mind, at least I met her.

We then broke for lunch before coming back to our groups for the picture book discussion. We all agreed on one firm favourite, but the rest we all debated on, none of us could agree on what we liked/disliked. So it was great!
We put our individual votes in again and then went back to our seats ready for our afternoon talk. This time it was David Melling who has illustrated over 60 picture books! (yes his book was on the list too)

Picture taken from 'David Mellings' website which can be found here.

David was great, full of life and funny. He again told us about his childhood and how he got into illustrating. His slideshows/presentations were packed full with cool pictures and funny situations.

We did some drawing ourselves with David, he did a step by step talk through of how to do a Goblin. Everyone's came out slightly different but they all looked great. We all had to add extras to our goblins to make them personalised. I gave mine a crown and diamonds so he was a King Goblin, but a cute one. :D

David Melling then told us about his newest book called 'Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep' which continues in the series of 'Don't Worry Douglas which we had all read of course.
This new one isn't due out until April but he read it to us and then we had the chance to buy a copy.

I was first in the queue and David agreed to sign everyone's books, he told me that mine was the first copy of this book that he had signed, I felt so special and privileged. Here is a pic of his signing:

In case you can't see it properly it says:
'To Becky, Big Hugs, David Melling' then he drew a cute little sheep underneath. :D
He was so cool and I love my book. Douglas is adorable!

We then broke for another tea break, after tea we had our last guest speaker, his name was Tom and he was from a company called 'Nosy Crow' who specialise in 'interactive books' they also publish picture books and a bit of children's fiction.
He gave us a demonstration of some of the 'interactive books' they can be bought on iTunes and work on iPads. They are stories that are read out to you with all different voices, have music and sound effects and you can help the characters for example on the '3 little pigs' story, if you blow in the microphone you help the wolf blow the house down.

It was very cool and great to have a play with and the talk was interesting. I had heard of some of the picture books they had published and will be looking up some of the others. Tome struggled to get his iPad back at the end, we were all too fascinated by it!

We were then told the results of the book votes. With the Children's Fiction, there was only one point between first and second, second and third, third and fourth. So it was a really close call.

The Winner was: 'The Memory Cage' by Ruth Eastham.

The Picture book Winner was: 'Don't Worry Douglas! by David Melling, it was a clear winner.

We finished the day on a high and I really enjoyed it.
Although my choice didn't win it was a fab day and I enjoyed the discussions. It is great to just be able to sit for a whole day and talk about books, books, books. What more could anyone want.

If you have made it through all of that, well done. I salute you! Go eat a cookie as a reward.

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