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Exploring world religions through storytelling
The Storyteller series by Anita Ganeri is a wonderful starting point for learning about six different world religions. Now available in a stunning new format, complete with rich watercolour illustrations and full colour photographs, each title offers a set of eight to ten stories which introduce young readers to the most significant beliefs, values and traditions of each faith.
Titles include Hindu Stories, Buddhist Stories, Jewish Stories, Christian Stories, Sikh stories and Islamic Stories. Each paperback title is just £6.99 and also includes fact boxes on people, places and events. For more information visit the Evans Books website.
Get ready for the Olympic Games
A brand new, cross-curricular resource pack for primary schools celebrating The Olympic Games is now available to order and download. Written by Helen Watts of Aston Hill Editorial for LCP's Karascope series, the pack offers materials for three age groups - Ages 5 to 7 (Key Stage 1), Ages 7 to 9 (Lower Key Stage 2) and Ages 9 to 11 (Upper Key Stage 2) - and for each there are six study units.
Topics covered include The Ancient Olympic Games, Olympic Venues, Fit to Compete and Olympic Maths.
The pack includes lesson plans, photocopiable activity sheets, posters, poems, stories, fact files and picture cards. To find out more and for details of prices, go to the Karascope website.
650,000 free books for Year 7 pupils
Now in its fifth year, the Booked Up programme is offering all Year 7 pupils in England the chance to choose a free book from a list of 17 titles that cover fiction, non-fiction and poetry. 650,000 books will be made available from September 2011, and include winners of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award.
The bookgifting programme is run by the national literature charity Booktrust, with the aim of encouraging reading for pleasure and independent reading choice. Year 7 pupils can make their own choice of book from the list, which has been designed to offer something to every child, whatever their ability or needs.
What's on the 2011 Booked Up book list?
Pumpkin Grumpkin by John Agard & Grace Nichols (Walker Books)
The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (Usborne)
Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan)
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (Hachette Children’s Books)
The Ghost Box by Catherine Fisher (Barrington Stoke)
The Kick Off by Dan Freedman (Scholastic)
Mortlock by Jon Mayhew (Bloomsbury)
Why is Snot Green? by Glenn Murphy (Macmillan)
Big Nate – The Boy with the Biggest Head in the World by Lincoln Peirce (HarperCollins)
Dead Man’s Cove by Lauren St John (Orion)
Frankie Foster: Fizzy Pop by Jean Ure (HarperCollins)
The Truth About Leo by David Yelland (Penguin Children’s Books)
Boffin Boy and the Wizard of Edo by David Orme & Peter Richardson (Ransom)
Little Bo Peep has Knickers That Bleep by Laurence Anholt & Arthur Robins (Hachette Children’s Books)
The Dragon Machine by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson (Templar)
You Choose by Pippa Goodhart & Nick Sharratt (Random House Children’s Books)
Don’t You Dare, Dragon! by Annie Kubler (Child’s Play)
For more information about Booked Up visit the Booktrust website.
Poetry Book Society loses its Arts Council Funding
The Poetry Book Society has been told that it will lose its Arts Council funding in a year’s time. Set up by the Arts Council in 1953 at the suggestion of Sir Stephen Spender, The Poetry Book Society boasts T S Eliot and Sir Basil Blackwell as its original directors and Philip Larkin as Chair in the early 1980s.
As well as selecting and recommending poetry collections to its members four times a year, the Society also runs two websites - www.poetrybooks.co.uk and www.poetrybokshoponline.com as well as the T S Eliot Prize, the most distinguished annual prize for poetry.
Commenting on the cuts, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy said: “This news goes beyond shocking and touches the realms of the disgusting. The PBS is one of poetry’s most sacred churches with an influence and reach far beyond its membership. This fatal cut is a national shame and a scandal and I urge everyone who cares about poetry to join the PBS as a matter of urgency.”
Chris Holifield, Director of the PBS, said: "We are stunned by the Arts Council decision which will impact on thousands of poetry lovers, poets and poetry publishers. We will try to find a way for the PBS to survive but its future must now be in doubt, and the poetry world and especially poetry readers will be the losers. It is ironic that an organisation set up by the Arts Council and strongly supported by our greatest poets has its future undermined by the same organisation."
A little book with a big message
We Are All Born Free! is an utterly gorgeous little book published in association with Amnesty International in which top illustrators from all over the world have helped bring to life The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signed on 10 December 1948, after World War II, the declaration sets out the rights of all people from all countries which we should work together to protect.
Now available in a mini hardback edition, We Are All Born Free! features a foreword by David Tennant and John Boyne and work by dozens of illustrators, including Axel Sheffler, Polly Dunbar, Debi Gliori, John Burningham, Satoshi Kitamura, Jackie Morris and Chris Riddell.
Priced at just £5.99, this is a perfect gift and a wonderful contribution to any classroom bookshelf. Visit www.franceslincoln.com
Children's Laureate helps to spot ten rising stars in picture book illustration
The top ten rising stars of picture book illustration have been unveiled at an exhibition at the UK's first gallery dedicated to illustration - the Illustration Cupboard in central London. Chosen by a panel of top judges, including Children's Laureate, Anthony Browne, Director of Literature Strategy at Arts Council England, Antonia Byatt, author and illustrator, Lauren Child, the founder of the Illustration Cupboard, John Huddy, and author and illustrator Ken Wilson-Max, the Booktrust Best New Illustrators 2011 are: Joe Berger, Claudia Boldt, Katie Cleminson, Chris Haughton, Alice Melvin, Sara Ogilvie, Levi Pinfold, Salvatore Rubbino, Viviane Schwarz and Kevin Waldron.
One further illustrator, Susan Steggall, was highly commended by the judges, who were looking for illustrators whose work demonstrated creative flair, artistic skill and boundless imagination.
Commenting on the judging, Anthony Browne (pictured) said: 'As a panel we were awed by the sheer range of styles and were thrilled to see how both classic and modern approaches are being successfully harnessed to bring children and adults alike some of the most innovative, fresh and skilled illustration being published today.'
The exhibition of the winning illustrators’ work will be on show at the Illustration Cupboard for a week before touring London literary venues including Foyles’ flagship store in Charing Cross Road and the Free Word Centre in Farringdon. An exhibition of prints will tour the UK throughout 2011. For full details of the tours visit www.booktrust.org.uk.
Photo (c) Laurence Cendrowicz.
A little bit of Magic and Mayhem
Fans of Marcus Sedgwick will be delighted to hear that his latest novel in the Raven Mysteries series, Magic and Mayhem, has just been published (Orion Books, ISBN 9781842556979, price £6.99).
In this wickedly appealing hardbook book, the wonderfully weird Otherhand family takes a trip to the circus. But things start to go wrong when Minty - who used to be a witch - falls under the spell of a dodgy fortune teller and Fellah goes missing. Then even stranger things than normal begin to happen at the Castle, which is soon hit by a plague of furry white bunnies, a mucky duck and several cartloads of lethal cabbages. Young readers will love finding out how the family is rescued from the greenest and fluffiest mayhem ever.
The highly visual style of Magic and Mayhem, as with other titles in the Raven Mysteries series, makes it an irresistable choice for reading for fun at home or at school. The book will no doubt be doing its own magical disappearing act as copies fly off the shelves!
For more magic, mayhem and fun, visit www.ravenmysteries.co.uk.
Marcus Sedgwick won the Booktrust Teen Prize in 2007 for his novel My Swordhand is Singing and the Branford Boase Award in 2000 for his first novel, Floodland. His books have been shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Book Award, the Blue Peter Book Award and the Carnegie Medal.
Capturing those special 'first experiences'
The work of Nigerian photographer and author, Ifeoma Onyefulu, first became well known in the UK following the publication of A is for Africa. The book received high acclaim for its ability to counter negative images of Africa by celebrating its traditional village life. Ifeoma's latest two books - both set in Ethiopia - are equally successful in demonstrating how certain key childhood experiences are common to all children, no matter where they live.
Omer's Favourite Place reveals that all children like to have a special place of their own where they can play for as long as they like. But where will Omer's favourite place be? In New Shoes for Helen, Helen is invited to her auntie's wedding but is worried that she does not have the right shoes to wear. Will she ever find a suitable pair of shoes she likes? The author uses stunning colour photography to enable us to join Helen and her Mum on a trip to the market where we discover that, somewhere out there, there is a pefect pair of shoes for everyone!
Omer's Favourite Place (ISBN 978184507801296) and New Shoes for Helen (ISBN 978184507801289) are both available in hardback, price £11.99 and are published by Frances Lincoln.
A new direction for Horrid Henry
Did you know that in your lifetime you’ll blink around 415 million times and, if you live to 75, you’re likely to have cried enough to fill 12 buckets worth of tears? Well, Horrid Henry - everyone’s favourite ‘Horrid’ little boy – certainly does, and in 2011 he plans to share a lot more weird and wonderful facts in a new A Horrid Factbook non-fiction series.
The first title in the series, Horrid Henry’s Bodies, will be perfect for boys and girls who like to ask a lot of questions, and will provide everything that they ever wanted to know about the weird and wonderful human body – and a few animals too. With fun facts and a few gruesome ones too, this book is packed with exciting ideas.
You can watch a trailer for the Horrid Henry Factbook live at www.horridhenry.co.uk/ or at www.youtube.com
Please Sir, can I have some 'More Dickens'?
To celebrate the bi-centenary of Charles Dickens’ birth in 1812, the Dickens Fellowship and the English Association are inviting primary achools across the UK to enter their More Dickens Competition. by submitting an extended class project based on one of Dickens’ works.
There is a first prize of £500 for the winning school and a £250 cash prize for the runner up. Classes of any primary school age can apply - so this could be a perfect opportunity to introduce Dickens and his works to a younger audience. The project can be completed at any time during 2011, as long as entries are received by 1st January 2012.
Projects may link with regular literacy and numeracy work and include other areas of the curriculum such as art, geography, history, music or science. The judges will be looking for originality and lively outcomes, but are also interested in hearing about the teaching and learning processes that are part of everyday good practice.

Open this pdf for full competition details or download Guidance and Registration Forms from the English Association.
Oliver Twist image © 2002, 2007 Marcia Williams. From Oliver Twist and Other Great Dickens Stories by Marcia Williams. Reproduced by permission of Walker Books Ltd, London SE11 5HJ.
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Would you like to advertise on this site? Do you have some primary literacy news which you would like to share, or information about new titles or publications for primary teachers or children age 7 to 11? If so, please email Helen Watts, including images, photographs or cover shots wherever possible.
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