School Libraries – Where Every Day is Empathy Day




2017 saw the celebration of the first Empathy Day to highlight empathy’s importance in our divided world and the power of stories to develop it. Following the success of that pilot it is now to be an annual event organised by Empathy Lab and this year is celebrated on 12th June. The initiative focuses on using books as a tool to build more understanding between us all, because research shows that reading builds our real-life sensitivity towards, and understanding of, other people. Reading empathy boosting stories and poems can help to challenge prejudice and build connections between us all.

Great school libraries act as empathy factories in their communities. The sharing of books with pupils and staff can connect individuals as a school family and encourage us to practise empathy in our daily lives. This can make a big difference in the school and hopefully in the wider community too.

How do school libraries do this? Firstly by stocking the right sort of books and making them available to people who need them at the appropriate time. As a primary school librarian I was asked almost daily for ‘a nice book about’ subjects ranging from working together as a team, showing acceptance and friendship to those who may be a little ‘different’, learning to take turns, understanding the need to persevere and many, many more. All of these books would then be shared either by the teacher in the classroom, me in the library or maybe a senior teacher at assembly. Time and time again these stories would work their magic and resolve tricky situations or spark helpful discussion. Although a class library may sometimes have a suitable book, a school library will have a large and varied range of books available to everyone. Perhaps more importantly there will also be a librarian whose knowledge of the stock will mean they know where the right book is at the right time. This overview combined with book knowledge makes all the difference as it enables everyone in the school community to have the opportunity to share stories together.

Secondly, school libraries will provide access to books with diverse characters and about weighty subjects at a level appropriate for all the different types of readers in the school. These books enable children to put themselves in others’ shoes briefly and give them an insight into lives very different to their own. This understanding will do much to break down barriers at a time when mistrust and fear have caused distress and conflict worldwide. Equally important are books in which children can read about children like themselves with similar problems, worries and fears. A school librarian works with all the children in the school not just one class. This puts them in a unique position, as their knowledge of individual pupils as they progress through the school enables them to guide readers to a book that could make all the difference when they need it most. Sometimes a book may not be appropriate as a class reader but could reassure, comfort or encourage a child at a particular time in their lives. A book in which they see a person coping with grief, family breakup, health issues or simply not quite fitting in can provide a life lesson that makes all the difference. A good school librarian knows both the children and the books and can fit them together just like solving a jigsaw puzzle.




The new Great School Libraries campaign is planning to gather together evidence of all the wonderful work that libraries do. Unfortunately not everything a great school library and librarian does can be counted and included in data. Just because it cannot be counted does not mean that it is not making a great difference . The pastoral role of the librarian and the library as a refuge and haven for pupils is vital and may be underestimated by some. Every single school librarian can tell you of a child who has been ‘’rescued’’ by the library. The new pupil anxious about the hurly-burly of the playground, the worried child who needs some time alone and a quiet space to simply ‘’be’’. If for any reason a child feels out of place the school library can provide security and a place where they feel valued. For teenagers approaching exams the school library may be the only quiet place where they can concentrate, study and revise. We should not take any of this for granted as it is an important consideration for all children. This sense of security offered by the library provides all children with the comfort they need to enable them to learn.

A school library is so very much more than a room full of books, especially when a librarian cares for it.

‘A library isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you — and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.’ Isaac Asimov

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A Picture Book to Help Young Children Care About the Environment – Somebody Swallowed Stanley by Sarah Roberts

”Plastic” has been declared children’s word of the year after analysis of the entries to this year’s BBB Breakfast Show 500 words competition for children aged 5-13. Its appearance was up 100% from last year’s entries with titles including “The Plastic Shore” and ”The Evil Mr. Plastic”. It is good news that children are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers to our environment. However, if you are looking for a picture book to highlight this issue with very young children, “Somebody Swallowed Stanley” would be an excellent place to start.


Stanley is floating in the sea alongside many beautiful jellyfish and we quickly realise that Stanley is no ordinary jellyfish. Stanley is a plastic bag. His story is told through rhyme and repetition with questions to engage the listener or reader. Children will learn to identify different types of marine life and the impact that Stanley has on them. The illustrations with their use of vibrant turquoise and blue convey the image of the oceans very well.


I thought the personification and naming of the plastic bag was a clever touch. As the story reaches its happy ending young children will realise that the blame is not really Stanley’s as he was simply in the wrong place. This is an excellent picture book for conveying the message to young children that responsibility for the care of the environment is ours. Recommended for the Early Years and Lower Infants age group.

You can find out more about the author, Sarah Roberts, including details of her workshops for schools on her website

World Oceans Day takes place on 8th June, a day on which the organisers hope we will all join together to learn how we can protect our shared ocean. There are teaching resources available on the official website.

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The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

A gloriously happy debut this engaging story is told with humour and warmth and would be a treat for newly confident readers. The charming illustrations by Sara Ogilvie combine perfectly with Andy Shepherd’s entertaining adventure in this welcome addition to the growing range of good quality illustrated fiction for the 7 – 9 age group.

The Boy who grew Dragons cover

When Tomas discovers a strange tree at the bottom of his Grandad’s garden, although he doesn’t think much of it, he decides to take one of its funny looking fruits home with him. Once in his bedroom Tomas gets the surprise of his life when a tiny dragon emerges from the fruit! The tree was a dragon-fruit tree and Tomas now has a dragon of his very own. Of course Tomas is delighted but decides to keep his new friend, Flicker, a secret from the rest of his family. However this proves to be much more difficult than he expected. Although Flicker the dragon is great fun and rapidly becomes a good friend he is rather prone to doing dragon-type things. How on earth is Tomas going to explain his burnt toothbrush, the devastation in his bedroom and, worst of all, the exploding dragon poo? Then on a return visit to his grandad’s he notices that there are more fruits growing on the peculiar tree. Tomas has become the boy who grows dragons!

This is a story guaranteed to put smiles on faces. The adventure is both original and entertaining and I think that young readers will warm to Tomas. There is a lot of fun in this book but a lot of heart too. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Tomas and his Grandad and that bond as they worked alongside each other in the garden felt comfortingly familiar. Andy Shepherd has a knack of describing emotions and situations in a way that young readers will understand and Tomas’s family are both realistic and entertaining. I also loved that a visit to the local library was included in the story.

Sara Ogilvie’s illustrations are wonderful and add to the overall appeal of the book. The chapters are short enough not to put off newly confident readers and yet this also feels like a wonderful bridge to longer fantasy novels. It would work very well read aloud to younger readers too being full of jokes and edge of the seat moments.  This is a treat of a book and I’m delighted that there are more stories to follow this one. The second book in the series, The Boy Who Lived With Dragons, is due to be published in September 2018 with another title planned for early 2019. More fun to look forward to!

Thank you to Andy and Piccadilly Press for kindly sending me a copy of this book.

The Boy Who Grew Dragons is published on 14th June and is available to pre-order online

Andy Shepherd has a wonderful website full of information and entertaining stuff for children including yummy recipes, dragonfruit fact sheets and quizzes.  The range of teaching resources Andy has thoughtfully created for schools is extensive and covers everything from creative writing to art and research to media and these are available to download here.

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Perfect Picture Books for Children Who May Think They Don’t Like Reading

Reading picture books aloud and sharing the wonder of beautiful illustrations is a rewarding part of being a school librarian and, of course, of being a parent. This joy of stories will hopefully continue as young children move on to the first steps of reading books themselves. Sometimes though this transition does not always go smoothly. These two picturebooks will reassure and encourage those little people who wonder if the world of books is for them.

I Do Not Like Books Anymore! by Daisy Hirst


Natalie and Alphonse love stories and books. Picture books with Dad, scary books read by Mum and storytelling sessions with Grandma. Natalie looks forward to being able to read herself and reading stories to Alphonse.  Then Natalie is given her first reading book and things are not quite what she expected. The words are jumbled shapes like scuttling insects on the page and even when they make sense nothing exciting happens in the stories. Natalie is downhearted and although she practises and practises she soon decides that she doesn’t like books any more.

However after a little while her love of stories returns and she starts to make up stories of her own which she tells to little Alphonse. Then together she and Alphonse create their own picture books which they share together as a family.

I love the wry humour in this entertaining book and the way in which it counters the rather dry approach of some reading schemes and their concentration on achieving levels rather than celebrating the joy of stories. Daisy Hirst has cleverly concentrated on the sharing of stories and pictures which will reassure young children who may be struggling with the mechanics of learning to read. This makes reading something to be loved rather than learned which for some is exactly what is needed at this age. A book to reinforce what reading is all about and allow breathing space until a child is ready for the next stage. Definitely recommended for home and schools.
The Covers of My Book Are Too Far Apart (and other grumbles) by Vivian French and Derek Baines


“I’m too old for bedtime storiesThat’s a girl’s book!I hate this book but I’ve got to finish itI can’t find a book that I like.” You’ve probably heard at least one of the grumbles in this book before but have you known how to respond to it? This brilliant picture book will do it for you and is a joyful celebration of all that’s wonderful about books and reading.

From the eye catching cover to the ending which isn’t really an ending at all but hopefully a beginning this is a very special book. Vivian French and Nigel Baines have managed to make this a very inclusive book and it will be reassuring for those who find reading a chore and also for those who want to read but find it a struggle. Every possible question about reading, or excuse for not reading, given by both children and adults is tackled by a wide range of characters. The diversity of those featured is another major plus of this original book as it ensures that everyone sharing the book can readily identify with at least one of them. The illustrations by Nigel Baines are bright, colourful and engaging and these together with the witty writing add to the book’s overall appeal.

This is part of the Picture Squirrels range from Barrington Stoke and has a dyslexia-friendly layout and typeface to help adults with dyslexia or those less confident of their reading ability to enjoy it with their children too. However, as with so much of the Barrington Stoke range, this is wonderful to share for everyone. I particularly like the fact that it encourages children to enjoy stories in any form be that audio books, listening to stories read aloud, e-books, comics or picture books at any age and stresses that it’s fine to read favourite books again and again if you want to. The advice given is wise and sensible but is presented in an amusing and enjoyable manner.

I love this and think it deserves a place on every bookshelf but perhaps most importantly on school bookshelves as a reminder that Reading isn’t a competition! It’s fun!

Both these books would be invaluable in the primary school classroom and can be bought online by clicking on the book titles above.

Although I’m aware of many picture books celebrating reading, stories and libraries I would love to know of more titles similar to these two. Do you have any suggestions? If so I will happily prepare a list that may be useful.

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The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge

I love it when a book surprises me and Maisie Day definitely did just that. Christopher Edge has created a very different but also extremely satisfying read in which the world of science combines with the unbreakable bonds of true family love.


Maisie wakes up late on her tenth birthday and remembers that Mum and Dad are planning a special party for her. She looks out of her window at the sunlit garden and the gazebo lying ready on the lawn. Maisie pulls on her dressing gown and rushes excitedly downstairs calling out for her Mum and Dad. There is no reply and the house is eerily quiet. She walks around the ground floor from room to room and sees that there is no one there. Puzzled she heads back up the stairs and cautiously taps at her big sister Lily’s bedroom door. There is no reply and on entering Maisie discovers that this room too is empty. Where is everyone? They should be busy with her birthday preparations. Amid rising panic Maisie opens the front door and there is nothing there, absolutely nothing. Total blackness extending to infinity. Trapped in this nightmare world Maisie must use all her knowledge to save herself. Will this knowledge be enough?

Wow! What a story. This may be short at just 150 pages but it is a book full of science, courage, love and huge surprises. I don’t normally tend to choose science fiction but this, although absolutely crammed full of scientific information, has converted me. Children who ask a lot of questions will lap this up. Christopher Edge manages to make the subjects of black holes, time, virtual reality and the cosmos accessible to everyone. There is lots of detail but it never becomes overwhelming and will, I think, encourage young readers to go away and learn more.

Maisie, academically gifted and already studying for a degree, is both engaging and interesting. I very quickly cared about what happened to her and was committed to the story within a couple of chapters. The story is told in alternate chapters portraying firstly the terrifying world of ever growing blackness and secondly the sunny, celebratory birthday world of Maisie and her family. This never becomes confusing but instead intensifies the reader’s interest as you try to work out what will happen next. I had suspicions of possible outcomes but Christopher Edge cleverly builds up the tension culminating in a plot device I did not expect. I think this is a gripping and frankly emotional read that would be wonderful for readers of about 10 upwards. It’s absolutely perfect for youngsters who have an interest in science and as an added bonus its length means it won’t put off children who find 400 page long tomes a little off putting . Highly recommended.

The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day is available to buy at all good book shops or online

There are a range of teaching resources available to go with the book on Christopher’s website suitable for KS2 and KS3.

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Why Great School Libraries Should Start in Primary Schools

Something very important happened at this year’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) School Libraries Group Conference. A brand new campaign was launched by CEO Nick Poole in his opening speech. The Great School Libraries Campaign sees CILIP team up with the School Library Association (SLA) to campaign for the end of school library closures across the UK. They are also stating that every secondary school should have a professionally staffed, fully funded library. This is wonderful news and I am determined to provide my full support. However I firmly believe that a well stocked and properly funded library managed by a professional librarian is equally important in primary schools.

Earlier this year a report commissioned by the Oxford University Press detailed the results of a survey of 1,300 primary and secondary school teachers across the UK which found that more than 60% saw increasing incidents of underdeveloped vocabulary among pupils of all ages, leading to lower self-esteem, negative behaviour and in some cases greater difficulties in making friends. The majority of teachers surveyed attributed this underdeveloped vocabulary to a decline in reading for pleasure. Surely this means that we should be prioritising reading for pleasure in schools as a matter of urgency and particularly in primary schools where patterns and habits for a lifetime can be set. If schools are given adequate resources, then great school libraries could make all the difference. Properly funded, stocked and staffed school libraries lead to higher student achievement regardless of students’ economic backgrounds.

Research carried out into the provision of school libraries supports the view that access to a good school library and professional librarian input is vital at this stage of a child’s education.

“Access to library space and School Library Services will have an impact on attainment at a pivotal point in a child’s educational life. Studies have shown that children who read for pleasure from a young age are much more likely to do well throughout their academic life.”
(The All Party Parliamentary Group report ‘The Beating Heart of the School’. 2014)

Seventeen years as a primary school librarian has taught me that a well stocked library managed by a librarian is hugely important. Why try to play catch-up from 11+ when a library and librarian can sow the seeds from early years on? The formative stage has a lasting impact on reading progress and pleasure. The transfer to secondary education can often be a tricky time for children as they adapt to new routines and expectations. Even the best librarians and teachers will find it difficult to instil a love of reading from scratch at this stage. If the groundwork has been done and a reading for pleasure habit developed at the primary stage then at secondary school the huge range of quality literature suitable for teens is available to them.

The primary and secondary schools visited emphasised the school library as contributing markedly to improving literacy skills… The enthusiasm and responsiveness of the librarian generally had a direct impact on the attitudes of the students towards the library and reading’
(Ofsted, 2011. Removing barriers to literacy)

A librarian is vital in ensuring that reading habit is nurtured from early on in a child’s reading journey. Ideally this would be a librarian in each primary school, however funding makes that unlikely in the near future but with the closure of many county School Library Services it appears to me that some sort of local librarian team shared between a small group of primaries is needed sooner rather than later.

An aspect of the librarian role not often mentioned is that of nurturing teachers as readers. It is possible for librarians to make a vital impact here. Running staff book clubs, book swap boxes in the staffroom and email recommendations of new books for both children and adults all raise the profile of reading for pleasure and are initiatives I have had success with. A librarian is able to keep time pressed teachers up to date with new authors and titles that they may want to share in the classroom. Teresa Cremin and the Open University have done a great deal of research work on the importance of teachers as readers and reading role models. Librarians have training and expertise in the areas that  will enable, support and encourage this in primary schools.

This is just a very small part of why school libraries and librarians matter in primary schools and I wrote about other aspects of the many ways in which librarians are educators last year.  These include the importance of information literacy in the age of ”fake news” and the vital pastoral role of both the libary and the librarian.

If you care about reading for pleasure, literacy and children lapping up books from an early age and recognise the vital role that school libraries play in enabling this and so much more please do add your support to the new campaign. The organisers will be collating evidence over the next three years of all that great school libraries do. Add your voice and make a difference.

Thank you for reading.

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After The Fall by Dan Santat – A picture book for all ages

This wonderful book tells the story of what happened after that most famous nursery rhyme fall. How Humpty Dumpty survived and then decided to get back up again with truly astounding results.

After the fall cover

Often as a school librarian I have said that you are never too old for a picture book. A retelling of a traditional nursery rhyme with a twist would, you may imagine, be a treat to read aloud to little ones. Maybe humorous; perhaps it would prompt discussion about the original rhyme and the differences created by the author. This book does all that but  so very much more too. Santat uses the original premise to create a fable with a moral message told deftly using the illustrations to support the text’s impact. This is a book that encourages us all to believe that when life goes wrong we can find the strength to pick ourselves up, put ourselves back together and overcome our fears in order to achieve things we may have felt were simply impossible.

The story begins after ”the great fall”. It was just an accident but it had changed Humpty’s life forever. Although he has been put back together physically, emotionally he has not recovered.

”There are some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.”

Poor Humpty has been left with a fear of heights. There is great poignancy in the pictures as we see Humpty asleep on his bedroom floor unable to climb up the steps to his bunk bed. His favourite foods are just out of reach on the top shelves in the supermarket. The illustrations subtly show how his fears are restricting Humpty’s life. He loved being up high in the city watching his friends, the birds, but he is not brave enough to try again. He knows now that accidents can happen. But then one day he has an idea and decides to make a paper plane that will fly up to the sky to the birds he misses so much. He perseveres with his plane and eventually it resembles one of his much loved birds. He tosses his creation upwards and it soars up into the sky. Humpty is briefly happy again. However his beautiful plane then comes to land right on top of the wall. His wall. Distraught Humpty starts to walk away thinking that he can’t risk another accident. But gradually he thinks of all that he is missing and the effort he put into his special plane. Can he conquer his fears and overcome his anxiety to save it? Will he find some bravery when he needs it most?

After the fall inside

The illustrations are so clever and rereading the book you see more detail that you may have missed at first. The use of light and dark to convey Humpty’s emotions is excellently done and I particularly liked the picture of Humpty lit up by the sunshine standing on top of the wall, arms raised in victory. Santat also uses white space and text position extremely well. Children of all ages and adults too would learn much from a close examination of these illustrations and this is most definitely a book that supports the view that picture books are not only for the very young.

Dan Santat won the Caldecott Medal for this thoughtful and intelligent book and I am not at all surprised. Without ever adopting a preaching or didactic tone this wonderful story provides a valuable lesson to everyone. It’s not only children who suffer from fears, anxiety or a lack of confidence. Sometimes it’s not failure that produces these feelings but simply circumstances and it’s not always easy to find the inner reserves to help you conquer these fears. This book’s positive and soothing message would be a comfort to readers of all ages. It would work perfectly in school assemblies about perseverance, finding strength in difficult times or conquering irrational fears. I thought the ending was both unexpected and beautifully perfect. A very special picture book that I am glad to have read. Highly recommended for everyone!

After the Fall can be purchased in all good bookshops, borrowed from your local library or bought online

The Classroom Bookshelf from the School Library Journal have listed a number of teaching ideas linked to this book that would be very useful in the Primary School classroom.

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Peace Lily by Hilary Robinson illustrated by Martin Impey

A beautiful addition to the Where The Poppies Now Grow series this story told in rhyme highlights the contribution made by women during World War 1. The gentle illustrations combine superbly with the text to make this subject accessible to young children.

Peace Lily cover


In this moving story we are reunited with Ben and Ray from Where the Poppies Now Grow and meet their childhood friend, Lily.  Named after a flower her father saw in the local lane, Lily has always wanted to be a nurse. Her father tells her that, just like the flower after which she is named, Lily will bring light in the dark and bring hope to a world of pain. He would have no idea when he said this how true his prophecy would be and the manner in which this would happen.

We follow Lily, Ben and Ray as they play joyfully in the woods, gather blackberries and paddle in brooks. This rural idyll is shattered by the outbreak of war and Ben and Ray are called up. Still looking pitifully young they exchange their childhood freedoms for uniforms, army kit, weapons and a journey to the battlefields of France. Lily misses her friends and like many other young women she joins the war effort too as a nurse. She works in the hospital tent and tends the wounded. One day a young soldier is brought in so severely injured that the local priest is summoned. As Lily watches she realises that it is her childhood friend, Ben.

I found this a poignant and moving read. Not only does the book pay tribute to the valuable contribution made by women to the war effort it also depicts the permanent nature of the effects of war on a generation of young men and women. Despite the sadness of the subject matter this is ultimately a story of hope and of peace. It shows how people can overcome dreadful events to create a life of love.

The wonderful illustrations by Martin Impey, as with the previous books in the series, combine utterly perfectly with Hilary Robinson’s flowing prose. The rhyming text lends itself to being read aloud and even quite young children, I think, would understand the story at their own level. The joy of the young friends at play is captured beautifully and makes the contrast with war more effective. I particularly liked the pictures of Lily as a child and adult at the start of the story and the family photo album on the final pages. The photo album is just perfect and the feeling of permanence and life continuing through subsequent generations despite war is reassuring and wise. Both adults and children can be soothed by this message.


This charming and moving story is perfectly timed to coincide with the Centenary of the end of the First World War and would be a welcome addition to school library and classroom shelves. A lovely book to share at home too and one that I think parents may find very poignant.

Peace Lily can be purchased at most good bookshops, borrowed at your local library or bought online

The publishers of the book, Strauss House Productions have created a lovely trailer which you can watch here.

If you enjoyed this book you may like to try The Christmas Truce by the same team which was part of my Book Advent Calendar last year and is a beautiful and moving story inspired by the famous events of Christmas 1914.

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Rose’s Dress of Dreams by Katherine Woodfine Illustrations by Kate Pankhurst

A charming introduction to historical fiction for emerging readers this tale of determination and following your dreams by award-winning author Katherine Woodfine is a delight. The gorgeous illustrations by Kate Pankhurst combine perfectly with the text to create a perfect first chapter book.

Rose's Dress of Dreams

Inspired by the true life story of Rose Bertin, the woman credited with creating haute couture in the royal court of Marie-Antoinette, this is a celebration of determination, imagination and perseverance. As a young girl all Rose thinks and dreams about is dresses. When she draws  pictures of her dream creations she is ridiculed by her family but Rose refuses to give up. More than anything Rose wants to be a dressmaker so she sets off to Paris in the hope that she can make her dreams come true.

This is the author’s first book for these publishers and it is a wonderful addition to the Little Gem series. I’ve long been a fan of this popular series by Barrington Stoke. They are beautifully designed and produced making them hugely appealing to young children. In addition great care is taken by the editorial team to ensure that the stories, written by top authors, are accessible to all readers. The typeface, spacing, paper colour are designed to be suitable for dyslexic children. The bite sized chapters and the wonderful illustrations by Kate Pankhurst ensure that the book does not look daunting or overwhelming for readers still gaining confidence.

This inspirational story is well told and I loved Katherine Woodfine’s use of language, particularly in the descriptions of the dresses and their designs. The mistaken identity episode made me chuckle and I was surprised to learn that this too is based on reality and I think young children will love this aspect of the story. Kate Pankhurst has been a prolific writer and illustrator of books about bold and inspiring women recently and her gorgeous illustrations are simply perfect for this story. They are a real treat and I think this lovely book would be eye-catching on the library or bookshop shelves. The book brings history to life in an enjoyable and interesting way that is just right for this age group.  This would be a brilliant addition to the primary school library.

Truly a little gem of a story and highly recommended for readers of 5+

Thank you very much to Barrington Stoke for providing this copy.

Rose’s Dress of Dreams was published in early April and is available to purchase in all good bookshops or online

I enjoyed this lovely interview with Katherine Woodfine, written to coincide with the book’s publication, about why it’s important to empower children with books.

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Kate Greenaway Award 2018 Shortlist – Under The Same Sky by Britta Teckentrup

This charming picture book, shortlisted for this year’s Kate Greenaway Award, uses a clever peep through technique to emphasise the way in which everyone around the world is united by the same hopes and dreams. It is a timely and thoughtful book.


Award winning illustrator Britta Teckentrup combines beautiful pictures with a simple yet lyrical text to portray a celebration of global unity in this lovely book. It gently depicts how the world’s communities are united by the same hopes and dreams.

When this book was first published I was drawn to the cover without having known anything about either the author or the title itself. The cover depicts two animals on the front, one large and the other smaller, possibly a parent and child, both gazing upwards at a cut-out of a cloud through which one can read the title. One animal is wide eyed, the other with eyes closed and the overall look is serene and reassuring. As you turn the pages a variety of animals are portrayed in contrasting landscapes with each linked by a clever use of a cut-out through which the reader catches a glimpse of another animal or another place. This technique works beautifully as the connection feels natural and unforced. Despite the simplicity of the text the message of a world united by shared emotions is conveyed with great impact. Beautiful, gentle illustrations combine with the brief but slightly poetic text to demonstrate that we have so much that unites us rather than divides us and that we all share this one world together. In a time of political turmoil this is an important and timely message.

And yet despite the important message this is of course an engaging and lovely picture book that is a delight to share with young children. The interactive element is something that little ones always love and this is done very well as it invites them to peep through and maybe return to previous pages to see how the trick was done. I loved the way in which the shape of the cut-out tied in with the content. The colours are muted and gentle, in keeping with the warmth of the message in many ways. Many types of animals are included so children are able to recognise some and be introduced to others.

A lovely book and highly recommended for all ages from early years onwards.

As this book is shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway award there are a range of brilliant teaching resources available on the Shadowing website prepared by the Centre For Literacy in Primary Education. Please click on this link to access them.

You may also enjoy watching this interview with Britta Teckentrup.

This book is available to purchase in all good book shops, can be borrowed at your local library or can be bought online

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