Wednesday, 26 August 2015

I'm back! Our school started back on the 10th of August and it's been go go go ever since. This year we are teaching 36 out of 40 periods and doing 10 break and lunch duties. It's full on but good.  We made a lot of changes to the layout of the library before the summer and now we have a lovely reading area for our infant students and a better layout on the ground floor for juniors. We're got a classroom area for teaching library skills and for project work, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll have new computers and Chrome books in a few months. It's all very exciting. 

I'm exhausted and aching from all the reshelving of borrowed books from the summer, and my hand has repetitive strain from cataloging and processing all the new books. But give it a couple of weeks and muscle memory will kick in. 

It's good to be back. After two months of living in other people's houses and taking 4 long haul flights, I was ready to be home and to get back to work. While it may be crazy and wear me into the ground some days, I do love it. 

This year we've started a new program with our Reception classes. We are visiting them every Monday with a selection of books and I get to read them stories. It's lovely to be able to get out of the library and visit the classrooms. We may be rolling this out to Nursery as well which would be good. 

I ended the school year in June feeling tired but happy and I'm starting this year enthused and excited about what lies ahead. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Overheard in the library

One boy to another

"Your face shouldn't have an opinion."

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A little makeover

As some of you will notice, I've made a few changes to the blog including title, web address and layout. Thought it was time for a change to reflect where I am now and how things are changing in my life and career. Hope you like it!

The First Hippo on the Moon (2*)

I had VERY high hopes for this book. My students adore David Walliams novels (Gangsta Granny, The Boy in the Dress ... ) so I thought I was on to a winner when I got this picture book. I really wish I'd read some of the other reviews before I purchased it as I probably would have steered clear. 

The illustrations by Tony Ross are great, but what's that old saying? Don't judge a book by its cover. I should have paid more attention to that. The illustrations are really the only thing that holds this book together. 

The story: 

Two hippos dream of going to the moon. One hippo, Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III is rich, and builds his own Hippo Space Centre, while the other, Sheila, has to make do with building hers from whatever material she and her friends can find. They both blast off to the moon but Sheila hits an asteriod and comes crashing down hitting the surface of the moon just before Hercules can set foot on it. They then argue about who is the first hippo on the moon. Sheila trudges off upset, nicks Hercules's rocket (by accident apparently), and crashes it because she doesn't know how to fly it. She hits the earth and lays motionless until she farts loudly and wakes herself up. She then celebrates with her friends that SHE was the first hippo on the moon, and never mentions that actually Hercules got there first. Hercules is left on the moon with no way to get home.

I mean, what?! Seriously. So Sheila leaves him there and then lies about being the first hippo on the moon. I know not every story should have a moral or a specific point but seriously what kind of message does any of this send! I applaud Sheila's determination to make her dream happen but that's pretty much the only good thing about the story. The rest is just awful.  

The two stars I give this book are for the illustrations alone. Without them it would be just completely awful. 

Le bureau des papas perdu (5*)

I'm very lucky that my library supports students of four languages because it means that I'm exposed to a plethora of great novels and picture books that I wouldn't necessarily see in English. Today a parent returned this book: 

Le bureau des papas perdu

The front cover caught my attention first and then having read the title I knew I had to read it. The illustrations are fun and quirky, and remind me a lot of the children's books I read as a child (ex. Babar, The Tiger who came to tea). My french is not the best but I thought I would give it a go. I was able to understand the majority of the book, and I sat chuckling at my desk much to the amusement of my colleague. It is just utterly delightful. 

I've tried my best to translate the blurb here to give you an idea of the story:

This morning, unintentionally, I lost my dad. Then I ran into the street and I met a man who said . . . . "I work in the office of lost dads" This is the beginning of a strange adventure for a little boy. But how will he find his dad in the midst of so many others? Dads in striped sweaters, who leave crumbs on their mustaches, one who dances rather well, ones who are courageous, and even prehistoric dads. A tender and poetic book that plays hide and seek with the reader.

"Ce matin, sans le faire exprès, j'ai perdu mon papa. Alors j'ai couru dans la rue. J'y ai rencontré un monsieur. Il m'a  dit : Justement, je travaille au bureau des papas perdus." Voilà le début d'une drôle d'aventure pour un petit garçon. Mais comment retrouver son papa au milieu de tant d'autres ? Des papas en pull rayé, des qui laissent des miettes sur leur moustache, des qui dansent plutôt bien, des courageux, des foufous et même des papas préhistoriques... Un album tendre et poétique qui joue à cache cache avec son lecteur.

(Apologies if I've not translated it properly!) 

Told with simple humour and gorgeous illustrations, it is just delightful. It's a wonderful reminder that stories don't have to be over the top or complicated to be good. Perfect for boys and girls of all ages.  

Available in English from November 30th 2015.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Picture Books (faith based)

I was looking for some non fiction books about religion/culture this morning that would be the right level for my Reception kids. I managed to find a few that might work but while I was hunting I came across this beautiful picture book:

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth - Emily Patel Haynes
It's so beautiful and it made me wonder if there were similar books for other faiths that I might be able to get hold of. Our kids just devour picture books and ones like this are a nice introduction to world religions. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Geoff the Dragonosaur

Whilst visiting IKEA as part of our Valentine's day celebrations (we really know how to do date night!), my partner bought me Geoff the Dragonosaur hand puppet. I call him a Dragonosaur because he looks like a cross between a dragon and a T-rex. My love for toys and stuffed animals is well known to my family and has increased since I started working with kids. 

This is Geoff:

I fell in love with him because he was so odd and unique. I thought he would be fun to use for doing story time next year. 

And yesterday I had a thought. Why not write some stories about Geoff that I can tell to the kids. A puppet with his own stories would be far more interesting than a puppet acting out someone else's stories. 

So, I am determined that once I've got my Masters out of the way in a few months time, I'm going to embark on the job of writing some short stories about Geoff. I'll be aiming them at the Nursery to Year 2 kids, so what kinds of themes should I touch on? 

I thought, mixed race family - Geoff's parents are a dragon and a dinosaur and therefore they have different background and speak different languages. Fits in well for my school where many kids have Asian and European parents and speak many languages. 

So what else? All ideas welcome!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The stupidity of bureaucracy

So I've been working steadily since Christmas to sort out my collection and weed books that are old and no longer needed. The first shock I got upon embarking on this challenge was that a significant portion of our non-fiction collection is around 25 years old, and we still have books on countries that no longer exist. So I diligently went about removing them from the shelves, sorting them and then setting their status to weeded on the system. Today, after inquiring about what the next step in the process is, I have discovered that because of some local law about assets, resources purchased within the last 6 years cannot be gotten rid of, even if they are too old to be of any use to anyone. Not only that but because of a change over of the LM system only a few years ago, it now looks like all the stock was only added within the last few years. 

SO! I am now stuck with a ridiculous number of huge boxes of books that now have to sit in a very full storage cupboard for the next two years at least until they are 'old enough' to be gotten rid of. How utterly utterly ridiculous. I did use a very bad word when I was told because it really pissed me off. 

I guess this is just one of the quirks of working in a country that loves paperwork and pointless bureaucracy. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Xin nian kuai le!

Well the Chinese New Year holiday has come and gone and we're back at work on a short 3 day week. The thought of coming back to work yesterday evening was not appealing (I was enjoying my time off too much!) but now that I'm back it's fine. I've missed my kids. 

I was right about the John Agee books not staying on the shelves for long. I think they are all checked out now and it's only 10.30am. I think I should order some more! 

I've been working on coming up with little projects to improve the space in the library and I think that this will be my next one: 

I'm going to hang it up in my Infant section. I think it will look really lovely and hopefully the kids will like it too. 

I was talking to some friends at lunch yesterday about my career and how I had up until this point only worked in libraries serving patrons who were 16+ (sixth and university). They were surprised when I said that now I'm working in primary I would never go back to high school/adult libraries. There is something just so wonderful about working with little kids that makes this job just so much fun. It's hard too don't get me wrong, but I always leave with with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. It's the same in the mornings too. How many people can say that about what they do. I am very lucky. 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

My new favourite author - Jon Agee

Today was my first time hosting an author at my school and I was extremely nervous. I woke up at 3.30 this morning worrying about whether the tech would work, if the classes would turn up on time and a whole host of other things. But I worried needlessly. 

Jon Agee is a fantastic speaker, who was so thoroughly engaging I almost forgot that I needed to step in towards the end so we could allow time for questions. The kids loved his drawings and his stories. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep his books on the shelves! 

What's so wonderful about Jon is that unlike a lot of authors, he illustrates his own books. This makes his talks unique because he illustrates while he talks to the kids, which really helped at my school where a portion of the children don't speak English as a first language. They were able to get lost in his pictures and follow his stories through them. 

His stories are so funny and captivating that even my youngest students (4-6yrs) stayed engaged for almost an hour. In the end, it was Jon who tired before the kids did! Poor man looked exhausted! I don't blame him. It was VERY hot in our little amphitheater.  

It's lunch time now and my library is full of kids who can't stop talking about him. They are drawing him pictures and making thank you cards. I'm lucky that my students love reading so it wasn't hard to get them interested in having an author come to speak to them. But even for those who aren't die hard readers, Jon's visit has opened up a door into books for them. And for that I can't thank him enough.  

(photo from