I’m just back from Herefordshire, where I’ve been putting on poetry performances and workshops with primary-school children for the Ledbury Poetry Festival. I’ll tell you more about it later. For now, I’d just like to share this fabulous – completely unsolicited – letter that one of the children came up to me and gave me. I was completely bowled over. Job satisfaction doesn’t get much better than this!
Looking for ‘the best literature on offer for use in the primary classroom’? Look no further! The NS Teachers’ Book Award was set up this year with the aim of finding just that. Since October, teachers, teaching assistants and school librarians across the country have been voting for the shortlisted titles. And the winners were announced at a ceremony on Saturday.
I’m thrilled to announce that the winner in the Poetry category was … my book Buzzing!
The award ceremony was a fantastic occasion, with home-made buns and cakes aplenty, including book buns!
I was very pleased to meet there 12-year-old Tayler, who had interviewed me about my book back in September.
And it was fabulous to meet so many other talented children’s authors who had been shortlisted in the other award categories, i.e. Picture Books, Quality Fiction, Read Aloud and Information.
I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting the members of the ‘Just About Books’ group (linked to the Federation of Children’s Book Groups), who had set up this award. They had put so much time, effort and dedication into the whole enterprise, from book selection through book reviews, interviews, photographs and website creation, to shortlisting, selecting the winners and putting on the ceremony. It was hugely uplifting to see so much commitment to the importance of books in children’s – and teachers’ – lives.
The group’s website is an excellent resource for anyone looking for quality children’s fiction. I really recommend a visit. You’ll see there that they state ‘Children’s literature is our passion’. That certainly came across at the award ceremony.
The Just About Books group said that this award was ‘born out of a desire to celebrate the very best in children’s literature’. It is a huge honour to have been recognised by them as offering ‘the very best in children’s literature’.
Congratulations to the authors of the other winning books, which are:
- Picture book – Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton
- Quality fiction – The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse
- Read aloud – Hercufleas by Sam Gayton
- Information – Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski.
Thank you to everyone at the Just About Books group (especially powerhouse Sue Wilsher) for a fabulous journey. And thank you, too, to my publishers Brambleby Books, without whom there would be no Buzzing! book. It was a real treat to have Nicola and Hugh Loxdale of Brambleby Books with me at the ceremony.
How lovely to come home from my holiday and discover that my book Buzzing! had been nominated for another award! That’s exactly what happened yesterday, when I received an email from the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award informing me that Buzzing! had been longlisted in their Poetry Books category, alongside the likes of TS Eliot, John Hegley and Grace Nichols.
My publishers, Brambleby Books, were particularly pleased to learn that I had been nominated for this award as they themselves are based in Somerset.
As part of the award process the organisers wrote a review of Buzzing!, which I was particularly gratified to read as it highlighted many of the features of the book that I had hoped would appeal to readers in general and teachers in particular.
I’ll let you read the review in full yourself (and admire the beautifully taken photo of my book), but here are some lines that jumped out at me:
‘Never have minibeasts been more appealing than in this book!’
‘As you read [the poems], you find yourself getting into the rhythm of the lines and wanting to read aloud.’
‘Another strength of this book is the fact that it encourages the reader to find out more’
‘A great resource for livening up lessons on life processes and living things!’
‘Fun to use as a cross curricular resource or for performance poetry!’
The shortlist for the award will be announced in September. So, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed till then. Meanwhile, here’s a screenshot of the poetry books that have been selected for the award:
You can find out more about the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award here. If you scroll down to the foot of the page you’ll see fabulous drawings of the judging team, which will put a smile on your face.
Happy reading, judges!
All the pupils at Hague Bar Primary School in Derbyshire are studying minibeasts this term, and their classrooms, hall and corridors are teeming with fabulous minibeast artwork. How do I know? Because I was there on Friday, to add some minibeast poetry to the mix!
I started the day by performing my interactive, cross-curricular, minibeast poetry show Buzzing! for the whole school. (During which much giggling was had by all …) I then spent the rest of the day working with each of their four classes in turn – indoors and out. At the end of the day the children all came together in a sharing assembly and performed some of the fantastic minibeast poems they’d created.
How did the day go? Well, the Year 5/6 teacher Jacinta Robinson thanked me for:
‘your brilliant assembly and workshops.
The staff and children loved it!
We would all highly recommend you to other schools.’
And Year 3/4 teacher Leah Jackson said my minibeast poetry workshop with her class was:
‘fantastic. All the children were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Every child produced something to be proud of.’
I was proud of the minibeast poems the children created too. As were their parents, some of whom had come along for the sharing assembly.
I think the school has something else to be proud of as well: the views it commands over the Derbyshire countryside. How’s about this for a view out of a classroom window?
I could go on at length about how enthusiastic and welcoming the children were, how inventive their poems were, how helpful all the staff were, etc. etc. etc. – but I have an important job to get on with. At the end of my visit the children bought more copies of my Buzzing! book than I had with me – so I need to go and sign and dedicate a lot more copies now and get them in the post!
If you’re studying minibeasts in your primary school and would like me to come and put on some cross-curricular minibeast poetry activities for your pupils, then do email me. I look forward to hearing from you.