Authors & Illustrators

Let's Get ...Unplugged!

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Having decided to have this week as our Book Week, we have taken a new book to celebrate and explore throughout the school. Monday was ‘Almost Anything’ by Sophy Henn; Tuesday was the turn of ‘Unplugged’ by Steve Antony.

This lovely story is about Blip who spends much of her time plugged into the computer until one day, she becomes ‘unplugged’ and finds herself outside having a wonderful time. We thought this was a wonderful message to explore with our children.

After lots of lively discussion, Year 6 decided to create their own book along the lines of the National Trust’s ‘50 Things to Do…’ books, in our case ‘90 Things to do when you’re Unplugged!’ (We have 90 year 6 children). And here it is…

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Each child thought about something which they enjoy doing which gets them exploring the great outdoors and wrote a contribution for the book.

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They had such lovely ideas which they really enjoyed sharing, explaining and writing about.

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Every child made a contribution and they adored Blip and her story. We had to read it four times in my class!

Unplugged Steve Antony

Hodder Children’s ISBN: 978-1444934151

We can do...Almost Anything!

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Om Monday, our whole school used ‘Almost Anything’ by Sophy Henn. The message in the story is so important- keep trying…the magic is in you! The perfect message- especially for developing a positive mind set at the start of a new school year.

The day started with an assembly and the children had areal treat- Sophy had sent them a message! They were very excited and really keen to talk about the story.

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Each teacher decided how they wanted to work with the book in their classroom and in Year 6, the children responded really well to the story, offering lots of ideas and suggestions about the story and what it meant to them.

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Each children created their own paper hat like George’s and wrote something they felt a little bit wobbly about on the brim. This was something they chose for themselves and there was lots of lively discussion about how they were going to work at it!

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We then made some bunting to go in our book corner with positive messages and pictures of George. The class loved doing this - they really enjoyed drawing George and produced some excellent pictures!

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We also wrote letters of advice to George, suggesting things he could do when he’s feeling wobbly about doing something. They produced some excellent letters, full of lovely advice which they really enjoyed writing!

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Teachers across the school were delighted with their classes response to this delightful story - and when anyone feels insecure about trying something new, we can remind them about George and how they too can do…almost anything!

Many thanks to Sophy Henn for sending us such a lovely message.

The North Somerset Teachers' Book Awards

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On Saturday, we announced the short lists for the six categories of our awards. The response this year has been amazing and we have had lots of queries so we thought a post was the best way  to answer them all!

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We held the first North Somerset Teachers' Book Awards in 2015. Our teachers' reading group (JAB) had been running for about six years and was really flourishing and we had decided to form a Federation of Children' Book Groups group. 'Reading for Pleasure' was at the heart of what we were doing before we were told we had to do it!

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So when it was suggested we start our own award, everyone was keen to get involved! All the team work full time in education- most as teachers- and we all really want to encourage our colleagues to have an awareness of what is on offer for their children and introduce them to a wide range of 'reading matter'.

We decided on five categories which we thought would be most useful- Picture Book, Quality Fiction, Read Aloud, Information and Poetry. We then set about visiting as many bookshops and Literary Festivals as possible to seek out books which we felt offered something special for teachers. We looked for lesser known publishers, authors and illustrators as well as those everyone has heard of to try to bring as wide a range as possible to everyone's attention. We then read, shared, discussed, debated, argued and ate plenty of cake and lots of biscuits whilst whittling each category long list down to the short list! 

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Our first awards were lovely! Hosted by Bournville Primary School, we asked children of friends and family to announce the awards and were delighted that some authors and illustrators did actually come - and really enjoyed themselves!

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So we thought we'd do it again! In 2016, we added an extra category- Moving On- to help with finding books for those children who are competent readers, but perhaps not ready for the subject matter of books aimed at an older audience. Once again, we spent lots of time exploring bookshops, spending a small fortune and choosing our long list.

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Each book on our long list is carefully reviewed by one of the team and we have many meetings to select the shortlisted titles. Cake is now a very important part of all our book shopping trips, meetings and awards- particularly Mars Bar Crispie Cake!

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Last year's awards were our biggest yet with almost all the short listed authors and illustrators attending or sending video messages for the occasion and past winners also coming back to join us. We are hoping that this year will be the same as we have already had a very positive response.

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Several people have asked about tickets for the event and how much they cost. Our awards are completely free to those who attend. We have no funding, but pay for the awards ourselves as we feel really strongly about what we do. Recently, publishers and authors have been submitting copies of books for consideration, but we still buy most of the books we look at ourselves as well. We like our short listers to bring family with them to celebrate in their achievements. We do like to know how many people are coming to make sure there is enough cake, however!

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Each winner is given an award as shown in the pictures above and will be invited back to awards ceremonies in the future. They do not, however, win the pooch pictured in the shortlist photo- these are much loved members of JAB and no amount of bribery or begging will persuade Torie to part with them!

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Everything we do for the awards- reading, reviewing, posting, tweeting, meetings, etc- is done around teaching full time and juggling family life so if we are a little late in answering an email or something, please bear with us!

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We were also delighted to be included on the list of Top 500 Children's Book Influencers this summer. We also love it when authors, illustrators and publishers acknowledge our reviews as much time and effort is spent on them!

Please contact us if there is anything else you would like to know or if you would like to submit something for next year's awards- our 5th. We're already looking...