Anne Wood, creator of The Book Tower and Ragdolly Anna for Yorkshire TV; the woman who rescued TV AM by introducing Roland Rat and then didn’t have her contract renewed as Consultant Children’s Editor because the company didn’t think it needed a children’s specialist, now has her own independent production company – Ragdoll Productions – and is busy trail-blazing on Channel 4 with Pob’s Programme. (Ten new programmes this spring following on from the first highly successful series last autumn.)
At TV AM Anne’s Rub-a-Dub-Tub had a huge following among the youngest viewers and they must be delighted to have found Pob popping up every Sunday afternoon at 2.00. Pop up is what Pob, a sort of pre-verbal surrogate baby, does; up and down and around creating amiable mayhem and communicating with sounds. But on each programme he enjoys a favourite story or poem.
It’s no surprise to find that there are books linked with the series. Anne, who founded the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and still edits Books for Your Children, the magazine for parents she launched in 1965, is convinced that television is crucial in bringing children to books and reading. Pob’s Playtime, an activity book, was produced specifically to accompany the programme; Pob’s Stories, containing stories from the series, is published this month (Fontana Lion, 0 00 672638 0, £1.50). All Pob’s stories are specially commissioned from writers who include Philipa Pearce, Helen Cresswell, William Mayne, Marjorie Darke and Catherine Storr – to name only a few – and there are poems by Naomi Lewis.
A splendid collection for early listening – very few pictures – in playgroup, nursery and reception class; just the right length and lots of variety in content, nicely judged to appeal to the experience and imaginings of the youngest.
Robin of Sherwood
Robin of Sherwood lives – in his new (Jason Connery) incarnation. He will be back on our screens but no-one seems quite sure exactly when; could be sooner … could be later. Whenever it is there is a new Puffin ready: Robin of Sherwood: the Hooded Man.
Back to the Future
The film is filling the cinemas. In case you hadn’t noticed Corgi have two book versions based on the screenplay by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. There is a novel by George Gipe and a large format ‘STORY’ illustrated with 50+ full colour stills from the film.
Book Events Ahead
Exeter University, August 27-30
A three day festival of storytelling conceived out of the belief that we all have stories to share. A mix of small groups and full gatherings will provide opportunities for everyone from the skilled and experienced to complete beginners to participate together. Geoff Fox and Brian Merrick for the Organising Committee promise stories in all forms-words, song, dance, music, puppets and clowning.
Details from: Sally Williams, Storyfair Secretary, School of Education, Exeter University, St Luke’s College, Heavitree Road, Exeter EX1 2LU.
The Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ 18th Birthday Conference, April 4-6
The theme for the conference is Now and Then, and speakers include Nina Bawden, Shirley Hughes and Robert Leeson. The conference is being held at the College of St Hild and St Bede; you can be fully residential (Friday evening to Sunday tea) or attend individual events and lectures as a day visitor. Details from: Majorie Taylor, 3 Cotswold Road, Preston Grange, North Shields. Tel (0632) 595689.
Talking Together: April 1-4
The twenty-third annual NATE conference will be held at the University of York at the beginning of April. As usual the emphasis is on groups working together and this year there are seventeen ‘commissions’ to choose from. You could spend the twelve hours allocated for each commission investigating the learning to write process, or considering what myths, legends and fairy tales have to offer in the classroom, or examining and discussing literature from different cultures, or reviewing media education, or exploring the possibilities of word processing in classrooms, or, or … The only problem is deciding which one to choose; there’s so much on offer whatever age-range you are most interested in. And outside ‘commission time’ there are seminars, meetings, lectures, poetry readings and lots of exhibitions.
Details from: Michael Clark, 45 Church Street, Whittlesey, Peterborough, PE7 1DB.
Summer School on Children’s Literature at Worcester College of Higher Education
This well-established course is offered annually to extend knowledge of recent fiction for children and provide opportunities to discuss the latest books and trends with particular reference to schools and classrooms. Speakers this year include Aidan Chambers, Geoffrey Trease, Chris Kloet and Professor Barrie Wade.
Details from: Mary Croxson, Worcester College of HE, Henwick Grove, Worcester WR2 6AJ.
Hear to read
A new publication (and exhibition) from the NBL selects 100 of the best available audio cassettes of children’s books. The guide is written by Rachel Redford and will be published on March 12. To launch the list the NBL is organising a seminar about talking books on publication day (2.00-5.30). Speakers will be Rachel Redford, Grace Hallworth, David Hounslow (Blackwell Bookshop), Michael Letchford (Decca) and Helen Nicoll (Cover to Cover). Tickets: £5 + VAT. For further information contact Chris Lee, Centre for Children’s Books, NBL, Book House, 45 East Hill, London S W 18 2QZ. Tel 01-870 9055.