What does it mean?

What does it mean?

Looking for meaning

The range and wealth of children’s poetry has been a delightful discovery for me. Since starting Bookwagon, I have sought to read and expand my knowledge of children’s poetry.

Poets are looking for meaning in their creations. The tweezer picked perfection and impact of their words create images and stimulate feelings. Poetry is a most accessible genre to children and adults. It offers children a chance to understand, word play, recall, recite and build a word relationship.

I found teaching poetry a direct, structured, liberating form of writing. Poetry invites us to write and read for meaning.

Kowhai New Zealand

Young New Zealand poet Isabel Carmichael had been asked to consider the impression of war on a setting, when her class learned about Gallipoli:-

In one minute’s silence…..
Can you imagine the firing of the guns as the sky turns black from the bullets?
In one minute’s silence…..
Can you imagine people having a good day,
When suddenly people with guns come running onto the shore?
In one minute’s silence……
Can you imagine all of the diggers shooting at all of the other soldiers,
When they know that they are just as important as them?
In one minute’s silence……
Can you imagine all of the dead bodies lying on the floor from being shot…..
In one minute’s silence.

Piha West Coast beaches Bookwagon

CLiPPA prize

Bookwagon loves, recommends and sells this year’s CLiPPA poetry prize nominations’ list proudly.

Thinker My Puppy Poet and Me is an empathetic poetry diary between a new puppy and his boy master. They are looking for meaning in their relationship with each other and the world.

Dark Sky Park by Philip Gross is rare and tender and beautiful, recommended to nature loving families.

A Kid in My Class is essential school fare. Rachel Rooney’s dedicated examination of a classroom of children is raw, empathetic and recognisable.

School is the setting for Everything All At Once by Steven Camden. We travel through secondary school doors with an assembly of characters, keen to fit in, experience, not stand out, be themselves… if they knew who that might be. They are looking for meaning in alien worlds of adolescence and education.

CLiPPA books Bookwagon

A selection of CLiPPA nominees

Oxford Spires Academy

Oxford Spires Academy has won more poetry awards nationally, than any other title. Writer in residence, Kate Clanchy has compiled a selection of this school’s poems in an outstanding collection, England Poems from a School

Students speak more than thirty languages with more than fifty dialects. Yet there impressions of home, growing up, England and their future resonate with truth, longing and hope.

Rainbow over Oxfordshire fields Bookwagon

    Rainbow over fields of barley, Oxfordshire

The meaning of words- Geordie style

My Geordie mother-in-law enjoyed opportunities to recall traditional words and phrases from South Shields. ‘Wey aye ‘man!’ as she agreed with something, ‘cannae’ offered in a stream of conversation for ‘can not’. Reminiscing about wartime dance floors, she would occasionally consider a ‘Bobby Dazzler’, or a ‘bonnie lass/ lad’ or her ‘marra’, Doris. Cheryl (Tweedy/ Cole/ Versini-Fernandez) delighted Helen, until she disappointed her. ‘I think she’s gotten above her station. She’s not a Geordie lass.’

Geordie lass and language

Geordie lass and lingo

The meaning of words- Kiwi speak

Mr Bookwagon is beginning to understand the New Zealand art of understatement.  A family member texted him after Watford F.C’s devastating loss in the FA Cup final- ‘No words mate’.

Nouns that tangle me still, include:-

  • cling film- Glad Wrap (New Zealand)
  • flip flops- jandals (New Zealand)
  • tacky back plastic- contact (New Zealand)
  • newsagent/ corner shop- dairy (New Zealand)
  • Tippex- Twink (New Zealand)
  • lolly- iceblock (New Zealand)
  • plasters- Band Aids (New Zealand)
  • kiwi*- kiwifruit (New Zealand) * – This one makes me very cross! A kiwi is our native New Zealand bird, and/ or a native New Zealander, not a hairy fruit.
Iceblock eater Bookwagon

      Iceblock eating Kiwi

What writers do

Emma Carroll, best-selling, award-winning children’s writer explained  Operation Mincemeat to a recent school audience. She explained its initiative and how this event in WWII developed into a story within When We Were Warriors. Emma shared how she is looking for meaning in her research and storytelling. Her research allows her to ‘be who she wanted to be’ and ‘create the stories she wanted’.

Asked for a top tip when writing, she advised, ‘Lose the adjectives. Give the words a chance to make a story.

Emma Carroll signing

Emma Carroll school visit

Kate DiCamillo- and how we read for meaning

  Walker, Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo’s books are deceptively simple. Yet her words are laden with poignant meaning. We seek meaning in the context and our innate understanding to assume nuance, impulse and setting. Deckawoo Drive, her early chapter book series including Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, offers complex words and feelings.

Leroy Ninker lives a small life. His dreams of being a cowboy sustain him.

‘ A car drove by Look, Mama!’ a boy in the backseat of the car pointed at Leroy. ‘It’s a very tiny cowboy.’

Leroy stood up straighter.

‘I am a cowboy on his way to procure a horse,’ he said. ‘I am a man wrestling fate to the ground.’ 

Fate appears to conspire against Leroy, yet he does not buckle.

Bookwagon Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, Kate DiCamillo & Chris Van Dusen

Early chapter books

Bookwagon has hit the trail with a succession of author visits and popup book fairs recent weeks. I have spoken about children’s literature, also .

Bookwagon on tour

Bookwagon popup fair

Frequently, we are asked for recommendations about early chapter books, titles to bridge picture books and middle grade readers.

Bookwagon asserts picture books’ relevance to readers of all ages. Picture books offer an incomparably varied opportunity to readers looking for meaning. We are looking for meaning in the pictures of our daily lives; from babies, physical health, DIY, gardening, internet shopping, home interiors, to photographs. They are part and parcel of how we understand.

Early chapter books are a landing stage, however. To that end, Bookwagon has been working to extend our  selection of ‘forever’ early chapter books, titles where the stories are interesting and meaningful.

Bookwagon early chapter books

A selection of early chapter books

Don’t forget

We invite readers to click on our tag cloud to discover a unique selection. Remember! Every Bookwagon book has been read and loved by us. We only recommend and sell books we love. We are looking for meaning.

Words and meaning

A friend’s  grandsons are being raised to speak three languages. They will hear, speak and read for meaning in these languages. My nephews are fluent in Japanese and English.

SCL Bookwagon

   Bookwagon family readers

A difficult part of raising bi- lingual or tri-lingual families is unravelling the nuances of individual languages. A basic example of this is in national humours. Another is gestures. When we work to acquire another language we are looking for meaning beyond the words and  phrases alone.

ESOL/ EAL experts recommend families speak and read to their children in the adults’ first language, but ‘share’, i.e., read books together, in the adults’ secondary languages.

Bookwagon is building a range of quality translated titles from around the world. The subtleties, subjects and construction of these works, even in translation, are different from English books. Reading translated books extends understanding for readers looking for meaning.

Across the oceans

Before an audience at the British library, children’s laureates Lauren Child and Sir Quentin Blake discussed how their different works hit problems in translation. Lauren Child shared the consternation of American publishers by ‘My Uncle is a Hunkle’.

“What’s a hunkle?” her publishers demanded.

“It’s word play,” she explained.

“Word play?”

Bookwagon Word Play

Looking for titles with determination

I am delighted when international titles we seek to share with our readers become available in Britain. Works by writers like Kate DiCamillo fly from the wagon into readers’ waiting hands. Recently, we’ve included unique early chapter/ graphic books by Canadian writer Ben Clanton- Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea!

Minh Lê and Dan Santat collaborated to form a glorious picture book about characters looking for meaning in their relationship in Drawn Together

Polly Horvath wrote ‘Everything You Need on a Waffle‘, a favourite title I read to classes. It is unavailable in Britain. I am very happy to welcome her most recent title, The Night Garden. The setting is Sooke, a little known, hidden treasure on Vancouver Island. We holidayed there before the giddy days of Bookwagon.

Bookwagon an international books' selection

 Some recent international titles

Further looking for meaning

Customers ask how the Bookwagon team maintain our pledge to sell books we’ve read and loved only. We are committed to knowing every book we sell. It means we recommend children’s books for  your children confidently in person, by gift and online. It means that I am writing in a room covered in books seeking my readership. What bliss! Check out the latest titles rolling off this reader’s lap and onto a page soon!

Happy reading!

RIP- Helen Mayho, Granny Bookwagon

 

 

 

 

 

 

What lies beneath the covers

What lies beneath the covers

Our resolution

Bookwagon is determined to find the right books for our readers. It is why we read so much, make our own descriptions rather than purchasing publishing words annually. (Compare other booksellers’ descriptions and you’ll understand what I mean.) Whether we popup at a school or festival, make gift book selections or personal recommendations, we seek the right book. The right book will be one we have read and liked. This means that we get feedback from our customers such as:-

Bookwagon is the only UK independent online book seller owned by extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic professionals giving you personal recommendations for your child – diamond compared to Amazon.’

‘My son has been receiving books from Bookwagon since Christmas. He loves every time they arrive, wrapped up with a little note for him. Such a wonderful idea’

Bookwagon is a fantastic independent book seller that will actually be responsive and select appropriate books for you. Always packed beautifully and offering unusual books at competitive prices.’

A special Bookwagon selection

   A unique book selection

Matching the reader to the book

I enjoy the guidance offered by customers as to their readers’ preferences and needs. Recently, Bookwagon took a gift book subscription for a child whose preferred reading genre is horror. This prompted some thought! We will fulfil this preference while looking to integrate other reading themes into the selection. That is not difficult!

Bookwagon goes to any depth for the right book'!

    To any length for the right book

Bookwagon A Pinch of MagicLast week I offered that fantasy was not my favourite reading genre. Yet I have come to enjoy previewing children’s books of this genre for Bookwagon. This week I read A Pinch of Magic, the latest book by Michelle Harrison and the first I have read by this author. We will support a visit by her to a nearby school during World Book Day week. Her books fit the fantasy reading genre, with a sprinkling of the supernatural. However, in this instance, I was delighted to discover themes of kindness and loyalty that superseded the threat and horror.

To Himalayas and beyond

Asha and the Spirit Bird cover imageMr Bookwagon was bowled away by the strength, message and story contained in Jasbinder Bilal’s Asha & the Spirit Bird. This is a stirring story including themes of tyranny, uprising, family loyalty and tradition and superstition. It is multilayered; a story to which confident adventure loving readers are likely to return.

The Lost Book

Margarita Surnaite’s début picture book,The Lost Book  evolved from her observations of a technology obsessed society. Yet the reading themes within this title could also include the joy of reading, sharing stories, isolation and difference. Why is the protagonist a rabbit, and the recipient of ‘The Lost Book‘ a human child? There are rich pickings for discussion and consideration.

Bookwagon The Lost Book

     The Lost Book

Bookwagon They Say BlueSimilarly Jillian Tamaki’s They Say Blue is more than a book of colours. Through an unnamed period of time, we participate in a young girl’s investigations of the sensory world around her. Is a blue whale really blue? We know blood is red, but why do we say the sky is blue? What happens during our seasons? Do our understandings match our experiences? This book holds so many rich considerations and reading themes within a seemingly subtle sensory exploration.

Bookwagon a blue sky

        A blue sky?

The people stopped. They smiled and together…

Idris has given up hope. In his small, small world only fences, dirt and shadows flower. When  Wisp appears, it offers him a glimpse of memory and possibility. The wisp transfers to an old man who remembers a time before. It travels through the camp, lighting up lives. What happens when another wisp appears to Idris? Through shadow, light and lyrical prose, this ‘story of hope’ offers so many reading themes alongside so many human emotions.

Bookwagon Wisp

  Wisp A Story of Hope

The cat and the king

Bookwagon Nice Work for the Cat and the KingNick Sharratt came to prominence as illustrator for Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s children’s books. Recently, he  turned his hand to picture books for younger readers. Last year, he offered The Cat and the King a richly satisfying selection for newly independent readers. A parent observed, ‘There’s more to this story than meets the eye, isn’t there?’ Yes, dear reader, there is! The subtle reading themes continue in its superb sequel, Nice Work for the Cat and the King. Cat’s loyalty to the King is exceptional. The King cannot expand beyond his role and tradition. With only small piles of coins left for the King to live on, what is to be done? It’s Cat, as ever to the rescue.

Bookwagon Cat on the red carpet

       Cat on a red carpet

Through, over, beyond..

February 7th was release date for a host of new children’s books. I fretted that we had not read them all as publicity blared across social media. However, in reading every book we sell we are at an advantage. This practice means that our reading descriptions, in our own words, carry authenticity and reliability.

When I offer that The Wall in the Middle of the Book is an outstanding book for all ages, you know I have read it and loved it honestly. Watch the pictures, expressions and movement in this stunning début title for Scallywag Press. Look at the conflict to the text! The reading themes in this story are vast, considered and so intelligent!

Bookwagon The Wall in the Middle of the Book

The Wall in the Middle of the Book

Now for something completely different

The dark, overlaid tones and paper construction employed in The Visitor  suggest something spooky. Elise, our main character is scared. She is shut into her own world. She ‘never went out. Night or day.’ She is terrified when a paper dart flies through a window. When it is followed by a knock at the door, Elise is almost too frightened to answer it. Who is breaking down Elise’s wall?

Bookwagon The Visitor

 The Visitor

It is fascinating to see the colours, shadows and tones change, alongside the shapes and sizes of the picture components.  The reading themes in this masterclass of storytelling are rich, complex and stimulating.

Bookwagon Little Rabbit's Big SurpriseI expected something traditional in  Little Rabbit’s Big Surprise. However, when Little Rabbit tags along with Big Rabbit, he makes many discoveries about his setting. So do we. We are also left in a dilemma as to how to improve the situation of many of the characters introduced. What can be done? What is the message within the story? This is a truly satisfying book. I suggest it is one that many children will want to keep, too, a ‘forever story’.

Rather, as Little Rabbit discovers on her day with Big Rabbit, beneath the covers of every book we read are new themes, new considerations, new readers to meet. Being an independent children’s bookseller, charged with matching books to readers is demanding, a challenge and a privilege.

Bookwagon Big Rabbit

A little something extra

Happy reading!