Puffin 50th Birthday Launch
How better to launch Puffin’s anniversary celebrations than a Giant Cake Sculpture … especially when it’s been designed by Jan Pienkowski, no less! On show at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 21 May – 7 July, and then at the Edinburgh Book Festival from the 10-26 August, the cake has five wedges, each depicting scenes from famous Puffin stories and is topped with ‘chocolate’ frosting. The V & A also offers an accompanying series of special events for children of all ages. For your slice of the action, ring their Educational Services on 071-938 8638.
PS from Peter
Also at the V & A is the original picture letter which inspired the world’s bestselling children’s book: The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Reprinted over 250 times and translated into 15 languages, the book began as a note to Noel Moore, the son of Beatrix Potter’s former governess. Some note! Purchased earlier this year for £82,500 by Pearson plc, the signed letter, with its pen-and-ink drawings, will now be housed in the museum’s Beatrix Potter Collection.
For the Staffroom Bookshelf
The arrival of Hooked on Books (Harcourt Brace, 0 7466 0050 X) could hardly be more welcome – a fact file, plus teacher’s book, pitched precisely at the upper junior/lower secondary age-range when so many children lose their interest in fiction. At £35.00, the materials may seem expensive but don’t be put off. More than 300 titles are fully annotated, assessed and set in the context of real kids in real school situations. The teacher’s book, called Children Reading Fiction (0 7466 0051 8, £8.95) is worth buying on its own, but I’d recommend the whole package for its sharpness, lack of pretension and the splendid sense it gives of books being considered on their own terms yet presented within a coherent, practical and forward-looking framework. That’s not to say I’d agree with every single critique on offer . . . but who cares? Warmest congratulations to Chris Lutravio who led the contributing team and to Harcourt Brace who took over this project after the ILEA was abolished.
Pie Corbett and Brian Moses bring a similar enthusiasm to My Grandmother’s Motorbike (Oxford, 0 19 919069 0, £6.95). It’s subtitled ‘Story Writing in the Primary School’ but is steeped in books from first page to last – a handy antidote to those teachers who ask children to write from their own experience yet overlook reading as a crucial part of that experience. Corbett and Moses lace their text with anecdotes, personal testimony and first-hand evidence so we’re constantly reminded of the wider language context in which writing is best fostered. As a result, deep in your bones, you know you can trust their approach.
Stuart Marriott’s Picture Books in the Primary Classroom (Paul Chapman Publishing, 1 85396 144 2, £9.95) plods a bit and never properly gets to-grips with the contribution picture books can make to a school’s Art curriculum (including film and television). There are plenty of compensations, though. He places picture books firmly within current reading theory, for instance, and wisely bases his argument on particular, favourite examples. Best of all, despite his admirable determination to raise teacherly awareness of what, can happen when words and images interact successfully on the page, Stuart Marriott never lets us forget that the only essential outcome is delight. CP
Rumour reaches BfK that the Authorbank videos launched by the Children’s Book Foundation earlier this year are selling splendidly. We’re not surprised. Directed by Sue Collins and produced by Bob Cattell, all five are lively, informative and perfectly judged to support school book events – whether or not the celebrity concerned is paying a visit. Currently available, at £11.95 each, are Shirley Hughes, Colin and Jacqui Hawkins, Dick King-Smith and Paula Danziger with Roger’s Book: The Story of How a Book is Made, featuring Susanna Gretz, at £12.95. The next batch, due in September, offers Jill Murphy, Jan Pienkowski, Tony Ross and Martin Waddell. And after that? Who knows … but on the evidence so far the CBF Video Show will run and run.
Details from CBF Videos, Book Trust, Book House, 45 East Hill, London SWI8 2QZ.
Congratulations also to the London Borough of Camden for their six-minute film, Checking It Out, which encourages 5-11 year olds to use local library services. This won a national ‘Video 90’ award and has been shown extensively throughout Camden primary schools as part of LINK, the library promotional vehicle. Enquiries to John Wilkins, St Pancras Library, 100 Euston Road, London NW1 2AJ (tel: 071-860 5572).
We don’t all live with Mum and Dad …
… is the title of the latest guide from the National Council for One Parent Families. It’s an alphabetical list – briefly annotated and organised by subject – of fiction and picture books that reflect some aspect of living in a one parent family. Though not claiming to be comprehensive, the guide is very reasonably priced at £3.50. With more than one family in seven currently headed by a single parent (1.6 million children in all), can any school do without it?
Contact Sui Wan Goody, Information Office, National Council for One Parent Families, 255 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2LX (tel 071-267 1361).
Worcester College of Higher Education
Children’s Literature Summer School 1991
29 July – 3 August
This year’s programme combines aspects of Children’s Literature with a mini Library and Information Skills course. Speakers include Geoffrey Trease, Julia MacRae, Lisa Kopper, Chris Kloet and David Buckingham, plus specialists from librarianship and bookselling, as well as a poetry workshop by Maggie Holmes. Details from: The In-Service Office, Worcester College of Higher Education. Henwick Grove, Worcester, WR2 6AJ (tel 0905 748089).