Recommended Reads

Our Book of the Week is The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. This novel deals with the themes of feminism and dystopia, so we have put together a list of similar titles we hope you will enjoy.

the testaments book cover

The Testaments

The much-celebrated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments is a fascinating story of resistance in a totalitarian regime. The novel is written as multiple split narratives, each tale intertwining gradually to form a bigger picture of widespread opposition and defiance. The Testaments is a must-read for any dystopian fans, and for anybody desperate to know the future of those living under The Republic of Gilead.

the water cure cover

The Water Cure

Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel takes toxic masculinity literally, imagining a world where men are physically poisonous. The novel is written like a fable, detailing the lives of a family who have chosen to live on an island to escape the threat posed by men. The father of the family, called King by his wife and daughters, claims to be the exception to the rule. But when three male castaways wash up on their shores, the family’s world is changed forever. How can the daughters reconcile their growing feelings for the men with what they have always believed?

women talking cover

Women Talking

Toews’ novel follows a group of women in an isolated religious colony, struggling with reconciling the rules of their faith with the continuous sexual assault they experience at the hands of the colony’s male inhabitants. Based on the accounts of a real Mennonite colony in Bolivia, Toews interrogates male supremacy in a heart-wrenching account which places the lives of real women at its heart.

pet book cover

Pet

Although originally written for young adults, Emezi’s Pet has been acclaimed for its deep symbolism and understanding of ignorance. Jam has grown up believing that no monsters exist in the city of Lucille. But when she meets Pet, a creature who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and tells her they have come to hunt a monster, Jam must challenge the authority and uncover the truth.

All of these books are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is a RBKC library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry,  just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources.

Recommended Reads

This week’s Book of the Week is The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. Narrated by retiree Tony Webster, The Sense of an Ending is a portrayal of human struggle, examining decisions, friendships, and closure. Our Recommended Reads this week deal with similar themes- we hope you enjoy looking through our suggestions!

 

disgrace book cover

Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee

Our first recommended read this week is J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace. Coetzee’s novel interrogates consequences and relationships, creating a powerful and shocking tale. David Lurie, Coetzee’s antihero, is a twice divorced lecturer at a university in Cape Town. Seeking excitement, he has an impulsive affair with a student which leads to a series of unforeseen events…

ian mcewan atonement

Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Mistaken accusations and family trauma abound in this highly celebrated modern classic. Three lives are changed forever when Robbie Turner is accused of a crime he did not commit. Will his accuser ever be able to atone for her mistake?

the white tiger book cover

The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga

Criminal and ‘self-made entrepreneur’ Balram writes his life story to depict ‘the real India’ for a visiting Chinese dignitary. Telling the story of Balram’s blood-spattered rise to success, this is a riveting novel full of questionable morality and difficult decisions.

things fall apart book cover

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

Our last recommended read this week is Chinua Achebe’s classic, Things Fall Apart. Set in Nigeria, Things Fall Apart chronicles the life and death of Okonkwo, an Igbo chief. Like Barnes, Achebe examines community and virtue in this timeless masterpiece.

 

All of these books are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is a Kensington and Chelsea library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry,  just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources.

The Windrush Betrayal and Sitting in Limbo

windrush

How would you feel if all of a sudden you are told by authorities that are you an illegal immigrant, that you can no longer have a job and that you will be deported to a country you have not lived in before? Amelia Gentleman’s The Windrush Betrayal and the BBC’s Sitting in Limbo cover some of the stories and facts involved in the biggest UK political scandal of the century so far.

 

the windrush betrayal

Published in 2019, The Windrush Betrayal is an incredible exposé of the Windrush Scandal, examining real stories of people affected by the 2012 Hostile Environment Policy. Members of the Windrush Generation, who came to this country legally between 1948 and 1971 to bolster the British workforce, started receiving letters in 2013 claiming they were illegal immigrants. This book looks at some of the stories of the people forced to leave their homes, made to remain in immigration detention, and who lost their livelihoods through U.K. policy.
windrush boat

Sitting in Limbo is a BBC Drama which aired in May 2020. It is based on the life of Anthony Bryan, one of the very real victims of the Hostile Environment Policy. Exploring the discrimination and anguish of Bryan and his family, this drama is an eye opening insight into the present nature of racism in this country.

The Windrush Betrayal can be downloaded from Cloudlibrary with your RBKC Library Card here.

Sitting in Limbo can be accessed on BBC iPlayer here.

Recommended Reads

Our Book of the Week is Chan Ho-Kei’s Second Sister. This novel deals with the themes of crime, family, and investigation, so we have put together a list of similar titles we hope you will enjoy.

11 Missed Calls, by Elisabeth Carpenter

If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers and suspense, this book is perfect for you. Past and present are woven together in Anna’s desperate search for answers. What happened to her mother 30 years ago? And, on the discovery of another woman’s love letter in her husband’s wallet, is there anyone left she can trust?

Dead Man’s Folly, by Agatha Christie

A classic crime favourite, Dead Man’s Folly is a detective story featuring one of Christie’s best-loved detectives, Hercule Poirot. Summoned to Devonshire to investigate the details of a Murder Mystery Party, Poirot begins to realise not all is as it seems as a real murder plot emerges amongst the summer festivities.

Cat Spitting Mad, by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

If you’re looking for a more modern read, try Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s Cat Spitting Mad, a humorous take on the crime genre narrated by felines. Joe Grey and Ducie are two former housecats turned detectives in their bid to absolve an old friend from a gruesome murder. Will they prove successful?

Splinter, by Sebastian Fitzek

Our last recommendation is Sebastian Fitzek’s Splinter, a chilling tale of memory loss and illegal experimentation. Wrecked with grief after the death of his wife, Marc wants nothing more than to forget everything. When Marc returns home one day to find his wife still alive, he is plunged into a nightmare unable to recognise reality from fiction. But is there a deeper conspiracy at work?

All of these books are available to download from our cloudLibrary  here.  All you need is a Kensington and Chelsea library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry,  just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources.

Christmas reads for younger children

The staff at Brompton Library have been really busy – putting together Christmas reading lists for children and adults alike. We’ll be publishing each list every morning on the blog for the next four days.

Today it’s Christmas books for younger children –

Mr Men The Night Before Christmas

It’s the night before Christmas and everyone is ready – except Mr Wrong, oh and Mr Muddle and of course Little Miss Late, who only sent her letter to father Christmas that morning!  Will he get it in time?  Join the Mr Men and the Little Misses for some Christmas Eve fun.

I Love Christmas

Join Ollie and Fred on Christmas Eve as they tell us everything they love about Christmas.  Joyful and beautifully illustrated.

Ben and Holly’s Christmas Adventure

When Father visits the Little Kingdom on Christmas Eve everything is going well – the elves have made the presents, the fairies have made the crackers and the pine elves have grown the Christmas trees.  Uh oh!  Wise old Elf gets stuck in a tree, Queen Thistle is wrapped up inside a Christmas present and King Thistle is trapped inside a Christmas cracker!  Will they ever get out?  A fun and Christmassy tale from the creators of Peppa Pig.

The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve and the little Tooth Fairy has been blown away!  Not to worry.  Who does she meet but Santa in his sleigh!  A funny and magical fairy story told in a lovely rhyme with colourful and dynamic illustrations.

The Night Before Christmas

A Christmas classic, illustrated version of Clement Moore’s poem about Christmas Eve.  Nothing could be more festive.

All I Want for Christmas

Get ready for Christmas with mummy and baby penguin as they bake cookies, decorate the tree, make Christmas lists and wrap presents.  The true meaning of Christmas.

That’s Not My Santa

Part of the popular series, this touchy feely book is perfect for baby’s first Christmas with bright colours and lots of textures from Santa’s boots to his fluffy white beard.

The Nativity

The story of the Nativity in a bright and beautiful board book with great little details in the illustrations.  A lovely retelling of the first Christmas.

Duggee’s Christmas

Join Duggee and his friends decorating the Christmas tree and giving out presents, but where is Enid the cat…?

The Magic of Christmas

Join this family of mice as they get ready for Christmas, sitting by the fire, hanging decorations, making snowballs and playing in the snow. Celebrating the real magic of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol (retold by Lesley Sims)

With beautiful watery, wintery illustrations, this classic Charles Dickens tale is retold here bringing the story to life for younger children.

The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas

A cautionary tale about being greedy, The Dinosaur Pooped Christmas is a less in being careful what you wish for… Not for the squeamish!

See you tomorrow!

Staff at Brompton Library 

17 Books for 2017

Here are seventeen books we recommend you read this year!

1. The Humans by Matt Haig
This book is about an alien’s trip to earth, but it’s also about what it means to be human. It’s funny and uplifting and it explains the difficulties and the joys of being alive.

2. Slade House by David Mitchell
This is a clever ghost story about a paranormal house. You never know whether you can trust what you’re reading.

3. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
A dramatic family saga full of secrets and lies. Gripping! Continue reading “17 Books for 2017”

Story-time at Chelsea Library

When I first started doing the under-5s at Chelsea I had no experience at all, in fact I had come from delivering the housebound service in Hammersmith, so I was used to dealing with the very elderly who were often slow on their feet and very polite. I was in no way prepared for the chaos of pre-schoolers: the tired and distracted mothers and the nannies on their mobiles.
My God they were a tough audience!

I soon realise why so many people were reluctant to take on the responsibility. Some fellow workers were not brave enough to put on the baritone voice of the ogre in The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Three Billy Goats Gruff

There was almost a sense that the children’s library should be free of noise and chaos.

Did we really need class visits when books were left strewn across the carpet? Well, yes we did! We needed to embrace the chaos.

I soon developed a taste for amateur theatrics and found myself thinking my way inside Mr Bear’s mind in the wonderful ‘Peace At Last’ where the adults are amused by Mr Bear’s wretched sleepless night, his snoring wife and the horrible brown letter from the Inland Revenue which appears at the end and is clearly responsible for the wiggly lines etched round his eyes.

Last month I was sent on a story-time training session in Barnet where I hoped to pick up some new tips.
Would there be some hints on puppetry?
How to throw your voice or even a magic spell to aid concentration?

The session in Barnet was led by three high octane women. They had a personal interest in all the stories and like fans of music they felt a special relationship with Lucy Cousins and Jez Alborough. They had taken ownership of the books. Their enthusiasm was a little daunting for the first timer. I both appreciated the course and squirmed with embarrassment at having to sit on a small inflatable ring in a mock-up of a farm yard. Story-time means you have to let go, become cartoonish, engage the children with eye contact and big swirling gestures.

What I learnt is that repetition in a story is great, less text too, stories that elicit a call and answer response and some of those almost silent books such as ‘Hug’ which repeat one word over and over are the best. Most important of all don’t be afraid of repeating the same story. They will soon know Jack and the Beanstalk by heart.

Hug by Jez Alborough
Hug by Jez Alborough

We had a busy Summer Reading Challenge party and began with some themed record breaker questions for the completers. No one was prepared for the weird questions quizmaster Vince Symmons prepared: the length of the longest nose hair or the greatest distance covered by a skate-boarding goat?
Answers on a postcard please.
The more absurd the question the better the children responded.

Furry Creatures
Furry Creatures

Story-craft this month was structured around monsters. Di devised some brilliantly huggable creatures with folding arms and big furry bodies – a bit like an angry sporran. Earlier we designed frogs with red woollen tongues and a squashed fly on the end.

Frogs and flies
Frogs and flies

We also had a visit from the Holland Park ecology centre. The staff brought cockroaches and millipedes to the library and they did very well with our very own two-legged mini beasts!

By Daniel Jeffreys
Customer Service Assistant, Chelsea Library

 

Nour Festival Event – Syria A Recent History

John McHugo
John McHugo, author of Syria – A Recent History

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.

Syria A Recent History Audience
Syria A Recent History Audience

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.

Chris Riddell Display at Brompton Library

Christian, Brompton Library Customer Services Assistant, writes…

Chris Riddell was appointed Children’s Laureate in June in recognition of his prolific body of work as an illustrator and writer of children’s literature. Originally a political cartoonist for The Economist and currently The Observer (check out his drawings of Putin on the Iron Throne and other disturbingly accurate caricatures of our politicians), he is now best known for his beautifully detailed illustrations of strange characters, monsters and fantastic creatures in books for kids, most notably the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart.

Beautiful and intricate drawings from Riddell
Beautiful and intricate drawings from Riddell

We wanted to pay our respects to this home-grown talent with a humble display showcasing some of the books available in our libraries that feature his work. Resident library assistant and fellow illustrator, David Bushell created the poster and found a great selection of titles which have proved to be popular with the younger readers.

Our tribute to Chris Riddell
Our tribute to Chris Riddell

You can find more titles by Chris Riddell on the library catalogue.

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:

iDinosaur

iSolarSystem

iStorm