Bookshelf Bits & Bobs

The Blue Balloon 30th Celebrations!

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Today, we had a lovely time enjoying ‘The Blue Balloon’, Mick Inkpen’s delightful story, which is celebrating its 30th birthday this year! Thirty six very excited Reception children stayed behind after school to join in the fun!

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We started with enjoying the story- and my goodness, did we enjoy the story! Everyone joined in and loved the ending.

Colouring pictures of Kipper and making Kipper headbands complete with floppy ears followed!

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Thankfully, there were lots of grown-ups on hand with staplers to help add the ears and fit the headbands. Soon the room was full of happy children wearing their Kipper ears!

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No book event would be complete without a hot chocolate and a biscuit (or piece of fruit!) and all too soon it was time to gather for one last story!

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Everyone went home wearing their Kipper ears- and with a blue balloon of their own! Did anyone end up with a magic one, I wonder?!

The Blue Balloon Mick Inkpen

Hodder Children’s ISBN: 978-0340918197

Half Term Book Crawl!

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This week, I have been on a quest to seek out some of the best books on offer for this year’s North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2019. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! Although I wasn’t able to visit as many as I’d hoped due to other things getting in the way, I managed to visit some in London, Bath, Bristol and Taunton.

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It’s always a pleasure to pop in to Waterstones Picadilly and have a browse in the children’s section. I love the way it is laid out and the displays they have. I found some great non-fiction ideas here as well as some suggestions for our Read Aloud category.

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Close by is Hatchards- delightfully charming with its old-fashioned air and quiet rooms- another favourite for spending some time. I spent quite a while sitting in their children’s room, exploring a large pile of treasures. Found some wonderful picture books here!

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Although not a bookshop and alarmingly changed since I used to visit as a child, I must include this picture of Paddington I took when I popped into Hamleys as it made me very happy!

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Foyles on the Southbank was a veritable cornucopia of book-ish delight for many categories. Once again, there was lots of wonderful non-fiction and I chose a few books which I think will work really well as Quality Fiction candidates.

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Foyles in Bristol was equally interesting and offered some additional finds. (This picture was taken a while ago as I forgot to take a photo whilst there!)

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Bath offers the triple joy of Waterstones, Mr B’s and Toppings.

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All three produced some great ideas, but poetry remains the hardest category to find a wide selection of ideas for. Still, we will continue searching!

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Visiting Mr B’s was a particular delight this time as they have extended and now have their new children’s room which is a wonderful space, well worth a visit.

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Finally, I visited the stalls at Reading Rocks on Saturday. Book Island were there with their usual fabulous selection of very original and beautiful picture books. Bookwagon had a stall there with lots of lovely books, many translated or by authors/ illustrators from other countries. The main bookshop was provided by The Roving Bookshop whose range never ceases to amaze me. I found some real treasures, not necessarily for the awards, but wonderful books it’s hard to get hold of now! I think we need a new award’s category to pay tribute to these!

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So, lots of lovely new books ready for consideration, but many more still to discover! Let’s get reading!

Reading Rocks South West

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Today, Bev and I headed to Taunton for Reading Rocks South West. It was a busy day, crammed full of book-ish delights!

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Heather from Reading Rocks started the day by reading ‘Molly’s Moon Mission’, the new treasure from Duncan Beedie, challenging us all to ‘be more moth’ and keep spreading the love of reading!

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We were then treated to the explosion of fun that is Maz Evans! She told us about how she came to be a writer and the writing sessions she runs in schools. With lots of laughs and plenty of writing tips, we all came away far wiser- particularly about the folly of using a story mountain!

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James Clements spoke next about creating lifelong readers and whether it is possible to make someone read for pleasure! He emphasised the importance of using a range of models and approaches to engage children, sharing ideas that he has gathered from his travels around schools.


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Coffee time was accompanied by a range of tasty treats, including lovely biscuits from Bloomsbury! Mt first workshop - about spelling - followed before a lovely lunch!

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Things continued after lunch with Mark McClaughan ‘Igniting Children’s Writing’ before local lady, Emma Carroll spoke to us all. She told us how she had attended school very close to where we were and grew up in Taunton. Having always wanted to be a writer, she shared some of her writing rituals and ideas with us.

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Another break gave us the chance to return to some book browsing - and buying- at the range of bookstalls. We were particularly delighted to see Greet from Book Island with her lovely range of stories. Bloomsbury, Bookwagon and The Roving Bookshop also offered many goodies!

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The day finished with my last workshop- Reading Between the Lines- which focused on using beautiful picture books to inspire and delight!

It was a lovely day, made even more special by meeting up with so many Twitter friends - some for the first time. I was particularly delighted to see Kate Scott - previously shortlisted twice for the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards- and catch up with her. Such a lovely lady!

Thanks to all those who arranged the day!