Hachette Children's

Why Are There So Many Books About Bears?

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In an attempt to answer this biggest of questions, the most brilliant minds in the animal kingdom (and Trevor, a mouse) have gathered at Mollusc College in Oxford. Many suggestions are proposed- is it because ‘bear’ rhymes with so many words, because they come in various sizes, because they are soft? Each theory causes great debate, interrupted by the tea trolley trying to deliver treats. At last, Trevor steps in with a solution to their problem.

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An absolute delight from cover to cover, ‘Why Are There So Many Books About Bears?’ is both clever and funny, with amazing illustrations. The greatest animal thinkers have names which reflect their human counterparts and their animal characteristics. William Snakespeare (complete with ruff) is a literary snake, Mary Shelley is a snail, NEWTon is a deep thinking newt and Albert Swinestein is a pig whilst the PhDs (porcupines, hedgehogs and dragons with spines) have theories of their own. Each is full of personality and brilliantly drawn with lots of details on each spread and the book is colourful and attractive.

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A fabulous story for sharing in the classroom, this could also be used to develop children’s understanding of debates. Why are there so many books about bears? How would children answer this and what evidence would they give to support their ideas? The idea of playing with names in this way could also be a way of creating some new characters to bring to the debate- or indeed the new issue posed at the end of the story!

‘Why Are There So Many Books About Bears?’ is essential reading with so much to enjoy. We cannot recommend it highly enough!

‘Why Are There So Many Books About Bears?’ Kristina Stephenson

Hachette Children’s ISBN: 978-1444945997

Will Mabbitt

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Today and yesterday, four of our schools were lucky enough to have visits from Will Mabbitt. At my school, he visited this morning and children have been stopping me all afternoon, telling me how funny he was and how much they love his books. Teachers were also captivated by him, calling him ‘inspirational’, ‘amazing’ and ‘fantastic’. But we were not the only school that was so impressed…

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This account is from another of our schools who also enjoyed his visit.

Our school positively rocked with excitement this afternoon as we welcomed the marvellous, Will Mabbitt, to talk to our children.

Will was both very funny and extremely inspirational - holding the children in the palm of his hand as he told our audience about where he gets his ideas for his books and how he develops them into stories. The idea of basing your characters on your friends saw some of our collective smaller people turn and look at their classmates - already assessing their potential in stories of the future.

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Will’s message that it is ‘OK to make mistakes’ was particularly encouraging and the revelation that he had made over 5000 when writing his first book, ‘The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones’, was greeted with gasps and a few astonished ‘No Ways!’. In a world where the pressure to be immediately perfect is so intense, an established, successful author honestly admitting his struggles with spelling and telling his young audience not to worry about correcting and improving was a rocket to their self esteem.

The session was jam packed with audience interaction- our pupils loved playing the observation game where they had to spot different things in a picture of a rather cluttered writing desk and decide from the objects what the owner may be like. The revelation that  it belonged to Will caused much amusement and when he awarded them a ‘gazillion’ points for their beady eyes the resulting celebration nearly took the roof off!

The session ended with Will reading from his hilarious picture book ‘I Can Only Draw Worms’ - which was hugely enjoyed by everyone -especially the staff!

Lots of our pupils bought copies of Will's books  from the pop up bookshop provided by ‘Books on the Hill’. Both 'Embassy of the Dead' and 'Embassy of the Dead:Hangman's Crossing'( Books 1 and 2 in Will’s new series) were on offer - and every child got their book signed by Will in our library.

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Will took time to talk to every child, asking them a question or writing something unique to them in their book - he made every child he met feel special and those books will be treasured forever. 

It has been an absolute joy hearing all the positive comments from our children about the  author visit! Lots of them couldn’t wait to start reading their new books; others could wait to start writing theirs! Those super fast readers  who had already read a couple of chapters before home time were heard saying ‘It’s proper creepy’ and ‘This might be the best book I’ve ever read!’

Will Mabbit has set off a real book buzz in our school - long may it continue!

Embassy of the Dead: Hangman’s Crossing Will Mabbitt, illustrated by Chris Mould

Orion Children’s ISBN: 978-1510104570

Thank you so much to Will for coming and inspiring so many children! Thank you also to Dom for bringing him and to Books on the Hill for the book sales.

You can read about our last visit from Will here.






Hay 2019: Jessica Townsend

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One of my ‘Hay highlights’ was seeing Jessica Townsend as she told everyone about the wonderful world of Nevermoor and Morrigan Crow. Her bubbly personality and quick humour made the session full of fun as she told us how she became a writer- and how much she loves her job!

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Telling us that it took her 10 years to write ‘Nevermoor’, Jessica encouraged everyone to keep trying and never give up on their dreams. We were all delighted when she confirmed that ‘Nevermoor’ is going to be a series of nine books, the title of the third to be announced soon.

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Morrigan’s adventures continue in ‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’. Invited to become a member of the Wundrous Society, Morrigan is looking forward to an exciting education as part of Unit 919; however, she soon finds that she is to be taught nothing but the evils of Wundersmiths whilst the rest of her team learn exciting new skills. In addition to this, someone is blackmailing the unit to keep Morrigan’s talent as a Wundersmith secret and with mysterious disappearances taking place, Morrigan finds herself viewed with suspicion and dislike. Will Morrigan be able to control her Wundersmith powers?

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‘Wundersmith’ is every bit as enjoyable as its predecessor. Jessica’s infectious sense of humour permeates her writing and her world-building is second to none. The amazing Hotel Deucalion would be a fabulous place to visit, populated by wonderful characters and Nevermoor is as whimsical as ever. Yet ‘Wundersmith’ also shows the darker side of this magical place and Morrigan’s isolation and treatment at the hands of others is uncomfortable reading. The story moves at a pleasing pace towards its satisfying conclusion. I can’t wait for book three to discover what happens next!

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow Jessica Townsend

Orion ISBN: 978-1510104440

You can read our review of ‘Nevermoor’ here.