Library and Information Week

Next week is Library and Information Week in Australia. Organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), this is an opportunity to “consider the role which libraries play in our local community, work, and personal life” (ALIA, n.d.). The theme this year is Truth, Integrity, Knowledge, which is very appropriate given the current political and social landscape. Activities and events will showcase “all the ways that qualified library staff and libraries support and further these ideals” (ALIA, n.d.).

Let’s celebrate all libraries from the humble…

to the grand!

Big Library

Image by Michael Beckwith: Pixabay License

Events highlighting the value of libraries and the role they play in communities are held in countries around the world. Last month, National Library Week was celebrated by the American Library Association, with the theme Libraries = Strong Communities (which ties in with my previous post about libraries and communities). Later in the year, the UK will mark Libraries Week with a series of events. An initiative of CILIP, its theme will be Celebrating Libraries in a Digital World.

Take some time out next week to visit a library and celebrate all that is wonderful about these special places and the people who work in them.

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Libraries and communities

Last month we celebrated World Book Night, which is an initiative of The Reading Agency, “a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading” (The Reading Agency, 2019). During this event, books were handed out to organisations working with the most vulnerable in our society, providing them with access to reading material. Whilst World Book Night is an important celebration, libraries play a significant role every day in facilitating social change through the services they offer and the spaces they provide. Anyone can use them (and I mean anyone), which makes them such valuable places within communities.

Libraries are important to communities, whether they are large…

The Word

The Word by Libraries Team: CC BY 2.0

A quote by Angela Clarke (which has been beautifully illustrated by Chris Riddell) sums up how important libraries are to those in need:

A library is not just a reference service: it is a place for the vulnerable. From the elderly gentleman whose only remaining human interaction is with library staff, to the isolated young mother who relishes the support and friendship that grows from a baby rhyme time session, to a slow moving 30-something woman collecting her CDs, libraries are a haven in a world where community services are being ground down to nothing. Libraries are vital. Their worth cannot be measured in books alone.

In a recent article in the Guardian, Nicola Heath reiterates this point. She states that “public libraries are not just about books. At their heart, they are about social equity” (Heath, 2019). Like Angela Clarke, she identifies those who benefit most from what libraries have to offer, which includes providing safe and welcoming spaces: those caring for young children, the homeless, older people, digitally excluded groups and those with English as an additional language. The article ends with a quote by R. David Lankes: “Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities” (Lankes, in Heath, 2019). And that is why I love working within the library sector.

or small!

Ketton Library

Ketton Library by Libraries Team: CC BY 2.0

And yet, in the UK in 2017, “almost 130 public libraries [were] closed… while an extra 3,000 volunteers [were] brought in to run remaining services” (Cain, 2018). Resulting from the austerity measures imposed by government, these cuts impact heavily on those who need these spaces most. And this is why it is so important to use your local library (because statistics are the way those in power justify continuing or ending funding) and to support campaigns to prevent or reverse closures. In this way, libraries can continue to play such an important role in bringing about change in communities and society at large.

World Book Night

World Book Night takes place on April 23rd and is a celebration of books and “the difference that reading makes to people’s lives” (The Reading Agency, 2019). This is an opportunity to spread the word about the power of literature to change outcomes for adults and children. The official website has ideas for getting involved, including a range of resources to help you plan and promote your own event. One way to help is to hand out books to organisations working with those who don’t regularly read. These include “prisons, libraries, colleges, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters” (The Reading Agency, 2019).

Hooray for World Book Night… and night-time reading!

Night Reading

Before bedtime by Marco Nedermeijer: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

World Book Night is an initiative of The Reading Agency, “a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading” (The Reading Agency, 2019). Through their work, they support people of all ages to develop a love of reading. Let’s join them in celebrating books and “together we can create a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life” (The Reading Agency, 2019).

 

Picture books about Easter

Easter is fast approaching; so here is a list of picture books to celebrate the festival. I’ve chosen to focus on the elements experienced by young children: the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs and egg hunting.

Picture Books About Easter

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt
Illustrated by Laura Hughes

We're Going On An Egg Hunt

We’re going on an egg hunt.
We’re going to find them all.
We’re REALLY excited…
Hooray for Easter Day!

Join the Easter Bunnies as they set off on an exciting lift-the-flap egg hunt. There are ten eggs to find and count-but watch out for the wolfish surprise!

This book is based on the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. The Easter bunnies set off to find eggs, which are hidden behind flaps. Along the way, they encounter a number of different obstacles: lambs, chicks, bees and ducks. They “can’t go over them. Can’t go under them. Can’t go around them. Got to go through them…”, just like in the bear hunt book. At the end of the adventure is a huge egg… and a wolf, who chases them all the way back home. This is an ideal book for sharing with a group of children. It is interactive (who doesn’t love flaps?) and lends itself well to acting out the story.

Laura Hughes has illustrated a number of children’s books, including The Chocolate Monster and Mummy’s Suitcase, both written by Pip Jones.

The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Games
Written by Nette Hilton and illustrated by Bruce Whatley

The Smallest Bilby And The Easter Games

When the rabbits decide to stop delivering Easter eggs, all the bush animals want to be the new Easter Bunny. After all, Easter wouldn’t be the same without eggs! But how can the rabbits choose the best animal for the job? The lop-eared rabbit has an idea-and that’s when the Easter games begin.

The bilby is the Australian version of the Easter Bunny and this story tells how that came about. The rabbits are tired and need a rest from delivering Easter eggs. In order to find someone to take over their job, they set a series of games for the animals in the bush. They have to be fluffy, then fast, then quiet and finally small. At each stage, more animals are eliminated until only Bilby, Numbat, Possum and Dibbler are left. The last task is to do something with the egg they have been given. Bilby hands his to the biggest rabbit, because “that’s what you do with Easter eggs…You give them to someone. To make them feel special”. As a result of his kindness, a new tradition begins.

Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley have worked together on several books about the smallest bilby, including The Smallest Bilby and the Midnight Star and The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Tale. The latter is the follow-up to The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Games and would also be appropriate for reading at Easter time.

Santa Claus vs the Easter Bunny
Written and illustrated by Fred Blunt

Santa Claus Vs The Easter Bunny

Santa Claus is a jolly fellow. The Easter Bunny is not. Now this little rabbit has run out of patience and devised a devious plot. The holidays just got serious.

I love this book! The Easter Bunny feels he has been hard done by, because, unlike Santa Claus, he gets no help with making and delivering Easter eggs. He is also never thanked for doing so. To get revenge on the man in the red suit, he plans to sabotage the Christmas toy-making machine by putting chocolate into it! The trouble is the children love their chocolate toys, which they can play with and eat. Having decided to throw in the towel, the Easter Bunny is preparing to leave when Santa Claus makes him an offer; they’ll work as a team and he’ll build a proper workshop with elves to help make the Easter eggs. He even gives the Easter Bunny bags of carrots to say thank you. From then on, “Bunny was a happy bunny indeed”. This is really funny, with lots of little jokes scattered throughout the illustrations. Brilliant!

As a children’s author and illustrator, Fred Blunt has created picture books featuring Captain Falsebeard (Captain Falsebeard in a Very Fishy Tale and Captain Falsebeard in a Wild Goose Chase). He has also illustrated books written by Michelle Robinson (Grandmas from Mars and The Forgetful Knight) and Will Mabbitt (This Is Not A Bedtime Story and This is Not A Fairy Tale).

Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure
Written by Kimberly Dean and illustrated by James Dean

Pete The Cat: Big Easter Adventure

When Pete wakes up on Easter morning, he finds that the Easter Bunny needs his help! Read along to find out if Pete can help the Easter Bunny before Easter is over!

Pete the (super-cool) Cat gets a note from the Easter Bunny. He needs his help to deliver Easter eggs. So Pete puts on some bunny ears, collects eggs from the chickens, makes a nose and tail to wear and finally decorates the eggs. Then he is ready to hide them around his neighbourhood. When he has finished, the Easter Bunny arrives to say thank you. “Helping others is what Easter is all about” says Pete as he gets “an award for a job well done”.

Children love Pete the Cat and can’t get enough of his books. You can visit his website for songs and videos, activities and information about new books in the series, including Pete the Cat and the Cool Cat Boogie (in which Pete appears to be channelling John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever!).

Here Comes the Easter Cat
Written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda

Here Comes The Easter Cat

Move over, Easter Bunny. Here comes Cat. He’s got a sparkly suit, a shiny red motorcycle, and one burning desire: to take lots of naps.

Sorry-that’s not right. What was it, Cat?

Oh, yes-got it.

One burning desire: to take over Easter.

Another Easter book with a cat as the main character. Although in this story, Cat is jealous, because everyone loves the Easter Bunny. He decides to become the Easter Cat, but it is harder than he thinks. He ends up feeling sorry for the Easter Bunny, who is worn out, so he uses his motorcycle, complete with sidecar, to deliver eggs. The story is told through the conversation between the narrator and Cat. The interesting part is that Cat doesn’t talk, so his side of the exchange is told through facial expressions, body language and the signs he holds up. This provides lots to discuss as the reader has to interpret what Cat is ‘saying’.

This is the first in the Cat series; the others being Here Comes Santa Cat, Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat, Here Comes Valentine Cat and Here Comes Teacher Cat. I shall have to check them all out!

My Easter Egg Hunt
Written by Rosie Smith and illustrated by Bruce Whatley

My Easter Egg Hunt

Hunting for eggs is fun… when you share with everyone!

Where will you find eggs at Easter?

This simple board book is ideal for sharing with babies and toddlers. I love the illustrations by Bruce Whatley, which show different animals searching for Easter eggs. Using basic positional language, the reader can look up, around, under and through to find the hidden bunnies and eggs. Children could also enjoy re-enacting the Easter egg hunt in their own homes.

Rosie Smith and Bruce Whatley, who are married, have worked together on a number of picture books, including My Merry Christmas, My Mum’s the Best, My Dad’s the Coolest and My First Day at School. All perfect for sharing with little ones.

The Promised One
Written and illustrated by Antonia Woodward

The Promised One

Jesus made sick people well, and cared for the lonely and needy. He was like no one else. Some people believed he was the Promised One-God-on-earth. Others were not so sure. But God always has a plan, and this is the story of that plan: how Jesus came for everyone, everywhere, for all time.

After all the customs and chocolate, this is a book that tells the story of the first Easter. Using child-friendly language, it outlines the main events that led to the crucification of Jesus in a simple and clear way. It was difficult to find a picture book that did this, as many are aimed at an older age group.

My suggestion for a traditional retelling of the Easter story is Easter, illustrated by Jan Pieńkowski. In this, beautiful silhouetted scenes accompany the text from the King James Bible, whilst gold edged letters and images decorate the pages. This is a perfect companion to his book, The First Christmas, which I included in my Twelve Days of Christmas book list.

I hope you have enjoyed this collection of Easter picture books and have been inspired to celebrate the festival by sharing some of them with the little ones in your life. I would like to wish you and your loved ones a very happy Easter.

Click on the book cover image to link to the source. Quotes taken from the blurb and content of the books.

Storytime at home and school

On March 7th, World Book Day was held in the UK. It will also be celebrated later this month, on the 23rd, by the UN. These two days are all about reading and books. They “encourag[e] everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading” (United Nations, n.d.), as well as thanking those who create books (authors, illustrators, translators and publishers) and those who get books into the hands of readers, both young and old (librarians, teachers, booksellers and families). They’re also an opportunity to revisit my previous blog posts in which I shared picture books about reading and about books.

Developing a love of books

One way of promoting reading for pleasure is by sharing books together. At home, storytime involves multiple readings of favourite books, exploring different formats and genres, discovering authors and illustrators, and modelling reading. There really is nothing better than sitting on the sofa together and reading a good book.

Growing readers through sharing books

Sharing A Book

A good story by photogramma1: CC BY-SA 2.0

Storytime at school is equally important. As in the early years, it is linked to developing a love of books and keeping children interested in reading, despite the distractions of modern technology. However, recent surveys have shown a decline in the number of children being read to each day (down from 41% in 2012 to 32%) and the number choosing to read for pleasure (down from 58.8% in 2016 to 52.5%). It saddens me that children are missing out on this shared literacy experience. I can remember, in my last year at primary school, listening to my teacher reading a book to the class. It was a magical experience and one that has stayed with me all these years later. One way of addressing these issues is to set aside time to read to children and teens in the classroom, something that Heather Wright, the teacher behind Reading Rocks, advocates. This can be difficult with the demands of the curriculum, but it has been shown to improve young people’s literacy skills, as well as promoting reading for its own sake and not to pass SATs or reach attainment targets.

Encouraging a love of reading through listening to stories

Storytime

Celebrity Readers 2011 by Lower Columbia College: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you want to make a difference in a child’s life, set aside 10 minutes every day to share a book with them. And remember, they are never too young or old to be read to.

The rights of a reader

There has been some discussion on Twitter recently about the importance of reading for pleasure and how to encourage this in children. This is something I feel very strongly about. I’ve explored it in previous posts about book choices, reading for pleasure in schools and getting children to read.

Reading for pleasure is a wonderful thing

Girl Reading

Reading by Bethany Petrik: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One of the tweets by the children’s author, S. F. Said, included the idea of the rights of a reader. This is taken from Daniel Pennac’s book, The Rights of the Reader, in which he presents a manifesto of “the 10 rights that should be granted to all readers” (Lacey, 2006). Available as a poster illustrated by Quentin Blake, these are:

1. The right not to read
2. The right to skip
3. The right not to finish a book
4. The right to read it again
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to mistake a book for real life
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to dip in
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to be quiet

Consider how these rights are often not accorded to children when reading at school (and sometimes at home). They have to read, whether they want to or not. They have to read what they are given by their teacher. They are discouraged from re-reading books, especially multiple times. They are steered away from certain authors and formats towards those that are perceived to be ‘better for them’.

The right to read anything (including magazines)

Underpinning it all is the focus on reading as a skill to be acquired, rather than an experience to be savoured. This is why so many children, who may start out loving books, particularly when they share picture books with their families, end up turning away from reading as something that is not for them.

The right to read anywhere (including on the floor in a bookshop!)

Boy Reading

Lost by Tim Pierce: CC BY 2.0

S. F. Said believes “every child can be a reader” (Said, 2019) and that the way in which this can happen is for them to become hooked on books. This begins when they find a book that draws them in and allows them to experience the joy of reading. The trouble is “some kids haven’t yet found that book. But that doesn’t mean we should write them off as ‘non-readers’. It just means they need help to find it” (Said, 2019). To that end, S. F. Said has put together a crowd-sourced list of 31 books that have turned “kids into readers” (Said, 2019). Booktrust has then curated lists of recommendations, all with the aim of putting the right book into the hands of a young reader. More ideas can be found under the Twitter hashtag #hookedonbooks. These are all great resources for parents, guardians, teachers and librarians and have the potential to help every child to become a reader.

Get children hooked on books by encouraging them to read for pleasure, by helping them to find books that they enjoy and by not telling them what or how they should be reading. In short, afford them the same rights as readers that we as adults have.

The wonderful world of Celestine and the Hare

Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day, which marks the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week. This event focuses on “[changing] schools, the workplace, families and society through kindness” (The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, 1995-2019). As part of the celebrations, I would like to introduce you to the wonderful world of Celestine and the Hare. Located in Karin Celestine’s garden shed, it is “a place that makes people smile and where kindness and mischief are the order of the day” (Karin Celestine, n.d.). All sorts of creatures, from weasels to circus mice, can be found there and their stories are told through books and videos.

But before I share the first seven books with you, let me introduce you to the Tribe…

Emily explains to the Tribe what a bookmark is (from Finding your Place)

The Tribe

From left to right: Emily, Panda, Small, Baby Weasus and King Norty

Here are their bios from the front of the books:

Baby Weasus was found on the doorstep on Christmas Eve and was adopted by King Norty. She is only little but clever and brave and curious with a huge kind heart. Being a weasel she is also a little bit mischievous, especially when with her daddy.

King Norty is the King of the Weasels. He can’t read but uses his weaselly intelligence, wit and torrential charm for choklit snaffling. Which is what he spends his days plotting to do (along with being daddy to Baby Weasus).

Panda loves the sea and his sock hat. He likes to draw and is best friends with Emily. He is quiet and thoughtful and loves it when Emily reads to him.

Emily is wise and patient and kind and loves to read. She looks after everyone in the Shed and gives the best cuddles. She likes to make things and read books but will always stop what she is doing to hold down the knot on your parcel.

Small doesn’t remember what he is or where he came from before he was found but he is small so he is called Small. He is rather quiet and shy and sometimes people don’t notice him, but he is very helpful and always kind. He likes to sit in tea cups and eat biscuits and watch what is going on best of all. Everyone loves Small.

The characters that Karin Celestine has created remind me of those found in the books of Winnie-the-Pooh. Each one embodies qualities we can identify with, and maybe aspire to. And like A. A. Milne’s stories, the books contain humour, friendship and kindness, as well gently guiding children (and adults) with lessons in love and compassion. Plus there is something beautiful to make at the end of each one.

And here are the books…

Books of beauty and love

Celestine And The Hare Books

Small Finds a Home

Small Finds A Home

When Small comes to live with the Tribe there aren’t enough beds to go around. But Emily has an idea…

Includes instructions for stick weaving.

Paper Boat for Panda

Paper Boat For Panda

Panda dreams of sailing on the wide and beautiful sea, but he knows his boat is only a toy. Then Baby Weasus has an idea…

Includes instructions for making your very own paper boat.

Honey for Tea

Honey For Tea

Emily’s bees make lovely honey for tea. But how can Baby Weasus say thank you for all their hard work?

Includes instructions for making your very own alder cone bee.

Finding your Place

Finding Your Place

Panda loves when Emily reads to him, but he can never find his favourite page. Luckily, Emily knows just how to help…

How to make your own bookmark inside.

A Small Song

A Small Song

When the hedgehog plays, Small remembers songs his Grandpa used to play. And King Norty knows how he can hear the songs again…

How to make your own banjo inside.

Catching Dreams

Catching Dreams

When Baby Weasus can’t sleep, King Norty has just the thing to help her…

How to make your own dreamcatcher inside.

Bertram Likes to Sew

Bertram Likes To Sew

The youngest of the family, Bertram doesn’t like swimming like other water voles, but he does love to sew and repair his family’s clothes. A gentle story about being true to yourself and following your passions.

Includes ecological notes and instructions about making your own teddy bear.

There are a further two books about Bertram’s family: Bert’s Garden and the soon-to-be published Helping Hedgehog Home. I’m planning on adding both of these to my collection.

I love these small books, which are full of warmth and kindness. They offer us gentle lessons in how to live and how to be with others. These are the qualities we need today in a world that is often hard, brash and ‘all about me’. Tasmin Rosewell from Kenilworth Books echoes these sentiments in her review of the books:

We’ve never found a book so small that is so warm and so heartbreakingly profound. The creatures in this delightful little tribe have lives that revolve around the tiny pleasures that the world can offer… With so many awful things in the world, and so much hate, these books are about the huge power of simple kindness.

(Twitter, 2018)

The books are ideal for sharing with children of all ages in schools and libraries (and they are also perfect for grown-ups too!). Karin Celestine has developed a set of teacher notes for the books and is also available for school visits.

Along with the books, I now have my own Baby Weasus, ready for mischief in her blue feather boa. Together we are going to snaffle some choklit!

Baby Weasus, who lives with me

Baby Weasus
What are you waiting for? Enter the wonderful world of Celestine and the Hare. You won’t regret it.

Photographs taken by the author. Click on the book cover image to link to the source. Quotes taken from the blurb and content of the books.

Picture books about bathtime

Saturday 9th February is Read in a Bathtub Day! In honour of this fantastic event, which perfectly combines bathing and reading, I have gathered together a list of bath-related picture books. These are ideal for sharing with little ones, particularly at bathtime.

Picture Books About Bathtime

The Flying Bath
Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by David Roberts

The Flying Bath

The calls have started! Who is first?
A kangaroo is weak with thirst!

One by one the calls come in from animals across the globe in need of water: from the grubby piglet who needs a shower, to a frightened baboon whose tree is on fire. But never fear, the bath toys are coming to the rescue in their magical flying bathtub! And they have water enough for every emergency.

In this fabulously fun story, the bath toys (a duck, frog and wind-up turtle) answer calls for help from animals around the world. With the refrain, “Wings out, and off we fly. The Flying Bath is in the sky!”, they set off to provide assistance to a thirsty kangaroo, a worried bee, a grubby piglet, a frightened baboon and an endangered fish. Then they head home in time for the children to have a bath. The story is told using only speech bubbles, making it perfect for retelling. There are lots of details in the pictures. Look closely to find out what each animal uses as a phone!

In my opinion, you can never go past a Julia Donaldson picture book. She is just the best at creating great stories with perfect rhyming text. And she always works with such great illustrators: Axel Scheffler, Lydia Monks, Rebecca Cobb, Lucy Richards and Sara Ogilvie. She has collaborated with David Roberts on Tyrannosaurus Drip, The Troll and, my favourite, Jack and the Flum-Flum Tree. All three are worth searching for at your local library.

Whale in the Bath
Written by Kylie Westaway and illustrated by Tom Jellett

Whale In The Bath

“Bruno, get in the bath!”

Bruno can’t wash when there is a whale in the bath. Why won’t anyone believe him?

A bubbly read-aloud story about bathtime with a very splashy solution.

Poor Bruno! He needs to have a bath, but there is a whale in the tub and it’s using his bubblegum bubble bath! His sister, Ally, doesn’t believe him and his brother, Pete, thinks it’s impossible for a whale to fit in a bath. Bruno is unable to reason with the whale. The situation looks hopeless until the whale has an idea; he whooshes water out of his blowhole and creates a shower for Bruno to wash under!

I really enjoyed this book, which was a 2015 CBCA Notable Book. It was lots of fun to read, especially the conversations between Bruno and the whale. And I love the endpapers, which are full of shrimp. Kylie Westaway and Tom Jellett have also worked together on Why Can’t I Be a Dinosaur?, about a girl who knows just what she wants to wear to a wedding… and it’s not a dress!

How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth
Written by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Kate Hindley

How To Wash A Woolly Mammoth

Is your woolly mammoth splattered in mud and tangled with leaves? Is he less fragrant and grubby around the ears?

Washing a woolly mammoth can be hard work. But don’t worry! Just follow this step-by-step guide… and woolly mammoth washday will be fun for everyone!

Just don’t get soap in his eyes…

This is another humorous bathtime story. The child in the book takes the reader through a step-by-step guide for washing a woolly mammoth. This includes filling a bath tub, adding bubbles and scrubbing with a broom. Shampoo is also used. But “be CAREFUL not to get any in the mammoth’s… EYES!” If you do, you have to find a way to get it out of a tree! The illustrations add to the fun, especially the various ways of getting the mammoth into the bath and the different hairstyles created whilst shampooing.

Michelle Robinson has written a number of children’s picture books, such as There’s a Lion in My Cornflakes and The Forgetful Knight. As an illustrator, Kate Hindley has created both picture books and fiction books for children, including You Must Bring a Hat and The Royal Rabbits of London.

Pig the Grub
Written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey

Pig The Grub

Eww! What a stinker!

Pig isn’t just the world’s greediest Pug, he’s the DIRTIEST too. It’s high time he had a bath! But try telling Pig that…

Oh, how I love Pig the Pug! The world’s greediest pug is back again. Only this time, he is refusing to have a bath, despite being stinky and rotten. When the bath is run, he makes a dash for it. Grabbing his toy bone, he blocks up the tap and then dances around, saying, “You won’t get your soapy old water on me!” Of course the water pressure builds up behind the blockage and the bathroom explodes, the tap hitting Pig on the nose. So now, Pig has learnt his lesson and has a bath without complaining.

As well as the Pig the Pug collection, Aaron Blabey is responsible for other humorous picture books, much loved by children. These include Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas (but they do nibble bums!), Thelma the Unicorn and I Need a Hug. He has also created the very popular Bad Guys series, which features Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake and Mr. Piranha.

The Bath Monster
Written by Colin Boyd and illustrated by Tony Ross

The Bath Monster

Have you ever wondered where your dirty bath water goes? The Bath Monster slurps it up of course! It’s his second favourite food and no one wants to find out what his FIRST favourite food is…

This book is, obviously, about the Bath Monster, who lives under the bath tub and drinks the dirty water that goes down the plughole. Mum tells Jackson that it will get him if he doesn’t have a bath. Because he loves nothing better than getting dirty and muddy when playing with his friend, Dexter, Jackson needs a bath every night. However, he begins “to wonder if there really [is] a Bath Monster”. Then one day, when he refuses to have a bath, he finds out that there is! This is another fun bathtime book. The illustrations by Tony Ross are full of joy as the boys get muddy rolling down hills and climbing trees. And the Bath Monster is extremely hairy!

This is Colin Boyd’s debut book and how wonderful for him to work on it with Tony Ross, who is a legend in the world of children’s books. He has won numerous awards and  illustrated both picture books, including the Dr Xargle series with Jeanne Willis and fiction books, such as the Horrid Henry series written by Francesca Simon.

Clementine’s Bath
Written and illustrated by Annie White

Clementine's Bath

Clementine runs away to escape a bath. Not a BATH! thinks Clementine. She hides under the bed, behind the curtains and even in Baby’s toybox. Can her family find her in time to give her a bath?

Clementine the dog is pretty stinky as a result of rolling in the rubbish. Like Pig the Pug, she does not want to have a bath and she runs off to hide. But everywhere she goes, her smell gives her away. Trying to escape, she lands on a skateboard, gets catapulted through the air and lands… in the tub. Clementine soon discovers that baths aren’t so bad. You get more hugs when you smell good! This story has a similar theme to Smelly Louie, which was one of the books I chose for the More picture books about dogs list.

Annie White has created another book about Clementine: Clementine’s Walk. She has also beautifully illustrated a number of books, including Gallipoli, Beware the Deep Dark Forest and My Dad is a Bear.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath!
Written illustrated by Mo Willems

The Pigeon Needs A Bath!

The pigeon is filthy! Do you think he should take a bath?

This book has the familiar theme of an animal needing a bath, but not wanting one. The pigeon from Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! is filthy. In conversation with the reader, he discovers that he smells, has flies buzzing around him and really does need a bath. There then follows multiple reasons why he can’t get in the water: too hot, too cold, too deep, not deep enough, too lukewarm, too wet, too reflective, not enough toys, too many toys… Finally the pigeon gets in and loves it! “Can I stay in the tub forever?” he asks, ten hours later. A wonderful book to share with children, along with the rest of the Pigeon series.

Mo Willems has written and illustrated many children’s books, including the Knuffle Bunny collection and the Elephant and Piggie series, which are ideal for early readers.

I hope you have a wonderful Read in a Bathtub Day tomorrow. Run a bath, grab a book and soak away your cares. Just try not to drop the book in the water!

Click on the book cover image to link to the source. Quotes taken from the blurb and content of the books.

International Book Giving Day

February 14th is International Book Giving Day. This is a wonderful initiative run by volunteers with the aim of “getting books into the hands of as many children as possible” (International Book Giving Day 2019, n.d.). The official website has lots of information on how to get involved and how to organise events to celebrate the day, along with free downloads for bookplates, posters and bookmarks. This year, there are two posters: one created by Priya Kuriyan and the other by Chris Haughton. If you use any of these resources, please acknowledge the illustrator, because ‘pictures mean business‘.

International Book Giving Day 2019 poster by Priya Kuriyan

International Book Giving Day

Image used with kind permission of International Book Giving Day

International Book Giving Day 2019 poster by Chris Haughton

International Book Giving Day

Image used with kind permission of International Book Giving Day

We know from literacy organisations that there are many children who do not own books, so this initiative really does have the potential to change lives. Once you are hooked on reading, your life outcomes improve, along with your social capital and wellbeing. So, make a difference by giving a child a book on International Book Giving Day!

Library Lovers’ Month

February is all about libraries. Designated Library Lovers’ Month, this is a chance for us to celebrate our love of libraries and to consider what makes them so important to our communities. Last year, I wrote a love letter to the first library I joined. This can be a great way of reflecting on the role that libraries have played, and continue to play, in your life. There is also a wonderful thread on Twitter in response to this question posed by Lucy Powrie: Why are libraries so important? It’s full of love for these special places.

Let your library know how much you love it

On Valentine’s Day, Australian libraries will celebrate Library Lovers’ Day. The theme for 2019 is ‘Library Love Stories’ and there are lots of great ideas and resources around that on the ALIA website. In addition, this year there is a 200-word flash fiction story competition, starting with the writing prompt, ‘there was love to be found in the library’.

Share the love on Library Lovers’ Day!

Both these events focus on the value of libraries to both individuals and communities. This has coincidentally been the topic of recent discussions on Twitter, initiated by the cuts in library funding in the UK and the consequences of this. Two things are happening in response to the loss of staff. Firstly, libraries are being run by volunteers and secondly, libraries are being handed over to community groups to manage. There are issues with both courses of action. Whilst it is important to acknowledge that people are acting with the best of intentions by keeping libraries open in some way, the argument that something is better than nothing is not good enough. Dawn Finch, a CILIP Trustee and chair of CILIP’s Ethics Committee, has written an excellent post entitled What is a library? In this, she states that handing public libraries over to volunteers or charitable groups will not save them from closure; it will merely postpone it. The reason for this is that without professional library staff, a library is just a room with books and computers in it. When staffed properly, it becomes a place where people are supported in finding the resources they want and need, assisted in learning new skills, accepted for who they are and provided with a safe place to be. As Dawn Finch says, “some things simply make the places we live better, safer, and more bonded as communities” (Finch, 2018) and libraries are one of those things. That it is why it is so important that we fight to keep them funded and staffed with library workers, not volunteers. This is something to remember as we celebrate Library Lovers’ Month.

Libraries are important to every community

I love the Library because...

Luz by San José Public Library: CC BY-SA 2.0

Have a wonderful February, celebrating all that is good about your local or school library. Remember, libraries help build and support communities. Let’s do all we can to ensure they can continue to do this.