Tag Archives: World Book Day

A book for World Book Day?

Not being blessed with school age children, I tend to overlook the advent of World Book Day (UK version). Some time later this week, I understand?

We always used to take part, because you don’t want to disappoint your child, and – even more – you don’t want to be told off by school staff for not entering into the spirit of the thing. But you can [try to] make do with clothes you already own, and go more for dressing up as a book character that you can find the right stuff for, than your child’s most favourite character, unless they are the same.

So, Son as the Mad Hatter wore the same jacket Daughter as Hermione Granger did some years later.

A few days ago my Hermione Granger pointed me in the direction of a picture on social media, which suggested that with so many children owning no books at all, then surely it would be better to spend any money you have on a book for your child, rather than a ready-made literary outfit?

Yes, surely???

What they do for reading

As I mentioned at the time, it wasn’t until I saw Meg Rosoff limping, walking back to her hotel, after an event in Glasgow two years ago, new boots causing her discomfort, that I really stopped to think about what it is they do, all these authors who travel to meet their fans.

You know, travelling and not sleeping in your own bed is one thing (or would that count as two things?), but to have hurty feet as well? It’s just heartrending.

This week it was World Book Day. It was also snowy. That’s not a good combination, as we had authors travelling the country for WBD events. Or not. Lots of events were cancelled. Partly due to the snow and travelling difficulties. Partly because of schools closing. (I bet that didn’t go down well with the thousands of parents who have had to come up with WBD fancy dress for their children, only to find the schools were closed on the day.)

And the authors who were already ‘out there’ when the snow hit. Could they get home? Some did. Mostly with difficulty, being delayed, cold, hungry, travelling on crowded trains.

Some didn’t. What do you do when stranded in a town, and there is no room at the inn? Everyone else got there first. Possibly because they weren’t performing in a school, so had an opportunity to book that last room.

Just as heartrending as Meg’s new boots, was the fact that I noticed one author asking around on social media if any of his/her friends happened to live in this town and had a spare bed. The case I saw had a happy ending, with someone offering a bed pretty swiftly.

But it’s sad, isn’t it? You come to talk about your books at a school, and then you are stranded. (In this case I believe it didn’t end the next day, because there were still no trains home.)

Thank you all!

That World Book Day book list

What do I think of the World Book Day book list for 2018?

I think that the world has gone crazy, and that I am looking forward to reading Oi Goat! by Kes Gray and Jim Field.

Celebrities… Even the word has gone funny. I used to feel it described a certain type of people fairly well, and in a not too derogatory way. Now I just feel slightly unclean thinking about the whole thing. And today I’m only addressing the WBD book list, not the whole ‘can famous people actually write books, and should they?’ conundrum. That will have to be another day.

World Book Day 2018 book titles

I’m so out of the ‘Strictly/BakeOff’ world that I know very few celebrity celebrities, if you get my drift? It wasn’t until recently I understood that Tom Fletcher isn’t only a normal author. I believe that Pamela Butchart is, and I saw her in Edinburgh in August. The Paddington book is obvious, but somewhat unnecessary.

I have heard of Clare Balding. I don’t quite know what she normally does for a living, but it seems that as with David Walliams she is deemed to need Tony Ross to illustrate her book. Julian Clary is famous. I know that. But not what for. (I know. I could Google.)

Not a great fan of Mr Men, but OK. The Avengers? Really?

Well, that’s enough insults for one day.

I used to be a great fan of these £1 books, with or without the free book token. That’s until I began my now long finished relationship with an indie bookshop. They were furious with the system, moaning about how it was they who had to pay for all this. I was surprised, and a bit shocked. Both by the idea of who pays, and that a bookshop would hate [a category of] books.

On the WBD website – where I went, trying to find out the answer to the burning question, which is ‘who decides which books?’ – I found only this:  ‘World Book Day Ltd is a small, registered charity. The financing of World Book Day comes mainly from contributing publishers, the generous sponsorship of National Book Tokens Ltd, some literacy partnerships and other supporters, as well as the participating booksellers who fund the entire cost of the Book Token redemption.’

But it stands to reason that they want this venture to be popular, so choosing celebrity books because they are deemed the most likely to succeed, makes some sense. But it’s a crying shame that this is what we have come to.

As for me, I went off the whole idea after my bookshop surprise. I felt as though I was stealing from poor innocent shop owners.

What I never stopped to consider at all, neither then, or now, was what I discovered on Facebook, in one of the countless discussions on the choice of books. Understandably the place has been heaving with feelings, because I associate mainly with book people. Someone left a comment; someone I don’t know myself, but I’m grateful for her input.

She described her daughter’s reaction to a WBD book by Cressida Cowell, quite a few years ago. The girl was reading it slowly, to make the book last as long as possible, because she felt she had discovered treasure in this story. She went on to find and read all the How To Train Your Dragon books, staying with the series, and buying the most recent one as an adult. In other words, a love affair that lasted.

So in this case it was the start of something great, and reading about it made my heart glow. But I’d not reckoned on that kind effect on the £1 book readers, because I was coming at it from the opposite way round. But of course that’s what it’s for; not only possibly to discover reading, but to meet a new literary best friend.

And while I hope the Oi Goat! will be fun, it’s hardly a book that would tempt a teenager. As Nicola Morgan said in a comment on here a day ago, there’s nothing on the list that would have interested her at that age. There are many of us like that.

(Here is Nicola’s own blog post on the topic. Much better written than the above, but as she points out, we are all different.)

Dead of Night

It is World Book Day. Well, it is in the UK, anyway.

One of the £1 books this year is Dead of Night by Michael Grant. Which is a very good thing, as I was feeling the need for more stories about his girl GIs while I wait for the third full length book.

I’d been concerned it wouldn’t work, or that there would be confusion between this short book and the ‘real’ ones. Would there be spoilers?

Michael Grant, Dead of Night

But no. This is set soon after the squad arrives in Europe, and they are training – and spending Christmas 1942 – in a wet and grey Wales. They are not yet the fully fledged soldiers we met in Silver Stars. And, some of the people who die, are still alive.

This is very much Charles Dickens meets Michael Grant. It’s good.

Spot the Difference

Seeing spots is rarely good. I had a lot of them myself, and so does Avery in this World Book Day story by Juno Dawson. Best known as Pizzaface at school, her spots define who Avery thinks she is, and she is miserable.

Juno Dawson, Spot the Difference

Low down in the pecking order at school, she sees the members of the A-list everywhere, and they are not kind to her. Popular and beautiful, they rule the school.

And then, a ‘miracle cure’ seems to have been found, and the spots are no more. (This is fiction, after all.) The A-list girls allow Avery to join them (it seems that behind the spots was a good looking girl, so now she’s all right), and she is expected to do as their leader Scarlett says.

She stands up for herself to some extent, but soon falls into the same behaviour as the others, leaving her ‘freak’ friend Lois behind, because she’s so busy having a boyfriend all of a sudden.

Juno clearly knows what it’s like at school, and understands the various groups and how you have to belong to the one you ‘deserve.’ This being a short book, there isn’t time to go in-depth over these issues, which perhaps makes the plot a little unlikely. But there is no denying the deeply felt thoughts on beauty and being nice on the inside, and the cruelty of your peers.

Hopefully Spot the Difference will make a few young readers stop and think about their lives and what they can do.

Kipper’s Visitor

For World Book Day I was sent a darling little goose – well, gosling – who says ‘honk’ a lot.

Mick Inkpen, Kipper's Visitor

I’ve not previously come into close contact with picture book WBD offerings, and this was a delight. Soft and compact, it’s a picture book you could travel with, and one that will fit nicely in the hands of the tiniest reader.

Kipper finds this gosling, that has come out of nowhere and which only says ‘honk’ to everything Kipper asks it.

It honks at the – plastic – duck in the bath. The duck doesn’t reply. Kipper gives his visitor a bath and a blow dry.

And then the gosling meets Big Owl, who is very soft.

I love it.

Best of Scottish 2012, or ‘An awfy dreich day in Dundee’

In the end it didn’t matter that I went to Dundee the wrong week. I was able to ‘sort of’ be there yesterday, anyway. It was WBD. It was time for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards at Caird Hall, filled with a thousand children (so there might not have been room for me). And they very kindly filmed the whole shebang and made it available online. Thus I watched it all from the comfort of my own desk.

They had that Chae Strathie in to do the host stuff. Apparently when he didn’t win last year he sulked until they offered him this job instead. He was very noisy, but he was a competent MC. Perhaps a few too many ‘yoohoos.’ That’s all.

Scottish Children's Book Awards

The shortlisted authors were lined up on stage and then sent off again. Seems they have some kind of authors’ enclosure where they are kept. There was a band with such an odd name I can’t tell you what they were called.

For the Younger readers category they had written little theatre sketches based on the three shortlisted books, which were performed by school children. I am fairly intolerant of this type of thing, but have to admit this was first class stuff. Very well done.

Jonathan Meres won with The World of Norm: May Contain Nuts. His thank you speech turned out to be his shopping list; tea, milk, etc. (But at least he was English… I was beginning to think you had to have a beautiful Scottish accent to even make it onto that shortlist.)

Scotland has a minister for children! Aileen Campbell was there, and made a good speech about the importance of books and reading. I suspect the Scottish government might have more sense than Westminster.

John Fardell

For the Bookbug category we got story time, and then the Children’s Laureate sang her book, and finally John Fardell drew pictures of scary monsters. He finished with a giant rabbit with horrible teeth, before winning the Bookbug prize for The Day Louis Got Eaten.

To make life easier for the Older readers category, Barry Hutchison became Elizabeth Hutchison, so he wouldn’t feel like the odd one out, sitting as he did, between Elizabeths Laird and Wein. They had to answer questions. Ms Hutchison has no shed, which is sad. (S)he likes horsepie best. (Dundee delicacy?) Ms Laird told us to run downhill if ever attacked by elephants, which is something that has kept me awake at night, so I’m very grateful. Ms Wein opted to go to the South Pole in the company of a ‘Norwegian who knows what he’s doing.’ Sensible woman.

Elizabeth Laird, Barry Hutchison, Elizabeth Wein and Chae Strathie

While this was happening, Chae wore an outlandish gold jacket, two sizes too small. And then they danced, Gangnam style. I’d have to say Ms Wein did that far better than her namesakes. (She is an American, so clearly you don’t have to be Scottish to be there.)

But it helps, because Barry Hutchison won that category for The 13th Horseman. His speech was mercifully short. (He’d had a busy day the day before. Maybe he was worn out.)

Chae finished off by saying he loves us all.

Love you too, Chae. Great event!

*I borrowed that dreich quote from Barry. I’m sure it wasn’t really dreich, but I just love that word! Maybe the weather cried because I wasn’t there?