Wednesday 28 October 2015

Review: J. R. R. Tolkien

By Thomas Clark, aged 8

The Hobbit

J. R. R. Tolkien is my favourite author. I loved reading The Hobbit when I was seven. The Hobbit is about a hobbit called Bilbo Baggins. When a wizard comes he finds himself whisked away on an adventure with 13 dwarves to restore the Lonely Mountain.

Rating: ★★★★★

Mr Bliss and Roverdandom

I liked Mr Bliss. It wasn’t as good as The Hobbit and I read it through in one evening. Mr Bliss is about one man’s crazy day. He’s even got a pet called a girabbit!

My Mum read Roverandom to us at bedtime. Roverandom is a dog who gets turned into a toy dog by a wizard. The book is about him going to the moon and under the sea. Both these books are short stories that Tolkien wrote and illustrated for children.

Rating: ★★★★

The Lord of the Rings

I like The Lord of the Rings but it was hard to read. Hang on a second, why didn’t I think of that before? Oh yeah ... it’s because it’s an adult book. Aragorn, Pippin and Frodo are my favourite characters. And I like the way Legolas and Gimli talk and argue.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Father Christmas Letters

Christmas 2014 was when Mum read to us The Father Christmas Letters, which were funny. They are a collection of letters that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote to his children each year, pretending they were from Father

Rating: ★★★★

Tolkien had four children (three boys and a girl) and their names were John, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla) and some of these stories were written for them. And lots of other children like them too, including me!

Manchester and Trafford Libraries: Pros and Cons

By Jonathan Clark, age 11

I love reading - fantasy, mystery, history, biography, cartoon strip, religion, faith, sport, so as you can guess I use the library a lot. There’s a library just five minutes walk away and if we are in the car, my brother, Mum and I can get to any one of five libraries in 20 minutes. 

I want to talk about what’s great and what’s awful in Manchester and Trafford libraries. First, let’s look at what’s great about our libraries:

1. You can read all you want: In a bookshop it’s dead tempting to just pick a book off the shelf and start reading it there and then. You can do that to a certain extent but you can’t very well take a book, sit down and read the bits that interest you (something I am guilty of) and then put it back. But in a library you can do just that! If you don’t think it’s worth borrowing, you can just look at it there and if you want you can take the book home, which leads us to point two.

2. You can borrow books for free: If you want to take a book home then you can do that. All you need is a library card, which is free of charge, a self-service machine and home you go. In Manchester you can borrow up to eight books on your card, in Trafford more.

3. You’ve got plenty of time (usually): It is three weeks before you have to renew your book in both Manchester and Trafford and you can renew your book several times. Even if you haven’t finished your book by then (say you’ve been on holiday) you can take it to the library and borrow it again. But that is not always the case - your book may be reserved (horror!) That means that you have to return it when your next renewal comes up. This can be particularly annoying if you have only just borrowed the book. However, you can do the same. Let’s look at point 4.

4. You can reserve books from other libraries: Yup, just go on the libraries website and reserve the book you want. You can have it sent to your local library. Many of my library books are ones I have reserved.
5. You can take books back: Books take up space, a lot of space. But with a library book, you can just take it back when you’ve finished with it. And it doesn’t cost you a thing!

6. It’s more than books: It’s DVDs, computers, art and beyond. A library is a centre for the community. A library is a place for education and that’s not just how to do your maths better (I learned how to make a puppet in a library, went to a science demo and did two stopmotion animation workshops). 

So on top of what I’ve already said, there are many reasons libraries are great. In fact, I don’t think we (or at least I) could do without them.

Now let’s look at what’s not so good:

1. It can be frustrating: Manchester libraries have faults. You reserve books and they may take a few months to arrive, sometimes you are told a book has come in and it hasn’t. It’s this sort of thing that really annoys me. To be fair though, you don’t get this sort of thing in Trafford libraries. I also think the library could do something to try and stop books going missing, either they buy a new copy of the book they have lost or they track it down, but it seems that they just leave it and the book still shows up on their catalogue which brings us on to point 2.

2. The catalogue can trick you: If you go on the library website you’ll find if you look carefully that not all the books on there are ones the library actually has. Thus you can reserve a book the library does not have but has lost. The websites need updating badly.

3. Lack of quality: In certain libraries a good sized percentage of the fictional books are fairly trashy while classic children’s books are harder to find. Some, though have a wider range of older and to my mind better books.

4. Space and surroundings: Some libraries have lovely seats, windows and plenty of space to browse. Others? Nope, they can be cramped with nowhere to sit. People would like libraries more if they were in attractive buildings with windows to look outside onto the street, with space to relax.

I believe that libraries are an important part of our society and should be treasured, but I also feel that a lot could be done to improve them.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Joss Abbs Brown shares his thoughts on MCBF 2015

By Joss Abbs Brown

In 2015 Manchester held their yearly celebration of children’s books at Manchester Children's Book Festival (MCBF). Last year in 2014 it was a great two weeks of events but this year they surpassed themselves. It was a brilliant programme of events that I and many other families enjoyed.

There were many inspirational authors such as Alex Wheatle and James Dawson who each rose and battled their own personal obstacles to achieve their dream which shows how we can do or be anything we want to be when we try. Alex Scarrow also had to overcome personal difficulties. At first he had no job or qualifications as he dropped out of school at the age of 16, but finally managed to secure work as a game designer. In a few years he rose and started to preview his own game designs and had to try and persuade his bosses to create his games. However his ideas were all rejected so eventually he gave up his job and began to write. He soon became the great author we now know him as. He used some of his game ideas in his now famous series Time Riders.

There have also been poetry events where poets came to hold open mic events. The floor was open for adults and children to read their favourite poem. I also performed at this reading “I opened a Book” by Julia Donaldson which for me sums up what books and poems are all about, becoming immersed in an imaginary world.

One of the poets, Dominic Berry, believed I did very well which shows how supportive Manchester Children's Book Festival is. I am hoping that next year will be just as brilliant. I really love coming to the varied events and it is very good how it inspires young people to read. I have really enjoyed the Poetry sessions and have written my own poem in which I have tried to sum up some of the great authors I have met and stories and poems I have been introduced to. I would like to thank the organisers, James Draper and Kaye Tew. I hope you like my poem.


(To celebrate the Manchester Children’s Book Festival/MCBF)

A pen, a quill,

A windowsill,

To look upon the world,

A word, a page

A powerful mage,

A new world unfurled.

Travelling through time, travelling through

Wars, opening hidden mysterious doors,

Travelling to a long and distant land.

Saved from hell, saved from death,

Saved from a fatal, chilling breath,

Rescued by a powerful, wizened old hand.

A tear, a laugh,

An uncertain path,

With one desperate choice.

A trapped liccle boy, a monster’s

Toy, with no public voice.

A scared boy, a boy who is gay,

A boy who has something important to say,

A boy who has a deep but forbidden love.

A boy who wants friends, a boy that has hope,

A boy who needs an escape rope,

To fly finally free like the dove.

A Goblin boy, A Goblin Wizard,

Who could conjure up a blizzard,

His powers only work by kindness

To another.

His powers will falter, his powers will fail,

Like a piece of food gone stale,

If he does not show compassion said his Grandmother.

A tale about a strange girl,

Which would make you hurl,

With some strange creatures that lurk,

A figment of imagination, an illusion,

An intrusion, hidden in her mind’s

Darkness and murk.

Poems a song of love, a symphony of words,

A flock of flying, beautiful birds,

Created by a powerful mind.

A land to escape, a place to refresh,

To escape the encumbering mesh,

And to leave worries and problems behind.

Joss Abbs-Brown

Age 11

Monday 13 July 2015

Young Journalists Blog Multi-cultural Manchester


By Taha, Areeba and Atiya from Whalley Range High School
Multiculturalism throughout Manchester has been expressed through the form of written art and has been shown in the Manchester children’s book festival on 30th June. The cultural diversity has been expressed through the city in many different ways and on 30th June, many activities and events took place.

The audience was filled with excitement and chatter as Mandy Coe first took the stage by sharing her experiences, saying that poetry should be for children than for adults and that poetry for children is running out and not expressed as much. She then introduced Poetry By Heart where young poets read out poems by heart. She then welcomed four young poets on the stage. Personally, I think this was the best part, listening to other people in our age group reading out poetry, which potentially could inspire us in the future.

Next was the first female poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy. She read out inspirational poetry including the poetry that was banned for the use in schools. The poem talks about violence: a teenager killing, however it has nothing negative but we have to interpret in a positive and meaningful kind of way. She read out a poem that involved the audience: Elvis, Shakespeare, Picasso and Virginia Wolf, adding, “Probably one of the highlights of my life as a poet is standing here and watching people scream Virginia Wolf at me.” 

Next up was Imtiaz Dharker. Her poems had a very wide span of unique topics, ranging from pomegranates to being ‘Over the Moon’, which kept the audience hooked to them. Some of the poems she read out were quite amusing, such as the ‘Dabba Dialogue’ or, ‘Tiffin-Box Talks’. This poem in particular was written from the point of view of a tiffin-box. Her choice of words make her poems really interesting and fun to listen to. I personally thought it was a really good experience and a very engaging event. 

After the poetry event we went over to the other event taking place. There we watched a one-woman play about a girl called Gabrielle, who lived on a small island in the Caribbean. It portrayed how Gabrielle’s life was like in the Caribbean’s, and how drastically it changed after she travelled to England, on a boat ride that took 20 days. Her new life in England was already off to a rocky start, being cramped on a ship for 20 days, so you can imagine how it must have been later on. It showed her struggle to find a proper job and home amongst the racial Britons of that time.

All in all, it was a very inspirational day. I learned new things, and I’m very happy that I had the chance to take part in such an event.

Friday 3 July 2015

Avani Reads Shark in the Dark

Avani Richardson aged 22 months reads one of her favourite books Shark in the Dark by Nick Sharratt.
The MCBF2015 team are looking for your blogs, stories, book reviews, photos, poems - simply anything and everything to do with your favourite children’s books! Email to get involved.

Tuesday 30 June 2015

Letting in the Stars of Children's Poetry at Wellfield Infant and Nursey School Book Club Group


The sun lights the moon to make it shine
Moonshine shine.

A mouse ate the moon,
It made it fat
Moonshine shine

Werewolves come out and howl at the night
Moonshine shine.

Spirits creep through dark midnight
Moonshine shine.

You go blind if you stare at it
Moonshine shine.

Moonshine sets and the sun is bright
Moonshine shine.

By Wellfield Infant and Nursery School Book Club Group


This is the end,
Where horses gallop
And poetry sings,
Where mountains blow
To the rhythm of oceans,
Heartbeats thunder,
Flowers drift
Midnight stops.
This is the end.

By Wellfield Infant and Nursery School Book Club Group

The MCBF2015 team are looking for your blogs, stories, book reviews, photos, poems - simply anything and everything to do with your favourite children’s books! Email to get involved.


By Rachel Formby, age 12

Happily ever after. Isn’t this the most common ending in English Literature? Yet what does it do to our younger generation, does it make them believe a fairytale is real life? Fairytales give children a magical place to believe in, a beautiful character to cherish and a perfect ending, but what are fairytales teaching our children about life? That everything in life is going to be easy. That everything ends with a ‘happily ever after’. That everything is safe. Children aged 2 - 6 years old are the most vulnerable category to be targeted for crime, yet they are also the most unaware of the dangers around them.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - We all know the story but have we ever thought what moral message it gives our children? That it is OK to wander off with men you have never met before? You try to protect your children but you are still handing them content that could make them a target. 

Not only are the moral lessons of our fairytales disturbing, the content of fairytales can be quite scary for the young mind and could create nightmares. Little Red Riding Hood is well known to everyone and adults may think it is just a story, but for a young mind it is worrying. It tells children that wolves could eat their grandma’s, then eat them too. What effect could this have on an early child’s learning and to their mental health? 

We might think that this is a silly issue, however when a child’s mind can’t tell what’s real and what’s fantasy, we need to be concerned. Imagination is wonderful yet when it gets mixed with reality it could create mountains of problems for a child in later. We all want our child to succeed in life so when fairytales are holding them back, why do we continue reading them? 

Some may say that if you analyse the themes of most fairytales, you will find that it usually has a good vs evil theme in which good usually triumphs therefore fairytales provide a useful metaphor for children to learn about values. However do you really think that 5 year olds are going to recognize values when they can’t separate fantasy from reality? No. All they see is the scary world of fairytales plus the dangerous moral lessons taught in them. So if you want your child to have the best chance in life, don’t read them fairytales. 25% of parents already don’t, so why not join them by not doing so?

Once upon a time there lived a boy who had never read a fairytale yet he blossomed beautifully. He got married, had a highly paid job and a happy life, full of imagination… 

And so he lived…

Happily Ever After.

The MCBF2015 team are looking for your blogs, stories, event and book reviews, photos, poems - simply anything and everything to do with your favourite children’s books! Email to get involved.