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


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


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


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 


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


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


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


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. 

Welcome to a reading school

Welcome to a reading school

This is a reading school

 ‘This is a reading school’ are words that cheer our hearts. While we realise such a declaration is mandatory,  it suggests determination. Yet what is a reading school?

I am reluctant to comment or advise about the reading schemes and methods employed by schools publicly after three years away from teaching full-time. I share my experience and training when asked. However I know what makes a reading school.

Bookwagon popup book fair (c.) Bookwagon reading school

Curated and waiting popup book stand

Preparing to meet the reading school

Bookwagon creates our popup book fairs meticulously. We are still making a final selection, considering the best matches for the school we are visiting, right up until the evening ahead of the visit. I peruse all the information I have amassed. No two popup book fairs are identical.

Recently we had a run of five across a week in four different counties. We curated our lists specifically for each setting. We have a good idea of the likely outcome of a visit from the interactions with the school before we arrive. Having a contact who is proactive, enquiring and excited about our visit guarantees a Bookwagon popup book fair will be a hit! We will be visiting a reading school.

Bookwagon popup book fair preparation (c.) Bookwagon

Setting up a school popup book fair

Schemes and expectations

We do not create a popup book fair to support a school’s reading program because reading for pleasure doesn’t work that way for any one. A packaged measuring scheme or reading journey record, neither creates nor maintains a reading habit. Bookwagon supports the good work families and schools do to build readers for life. Reading schools build readers for life.

Bedtime reading (C) Bookwagon reading school

              Bedtime reading 


How do families build readers for life?

Parents build readers for life through demonstrating their own need to read. They have a reading habit, and show that reading satisfies and informs their lives. They model reading every day. There is a family bedtime reading routine that everyone enjoys. Library visits are commonplace. Books are gifted, discussed, compared, enjoyed, and treasured.

Bookwagon family reading blog (c) Bookwagon

              Bedtime shared reading 

How do schools build readers for life?

Schools build readers for life with teachers who demonstrate their need to read. Staff model reading every day. Book shelves are kept in good order, with titles updated, displayed, discussed, reviewed while old titles are replaced or discarded. The school values its library. Staff seek to know what children like reading. They seek to extend experience and understanding. Reading is celebrated. Books are discussed, compared, enjoyed and treasured. Personal, recreational, unevaluated reading time is part of the daily timetable.

Talking about books with Emily Hughes

Emily Hughes, school visit

The library in the reading school

Reading schools ask our advice about their library stock. Bookwagon reads every book it sells, which means we can offer confident recommendations about titles, genres, collections. Furthermore, our experience means we know what works, i.e., which books and writers can go with others, to encourage a reading for life habit.

Bookwagon popup book fair with teachers (C.) Bookwagon blog reading schools

Teachers visiting a recent popup

Recently, we have been asked for guidance by four schools seeking to establish and extend their school library. While one school sought a particular genre, another sought titles for a particular key stage. The other two requested suggestions as to long term development. Two of the schools have enrolled with our School Orders subscription service, developed to support schools’ specific reading needs.

Our experience

Bookwagon is about to hit the road anew with popup book fairs across London and the Home Counties until the end of the year. We pick up the pace in the spring anew. We hope to meet reading schools such as the last setting we had the pleasure to experience.

This  primary school included ‘Drop Everything and Read‘ in its daily timetable for everyone on site. Books were thoughtfully displayed at child friendly heights and accessible front covers. Thereafter, titles, authors and genres were labelled clearly. We did not see battered, abandoned books. It seemed like the school library was the active heart of the school.

Sharing books in a reading school (c.) Bookwagon

Sharing books at a recent school popup 

The staff

Staff visited our popup and asked us about our book selections. Furthermore, they made suggestions and shared their experiences. They encouraged visitors, directing them toward choices they thought they would enjoy. Staff demonstrated their interest through browsing, asking our opinions, and being seen to buy our books. The Headteacher and senior staff engaged with us throughout our visit. This reading school showed that reading for pleasure, with the opportunity to extend reading range and experience, is essential.

Bookwagon (c.) reading teacher reading school

Reading teacher, ‘I Am a Tiger

The students

The students at this school enquired about our books. We read everything we sell, which meant that we could talk about our books and make informed decisions. Even KS1 children listened, asked questions and made choices based around what they heard and saw. Many children shared their opinions and experiences, and their reading selections proved wide and varied. We sold out of picture books. At no point did any visitor to our popup book fair suggest that they were ‘too old for picture books’. This reading school respects the value of every genre.

Picture books for all ages, Chris Naylor- Ballesteros (c.) Bookwagon

         Picture books, Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Our conclusion

The school did not raise its reading program with Mr Bookwagon and me for this was irrelevant. However we know that this school is a reading school from our experience of the school’s practice in building readers for life. Bookwagon feels privileged to have been part of that initiative.

A reader for life (c.) Bookwagon

The reader for life

We hope your school is a reading school!

Happy reading!

Time to Read

Time to Read

My blog posts are erratic despite best intentions to write fortnightly. Like many, I am time, sleep and leisure poor. It seems life is about working through the rush. It could be television binge watching, a seven-minute workout, or 30-minute no fuss dinners. Recently, Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain created ‘Time to Eat‘. She offered ‘recipes designed to help us all save time and calm our hectic lives’.

What is the rush? Who is counting down? Furthermore, are we permitted time to read?

Bookwagon countdown stopwatch

         The countdown…


Bookwagon is on an autumn tour, from Somerset to Surrey, North London to the Midlands. The journeys allow us time to read and a lot of time to catch up and make discoveries. We are captives in the car. We talk about the books we’ve read and enjoyed. I’ve realised anew how much Mr Bookwagon loves the series initiated by Rory Branagan, Detective He feels Lucy Strange is amongst his favourite middle grade writers- The Secret of Nightingale Wood and Our Castle By The Sea.

On the road

                 Reading on the move

I’m reminded of how important it is to have time to talk about the books we’ve read. There are book groups, obviously, and schemes built around books, but what about the reading? Isn’t that most valuable?

Bookwagon The Somerset Tsunami (C) Bookwagon

 The Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll


It was an honour to popup within the esteemed gathering of the annual Somerset Literacy Network meeting. Speakers included Charlotte Hacking and Farrah Serroukh (CLPE- Centre for Literacy in Primary Education). Both emphasised the need for educators to take time to read and  consider what they are reading with their classes. The pair spoke about the role of pictures in reading, emphasising the value of taking time to develop visual literacy. They encouraged the company to absorb the view and pitch perfect text in picture books like those from guest Joseph Coelho.

Bookwagon popup Somerset Literacy Network

Somerset Literacy Network Bookwagon popup


Guest Nicola Davies spoke of time anew. She asked us to consider the three hundred years it takes for an oak tree to grow to full maturity.

Later, guest Laura Carlin shared her sketchbook. She asked us to contemplate the time it has taken her to grow into the illustrator and designer she is now. We were reminded of how important it is to be allowed to be wrong, erase, review and view.

Bookwagon acorn

 From acorn to oak…

Laura Carlin sketchbook (C) Bookwagon Somerset Literacy Network

  Laura Carlin’s sketchbook


Bookwagon supports and arranges visits by writers and illustrators. We know the value of these to schools. School funding issues and the rigidity of school timetables can make these difficult. Indirect, deep learning potential of school visits may not be realised because of dense school schedules. Do these schools allow time to chat and discover, and time to read?

Bookwagon (C) Christopher Edge and Jane Elson

The ticking clock

We are all working to deadlines. Nadiya Hussain repeated, ‘In our time short world….‘ We watch Noel and Sandi shouting about how much time the GBBO contestants have to perfect their jaw-dropping crafts. Thereafter, we block our ears to Gregg Wallace’s or Joe Lycett’s  warnings, or Michelle Ogundehin’s footsteps approaching as would-be designers fluff their cushions ahead of deadline. It is little wonder that so many viewers enjoy ‘The Repair Shop’. Craftsmanship is valued over a time limit, here.

Bookwagon Migrations

Migrations, 2019 nominee for BAMB Beautiful Book Award

A consideration of targets

Who sets these targets? What do they determine? What are we seeking? Does everyone step to the same beat?

Could it be, as Nicola Davies and I considered, that animals, such as dolphins and whales, are superior to us in that they follow a natural rhythm? Artificial goals, affirmation through targets, the need for ‘things’ do not determine worth or happiness.

Bookwagon (C) Dolphin, Cedar Key, Florida

Dolphin, Cedar Key, Florida

Deadlines for writers

In Spring 2020, we are promised ‘The Mirror and the Light’, the third, long awaited,final book of Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy. The writer said, ‘“When I began work on my Thomas Cromwell books back in 2005, I had high hopes, but it took time to feel out the full scope of the material. I didn’t know at first I would write a trilogy, but gradually I realised the richness and fascination of this extraordinary life. I hope they will stay with me as we walk the last miles of Cromwell’s life, ascending to unprecedented riches and honour and abruptly descending to the scaffold at Tower Hill. This book has been the greatest challenge of my writing life, and the most rewarding; I hope and trust my readers will find it has been worth the wait.”

Worth the wait…. We’ve been aware this year, of writers at the end of their tether, desperate to meet deadlines. These are writers whose income and self-belief depends on meeting deadlines. Bills, edits and thereafter, sales concern them. We can at least offer them the courtesy of taking time to read their works.

Bookwagon (C) The Adventures of Harry Stevenson

The Adventures of Harry Stevenson

Taking time

Recent Desert Island Discs’ guest Lin-Manuel Miranda of ‘Hamilton‘ says he gets his best ideas from ‘listening to people’s stories‘, and ‘playing around in my imagination.’

When Nicola Davies discussed her poignant picture book,Perfect she reminded us about swifts. She explained their design enables them to fly continually for two years, so that their lives are on the wing. They ‘live meaningful lives’.

Bookwagon (C) Time

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first chosen disc, ‘Cabaret’,  reminds us that ‘it isn’t that long a stay.’ So, let’s take time to read. Reading offers possibilities, avenues, explanations, questions, affirmation that ‘We’re all right.’ Aren’t we all better for taking this time?

Happy reading

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