When Rosemary Stones, Manager of the Bookspace at the Royal Festival Hall, asked us if we would like to mount an exhibition based on our Guides to Children’s Books for a Multi-Cultural Society (0-7 and 8-12) we took a deep breath and said yes. On January 19th as an exhausted team put the last book in place ready for the opening next day they looked round at the carefully displayed books, the eye-catching graphics and blown-up photographs, at in fact a very professional exhibition and decided it had probably been worthwhile. Ten days later when the exhibition closed we were sure. Over five and a half thousand people had visited the exhibition; the book shop, run by Soma, had sold thousands of pounds worth of books; we had taken hundreds of advance orders for the 0-7 Guide and practically sold out of the 8-12.
Putting on an exhibition of this size when BfK has only one full-time employee is no small undertaking. Richard and Angie Hill, Jan Powling, Alec Davis and his team at Rightlines did a fantastic job in a very short time: designing and creating stands to suit the lovely space overlooking the Thames, collecting copies of all the books, arranging the publicity, attending meetings of the GLC committee which funded the event, coping with the last minute changes and the inevitable traumas. Work on the production of the 0-7 Guide had to be suspended but Judith Elkin did a splendid job quickly finalising the choice of books so that the complete selection was in the exhibition.
Among the thousands of visitors it was a particular pleasure to meet many of our readers. Librarians, teachers and parents came to the exhibition, and not only from London and the Home Counties. Those who looked after the exhibition and ran the much-used Information Desk reported conversations with subscribers from Manchester and Humberside, Birmingham and Hampshire (to name but four). We had over two dozen enquiries from people wanting to put on the exhibition in their region. There’s clearly a great deal of interest all over the country; our 8-12 Guide has sold well over 7,000 copies and we are just about to go into a second reprint.
The Bookspace is an excellent addition to the Festival Hall and a long overdue place for book things to happen and be seen. Rosemary Stones has organised a marvellously lively and varied programme of events – for adults as well as children – since she took over. During the exhibition she organised a seminar on dual language books at which mainstream, minority and community publishers talked of their philosophy and their approach to this sort of book. This provoked some lively discussion of issues and practicalities among the 200 or so people who attended. Sadly the fate of Bookspace is in the balance with the disappearance of the GLC. Almost certainly it will have to move from its present very attractive location; but with luck it will survive in some form and with its new bookshop continue as a vital focus for books in London.
While everyone at the Bookspace is keeping fingers crossed for the future, the workers at BfK are figuring out how to put the show on the road. We’ll let you know if it is coming your way.
A new publication
Youth Library Review
The Youth Libraries Group are launching a new bi-annual journal. The Youth Library Review will be published in spring and autumn and will report on initiatives and developments in both children’s librarianship and the children’s book world. 1986 is the Golden Jubilee of the Carnegie Medal and the Youth Library Review will be outlining plans to celebrate the occasion as well as including acceptance speeches by last year’s Kate Greenaway and Carnegie Medal Winners, Errol Le Cain and Margaret Mahy.
The Youth Library Review will go direct to members of the Youth Libraries Group and will also be available on subscription. For further details contact: Philip Marshall, 021 552 1966.
Book Events Ahead
Got the Message?
A one-day IBBY seminar for librarians, teachers, publishers, authors and parents on the theme of culture, ideology and politics in writing for children.
Speakers include James Watson, Bob Leeson and Peter Hunt. Date: May 15th, 10.00-4.30. Place: The Triangle Cinema, Aston University, Birmingham.
Details from Sheila Ray, Tan-y-Capel, Bont Dolgadfan, Llanbrynmair, Powys, SY19 7BB. Tel: 06503 217.
Friday March 28th-Tuesday April 1st.
The annual Puffin jollifications are being held this year at the Bookspace in the Royal Festival Hall, London.
There will be Fairground Games, Competitions, a Spook Book Walk, a Fun House, Clowns, Magic, Spot’s House and Erik the Viking. Visiting authors include Bernard Ashley, Raymond Briggs, Roald Dahl, Colin and Jacqui Hawkins, Roger McGough, Brian Patten, Jan Pienkowski, Mike Rosen, Tony Ross, Bob Wilson, and (of course) Jackson and Livingstone.
For the first time ever admission is FREE.
Details from Eunice McMullen, 01 759 9767.
National Tell a Story Week
A week of storytelling and reading aloud, games, craft activities and many other book-centred activities promoted by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and sponsored by Lloyds Bank. All over the country children will meet authors and illustrators and join in with book events which are designed to encourage them to feel at home with books and enjoy the magic of stories.
The theme this year is Magic and Mystery.
Details of how to get involved, ideas for activities etc. from: Sandra Mack, Cherry Tree Cottage, High Roding, Nr Great Dunmow, Essex (please enclose s.a.e.).
The Grand Launch this year will be in Birmingham. Details from: Jenny Blanch, 30 Senneleys Park Road, Northfield, Birmingham B31 1AL.
Children’s Book Week
A new co-ordinator, Bob Cattell, has taken on the job of organising CBW 1986. His association with the Greenwich Book Boat and the Book Bus means that Bob is no stranger to book events and understands the need for good organisation and planning.
He’s not willing to go public yet on his plans for CBW this year. His only comment about the 1985 Book Train etc. is, `You can’t go backwards; you’ve got to develop.’ He’s promised he’ll have his ideas ready soon and will let BfK readers in on what’s happening in our May issue.