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July to December, 2012

Writing for children

If you write fiction for children and young adults, then you may be interested in a 6-week course which aims to give you everything you need to make your novel fly. Led by best-selling children’s author and Guardianjudge Tony Bradman (see review below), the course will include weekly evening sessions running from Tuesday 23rd October to Tuesday 27th November, at the Central London offices of Curtis Brown Literary Agents.

Curtis Brown's Children's and YA Literary Agent, Stephanie Thwaites, will also offer students a focused one-to-one tutorial on their novel-in-progress.

At the end of the course there will be a full day's sessio (Satuirday 24 November) in which Stephanie and Tony will offer further practical teaching and industry advice and students can hear from guest speaker Malorie Blackman and a senior children's publisher. 

For more information visit


DfE invites children to read for both competiton and pleasure

According to Schools Minister Nick Gibb, one way to encourage more children to read for pleasure is to challenge them to read competitively.

With the aim of inspiring children to become voracious readers and to boost literacy standards, the Department for Education (DfE) wants seven- to 12-year-old children at schools in England to take part in a new peer-to-peer reading competition that involves inviting young people to select specific book titles. The competition, which will launch in the autumn, will feature school-led events which Ministers envisage will result in local, regional and national prizes to make reading more attractive.

It is also hoped that the competition will create stronger links between home and school to encourage the involvement of parents in supporting their children.

Commenting on the announcement of the competition initiative, Nick Gibb said: "I am passionate about wanting all children to develop a real love of books and of reading for pleasure. Children should always have a book on the go. The difference in achievement between children who read for half an hour a day in their spare time and those who do not is huge - as much as a year's education by the time they are 15."

The DfE is currently considering bids from a number of organisations interested in designing and co-delivering the competition. It will choose a preferred partner in the coming weeks.

More information is available on the DfE website.


RSC Off By Heart ShakespeareOff by Heart Shakespeare

Secondary school students are being invited to explore some of Shakespeare's most famous monologues in a special BBC challenge called Off by Heart Shakespeare.

The competition has already seen regional heats taking place across the UK involving students aged 13 to 15. Entrants were required to perform their chosen Shakespeare monologue before a judging panel and take part in an active workshop aimed at helping them practically understand and explore Shakespeare's language.

Later this month, the selected finalists will compete in a grand final, performing their monologues on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Tickets are now on sale for the final, which will take place on 29th January 2012 and will be presented by Jeremy Paxman. Actor Sam West will be among those judging the Off By Heart Shakespeare Champion. 

A documentary following the finalists is planned as part of the BBC's Shakespeare Season in 2012.

For more inforamtion and to find out how to book tickets for the final, visit the RSC website.

Firebird by Moira AndrewA 'compelling' new poetry collection from Moira Andrew

Firebird is the latest collection of poetry for adults from poet and former headteacher and lecturer Moira Andrew. Published by Indigo Dreams (£7.99, ISBN 978-1-907401-58-9), this moving collection takes the reader on a touching journey through love and loss.

The anthology has already received high praise from the likes of author Philip Gross, who says: "A life traced here with its flows and changes – sensual thrills, mature satisfactions, sadness and loss, all backlit by awareness of how provisional our tenure is. Each poem is a clear flask, with its lucid unfussy language, its different elegant stanza shapes, revealing the passage of time it contains. They show a range of feeling, without sentimentality. As if experience of grief has clarified their vision, the poems look beyond the self and are sharp-eyed and humane."

For more information, to read sample poems and to order a copy, visit the Indigo Dreams online bookshop.


Adrian Illingworth, Cambridge English Online, and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham PalacePhonetics Focus Apps scoop English-Speaking Union President's Award

Digital education specialist, Cambridge English Online Ltd, has picked up one of the English teaching world's highest awards as its Phonetics Focus mobile apps won the English-Speaking Union President's Award 2011 at Buckingham Palace. 

Presented by the Duke of Edinburgh, the annual ESU President's Award is given for innovation and the successful use of technology in the teaching and learning of English as a first, second or third language. 

Adrian Illingworth, CEO of Cambridge English Online Ltd, said: 'We are delighted to win this award. It's great to know that the ESU's judging panel of leading digital and teaching experts love the apps as much as our thousands of Phonetics Focus app customers do.'

Established in 2002, Cambridge English Online Ltd has worked with many publishing organisations around the world and has created thousands of digital resources for teachers and learners of all ages and abilities. In 2009, the company teamed up with Aston Hill Editorial to form The Literacy Club, which published books, magazines and digital resources with the aim of encouraging more children to read and more parents to become involved in their child’s literacy development. 

Read the full story of Cambridge English Online's President's Award here.

January to June, 2012

Oliver TwistYes sir, you can have some more... time

Schools across the UK now have more time to enter a special competition celebrating the work of Charles Dickens as the deadline for entries has now been extended to 1st April 2012.

To celebrate the bi-centenary of the author's 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. 

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.

Full competition details and Registration Forms are available from the English Association.


The Story of the Olympics cover

Two new titles from the amazing world of Richard Brassey

Fans of the prolific author/illustrator Richard Brassey have two new treats to enjoy. First comes the topical treasure The Story of the Olympics, a wacky, fact-filled paperback presented through hilarious comic strips and illustrated fact boxes which explores the history of this famous sporting event from ancient Greece to modern times.

Children will love reading all the zany facts and figures, covering everything from records to reputations, cheats to champs and vistors to venues. For example, who would have thought that there was once a marathon runner who fell asleep by the roadside. Competing in the competition in 1912, he didn't actually complete the course until 1966! Published by Orion Books (ISBN 9781444000481), The Story of the Olympics costs £7.99 and will provide a fun read for the classroom or at home.

Great Stories from British History coverIn the hardback Great Stories from British History, Richard Brassey has joined forces with the award-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean. His colourful illustrations bring to life 101 stories about Britain's past, including the well known tales of King Canute, Lady Godiva and Guy Fawkes alongside lesser known stories, such as the Braer Oil Tanker disaster and the tale of Henry II's beloved 'Fair Rosamund'. To accompany every story, there is a fact box eplaining what really happened. 

The book should have wide appeal. The length of the tales make them perfect for teachers to read aloud in the classroom and children can then enjoy discussing the truth behind each tale. Meanwhile at home this is a great collection for more able readers to enjoy alone, or for sharing at bedtime.

Once again published by Orion Books (ISBN 9781444001426) this beautiful hardback collection is priced at £20.

Cover of Storyteller by Anita GaneriExploring world religions through storyelling

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.

November/December 2011

Cover shot The Olympic GamesGet 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 Ltd for LCP's Karascope series, the pack offers materials for three age groups - 5 to 7 years (Key Stage 1), 7 to 9 years (Lower Key Stage 2) and 9 to 11 years (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 provides lesson plans. photocopiable activity sheets, poems, stories, fact files, posters and picture cards.

To find out more, and for details of prices, go to the Karascope website.


Horrid Henry's A-Z of Everything HorridThe perfect present for Horrid Henry fans

Did you know that Blobby Gobbers were some of Horrid Henry's favourite sweets? Have you ever heard of Fangmanglers? And would you like to know the truth about how Horrid Henrys friend Rude Ralph got his name? The answers to all of these questions and lots, lots more, can be found in the brand new hardback, Horrid Henry's A-Z of Everything Horrid - a must for all Horrid Henry fans.

Complimented by comical, colourful, cartoon drawings by Tony Ross, including some fantastic double-page illustrations, this book is great to dip into at any time and would make a perfect Christmas present.

Horrid Henry's A-Z of Everything Horrid costs £12.99 and is published by Orion Children's Books (ISBN 97814444002263).


August/September/October 2011

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 - and 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


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


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

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


May/June/July 2011 

Your chance to meet the Laureate for Storytelling

Taffy Thomas, MBE, the Laureate for Storytelling, is visiting schools in the Warwickshire and Worcestershire area during the week starting 18th July 2011. Taffy can tailor his sessions to suit individual needs and can offer performances and workshops for any age, from 4 to adult. If your school is in this area and you would be interested in a visit from Taffy, click here to find out more. If your school is in another part of the country, email us with your requirements and some possible dates and we will contact you to discuss your booking.

ROYAL WEDDINGS - A cross-curricular resource pack

Written by Helen Watts of Aston Hill Editorial for LCP's Karascope series, this comprehensive online resource pack for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 is now available to order. This pack is suitable for schools celebrating the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton or for schools studying Kings and Queens, and royal marriages in general. Find out more


March/April 2011

Celebrate the Royal Wedding in your classroom

With the wedding of HRH Prince William to Catherine (Kate) Middleton only a few weeks away, excitement is building and stories about the royal couple are all over the news. So why not capitalise on the buzz already surrounding this happy, historical event and use the wedding as a starting point for a cross-curricular project in the classroom?

New in LCP's Karascope series is the Royal Weddings Resource Pack - an online resource that offers a colourful range of resources, posters, planning charts, lesson plans and photocopiable activities to support work right across the curriculum – from history, literacy and ICT to maths, music, art and design and RE.

There are six units for each of the three age groups: KS1 (Yrs 1-2), Lower KS2 (Yrs 3-4) and Upper KS2 (Yrs 5-6), and you can opt to buy just one unit (£5), just one key stage (£15) - or the whole primary pack for just £35.

Find out more, and download some sample pages, from the Karascope website.

Photo (c) 2010. Mario Testino, Getty Images.

Taffy Thomas to visit Shakespeare's Stratford as part of its 2011 literary festival

The Laureate for Storytelling will be among the many top authors taking part in this year's Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival. Taffy Thomas MBE, author of Taffy's Coat Tales, will be performing to pupils at King Edward VI School and also taking part in a cross-generational story-sharing event organised with the support of Age UK Warwickshire.

Taffy's event is part of an exciting schools programme, which also includes two other Laureates - the current Children's Laureate Anthony Browne, and former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen.

The main school events programme runs from Tuesday 3rd May to Friday 6th May, 2011, culminating in a Schools' Showcase Performance at Stratford High School on the Friday evening.

For more information on all Literary Festival events, and for booking details, visit Festival website or call the booking line on 01789 207100.

Photo (c) Steven Barber Photography

Top names converge on Shakespeare's birth place for a week of literary events

The programme has now been announced for the 2011 Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival which takes place between Monday 28th April and Monday 2nd May. Headline speakers include Patricia Routledge, Celia Imrie, Larry Lamb, John Humphrys, Mark Radcliffe, Baroness Shirley Williams, Colin Dexter, Aurthur Smith and Sophie Hannah.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet Barbara Trapido, Justin Cartwright, Katie Fforde, Molly Parkin, Catherine Horwood, Esther Freud, Luke Gamble and Jean Baggott - and they can also choose from a range of workshops, poetry performances and much, much more... This year's festival also includes a family day out at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Gardens on Sunday 1st May.

Tickets are on sale now. Call 01789 207100 or book online from Stratford upon Avon Civic Hall Box Office.

Find out more on the Festival website and keep coming back here for forthcoming news of the Schools Programme.

January/February 2011

The Wombles are back!

November 2010 saw the return of some furry old friends to the nation’s bookshelves. The much-loved Wombles series, by Elisabeth Beresford, was given brand new illustrations by Nick Price and was relaunched by publishers, Bloomsbury, with two titles The Wombles and The Wandering Wombles. January saw the publication of the next two books in the series The Invisible Womble and The Wombles at Work – and two more titles are planned for release in March 2011.

In The Invisible Womble we see Orinoco, the tubbiest of the Wombles, getting a little extra encouragement to go out on the daily sortie to clear up and recycle all the rubbish that humans leave behind. Meanwhile, in The Wombles at Work, the Wombles have their work cut out for them when a huge festival takes place on the common. No end of rubbish is left behind – including everything from sunglasses to shoes, drinks cans and bottles. Who would have thought humans could leave so much behind, not bothering to recycle?

Author Elisabeth Beresford, who died on 24 December 2010, first came up with the idea for the Wombles stories when walking on Wimbledon Common with her two children. She started sketching out characters that day: Great Uncle Bulgaria was based on her father-in-law, Tobermory on her brother (an inventor), Orinoco on her son, and Madame Cholet on her mother. She hoped that her tales would encourage children to fight pollution and to think up ways of ‘making good use of bad rubbish’. In fact, the Wombles so charmed the nation that they were chosen as the mascots for the Tidy Britain campaign. Elisabeth Beresford was awarded an MBE for her services to children’s literature in 1998.

To find out more and order copies of the books, visit

York's famous Viking Centre gets a little Grim Gruesome

Fans of Rosalind Kerven's Grim Gruesome Viking Villain novels should head to York this February half term for some hands-on activities exploring the stories and their historical background. Book 2 in the series - The Queen's Poison - is set in Viking York, and the author has been working with the museum to produce a set of children's leaflets which link the vivid descriptions in the book to the receation of Viking York in the Jorvik Centre.

Young visitors can play 'Did You Spot..?’ , matching the descriptions of Viking fashions, animals, houses and market stalls to the Jorvik Centre displays; they can complete the Grim Gruesome/Jorvik Wordsearch to find the Viking streets of York that Aki, Dalla and Frodi explore in the book; and they can Read the Runes to discover an alarming message about Grim Gruesome in Jorvik. On Thursday 24th February they can also visit the Grim Gruesome stall in 'Coppergate Camp', outside the Jorvik Centre (1pm to 4pm).

There are currently four books in the Grim Gruesome series. Book 1- The Cursed Sword (ISBN 978-0-9537454-3-2); Book 2 - The Queen’s Poison (ISBN 978-0-9537454-4-9); and Book 3 - Trolls’ Treasure (ISBN 978-0-9537454-5-6). Book 4 - The Rings of Doom will be available soon.

Find out more

Do you write fiction for junior-age children?

If so, there's still time to enter the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children's Book Award 2011.

The award was set up by Frances Lincoln in association with Seven Stories, the Centre for Children’s Books, in memory of Frances Lincoln (1945-2001) to encourage and promote diversity in children’s fiction. The prize - of £1,500 plus the option for Janetta Otter-Barry at Frances Lincoln Children’s Books to publish the novel - is awarded to the best manuscript for eight- to 12-year-olds that celebrates diversity in the widest possible sense.

Previous winners include Tom Avery, who won last year with his story Too Much Trouble, and Cristy Burne, who won the inaugural award in 2009 and saw her novel, Takeshita Demons published in June 2010. The closing date for this year's entries is Friday 25th February 2011.

For more details and an application form, go to or contact the Award Co-ordinator, Helena McConnell, by email to or

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