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

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

 

Are you ready to read?

Join the Record Breakers Summer Reading Challenge!

Schools have well and truly broken up for the summer and several more weeks of long holiday lie ahead… what will your children be doing? Visit your local library this summer to see all the events and activities for children which are on offer. There are events on throughout the holidays, so there is lots to choose from!

Record Breakers logo

If your children like a Challenge, why not bring them to join this year’s Record Breakers? All they need to do is read 6 library books over the holidays, and they’ll receive stickers and rewards for telling us about them.

It’s free to join, just visit your nearest library to sign up – all that’s needed is a library card. There’s a medal for everyone who reads 6 books!

What weird, wonderful or wacky records will you and your kids discover?

Brompton’s Bumper Baby Sessions

Brompton Librarian, Steph, writes….

This was a bumper week for Brompton’s toddlers! As Katie (our Rhyme Time queen) had been laid low with a chest infection, on Monday we drafted in a support act in the shape of Daniel from Chelsea who gave us an “unplugged” Electric Babyland session backed up by Ashraf on tambourine and David on tablas – a new experience for both of them – and the kids (and the adults) loved it.

Danial brings some rock n'roll to Brompton
Daniel brings Rock ‘n’Roll to Brompton

On Wednesday Monkey Music, well known in the borough, were kind enough to give us a free session and they took the children on a musical journey ending up under the sea. With their vast array of props and instruments for shaking, rattling and rolling on their tummies, again the kids had a very different and hugely enjoyable time.

Monkey Business in the library...
Monkey Business in the library…

On Thursday we were back to our own in-house Baby Rhyme Time with Elisabeth leading the singing. After two sessions of songs and movements that had been different and new the children enjoyed the familiarity of their old favourites.

And now back to your regularly scheduled storytelling
And now back to our regularly scheduled Rhyme Time!

 

Adult library users sometimes ask why we do events for toddlers that are so noisy and disturb the peace, but we all know that this type of stimulation is enormously beneficial to their brain function at such a formative age. They may also associate libraries with places where nice things happen. Long may it last!

Celebrating World Book Day with Jeremy Strong

Stephanie Webb, Lending Librarian, writes:

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.

Jeremy Strong ,by Justine Stoddart
Jeremy Strong ,by Justine Stoddart

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.

Jeremy Strong at Kensington Central Library for World Book Day, March 2015
Jeremy Strong at Kensington Central Library for World Book Day, March 2015

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.

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

“You’re a Wizard, Harry”

Leanne Bellot, CSA North Kensington Library, writes:

On Thursday 5th February 2015, North Kensington Library joined the thousands of Muggles, Witches, and Wizards that convened across the UK to celebrate the very first Harry Potter Book Night.

Magic 15Unbelievably, it has been seventeen years since the first publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. In that time, Harry Potter has evolved into a global phenomenon that has touched and inspired a generation. Harry Potter Book Night was a great opportunity for fans old and new to share their knowledge, learn new tid-bits, and celebrate this enchanting story. It was also a brilliant and exciting way to introduce prospective readers to the franchise. There were so many great moments, both in the planning stages and during the actual event. Here is a summary of some of the mischief managed!

Decoration Preparation

I drew inspiration from some of the most iconic scenes in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” to form ideas on how to best transform the Children’s library into a little piece of the Wizarding world.

From “Chocolate Frogs” to “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans”, we had some of the best wizarding confectionary on display in our window. Although the actual chocolate frogs were nowhere to be seen, we did remember to display our collectible wizard cards.

The handmade wands we produced were pretty impressive; they came in different colours, a variety of cores (dragon heartstring, unicorn hair and phoenix feathers), different sizes, and were at least two Galleons cheaper. Ollivander, the famed wand-maker, had better watch out!

Mirror of ErisedZvezdana Popovic, our senior customer service assistant, created a charming version of the Mirror of Erised. In the book, the mirror is described as being able to show people their hearts’ deepest desires through their reflection. For Harry, who has never known his parents, this desire manifested in a vision of a loving family with living parents. Visitors to the library were encouraged to look into the mirror and share what they saw looking back at them.

Of course, no Philosopher’s Stone celebration would be complete without a Sorting Hat. I made our Sorting Hat from newspaper, mod rock and a copious amount of glue. It took two weeks to make all the props and although it did get a bit messy, it was not only great fun but also incredible to see the faces of the children who saw everything for the first time on the day.

Hogwarts: A “New” History

If you knew anything about the architecture of Hogwarts, forget it. Ours was actually built during our January Story and Craft session. Led by Zvezdana, the attendees were invited to help design and construct their very own School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Billards, one of the families in attendance, helped to design and decorate one of the castle’s sides. I can hardly tell the difference between ours and the one used for the movies – it is just that great. Happily, the family also came along to the main event and posed for some lovely photographs in front of their hard work.

Harry Potter Book Night: Madam Malkin’s Robes and the Sorting Hat Ceremony

Zvezdana brought a chest full of wonderfully magical looking cloaks, robes and cloths that the children wasted no time in using to dress up in. Likewise, we staff members had a lot of fun dressing up for the event. Lynn Terrel (Kensington Central Library) looked the part in a very McGonagall-esque outfit that had many children exclaim excitedly upon her entrance. Silva Memic, Sophie Rose and Zvezdana all looked great in their velvety magical ensembles and I did my best impression of a Gryffindor student (although obviously, it was a bad decision as I quickly received a rather stern telling off from one young witch for failing to choose Ravenclaw as my house – maybe next year?).

Without a doubt, the best dressed of the night had to be the young wizard who came as a young Harry Potter. He looked absolutely fantastic in his Gryffindor robes and took it like a champion even when he was subsequently sorted into Slytherin.

The Sorting Hat ceremony was loud, lots of fun and a great photo opportunity. The children were invited to sit on the chair and have the hat placed upon their head before blindly selecting a house from the sorting chest. Once sorted, they were given their house sticker which they wore with pride. The completion of the Sorting Hat ceremony led into the House Cup Quiz. The quiz turned out to be a really, really, passionate affair with Gryffindor as the ultimate winners. It was amazing to watch how quickly the questions were being answered and how eager each child was to earn points for their house. Next time, we will definitely need harder questions!

Mariam El Boukilli, who came to the event, shared her thoughts on the evening “I really liked the Sorting Hat and it was fun making the crafts. I liked playing Musical Statues (Stuperfy), the quiz was good – even if we didn’t win, and the prizes and sweets were really good. I had a lot of fun!”

Klaudija Cermak

We were incredibly lucky to host the talented Klaudija Cermak for a special presentation. A specialist in visual digital effects; some of Klaudija’s credits include work on two Harry Potter films, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I”. In the “Chamber of Secrets”, Moaning Myrtle, the ghost that haunts the girls’ bathroom, was her main responsibility. Klaudija revealed that she had initially been asked to work on the digital effects for the spiders but had to decline due to her arachnophobia. In the seventh film, Klaudija was responsible for the wand fighting scene between Harry, Ron and Hermione and the Death Eaters in the café. It was interesting to hear how the director would first share his vision, resulting in different processes and techniques she would then employ in order to create a product that everyone was satisfied with. The films “Troy” and “Gladiator” also appear on Klaudija’s long credit list and when briefly mentioned, Zvezdana was quick to point out that most of the audience were still restricted to U and PG certificates, much to everyone’s amusement.

It was a brilliant experience and I’m already planning for next year!

“He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting up in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (A quote has never been truer!)

Happy National Libraries Day!

Today, 7 February is National Libraries Day – are you coming to the library today? We’d love to see you.

National Libraries DayIf you haven’t been to the library for a while, pick your nearest one and come and find out what we have to offer.

Just come in and have a look at our wide range of books for both adults and children, use the library computers, ask a question, borrow a DVD or CD, find out about local history at the Local Studies Collection, or use the study space we offer.

On Saturdays in Kensington and Chelsea Libraries you can find a range of story times for children and IT help sessions. There are regular events every day that we’re open, with a brilliant programme of special events throughout the year.

If you can’t get to the library today, have a look at our brilliant online resources – you can download e-books and e-audiobooks for free, and use the Times newspaper archives and Berg Fashion Library (and more) from home too.

There are loads of reasons to love libraries this National Libraries Day. Come and find out why!

Gabriel D’Annunzio & Electric Babyland

Daniel, our Chelsea Library Assistant, writes: 

This month in Chelsea Library I have been engrossed in Lucy Hughes-Hallet’s biography of Gabriel D’Annunzio, The Pike: Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War . We can learn a lot about PR and customer service from D’Annunzio, a flamboyant and incendiary public speaker. He would certainly know how to increase cyber traffic! A lover of woman and bric-a-brac (although the bric-a-brac probably came first) he mingled warfare with self-promotion, managing on an early bombing raid above Trieste to drop bombs and pamphlets of his poetry.

What D’Annunzio teaches us is to make our lives into works of art. Every gesture, every pose, must be carefully thought out.  Reading his book I’ve picked up the following tips: always wear pressed white shirts, arrive by plane or on horseback for business meetings, conduct your love affairs in the public eye and, if you have a new book out, concoct rumours of your own early death to boost sales.

The book at over 600 pages is a tall order for a three week read and the hold list is growing longer. Many of our readers coming back to borrow it for a second time to get to grips with this extraordinary individual.

Beautiful pig
Beautiful pig

The coffee morning is growing and we have many regulars with interests ranging from writing poetry and jazz to painting watercolours. People  bake their own cakes so please spread the word if you know of anyone in need of a cup of coffee and slice of cake on Wednesdays at 10.30.  There are plenty of activities for all- our weekly events now include a read and create session on Saturday afternoon, in the past we have made pigs and sunflowers!

Don’t forget that we are still running our under 5’s music event, Electric Babyland (aka Baby Rhyme Time), in the children’s library. Over 150 mothers and children come to wriggle and fall over to the primitive sound of Wild Thing and The Wheels on the Bus on Thursday mornings at 11.00am.

Electric Babyland!
Electric Babyland!

Please join us! For more information about our services and activities for children, take a look at the children’s pages on our website.

 

Never Lie on a Lion…

Just a quick one to brighten up your Wednesday…

Our Story & Craft session at Kensal this month had a lion theme.  We read Never Lie on a Lion by Alan James Brown and A Tinga Tinga Tale – Why Lion Roars by Claudia Lloyd.

After these fabulous stories we made equally fabulous colourful lion faces and the roaring was so loud you’d be forgiven for thinking there were real lions in residence at Kensal Library!!

Work in progress...
Work in progress…
ROOOAAARR!!
ROOOAAARR!!