Wednesday, 24 August 2011

My library

Well, it's finally hit my library! 

The recession that is. Yesterday i walked into my favourite space in the library only to find half of it devoid of books. Stood there with my mouth open probably didn't look a pretty sight, but there i was and that's where a very nice librarian found me. I stammered 'what happened?' and she explained. They have lost 20 members of staff, they have also had to close down two floors so they can be rented out as office space, the non-fiction is going up a floor, which is smaller and the family history research and local history are combining on the floor we were on. I must of looked shocked because she followed with sorry it looks a mess right now, we have to take all the books off the shelves, then the shelves have to be dismantled and taken upstairs and then the books replaced and that it should all be done by Christmas. And then, 'is there anything i can help you with?' And i replied i'll be back in January i can't cope with this. Oh and one floor as now been turned over to the internet so all the teenagers can get on facebook, that's what she told me, honest.

Libraries should have order and BOOKS. Usually when i go to the library, which is at least weekly i like to browse and pick and mix, yeah like sweets. I don't mind reading novels, in fact i quite enjoy a good novel but i also like to extend my feeble mind. In the chaos that is now ensuing i'm not sure i would not be so inspired.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Book 5 - Journey to the River Sea - Eva Ibbotson

This little gem was suggested by my daughter, Bethany but i have read it once before. It has recently been published in a a new cover to celebrate 10 years since it was first published in 2001.

The story based mainly in and on the Amazon river in Brazil. Maia is 13 years old and when the book begins she is at school in England but we as the reader soon become aware that she is now an orphan. Distant family relatives are found for her in Manaus on the Amazon where both she and the new governess Miss Minton, affectionately known as Minty are transported too.

Maia dreams of a romantic Manaus and Amazon river but what she finds when she meets her relatives is that they are very English and refuse to become involved in local ways, to the extent that Mrs Carter, the mother, has English food shipped regularly and refuse to engage or eat anything 'native'. The twins Gwedolyn and Beatrice who are Maia's cousins are not the friendly, charming companion's she had hoped for and Maia does her best to tolerate them.

On the sea crossing over Maia meets Clovis, who she promises to go watch when he performs in Manaus but the twins even try to prevent her from doing that by saying all the tickets have sold out and not buying her one. In the end Maia sets off to walk to Manaus but becomes frightenly lost and is rescued by a native boy who takes her safely to Manaus by the local rivers.

That's has far as i have read for now - the best is yet to come?

Eva Ibbotson born 21 January 1925 and died 20 October 2010 is a Austrian- born British novelist. She has written for both children and adults and many of her adults books have recently been re-published for teenager's and have become well read and well liked.

Eva was born to non-practising Jewish parents and fled to England in 1934. She originally wanted to be a physiologist like her father but decided against it. The thought of disecting animals was not for her. She attended school in England then went to the Cambridge University and later she became a teacher after attending Durham University, but her first love was writing.

Her first book The Great Ghost Rescue was published in 1975 and The Journey to the River Sea in 2001. She has written 23 books and 2 dramas, The Morning Gift (1993) and A Song for Summer (1997). She has been nominated and has won several awards including the Smarties Prize and Nestle Children's Book Prize Golden Award for Journey to the River Sea.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Butterfly Lion - Michael Morpurgo

I told my daughter i was reading the Butterfly Lion and she said that when she had read it, she didn't enjoy it and didn't get the ending. I read it in about three days - it's only a short book written for children to read. I think i picked it up in the 5-8 year old section of Waterstones and i think it is just perfect for this age group.

It was inspired by Michael Morpurgo's life and contains at least some truth and Michael does list this book has one of his favourites. One day a small boy decides to run away from school and away from the bullies. As he leaves the school ground he meets an old lady walking a dog and she takes him back to her home where she tells him a magical story of the man she loved, Bert and the Butterfly Lion. 

It is only after the small boy returns to school at the end of the day and sit down for dinner that he learns a secret, which i won't tell here but he comes to realise that things happen for a reason and life is full of magic and he had been given a task to perform to keep the memory of 'Albert Andrews VC' alive.

It's a lovely little story full of feelings and emotions and in some places quite sad and although it doesn't have an upbeat happy ending it does have a kind of determination that only children can have.

Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943 he attended schools in London, Sussex and Canterbury. He went on to London University to study English and French and then became a teacher. He realised that the children in his class found the books he had to read to them every day boring and so he decided to tell them his own stories. This is how he discovered what it was he wanted to do.

 He is married to Clare, has three children and six grandchildren and is very involved with charity work on behalf of children. He now lives in Devon.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Matilda (part 2)

I've finished Matilda and if i hadn't of watched the film i would have said it was a great children's book. I can't say the film took away from the book i just felt as i was reading it there were pieces missings. I kept expecting Matilda to tip over the honey loops or fly the cards around her head, which of cause she never does in the book.

Seeing as this is about the book i suppose i better write about that. The book is about a little girl called Matilda. She is an exceptional brainy child with exceptionally stupid parents. She is a case for believing that children have an innate abilty to learn and will learn anything you give them to do with very little persauding.

The best bits for me were when Matilda finds an interesting use for superglue and her mother's hair dye, which is peroxide bleach. Also the flooring of Miss Trunchbull which Matilda accomplishes with her amazing kinetic powers, which unfortunately by the end of the book she loses has her brain needs the room to absorb all the new things she is learning. 

Dahl best character in this book as to be the simpering Miss Honey. At 23 she comes across as a weak-willed old maid and even in the end she only gets back what Miss Trunchbull, her aunt, took from her when Matilda, the hero, intervenes and re-establishes her as the rightful heiress. However she is kind and caring and loves her work.

I ask myself the question 'would my 10 year old niece find this interesting?' 'Would she read it?' I think the images she has of the film would will get her started but she would be forever trying to look between the pages for the missing pieces. It's a fun book, Matilda is an unforgettable character. Aged group probably around 8 year olds.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Teen reading

Alice Ozma - wrote a blog recently about why it is harder to get teens to read then any other group of people, children like to be read to and adults just like a break from the world - my words not hers. 

I did comment back and this is what i said - 

What are teens doing instead? I think one thing they are definately doing is exams. It takes all their time and all their reading space. In the UK exams start at 16 so preparation and study begin at 14 and carry on into their early 20′s if they go onto further education such as college or university.

Also teens are often leaving behind their childhood favourites and haven’t yet established where there likes and dislikes are in the adult world.

Peer pressure. It’s not cool to tell your mates you’re reading Austen. I know my daughter found fanfiction (its a website) i may not like it but at least she’s still reading and occasionally she reads something a little less toxic.

I can’t say that there is anything wrong with my city library, it’s a huge amazing place and is restocked regularly. But saying that, it is being proposed that 65 libraries in the Yorkshire area are set for closure sometime this year. With the cost of just (being able to) liv(e)ing rising buying books is the last thing on people’s minds. In the uk oxfam (charity) stores have been turned into book shops where the books are no more then a couple of pounds.

The other questions – what would bring them back or bring them back for good? Encourage them but don’t hassle them. Make sure there is good reading material around the house. Be a good example and read yourself. Read something they have read and recommend(ed) and give an honest opinion, like it or dislike it, say so and why. As for coming back if they have been well fed to begin with they just do it on their own.

My children are now 18, 20, 22 and 24 they still read, even if it’s not as often or maybe they read what i wouldn’t but it doesn’t really matter what it is (that) they are reading, just that they are reading. Besides not everyone can enjoy Austen and Hardy and there are other good books and authors out there.
* * *

I have one daughter who probably reads more then the others, Bethany and so i asked her what she thought; she said (if i remember correctly and she will tell me if i don't) that she wouldn't have a problem telling her friends that she was reading Jane Austen but i was probably right on the other points. Having reading material just around the house and seeing me read sets the example for her. She does like reading sets of books, such as Harry Potter and Twighlight. As for my reading challenge she as recommended the following -

The Wind Singer - William Nicholson
Journey to the Sea - Eva Ibbotson
The Seer and the Sword - Victoria Hanley
The Two Princesses of Bamarre - Gail Carson Levine

Also she said, if i'm planning on reading any of the Harry Potter's or Twighlight to read the first one of each, partly because i said i didn't want to read a whole load of books by the same author.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Matilda - Roald Dahl (book 3)

So yesterday i started my third book, Matilda by Roald Dahl. We all know the film but what do we know about Roald Dahl himself.

Roald Dahl was born on the 13th September 1916 in Llanduff, Wales. He was the only child from a second marriage. His parents Harrald and Sofie were Norwegian, his father and his sister dying when he was only 3 years old, leaving his mother to bring up the other four children on her own.

The character of the grandmother in The Witches is based on his mother and is a tribute to her. His mother encouraged all the children to read and often told them norwegian fairy stories. In Boy he talks about his father during the war years. When he was a child Roald Dahl wrote a secret diary which he would hide in a tin box and tie to a high branch of a conker tree where his sisters couldn't get it and where he used to climb up to, to get it, then hide it safely again.

His first piece of writing was published in 1942 whilst he was living in Washington, USA. He was invited by C S Forrester the author of Captain Hornblower to write a piece which was later published in the Saturday Evening Post, he was paid $900 for it and was entitled 'Shot Down Over Libya.'
( )

His first book to be pubished was in 1943 and was titled The Gremlins, mysterious creatures that effect aeroplane engines, can't say i've read it. His first 15 years was spent writing for adults and many of his short stories were televised as The Tales of the Unexpected and were a huge success.

His first children's book was James and the Giant Peach published in the USA 1961 and in 1967 in the UK. Then followed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, (USA 1964, UK 1967). He then went on to write The BFG, Danny the Champion of the World, The Twits, The Witches, Boy, Going Solo and his penultimate book Matilda.

Roald Dahl died on the 23rd November 1990 aged 74. He was working to the end writing on The Vicar of Nibbleswicke, My Year and The Roald Dahl Cookbook.

So why Matilda? It is one of my favourites. It's that image of Mara Wilson when she was just a little girl getting her own back on the grown ups that thought they knew better then her. She shows that all children have this innate ability to learn and with just a little encouragement first from the librarian Mrs Phelps and then from Miss Honey she realises that she can continue to do what she loves, learn. There is also that lovely image in my head from the film when she finally realises she can control objects with her mind and sends the pack of cards flying around her, that's the bit i like best. 

Not there yet in my reading, although she had realised that she can fight back against her disinterested parents, she finds super glue as its uses and so does her mother's peroxide hair dye and next door's parrot. It has to be a winner from the start.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Charlotte's Web (part 2)

It has taken me just a few short days and one bad headache to read this charming little book. I also spent a couple of hours watching the delightfully funny film version of the book. 

It’s a story about friendship. A friendship between two unlikely animals a pig named Wilbur and a spider by the name of Charlotte. True friendship lasts no matter what and when we have a true friendship we are willing to sacrifice all that we have to help one another. 

Although Wilbur and Charlotte are the main characters i think the best supporting role should go to Templeton the Rat. He comes across in the film as a ‘Jack the Lad’ type and a loveable rogue. His only love is food and the more food he gets to eat the happier he is. So if you want him to do anything for you the best thing to do is offer him food as a bribe it seemed to work for Wilbur and for Charlotte. 

As in life all friendships have to come to an end. However by the end of the book Wilbur has made many friends and continues throughout the years to welcome first the children and then the grandchildren and so on and so on to the barn and is able to tell them about Charlotte and how she saved his life.

Written in 1952 it probably lacks the depth of action that children today have come to expect from books. However it’s a loveable little book. It’s probably not a good book for someone who as a spider phobia though.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Charlotte's Web (book 2)

I started reading Charlotte's Webb by E B White on the 3rd August. I've never read it before and i believe there is a film also, although i've never seen that either. Maybe if the book is good i will seek it out. I know i'm reading children's books but it's just at the moment and may change at any time or maybe it won't? I'm giving myself persmission to read all those books i keep seeing on the shelves and don't get the chance to read. 

So back to Charlotte's Web by Elwyn Brooks White. Elwyn was born on the 11 July 1899, the youngest child of Samuel White and Jessie Hart. I believe his next eldest sibling was Lilian and she was some seven years older then him. Although he spent time with his siblings he was often alone. He was a quiet, shy child but did have friends in the neighbourhood. His greatest love was animals.

He was first published as a child in a children's magazine where he wrote short stories and poems about animals and nature. His first book Stuart Little was published in 1945 followed by Charlotte's Web in 1952. His first book to win an award was The Trumpet of the Swan published in 1970. Sadly he died in 1985 from altzheimers.

Charlott'e Web is about a small pig named Wilbur and the friendship he makes with a spider named Charlotte. Wilbur is the runt of the litter and is about to be killed by Mr Arable when his daughter Fern pleads for mercy for little Wilbur and takes him and feeds him by bottle until he is big enough to live on a nearby farm where for most of the time he is on his own. Until he makes a friend. 

I read slowly, i like to read slowly, i like to relish what it is i am reading but i don't think Charlotte's Webb will take me too long.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Wizard of Oz (book 1) part 2

Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow
My daughter said that i read too slow and if i'm going to blog about books i need to read faster - or something like that - to paraphrase what she said. 

It's only taken me six days to read The Wizard of Oz by Lyman Frank Baum. First published in 1900 when it sold 90,000 it was originally banned in some libraries 'due to its simple style and language.' How odd is all i can say but it's now 2011 and it's a whole different world out there. 

I think its a charming little book and once it gets going a very visual book. Whether that is because i have seen the film i don't know, but maybe? 

There are a number of other characters that we meet in the book that we don't meet in the film, such as the bears with the tiger's head known as Kalidah's but i say no more, you really must read the book. One of my favourite scenes from the book which doesn't appear in the film is the one where they come to a 'broad river' which they cross by a raft the tin woodman makes. They all climb aboard and begin to make their way across by the use of poles. Half way across the river becomes faster and they get carried further and further down stream away from the yellow brick road. After a while the Scarecrow ends up pushing his pole into the river where it becomes stuck and instead of letting go he ends up clinging to the pole in the middle of the river. 

I have this lovely image in my head, all of my own i may add, of Ray Bolger the original Scarecrow hanging onto this pole in the middle of the river. You want to know how he was rescued, erm, well, erm, looks like you will have to read the book.

My favourite part of the book that you can watch in the film, would be either the melting of the Wicked Witch of the West, by water or the meeting of the Great and Terrible Oz.

Would i recommend it? Yes, a 6 year old will love the story and an 8 year old will love the characters.

Monday, 1 August 2011


Addingham Library

On the 21 February 2011 the Yorkshire Post printed an article about the planned closures of Bradford's smaller libraries; Addingham, Denholme, Heaton, Wilsden and Wrose. It also stated that 1 in 6 libraries with close in Yorkshire alone, that brings the total to 65 libraries, including 20 in Leeds and 14 in Barnsley.

On the 15th March 2011 the Bradford council had a closed meeting about the proposed closures. It stated that because these libraries were only open for 10 a week they could be covered successfully by a mobile library and would be in the future. The other option was for volunteers could operate the effected libraries.  Addingham is the only one that is in the process of taking over their library with volunteers and have a stay of closure until the end of August when there is a proposed review. The Bradford council does say that staff will be re-deployed, to where? or what?

It's rather dire. It reminds me of the saying 'give a man a fish, feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for life.' Let me had my own saying - teach a child to read and you will teach not only themselves but also future generations. 

With all the techno wizardry parents and teachers have a hard enough time just getting their children to read anything. With the state of the economy at the moment parents do not have spare cash to keep buying their children new books or even magazines. With the closure of local libraries parents travelling further to reach a library may not be an option either. 

I cannot stop these closures, i am no one important but i can share how i feel about reading and i hope to do so through my new blog and you never know i may even get brave enough to challenge the system. I don't like really long blogs but there is more and more and more but not all doom and gloom i can assure you.