IBBY UK Blog
19 January 2017: Welcome to Nowhere
Can children’s books inspire empathy and move people to action? The answer from the Waterstones' audience last Thursday was… a hopeful yes. Book lovers, activists, teachers, authors and publishers had all gathered at Waterstones Piccadilly to talk about Elizabeth Laird’s latest book Welcome to Nowhere.
David McDowall introduced the event with an informative talk on the history of the Middle East, from the Ottoman Empire through to the fragmentation of the region post-WW1. He discussed the devastation caused by carving a continent into superficial borders. Borders that created barriers and conflict in the rich, complex social and historical backgrounds of its people. From the French invasion in 1924 to independence in 1946, through to the coup d’etat instigated by the Americans to Hafez Al-Assad’s 1970s dictatorship, the people of Syria had already been through many years of turmoil and social unrest. With further complexities such as drought and mass migration to the cities, the road to civil war was set – and we all know of the heart-breaking consequences thereafter.
Elizabeth Laird talked of her own experience of war – in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war and in Palestine. Despite her extensive time in the Middle East, she questioned her right to write from another’s culture and perspective. This is a debate that often rears its head within the world of children’s literature. It’s a complex issue but Elizabeth raised an important point – with so little work translated into English and with so much left to achieve in the realm of equity in children’s publishing, stories that offer a different perspective are crying out to be told. With the bombardment of news footage and the portrayal of asylum seekers and refugees in the newspapers, a different perspective must be told. And that’s what Welcome to Nowhere does – it brings back humanity to the people in the news and gives us a moment to reflect and empathise with what so many families are going through.
The book tells the story of Omar and his family – a normal family living in Bosra whose lives are shattered by the civil war that has devastated Syria. Omar is a ‘likely lad’ – entrepreneurial, funny, brave, at times selfish and grumpy – but his world is turned upside down when he is forced to leave his home. Omar and his family manage to escape Syria but the question Laird asks of the reader is this: Will people people welcome them? Will they be accepted in their new schools? Will they be helped to settle in and follow their dreams? The answer to those questions lies with you.
This is the power of books: they give you the space to empathise, to understand and perhaps…to act.
Welcome to Nowhere was hugely informed by Elizabeth Laird’s time spent working with teachers in a refugee camp in Jordan. The characters and places come from real lives and experiences. To support education for traumatised Syrian and Iraqi refugee children, please visit www.mandalatrust.org.
16 December 2016: IBBY Honours List event at Waterstones
By Ferelith Hordon
The Waterstones' room was pleasantly crowded as we gathered to celebrate the IBBY UK nominations for the IBBY Honour Book List 2016. This was not just a wine and nibbles event; rather we were able to meet the nominees and listen as they conversed with representatives from the IBBY UK committee. The audience might expect that they would be meeting an author and an illustrator - as indeed they did. However, IBBY aims to open the world of books and reading across all barriers, and translation is very important.
We were therefore thrilled to be able to meet our nominated translator, Chantal Wright and the book Anton and Piranha by Milena Bausch. In her conversation with Sophie Hallam she shone some light onto the process of translation and how it worked in the world of publishing. While, in the case of Anton and Piranha - a winner of the German Children's Literature Prize - the publisher, Klaus Fugge, certainly played an important part, the norm is for the translator to have to "sell" the book to a publisher; no easy task. This is reflected in the number of translated books that appear on children's lists - too few. This was in Chantal's view, like saying that we should only eat apples, when oranges might be very thing we might enjoy. When it came to the actual translation, she felt "there was an unspoken expectation of objectivity" - but this could never be the case. Decisions about how to approach a text were often very subjective and had to be taken on a case by case basis. Were the emergence of prizes for translation going to help? She was dubious. So much depended on what was then done around the prize - at the moment Anton and Piranha is out-of-print, a sad disappointment for the audience.
Laura Carlin, our illustrator for her work on The Promise, written by Nicola Davies, talked to Carol Thompson, herself an illustrator. Laura had been drawn to the book because of the magic of the text " it's almost like poetry" - a life-affirming story about a girl, who despite herself, changes her world . When offered the text she had found it visually rich; so much so, there was a danger of repeating images. The challenge had been to make a real world alongside the text and imagine a girl who then stepped off the page for Laura. This was her first picture book; her previous work had been to illustrate The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. It had been Walker Books that provided the opportunity for Laura to work with Nicola. She confessed it had not been the easiest of journeys. For the first time she had to think about her audience. "It was a massive learning curve"; a real lesson in collaboration, not just between illustrator and author, but also editor and designer. This had affected how the illustrations developed from grim and grimy to green. Carol commented on the texture of the illustrations. This had fed in from Laura's work with ceramics. When asked about artists she admired, she cited illustrators like John Burningham and Quentin Blake - artists who do not patronise their child audience; who retain their playfulness. Laura has already won accolades - she was the Grand Prix winner of the Bratislava Biennale - and hearing her talk about her work we were in no doubt as to why.
Finally we heard from our nominated author, S.F. Said, already known to many for his novels about Varjak Paw. Here our nominated book is his novel Phoenix. Talking to Ann Lazim he led us through his career to the moment he realised that he had to write for children. Echoing Philip Pullman he feels that children's books are completely inclusive. It is layered - to the younger reader Varjak Paw is an exciting story about a cat, to an adult reader it is about difference, diversity and inclusion. When asked if Varjak would return after two adventures. Possibly - but he was very clear that he cannot write unless he has a story. After a period when as he said "he fell out of love with writing" he had an idea - a boy on an epic quest to find his family - a quest that takes him across the galaxy. This was the genesis of Phoenix. It is a space epic. But you cannot exclude personal interests and concerns. Thinking about aliens (who do feature in the novel), what is an alien? Someone who is different. The story became not merely an exciting adventure, it is about difference, diversity, friendship across barriers, empathy and connection; a themes very relevant in the world today. He likes the idea of taking a "genre" form and done something a little different with it. One of the features that makes Phoenix stand out, are the illustrations by David McKeen. They had worked together on Varjak Paw but in the case of Phoenix it was a real collaboration, and Said even designed some of the sequences - moments that could not be described in words. Sadly Phoenix has not been translated out of English which is surprising. The arguments are familiar - only boys read science fiction and boys don't read! As Said pointed out neither statement is true. He was thrilled to be on the IBBY Honour List - "What an amazing organisation." It was a real accolade and exciting to see his book next to authors from across the world. Of course, one of the aims of the Honour List is to attract attention to books from around the world - we must hope that it will do this for this novel which reflects so much the message IBBY promotes.
It was an inspiring and enjoyable evening. A privilege meet our Honour Book nominees - and we must look forward to more such occasions.
Silent Books in Lampedusa
by Helen Limon, 25 November 2016
I look around the crowded train. Twelve carriages long, it runs direct between Gatwick airport and central London and has bewilderingly little space for luggage. In carriage C, all the seats are taken, many occupied only with coats and bags. These items’ owners stare resolutely out of the rain-dashed windows avoiding the gaze of those left standing in the aisles. I am trying and failing not to judge. I have just flown in from an IBBY run volunteer camp on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa. As Victoria station draws into view, I reflect on my time there and feel a strong sense that if anyone is going to save this sorry, selfish world it is librarians.
You’ve probably heard of Lampedusa, not so much for its rich fishing, beautiful beaches or protected turtles, but for its location for one of the great modern tragedies of forced human displacement. Look it up on the internet or better still read The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma Jane Kirby but if you do be prepared to weep for the world.
A doer not a weeper, the Italian bookseller, Deborah Soria of IBBY Italy, with the help of volunteers and well-wishers, and book people and resident families, has started a small children’s library on this remote outpost of Europe – closer to Africa than Sicily and a centuries old staging post in global trade. It holds a collection of books in many languages and what are called ‘Silent Books’ – picture books without text but with a clear invitation to narrative exploration.
We, all this year’s volunteers, are interested in how the library is becoming establish on the island and how we might use these ‘Silent Books’ with the temporary residents who have landed from all over Africa to begin new lives. Not everyone who sets off in the boats arrives safely and the young migrants group together in friendship groups that take little account of their country of origin or the languages they share. It seems that if you have been companions on a fragile boat across the sea you are bonded by something stronger than words.
Alongside the activities in schools, and in the library, and in the allotment garden, and campaigning to get books into the waiting room of the hospital maternity unit, the volunteers are keen to help the young adult migrants, the lost boys, with their literacy. As teachers know picture books can help to illustrate grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure and all the other elements of functional literacy; but the silent book offers something more elusive and yet, we believe, just as important: the opportunity for story making, the space in which to share the emotions that we experience in common and the time to create something new, together.
The book I chose to take out onto the dark streets last week – phones with torches, street lamps, and illuminated shop fronts suddenly take on a special importance when the school is the street – was The Farmer and The Clown by Marla Frazee. This book is a most deservedly lauded piece of art – it has won prizes and reviews. I didn’t know that when I picked it up in the library but together with five young migrants from Senegal and Gambia we found ourselves in a story about being alone, and lost and found and found again. Thank you Marla, thank you IBBY and thank you to five young men who offered their imaginations and empathy to make something very wondrous happen.
Marvellous Imaginations IBBY UK /NCRCL conference
By Dr Rebecca Butler
The 2016 conference held by IBBY UK and the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature was held at Roehampton on Saturday 5 November. The theme of the conference was Marvellous Imaginations: Extending thinking through picture books. There was a central message that overarched all the speakers, namely that pictures are not present in a book simply to illustrate the text. They are present to extend and complement the text. Nor should it be assumed that picture books are intended only for young readers. They can and should be read by all ages.
Another distinction was made by Martin Salisbury, who teaches illustration at Anglia Ruskin University and who was himself taught by Quentin Blake. He said that it was a mistake to refer to authors and illustrators of picture books. They should instead by referred to as ‘picture book makers’. He then showed a series of slides illustrating the process of creating a picture book, which is much more detailed than might be supposed.
Among other speakers making a significant impression, Vivienne Smith spoke with great passion about how we teach children to take pleasure in reading and to believe that it is not a mere mechanistic process designed to acquire information.
Several speakers also explored the idea that picture books can help young readers engage with sensitive ideas that they would otherwise find hard to embrace, such as building empathy between individuals and groups. Jane Davis spoke about reading picture books in a summer course for children in care. Some of whom presented as believing that reading was not for them.
The tradition of the IBBY/NCRCL conference is to allow those attending to renew their commitment to a vital community, those who love books for young readers. This conference certainly maintained the tradition and allowed those attending to renew their dedication to the cause.
John Dunne (IBBY UK) and Klaus Flugge celebrating 40 years of Andersen Press
Andersen Press is 40!
IBBY UK report on trip to Sharjah Children's Reading Festival
Carol Thompson talking with Laura Carlin and Piet Grobler
Alison Waller (NCRCL)
Klaus Flugge calls the raffle winners!
IBBY UK report on the IBBY World Congress in New Zealand
Miranda McKearney, Harriet Goodman, Nicky Parker and Sita Brahmachari discuss the role of picture books and empathy
Jane Davis introduces The Storybarn at Calderstones.
Charlotte Hacking and the Power of Pictures
Pam Dix (IBBY UK, Chair)
Pam Dix (IBBY UK, Chair)
Miranda McKearney introduces the Empathy Lab
Martin Salisbury, Anglia Ruskin University
Martin Salisbury, Anglia Ruskin University
IBBY UK Christmas Cards
Nicholas John Frith, winner of the Klaus Flugge Prize
Harriet Goodman, Philosophy for Children
Laura Carlin is presented with the BIB Grand Prix Award
Vivienne Smith, Strathclyde University:
Miranda McKearney, Harriet Goodman and Sita Brahmachari
Miranda McKearney, The Empathy Lab
International IBBY Congress in Auckland, New Zealand
It's been an exciting time as colleagues from across the world have gathered for the 35th International IBBY Congress in Auckland, New Zealand (18-21 August). The Congress has explored the excitements and challenges of literature and literacy education in a rapidly changing world. The UK delegation include Pam Dix (Chair), Ann Lazim, Ferelith Hordon, Julia Eccleshare and the two recipients of our bursary awards, Xiaofei Shi and Soumi Dey.
Read their blogs here.
A Report by IBBY Palestine
Beverley Naidoo in Palestine: A Long Awaited Visit!
Beverley Naidoo has been very popular among children and youth in Palestine after her two famous books “Journey to Jo’burg” and “Chain of Fire” were translated to Arabic and thousands of copies were distributed to schools and libraries. Palestinian children loved the books and connected with South African children’s suffering and struggle.
The award-winning writer visited Palestine for two weeks in April/May 2016. It was her first visit since 2000, in response to a joint invitation from Tamer Institute, IBBY Palestine and the British Council.
The full program included visits to schools and libraries for children in Jerusalem, Nablus, Battir, Salfit and Jenin; two workshops with “Yara’at” youth journalists in the West Bank and in Gaza via video.
Her IBBY Palestine lecture in Ramallah - “A Journey with Beverley Naidoo” - was gripping! She talked about her transformation, her long struggle against racial discrimination and for justice, and her long road with writing and creativity.
Her tour finished with a very lively interactive meeting with children of two schools from Ramallah and Nablus in the 10th Palestinian Book Fair.
The visit was very successful, Beverley is a great story teller and excellent at engaging children. Everyone was impressed with her enthusiasm and ability to reach out and initiate serious thinking. She answered questions such as “What made you think out of the box?” “Why do you write for young people?” and “What makes people racist?”
She also asked questions. In response to “Why do you write?” she received replies such as, “I find myself in writing” “I want to make something and leave a print before I leave... to express my mind in writing” and “My only freedom is in writing.”
Beverley was especially touched by expressions of the hope that literature can offer:
“It is nice to have you travelling to Jenin because we have been travelling with you in Journey to Jo’burg... and this journey has planted hope again in our souls with the political corruption of this world.”
What a coincidence: the visit of Beverley coincided with the inauguration of the statue of the Nelson Mandela that Johannesburg presented to Palestine as the great leader inspires every Palestinian!
IBBY UK AGM - An Evening with Dame Jacqueline Wilson
by Ferelith Hordon
IBBY UK's AGM took place on 21 June and was an opportunity for members and non-members alike to catch up on what IBBY UK has accomplished over the past year, vote on upcoming changes and learn about what we're looking forward to in the coming year - you can read our Annual Report in the link below and find out how to get involved!
We were also privileged to have an evening with Dame Jacqueline Wilson; that did look good on the invitation - and the occasion certainly matched expectations. Usually meeting authors takes place at the launch of their latest title. On this occasion we were not celebrating a publication - though we were treated to tantalising snippets of Jackie's forthcoming books. Rather, she talked about the books that were important to her as a child, and, in particular, some of the ones that she felt had really influenced her own writing. Jackie is well known for creating strong, independent, lively girls as her lead characters, so it was not all-together surprising to find Susan Coolidge's What Katy Did was a very important book in her reading life. Though published in 1872, Katy's tomboy character had appealed to the young Jackie. However, Katy was not the only girl to attract her attention. One of her earliest favourites - and one that has also been important for her writing - was not even an English book, but Swiss. It was Heidi by Joanna Spyri. Heidi is a very different character to the lively Katy, but Jackie empathised with her loneliness when sent away to Frankfurt. Though she now found some of Spyri's moralising difficult, it had not troubled her when a child and she had revelled in the new words that the Swiss setting introduced - the Alm was one she remembered. She did not feel children needed to have everything spelt out; they enjoyed the mystery of the unfamiliar. Just as Heidi's loneliness and orphan state and Katy's independence have fed into her work, so has the main character of the third title Jackie remembered - Mary from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was through Mary, that Jackie realised that a central character could be quite unpleasant; again something she has used to great effect. Sadly, there was not enough time to continue these explorations which were accompanied by lively anecdotes both historical and personal; the audience would have happily listened to more and we did learn that Noel Streatfeild was another author whom she admired, both for her storytelling and the characters she created. The evening went too fast. Thank you Jackie!
Power of Stories
There is a fantastic shortlist for the Carnegie and Greenaway Medal this year – brimming with literary and artistic talent from giants such as Anthony Browne, Chris Riddell, Helen Oxenbury and Patrick Ness, all of whom are up for their third Carnegie/Greenaway medal.
Even more exciting is the announcement of the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Honour Award, which will commend one book from both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway shortlist that most illuminates, upholds or celebrates freedom and human rights in children’s literature.
The announcement on 15 March at Amnesty International’s headquarters saw a room full of people celebrating children’s books that open eyes, hearts and minds to local and global issues that effect all young people today. Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, in her opening speech summarised how books can inspire empathy and solidarity:
“Stories and picture books have enormous power to develop children’s empathy, broaden horizons and give them confidence to stand up for themselves and each other. Empathy empowers people to stand up for each other in the face of discrimination – and being Amnesty, we are interested in how empathy can turn into solidarity and activism.”
Many of us have special books that shape our lives - and our actions. Sometimes books provide a-ha! moments of realisation or understanding, whilst others drip-feed into our consciousness until they take root. SF Said, one of the Amnesty CILIP Honour Award judges for the Carnegie category, spoke about how stories – above all else – shaped him as an individual. He describes the opening of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with the famous drawing of what might seem to be a hat, but is in fact a boa constrictor eating an elephant.
It was this book that took root in his mind and made him “take nothing for granted; be open to anything; question everything. Even – perhaps especially – the things that adults tell you.“ For Said, this is the power of stories:
“The great stories that we have handed down from generation to generation, since our ancestors sat around campfires and caves 70,000 years ago, and our descendants will still be handing down as they sit in space stations among the stars, in the future – these stories all embody ideas about what it means to be human and alive; about how we should live and treat each other; about what really matters.
You will find ideas of this sort in all children's books, however simple they may seem. And so, if there are things that you think are important – the right to question everything, for example; the values of truth, justice, freedom – I believe there's no better way to communicate them than in children's stories.”
Amnesty CILIP Honour Award judge for the Greenaway category, Dean Bowen, also talked about the power of books to introduce children to their “inalienable human rights, rights such as the right to equality and the right to identity…” Not that books on the list should be all “doom and gloom” but “on the contrary, honouring a diverse range of books including those that embrace the powers of humour, joy and silliness to unite the human experience.”
This award is close to IBBY’s heart and its remit of promoting international understanding through children’s books and we are thrilled at the acknowledgement and celebration, through this award, of the power books can have.
The winners for both the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal will be announced on Monday 20th June at a lunchtime ceremony at the British Library. One title from each shortlist will also be named the recipient of the Amnesty CILIP Honour.
Reflections on hosting the IBBY Honour Book 2014 collection
Blog from Brighton University School of Education.
The Centre recently hosted a touring collection of international illustrated books from the IBBY Honour List 2014. Every two years, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) produce an honour list of children’s books from around the world in 3 categories: Writing, Illustration, and Translation. For the 2014 list, IBBY member countries from around the world sent in 150 nominations (in 39 different languages) for books they deemed to be characteristic of their country and suitable for publication in different languages. IBBY is a non-profit organisation whose main aim is to promote international understanding through children’s books.
The 50 countries that submitted titles in the illustrated category were: Argentina; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Cambodia; Canada; Chile; China; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Ecuador; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Iceland; Indonesia; Iran; Israel; Italy; Japan; Latvia; Lebanon; Lithuania; Malaysia; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Netherlands; New Zealand; Palestine; Poland; Russia; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Africa; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Thailand; Ukraine; UAE; UK; USA; Venezuela.
Hosting the collection of illustrated books proved to be a fantastic opportunity to explore a diverse collection of current children’s books published from around the world. When we first received the collection, we put all of the books out on display and invited academic staff from the School of Education to have a look through the books and discuss ways in which they could be used in both their own teaching and also in their students’ teaching practice. The event also resulted in a cross-curricular learning opportunity for those who attended, with staff from disciplines including Modern Foreign Language, Mathematics, Science and English eagerly discussing aspects of the books in relation to their specialisms.
Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year!
Greetings to all of our IBBY members and supporters, with many thanks for all of your encouragement this year!
It has been an exciting and productive year with many highlights, including our presence at the London Book Fair and involvement in the Bratislava Biennale, an excellent conference with NCRCL at Roehampton University, a good programme of events and fascinating issues of IBBYLink. It has been good to build upon our close working relationship with other national sections through the International Executive Committee, of which Ferelith Hordon is a member.
We look forward to working with you next year and hope that you will consider getting involved.
In 2016 we will be thinking of those children who do not have the access to books that we want for all our young people and working out ways in which we can do more to support the work of IBBY’s Children in Crisis appeals.
With very best wishes for 2016,
Pam Dix, Chair, and all of the IBBY UK committee:
Susan Bailes, Clive Barnes, Rebecca Butler, John Dunne, Sophie Hallam, Meryll Halls, Jennifer Harding, Ferelith Hordon, Ann Lazim, Anna McQuinn, Sue Mansfield, Nikki Marsh, Judith Philo and Carol Thompson.
HCA Award Event with Chris Riddell and Elizabeth Laird
On Wednesday evening, IBBY UK hosted an event at Waterstones Piccadilly to celebrate Hans Christian Andersen Award nominees Elizabeth Laird and Chris Riddell. Teachers, authors, librarians, publishers and fans (young and old) attended to listen to the nominees and how they feel about the Award, the role of IBBY UK and their illustrious careers. Nicolette Jones, Children's Books Editor at The Sunday Times, chaired the event which was thought-provoking and wide-ranging, providing open discussion on topics such as politics, religion, translation, the book as ‘object’, the importance of libraries and international understanding through children’s books.
Themes of courage, endurance, forgiveness and love were discussed in relation to Elizabeth Laird’s work and we were treated to a wonderful rendition of an Ethiopian folktale from her travels across Ethiopia, in her Grimm-like quest to collect and preserve stories from traditional storytellers. You can read more about her project here.
Children's Laureate Chris Riddell discussed the polemical nature of his work, for example, his illustrations for Gulliver’s Travels including a Tony Blair lookalike to exemplifying the line: "Important ministers in government seem to forget very quickly things they have promised." Riddell also highlighted his recent collaboration with author Nicky Singer on Island - a book about keeping the Arctic frozen which has recently been published through crowd-funding (see more here).
Laird and Riddell both championed the importance of IBBY’s role in promoting international understanding, describing the organization as a "bridge" that stimulates conversation across borders in the children’s book community. This was a truly inspiring event reminding us all about the role of books in creating empathy, dialogue and compassion across the world.
International Congress in New Zealand, August 18-21 2016
By Clive Barnes
Registration has now open for next year’s International Congress in New Zealand. The theme is Literature in a Multi-Literate World, looking at “what it means to be literate and what young people’s literature might ‘look like’ in a future where story is conveyed, not only through written and oral modes but also, increasingly, through visual, gestural, spatial and digital modes.”
Speakers so far confirmed include Witi Ihimaera, Leonard Marcus, Nadia Wheatley, Markus Zusak, Ursula Dubosarsky, Sir Richard Taylor and Julia Eccleshare.
The Congress is an opportunity for the IBBY Community in the southern hemisphere to get together. It is also an opportunity for those who are furthest away to learn more about children’s literature down under. IBBY New Zealand is especially keen to welcome colleagues from the north. So, if you fancy a visit to the land of Hobbits, sheep, rugby, Margaret Mahy and Kiri Te Kanawa, you have until April 1 next year to take advantage of the early bird registration fee. The final day of the Congress is combined with the Family Day of the 23rd annual Storylines Festival of New Zealand’s Writers and Illustrators – the largest Children’s Literature festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Why not take the whole family?
IBBY Executive Committee Meeting
By Ferelith Hordon
The latest IBBY Executive Committee Meeting was held over two days in Bratislava and was a comprehensive review of IBBY activities of the Secretariat together with reports from the regions and the national sections.
The meeting opened with a report from Wally de Donker, IBBY President, on his activities raising the IBBY profile. The financial report highlighted the lack of donations to the Solidarity Fund which exists to help IBBY Sections at times of extraordinary financial crisis. This emphasises the need for Sections to be active in promoting membership and fundraising opportunities as far as possible.
The report on the awards of the IBBY/Yamada fund was positive as the group was able to recommend support for all the applications. From 2017, there will be to one recipient each two years rather than two.
The IBBY Trust has now been formed to replace the IBBY Foundation and has already supported the project for Central American child refugees in the US that is run by Reforma, the Latino Librarian organization and supported by USBBY. On the same topic there was further news from the Silent Books Project on the island of Lampedusa. IBBY Italy have identified another building to use as a library that will help achieve their aims and the fourth IBBY Camp will be taking place in November to help further the project. In the meantime the collection of Silent Books is on tour round the world.
Of course hearing from our IBBY colleagues round the world is always an important part of the meeting. For the European Region, Vagn Plenge and I presented the proposal that came out of the meeting in Bologna, that there should be a Europe One Day Conference on 2017. This proposal was greeted with approval - so we must now make it happen.
Business was wide ranging including reports on the Children in Crisis projects; the Gaza Libraries which have been rebuilt and are active; the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Honour Books and Bookbird.
Russia will provide the poster for International Childrens' Book Day in 2017.
Biennale of Illustration Bratislava (BIB)
By Ferelith Hordon
The Biennale of Illustration Bratislava was a glittering array of illustrative talent. Before the main event, we were priveleged to view an exhibition of the work of previous winners that was on show in Bratislava Castle. Of course, I made a bee-line for John Rowe's illustrations - our Grand Prix winner from 1995.
When the 2015 Exhibition opened, there were more treats. The exhibition itself was attractively presented; the array of talent impressive. What was also impressive was to see which countries sent in a full complement of nominations. Sometimes there was a sense of a "national" style, but the work on display was often startling and very different. The nominations from the UK were no exception; our artists showed that illustration here can be individual, arresting and interesting. Congratulations to all our illustrators - and especially to Laura Carlin and Levi Pinfold. I hope we will be able to send another glittering selection in two years time and I recommend both Bratislava and the Biennale as a destination.
Bath Children's Literature Festival
By Nikki Marsh
BBY UK was pleased to support Children's Laureate Chris Riddell's event at the Bath Children's Literature Festival in late September. Chris is our illustrator nominee for the prestigious international Hans Christian Anderson Award 2016. The shortlist will be announced in January, and the winners in April 2016.
Future HCA Events
An event celebrating Elizabeth Laird’s nomination as HCA author nominee is due to take place in Edinburgh on 22 November, under the auspices of the Edinburgh Book Festival.
A joint event to meet and celebrate these nominations with Chris Riddell and Elizabeth Laird will take place on Wednesday 4 November in London, at Waterstones, Piccadilly. Please contact events[at]ibby.org.uk for more details.
International Literacy Day
by Clive Barnes
To celebrate International Literacy Day, there could be nothing more appropriate, or uplifting, than to read (or perhaps re-read) Mohsin Hamid’s opening address to the Sydney Writers’ Festival, given in May this year: Life in the Time of Permawar. This essay, published in The Guardian a few weeks ago and available on its website, is an elegant and moving vindication of the power of literacy and literature in our present fractured and dangerous world.
Hamid, born in Lahore, is the author of three novels, Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, as well as a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations.
The following summary, from the Sydney Writer’s Festival website, gives an indication of the essay’s scope and ambition:
“Ours is an era of growing uncertainty and incessant conflict. We are merging with the machines we have created and are ever connected. Our screens are filled with images of breathtaking violence: beheadings, immolations, bombings and missile strikes. The pace of migration and economic disruption is accelerating. Tribalism, nationalism and sectarian chauvinism are on the rise. Humanity's traditional sources of solace - family, community and religion - are being disrupted. How then are we to live? And what can fiction do to help?”
The answer that Hamid gives may be familiar to all of us who love literature, but his restatement here is of such conviction, humanity and eloquence as to remind us of how much it still needs to be said.
Lauren Child Retrospective: Mottisfont House
By Clive Barnes
This summer, the idyllic surroundings of the National Trusts’ Mottisfont House provide the backdrop to the first retrospective exhibition of Lauren Child’s illustrative work. Opening the exhibition on Friday 17 July, Lauren joked that helping put it together had made her realise how old she must be. However, while the exhibition represents seventeen years of her work to date, it is recognition of the impact that her illustration and writing have had on children’s books in a relatively short time. Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean are as familiar to many children as Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit, whose creators have figured in past exhibitions at Mottisfont.
The exhibition, which is drawn from her personal archive, includes not only original work for many of her books, but also a number of objects that have provided her with inspiration or have appeared in the books in various ways. There is the pink milk glass that Lauren bought from a charity shop and photographed to feature as Lola’s favourite drink in the Charlie and Lola books, the lampshade designs that carried over into the books from Lauren’s previous incarnation as a fabric designer, and the genesis of the fabric that Lauren designed for Liberty with Clarice Bean in mind. While these are the things that may particularly fascinate younger visitors to the exhibition, older fans can trace the course of Lauren’s development as an illustrator.
Lauren’s work is characterised by humour, deft characterisation and an eye for design and composition, and the work shown here ranges from the earliest collage sketches for Clarice Bean, That’s Me through her experimentation with photography and three dimensional modelling, including the models for the scenes in Princess and the Pea, to her current preoccupation with line, shape and form in the new Charlie and Lola book One Thing, due out in October. Of this latest work she says, “I wanted to show the beauty of numbers, not just the joy of counting which children embrace very early on but how visually beautiful numbers are.”
Mottisfont, a house built around the remains of a former Abbey and on the banks of the River Test, was a scene of artistic house parties hosted by former owner Maud Russell in the 1930s and, in recent years, the Trust has created an exhibition space within the house which has featured a range of art and illustration, including summer exhibitions of the work of Ernest Shepherd, Beatrix Potter and Quentin Blake. Louise Grovier, curator at Mottisfont, said that she was especially pleased that Lauren had accepted the invitation for the exhibition and that they had been able to work so closely on it. She says that one of the exciting things for her about the exhibition is the opportunity it gives to appreciate Lauren’s work with textures:”All sorts of materials are photographed, photocopied, cut up and manipulated to create complex layered textures that are then combined with drawing and paint. One of joys of seeing Lauren’s original work “in the flesh” is the chance to see these layers which often disappear when reproduced in her books.”
For Lauren, Mottisfont has personal significance, since its nationally renowned Rose Garden was a place that her parents loved. And she has also worked with Louise to create a family trail in which Charlie and Lola and their friends act as guides to the house and gardens, with “creative challenges” along the way. There will also be a series of activity weekends in the summer holidays, from storytelling sessions to craft activities, including making a giant book.
The Art of Lauren Child: Adventures with Charlie, Lola and Friends runs from 18 July to 6 September, 10am–5pm (house and exhibition open at 11am), normal National Trust admission charges, and no separate charge for the exhibition.
Two new independent publishers focus on cultural diversity and books in translation
By Clive Barnes
It’s not every day that an independent publisher is launched in the UK on its precarious way in the choppy seas dominated by international conglomerates. Even rarer that they are dedicated to causes close to IBBY’s heart. So we would like to crack open a bottle over two such bold ventures.
Tiny Owl’s aim is “to introduce the cream of the crop of global children’s literature, contemporary and old, to the English speaking audience.” It has kicked off this year with eight glorious picture books from Iran, including The Little Black Fish, illustrated by Farshid Mesghali, winner of IBBY’s Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration in 1974. If anyone still needed convincing of the treasure of children’s literature that is out there beyond the English speaking world for us to discover, then this stunning selection from only one country, largely unknown here for its children’s books, might be a place to start.
The Lantana flower is one of the only plants that has petals of many colours on one stem. What better way, say the founders of Lantana publishing, “to represent children of many colours reading happily on one earth?” Lantana’s first books are due out in September and its aim is to address “the widespread lack of cultural diversity in children’s publishing in the UK” and to provide “opportunities for authors and illustrators of minority backgrounds to create children’s books that are resonant of their own experiences, places and cultures.” Its first three picture books are set in Singapore, Malaysia and Nigeria, and feature authors and illustrators that will be new to most of us. Lantana’s directors are Alice Curry and Caroline Godfrey, and you can find their stimulating views on what cultural diversity might mean in children’s books in the blog on the Lantana website.
The IBBY AGM at the House of Illustration 12 May 2015
By Rebecca Butler
The House of Illustration is part of an arts centre just up the road from Kings Cross Station, a focus of creativity and good taste within walking distance of an area not noted for such influences. The House had as its driving force the famous illustrator and first Children’s Laureate Quentin Blake.
One of the highlights of the AGM for me was the opportunity as the newest serving Committee member to network with other IBBY supporters. Links were made, and have resulted in some positive outcomes. I met Eileen Finch of Access 2 Books, who makes copies of standard picture books (with the consent of the publishers) in large print and Braille for the visually impaired. I told her of my work as a literacy tutor at an SEN school and she was kind enough to send me a set of her creations for the school.
Once inside the House of Illustration I was impressed by the level of disability access. The Committee and guests were then treated to an enlightening and impassioned talk by Colin McKenzie, current director of the House. He stated that the main aim of the House was to showcase illustration in all its forms and to allow schoolchildren to explore illustration as a medium of self-expression through workshops in a purpose-built operating environment. He also told us of their forthcoming exhibitions. Currently showing is Ladybird by Design, 120 original illustrations from classic Ladybird titles, in celebration of 100 years of Ladybird Books. The next event will be an outstanding exhibition of the work of E.H.Shepherd (of Winnie the Pooh fame) working as a war artist during World War I. It was a most enjoyable and useful event.
London Radical Book Fair - “The fightback starts here”
by Ann Lazim, IBBY UK.
The 3rd London Radical Book Fair took place in Tanner Street close to Tower Bridge on 8 May. A diverse range of booksellers, publishers, left organisations and comic creators set up stalls, demonstrating dedication and a refusal to be downhearted following the result of the general election two days earlier. As Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said when announcing the winner of the Bread and Roses Award for non-fiction (Here We Stand. Women Changing the World (Honno): “The fightback starts here.”
Children’s books have a strong showing at the fair, thanks to Letterbox Library and the instigation of the Little Rebels Award. Eight books were shortlisted this year and each had an author, illustrator or publisher present to speak about it in a very interesting panel discussion, chaired by Elizabeth Laird.
Introducing each speaker, she gave nothing away, prefacing her remarks every time with the words “I particularly liked this book because…” Several of the books had made her cry which she felt to be a sign of a satisfying read. Listening to the panel brought home the wide range of the shortlist, comprising four picture books and four novels – you can see the full shortlist here.
Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz and Margaret Chamberlain (Frances Lincoln) and Pearl’s Power by Mel Elliott (I Love Mel) challenge gender stereotypes about boys and girls respectively. Chris Haughton’s Shh! We Have a Plan (Walker) has a subtle environmental message. Jessica Shepherd’s Grandma (Child’s Play) depicts a loving relationship between a child and his grandmother who has dementia. This picture book has something in common with Anne Booth’s novel Girl with a White Dog (Catnip), in which Jessie’s grandmother is becoming forgetful. The carefully revealed theme of this book shows how hard it is for young people, struggling to discover their own identity, to go against what appears to be a majority view in order to be accepted. Joan Lingard’s Trouble on Cable Street (Catnip) reveals the conflicts faced by Isabella, living in London’s East End in 1936. Attention was drawn to the fact that both of these novels published by Catnip make reference to the rise of fascism and their relevance today. Bernard Ashley’s Nadine Dreams of Home (Barrington Stoke) is written from the viewpoint of a child refugee settling into a new life in England – scary in different ways from her life in Africa from which she has fled with her family (minus her father).
The winner was Scarlet Ibis by Gill Lewis (Oxford University Press), the story of one girl’s fight to keep her family together while drawing attention to the situation of many children who are placed in the position of being carers.
The panel agreed on the importance of books for children having a good story rather than being issue led. However, encouraging children to question is vital and engaging with moral dilemmas is often what makes a good story.
London Book Fair 2015
By Ferelith Hordon
The London Book Fair is over for another year. Olympia - for the casual visitor i.e. one not intent on securing rights or masterminding publishing deals - was a revelation; all that air and space. This year, Mexico was the featured country, and the Mexico pavilion was a beautiful spacious creation at the heart of the concourse.
As a result of our visit to Mexico City for the IBBY World Congress last year, IBBY UK, was keen to reciprocate some of the hospitality we received from the Mexican publishers of children's books. To this end, a reception was organised at CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) at their lovely base in Webber Street. It was a relaxed atmosphere after the noise and bustle of the fair. We were delighted that all the Mexican publishers were able to join us, as well as Francisco Hinojoso, one of the best known children's authors in Mexico, and the first Children's Laureate for Mexico.
The next day saw the seminar organised by IBBY UK. The theme was Reading Promotion. Chaired by Julia Eccleshare, the panel included Jonathan Douglas, Director, The Literacy Trust, and Adam Freudenheim, Pushkin Press, from the UK together with Karen Coeman representing Conaculta and Soccorro Venegas of the Mexican publishers Fondo de Cultura Economica. The discussion was interesting illustrating a variety of projects from both countries, the challenges, aims, outcomes - and hope for the future. While there were many differences, it was also clear that all the projects shared a common aim and an ambition that all children should achieve the right to have access to reading, books and a chance to learn. The audience will have left with plenty to reflect on.
IBBY News from Bologna Book Fair
By Pam Dix, Chair, IBBY UK
Another great fair! It is such an experience to go to Bologna just to see the size and scope of the fair, and it's great to relay IBBY news.
It was fantastic to see IBBY’s high profile in Bologna…. IBBY posters along the entrance walk and a constant stream of visitors at the IBBY stand. The new Disability List 2015 attracted lots of attention. Leigh Turina and Sharon Moynes from Toronto, who now manage the collection, were always talking to visitors and held a well-attended seminar. They also outlined the selection at the IBBY Press conference and gave good mention to the UK books included in this list. We would like to bring this collection to the UK as we have done with the Illustrations section of the 2014 Honours books, so do contact us if you have any ideas for this.
The IBBY press conference on Monday 30th March was very well attended. Wally de Doncker, IBBY President, gave a very powerful speech about the power of reading in which he said that all of us involved in this area of work are making a difference for now and in the future. He mentioned the dynamism of the IBBY Mexican Congress and how this had nourished the legacy of IBBY and reflected so well on the enthusiasm of the Latin and South American countries. On libraries, he referred to Neil Gaiman’s comment that closing libraries is like eating seed corn to save money and said that we all need to have a sense of moral outrage about this as reading underpins human rights and the UN charter for the child. As reading for pleasure remains one of IBBY’s primary concerns, he outlined the need for adults to remember the power of story and to be aware of current neuroscientific research in this area. Interestingly, Wally also referenced recent research about young peoples’ preference for the book as a physical object over forms of e-reading.
Liz Page updated us on all IBBY general news:
- Five more countries have joined IBBY this year: Jordan, Nigeria, Hungary, Zimbabwe and Herzogovina.
- IBBY has published a new one page Children’s Literacy Rights charter. This has been prepared by PRAESA after winning the IBBY ASAHI Reading Promotion Award last year. (We were all thrilled when the following day we heard the live broadcast of the Astrid Lindgren Award, which announced Praesa as this year’s winner.)
- The programmes currently recipients of the Yamada fund are all working well. Liz particularly referenced the scholarship for a young student category, which has allowed a young Zambian illustrator to attend college in South Africa and then return to teach his colleagues.
- The Children in Crisis and Sharjah funds will continue to support work in Afghanistan and will provide funds to refurbish the destroyed libraries in Gaza. These funds also support work in the Lebanon on storytelling, in Tunisia on special needs and also give support to attend the World Congress.
- The IBBY Regional meetings programme continues with meetings held in Latin America, Asia and Oceania, Africa and Europe
- Roger Mello’s art donation has raised 10,001 US dollars in the auction, which was won by Nami Island.
- The Hans Christian Anderson jury was announced and the panel comprises members from Denmark, Spain, Slovenia, Egypt, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, USA, China, Iran with Patsy Aldana from Canada as the President. This year’s nominations are from 33 countries and there are 27 illustrators and 29 authors. The shortlist will be announced in January 2016 – earlier than usual to encourage interest and the opportunity to promote the award.
- The 2016 New Zealand IBBY World Congress organisers updated on progress. Visit their website at www.ibbycongress2016.org. Early bird discount prices are available from 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016. The call for papers will go out on 1 May 2015 and successful candidates will be notified by 31 January 2016.
I also attended the European Regional Meeting on 31 March. This was well attended and included discussion about the European website, Facebook site and newsletter. If you haven’t seen it do look at the recommended books from each country, which we agreed to update once a year with 5 new books.
And now on to London Book Fair!
International Children's Book Day at the Bologna Book Fair
By Ann Lazim
It's April 2nd, Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, and the day IBBY celebrates International Children's Book Day. Each year a different national section sponsors a poster to mark the day designed by an illustrator from that country accompanied by a message from one of their authors. This year the United Arab Emirates sponsored the poster & at the IBBY press conference on Monday we heard from its creators Marwa Al Agroubi and Nasim Abaeian. They brought along a cake decorated with the poster's picture to share with the people from around the world who crowded at the IBBY stand afterwards.
The Bookseller has reported that there is a lack of new trends at Bologna. However, there is certainly a burgeoning interest in wordless books, here termed 'silent' books. IBBY Italia are at the forefront of this, having initiated a project to take books to the island of Lampedusa, a landing place for refugees from many countries. Discovering that the 1000 indigenous children also had little access to books, they have facilitated the founding of a library there which the older children open up for the younger ones.
IBBY Italia have created a collection of wordless books with the collaboration of other IBBY sections, from which some are selected to form a travelling exhibition. The reason for choosing wordless books is the possibility of constructing your own story from the pictures whatever your own language or that of the book's creator. However, the reality is more complex, as styles of illustration also require interpretation and contextual understanding, 'graphic language' mentioned by Carll Cneut, a Flemish illustrator, who was on the selection panel. Wordless books are frequently sophisticated (think of Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival' for example). Many fascinating discussions about this lie ahead.
The idea of the 'silent' book has extended into a competition - The Silent Book Contest - for which the shortlisted titles are here on display. Among these are vibrant books from Argentina and Italy. Wordless books can be full of life and colour and not 'silent' at all in their appearance or in their message.
The Lampedusa project has raised the question of the difficulties involved in getting books to children who are held in detention, as the refugee children are in camps to which access is denied. For those of us here from IBBY UK, this has raised questions for our own situation. Children and young people being held in detention centres need access to books which could help them through some very difficult times. Something for us to address.
The Ethiopian Folktales Project
On March 14, several IBBY members attended the Ethiopian Embassy’s launch of Elizabeth Laird’s two new websites of Ethiopian folktales. Elizabeth described how she has been collecting tales since a visit in 1996 and has now travelled the whole country in pursuit of stories and storytellers. With the help of many in Ethiopia and the British Council, and with funding from the Christensen Fund, an extraordinarily rich and wonderful collection of stories is now available – in both English and Amharic. Many of these are also available as audio recordings on the site.
Elizabeth emphasised the impact that education has on an oral tradition as it means that many stories are no longer told between the generations and this makes the recording of them ever more important.
Elizabeth was keen for a selection of suitable tales to be available for use in schools in Ethiopia so a second website was created with a selection of tales in English. This is also a great resource for schools in the UK.
Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation 26/01/15
By Pam Dix, IBBY UK Chair
‘Hear voices that would otherwise remain silent’
This powerful statement was made by Kevin Crossley-Holland in his talk at the ceremony to announce the winner of this year’s Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation on 21 January 2015. The award ceremony was hosted by the English Speaking Union who have administered the award since its inception in 1996. It is the only award specifically for translated literature for children and is sponsored by the Marsh Christian Trust. (See also The Mildred Batchelder Award in the US)
This year’s winner was Margaret Jull Costa for her translation from Spanish (originally in Basque) of The Adventures of Shola by Bernardo Atxaga, published by Pushkin Children’s Books. Margaret’s reading delighted the audience – this is the story of a dog with attitude.
This year’s judging panel praised the number of entries and the quality of the shortlist. Nevertheless, Kevin emphasised the very small number of translated children’s books published in the UK, citing Daniel Hahn’s talk on Radio 4 (24 September 2014). For the programme, Daniel did a simple counting exercise in a major London bookshop and found only 29 of over 2000 books were in translation, and only 6 of these were by authors who are still alive.
Kevin said that this ‘won’t do’. Children read without necessarily knowing that the books they are enjoying are translated; but publishers are too based on commercial imperatives and are too inward looking. In our multicultural society, publishers should want to excite children with books written elsewhere and made available through translation. He went as far as to suggest that UK publishers should commit to a quota of translated books so that our publishing industry can be less insular, rather part of one Europe and one world. To aid this, he is hoping that the School Library Association, of which he is President, will focus one of their Riveting Reads series on books in translation.
The promotion of children’s literature from around the world is one of our key aims as IBBY UK so it was delightful to be in a room with others who share these ambitions and are also working to make this happen.
The other books on the shortlist:
- Wafflehearts (Walker Books) translated by Guy Puzey, written by Maria Parr
- The Letter for the King (Pushkin Children’s Books), translated by Laura Watkinson, written by Tonke Dragt
- My Brother Simple (Bloomsbury Children’s Books), translated by Adriana Hunter, written by Marie-Aude Murail
- The Good Little Devil and Other Tales (Pushkin Children’s Books), translated by Sophie Lewis, written by Pierre Gripari
- Anton and Piranha (Andersen Press), translated by Chantal Wright, written by Milena Baisch
IBBY UK’s list of books featuring Muslim children and young people 21/01/15
By Pam Dix, IBBY UK Chair
Recent events in Europe have made us think about what we mean by cultural diversity and how much this concept is valued within children’s literature. Many writers seek to reflect contemporary society and the cultures in which children and young people are growing up.
To illustrate this, in cooperation with Zoe Toft and members of the UK Children’s Literature Web Discussion Forum, we have compiled a list of children’s books which include Muslim characters. In the main, these feature Muslim children and young people growing up in the West, including the UK, USA, Australia and France. There is also a short list of books by and about Malala Yousafzai.
Please contact us if you have other suggestions.
Not just found, but out there in translation 21/11/14
By Ferelith Hordon
In a week when the shortlist for the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation was announced, it was apposite that the event organised by the Children's Book Show at Europe House was all about translation. The audience was treated to two panel discussions: the first under the guidance of Daniel Hahn was a conversation between Julian Evans, Sasha Dugdale and publishers David Fickling and Catherine Bruzzone on how to raise the profile of translated books. It was a lively session. Of course, there was the general agreement that translated books do not fare well in the world of British publishing. It was difficult to work out why this should be so – or even if it had always been so. Nor was there a perception that readers, young readers, were particularly reluctant to read books in translation. Rather, there seemed to be agreement that to create a better representation of books in translation required publishers to be much more aware of the authors and illustrators they could introduce to a British public, then these books needed to be marketed with confidence.
The second panel involved Boyd Tonkin, Tereza Porybna, Nicola Smyth, Graham Henderson and Andrew Peters who tackled the difficult question of how translation could be funded; it is clearly not such a straightforward proposition as publishing in English. Again, while no definitive solution is possible, ideas did emerge – especially the suggestion that there were funding streams available for specific projects through the Arts Council.
Neither of the questions tackled by these panels have simple answers, but the opportunity to have them aired and hear the responses of practitioners involved in all aspects of publishing – translators, publishers, authors, illustrators was welcomed by a knowledgeable and interested audience. This is not a problem that will go away; we need more of such occasions.
BELONGING IS….. 9/11/14
By Susan Bailes
21st Annual IBBY/UK/NCRCL MA Children’s Literature Conference
8th November 2014
Right from the start this year’s IBBY/NCRCL conference had a warm, friendly, inclusive atmosphere and, over coffee, I met with the Romany storyteller, Richard O’Neill. His obvious enthusiasm and love of sharing stories immediately came across. In particular, he explained that among the many schools he had visited, he had learnt a great deal from teachers and pupils in special schools, especially how to convey details in practical ways.
Once seated in the Froebel portrait room, we began in earnest, with Irish born publisher and author, Anna McQuinn whose words were both inspiring and challenging with her call to arms. She reminded us that, ”We have been fighting for the rights of children to see themselves in books and so feel they belong since at least the 1970s.” The marvellous work of Letterbox Library, and publishers like Frances Lincoln and Child’s Play just show what can be done.
Another excellent moment was listening to the co- founder of Inclusive Minds, Alexandra Strick, and how she, with fellow founder, Beth Cox, set about finding and selecting the best quality books for a truly diverse audience. Her message was the need for society to change, something repeated throughout the day. Over time it has become apparent that where there has been a gap in the book lists, talented, caring individuals like Sarah Garland, have felt compelled to fill it. The involvement of the readers themselves was also seen as key and we heard about Alexandra’s visits and involvement with pupils at New College Worcester for the Blind.
This linked with the words of the Guardian Editor for Children’s literature, Julia Eccleshare, who had given a paper about the involvement of young readers and their opinions at the Mexican IBBY Congress. She shared how much the Guardian listens to the readers themselves and involves them, a feature of today’s changing technological world so that there does not always have to be the intervention of adults.
Julia Hope from Goldsmiths’ shared her research into refugees and refugee literature. We learnt how many of the pupils she spoke with hid the fact, or disowned the fact, they were refugees themselves as if there were some social stigma attached to it.
I very much enjoyed hearing about the worldwide involvement of IBBY and delegates in Mexico. All agreed that David Almond had been an inspirational, keynote speaker and did IBBY UK proud. Our new Chair, Pam Dix, had brought back examples of Mexican children’s books with imaginative, high quality illustrations, all on display on one of the IBBY tables. Let’s hope one day they can be available more widely, as they certainly deserve to be so.
This conference carefully blended together diversity like the splendid rainbow tea-time cake, with inspiring, committed illustrators, authors, filmmakers and publishers, alongside academic research with the afternoon’s parallel sessions and panel. I won’t forget seeing Mary Hoffman and hearing Beverly Naidoo read aloud the forceful, opening of her book The Other Side of Truth. As she declared, "We believe in story to challenge and to change inequality in society.”
This message came over loud and clear: we need to change society so that every human being feels they belong and no one is excluded. The adage: “Actions speak louder than words” is well known but the one thing IBBY knows is that words in books or in stories told are incredibly powerful and memorable so let’s support, and expect, publishers to provide books for all.
The Young Muslim Writers Awards 18/07/14
By Sophie Hallam
The Young Muslim Writers Awards (YMWA) celebrated the winners of the 2014 competition on Saturday 18 July at London’s iconic Senate House. Guests were treated to a delicious feast on arrival before being ushered in to a star-lit room ready for the awards. Hosted by Birmingham poet laureate Richard Grant, aka Dreadlockalien, the awards kicked off with a free-style poem honouring all of the shortlisted award winners. Authors, illustrators, poets, storytellers, musicians and singers took to the stage to celebrate the power of the written word and to congratulate all those who took part in the competition.
Illustrator and author Jane Ray announced the winner for the KS1 short story award encouraging members of the audience to build upon their writing, keeping notebooks of thoughts – a store cupboard of ideas. Singer and performer Khaleel Muhammed spoke of the power of words to inspire people to greatness as nothing short of magic. Author Sufiya Ahmed reminded us of the importance of nurturing young talent in order to ensure that we have more diverse books, stories and authors in the future. She quoted Na'ima B Robert's recent article in The Guardian on the importance of sharing stories to “…help to bridge the divide that exists on the outside. They connect us in our humanity, cultivating empathy and gifting us with a new view of the world.”
The Young Muslim Writers Award was established in 2010 to celebrate the literary achievements of children from the age of 5 upwards. The Awards set out to encourage and nurture the creativity of young writers through author visits to schools and libraries, along with workshops for young readers and writers which reach thousands of pupils every year. The Awards are one of Muslim Hands’ UK projects, an international aid agency and NGO that works in over 50 countries worldwide to help those affected by natural disasters, conflict and poverty.
The winners of each category are:
- KS1 Poetry – Khadijah Shah ‘Weather’
- KS2 Poetry – Alwaaz Khan ‘The Bullet’
- KS3 Poetry – Jasmin Khanom ‘ Everything Precious Must be Covered’ and Hamza Amer ‘Sonnets’
- KS4 Poetry – Amani Uddin ‘I am’
- KS1 Short Story – Maariah Mindhola ‘How I met a dinosaur’
- KS2 Short Story – Iman Uddin ‘ Pride of Brindle’
- KS3 Short Story – Imaan Maryam Irfan ‘The Piper’
- KS4 Short Story – Amani Anwar ‘We’re all cowards here’
Congratulations to all those who took part in the competition!
50 of the best – but we need many more like this 13/10/14
By Pam Dix (Chair, IBBY UK)
At The Guardian this week, Seven Stories and Frances Lincoln Publishers launched their list Diverse Voices, 50 of the best books that champion Britain's rich, cultural diversity and selected from 1950s to the present day.
Introducing the list, Kate Edwards, Chief Executive of Seven Stories, emphasised the way that children's books shape our earliest perceptions of the world and help to build understanding, empathy and tolerance. She quoted Malala Yousafzai's speech at the United Nations last year.
To wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens - they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, on book and one pen change the world.
This list is part of an ongoing programme of work for Seven Stories.
Julia Eccleshare, the 'champion' of the Early Years section of the list, made a plea, echoed by all the other champions, for more books like the ones in this selection. She emphasised the point that we need more books that reflect the society we now live in, particularly in picture books. Young children skip across barriers and they can be our ambassadors for a future society if we have given them access to books that reflect the diversity of their worlds. Stirringly, she asked all present to pass this message on to 10 or 100 others in the children's book world. She said "these books are fitting for this campaign and books that every child should encounter." Sarah Smith (champion readers 5+) reiterated this when she said children need examples where they belong and are not outsiders.
Over the summer the collection has been used around the country with various organisation. Debbie Beeks, Learning and Participation Manager at Seven Stories, gave some moving examples of the value of the vicarious experiences of stepping into someone else's shoes that the books can provide and of children's powerful creative responses to their reading.
Laughter is the best medicine 07/10/14
By Ferelith Hordon
Laughter is the best medicine - or that is what people say. And I feel it is true. Why? Well last Tuesday (7 October), I enjoyed an evening with three authors who specialise in making children and young people laugh; in fact, not just the young, but anyone who is young at heart - and that includes many adults. Who were the authors and what was this event? Organised by IBBY UK and publishers Abrams and Chronicle in partnership with Waterstones Piccadilly, it was a panel discussion between John Scieszka, Louise Rennison and Jim Smith (creator of Barry Loser) under the chairmanship of Emily Drabble from the Guardian. All three authors boast an impressive number of books to their name and all were celebrating new titles - and all three are prize winners. John indeed, best known is this country for his True Story of the 3 Little pigs, was the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature (the equivalent of the UK's Children's Laureate) in2008; the first to be appointed. Both Louise Rennison and Jim have been crowned in the UK, Louise as Queen of Teen, Jim, winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. It is hardly surprising the evening involved a great deal of laughter.
The discussion was wide ranging. We learnt a bit about the background of each author and their paths to writing. Difference in humour was discussed - especially the difference between humour in the UK and humour in the USA, though as John pointed out it is difficult to generalise when faced by a country as enormous as the US. However, it is true that though Scieszka is accepted here, Barry Loser still has to cross the pond - while Louise reported on difficulties with some of her titles for American publishers. The conversation moved easily between the panel. The result, the audience was treated to some very funny anecdotes (surgically removed shoes?). It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening in the company of three very accessible authors. Let's have some more of this medicine.
By Clive Barnes
One of the heartening ways in which e-book publishing is developing is the republication of classic titles that have long been out of print. One such e-list is Hodder Silver, which has recently re-issued a number of older science fiction and fantasy titles, including three remarkable books from Jan Mark’s early career.
34th IBBY International Congress, Mexico City
This year five IBBY UK delegates attended the 34th IBBY International Congress, Mexico City, 10-13 September 2014. The main theme of the 34th International Congress was inclusion - "may everyone really mean everyone".
Quentin Blake: Inside Stories
By IBBY UK Committee Member, Jennifer Harding
On 2 July The House of Illustration opened a gallery at 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, sharing the building with the Arts Fund. It is hidden round a corner in the square, the square being a very attractive space by Regents Canal with a stepped area of grass and plenty of benches, tables and chairs above the grass in the paved square for relaxation and picnicking. The nearest tube and mainline station is King’s Cross. A large arrow sign greets you as you step outside the station, and as you walk up to the gallery the hoardings advertise the gallery and also show well-known illustrations from children’s books.
Vango: Interpreting War for younger readers
By guest blogger Andrew Roads, literary translator from French to English
On June 5th, a beautiful early summer’s day, Walker Books HQ in Vauxhall was the setting for the launch, organised by IBBY with Walker, of the second volume of Vango by Timothée de Fombelle. The author joined a panel chaired by Alexandra Strick of Outside in World to discuss the theme of “Interpreting war for younger readers” alongside his translator, Sarah Ardizzone, YA writer Lydia Syson (A World Between Us; That Burning Summer) and Walker publishing director Jane Winterbotham.