Anne Wood, FCBG Founder, at the Golden Party by David Bartlett
What a lot has happened in what seems like a short space of time. As I am now an Executive member for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups I was delighted to be involved with the latest of FCBGs celebrations. The first was a celebration of 50 Golden Years with the founder Anne Wood in the space at Foyles Charing Cross Road – a lovely friendly meet with lots of support from publishers, authors, illustrators and members of the FCBG across the ages.
Steve Cole, photo by TA
This was followed very quickly by the Children’s Book Award – celebrated in London with book group members from around the country. It was fantastic to see so many book loving kids in one room – all chatting nineteen to the dozen with the authors sitting on their tables! Results are here – with the overall winner Katherine Rundell with The Explorer. A very popular win with everyone in the room. Steve Cole served as master of ceremonies keeping everyone amused with his jokes and ukulele playing!
The panel discussion on Empathy Day, 12th June – featuring Lauren Child (UK Children’s Laureate), Benji Davies (illustrator) and Professor Robin Banerjee (Univ Sussex) made for fascinating listening – arranged and hosted by Empathy Lab. The whole event was an exploration of how books help children understand other people better – held at Waterstone’s flagship store in Piccadilly – there was an interesting mix of stakeholders and partners in the hall. Discussion touched on how feeling, understanding and caring (all parts of empathy) are encouraged by reading and that the follow up to that – of book talking – promotes empathy too.
From other news! It was an absolute delight to visit the Royal Albert Hall recently to see Art Garfunkel. He sang a mix of old (lots) and new songs, as well as sharing some of his poetry with us. Loved the evening! Daughter Sarah has been busy too – she was all over the media as she conducts the Manchester Survivors Choir and they sang at the One Voice commemoration to mark one year on from the bombing – a very emotional experience for everyone. Then she has a big gig coming up this weekend with her band Canter Semper – really looking forward to seeing them. Will has been busy helping elder daughter Becky as an extra (with a couple of friends from DTs) in the final few scenes that needed filming for ScreenNorthants first feature film – Macbeth. Watch out for the release at the end of the year.
…semi-retirement. It means that on lovely sunny days like today I can sit in my garden listening to the birdsong whilst doing my emails. I also have had lots of time for reading – check out my Goodreads updates on this blog!
That doesn’t mean to indicate I haven’t done any work – I have and am – but choosing one’s own timetable and working late into the evening, if I want to, are lovely freedoms to have. Don’t get jealous – I have worked and saved all my life to get to this stage – it is possible and it is achievable!
Meanwhile, I have enjoyed several book launches and events with different publishers – Otter-Barry Books, Hachette, for the Carmelite PictureBook Prize, and enjoyed a really full day seeing many publishing people at the London Book Fair. This was followed really quickly by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups very enjoyable conference at Queenswood School in Hertfordshire. These are always full to bursting with author and illustrator talks – all with opportunities to ask questions and get lots of books signed! What a luxury! This year was extra special as the FCBG is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary. I am honoured to have been asked to join the FCBG National Executive – so I’m looking forward to becoming more involved with this very energetic reading organisation. Watch out for the Golden National Share-a-Story month activities during May.
This past weekend I have been at the Raunds Music Festival – dedicated to roots music in East Northants. The programme, as always, was varied with highlights for me being Mawkin, Carter Dolby, Granny’s Attic, Steve Turner, and Greg Russell. The festival is organised and run entirely by volunteers but has a good extended community support – which is great to see in these often less than community minded times.
My pile of books to review for School Librarian has just arrived – so I think it may be time to do some more reading…
What a lot can happen in ten days. I watched with disbelief and horror as the riots in London and then in our major cities spread. The disgust at the pointless waste and the vandalism, and then the difficult process of trying to understand (not excuse) and thus try to think of ways that will make a difference and help to heal all the rifts. The solution is probably political – and thus fills me with a certain amount of healthy cynicism. But, with disassociated, disaffected youth in all our cities why then continue closing the one non judgemental place society provides for all – the public libraries. There have been a lot of discussions of this in the press recently – Alan Bennett in the Telegraph and Boyd Tonkin in the Independent have both said it better than me.
Meanwhile the LGA and MLA have reported on their Future Libraries programme – and what dispiriting reading that makes! No recognition of the intrinsic value of libraries – just an exploration of the ways to decimate and cut the library services in the name of economy. There are savings that can be made I am sure but cutting librarians, opening hours, or running libraries with volunteers are not the way forward for any good quality service.
So to finish the week I got away from it all by going to my favourite music festival – Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. This advertises itself as the friendliest festival – and it really is. The village really seems to welcome all it’s annual visitors and lays on breakfast in the village hall or the boating club so that those of us who are infrequent campers can eat well – even if we can’t do the camp-fire cooking bit! Then we all get onto the field and watch the most amazing selection of musicians appear before us. Acts varied from UB40, The Blockheads, the Travelling Band, Horslips and Seasick Steve to folk favourites like Lau, the Shee, Moore Moss Rutter and, of course, Fairport themselves – briefly joined on stage by Ralph McTell too! The sound of 20,000 people enjoying themselves and singing Meet on the Ledge at midnight on Saturday is spine tingling. It was also reassuring to go to a festival where camp-site neighbours will lock the car next to them and put the keys into the owners tent rather than steal anything from the car that had been left with the keys dangling in the door! A caring society does exist – we just need to spread the ethos a little more widely.
It has been a lovely week – full of music and reading, so today is a chance to gear up for work tomorrow whilst still enjoying the holiday!
I have been to see Giovanni Guzzo (violin – fantastic), the Spooky Men’s Chorale (very different and fun), T G Collective (Django type jazz, lovely!) and the highlight was the Kathryn Tickell Band – northumbrian folk as it’s very best. Vespers in the Chapel was lovely – flickering candlelight and lots of choral and organ scholars singing divinely! Will took part in the singing of the final Eucharist at Fotheringhay and certainly the rehearsals for that sounded great (I was sitting outside reading whilst listening!)
I got some reading done, though not necessarily as much as I had thought, and definitely not the books I had originally planned! Wonder why a lot of life is like that? Mary Hoffman’s David is the fictional story of the guy who may have posed for the Michelangelo statue and the turbulent times it was made in Florence. A superb read as always in Mary’s books – well researched, well written and completely compelling. Meanwhile Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery by Keren David is a completely different read to David – modern 16-year-old girl and the issues and problems she contends with when she wins the lottery – including friendship, bullying, sex, family, guilt, suicide, binge drinking and jealousy. That makes it sound very heavy but the delight of this is the light touch and the page turning ease of reading this thought-provoking book. Now well into a charity shop purchase by Kate Atkinson – literary detectives are always fun…
So – finish the week with a superb win for Lewis Hamilton at the German Grand Prix and we have a good weekend ready for work tomorrow.
Filed under Diary, Reviews
This blog is a bit of an experiment. I wanted somewhere to share, record and muse on work, travel, life, reading and music. Though I tweet and use FB and am even exploring Google+ I think there is still space and time to use a blog.
I used to keep a diary but for various reasons (not least that my arthritis makes it painful to try to keep a handwritten one) I haven’t kept a regular comment record of any sort for some years and yet I miss that. Perhaps this will be the way forward. I shall have huge fun setting it all up regardless!