Warwickshire Schools Library Service


We Are Reading…. At Christmas — December 17, 2015

We Are Reading…. At Christmas

Mrs Christmas by Penny Ivesmrs christmas

This was a book my family loved! Father Christmas and the reindeer come out in spots so Mrs C has to make and deliver all of the presents.  She comes up with a novel alternative for a reindeer-driven sleigh, and all ends well.  Good for parents to read (repeatedly) too!

RefugeRefuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher

A beautiful retelling of the nativity, illustrated largely in black and white but with splashes of colour throughout. The story draws parallels to the situation of modern day refugees, it’s thought provoking and timely in its gentle beauty.

night before christmasThe Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore 

This is my absolute favourite Christmas book.  I may be 45 years old but the first page : ” ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”, combined with the magical pastel illustrations, never fails to ignite a tingle of anticipation and excitement about what is to come.

Mog’s Christmas by Judith KerrMog' christmas

Oh dear! Mog is not enjoying the festivities.  As the Thomas family get ready for Christmas there’s just too much noise and disruption…and a walking, talking Christmas tree is absolutely the last straw!  So Mog heads for the roof, much to the dismay of her family. Christmas wont be the same with Mog stuck up there!  This was a favourite at Christmas when I was younger and I still love it now.

Elmer and Papa Red by David McKeepapa red

A seasonal story of our favourite patchwork elephant. Elmer takes charge of the baby elephants to let the older ones get ready for Christmas.  They go to find a tree, see snow for the first time and wait excitedly for Papa Red.  A lovely story with a twist at the end!

The Box of Delights by John Masefieldbox of delights

I just adore the descriptive language that Masefield uses within the imaginative elements of the story – the idea of being swift and small, changing into a fish, bird, stag…it’s very poetic in parts.  Ultimately a good versus evil story set amongst snowy landscapes and it reminds me of cosy family evenings at home with great food!

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan AhlbergJolly Christmas

Shhh, don’t tell anyone but I like this even more than the Jolly Postman!  Once again we follow the Jolly Postman on his snowy journey delivering cards to lots of familiar fairytale characters.  Even Mr Wolf is embracing the spirit of Christmas: “All’s well and all’s merry, the wolf’s just eating pies and sherry” – and quite frankly that’s we all like to be doing!



The Warwickshire Secondary 2016 Short-list Announced! — December 3, 2015

The Warwickshire Secondary 2016 Short-list Announced!

The Warwickshire Secondary Book Award is perfect for Year 7 and 8 students and this year’s titles will definitely provide page-turning excitement and encourage wider reading!

Launched during the autumn term, we hope that the awards will help inspire pupils to become keen readers and introduce them to some new books and authors.  The books are chosen to appeal to a range of readers and abilities.  We ask the students to read the six short-listed titles and vote for their favourite.

When asking students what they most enjoy about taking part in the Warwickshire Secondary Book Award responses include “meeting authors and reading books I may never have picked off the shelf”, “the fact that we all had our own choices about which book we liked best” and “I liked how we could all share thoughts on the books”.

This year we will celebrate and announce the winner at the Bridge House Theatre in Warwick.  We will keep you updated with information about the awards, such as competition entries, voting deadlines and which short-listed authors will be attending the final event!

The short-list is as follows:

The Rain by Virginia Bergin

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

If you were me by Sam Hepburn

Would the real Stanley Carrot please stand up by Rob Stevens

Smart by Kim Slater

Close to the wind by Jon Walter

If you want to know more about the awards process or how you can take part, please get in touch: schoolslibraryservice@warwickshire.gov.uk



We Are Reading….. — November 26, 2015

We Are Reading…..

The Lion Inside by Rachel Brightlion inside

Mouse is so small and quiet that no one ever notices him, yet lion is big and loud and shows everyone how important he is with his very loud roar. When mouse decides to ask lion to teach him to roar both get quite a big surprise and mouse learns that you can have a voice whatever size you are.

The Bolds by Julian ClaryThe Bolds

The Bolds are a happy family of hyenas pretending to be humans…well what’s wrong with that I hear you ask?  Nothing at all if you can curb your instinct to sniff bottoms and dig!  (In fact some humans do that very thing). The Bolds live next door to grumpy Mr McNumpty who keeps a very close eye on the comings and goings of his neighbours.  He becomes increasingly suspicious when the Bolds take to nightly excursions from which they return covered in mud!  The Bolds have embarked on a daring rescue mission to save elderly hyena ‘Old Tony’ from impending doom at the local safari park.  But when Old Tony moves in with the Bolds he finds it very tricky to act like a human and Mr McNumpty’s suspicions grow. One day, however, Mr M comes face to face with a group of taunting youths and it’s Old Tony who rescues him – by biting one of the boys on the bottom!  From this Tony and Mr M become firm friends and Mr M is encouraged to reveal a secret of his own.

I laughed out loud reading this book but have to confess I could hear Julian Clary’s voice as I was reading.  Fingers crossed for an audio version narrated by the author.

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhewbig lie

After hearing a colleague talk about this book I thought I must read it! And I’m very glad I did.  Set in present day Nazi England, we get a glimpse of the way life might have been under the rule of the Third Reich.  We follow the story of Jessika Keller, a good girl from a very good family, who tires to follow the rules and doesn’t question anything. Jessika has secrets though and a very strong bond with her best friend Clementine.  Now Clementine does question the rules, and slowly starts to open Jessika’s eyes to the ‘real’ world.  Through Clementine’s rebellion and Jessika’s naivety we see the regime for what it is: controlling, brutal, shocking and harrowing.  This is a thought provoking and gripping read. For older teens.

And not forgetting the non fiction….

Ali’s Story created by Salvador Maldonaldo and Andy GlynneAli's story

This touching picture book is based on a real life account of Ali’s journey from war torn Afghanistan to Europe.  The dark illustrations capture the mood and fear of having to leave all you know and love behind to face an unknown, uncertain future.  It’s very useful for beginning to understand the journey of a refugee, something particularly topical right now.  There are other stories in the series, definitely worth a look.

The Warwickshire Year 9 Book Award Ceremony — November 24, 2015

The Warwickshire Year 9 Book Award Ceremony

Back in August we announced the short-list for our Year 9 Book Award and last week we held the final ceremony to announce the winner.

Pupils taking part came together at The Bridge House Theatre in Warwick to hear Ella Khan, literary agent to Vanessa Curtis talk about Vanessa’s book The Earth is singing, the role of a literary agent and the process of getting a book published.  And both Susin Nielsen (We are all made of molecules) and Allan Stratton (The Dogs) sent video links for the pupils to watch, giving inspirational talks on the writing process and the magic of reading.

Ella Khan reading an extract from The Earth is Singing.

Pupils from Stratford upon Avon School and King Edward VI School in Stratford upon Avon also championed two of the books, coming up on stage and giving us moving reviews and speaking about how the books made them feel.  We had competition winners from The Polesworth School and Avon Valley School for some wonderful poetry entries and also Myton School for an excellent book review.  The students kindly came up on stage to read their winning entries.

Unfortunately non of our short-listed authors could attend the ceremony in person this year, so we asked some keen students to step up on stage to accept the certificates on their behalf!  This year’s winner was The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis.

Pupils accepting the author certificates!

The awards provide a great opportunity for wider reading, reading for pleasure and gives the students a great sense of ownership as they alone get to choose the winner.

We Are Reading…… — October 29, 2015

We Are Reading……

My Garden by Kevin HenkesMy garden

This is a beautifully simple picture book about a young girl who is helping her mother in the garden.  I saw this on one of our library trolleys mid-week and just fell in love with the imaginative way that the girl in the story decides how she would look after her garden.  ‘In my garden, the flowers could change colour just by my thinking about it – pink, blue, green, purple…’ and ‘In my garden the rabbits wouldn’t eat the lettuce because the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them…’  I found the whole story to be quite enchanting and think it would be a wonderful story to share and nurture a love of nature.

Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundellwolf wilder

Another success from the pen of last year’s Warwickshire Junior Book Award winner!  Feo is the daughter of a wolf wilder, Marina, and together they take the unwanted wolf ‘pets’ of the rich of St Petersberg and prepare them to live again in the wild. But a nasty General in the Imperial army is trying to root out dissenters in the rural population and sees these two as a threat. Marina is taken away to prison and Feo wounds the General, sending his tendency to violence and retribution into overdrive. Feo befriends a deserting young soldier, Ilya, and together with others they meet on the way they journey with three wolves to St Petersberg to try and release Marina.  The description of the Russian landscape, the world of the wolves and Feo’s journey – physical and emotional – make for a great adventure and some sad moments, but ultimately a good ending.  Will appeal to upper junior and lower secondary age group.

Close to the wind by Jon Walters close to the wind

I really enjoyed reading this recently as part of our secondary book award long-list.  It is about a boy called Malik and the journey he has to take, in part with his Grandfather, across the ocean.  It is not a journey that he wants to take, but it becomes necessary and all he really longs for is his home and his mum.  I loved the incredibly simple writing technique that breathes just enough life into the characters – they feel so real and you are with them the entire way.  This is an incredibly timely story, perfectly pitched for transition but will equally allow older pupils an opportunity to think.

And not forgetting the non fiction….

Creaturepedia by Adrienne BarmanCreaturepedia

This is a wonderful edition to your non-fiction collection.  Animals are categorised and grouped by their particular talents making this book slightly different to your usual encyclopaedia.  To give you an idea we meet the ‘Munch-it-uppers’…the ‘Mythical’…the ‘Solitary’…the ‘Long Necked’…the’ Giants’ and many many more.  All illustrated in a fun and colourful way with a small fact to keep you, your pupils (and teachers!) entertained for hours.  Very much worth a look as are so many of the books that Wide Eyed Editions are publishing at the moment.  I love it!

— October 26, 2015

Over the years we have developed a lovely network of links and resources with our local authors which we would love to share with you! Please use the link below to have a look through this useful resource:

Author events are a fantastic for your pupils, introducing them to wider reading opportunities and positive reading experiences – which we think are perhaps the best ways to get them reading for pleasure and by choice!

We Are Reading…… — October 23, 2015

We Are Reading……

This Book Just Ate My Dog! By Richard Byrne this book just ate my dog

This greedy picture book is eating up all of the characters!  First it’s Bella’s dog, then her friend…even Bella herself gets gobbled up!  They will need your help to get them all out!  A wonderful, interactive picture book that will definitely make you smile.

Apple tartThe Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

This is such a lovely story.  It is about Oscar and Meg who are next door neighbours and best friends. Oscar is a wonderful character who brings hope to all with his talent of making amazing apple pies and Meg understands just how special he is. But Meg is moving away for six months and everything looks like it might be changing, especially when new girl Paloma moves in next door. This tender, gentle story is sad at times but is hopeful too, and it’s a really good lesson in friendship.

Would the Real Stanley Carrot Please Stand Up by Rob Stevens

Stanley CarrotIf you like a bit of comedy mixed in with your family dramas and dilemmas then this is the book for you! Stanley is adopted and has always wondered why his birth mother let him go.  He would like some answers, so when a card unexpectedly turns up from his mother on his thirteenth birthday, there’s an opportunity for this to happen.  Problem is, Stanley doesn’t quite have the confidence to meet her and be all that she might be hoping he is, so he sets up a rather interesting plan….! Heart-warming and humorous, this is a really good read.

And Not forgetting the non fiction....We send out so many fantastic non fiction titles every term that it only seems fair to shout about these too!

banished, beheaded

Banished, Beheaded or Boiled in Oil by Neil Tonge

Well who doesn’t want to know who punished their citizens with the ‘Knee Crusher’, what the Drunkard’s Cloak was and who got boiled alive?  It’s all here in this fabulously gruesome book about crime and punishment through the ages!

Warwickshire Schools Library Service: Pupil Librarian Training! — October 19, 2015

Warwickshire Schools Library Service: Pupil Librarian Training!

Last week we had the pleasure of working with a group of pupils from Keresley Newland Primary Academy, all very keen readers and budding pupil librarians! They visited us at our library and training room in Warwick for a fun introduction into how a library is run , organised and maintained. IMG_0490They learnt about the library environment, stock maintenance, the Dewey Decimal System, customer care and team work.

Here are a few of their comments from the day:

‘I learnt how to be a good librarian’
‘I learnt a librarian should be caring, kind and helpful’
‘I loved everything, today was amazing!’
‘I have learnt how to treat customers equally’
‘Now I know how to put the books into Dewey Decimal order and alphabetical order’
‘I have learnt how to care for my library’
‘I found the scenarios useful…I know what to say now’

The pupils (pictured above with their certificates and headteacher Fiona Hims) were fantastic and left the session excited and enthusiastic about the changes that they could make to their new library and the different ways that they could promote reading to their classmates and teachers.

These sessions are always incredibly popular with schools and we often plan and tailor them to specific school and pupil needs – do get in touch with us if you would like some more information: schoolslibraryservice@warwickshire.gov.uk

Introducing Our Story Tents! — October 7, 2015

Introducing Our Story Tents!

IMG_0205Create an imaginative reading space in your classroom and school with these wonderful story tents!  Choose from ‘Sea Kingdom’ or ‘Jurassic Jungle’ and receive a small story tent (very easy to assemble!) with 15 appropriate resources included.

The Story Tents cost £80 to borrow for a term.
Please get in touch if you would like any more information! schoolslibraryservice@warwickshire.gov.uk

We Are Reading….. —

We Are Reading…..

Love is my favourite thing by Emma Chichester ClarkLove is my favourite

Plum the dog loves sticks and catching, the park and treats, her mummy and daddy and her friends, but LOVE is her absolute favourite thing.  And it’s hard not to love Plum, even when she’s a little bit naughty….!  A fantastic new picture book with perfect illustrations.

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossanapple and rain

Sarah Crossan has this wonderful way of creating characters that you fall in love with.  She captures the feelings of being a teenager so well; you can feel the emotion and vulnerability radiating from the page.  This is a story about family.  When Apple’s mother reappears after an eleven year absence Apple believes all of her dreams have come true.  She will finally be with someone who understands her and all of her questions will be answered.  But Apple soon realises that things aren’t always as you expected.  I honestly couldn’t put this down, I just wanted to be reading it all of the time.  A gem. Suitable for younger and older teens.

And Not forgetting the non fiction....We send out so many fantastic non fiction titles every term that it only seems fair to shout about these too!

Shackleton’s Journey by William GrillShakleton

Continuing with the theme of exploration, we had to highlight this beautiful book.  Winner of the 2015 Kate Greenaway award for illustration, this book provides a detailed account of Ernest Shackleton and his crew in their attempt to cross the Antarctic. The wonderful drawings highlight all aspects of the expedition in great detail, from the equipment taken and the dogs chosen for the journey to the perilous conditions and vast frozen landscape.  It offers a great way to learn about an important moment in history.