Bookshelf Bits & Bobs

Oxford Reading Spree 2019


Today, I had the great pleasure of attending my second Oxford Reading Spree this year. It’s always a joy to listen to people so passionate about reading. So much has happened today (including getting stuck for over an hour in traffic just 5 minutes away from the school!) that I’m just going to focus on a couple of highlights!

As usual, there was a selection of workshops to choose from, but one session was very easy to choose. Martin Galway from Herts for Learning was - as ever- amazing! His session about fluency in reading was both fascinating and entertaining, offering plenty of food for thought and wisdom. It was absorbing from start to finish.


The day ended with A F Harrold. Entertaining as ever, his talk was peppered with poetry and laughter in equal measure. His new collection, ‘Midnight Feasts’, contains lots of poems on the theme of food and is illustrated by Katy Riddell. It’s lovely!

So much else happened- Ross Montgomery was his usual lovely self, Gemma Bagnall spoke beautifully about her Roma heritage and how gypsy, Roma and travelling people are represented in children’s books, Darren Chetty was passionate about the need for representation in books, reading and writing and all the other workshops… No wonder I’m exhausted.

A brilliant day out, perfect for teachers and book lovers, Oxford Reading Spree never fails to deliver an excellent programme with a delicious lunch and fabulous bookshop. (Yes, I did add to my collection!) Huge thanks to Ed Finch and the ORS team for another great event.

The LOLLIES 2020 Shortlist announced!

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Michael Rosen, children’s novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate, today announced the shortlist for the 2020 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards, now in its fourth year, created by Scholastic UK, to celebrate the funniest children’s books.

Having long championed humorous books for children, Rosen said of the shortlist: “Anyone around children looking for books to have them giggling and laughing over and over again, these 12 books will do the job. Funny books are so important because they draw you through, and you have a wonderful, time and feel good. What could be better than that?”

The Lollies, sponsored by Happy Monkey Smoothies, are awarded in three categories: Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds. The shortlisted books in each category are as follows:

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book:

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and illustrated by Stephen Collins (Bloomsbury/ 9781408891193)

Spyder by Matt Carr (Scholastic/9781407172910)

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Tor Freeman (Andersen Press/ 9781783447510)

You’re Called What?! by Kes Gray and illustrated by Nikki Dyson (Macmillan/9781509821440)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds:

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn (HarperCollins/9780008268060)

The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre (OUP/9780192766090)

The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and illustrated by Steven Lenton (Simon & Schuster/ 9781471163838)

World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross (HarperCollins/ 9780008304591)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds:

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and illustrated by Tim Wesson (Bloomsbury/ 9781472955487)

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and illustrated by Nathan Reed (Bloomsbury/ 9781408877753)

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith, and illustrated by Erica Salcedo (Bloomsbury/9781408884553)

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and illustrated by Chris Judge (OUP9780192759047)

The winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website,, or via the Lollies PopJam channel.

The winning books will be announced in early 2020.

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We love a funny book and there are some real JAB favourites here which have been very popular with children in our schools. You can read our reviews of Spyder, Bad Nana and The Legend of Kevin . We will be encouraging our children to vote!

Good luck to everyone on the list!

Playing Pooh Sticks


Being a ‘bear of very little brain’ myself, I have always wanted to play Pooh sticks on the very bridge in the Hundred Acre Wood, but have never managed to get there. That changed this week, however, when I set off through the rain, jumping in puddles along the way, to Ashdown Forest.


Having parked in the ‘Pooh’ car park, we made our way through the woods in search of heffalump and woozles. There was no one else around and we were really able to enjoy the peace and beauty of these woodlands full of birdsong and the gentle patter of the rain.


On the way, we passed what might very well have been the start of Eeyore’s house and spent time looking up, trying to spot Owl’s house high in the trees. On down the path, through more trees and round a corner…and there it was.


Silly as it sounds, I can’t tell you how happy it made me to play Pooh sticks on this bridge in the place where Christopher Robin played the game with his father who then made it part of one of the stories in ‘The House at Pooh Corner’.


It’s been quite a difficult time recently so it was such a treat to enjoy this place and remember the stories I have always enjoyed so much. Having played ( and won) several games, we could hear voices and soon enough, other excited people (many much younger than us!) started to arrive at the bridge. Grateful to have had time alone here, we left them to their fun and retraced our steps to the car park.


From Pooh’s car park, we went to Piglet’s and pushed our way through the wet bracken and bushes up the path to find the Enchanted Place where there is a memorial stone dedicated to both A A Milne and E H Shepard for capturing ‘the magic’ of Ashdown Forest.


It’s a beautiful place and there are many places which are evocative of these much-loved stories and their illustrations. I will visit again…

‘We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.