Friday, 8 May 2015

The Surrey Libraries' Children's Book Award winner is finally revealed!

Everyone was on tenterhooks on Wednesday morning as we awaited the result of the vote for this year's Surrey Libraries' Children's Book Award. The grand moment came at about 11:30 when David Munro revealed to an audience of around 300 children, teachers, dignitaries and library staff (not to mention our shortlisted authors who were all in attendance!) that Jennifer Gray had won the prize for her book Chicken Mission: Danger in the Deep Dark Woods.

Sandra Glover, Kate Willis-Crowley, Jennifer Gray,
David Munro, Josh Lacey, Garry Parsons and Kaye Umansky
Before the big moment the crowd were treated to a great show at Redhill's Harlequin Theatre featuring presentations from 8 of our champion schools and each of the authors. We saw new ideas for characters and plot, book reviews and jokes before the winner was revealed.

The authors were very happy to sign copies of their books for the children that had attended.

The authors were also keen to have their copies signed,
here's Josh Lacey with Kaye Umansky

Everyone at Surrey Libraries would like to give a big thanks to all of the children, teachers and authors for their involvement in making this year's award such a success. We couldn't have done it without you!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Book reviews by Luke (China Class)

Hairy Horror
I am really excited about the 2015 book awards and this is the first book I read.  It is about a big hairy spider called Tula who is made bigger by Anna's step brother Hal.  Anna at first is scared of Tula but Tula proves to be quite useful in the end.  Can you imagine living with a giant spider that does the house work?  I thought the book was quite good and I think Hal's lab it a bit like my room because it's messy

The Dragonsitter's Island
This story is about a boy called Edward Smith Pickle who visits his Uncle's island with his mum and sister Emily.  While he is there he looks after his uncle's dragons Ziggy and Arthur.  To start they have a problem when they can't let the dragons out because they have lost the key but once they find it the dragons start flying around.  Then the boat driver Mr McDougal accuses the dragons of killing his sheep but Edward knows it was someone or something else.  Edward then investigates and finds out the sheep thief is the Loch Ness Monster.  Edward tells his investigations to Mr McDougal but he doesn't believe Edward until he sees Nessie with his own eyes.  In fact, it's the dragons that save the day.  The book is written as emails between Edward and his uncle.  It's quite a short book and very easy to read.  The illustrations in the book are pretty good as you can see what the characters look like.

Queen Sardine
Queen Sardine is a book about a cat who tries to move in with a girl called Ivy.  It's a bit like my own cat Barney who did move in from next door.  Queen Sardine is a talking cat who asks Ivy to help her-she says there is a scary monster living with her.  The story tells how Queen Sardine gets Ivy and the neighbourhood cats to help defeat the monster.  The monster is in fact a puppy that has moved in with Queen Sardine and the Trotts.  Queen Sardine manages to train the monster pupppy and sadly for Ivy, Queen Sardine moves back home but not for all the time, Queen Sardine still visits Ivy as well.
I really enjoyed the book and certain parts made me laugh, like when Queen Sardine lands in the bath.  As I have a cat I can imagine how Queen Sardine would look when she's angry, wet or hapy as I see Barney do these things.
It was very exciting to meet the author and I have since read her next Queen Sardine book.

The 13th Fairy
The 13th Fairy is a book about Grimbleshanks the fairy.  All she really wants is to go to the Royal Christening but because she is different and doesn't like all the pink girly stuff, she does not get invited.  The twelve good fairies make fun of her which makes her sad.  She has a friend called Bill the crow who she shares things with.  As she doesn't get invited, she curses the new baby, Beauty!
This book is basically Sleeping Beauty but told by the fairy herself, it was a really terrible mistake and she did not mean it to happen.  I liked this book as it was a fun way to look at the story of Sleeping Beauty.  I didn't think I would enjoy a book about a fairy but I actually really enjoyed it.  This would not normally be a book I would choose to read because of the title but because it was a book awards book it made me try something different.

Chicken Mission
This book is about a young chicken called Amy.  Amy likes wrestling and gets invited to Kung-fu for Poultry (KFP).  There she meets some other friends called Boo and Ruth, together they go out on a mission to stop the Yeti.  After that, they complete KFP and become Professor Rooster's elite chicken squad.  On becoming the elite chicken squad Amy, Boo and Ruth must fight and defeat some of the most wanted villians and most of all Thaddeus.E.Fox.
I really enjoyed this book as I like kung-fu and ninjas, although it was a bit weird that it was about kung-fu ninja chickens!
My favourite part was when Thaddeus.E.Fox and snooty fox were arguing over how many times they were spanked by Bertram Fox William Spanker.

General Thoughts
I have loved the amazing opportunity China Class have had being involved in the book awards.  I have read books and authors that I would not normally pick off the shelf in the library.  All the books have been exciting but my vote would go to.......................(top secret!)

Jessica's journal (China Class)

Queen Sardine
Queen Sardine is a book about a cat that can talk.
It is set in a normal every day place.
Ivy really wants a pet but her mum said no.  One day she gets a big shock when a cat splashes into her bath!
The cat is magic!  She can talk, she likes to be called Queen Sardine.  She is a bit bossy.
She needs Ivy's help because her owners have a monster living with them.
She wants to live with Ivy until they can get rid of the monster but they can't let Ivy's mum know Queen Sardine is staying, so it's a big secret.

The 13th Fairy
I enjoyed this book, some bits were really fun, but I felt sad people were mean to Grimbleshanks for being different.
It was like a fairy tale but not like the normal ones, I really liked it being different.
Boys and girls would both like this book.
The book starts by telling you all about Grimbleshanks.  It has good describing words.  It has a good start, middle and end.  It makes sense.
It is set in a make believe world.  The author describes it so well, I can picture it in my head as I read the book.
I like how different the characters are.  Even though it is a fairy tale, they are like real people.
I feel sorry for Grimbleshanks, the 12 good fairies were really rude for not letting her join in with them just because she isn't the same as them.
I think they bullied her a bit which makes me sad.
I would like to find out more about Grimbleshanks as I think she is very interesting.
Grimbleshanks is a good person even though she does bad things.  She does learn throughout the story to change her ways but deep down she will act that same way all the time she is treated unfairly by others.
The smaller characters are still interesting.  I really liked all of them, especially Big Bill Beaky.

I like how the author has written this book.  Grimbleshanks talks like I think she should, I imagine she has a grumpy voice! 

I like the pictures, the characters look how I imagine them in my head.  They add more excitement to the story.  I don't think I would like the story as much without the illustrations.  When I first saw the front cover it seemed a bit scary.  I thought it would be a story on witches.  Now I have read the story I think the front cover makes perfect sense.

I have really enjoyed this book.  It is my new favourite book.  I wish there were another two books - one about why Grimbleshanks behaves how she does and a second one that follows on from this.

I hope the 12 good fairies start being nicer to Grimbleshanks and that she learns to control her temper!

The Dragonsitter's Island
This book is about a boy called Eddie who is looking after dragons on his Uncle Morton's Scottish Island.

I found this book really different.  It was very unusual but really enjoyable.  It made me laugh, it made me worry.  I think it is a book for a boy as it is dragons and adventure and monsters.  This book stood out from other books I've read because of how it was set.  The book made sense in how it was written.  I like the storyline but wanted it to carry on with more detail.  The book is set in a real life setting but with a fantasy element.  The setting could be described more but I think the way the story has been written means it didn't really need it anyway.

I would have liked to know more about each character.  They are all believeable except the dragons and monster.  I would love to know more about Uncle Morton, he seems very interesting.  I would like to find out more about why he has dragons and why he was in Ulaanbaatar.  I would also like to know what lies in store for Eddie's mum and Gordon.

The book is all emails between Eddie and his Uncle Morton, I have never read a book like that before, it made it seem interesting.

I think children my age will like it.  The words are believeable and how people would talk anyway.

I would have liked there to be more pictures but I did like the ones that were in the book.  I liked how they sent each other pictures in their emails too.

When I looked at the cover I didn't think it would be a book I'd enjoy but I did.

Poppy's thoughts (China Class)

Here are some extracts from Poppy's Journal:
13th Fairy
When I was reading the 13th Fairy there were lots of fairy tales in it and the twelve dancing princesses were in it and their names were Lilac, Rose, Violet, Snow drop, Pansy, Daisy, Daffodil, Holly, Marigold and suddenly my name came out and it was Poppy!
The ugly witch looks really messy.
I would want to find out what happens next.
It made me really laugh.
I would say that girls would read it.

Chicken Mission
I found it funny to start with.
I think boys and girls would like it.

Queen Sardine
I love Queen Sardine because some bits are funny and I love cats.  I loved it so much.  I made me laugh lots.  I think girls and boys would like Queen Sardine.

Decio's journal (China Class)

All of the children were encouraged to keep a journal about the book awards books.  Here are some extracts from Decio's:

I am very excited!  I’m reading Chicken Mission.

I found Chicken Mission very funny (ha ha ha!)  Reading the book makes me feel like I’m in the book.

IT’S……..fantastic, amazing, mind blowing, out of this world, spectacular, magnificent.

Now I’m going to move to The Dragonsitter’s Island

I bet it’s going to be good.

Hairy Horror

There was a hairy spider and it was very big.

The spider got into trouble and someone called the police!

Queen sardineThere was a bully in the book.The cat was a queen of her home.Mrs Trott speaks all the time.  Mr Trott is mean.I like the dream about the monster.The book is really cute.
The 13th Fairy

Bill is really nice.
Who would want to put someone to sleep?

Why punish Beauty when who you really should punish is the fairies?
Do you think Grimbleshanks did the curse?  She could have covered the evidence with a blanket.  Do you think that too?

I’ve finished all the books!  I’m voting for…………………………………(it’s a secret!)

Book reviews by Daniel (China Class)

The Dragonsitter's Island
I really enjoyed reading The Dragonsitter's Island because it was funny and had an unusual presentation style as it was written as an email conversation between Uncle Morton and Eddie.

The story is obviously a fantasy as it contains Dragons and the Loch Ness Monster but is written in a convincing way.  The plot had some good twists in it to keep the story interesting.

The characters are a mixture of realistic and fantasy.  The fantasy ones are my favourites, but Uncle Morton is very interesting as he has been on many epic voyages.

As the story is a series of emails the setting wasn't described in much detail.  However, this didn't affect the story.

The illustrations work well with the words to tell the story.  I think the pictures enhance the humour of the story.

If you like dragons the cover would make you want to read the book.  It's brightly coloured and the dragons look funny and a bit fierce.

As the book is emails there is no speech but it still seems realistic.  There are no complicated words to understand.

Chicken Mission
I really enjoyed Chicken Mission because it had funny, sad, happy, crazy and adventurous bits.  I like the way the author thought of using chickens instead of people.  I think the book is suitable for boys and girls.

There are laughs, excitement and very good cliff hangers all the way through the book but it all ends well for the chickens.

There are three main characters who get braver as you progress through the book.  There are lots of other characters who make the story complete.  You will want to read on to find out what the characters get up to.

The author changes well known phrases to make them animal related.  This is clever and comical.  The speech seems realistic if chickens could talk.

There are not many illstrations and you could read the story without them so they are an added extra but they fit in well with the story.

There is a cartoon chicken on the front cover doing karate and it makes you want to read the book because it looks funny.

There are lots of different settings, mainly real life places.  Each one is described in much detail to enable you to get a good image in your mind.

Book reviews by Alex (China Class)

The Dragonsitter's Island
I think this book is quite good and I think boys and girls will like the book.  I think there should have been more dragons on the island and more about the McDougall family.

Chicken Mission
I really enjoyed the book, especially the rude things!  Can't wait for the next book.

13th Fairy
I quite enjoyed the book but I would like more information on the 16 years.

Hairy Horror
I think it was a really good book.  I quite enjoyed the book because it was like a diary entry.

Queen Sardine
I think is is an amazing book.  I really like the bit when it's the battle.  I can't wait to read the next book!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Chatterbooks at Egham Library

The children at Egham have finished reading all titles for the Surrey Libraries' Children's Book Award and voting has taken place.

Here is a selection of our book related work:


All the books received enthusiastic reviews. Now we are looking forward to seeing which one will win. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Voting day in China Class

The big vote
The children had been looking forward to casting their vote and they had been making notes in their journals to help them to make their BIG decision.  Some children had been very sure of their vote all week but other children were still trying to decide between their two favourites this morning!

They were given the opportunity to vote on the interactive whiteboard or out of view and most children wanted to use the whiteboard (and even those that did it in secret went straight back to their table and told their friends who they voted for!)

Their main comments were along the lines of............."it was so hard to choose!"

The whole class is looking forward to attending the book awards and sharing their love of the books with everyone there.


The 13th Fairy - Trial Report

Grimbleshanks is found 'Not Guilty' of the attempted murder of Princess Beauty.

Lawyers for both the prosecution and defence put forward strong arguments for their case, calling a multitude of witnesses and questioning them thoroughly.

All witnesses promised to tell the truth in front of the whole court.

The jury took their role very seriously and had a difficult time making their decision. The foreman took votes and returned their verdict of 'not guilty' to the shock of the court.

Grimbleshanks was delighted by the verdict and threw her hat in the air with joy.

Lawyers for the prosecution objected and informed the judge that they would be appealing against the jury's decision.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The 13th Fairy

Grimbleshanks is going on trial in China Class tomorrow. 

She is charged with attempted murder. 

Will she be found guilty or innocent?


Currently we have lawyers in China Class working on the case.

Lawyers for the defence believe she is innocent and simply a misunderstood person. She did after all take in a poor old homeless crow, so she can't be all bad. They are preparing their witnesses for giving evidence, including Bill, Mrs Tripe and the lady who works at the Post Office.

Prosecuting lawyers however believe she is a witch (just look at her!) who fully intended to kill Beauty and have witnesses they believe will prove it including the Captain of the Guard and two of the Good Fairies.

What do you think? Guilty or innocent?

We will let you know the jury's verdict once the trial is completed tomorrow!

Friday, 20 March 2015

A visit by Kaye Umansky

The wonderful Kaye Umansky, author of The 13th Fairy, visited St. Martin's Junior School, Epsom, Leatherhead Trinity School and Bookham Library Chatterbooks Group

Kaye entertained and inspired children and teachers alike with her songs, poems and stories.  A brilliant day was had by all!  Thank you Kaye!
Dragons at New Monument Primary Academy

There were plenty of dragons in evidence when Garry Parsons, illustrator of The Dragonsitter's Island, visited New Monument School.

The children really enjoyed meeting Garry


and drawing their very own dragons

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Queen Sardine

China Class had a visit from Kate Willis-Crowley on Tuesday 17th March and they were all really inspired.  Kate showed us how she generates her ideas and she gave the children a challenge to create an expressive face with a set number of lines.

Here are the children's comments following her wonderful visit:

My favourite part was when we drew a picture.

I really was happy because I learnt a lot.
I learnt a lot about how to write a story.

I learnt a lot about authors.

I felt like I could write a book.
My favourite part was when we did the beginning, middle and end.

I loved it when we did the pictures.
I feel really lucky because probably no-one else would have had Kate in their class and we have enjoying her book.

I feel lucky because no other class did what we did with Kate.
My favourite part was when we were doing some illustrating on our paper.

l learnt more about
I was really inspired by Kate because she told us a lot about books.

I was over the moon because I have never seen her before.

I learnt a lot about how to write books and I was really excited about Kate coming.
I felt happy about Kate coming.

It was a great experience to see a book awards author and she is a very imaginative writer.
I felt over the moon because I learnt more about authors.

I just felt I was writing it all by myself in my head and it was really fun because I’ve never seen a real life author before.
I was just literally amazed to see the real life author of Queen Sardine.

I felt inspired about what it is like to be an author and it gave me more confidence to write books.
Last time when I tried to write a book I was struggling a lot but now Kate has visited, I know what to do to write my book.

I felt really happy because I have learnt more to write a story.
I was really joyful when we were doing the drawings.
When I was doing my picture she was really kind to me.

Friday, 13 March 2015

A Great Day Out with Josh Lacey and Garry Parsons

On Wednesday 11th March, we had a brilliant visit from Josh Lacey and Garry Parsons (author and illustrator of The Dragonsitter's Island).

Josh visited St. Nicholas' C of E Primary in Shepperton and Our Lady of the Rosary RC Primary in Staines, while Garry went to New Monument Primary Academy in Woking and Ongar Place Primary in Addlestone.

They both then joined forces at Chertsey Library for an after-school session talking to members of Addlestone, Ashford, Egham, Shepperton and Walton Chatterbooks children's reading groups.

Here is Josh reading from one of the Dragonsitter books, while Garry illustrates it:

And Garry rose to the challenge of drawing the Mona Lisa in the wind!

A huge THANK-YOU to both of them for a great day!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Queen Sardine

Queen Sardine loves fishpaste sandwiches. Ivy hates them!

This is our menu of disgusting sandwiches!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

'Chicken Mission' at St Paul's

We have read the fantastic "Chicken Mission" by Jennifer Gray. We spoke about Amy, Boo and Ruth's special skills and why they make such a good team.

We then thought about how Ruth came up with some clever inventions to help defeat the enemies. We came up with some of our own inventions for you to look at...


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hairy Horrors by St Paul's...

Some Year 3 and 4 children have enjoyed reading Hairy Horror by Sandra Glover so much that they have made some 'Hairy Horrors' of their own based on Tula in the story!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

It has been great to meet up with all our Champion Schools this week.  Schools and libraries are brimmimg with enthusiasm and ideas for working together on the Award.  Keep an eye on the blog for examples of the activities that children are getting up to whilst reading all the shortlisted books.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Children's Book Award 2015

Introducing the Children's Book Award 2015 working group (from left to right) Tom Batten,
Carol Hales, Jenny Gordon and Gary Green.

Here's what they had to say about their favourite books on the shortlist.

"My favourite book is The Dragonsitter's Island. I love the clever way that the story is told through the emails and that the illustrations are photo attachments. And I think it would be quite fun to look after a couple of friendly dragons!" - Carol

"I loved reading Hairy Horror despite the fact that, like the Anna in the story, I'm very scared of spiders! I think it would be great to have a big brother like Hal, and I'm sure he could invent some wonderful things to liven up my life." - Anna

"My favourite book is Queen Sardine. I love cats and have a ginger and white one of my own, who like fish (and hates dogs) as much as Queen Sardine, but unfortunately he can't talk! I wonder what he'd say about her? I'm sure he'd be very happy living with kind-hearted Ivy, as long as he could sleep on her bed all day!" - Jenny

"The 13th Fairy is my favourite book from the shortlist, because of Grimbleshanks' pet crow Bill, and his laid-back attitude to life. I'd love to join the Old Bill Beaky Band and write some songs for them! Perhaps we could perform at Princess Beauty's wedding?" - Gary

"Chicken Mission was my favourite book. An imaginative adventure that put me in mind of Aardman Animations, I'd love to know what exploits Amy, Ruth and Boo embark on next! Best of all the book doesn't shy away from a good pun!" - Tom