Tag Archives: Fiction

My Favourite Childhood Book…

We all have one book that sticks out in our memories – one that set our imaginations wild and sparked a life-long love of reading. To celebrate World Book Day  2017 we asked a few Bloomsbury Education authors to talk about the books that began their reading journey…

Visit our online shop to find out more about the authors, their books and more!

Benjamin Hulme-CrossImage result for treasure island

Treasure Island was my favourite book when I was growing up. Buried gold; the original
pirate-rogue, Long John Silver; a mutiny; a young hero somehow defying death and a swarm of cut-throat buccaneers; and a treacherous parrot. I’ve never wanted to be part of an adventure quite the way I wanted to be on board The Hispaniola as a boy.

Ross Morrison McGill (@TeacherToolkit)

SophieImage result for sophie's world‘s World. It captured my imagination and rekindled my love for reading as a young adult.

Stephen Scoffham 

One of my favourite books was Rudyard Kipling’s Just So StoriesImage result for just so stories I was particularly fond of the story about how the elephant got his trunk. I think it appealed to me because of the focus on the naughty young elephant who got his own back on this uncles and aunts.  But there was a deep sense of Africa and the exoticism of distant lands which permeated the both the pages and, ofcourse, the illustrations.  Another
Kipling
story, in a different collection, which appealed to me enormously was Rikki Tikki Tavi, the heroic mongoose who fought with the snakes.  I identified whole-heartedly with Rikki and I thrilled as I read the account of his battles from which he always emerged victorious against the odds.

Joshua Seigal 

“My favourite book as a young child was There’s a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss. My dad Image result for there's a wocket in my pocketused to read this to me and my sister in bed, so I associate the book with bonding. The book is full of weird and wonderful nonsense words too, and I’m sure that it helped fuel my subsequent love of language and wordplay. I also perceived a melancholy underpinning to the book – the illustrations seem to portray the protagonist as being all alone in a vast house, even though he is a young kid, and no reference is ever made to his parents or family. The story is told in the first person singular. I found this somehow sad.”Image result for famous five

Jon Tait

My favourite books that I read as a child were the Famous Five series. I used to love reading
them and imagining the adventures as if they were real life. It was a world that I felt I could dive into when I opened the books.

James Carter

The book that inspired me most as a young reader like no other was the TinTin book The Black Island. Why? It was THRILLING, a non-stop adventure.

It was FUNNY – The Thompson/Thomson twins are sooo stupid, especially as they are supposed to be policeman. And Captain Haddock – what a great name for a former ship’s Image result for the black islandcaptain! He was always get a little ‘tiddly’ shall we say and would begin saying such ridiculous things as ‘blistering barnacles’!

What’s more, it was totally and utterly MAGICAL. I wanted to jump into the world of that book and BE Tintin – have Snowy as my dog, and go on an adventure to a Scottish island where I would meet a g- I won’t say any more. You try it. You find out. But all TinTin books are fantastic. They’re wonderfully escapist stories, and have such fabulous artwork.And great, memorable characters to boot. I love geography and travel, so I loved the fact that TinTin travelled all over the world too – Tibet, Africa, South America, Australia, Russia – everywhere. Even the moon!

Judy Waite

I was horse-mad so Black Beauty stands out, but there were always ‘girl gets horse/girl wins horse/girl wins prizes with horse’ type books that I devoured. Especially the ‘girl wins horse’ one, as I’d entered a real competition to win a horse, run by a daily newspaper Image result for blackbeauty(which seems massively irresponsible these days). Anyway, I didn’t win so horse ownership remained an endless dream, and ‘girl wins horse’ allowed me to experience such joy vicariously.
There’s another book I remember. It was called Isle of Dogs and no, it wasn’t about a dockland area in London. It was about an actual island with dogs on it. The dogs were all pedigrees being transferred somewhere (by ship or plane, I can’t remember which) but a sinking/crash into the sea meant the humans all perished and the dogs swam to a remote island, and the story played out in a sort of doggy Lord of the Flies type of way. I was primary age when I read it, and at the time it latched into my imagination and took me over. I’ve never been able to find it since, despite various searches, so it clearly wasn’t a classic or written by someone well known. But whoever that author is, and wherever they may be, thank you!!

Jo Image result for the dark rising bookCotterill 

My favourite book was The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. I was fascinated by the concept of the Light and the Dark and the battle raging through the centuries – and of course, Will is a fantastic central character, learning about his abilities and frequently in real danger. It kept me gripped and enthralled for many a night!

Saviour PirottaImage result for the silver sword

My favourite book as a child was easily The Silver Sword by Ian Serrallier. It was the first
story I read that had a multi viewpoint.  I’ve always been fascinated by World War 2 and this had a different take on the subject with children as the main characters. I especially identified with Jan, a misfit who was part rogue part hero. I still have The tattered copy I read in my collection.

Tony BradmanImage result for the hobbit book

My favourite book when I was young was The Hobbit. I loved the adventure of it all, that journey through strange, exotic lands that Tolkien describes so well it seems as if they’re real. And what a great ending! A huge battle with a dragon – I mean, what’s not to like?

Andrew BrodieImage result for Winnie-the-Pooh: The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems

As a young child, my absolute favourite book was Winnie the Pooh – my battered copy shows evidence of how much I read and reread it. I liked it so much for its gentle humour, which still appeals to me now.

Stephen Lockyer

Sly Fox and the Red Hen. When I was very young, my parents went Image result for sly fox and the red henaway for ten days to Canada, and some family friends stayed with us. My parents had hidden a present around the house for each of my siblings and I every day, with cryptic clues (I struggle with one packed lunch for my own children), and this book was one of my presents.

I remember it distinctly as being the first book I read on my own, and read it to everyone and anyone so much that I recited it back to my parents on their return.

This book started my love for books. And hens. But mainly hens.

 

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Castles in the Air

Using the past as a springboard for young writer by Paul Mason

The idea for the book came while walking the grounds of Walmer Castle in Kent.  What would it be like, my daughter asked, to sneak in and live there?  I spent the afternoon taking in the thick walls, and deep, grassy moat; the Duke of Wellington’s bedroom with its camping cot, the row of cannons pointing out to sea, the pair of Wellington boots—scribbling down notes, possibilities, real detail.

A Gibbon quote comes to mind: “There is more pleasure to building castles in the air than on the ground.”  I often like to use one to inspire the other. The past can provide young writers with a powerful springboard.

I took a class to visit a scale replica of a steerage deck on an 1840’s immigrant ship. They perched on bunks in the dimly lit deck as it rocked back and forth, listening to the waves crash, the boards creak. They pictured the hard yards of the early settlers, and put down some evocative description.

Here in New Zealand, a trip to a marae can be a source of inspiration. The wharenui or meeting house often symbolises an ancestor–with a beam for the spine, rafters for ribs and the heart represented by a strong post.  Carvings inside usually tell stories of those that have gone before, great leaders and navigators. (Check the local tikanga or rules before visiting.)

Of course, the past can creep into the classroom too.  I once brought in an old travelling chest.  The students could look and touch the worn leather, but weren’t allowed to open the lid.  What hid inside? Who did the trunk belong to? Where were they travelling? What would they themselves pack in the trunk if they were going on a long journey?

An inquiry into family history began with a mini-museum of personal heirlooms. An old hat that belonged to granddad. A medal. A treasured photograph. The young writers made them breathe in poems and stories. Given the chance, castles in the air can begin here on the ground.

Paul Mason is a former primary school teacher. He writes fiction for Bloomsbury Education including the Skate Monkey series which has two new titles, The Cursed Village and Fear Mountain, publishing in January 2017.

New and exciting books from Bloomsbury Education…

Today marks the release of an exciting range of titles from Bloomsbury Education. From thrilling historical adventures to fiction that will grab the attention of the most reluctant readers to a brilliantly witty and engaging collection of poetry.

Don’t panic teachers! We’ve not forgotten you! Get ahead of the game this year and grab one of our great new resource books, guaranteed to get ideas flowing and unbeatable lessons planned.

See below for more details on each new title and  don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BloomsburyEd for details about our new titles, giveaways and more!

Land of the Gods

9781472918093

“If they were Romans I was done for: they’d tear me apart, bit by bit, and enjoy doing it…”

When Lucan sees a legion of Roman soldiers near his village it definitely makes sense to hide. But hiding in a wagon could prove to be a dangerous mistake. And falling asleep in the wagon is not the best idea that Lucan has ever had.

Trapped as a Roman slave, can Lucan find his way home… and does he even want to? Find out more here

The Bet

The BetEveryone wants to go on the school trip but no one can afford it. Ed, Zac, Becca and Kat decide to try and work for the money. Soon, it is boys versus girls in a bet to see who can raise the most and that’s when the trouble starts. One thing’s for sure; the competition starts here!

Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, The Bet is aimed at readers aged 11+ and has a manageable length (72 pages) and reading age (9+).                                                                  Find out more here

Sea Wolf

9781472924889Maya’s little brother Ethan is always telling stories about the Sea Wolf, the monster in the sea around Black Rock. Maya doesn’t believe Ethan’s lies but she does believe the sea is dangerous so, when Ethan tries to prove he can kayak to Black Rock, she knows she has to try to save him. Will either of them make it back from the dark and deadly sea?

Bloomsbury High Low books encourage and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language. Printed on tinted paper and with a dyslexia friendly font, Sea Wolf is aimed at readers aged 9+ and has a manageable length (64 pages) and reading age (7+). Find out more here

It’s Not My Fault!

Not my faultJoin poets Roger Stevens and Steven Withrow for this magical mixture of poems. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious there’s something here for everyone. Just remember though – whatever happens…
it’s not my fault! Find out more here

 

 

 

 

Bloomsbury Curriculum Basics: Teaching Primary Computing

9781472921024Computers are just for playing games, right? Many of your pupils will think so. It may be a cultural shift for both the pupils and their parents to change that perception of computing. However, the learning gained from the ‘games’ played on computers in the primary classroom is paramount.

The teaching ideas in this book use mostly free tools, which operate across the many platforms that primary schools use. Based on the National Curriculum, the book is split into year groups, and each chapter offers practitioners an essential summary of all the information and vocabulary they need to successfully implement the activity in the classroom. Find out more here

A Creative Approach to Teaching Spelling

9781472922458A Creative Approach to Teaching Spelling will help teachers address the spelling targets of the new English curriculum and can also be used to support and enhance the growing range of phonic based spelling programmes currently used within schools. It provides a basic summary of the major developments in the teaching of spelling over the last 40 years and outlines current research and approaches. The renewed emphasis on phonic knowledge as a key element of all reading and spelling programmes is highlighted, as are those additional complimentary approaches to teaching spelling that are supported by current research.

The games and activities will help to develop and embed children’s phonological awareness, phonic knowledge and auditory memory. Find out more here

The Little Book of my Neighbourhood 

9781472925077.jpgThis book provides suggestions for activities and visits in your local neighbourhood, together with plans and advice on how to fully explore the area around your setting. Extend the learning with fun follow-up ideas that will encourage you to explore further afield. All activities link to specific aspects of the curriculum areas and early learning goals.

Topics include local space, walks, talks from community members, visits and games, stories and songs. Find out more here

 

 

Falling in Love with the Romans

Sally Prue is author of our new laugh-out-loud adventure in the Flashbacks series set in ancient Rome – Land of the Gods

The Romans seemed to be everywhere when I was young. There was the Roman ring my dad dug up in the garden, there were scallop shells in the local fields (I didn’t find out until later that they were used as, um, lavatory scrapers) and there were bits of tiles to be picked up in the park. As if that wasn’t enough, the cathedral tower was built of Roman bricks, and a bus ride away was Verulamium, with its Roman walls, theatre, hypocaust, and rather dull museum (now, I must add, hugely improved).

The Romans were everywhere – but, to be honest, I didn’t really think that much of them. Their clothes were ridiculous, for one thing, their gods seemed full of cruelty and revenge. They spoke Latin, which could hardly have been more baffling if it had been specially designed for the purpose.

But then one day on holiday there was a downpour that lasted so long that in the end the Roman museum at Bath was the only place left to go.

And, do you know, I rather fell in love.

The museum revealed to me a dark, mysterious world of curses and magic; of the divine in everything, absolutely everything, every tree and gatepost and pool. It led me to discover Roman generosity in embracing the gods of all peoples, whether it was the goddess Sul who dwelt in the hot springs of Bath, or the Persian god Mithras. I discovered, movingly, the Roman gods of childhood: Cunina, who guarded a child’s bed; Ossipago, who made his bones grow strong; and Levana, who watched over the first time a father lifted his child in his arms.

And there in my mind, quite suddenly, was the story of the irrepressible Lucan, a Celtic boy captured by the dodgiest merchant in Britain. Luckily, as the boy Lucan tells us (repeatedly) Lucan is exceptionally brave, clever and good-looking, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t in great danger, even if it’s not exactly the danger he’s expecting. As a Celt from the edges of the Roman Britain, Lucan knows just about as much about the Romans as, well, I suppose as I did when I was his age.

Lucan’s adventures take him from the borders of Wales to Bath, and they end in the town of Silchester. He meets the weaselly slave Aphrodisius, the centurion Sabidus Maximus, and Claudia, who is possibly the bossiest girl in the entire Roman Empire.

Lucan’s journey was fascinating to research, and Lucan himself proved to be very good company. It was extraordinary to look through the eyes of a child transported in a few days from an Iron Age existence into a hub of Roman civilisation, and to see so clearly that for him the Romans truly were living in The Land of the Gods.

 

9781472918093.jpg

The British Museum – The Perfect Setting

By Dan Metcalf, author of the Lottie Lipton Adventures

Bloomsbury, the area in London that is bordered by Euston Road and Holborn, has a rich history. It is synonymous with the Bloomsbury Group of course, the circle of writers that included Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and EM Forster. The nearby Atlantis Bookshop was home to the occult meetings of The Order of the Hidden Masters, attended by influential Wiccan Gerald Gardner. Most importantly for me it is the home to Bloomsbury Publishing (also known in my house as Them-who-pay-the-bills). It it also home however, and has been for 250 years, to The British Museum.

When I first visited the museum as a child, I wondered around it as a sponge, soaking up information and images. I clearly remember the mummies, dried out in the desert sand, and the huge Chinese carvings which I got told off for touching. It wasn’t until I revisited the museum around twenty years later that I really got a sense of how important the building was and the work they do. Much had changed since my first visit. The grand courtyard had been enclosed by a towering glass roof. The British Library, who had been squatting in the museum since the early Seventies, had scuttled off to St Pancras. But for the most part, the exhibits were the same.

I find it immensely reassuring that in this ever changing world something so important can remain unchanged. I love that in twenty years or so I could conceivably meet up in London with my sons and take a look at the very same Rosetta Stone that I saw when I was just eight years old. London could be rebuilt ten times over and the British Museum would remain the same.

Lottie Profile Pic

When it came to writing my set of books, The Lottie Lipton Adventures, I knew I wanted to set it in a museum. I had long loved to browse museums such as the Pitt Rivers in Oxford, the Bristol Museum and my childhood one in Torquay. When I saw the British Museum (the second time) I knew that it was where Lottie should live. I often explain to children whom I visit in schools that I would love to live in a museum (failing that, a library of course). I want to have access to all that history after the crowds have gone home, to ride my bike around the corridors and shuffle around the exhibits in my slippers.

The important thing about the museum to my writing was that it provided an endless source of material. While I weave in legends such as the lost eagle of the ninth legion or a hoard of gold looted from Roman London by Boudica, there are enough treasures in the 92,000m2 site to keep me going for several books more. Indeed, in the next two Lottie Lipton Adventures, The Catacombs of Chaos and The Eagle of Rome, I haven’t even scratched the surface of the contents of the museum. With over 8 million artefacts within its walls and ornate stone columns, I should have plenty of material to work with.

While I believe that the British Museum is a unique and important place, I know that it should not be taken for granted. It relies on donations and grants to keep going, and while visitor numbers show no signs of dropping, I for one am slightly wary of national treasures being sold off or shut down. After so many public libraries have disappeared in the last few years, I do not want our museums to be next.

 

The Catacombs of Chaos and The Eagle of Rome are published on 28th July by Bloomsbury Education.

 

 

Lottie Lipton: Amateur Detective and Archaeologist Extraordinaire

Lottie Profile Pic

Dear Mystery Lovers,

We all love a mystery, don’t we? Whether it’s discovering a four-thousand year old treasure or finding out who ate the last slice of bread in the house (it’s usually my Great Uncle Bert), we love to delve into a story and work out its secrets.

Which is where I come in!

The name’s Lipton. Lottie Lipton. Amateur Detective and Archaeologist Extraordinaire!

I’ve solved lots of mysteries and discovered tons of secrets, usually right under my nose in the British Museum. That’s where I live with my Great Uncle Bert and the caretaker, Reg. Oh, and Sir Trevelyan Taylor of course, but he’s a rotter and a stinker so we don’t talk about him. Mysteries and strange things keep happening and I’m the only one who can sort it all out.

For instance, once Sir Trev wanted to get rid of all the books in the museum, so I set out to search for The Scroll of Alexandria. If we found it then the books would be protected. It took some doing, I can tell you, and you can find out how it all went in the new book by my biographer, the esteemed Mr Dan Metcalf.

Another time, Uncle Bert had a real Egyptian mummy in the museum and I mistakenly set free the shabti, the little statues that were supposed to serve the mummy in the afterlife. They were mischievous little things! Mr Metcalf has written the whole story in The Egyptian Enchantment!

I love solving mysteries and if you do too, then you’ll find that my adventures are littered with codes, puzzles, riddles and clues for you to solve. They’re also packed full of facts; living in a museum I can’t help but pick up a few interesting tidbits here and there, and Uncle Bert is a mine of information.

I’ve got to go now – Reg is going to teach me how to fire one of the ancient crossbows from the weaponry collection (Shhh! Don’t tell Sir Trev!). I’ll leave you with a little code of your own to solve…

Byeeeeeee!

Lottie Lipton

 

P.S. I’m going to leave you with a code. Can you guess what it is? Tweet me at @BloomsburyEd or email childrenseducation(at)bloomsbury.com if you think you know!

Jgnnq htqo vjg Dtkvkuj Owugwo! Hqt oqtg eqfgu, tgcf oa dqqmu pqy!

 

P.P.S.  Here is when you can get your hands on my new adventures:

9781472911872 Lottie 2

9781472911902 Lottie

 

 

Portsmouth Book Awards 2015 – Behind the Scenes!

Hannah Rolls - editor photoMy name is Hannah and I’m the Fiction Commissioning Editor here at Bloomsbury Education. On Tuesday 30th June I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Portsmouth Children’s Book Award celebration and I thought you might like to hear about it.

Every year, the children of Portsmouth, helped by their librarians and teachers, choose their favourite new books. Back in the dark depths of winter we were excited to find out that two of our books had been shortlisted. Running on a Patchwork of Earth by Jonny Zucker and Warrior Heroes: The Viking’s Revenge by Benjamin Hulme-Cross were both nominated in the shorter novel category, which is voted for by the Year 5 children of 27 schools across the city.

Both books did really well in what was an extremely close vote, but at the end of May we found out that The Viking’s Revenge was the winner. Cue much (extremely quiet) excited squealing, as we had to keep the news a secret until the official announcement!

So bright and early on Tuesday morning one author, one marketer, one author’s family and one editor (me) headed up to the King’s Theatre in Portsmouth for the big reveal (poor Ben had to do some hiding to make sure the secret was safe until the big moment).

King's Theatre, Portsmouth
Beautiful day for a celebration

It isn’t often that you get to hear 1300 excited kids screaming for their favourite books. It was quite a sight to see, and after listening to them all do their best Viking war cries we might have to rely on seeing for a while. Blimey, they were LOUD; I’m not sure my ears work properly anymore!

Some schools had been let in on the secret of the winner a bit early so we were treated to a play, a song and a poem they had written and prepared, inspired by The Viking’s Revenge. Brilliant stuff! Prizes were also awarded to the Readers of the Year, who had been nominated by their schools and librarians.

After a quick pit stop for lunch we headed to a school which hadn’t been able to send all its Year 5s to the morning’s festivities. After a lovely talk from Ben about how to come up with ideas for stories (and some really terrible writing up of ideas from me – must practice my whiteboard handwriting), the children were keen to get their books signed by a real live author.

Ben Hulme-Cross author photo
Ben Hulme-Cross – real live author

We had an amazing day. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and to Portsmouth Library Service for organising such a brilliant event. In fact, for organising three brilliant events because there are picture book and longer novel categories which get their own celebrations too.

*Begins Machiavellian plotting to try and make sure we win again next year…*

Follow Ben on Twitter @bhulmecross and Portsmouth School Library Service @PortsmouthSLS