Sledge: The Soul of Notting Hill

The phrase ‘One Love’  is a part of the philosophy of Rasta. The centre piece is an artwork, entitled ‘Mama  Africa by Mortimo Planno. History on Mortimo Planno is featured in ’s book ‘ Sledge: The Soul of Notting Hill’

 

OneLoveExhibit1
One Love mini exhibition

M G Robinson came to Shepherds Bush library on the 19th December 2015 to talk about her book Sledge: The Soul of Notting Hill

 

Sledge

 

Sledge was an iconic figure of the famous Portobello Road and part of the rich cultural history of the area.

Robinson wrote this book to document the life and times of her father; Sledge. Her book reveals the very significant transnational connection between Jamaica and London, in terms of culture, music and ideology.

Her talk at Shepherds Bush Library attracted an eclectic audience; multicultural; young and old. It was a real delight to see people coming together to discuss local history; contributions from the audience were welcomed, memories were shared and questions asked. A few people took notes to do follow up research.

The significance of the talk lay in the fact that local history was being verbally imparted from a woman who had actually lived it. Robinson has taken the time to record and share this knowledge with a wider audience to inform and educate.

An awesome slideshow put together by Tom Vague, (local historian and pop journalist) accompanied the talk featuring amongst others, photos of Sledge, the band Aswad, and shots of the Portobello and All Saint’s Road, over the years.

Considering the times we live in, bringing people together to share experiences, to learn and realise their common interests and stories serves to strengthen community spirit and helps us acknowledge the greater historical interconnectedness of all of our lives.

M G Robinson’s next talk will be:

  • North Kensington Library
  • 108 Ladbroke Grove,
  • London W11 1PZ
  • Saturday March 5th 2.30-4.30pm

Book your free place via Eventbrite

Zena Naidu
Senior Customer Service Assistant, Shepherds Bush Library

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Notting Hill Gate November

This month Notting Hill Gate Library has been very engaged in new activities, such as having our first ever Story Time session. We read a range of books and even had a dance when reading “Were Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen.

Chosing what to read

Our second Story and Craft session took place on Saturday 21st November. The library was transformed into every child’s dream, where everyone had the chance to become a superhero. It went with a BOOM and a BANG!

Snow visited us with a cold start to the day, however this did not stop our brave, dedicated superheroes! They forgot their masks so we made them by using all sorts of materials and quickly put them on to hide their identities from the world.

Making masks

As you can see in the picture they were all unique designs, some were inspired by their iconic superheroes for instance ‘The Incredibles’.

Everyone doing their superhero poses

Everyone doing their superhero poses

As in all parties, we celebrated by marking the event in our Superhero Photo booth of the bold Batman and dazzling Wonder Woman. The superheroes were smiling from ear to ear, exciting stuff!

Parents were supportive of their mini superheroes by generously donating fruits, which the children used to create their own superhero faces. Two of the children did not know what a Pomegranate was, but once they had tasted the delicious fruit, they were hooked.

Creating superhero fruit faces

 The day was saved when all our mini-superheroes came to the rescue by using their powers to help tidy the children’s library. It was a hard days work!

Laila El-Boukilli,
Senior Customer Services Assistant, writes:

Notting Hill Gate’s Halloween Story and Craft Event

Notting Hill Gate Library had a busy October this year, which included our Halloween display and the first Halloween Story and Craft Event on Saturday 24th October. This was a great opportunity for the children to dress up as their favourite characters and celebrate the holiday. The turn out was great and the afternoon was memorable. However, this could not have happened without the help and support from both parents and our kind volunteer Karima, who is a Primary School Teacher.

Mariam dressed as a witch
Mariam dressed as a witch

We began the afternoon with a scary story called Spooky House by Roger Priddy, in which we all participated in the reading together. After this, with the help of Karima’s teaching experience, we explained health and safety measures to the children.

Laila reading spooky story
Laila reading spooky story

With limited space in the Library, sitting on the floor worked to our advantage as it brought everyone together. The children were hooked in the making of their spider webs and loved the challenge when weaving the wool. After this, we had played a game of pass-the-parcel which engaged everyone’s attention, including the parents who also joined in.

Showing their presents
Showing their presents

To promote healthy eating, we created our very own pumpkins from oranges (the pumpkin’s body) and celery (the pumpkin’s stalk). In addition to this, we also made ghosts from bananas and raisins were used for the eyes. It proved to be a success.

Showing our spooky food
The children holding their pumpkin oranges and banana ghosts

At the end of the day everyone was sad the afternoon was over, but were cheered as each were given Halloween goody bags filled with raisins and a Halloween activity booklet.

To encourage reading I asked parents to take out a book for each child from the display, in which I had drawn inspiration from The Wizard of Oz. We all know how inspirational books can be and as it has been said ‘Today a reader, tomorrow a leader!’

Come along and join us for our next Story and Craft event on Saturday 21st November 2015 but please book early to avoid disappointment!

NHG Halloween Display
NHG Halloween Display

Bats, masks and bear-hunts…

 St Peter’s Nursery discovered the Notting Hill Gate Library when they visited us on Friday 17th January. They had a tour of the library and then an afternoon of story time. Snip Snap Alligator by Mara Bergman and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen were both part of the books read. The 3-4 year old enjoyed these immensely, they had a wonderful time!

We're going on a bear hunt!
We’re going on a bear hunt!

 Adrian, our Customer Service Assistant at Notting Hill Gate Library, really enjoyed the experience of reading to slightly older children: “I hope we can do this more often!” 

Saturday 25th January saw Carnival Mask making at the library. Two to nine year olds made fantastic colourful masks. They were then treated to an impromptu Baby Rhyme Time for the younger visitors which went down very well.

Getting crafty
Getting crafty
Making masks
Making masks

Our regular Story and Craft sessions are on the last Saturday of the month, however from April this will change to the first Saturday of the month.

 The eighth of February was National Libraries Day: Notting Hill Gate Library celebrated with a special Baby Rhyme Time, with stories, rhymes and songs with an enthusiastic audience. Then the parents and children joined in together to make paper Bat Planes and very quickly the air was full of flying bats to everyone’s amusement.

Bats!
Bats!

Last but not least…reading group news!

Two of our reading group members, Brenda Ferry and Janet Mayhew, celebrated after getting an award for Best Attendance in 2013 for the Notting Hill Gate Reading Group. Well done ladies!

Our two best attendees!
Our two best attendees!

Blog post from the North – June 2013

Welcome to our June blog post from our three libraries in the North.

Notting Hill Gate Library

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

The Notting Hill Gate Library Reading Group met to discuss The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. As usual the discussion was lively and vibrant with opinions bouncing across the table.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a monologue by Changez, a young Pakistani boy telling his life story to an American stranger in a café in Lahore. Changez used to live in America and is reporting why he has come to live back in Pakistan, in doing so he highlights the post 9/11 tensions. Changez went to America as a student to study at Princeton University, he lands a job with a prestigious consultancy firm and falls in love with an American girl, everything changes for Changez after 9/11 when his dream becomes a nightmare.

The group had different opinions about what the book was actually about. Some said it was about a man finding his identity, some said it was about the after effects of 9/11 and some said it was about a man going against America, but what we all agreed was, it was powerfully written and Changez’s story was deeply touching. We covered a range of discussions from religion, terrorism, capitalism, identity crises, the American dream and culture.

The story is full of intrigue, suspense and tension and it’s where we are left to fill in the blanks and the ambiguous ending that made it an exceptional book to discuss.

A trip to the cinema
A trip to the cinema

Lucky for the Notting Hill Gate Reading Group, the Reluctant Fundamentalist was then released in cinemas on 10th May, so of course we had to go and see it! We enjoyed the movie as much as we enjoyed the book and thought it was a great idea to have a comparative discussion. We were of course annoyed about some of the cuts from the book but we thought it still kept the essence of the story and it did justice for the book. We are very enthusiastic about linking future films with books.

Fancy a mystery?

To celebrate Crime Writers Month, we have decide to make things a little more exciting at Notting Hill Gate, choose a mysterious book from our display if you dare…

Crime fiction display at Notting Hill Gate Library
Crime fiction display at Notting Hill Gate Library

National Crime Writing Month is an initiative of the Crime Writers’ Association. Formerly known as Crime Writing Week, it was launched in 2010 with 50 events up and down the UK. In 2012, due to the popularity of the event, it was increased to a month. It gives readers the opportunity to explore the latest and best crime writing, as well as to discover (or rediscover) many classic writers. At Notting Hill Gate we have a vast collection of books by the authors of the Crime Writing Panel and by other authors associated with Crime Writing Week.

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library

North Kensington Library

Sunshine in the Children’s Library

Don’t you think the sun is bright?
I wonder where it goes at night?
Does it sleep or does it hide?
Or is the moon its other side?
Does it hide behind the hills?
Late at night as outside chills?
Do you think it needs to rest?
From all that warming it does best?

On a gloomy and rainy Thursday afternoon we brought some sunshine to North Kensington Children’s Library by reading a poem about the sun, written by Gareth Lancaster and making the sun for our half term story and craft session. Children enjoyed tracing their palms on coloured paper, cutting traced fingers and sticking them on the back of paper plates. That is how we created the sun and now our display in children’s library looks bright and sunny.

Adisa Behmen-Kreso
Adisa Behmen-Kreso

Adisa Behmen-Kreso

Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library

Kensal Library

National Bookstart Week

Bookstart logo
Bookstart logo

We are looking forward to celebrating National Bookstart Week here at Kensal Library and will be having a special baby rhyme time on Friday 28 June at 10.30 to 11.00 am with stories, songs and a craft tying in with Bookstart’s theme of fairytales.

There’s  more information about National Bookstart Week on the Bookstart website.

Crime at Kensal

Crime fiction on display at Kensal Library
Crime fiction on display at Kensal Library

We currently have a crime fiction display at Kensal Library to promote National Crime Writing Month.  We have included staff recommendations and the display has proved to be quite popular.

Natasha Chaoui

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Kensal Library

Blog post from the North – January / February 2013

North Kensington Library
North Kensington Library

What’s going on in the North?

January has been a very busy month for us at North Kensington Library with planning and launching the Six Book Challenge which is taking place in all our libraries. The challenge is aimed at anyone who wishing to improve their reading or would like to read more. There’s more information about the Six Book Challenge on The Reading Agency’s website.

Craft books on display at North Kensington library
Six Book Challenge display at North Kensington Library

If you wish to take part in the Six Book Challenge you can register at any of our libraries in Kensington and Chelsea. You complete six reads and record your reading in a diary which we provide. There are incentives along the way to encourage you to keep reading, after two reads a free CD loan and three reads a free DVD loan. If you complete by 28 June 2013 you can enter the national prize draw for a trip to London (I know, we are there already) with a friend to see a show and £150 spending money. We also have a local draw for completers at the end of the summer for two Sony e-readers.

Six Book Challenge display at Notting Hill Gate Library
Six Book Challenge display at Notting Hill Gate Library

You can read anything (e.g. a book, poem, graphic novel or magazine article including e Books) but we have books in our Quick Reads and Skills for Life collections which are particularly suitable.

Sewing and craft books by Eithne Farry
Sewing and craft books by Eithne Farry

On 24 January Eithne Farry, author of ‘Yeah! I made it myself’ and ‘Lovely things to make for girls of slender means’ led a workshop at North Kensington Library. She demonstrated how to make decorative hair bands and ‘Fascinations’ using cheap and recycled materials. If you are interested in crafts and recycling/ remodling old clothes we have books, including Eithne’s, in all our libraries.

Eithne Farry craft event
Eithne Farry in action at the craft event

Eithne will be running a workshop for young people (aged 11-15) in our children’s library at North Kensington Library Wednesday 20 February 2pm to 4pm- do come along if you can!

Gaynor Lynch
Gaynor Lynch

Gaynor Lynch

Lending Librarian, North Kensington Library

Improved stock display at Kensal Library

Kensal Library
Kensal Library

‘Small is beautiful’ and ‘less is more’ are phrases we often use when talking about things on a reduced scale. Small can also be a great challenge but for creative people like Ruth Gutteridge, Senior Customer Services Assistant at Kensal Library, this is not a problem. She has given the stock at Kensal Library a much needed makeover to improve display and create additional space for the children’s and young adult collections. Ruth explains the changes she has made.

We have expanded the junior area making it easier for the children to browse the shelves and find what they are looking for. The early readers, junior and teenage fiction all now have their own shelving areas. This means that we now have much more room to display both new stock and our more popular junior titles.

Studying and relaxing at Kensal Library
Studying and relaxing at Kensal Library

Our junior non- fiction has moved next to the junior study tables. This is more accessible and makes it much easier when the children are researching for their homework. We have some excellent new books in this area from the dinosaurs to space travel!

In the adult area crime fiction continues to be very popular. We have responded to customer demand by creating a special designated crime section which also brings Kensal Library in to line with the practice at the other libraries in the ‘Triborough’ area. We have also given talking books (stories on CD) and crime fiction a more prominent position at the beginning of the adult fiction.

Enjoying the new reading area at Kensal Library
Enjoying the new reading area at Kensal Library

We have new books coming in each week so don’t forget to check the ‘New Books’ displays both at the entrance and it their designated section.

Ruth Gutteridge

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Kensal Library

‘Things Fall Apart’ at Notting Hill Gate Library

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Notting Hill Gate Library’s Reading Group recently read and discussed Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

A fascinating book that opens a window into the Ibo African Tribe, which is now South Eastern Nigeria in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Chinua Achebe expertly writes about their customs, language, beliefs, superstitions and the conflicts faced within their own tribes and with the white missionaries.

Things Fall Apart we all agreed was an easy read but Chinua Achebe included many of the Ibo proverbs and even used the Ibo language for many words so at times it could be a little confusing but we believe in doing so he preserved the essence of the Ibo culture.

Prior to reading the novel we all thought it would follow the normal attitude towards colonisation, but we were rather surprised and all commented on how Chinua Achebe had kept quite a neutral ground, exploiting the weaknesses from both sides so the reader may then ask their own questions and come to their own conclusions.

Chinua Achebe wrote this in response to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This book was also read by the group last year so it was great to draw similarities and comparisons between the two.

We also were very lucky to have three members of the group who had lived with the Ibo tribe in the 1950s, so of course we wanted to know everything!!

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Cutomer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library

The Inheritance of Loss by Notting Hill Gate Library’s Reading Group

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
The Inheritance of Loss

Notting Hill Gate Library’s reading group met this week after reading Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss. It was a day of sharing stories. We found that the book had inspired us to talk about some of the key themes covered by the author such as immigration, class, background and poverty.

We talked about our personal experiences in these areas and of those we knew about. We spoke about the countries we had visited and the difference in attitudes that changed from place to place. We spoke about how attitudes and behaviours have changed over time and then over our lifetime.

The title, The Inheritance of Loss, raised lots of questions such as does the family you are born into determine who you will be? Did some of the characters in the story have no hope of success as they had already inherited the loss by simply being born? Is there hope? Is it possible to be successful despite not being born into success?

The Inheritance of Loss is a strong book covering strong subjects. One thing we all agreed on, this book took us on a rollercoaster of emotions.

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library

22 Britannia Road: the jury’s out!

22_Britannia_Road_Amanda_Hodgkinson
22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

The Notting Hill Reading Group has just finished reading and discussing “22 Britannia Road” by Amanda Hodgkinson.

Some members enjoyed the book very much, commenting on the author’s well laid out structure as the story unfolded  through past and present, giving the reader an insight into the characters gradually and at the same time building up the suspense for a shocking revelation that leaves the reader to question what is right, what is wrong, and whether some secrets should stay secret.

But! Other members said the structure of the book confused them and they didn’t believe the author had done enough research into the War and immigration at the time the story was set: they believed that too many coincidences had ruined the essence of the novel and didn’t allow it to be believable.

However, all the members were very impressed by the fact that this was the author’s first novel and are really looking forward to a second, which we will keep an eye out for and definitely put on our list to read – if just to see if there’s a difference in the author’s writing style, and what subject she will choose next.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Click here to find out more about our Reading Groups.

The Hare with Amber Eyes

Notting Hill Gate Library reading group discussed The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund De Waal. Edmund takes us on a journey, unlocking the stories behind his most treasured inheritance, 264 Japanese wood and ivory carvings, the ‘netsuke’.

We had mixed emotions about this book: half of us enjoyed it and sought great pleasure within the pages and the other half, well, they couldn’t wait for the pages to end. Some thought there was too much historical fact and unnecessary information and some thought that the vast amount of information and fact was the essence of the book. Netsuke themselves are very detailed and intricate – they can be studied and handled for long periods of time and give great enjoyment to many. They can be returned to and offer new things with each visit – perhaps that’s also where the attraction of this book lies?

Edmund De Waal netsuke
A beautiful netsuke from Edmund De Waal’s collection (www.edmunddewaal.com)

Edmund de Waal is a potter and ceramic artist and book club members who have seen his work on display say they feel they can make a connection between his art and his writing. His work can be seen at the V&A.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Click here to find out more about our Reading Groups.