Laila El-Boukilli, Senior Customer Services Assistant at Notting Hill Gate Library, writes:
It’s been a storytelling season here at Notting Hill Gate Library- we’ve had Michelle Sami, who enlightened us with her animated, creative and charismatic stories, aimed at our younger readers; Sarah Deco, who spooked us out with her winter storytelling, along with friends; and recently Marcel Feigel, who read his book, Ollie’s Big Surprise. Marcel delighted us with a fantastic reading and all the children met Leo the mouse and found out about his love for cheese!
His enthusiasm filled the room and he encouraged everyone to participate in a competitive game of matching the cheese with the country (sounds delicious!)
Marcel proved to be a popular man: children and parents were lining up to get a signed copy of Ollie’s Big Surprise, with their complimentary Hummingbird Bakery cupcake.
We are very grateful for Marcel taking the time to do this event and appreciate all the effort and wish him the best of luck for the future. We had a brilliant time withOllie’s Big Surprise and we hope to see him again at Notting Hill Gate Library soon!
We would also like to thank The Hummingbird Bakery for all the cupcakes they have kindly donated to our library and for all the support they have given us for our events this year.
John McHugo headlined Kensington Central library on Tuesday 20th October with a talk based around his book ‘Syria: A Recent History’ as well as addressing both current and future concerns for the country and putting them in a wider context.
130 people attended this inaugural event of the Nour Festival which concluded with an intensive and thorough Q&A before John signed copies of his book. It was all made possible through partnership working with Saqi books who also sold copies on the night and Nour who continue to have an excellent range of events and provided assistance on the day.
We were especially pleased to invite John McHugo back after his appearance in 2013 as part of The London History Festival. This year’s festival runs for 10 days and commences on 16 November with the line-up including Marc Morris, Jessie Childs, Max Hastings, Tom Holland, Helen Castor, Dan Jones and more.
Our next event at the library which was also part of the Nour Festival was on Saturday 31st October, entitled ‘Site Unseen: Safeguarding MENA (Middle East and North African) Cultural Heritage.’ It was a panel discussion with 4 academics about the ongoing crisis of preserving Middle East heritage, looking at the current state of archaeological sites and artefacts, the laws on the protection of heritage during conflict, the illicit trade of artefacts, and rescue and educational remedies in the field.
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.
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 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.
Both children and parents were delighted by a reading of “Sam’s Pet Temper” by author Sangeeta Bhadra at Notting Hill Gate and Kensington Central libraries on Saturday 30 May.
In the story Sam’s temper is initially great company, and so he decides to take it home as a pet. Before long, however, it becomes too hard to handle and he begins to wish it would leave him alone…
Sam’s temper in the story is a real life naughty creature adorably illustrated by Marion Arbona. At the end of the reading, the children were invited to take part in a fun creative activity where they imagined and drew their own tempers.
Sangeeta visited Notting Hill Gate and Kensington Central libraries as part of a whistle-stop libraries tour with her debut children’s book, which has been published in Canada, in English and French, and will soon be published in Italy and South Korea. Sangeeta kindly presented Notting Hill Gate and Kensington Central libraries with signed copies of the book for our readers to enjoy.
Many thanks to Sandeep, Gaynor and of course Sangeeta for a great event!
Now in its 17th year, World Book Day is a celebration of authors, illustrators and books and most importantly reading. Across the Triborough area it is a major event in the school year and we at Kensington Central Library were privileged to host the multiple award-winning children’s author Jeremy Strong. His titles include the “My brother’s famous bottom” series, the “Hundred-mile-an-hour dog” series and his latest title, “Romans on the rampage” He had an audience of over 250 people roaring with laughter when he visited the library on World Book Day, Thursday 5 March.
The interactive sessions were attended by 8 school classes, teachers and volunteers from Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.
Jeremy kept everyone amused with tales of his childhood and the inspirations for his bestselling books. He explained why all writers need a fridge and shared with us his very first reworking of the legend of Jason and the Argonauts (written at the age of about 8 and complete with spelling mistakes and the castle door with no handle!). He also answered a range of burning questions and signed copies of his books which were available for sale.
As has become traditional on World Book Day, many pupils and teachers came along dressed as their favourite book characters so we had several Matildas (Roald Dahl), several Dr. Suess’s and a Captain Underpants (but, thankfully, no characters from “50 Shades of Grey”!)
As an encore, Jeremy kindly signed two books which will be the prize for an upcoming competition. Watch this space!
A big thanks to Jeremy and everyone who turned out to see him on that breezy morning.
Welcome to our fourth blog post from Brompton Library!
On Sunday I was preparing supper and listening to Radio 4. This group of Irish poets were reading out their poetry and discussing it amongst themselves. It immediately brought me into their environment, their history and above all, their imagination. I do hope that our display does offer something a little bit different to our reader’s here at Brompton Library.
Senior Customer Services Assistant
Christmas plans at Brompton Library
With only a few days till Christmas you would think that the amount of people using the service would be reducing, but our lovely library is still full of users borrowing books for the Christmas holiday period (including Christmas themed cookbooks, fiction and audio books to curl up with on the cold winter evenings, Christmas themed children’s books and our selection of festive audio CDs and DVDs for all the family). There are also lots of people making use of our computer and study area, completing end of term coursework assignments, booking flights, and exchanging seasonal greetings with friends and family members via social networking sites and email.
So we will be running a full service until Christmas Eve when we will close for three days and open again the day after Boxing Day (27 December).
Chatterbooks is a very popular reading group for children in Brompton Library. It is fun and free. The group focuses on reading and talking about books, but some sessions include word games, quizzes, plays or other book related activities. The children love reading and it is an ideal opportunity for them to enjoy books. The group meets once a month after school on Mondays. There are eight regular members of the group. There is generally a theme for each month. This month the group met on 17 December and the theme was Christmas.
Chatterbooks is an ideal way to promote a love of reading. Sessions are designed to give children confidence in speaking, writing and reading in a group, choosing books for themselves, and talking about what they like to read. It is fabulous to hear them enthusing over their reading and recommending books to other children.
Bitter Truths – Author Event
On a bitterly cold evening on 29 November Brompton hosted its first author event (in my living memory, anyway!). One of our reading group members has published her first trilogy of novels, collectively called the Samurai Revival, and gave a very professional presentation relating to the first in the series – Bitter Truths.
We had an audience of ten who were very appreciative and I think for our first venture into author events which was great.
Calling all readers in Kensington and Chelsea! Get involved in TextTribe, our new online reading group brought to you by us and our Triborough library partners Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster.
Haven’t got time to go to a book group but always wanted to join one? Whether you’re at home looking after the kids or working long or unsociable hours, whether you want to discuss books with like-minded people or hear the views of a wide range of other readers – this group is for you. Once you’ve read the book we’re discussing, make your comments or join in with the discussion on out TextTribe site.
Our first book was ‘Sleepyhead’ by Mark Billingham, the first novel in his successful ‘Thorne’ series (and inspiration for the 2010 TV drama). As part of the launch of the group, Mark discussed this book at a live event in earlier this month at Kensington Central Library.
Don’t worry if you missed the event as videoed it especially for those who were unable to attend, and those who sent questions in via Twitter. Hope you enjoy watching them!
In the video he talks about how he became a crime fiction reader (being introduced to Sherlock Holmes at the age of 11 by a teacher), how he moved from being a TV writer and stand-up comedian to first reviewing (for the Ham & High newspaper) and then writing novels, and how Jean-Dominique Bauby’s ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ inspired the plot of ‘Sleepyhead’, his first book.
This video consists of Mark being introduced by David Ruse (Director of Libraries) and Mark’s talk. After his main talk he read a passage from ‘Sleepyhead’ (not filmed) and answered lots of questions.
Here are the four (short) videos of the Q & A sessions with Mark Billingham.
In Pt I, Mark talks about doing the research for his books, the nature of crime writing and the crime series genre, and how he is ambivalent about – and fond of – ‘Sleepyhead’, his first novel.
In Pt II, there are questions and answers about the writing process, why authors need publishers (and editors), and why Mark recommends John Connolly’s ‘The Book of Lost Things’.
In Pt III Mark Billingham talks about genre snobbery, Scandinavian crime writing, setting books in London, naming his characters and how he manages to write a book a year.
Pt IV includes his views on the common features of stand-up comedy and crime writing, how we are all capable of murder, and why he thinks that writer’s block is a myth.
Mark was an excellent guest many thanks to him.
Next Book for TextTribe?
We asked Mark to nominate the next book for the group, and he suggested ‘The Book of Lost Things’ by John Connolly, saying “It’s the last book that made me cry” and adding that it’s the sort of book that you press into friends’ hands, and if they don’t like it you don’t want to be friends with them any more! An excellent choice, and an interesting change – not a crime book, but written by a crime writer.
There will be copies of ‘The Book of Lost Things’ in all Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster Libraries, so get hold of a copy now!
Brompton Library is proud to be hosting an author event of its own on Thursday 29 November 6.30-7.30pm. Local author Rheagan Greene has written a fantastic urban fantasy trilogy called the Samurai Revival Trilogy and she will be talking about the first volume, “Bitter Truths”, and her extensive research in Southeast Asia and Japan
Rheagan says of the book:
“It’s been an incredible journey; several lengthy research trips to Japan, including meeting a maker of Samurai swords, and learning how to use one in a specialised sword-fighting school. But all this attention to detail was not only as a result of my engineering background, it was also because I firmly believe that even if a story is fiction and the reader understands it is set in a world of fantasy, that’s no justification for the story not being grounded in reality. So, throughout the trilogy the action takes place in essentially real places and frequently exotic ones, not only South Kensington, Germany and the Orkney Islands, but also Japan, Thailand, Cambodia and Burma.”
Rheagan would love to talk to you about her book and her research so do come along for what should be a fascinating evening including photographs of her travels.
On Thursday night (18th October) I attended a question and answer session with this year’s Booker Prize winner, Hilary Mantel for her book Bring Up The Bodies. Hosted by the delectable Mariella Frostrup, there was a really funny moment (in the beginning) when the introducer stumbled over her name 3 times which she found very amusing.
This week, Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize for the second time, but more remarkably won it for parts 1 and 2 of her trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell, the right hand man of Henry VIII. She is also the only woman and the first British person to win it twice.
Mariella started by saying that in Mantel’s acceptance speech back in 2009 that she would spend her winnings on ‘sex and drugs and rock n’ roll’ to which Hilary said that she paid off her mortgage instead, saying that was just a line for the media. She said that on Tuesday’s award ceremony this week her heart was thumping nineteen to the dozen. She appreciated the fact that the head judge did not do an X-Factor style 20 seconds pause but just launched into who the winner was. She was utterly overwhelmed about winning and she felt overjoyed.
Mantel also touched on how the judges went about longlisting and shortlisting, as she herself has been a judge she could give an accurate account about how daunting the whole process was. She gave praise to this year’s judging panel, in the past they had nearly always voted by a show of hands, but apparently they all reached a consensus which she felt was very mature. Mariella asked her that now she has won twice did it give her confidence to write the next part of the trilogy? Mantel said not really, at the end of the day a blank page is a great equalizer, however she felt as a result of these awards that she had faith in her characters, which was a great starting block.
Throughout the Q&A, Hilary read some excerpts from Bring Up The Bodies which was really entertaining, she brought the text alive and her different voices for each character made it feel like a play. She also engaged with the audience; she tried to answer the questions whilst including everyone in her replies.
There were some really great questions from the audience, such as: do you have the third book in the trilogy all mapped out? Her answer was that it has virtually all been plotted out, but the story needs to be put in. A follow-up question: did the author go off in unexpected directions with any of her books? She said that she did, and the books turned out especially different from one another i.e. Wolf Hall is based over a number of years and even goes back to England at the very beginning of its history, whereas Bring Up The Bodies is set over a period of 9 months of Thomas Cromwell’s life, where Henry VIII is growing tired of Anne Boleyn as she is failing to deliver him an heir.
Mariella ended the session by asking Mantel about the final part of the trilogy, adding we all know the inevitability of Thomas Cromwell’s fate. Mantel’s big reveal – duh duh duhh, was that the third book will not be the fall and decline of Thomas Cromwell, but the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell, to which Mariella joked that she was writing a fourth book! Mantel is adamant that it will be a trilogy but you get the impression that she is half in love with this man; she did say that she has been with this great man for one decade, although with her husband for four decades.
Well-known crime author Mark Billingham is visiting Kensington Central Library as part of the launch of Text Tribe, the online reading group for Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster Libraries.
The group has begun with Sleepyhead, the first book in Billingham’s successful ‘Thorne’ series, and inspiration for the 2010 TV series.
Mark will be discussing this book and his later publications, including recent standalone title Rush of Blood’.
All are welcome but booking is strongly advised – visit the Text Tribe website to book your place and to join in!!