Winter Storytelling at Notting Hill Gate Library

On Saturday 16th January, we had inspirational storytellers in the library including Sarah Deco who sparked the interest and creativity in the children, firing their imaginations. This made it a great experience for all, including the parents. I have never seen the children more eager to listen to a story! Sarah’s storytelling reminds us that hearing stories told is so much more fun than watching them on the television. She made what we read on paper come to life.

Sarah and Sandeep
Sarah and Sandeep, story telling and playing the handpan


With the help of Sandeep Ganatra who played the handpan drum, Sarah was telling her story through music which complimented the stories and gave them a perfect touch.

One particular story which the children loved was Linda Matthiesen’s story of the girl who lost her mittens. Guiding the children through the stories twists and turns, they were eager to know what was going to happen next. All children moved closer to hear Linda as they were eager to know what happened to the girl’s mittens and were relieved when she was reunited with them.

Linda Matthiesen
Linda Matthiesen, story telling


The thoughtfulness of volunteers such as Sarah Deco, Sandeep Ganatra, Linda Matthiesen has allowed us to provide one-off special events for children. We would like to thank them for their fantastic performances and wish them the best of luck in their future performances.

Don’t forget to come to our once a month story and craft session on Saturday 16th February, 2:30-3:45pm, and our special author reading from Marcel Feigel who will be reading his book Ollie’s Big Surprise on Saturday 27th February, 2:30-3:30pm. We look forward to seeing you there!

By Laila El-Boukilli,
SCSA at Notting Hill Gate Library


Chatterbooks Event

Chatterbooks, as we all know, is the national reading group for children and this year 11th – 18th October is Chatterbooks Week.


We got in a few days early with a great event from the very popular children’s author Steve Cole. Steve is the author of, amongst other things, the Astrosaurs and Cows in Action series, has taken over the Young Bond series from Charlie Higson and has also written episodes of Dr Who.

Steve Cole, Author playing ukele
Steve Cole, Author playing ukulele.

Over 100 KS2 pupils from local schools witnessed the most energetic author event I’ve ever seen, with Steve leaping on and off the stage and running up and down the aisles taking questions. When I asked the Reading Agency if he’d be bringing any equipment with him (I was thinking laptop, usb stick) I was told no, just his ukulele! His songs had the children screaming along with the choruses.

Steve Cole standing and engaging audience
Steve Cole standing and engaging audience

Steve was really strong in exemplifying the role of imagination in storytelling, improvising stories from the names of children’s (and teacher’s) pets, playing with words and making it all such fun.

The Chatterbooks reading groups are a great forum for children who enjoy reading to meet up and talk about their reading experiences, recommend books to each other and maybe do some fun activities related to reading and books like word searches and quizzes.

They are held monthly at most of the RBKC libraries – check here to find the nearest to you.

Bringing Books to Life at Brompton’s Chatterbooks

Brompton Librarian, Steph, writes…

As you all know, Chatterbooks is the monthly reading group for 8 to 12 yr olds and is a forum for young book lovers to discuss and discover authors and titles they have enjoyed.

At this week’s session we concentrated on the “discovering” as we explored the weird but decidedly wonderful world of augmented reality books. For those who haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, with the help of a tablet and a free downloadable app the books come to life. Thanks to the stock team we had one book on dinosaurs and another on the solar system. In the iDinosaur book we watched a dinosaur hatch from its egg, another one walked out of the book, onto the carpet and under the table, roaring as it went.

Cover of iDinosaur book
This ferocious book cover hides some amazing 3D surprises…

With the help of the solar system app (iSolarSystemAR) all the planets were orbiting around the sun in (Learning) Space! The children and parents were suitably impressed and amazed and were all keen to have a go with the library iPads. Many thanks to Sally from the Stock Team, and Fiora for helping me with the two books shared between 6 children!

Picture of 3D dinosaur springing from idinosaur book
Download the free app and, using your smartphone, see dinosaurs come to life!

After exhausting the possibilities of the books, they had time to write a few lines about what they had just seen and start on a dinosaur and solar system word search.

So, it wasn’t a typical Chatterbooks session but I think our eyes were opened not only to the subjects of dinosaurs and the planets but also to new ways of learning and interacting with new technology. Now we’re buying more books and exploring more opportunities for showing them off to our users, young and old!

Picture of iSolarSytem App in action, with moons rotating around a planet
You can download the iSolarSystemAR app and try this at home!

If you’d like to see the books in action with ipads, give Brompton a ring and we’ll arrange a mutually convenient time for you to come along and try them out. Alternatively, you can borrow an augmented reality book and use your smart device to bring them to life.

Find the apps on the Apple Store/ Google Play.

Some titles you can borrow to begin with:




Chatterbooks at Brompton library

Stephanie Webb, Lending Librarian at Brompton Library, writes:

The Chatterbooks session on Monday 9 March was both a happy and a sad occasion as it was the last one led by Babita Sinha. Babita is leaving at the end of March and has led Chatterbooks here at Brompton for five years and before that at Chelsea for three years. She has a devoted following of children who will be very sad to see her go.

Babita's last Chatterbooks session at Brompton Library, March 2015
Babita’s last Chatterbooks session at Brompton Library, March 2015

However, she went out in style with a (slightly premature) Shakespeare Week event which had the kids searching the children’s area for Shakespearean clues, followed by word searches and other quizzes and some readings from the bard. All this was helped along with some naughty nibbles to mark Babita’s last session.

So, Babita is leaving (Boo-hoo!) but Katie Collis will be taking over (Hurrah!) in May.

Chatterbooks session at Brompton Library, March 2015
Chatterbooks session at Brompton Library, March 2015

There’s still room for a few more at our Chatterbooks reading group which is on the third Monday of each month at 3.45pm

Bombs up the chimney, Electric Babyland & Dirty Snow

Daniel Jeffreys, Chelsea Librarian, writes: 

Michael ForemanThe winter began with quite a bang when children’s book author and illustrator Michael Foreman visited Chelsea to talk about the inspiration behind some of his best loved work. He described his wartime childhood in Suffolk and his excitement when one night a bomb flew through his bedroom window, bounced across the floor before exploding in the fire. Orange flames burst from the chimney of his family home. The experience was hugely enjoyable. The child was unaware of the danger: instead he was caught up in the drama of the moment.  The war is still a big influence on Michael’s writing and he even improvised a quick picture.

Journey to the river sea
Journey to the river sea

Children are often unwittingly brave and that is certainly the theme of Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea which we read in Chatterbooks.  Young orphan Maia is sent off to the Amazon to stay with hostile English relatives. The Amazon is a hell or a heaven depending on your state of mind—to Maia’s adoptive family the jungle must be kept out, bugs sprayed regularly and tinned food imported from Blighty rather than risk eating local produce. There are lost children in the jungle dreaming of Victoria Sponge, an Earl’s son gone native hoping to disappear into the forest and Maia herself a receptive and delighted traveller enjoying the night time music.

Don’t forget as it grows colder that you can still have a hot cup of coffee and slice of homemade cake at our coffee mornings every Wednesday at 10.30. We have had some good guest speakers, community police, a milliner and most recently a talk on diabetes—perhaps the double chocolate cake wasn’t such a good idea after all!  And watch this space for details of a special Christmas Electric Babyland when the vintage Danelectro guitars will be wrapped in tinsel!

Book of the month

Dirty Snow
Dirty Snow

For all you Christmas bibliophiles: you might be aware of the great range of smart reissues of classic novels by The New York Review of Books. They are lovely editions. This month I read George Simenon’s Dirty Snow.  A gripping read about a young man living in occupied France drifting into crime out of boredom and a desire to be noticed, Frank commits acts of almost suicidal stupidity in a search for meaning while everything is frozen: the only running water is by the sewer.  The dirty snow is a symbol of all the cinders and ashes of the occupying army and the petty criminal enterprises of the locals, no fresh white powder can cover it up for long and the reader and Frank long for a thaw.



Babita Sinha, SCSA at Brompton library, writes:

Just like last year, the kids at Brompton Library performed very well in the Summer Reading Challenge this year too. We had an extra special party for all those who completed the Summer Reading Challenge and read six books over the summer – A huge well done to them all.

We combined the Finishers Party on 15th September with the re-launch of Chatterbooks, our monthly reading group for children.

There were 30 children who joined us for the party. We had loads of fun, food and music. They played musical chairs and statues, coloured their favourite characters from the Mythical Maze and took part in a Mythical Hunt. They loved the theme this year very much. They had their favourite monsters: Ben’s favourite monster was the Minotaur, whereas Nessie was Stephanie’s favourite.

Musical statues!
Musical statues!

They enjoyed the party very much and are waiting for the next one….

We had lots of enthusiatic comments about reading:

From Lana
From Lana
From Estelle
From Estelle

As if that wasn’t enough our special guest Mike Clarke, Director-TriBorough Libraries and Archives, rolled up his sleeves and joined in the fun! (Sadly, no photos available…)

If you want to find out more about Chatterbooks, or any of our children’s activities, look on our website or ask in a library!

Brompton’s March round-up

Our Brompton Librarians write:

Hello to all our lovely readers!

Well, it looks like spring has finally sprung around town. Without wishing to jinx it, let’s hope the rain stays away for a while because everything looks so much nicer in the sunshine!

On the 8th March we celebrated International Women’s Day, and made a display for it that included books by important female writers such as Mary Shelley and Margaret Atwood and non-fiction titles that explored the history of women’s rights. We also have a current display on historical fiction that will appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel, so come in and check it out!

Christian Stevens

Historical Fiction
Historical Fiction


Chatterbooks is a huge success with the children in Brompton library; always buzzing with creative children wanting to share their ideas. This reading club encourages them to read books, write reviews, recommend the books to each other and on top of everything chatting a lot (hahaha!).

Most of the time the children will select a theme for their next meeting. This month the group decided to write about favourite books/authors/characters on the paper leaves and stuck them on a paper tree. They were so enthusiastic that they drew the pictures of their favourite characters as well. Then they displayed it on the Chatterbooks wall in the children’s library.

For the next Chatterbooks session in April, the children will be bringing one friend along and discussing Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. Oh how noisy it will be? But we love it!!!! (to find out more, or to join our Chatterbooks group, please see the RBKC libraries website).

Babita Sinha

 Brompton Library Reading Group

 On Tuesday night (after a lively discussion about what West-End productions everyone had seen) we chatted about ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki. An author, living on a remote island in the States finds a washed-up Hello Kitty bag on the shoreline. Thinking that this must have come from the time of the tsunami, she opens it up to discover some documents and diaries inside. These include the diary of a Japanese teenager, a bright and vibrant girl whose family is really going through the ringer. Nao is very inspired however by her 106 year old great-grandmother -a Buddhist nun- and by the diaries of her great-uncle who details his training as a kamikaze pilot.

 Short-listed for the Booker Prize last year, Ozeki really drew praise from the group with regards to her creativity of story-line and her prose (particularly one member remarked) of Hiroshima and her great uncles animosity to serve for his country. We all loved the character of Nao and her great-grandmother especially, we felt this was much stronger than the author and her husband (maybe this was intentional).

As gruelling as it was in parts, it was a very inspiring read and it was great to see how Nao and her family’s characters evolved, hopefully for the better. The quantum mechanics section at the end let it down slightly, however we would still highly recommend this book (to find out more about our reading groups, or to join, please see the RBKC libraries website).

Katie Collis