P is for picture book

P is for picture book

P is for Picture book

Something to mull over

P is for picture book- for everyone! Picture books are not just for young children. Nor are picture books appreciated only by children on the cusp of school, or a bridge to reading ‘real books’. They are real books. 

Bookwagon So You Want to Be an Owl

          So You Want to Be an Owl by Jane Porter and Maddie Frost

Picture books are not the domain of a few very well known illustrators either. We are proud of the variety of picture books aboard the wagon. P is for Picture book… Jane Porter, Rikin Parekh and Emma Perry. 

  Our commitment

Bookwagon is committed to supporting the hard work of families and schools in building readers for life. That’s why we seek out such a wide variety of books. Therefore, we believe we’ve a need to share such treasures as these books by outstanding writers and illustrators, when we discover them. After all, don’t readers deserve the widest repertoire, the best experience?

Rikin Parekh

Like the majority of children’s writers and illustrators, Rikin Parekh works another job. It seems that writing and drawing is not valued as highly as it should be in our society. However the joy and wonder in Rikin’s illustrations and stories are exhilarating. Furthermore, they need to be shared and celebrated. I was fortunate enough to ask Rik some questions recently. They begin in response to Fly Tiger Fly which cannot help make you smile and cheer!

Bookwagon Fly Tiger Fly

   Fly Tiger Fly by Rikin Parekh

Some questions

1. What was your childhood desire to be SPECIAL?
I always dreamt of becoming a scientist or an archaeologist, finding dinosaurs. Then I wanted to become a comic book artist.

2. Who would be some of your real- life people to be included in a hall of fame?
Tricky! I think I would like to have The Dalai Lama, Richard Wilson and Jane Goodall.

The Dalai Lama

   The Dalai Lama

What about inspiration?

3. Whose pictures, illustrations, art inspire you? Do you collect art? If so, what?
I am inspired by so many wonderful Illustrators and artists! Wassily Kandinsky, Colin West, the late great Judith Kerr, Dr Seuss and to Richard Scarry. I do collect art, I try to collect original comic book artwork, mainly Spider-Man and (if I can afford them!) original children’s book illustrations.

Rikin Parekh illustration

      A beloved illustration by Rikin Parekh

Then there are alpacas, alongside tigers!
4. Did you have to get close and personal to any alpacas and tigers in the making of your books? Where? What did you learn?

YES! My old drawing tutor at Camberwell College of Arts (Now part of the University of Arts), Mike Priddle made it clear that if we were ever to be commissioned to draw a tiger, we MUST go to the zoo and study and draw a tiger to understand it fully. For Fly, Tiger, Fly! I went to London Zoo and spent lots of time drawing tigers and observing them I learnt they like to hide and sleep. Often!

Tiger

For This Book Has Alpacas and Bears, I  went to London Zoo and drew alpacas, but they didn’t have many, only one I remember. I also tried to draw some bears there. I learnt that alpacas are extremely loveable and fun and bears are HUGE!

Inspiration…

5. Who is your Jim in your life? Who inspires you?

My Jim in my life is my mum, she inspires me:) She has been through a lot but keeps on fighting and going on.

A little something about Rik’s drawing style…

6. I LOVE your characters’ expressive faces, particularly their eyes…. please can you explain them?

Thank you! I really don’t know where it comes from, but think, am I hope many other Illustrators can agree with me too, that when you draw a character, you have to put yourself into their shoes, just like how an animator acts out actions in front of a mirror. The eyes, they just come!

Drawing

Emma Perry

Emma Perry’s collaboration with Sharon Davey is I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End. It makes me laugh and reminds me of my time teaching Infant readers. Furthermore, Mabel reminds me of my enormous excitement at expecting to read ‘real’ books, immediately, upon making it to school at last.

The humour in Emma Perry’s work tickles readers, yet there is such empathy too. It seems as though Emma Perry understands how it feels to be slightly on the outside, anticipating, hoping, rather like Alfonso, her wonderful creation with Rikin Parekh in This Book Has Alpacas and Bears

This Book Has Alpacas and Bears

This Book Has Alpacas (and Bears) by Emma Perry and Rikin Parekh

Some questions for Emma Perry…

1. Why do you think bears feature so regularly in books?

Now, according to Colin, bears are cute, charming and clever. EVERYone loves them. To be fair, I think he’s right. Bears are pretty fab. I can see the appeal!

Bears

With crossed fingers for a sequel…

2. Can you think of other underrepresented or misrepresented creatures who might plead their cause to Colin? Would he be up for a sequel?

Alfonso has pushed open the door nice and wide for all sorts of creatures to pop in, and do what they do best. How about some super unusual creatures like the Glowing sea turtle or even the Leaf-horned frog?!
Colin and Alfonso are definitely up for a sequel – they’ve been plotting and planning. Next time, I think it might be Colin who needs help, and a confidence boost, from Alfonso!

Sea Turtle

The magic of picture book writers…

3. I LOVE the expressiveness in your writing; I can ‘hear’ Alfonso. What is the inspiration? Did you visit any alpacas? If so, what did you learn?

I did visit some alpacas! Quite accidentally too, in that I wasn’t looking for alpacas. But. I was looking for inspiration… and I found it when I spied an amazing group of alpacas during a half term trip with my children. At that moment, I just knew I had to try writing a book featuring an alpaca. I mean, they are amazing animals.

Alpaca

Creating the character’s voice is one of my favourite parts of the writing process. It can also be one of the most frustrating when I’m still trying to nail it! Once the voice is in my head, and Alfonso’s voice was very loud (!)… the story unfolds quite nicely.

A future for Alfonso?

4. What would feature in an Alfonso (TM) range? 

There are NO limits, hahaha!! Rikin Parekh has quite a few great ideas for this and has snuck them into that glorious final spread. I mean, we’re talking mugs, lunchboxes, drink bottles, CDs, cuddly toys, sunglasses, pyjamas… Rik, I reckon you need to design them ALL!

The view…

5. Did you ‘see’ Alfonso as Rik created him? Do you draw your characters as you build your stories, independently of the illustrators? 

I had super vague sense of Alfonso in my mind, it was super blurry and very tricky to ‘see’! I’ve never attempt to draw my characters – I always knew, that if I were lucky enough for this script to be picked up by a publisher, then the most exciting part EVER was going to be when I first saw an illustrator’s creation of Alfonso. Rik has brought so much energy and genius to this book – I mean, there’s a FULL page spread of Alfonso doing the four-legged splits in mid-air. Genius! During the illustration process, Rik would send me super-secret snippets (and I’m talking little teasing snippets!).

I Don't Like Books. Never. Ever. The End.

I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End. by Emma Perry & Sharon Davey

Onto Mabel…

6. If you were caught in a hullabaloo of books like Mabel is (I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End.), where would you want to fall first? Which genre? Thereafter, in which genre would you be most likely to feature? 

Ah, that double page spread of Sharon Davey’s where Mabel falls into books is my absolute favourite one! You can almost FEEL it happening, can’t you! There are plenty of books I’d love to fall into – hmmm let’s think. There’s Wiskling Wood from Victoria Stitch Bad and Glittering by Harriet Muncaster – a great place to start. The beautiful swamp from Catherine Emmett and Ben Mantle’s King of the Swamp would be a lovely place to relax. Then when I’m ready for a bit of adventure I’d love to pop into The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L D Lapinski.

Emma Perry chooses

A few selections from Emma Perry

Onto reading…

7. Which is your favourite reading genre?

I’m not very loyal to just one genre, I like to mix it up a bit. Having said that, verse novels have been a top favourite of mine for a long time. Years in fact. I’m really enjoying the surge in these at the moment – thank you, super talented poets Dean Atta, Joseph Coelho, Louisa Reid, Manjeet Mann, Sarah Crossan, Elizabeth Acevedo & Kwame Alexander I’m looking at you!

Emma Perry samples

Further Emma Perry selections

I read a LOT of children’s literature – middle grade and picture books mainly. Lockdown saw me diving into Maya Angelou’s poetry and her autobiographies, and I’ve just picked up Ali Smith’s Autumn.

The inspiration behind every writer and illustrator…

8. Are you an avid reader? Why? Why not?

I am ALWAYS reading. ALWAYS. Why? I love the escape, I love learning, I love being whisked off into new adventures with a cup of tea by my side.

Finally

Bookwagon is proud of our growing repertoire of picture books aboard the wagon which meet the reading needs and interests of every reader, whatever their age. Therefore, we invite you to take a wander, jump aboard, peruse, enquire and read…

Happy reading

 

The Power in Poetry

The Power in Poetry

Poetry Power

During lockdown I was invited to be a judge on the Word of Wandsworth (WoW) poetry competition panel. This initiative champions the power in poetry. There were four settings, including KS1, KS2, Haiflu and Adult. Happiness was the theme.

Usually this annual competition is a spoken word event. In fact eighteen months ago, I attended this event at Wandsworth Town Hall. I was awed and delighted by the wit and brilliance of the individual and group speakers; the day is a Bookwagon highlight.

However, this year, its organiser, Primary English Consultant, Ingrid Seifert, arranged an event to suit schools in their lockdown learning settings.

Happy Poems (C) Bookwagon

Roger McGough’s Happy Poems

How it worked

Criteria included numbers of line and attention to theme. Judges were given a remit to consider the response to these, alongside listening to the poem and realising how each creation felt and sounded to us. Over days I pored through hundreds of poems, speaking them late into the night. It seemed as though I could see the pictures the words created alongside hearing the writer’s voice.

What is poetry

It made me think about the way that poetry continues to be considered a difficult literary form. Certainly, Mr Bookwagon is diffident when it comes to reading poetry books and finds the form threatening. He asks, ‘What is the difference between poetry and prose without full stops?’

I think that the definition is often the biggest obstacle. Let’s tackle it and recognise the power in poetry.

Announcement poetry (C) Bookwagon

 A poetry recital

What poetry does

Poems make me feel and see and think. That’s what poets aim to do. Kate Tempest writes in ‘These Things I Know’:-

‘Language lives when you speak it. Let it be heard.
The worst thing that can happen to words is that they go unsaid.

Let them sing in your ears and dance in your mouth and ache in your
guts. Let them make everything tighten and shine.

Poetry trembles alone, only picked up to be taken apart.’

Listen

Joseph Coelho’s Poems Aloud, demonstrates how to say poetry and explains the way words we are saying are organised. Poetry is accessible, meaningful, relevant and powerful.

Bookwagon Joseph Coelho (C)

 Joseph Coelho

 What poetry does again

Poetry is the purest form. It creates the laughter bubble when you share Chocolate Cake with Michael Rosen:- Michael Rosen performs Chocolate Cake.  Then, it can break your heart when you watch E.R. during lockdown, and during season 14  Abby and Kovac marry :- Memorable TV wedding vows

Abby and Kovac

 ER wedding vows

It’s also the most direct. That’s why parents are urged to share rhymes and nursery rhymes-  Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes- with babies and toddlers, so that they may hear the shape of the words, remember, recite and enjoy. Thereafter, it’s why we sing and feel part of a community wherever we might be as we sing Auld Lang Syne by Robbie Burns at the dawning of a new year.

Axel Scheffler Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes (C) Bookwagon

Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes

What poetry offers

The power in poetry is not just in infancy but in our lives for at every moment it offers the opportunity to explain how we feel and what we see. Joe Biden, Democratic presidential nominee 2020, paraphrased poet Seamus Heaney in his acceptance speech, ‘This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme.

Bookwagon Joe Biden DNC 2020

Joe Biden, Democratic Presidential nominee 2020

Newly published poet, Mandy Coe, offers considerations of new places and the isolation of lockdown in her superb Belonging Street

Belonging Street (C) Bookwagon

Belonging Street by Mandy Coe

When poetry is taught

As I read through the poems, from KS1 to adult, on occasion it seemed the words, the power in poetry, were lost in the need to employ a device. It felt as though concern about including the devices, concern about full stops and other punctuation, overwhelmed the voice. That’s not poetry. Furthermore, there seemed such a tonne weight of contrived images. Tell it as you know, as you feel- don’t include images about which you’ve neither knowledge nor interest!

What you see and how you feel

What you see and how you feel

Yet

When it’s there, when a writer remembers how he felt attending the fun fair in Slovakia where he puts on his ‘bow tie because it makes him feel smart’. Thereafter, he ‘eats fried cheese and his tummy is happy‘. We feel like we’re there and can see that happy boy. Or what about ‘breakfast is brilliant because it fills my tummy with jam’. Doesn’t jam spell happiness?

Homemade jam

Crab-apple jelly

Therefore

The power in poetry comes from reading, listening to and sharing poetry. It’s neither an obsolete nor obscure literary form. Neither is it ‘hard’. It’s the most accessible, in my opinion.

The words that Dave Eggers employs in the outstanding Tomorrow Most Likely read as poetry. For example:-

Tomorrow most likely/ you might write a song/ and sing it too loud.// There are mountains of time/ and oceans of faces,/ canyons of colour and skies full of places.

Doesn’t this make you feel inspired, hopeful, possible, happy?

Bookwagon Tomorrow Most Likely

Tomorrow Most Likely

Teacher and poet Kate Clanchy uses the framework of poems as an outline on which her young poets might form the poetry that explains their experiences and feelings.

Finally

Kate Clanchy won this year’s George Orwell Prize with her title Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me. She considers various places where she has taught in Britain alongside sharing the stories from a small group she created at the school where she currently teaches. That group of girls has been nurtured as a small poetry group in her large, underprivileged  secondary comprehensive. They have won national attention, acclaim and publication:- England Poems from a School.

Kate Clanchy's England: Poems from a School (C) Bookwagon

England: Poems from a School

Through poetry this multicultural group of refugees and migrants have found their voice. Creative writing has enabled them to express their feelings and experiences. At the peak of the exams’ fiasco this year, Kate Clancy released this, from one of her students:-

Moon

I want to be the Moon
and not in Year 11. I want
to be admired for who I am
and not for the box you fit me in.
I want to be the moon so I can
fade away when you’re speaking.
I want to be endless and infinite.
Everywhere- not stationery for hours
on end. I would like to be invisible,
forgotten with the seasons.

You with your a squared plus
b squared equals c squared,
your aller, etre, your infinitives,
and ongoing dictatorships.
Don’t try to speak to me ,because
I’m slipping out of here.
Don’t gaze at me in awe
when you looked through me before.
I am going to be the moon,
and you won’t recognise me

Lesha (15)

Some Kids and What They Taught Me (C) Bookwagon

Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me

Furthermore

This year, the government has announced its intention that poetry will be optional in its English GCSE curriculum. Like many, I am dismayed by this change. Poetry offers everyone a voice, even when do not know it. Furthermore, studying it, realising its foundation, framework and application is a power and opportunity.

As I read The Girl Who Became a Tree by Joseph Coelho, griefs, Daphne’s and mine, are felt and remembered. I recognise the devices this most gifted poet employs, the story that provides the framework of his story, and revel in his language and imagery.

The Girl Who Became a Tree

The Girl Who Became a Tree

Poetry is not difficult. From the moment we’re born until our ending, it gives us a human voice. Let’s realise, discover and employ that voice!

Happy (poetry) reading!

 

 

Inclusivity

Inclusivity

Let’s look to a world of inclusivity

The world has changed dramatically in the past three months. Are we more aware of the precipice upon which we stand? There are so many matters requiring our attention that it can feel overwhelming. Where do we begin? What do we do? 

Black Lives Matter has propelled a long overdue discussion. Mr Bookwagon and I have talked constantly as we’ve sought to evaluate history. and the way forward. 

Bookwagon (C) Moving forward

Moving forward Bookwagon

Our history

Even within families, histories are considered differently by different family members. It can seem as though the loudest voices create definitive memories- even when they’re wrong!  It means that history is a fluent force.

In recent years, for example, Hilary Mantel has reformed opinion of Thomas Cromwell through her Wolf Hall trilogy. Meanwhile there’s consensus that it is high time that we confront Britain’s racist and colonial history honestly.  

Bookwagon (C) Candy Gourlay and Patrice Lawrence

Candy Gourlay & Patrice Lawrence 2019

What we do

You’ll be aware the Bookwagon home page holds a tag cloud. You’ll have scrolled down that page to a flurry of pink gift tagged words. Maybe you’ve made a selection of titles by using that tag cloud when you’ve readers with particular interests, e.g., dinosaurs, graphic novels, or inclusivity. 

After much consideration, Mr Bookwagon and I have elected to include a BAME tag section. I have been resistant to this because it seems separatist and reactive. However, Bookwagon has fielded a flurry of enquiries from families and schools about specifically Black Asian and Minority Ethnic titles. Furthermore, it has coincided with something I realised from watching television.

Tag cloud (c) Bookwagon

Bookwagon tag cloud

The story

Professor David Olusoga is Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester. We have enjoyed watching his programmes called A House Through Time as he’s researched houses in Newcastle, Liverpool and, most recently, Bristol. That programme revealed the associations of two slave owners to 10 Guinea Street. Alongside this programme Professor Olugosa presents BBC Black and British: A Forgotten History. Throughout the first episode, I exclaimed, ‘But we need to know this! Why didn’t I know this!’ Thereafter, I searched for children’s history books about featured people, including Francis Barber and John Blank. However, there is little available.

I had considered that the ideal tag is inclusivity. This is an umbrella for different ages, gender groups, colours, interests, economic-socio backgrounds, abilities and creeds. However, after watching Professor Olusoga’s programme I realised that this action is idealistic and unhelpful. We need to draw people to what they are searching specifically.

Professor David Olusoga

Professor David Olusoga

The concerns

I seek titles that are representative, informative and worth recommending.  Our concern has been one that Professor Olusoga expressed, in that in creating a BAME tag, we were jumping onto an inevitable marketing bandwagon. Bookwagon has seen this happen in its history, from #MeToo, Mental Health, gender issues to unicorns. I am aware of publishing houses’ marketing departments leaping toward a new trend of titles. The majority of society’s concerns require a more responsible approach than this! They do not deserve tokenism. Furthermore, Bookwagon is in the interests of recommending ‘forever’ books rather than participate in a disposable book culture also. 

While we are a business, Bookwagon is in the market of seeking out books that matter and are representative. That’s why we read every book we sell. 

Finally, I’m concerned that reactive movements mean our focus from important concerns wanders and they are lost and forgotten. Climate change is not something for a moment, a year, but urgent.

Summer field (C) Bookwagon

 Summer field

The action

However, as days have passed I have become increasingly aware that there are too few BAME books. In addition, of those books available too many of them are created by a small number of authors and illustrators. It seems like we need a fuller representation of writers and illustrators within this industry. Furthermore, where are the BAME stories, histories, those that we need to read and learn about and share? Isn’t it time for real inclusivity?

Representation at school (C) Bookwagon

    Our real world in action

What we can do

Therefore, within our BAME tag, Bookwagon is proud to recommend books we’ve read that recognise and reflect our world. It may be twins with a surgeon mother such as The Cure for a Crime. It may be a girl working to find out about her convict father in The Faraway Truth. Or it could be the little known history of a WWII Indian regiment in Now or Never: A Dunkirk Story.

The Cure for a Crime and The No-1 Car Spotter (C) Bookwagon

The Cure for a Crime & The No.1 Car Spotter

Furthermore, we will seek out books that are representative of our collective history. Currently, many children’s BAME titles tell stories from American black history, such as Clean Getaway While it is important to know this history, it is essential that British children know the black history of Britain, including that of colonialism and the countries that formed and associated with Empire.

BAME & Inclusivity selection (C) Bookwagon

A Bookwagon selection

The result

Meanwhile, many of our books share the representation of inclusivity that I know and love, such as Bloom, Lunch at 10 Pomegranate Street or Sam Wu is NOT afraid of Zombies It’s not ideal, but it is representative and building. Books like these suggest our humanity, shared experiences, hopes and stories.

Sam Wu is NOT afraid of… (c) Bookwagon

    Sam Wu is NOT afraid of Spiders

Happy reading! 

 

Let’s turn to books in the Bookwagon bubble

Let’s turn to books in the Bookwagon bubble

 Let’s turn to books (with the promise of a discount too!)

My knee-jerk reaction to most questions is to turn to books. However I was stumped by a school friend’s quiz, asking me to associate my behaviour during the Covid-19 crisis with that of a New Zealand bird. Was I a kereru who eats the quarantine chocolate before lockdown begins? Or maybe a piwakawaka that smiles at everyone on a daily walk? Maybe I’m a tui, vocal about how well I’m coping. What about the others? 

Bookwagon Tui

  Tui

As I sought, vaguely, to categorise myself, I realised I am a little bit of every bird. Maybe you’re the same. I’ve gone through periods of determination that have evaporated into periods of despair. I’m so concerned about professionals who are taking such risk and responsibility for the health and welfare of our population. Furthermore, and selfishly, I’m worried about the future of our small, independent business. Finally, I cannot imagine what lies ahead for our planet. Is it as Nicola Penfold suggests in Where the World Turns Wild perhaps? There, too, the central character sought to turn to books for inspiration and succour.

 

Where the World Turns Wild (C) Bookwagon

  Where the World Turns Wild

An offer

We trust that some of the titles suggested provide a tweak (or tweet) of inspiration. Bookwagon offers you a discount code of 20% redeemable until midnight on April 20th that you might apply to the purchase of books and/ or a Book Bundle. Just add the code bookbubble   when you’re asked to apply the code.

Time to consider

This is the first time I’ve a hunch of understanding how people who’ve dealt with real crises might feel. It makes me feel humble and ashamed. The Covid-19 crisis reminds me of my mother’s memories of Aunty Freda, born after the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, who lived with a constant sniff. What will be our legacy? Individually? Nationally, or even further?

While we sort this out and waiver from resolution to desperation, there is need for hope, humour, distraction and explanation. As ever, I turn to books that seek to satisfy these needs. 

A happy Bookwagon subscriber

A happy Bookwagon gift book subscriber

Books of hope

I’ve been waxing on about the wonder of Sara Pennypacker’s Here in the Real World for some time. Despite my initial anxiety about the hero, Ware must face up to the complexity of life to appreciate the person he has been always. 

Here in the Real World (C) Bookwagon blog

    Here in the Real World

What of The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley? Despite a centuries’ old curse upon his family, Noah’s happiness at his latest address means he overlooks signs that he and his brother have been discovered. Their father is in Singapore while their mother is in hospital. What will Noah do? 

The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley (C) Bookwagon

The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley

And more

Perdu is without hope. He follows a leaf in the breeze that seems to have the purpose and direction he lacks. It leads from a field to the city, where he is unwanted, shunned, scare and hungry.  Who wants Perdu? 

Perdu (C) Bookwagon

Perdu by Richard Jones

Lola’s situation is desperate. Once her biggest concern was screen time, now it’s somewhere to sleep. Ele Fountain turns her attention to the perils of Indian street children in the superb Lost. 

Lost (C) Bookwagon

    Lost by Ele Fountain

The Littlest Bandit is overlooked and dismissed by Grandma when her latest daredevil activity leaves her stuck. She wants action, while Littlest is inclined to turn to books. Where might a solution lie?

Bookwagon The Littlest Bandit (C)

The Littlest Bandit by Ali Pye

Stories of distraction

Newton of Nine Lives Newton doesn’t pay close attention to the signs. He doesn’t turn to books! Instead, he sees only what he wants to see. Therefore he sees is an opportunity to live the life of a thrill seeker! Furthermore, he’s off to the Roarsome Adventure Nature Reserve to tease lions and awaken sleeping bears! 

While Iris speaks to the seagulls on the roof of her grandmother’s house, her grandmother’s Talking to the Moon. Iris is in denial although her ‘not a friend’ finds Mimi’s behaviour funny. Could listening to Mason’s marble collection history prove a distraction? 

Talking to the Moon (C) Bookwagon

Talking to the Moon

 

Mr Brown takes a break from his busy day to eat his sandwiches in the park. However, his distraction allows a baby elephant to hook his briefcase from its resting place and make off with it! Can his precious belongings be returned to Mr Brown? It’s beginning to look like  Mr Brown’s BAD Day

  Mr Brown’s BAD Day and Nine Lives Newton

 

Explanation at first

Nosy Crow publishers are offering a free download book from Axel Sheffler that aims to explain the Corona-virus to children. Please follow the link:- Nosy Crow a Book for Children: Corona Virus Furthermore, they ask any families who are able to donate to the NHS in lieu of payment for this download:- NHS Charities Together

Other explanations

Once Upon a Raindrop is included within the UKLA’s shortlisted information books. This  outstanding title considers a raindrop, from its possibility, to formation and journey. James Carter writes in descriptive, rhyming verse, that seems to defy definition. Additionally, Nomoco’s pictures are empathetic and beautiful. 

Once Upon a Raindrop (C) Bookwagon

 Once Upon a Raindrop

M.G. Leonard is best known for the superb Beetle Boy series. Along with her friend Sam Sedgman she created the first of a new series this year, when her sons sought to turn to books about trains and found very little. The result is the fulfilling The Highland Falcon Thief.

In the past week, M. G. Leonard’s first picture book, in collaboration with illustrator, Daniel Rieley, has been released. The Tale of a Toothbrush suggests a story of whimsy or a patronising tone. However, as Mr Bookwagon and I cleaned our teeth last night, we muffled through the plot. Not only does the writer build an accessible tale, but she leaves us with questions, information and possibilities. 

Alongside curiosities

Lucy Sladan’s sighted strange Bigfoot like creatures in Sticky Pines.  The new owner of the Sticky Sweet factory seems rather too keen to dismiss Lucy’s evidence. In addition he seeks to ensure Lucy and his son, her new friend and accomplice, stay away from the towns’ foodstuffs and locals. What is going on? The Bigwoof Conspiracy is like a Twin Peaks for younger readers; eerie, funny and distracting! 

The Bigwoof Conspiracy (C) Bookwagon

The Bigwoof Conspiracy by Dashe Roberts

Zoe receives a letter from the father she’s never known on her twelfth birthday. Marcus is in prison. What will she do with the letter? Who is  Marcus? What crime did he commit and why? Her summer holiday plans of cupcakes dissipate in a cloud of Fruit Loops and postage stamps as she begins a journey of explanation toward The Faraway Truth

The Faraway Truth (C) Cupcakes

Funny books

The Exiles remains a title that has made me laugh most in the past year. I cannot believe that I did not read this earlier. One of our subscribers emailed to say that she loves this series so much that she ‘saves’ it. I understand.

Similarly, I was late to discover Flat Cat. Jimi-My-Jim’s high life does not quell his need for the big city, cool cats and the risk of cat fights. What is his owner Sophie to do? 

Flat Cat (C) Bookwagon

Flat Cat by Hiawyn Oram and Gwen Millward

What about…

Jennifer Killick has an exceptional ear for dialogue. She can overlap conversations so that we interpret the hidden feelings and attitudes of characters. Furthermore, she makes us laugh uproariously, even when the situation might be terrifying as in her latest title, Crater Lake

Crater Lake (C) Bookwagon

        Crater Lake

Anisha’s climbing the walls for Aunty Bindi’s wedding is imminent and her previous good humour has evaporated into a wail of mehndi paint! Furthermore, the groom seems to have disappeared. When Anisha discovers a kidnap note she knows that her cool head is necessary to save the wedding date! Let’s turn to books to help Anisha Accidental Detective

Let’s turn to books

We invite blog subscribers to browse through our ever growing selection with the lure of an exclusive discount that can be applied to any purchase of books or a Book Bundle. Just add a discount coupon code bookbubble. This offer is available until midnight April 20th.

A message from BookwagonRemember Mr Bookwagon and I are reading constantly, adding to an already impressive range of titles! Although delivery may be slower than usual, your books will arrive with you and you’ll be supporting a small business too!

Don’t forget that your reader can add a comment or review after reading any book aboard Bookwagon. We welcome your feedback.

Finally, we wish all of you safety, calm and good health. You are in our thoughts. Take care out there.

Happy reading

Spring books and spring bundles

Spring books and spring bundles

While Bookwagon is hunkered down, we have been catching up with reading. We have also been adding spring books to the website long overdue that appreciation. Additionally, we’ve been working to fulfil orders placed by customers keen to take advantage of our special discount. (Don’t forget to add the code springbooks to the Add Coupon instruction when you checkout). Furthermore we have been helping schools fulfil specific reading requirements during this time. It’s important to stay busy and try to do what we can to help.

Therefore, I’ve selected a few children’s books that fit the season and our mood.

Early spring school popup Bookwagon (C)

 Early spring school popup

Outside

Thankfully the early spring weather invites us enjoy the promise of the garden. While the cherry blossom and primroses are in bloom, the tête-à-tete seems to be dismayed. Maybe this is not the spring for a catch up! The signs of life are reminiscent of Poems from a Green & Blue Planet, This poetry selection is laden with seasonal and thematic verse about the progress and natural history of our planet.

Poems from a Green & Blue Planet

Poems from a Green & Blue Planet

Inside

It is important to me to find positive signs within the reality of the global disaster. News of the improvement in the atmosphere is heartening. Furthermore, we’ve learned that fish have been seen in Venetian canals and sika deer are wandering through Japanese cities :-  Emboldened animals venture into cities during the global lockdown  Within our spring books, is  Wild in the Streets by Marilyn Singer. This American based writer includes a rich variety of poems, one for each urban animal, alongside fascinating information. Did you know that river crabs  live beneath the Roman ruins of Emperor Trajan’s forum?

Wild in the Streets (C) Bookwagon blog

Wild in the Streets 

Upstairs

Hertfordshire born picture book maker Melissa Castrillōn’s The Balcony is unique. It is a near wordless story of the possibilities presented by one seed. She tells the story in pictures rather reminiscent of designs from the Arts and Crafts’ movement, with symbolic colours and intricate patterning. This book is so beautiful that even the end papers captivate!

The Balcony Bookwagon blog (C)

The Balcony by Melissa Castrillōn

Within

There was deserved acclaim for Sara Pennypacker’s Pax. Her latest title, Here in the Real World is one of my favourite books thus far this year. Any of us who live a deep, over thought, inner life, recognise Ware. We understand his conflict in fitting in, keeping up, being forced to be part of a crowd. Yet, what if the person you are is the way that you’re meant to be? Thereafter, what if the way you view the world, almost through a lens, offers something different? Then there’s the backstory of the girl at the Rec, his hiding place, who doesn’t judge him. She seems to have her own hidden mission that may involve papaya, but could be something more…

Here in the Real World (C) Bookwagon blog

Here in the Real World

Beyond

Ware dreams of knights and heroic times of the past, yet there are curious considerations of generosity, teamwork and wonder included in A Hat for Mr Mountain by Soojin Kwak. Nara is invited to knit a hat just right for Mr Mountain who is afraid of the winter snow. What is the right style or fabric for her customer? Additionally, how might she create anything that is not eaten, destroyed by nature or played with? The suggestions and possibilities are wild (and beyond woolly).

A Hat for Mr Mountain (C) Bookwagon blog

A Hat for Mr Mountain by Soojin Kwak

Forward

We look forward to presenting other titles to you in the weeks ahead, while we’re working from home. We have our gift subscription titles to organise, suggest and post in the near future.

Gift book list (C) Bookwagon blog

Preparing for gift book subscribers

Thereafter, we look forward to being back on the road, sharing our selections in schools and at events. All the time, we seek books that enrich, delight and inspire. Please take a stretch through our website. We read and love every book we sell.

We hope you’ll take advantage of our special discount offer of 20% on titles with the code springbooks. Additionally, there is a 20% discount on a Book Bundle when you use the code springbundle. Both offers end at midnight on Thursday March 26th.

We wish you all safe, healthy, happy reading weeks ahead. You are in our best thoughts and wishes.

A time to read

A time to read

A time to read

Bookwagon was formed to celebrate, share and sell children’s books we’ve read and love. We aim to support a wide range of writers and illustrators. Increasingly, we do this at popup events at schools and special events. In fact, we were in the fortunate position of being booked until and including World Book Day 2021. We began to breathe out a little. Then the Covid- 19 crisis knocked the wheels off our trolley, as it bulldozed its way into society.

Sharing books (C) Bookwagon

Sharing books

So, Bookwagon is working from base. We have time to read our To Be Read piles and add books we’ve read to the site. Finally, it’s meant I’ve time to write a blog! While we’re somewhat confined to base with wonderful books to share and new titles ahead, we aim to support families and schools

Family reading (C) Bookwagon

Family reading sharing

What you know

Bookwagon curates, shares and shows children’s books during our popup visits.

Always, our goal is to build upon the fine work of families and teachers with whom we engage. These  are readers who love and share children’s books. They want children to realise that little is as precious as taking the time to read. Nobody who wants to build or be a reader needs anything other than a model and enthusiast.

Sharing books (C) Bookwagon

Sharing books

What you need to know

During the current crisis Bookwagon will share titles we want you to know about on social media. Please excuse the nerves – it’s always much better with children, live! There will be an individual title featured each day.

Personal recommendations (C) Bookwagon

 A personal recommendation

Furthermore Bookwagon will offer a code:- springbooks with 20% discount on the price of any book, other than subscriptions or offer titles. This discount is available until March 26th.

There is a separate discount code of 20%:- springbundle – offered for our Book Bundle. Here, customers are invited to subscribe to up to 12 titles. Take a look at the details. This discount will be available until midnight on March 26th, also.

New picture books (C) Bookwagon

Picture book selection

Spring blossoming

Covid-19 virus is impacting on all our lives, society and the economy. As I write schools face enormous pressures, particularly.  I’m concerned that writers and illustrators, who depend on the income from school visits to take a living wage, will be particularly adversely affected. Certainly, Bookwagon is worried about our future.

Kate Scott and reader (C) Bookwagon

Kate Scott and reader

There are so many writers and illustrators with new books arriving around this time about which we want you to know. Additionally, there are books that you may have missed, that we are keen to share with you. So watch our social media pages, to see what’s available, what we’ve read and what’s popping up on our latest titles. Don’t forget to scroll through our yellow tag cloud to discover books to suit your reader also. We’re updating constantly.

March releases (C) Bookwagon

Recently released fiction paperbacks

Meanwhile, our best thoughts are with you and your readers of all ages.

Happy reading. 

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