A Fantastically Great Children’s Book

kate-fantastic-womenIt was a warm Friday evening as I ventured down to the Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, for the book launch of ‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World’ by Kate Pankhurst. As I entered the trendy industrial space of the Gallery there was an immediate buzz in the room of people exploring, drawing, reading, meeting, eating and drinking. There were as many children as there were adults. Kate came over to say hello and introduced me to her adorable new baby Otto. A book launch and a baby, Kate is a super women! Everyone was given a badge which had the illustrations out of the book on. Mine featured Emmeline Pankhurst the suffragette descendant of Kates; of course I immediately pinned it to my top. I had a wander round the mill to see all the fun bits and bobs Kate had set up; from a drawing table where you could draw a woman who is fantastically great to you, to a dressing up trunk filled with props that related to the great women that featured in the book. There was a table filled with tasty treats, the most incredible cakes and of course fizzy, after all this really was a celebration.

kates-book-launchI eventually made it to the table which had piles of the book in both paper back and hard back. I picked up the hard back and had a flick through, that’s when I knew how special this book was. It’s an education, it’s inspirational, every page has a splash of humour, it’s filled with Kate’s gorgeous bright illustrations, and it’s a celebration of women. It’s brimming with fascinating facts and it’s very accessible for different ages and abilities to enjoy, even the grown-ups. The diverse range of women covered in this book is incredible, from Rosa Parks to Frida Kahlo to Jane Austen, and each one of their stories is fascinating. I absolutely love the layout of the pages; each woman get a double page spread as it takes you on a journey through their extraordinary life. We have to thank Kate for her talents in creating such an important children’s book and then do our bit to introduce it to as many children (boys and girls), parents, carers and teachers as possible.

kates-book-launch-2After buying my copy I joined the queue to have it signed and addressed to my little girl. She’s a bit young at the minute to understand the context but that’s why I got the hardback because I want this book to be a staple on her bookshelf at home. Copies will be arriving into Leeds Libraries very soon, reserve it in to your local branch to borrow for free, I know you’ll enjoy reading and exploring it as much as I am.

Blog by Rachel Ingle-Teare, Children’s Librarian

Read Kate Pankhurst’s blog about the event here:-

http://www.katepankhurst.com/2016/09/the-fantastically-great-women-are-go/

 

 

 

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Librarian’s Choice -Past Favourites

This weeks blog is from Lynn, one of our Senior Communities Librarians. There are some real classic blasts from the past here, as well as a more recent recommendation.

Although I’m an avid reader of crime I thought I would give you a taste of some of my favourites from the past, starting with

Lynn Lady of HayLady of Hay – Barbara Erskine

I can’t believe this book is 30 years old!

This story is about Jo Clifford a successful 20th Century journalist, who is set to debunk the idea of past life regression but when she is regressed under hypnosis she finds herself reliving the experiences of Matilda, the Lady of Hay, the wife of a baron at the time of King John.

Jo learns of Matilda’s unhappy marriage and of her love for another man and of the brutal threats of death at the hands of King John.

The plot is full of twists and turns as Matilda’s life and pain threaten to take Jo’s life as she spontaneously regresses…………………

Lynn Lorna DooneLorna Doone – RD Blackmore

A teenage favourite!

Lorna Doone is a romance set in 17th Century in Somerset and Devon and is the story of John Ridd a farmer who finds love amid religious and social turmoil. John is just a boy when his father a respectable farmer is murdered by the outlawed Doones, a lawless clan who live in Exmoor. Battling his desire for revenge John also grows into a respectable farmer looking after his mother and siblings. He falls in love with Lorna a girl he meets by accident who turns out to be the granddaughter of the Lord of Doones and is destined to marry (against her will) Carver Doone. A tale of secrets, lies and deceit. A fantastic story of star crossed lovers.

Lynn RebeccaRebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

The novel begins in Monte Carlo where our orphaned lady’s maid is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter- carried along on her giddy adventure it’s not until they arrive at his impressive country estate that she realises the threat his late wife is to their new relationship. Young, shy and socially awkward the new Mrs De Winter finds herself lonely and alone as she battles to establish herself as the lady of the house in a tense, sinister household headed by the mean and spiteful Mrs Danvers who is loyal to the ghostly presence of Rebecca. Surprisingly scary with a psychological edge.

Lynn Black BeautyBlack Beauty – Anna Sewell

One of my favourite childhood stories.

Black Beauty is a horse with a fine black coat, a white foot and a silver star on his forehead, a real beauty indeed.

Seen through his eyes, the story tells of his idyllic upbringing living on Farmer Grey’s farm with his Mum frolicking in the fields. When he turns four he’s trained to carry riders and pull carriages and then sold and goes to live at Birtwick Hall where he meets Merrylegs, Ginger and Sir Oliver.

Hardship and cruelty follow as he is sold to a number of different homes and worked hard until he collapses from overwork before he finds security and happiness in a new home.

Lynn Little WomenLittle Women – Louisa May Alcott

The novel follows the lives of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. The four girls live with their Marmee in genteel poverty, whilst their father is away fighting in the American Civil War. Their mother encourages them to be the best version of themselves at all times and to celebrate their uniqueness, which for some of the sisters is hard, they pull together as a family in times of need, the loss of loved ones, feelings of failure, talent unappreciated, fear of the future and ever changing family dynamics just a few of the situations the family have to deal with.

Any finally something a little more up to date;

Lynn Elizabeth is missingElizabeth is missing – Emma Healey

Maud an ageing gran is slowly losing her memory – yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth who she believes is missing and in terrible danger, no one will listen.

Vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, could Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth – a hauntingly beautiful book.

Summer Reading – new fiction this week

The sun is shining! Maybe you are just like me, and at the first sight of a sunbeam it means cold drinks and something good to read in the garden. Last night it was a glass of elderflower cordial and Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff that I am currently reading for my book group.

If you need a few suggestions here are some new fiction titles that have arrived in our libraries this week. There should be something there to tickly your fancy – maybe you need to match your book to your garden tipple?

blood and inkBlood and Ink by Adam Christopher

The CFO of a secretive NYC hedge fund is found murdered – stabbed through the eye with an expensive fountain pen. Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson discover a link between the victim and a charismatic touring management guru with a doubtful past. But is the solution so clear-cut or is the guru being framed? As secrets are revealed and another victim is found murdered in the same grisly fashion, Holmes and Watson begin to uncover a murky world of money and deceit.

the french lessonThe French Lesson by Hallie Rubenhold

Paris, 1792: Henrietta – an Englishwoman alone amidst the French Revolution. Grace – former mistress to the highest rulers in France. Agnes – the current mistress, who will stop at nothing to keep her place in the palace. Together, the three women will engage in a deadly triangle of rivalry and power play. Who will win, who will lose and who will keep their head?

 

Eden GardensEden Gardens by Louise Brown

Calcutta, the 1940s. In a ramshackle house, streets away from the grand colonial mansions of the British, live Maisy, her Mam and their ayah, Pushpa. Whiskey-fuelled and poverty-stricken, Mam entertains officers in the night – a disgrace to British India. All hopes are on beautiful Maisy to restore their good fortune. But Maisy’s more at home in the city’s forbidden alleyways, eating bazaar food and speaking Bengali with Pushpa, than dancing in glittering ballrooms with potential husbands. Then one day Maisy’s tutor falls ill and his son stands in. Poetic, handsome and ambitious for an independent India, Sunil Banerjee promises Maisy the world. So begins a love affair that will cast her future, for better and for worse.

when she was badWhen she was bad by Tammy Cohen

Colleague, co-worker, killer – you see the people you work with every day. But what can’t you see? Who secretly hates you? Who is tortured by their past? Who is capable of murder?

The infiltratorsThe Infiltrators by Matt Helm

Beautiful, intelligent, fresh out of prison – Madeleine Ellershaw is Matt Helm’s latest case. She may have been imprisoned as a spy, but Helm soon realizes that Madeleine’s story isn’t so simple. He’s got to figure out why she took the rap for her husband nine years ago, what secrets are hiding in her past, and, most difficult of all: keep her alive.

different classDifferent Class by Joanne Harris

After 34 years at St Oswald’s Grammar in North Yorkshire, Latin master Roy Straitley has seen all kinds of boys come and go. Each class has its clowns, its rebels, its underdogs, its ‘Brodie’ boys who, whilst of course he doesn’t have favourites, hold a special place in an old teacher’s heart. But every so often there’s a boy who doesn’t fit the mould. A troublemaker. A boy with hidden shadows inside. With insolvency and academic failure looming, a new broom has arrived at the venerable school, bringing PowerPoint, sharp suits and even sixth form girls to the dusty corridors. But while Straitley does his sardonic best to resist this march to the future, a shadow from his past is stirring. A boy who even 20 years on haunts his teacher’s dreams. A boy capable of bad things.

TenacityTenacity by J.S. Law

A sailor hangs himself on board a naval submarine. Although ruled a suicide Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, the Navy’s finest Special Branch investigator, knows the sailor’s wife was found brutally murdered only days before. Now Dan must enter the cramped confines of HMS Tenacity to interrogate the tight-knit, male crew and determine if there’s a link. Standing alone in the face of extreme hostility and with a possible killer on board, Dan soon realises that she may have to choose between the truth and her own survival. The pressure is rising and Dan’s time is running out!

HawkwoodHawkwood by Jack Ludlow

The Hundred Year’s War is over and newly-knighted Sir John Hawkswood is headed for France to make his fortune as a freebooter. Violence and extortion are rife, and the freebooters will stop at nothing to capture the Papal City of Avignon. But this is only the beginning: Italy beckons, and with it, yet more battles against rival mercenaries, powerful cities and the Papal State.

Pretty isPretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

Lois and Carly-May were just twelve when they were abducted by a stranger and imprisoned in a cabin in the woods for two months. That summer, under the watchful gaze of their kidnapper, they formed a bond that would never be broken. Decades later, both women have new lives and identities. But the events of that summer are about to come back with a vengeance. Lois and Carly-May must face the truth about their secret, shared past. What really happened in the woods that summer?

Himmlers CookHimmler’s Cook by Franz-Olivier Giesbert

Aged 105, Rose has endured more than her fair share of hardships – the Armenian genocide, the Nazi regime, and the delirium of Maoism. Yet somehow, despite all the suffering, Rose never loses her joie de vivre. Quirky and eccentric, ‘Himmler’s Cook’ is a hilarious picaresque tale of survival, as Giesbert depicts Rose’s unique life experiences – cook for Himmler, confidante to Hitler, and friend of Simone de Beauvoir. The novel tells the epic tale of an inspiring, resilient Marseillaise chef who embodies the sentiment of what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

 

 

 

Bronte Events at Leeds Libraries

We are coming up to the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth and we couldn’t let that go by without doing something to celebrate. Charlottes birthday on the 21st April kick starts five years of celebrations by the Bronte Society that also celebrates the 200th anniversary of the births of Patrick, Anne and Emily. Charlotte’s best known novel is Jane Eyre, of course adapted many times for both TV and film. Her other novels are The Professor, Villette and Shirley. I love Jane Eyre but have to admit that I haven’t read any of the others – I shall try and rectify that in this anniversary year. All of the books can be borrowed from the library.

Please come along to one or both of our events:-

A curator at the Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits displays the miniature manuscript dated 1830 written by Charlotte Bronte, in Paris

A curator at the Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits (Letters and Manuscripts Museum) displays the miniature manuscript dated 1830 written by Charlotte Bronte at the museum in Paris January 30, 2012. The museum bought the second issue of Young Men’s Magazine, which contains over 4,000 words on 19 pages, written when Bronte was 14 years old, for £690,850 (826,287 euros) at auction in December. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE – Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Write like the Brontes in an afternoon -Create your own miniature Books

Friday 15 April, 1.30 – 3.30pm, Central Library, Art Library, First Floor.

The Brontë sisters wrote amazingly tiny books all about a secret imaginary world. To celebrate the Brontë bicentenary, award-winning writer Char March will run this fun and fast-paced writing workshop. She’ll show you why the Brontë sisters wrote their tiny books in miniature writing, and will give you masses of inspiration for writing your very own little book of secrets which you can take away.

Adults, and children (age 9 and up), are welcome – come on, you’re all dying to write in really, really tiny writing!

Free event

The_Brontë_Sisters_by_Patrick_Branwell_Brontë_restoredThe Brontes with Juliet Barker

Monday 18th April, 5.45 – 6.45pm, Leeds Central Library, Third Floor Meeting Room

Juliet will be talking to us about her book about the sisters, originally published in 2010, that provided startling new information about the Bronte family, as well as her new title, ‘The Brontes, a life in Letters’.

Tickets £3.00

To book a place at either event visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/leedslibraryevents

 

 

 

 

Librarian Top 10 – Great fiction read this year

This weeks top 10 comes from Stu, a community librarian based in the East of the city.

WreakingWreaking by James Scudamore

A magnificent slice of modern Gothic storytelling, in which a reclusive academic seeks refuge in an abandoned mental hospital and slowly loses his mind while seeking to unravel the chain of events that led up to a horrific family accident in the dim and distant past. The over-riding theme is the relationship between time and memory, and the distortive effect that each has on the other. Everything about this book screams quality – vivid characterisation, pitch-perfect dialogue, wonderfully descriptive, nuanced prose and a fantastic plot hiding behind the multiple layers of smoke and mirrors. Highly, highly recommended.

1980Nineteen Eighty by David Peace

A typically sanguine Yorkshire-noir with a labyrinthine plot that will be all-too familiar to anyone who’s read the other books in the quadrilogy. This one is set against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders, but in-keeping with the rest of the series, the main focus is on the dodgy dealings of the bent coppers who are supposed to be investigating the case. It’s not for the faint-hearted – the Ripper’s monologues in particular are stomach-churningly graphic and deeply disturbing – but the plot moves along at a cracking pace, and Peace’s sparse, staccato style paints a suitably lurid vision of hell.

Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman

A trite line that crops up in quite a few reviews of this novel is that this is like an updated version of War and Peace, and it’s not too far from the truth. This book is an epic in every sense, featuring a huge cast of characters (including a cameo from Stalin himself) at all levels of society and deals chiefly with the Nazi invasion of Russia and the Battle of Stalingrad. Like Isaac Babel before him, Grossman was a journalist who wrote fiction based on fact, and this authenticity really comes through in his descriptions of the battle. It’s not an easy novel to read by any means – especially the scene in the gas chamber at Auschwitz -, but like all the best Russian literature, it’s very, very rewarding if you’re willing to give it the time and attention it deserves.

RegenerationRegeneration by Pat Barker

This is the first in a trilogy of books the deal with WW1, with war poet Siegfried Sassoon appearing as one of the main characters, convalescing at Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh. It’s only a slim volume but incredibly dense, and aims to deal with the awful psychological effects that war has on the minds of young men. There are some really harrowing scenes in here – particularly the descriptions of some of the treatments administered by the psychiatrists – but surely that’s to be expected in a book of this nature – and it’s an interesting read for anyone with an interest in the Great War.

The Last WordThe Last Word by Hanif Kureishi

Here Kureishi, arguably the greatest English writer of his generation turns his razor eye upon the struggles of an ageing man of letters. Told with his usual insight and acerbic wit, and a tongue firmly planted in its cheek, this book is very funny indeed.

The misfortunatesThe Misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst

It would be all-too easy to describe this book as a Belgian take on Bukowski, but it’s not that far off the mark. It’s a squalid, sleazy tale of a family of small-town alcoholics and the misadventures they get up to in the course of their miserable, drunken lives. Okay, it’s not the most original subject matter, but the translation (by David Colmer) is fantastic and really brings the book to life in all its feculent glory. As with all books of this kind, it’s genuinely, laugh out loud, tears-on-your-cheeks funny, but ultimately downbeat and shot through with the kind of bottom of the barrel, red-eyed sadness that only boozy literature of this ilk can muster.

Wolf HallWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This first instalment of a trilogy of novels deals with Thomas Cromwell’s formative years, his rise to power in the court of Henry VIII and the fall of his mentor Cardinal Wolsey. It’s all written in the present tense, which gives the story a real sense of urgency and keeps the pages turning. It’s a big book, make no mistake, but a far easier read than you’d probably imagine. There is a caveat though. If you’re unfamiliar with Tudor politics, you may struggle a little with some of the characters; lots and lots of the men are called Thomas (named after Becket, England’s favourite medieval Saint), and every other lady seems to be called Mary, which could be confusing to those who aren’t fully conversant with the court of the time. That said, there’s a table of characters at the front of the book for those who aren’t already in the know so don’t be put off, even if you know nothing of the period. This is a masterful bit of writing and a cracking historical novel that’s worthy of every bit of praise that’s been lavished upon it.

Bring up the bodiesBring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: or, Wolf Hall Part Deux.

Picks up at the precise point where the first book left off, and moves us through the fall of Anne Boleyn. The real skill of Mantel here is to take a story that’s fairly familiar to most people but still construct a narrative in a way that keeps you turning the pages, even though you know ultimately what’s going to happen (hint: things don’t end well for Ms Boleyn) There’s a wealth of great characterisation, lovely descriptive prose and she has a great ear for dialogue too, all the marks of a first-class writer working right at the top of her game.

The first circleThe First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

From the foremost chronicler of Stalinist Russia, this is a huge novel, dealing with all his usual themes – Gulag, show trials, Five Year Plans, Collectivisation, industrialisation etc. and how they affected the general populace of Russia during the Stalinist years. It’s another huge book, packed with a fantastic array of characters, all with their own hard luck stories to tell. One of his greatest qualities as a writer was to be able to relate the lives of people right at the bottom of the social scale to those right at the top, and to show how the machinations of the Party apparatus were inescapable for anyone unfortunate enough to be living in Russia at that time.

Les miserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo

Gigantic, door-stopping tome dealing with the seedy underbelly of Paris in the early part of the 19th century. This is a very modern work in some ways. In the text Hugo often refers to himself as the writer, and it’s filled with references to real people and real events. It’s epic not just in size, but in scope too, combining what’s basically a detective story – Javert’s relentless pursuit of petty-crook turned outlaw Jean Valjean, which in itself is reminiscent of Ahab’s chase of the white whale in Moby Dick, another early modern(ist) novel) with a host of digressions, philosophical musings and essays on topics as diverse as the French Revolution, underworld slang, social inequality and the Battle of Waterloo. It’s definitely not for the casual reader – the Vintage edition has nearly 1300 pages, not including the generous introduction and a couple of hundred pages of footnotes at the end – but for those who want to sample a genuine classic of world literature, it’s an absolute marvel.

Featured Library – Oakwood

Another in my random series about the libraries that we have all around the city. This time I am concentrating on Oakwood library as the Roundhay & Oakwood Festival starts soon and we are delighted that Oakwood Library is hosting a number of events for the festival, which runs from the 23rd October until the 1st November 2015.

Oakwood%20Library%20Exterior%201_jpgFirst off though, a bit about the library. Oakwood is one of our more unusual buildings as it is housed in a  converted end terrace house on Oakwood Lane. This makes it a little bit challenging with the book shelves, but on the bright side we have a fantastic big bay window to display books in as well as a lovely garden to hold summer events. Some of you may have been to our reading challenge event held outside in the summer holidays.  The library has a regular monthly readers group and a weekly storytime on Monday afternoons from 2.00 – 2.30pm.

For the festival the first ever Oakwood Library Street Food Festival will be on Saturday 24th October, along with a book signing with Lynn Hill, founder of Clandestine Cake Club; following the success of their first recipe collection the Clandestine Cake Club is back with a second delicious helping of 100 gorgeous recipes to whet your appetite in ‘A Year of Cake’.

skin like silverOn Monday 26th October local author Chris Nickson offers a special, exclusive preview of ‘Skin Like Silver’, the third in his Detective Inspector Tom Harper series set in the Leeds of the 1890s.

death in the dalesThen on Wednesday 28th October we will be joined by another local author Frances Brody, who will speak about ‘A Death in the Dales’ the seventh book in her Kate Shackleton Mysteries series, which is set in 1920s Yorkshire.

On the morning of Friday 30th October we will be joined by Stir Krazy Kids who will be showing us how to make delicious Wonka treats from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’!

 

 

And, if all that wasn’t enough already we will also be celebrating the 65th anniversary of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ on the afternoon of the 30th October with an afternoon of crafty fun – we will be making Narnia snow globes and more!

For further details about these events, and many more please go to the festival website.

Not the Tudors.

King John: England, Magna Carta and the making of a tyrantDid anyone watch David Starkey’s Magna Carta on BBC2 a few weeks ago?

If you enjoyed the story of King John being bullied by his barons into agreeing that life, liberty and property were ‘no longer wholly at the king’s untrammelled disposal’ you might enjoy this new biography ‘King John –England, Magna Carta and the making of a tyrant’ by Stephen Church.

Billed as a definitive and ‘visceral’ biography of King John, it’s published to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The author draws on contemporary sources to tell John’s story from childhood to accession, rebellion and civil war and explains what went wrong.