The Ravenmaster's Boy


Rescued from a plague cart, Kit is adopted by the Ravenmaster of the Tower of London. There he grows up, helping look after the ravens and learning that he can communicate with them. His life changes when King Henry and his new bride, Anne, arrive at the Tower with a new raven. Kit is enchanted by the young queen and when she is accused of adultery and committed to the Tower to await trail, he becomes her ‘Raven Knight’, committed to helping her in any was he can. With the help of the Tower ravens, Kit manages to foil a plot to harm the Princess Elizabeth.


Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, died…

Familiar figures from history are vividly brought to life by Mary Hoffman in this wonderful novel. Anne Boleyn’s fall from grace is the focus of the story, encouraging the reader to empathise, through Kit’s devoted eyes, with the maligned second wife of the Tudor despot, Henry VIII.


Mary Hoffman skilfully uses the Tower as a backdrop to the story which is full of rich historical detail. Each character is well drawn- including the ravens. Having been plucked from the plague cart, from beneath the dead bodies of his parents, rescued by the Ravenmaster, Kit’s magical ability to communicate with these fabulous birds gives a fantasy twist to a tale set in a time when blood flowed freely and the whims of a king could cost innocent people their lives.


It is a beautiful piece of writing, perfect for history lovers, but also those who enjoy a cracking story with plenty of intrigue, mystery and action. Perhaps best for older readers due to some of the content, but an interesting and rewarding look at the Tudors from a viewpoint not often explored in the classroom.

Liz Kessler visits North Somerset


What an amazing two days we’ve had! The wonderful Liz Kessler has visited four of our schools, talking to over one thousand children about her ‘Emily Windsnap’ series. She was incredible and has left a tidal wave of book enthusiasm behind her!

If anyone ever questioned the power of having an author in to speak to children or the pleasure having a book signed can bring, they really should come and see the impact which it has. ‘The joy on some of those little faces was heart warming…’ was one comment. Meeting Liz was ‘a dream come true’ for one child and another declared she used to think J K Rowling was her favourite author but now thinks it's Liz!


Everywhere I go, I see children clutching copies of the Emily Windsnap books and curled up reading them- boys and girls alike! ‘Liz was wonderful with them’ was the message from one school. ’ The children were captivated by her…’

There are now seven books in the Emily Windsnap series, following the adventures of Emily who is half mermaid. With a strong, feisty main character, the stories are engaging, entertaining and enjoyable for boys and girls alike.

Thank you so much to Liz for visiting us and the lovely Emily from Hachette who came with her. I am so sorry I haven’t included any photos- I left my camera at school! I’ll Tweet some soon!



Well- weeks of planning came to fruition on Saturday as the fourth North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards ceremony took place and it was such a lovely occasion. All our visitors braved the wind and the rain to celebrate the books on our wonderful shortlist, to partake of as much cake as they could eat and to enjoy each others’ company.


The afternoon started with us sharing a little bit about our group, why we started the awards and how they are run. Although we are only a small award, we take it all very seriously, having the votes checked by an independent witness to ensure they are completely accurate. This year, we had a record number of votes which is so encouraging!


We were delighted that Chris, the Chair of the FCBG Executive Committee could join us for the ceremony, bringing the lovely Fed Ted with her. She is visiting each group this year as part of the Federation’s 50th birthday celebrations and we were so pleased she was able to join us.


Tea and cake followed as everyone circulated, got their books signed, looked at the raffle prizes and got to know one another. It was so wonderful to have the chance to chat, make new friends and meet up with old ones. And eat cake…and more cake…and perhaps a bit more!

Then we had the raffle. Many thanks to Plymouth FCBG for donating so many books for our raffle. It was a great success and so good to see so many books being taken home!


In our awards, there are six categories: Picture Book, Information, Poetry, Quality Fiction, Read Aloud and Moving On. Each book is carefully chosen with teaching in mind- how they can be used with classes, which areas of the curriculum they can be used to support and so on.


Each category is announced and presented by a child who is linked to the group. They love doing this and several of our JAB Juniors volunteer for the next year as soon as the ceremony is finished!


This year’s winners are:

Picture Book- Almost Anything by Sophy Henn


Information- The Histronauts: An Egyptian Adventure

by Frances Durkin, illustrated by Grace Cooke

b small publishing

Poetry- Apes to Zebras by Roger Stevens, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Liz Brownlee



Read Aloud- Fabio, the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective

by Laura James, illustrated by Emily Fox


Quality Fiction- The Mark of the Cyclops by Saviour Pirotta


Moving On- Ella on the Outside by Cath Howe

Nosy Crow


Thank you so much to all of our wonderful authors, illustrators and poets who joined us and to everyone else who came. We had Sunday off…but are now on the look out for books for the long list for the 2019 awards. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!