On Saturday 22nd February 2020 I was pleased to have attended the Scholastic Showcase (#ScholasticShowcase) at Scholastic HQ in London alongside my daughter Lily as she continues to look for inspiration for her blog, and my friend and fellow blogger Erin – visit her blog here. We were a motley crue enduring the rail replacement services and delays on the tube trains, if you travel together you keep each other entertained!
It was great to arrive and see some familiar faces from FCBG Exec Committee, other bloggers and staff from Scholastic that I communicate with frequently online and relish the chance to speak to in person – the last time being at FCBG Conference last year during the publishers exhibition, where it was unbelievably informative and inspiring, learning about the publications they were there to promote and display, and combined with the line up of Authors and Illustrators ensured this was an unforgettable experience, which I highly recommend.
The Showcase began with Author and Illustrator duo of the stunning new picture book Llama Glamarama – Simon James Green and Garry Parsons which publishes on 4th June this year. While Simon read the story Garry did a live drawing of the main Llama from the book, which features on its sparkly cover. The story is funny throughout and carries the message that it is ok to be different. Llamas are incredibly popular with younger children and this book will definitely prove massively popular – I cannot wait to share this story with reception classes during their library sessions.
We heard Katy Birchall discuss the importance of humour in children’s literature with the incredible Harriet Dunlea as interviewer, and Katy put forward a strong case for humorous books having an importance as a children’s book genre. With a sequel to the incredibly popular Morgan Charmley due to be published in October – Morgan Charmley : Spells and Secrets – Kate gave the following tips for anyone looking to write a funny book
- Read funny books
- Work out what type of funny you want your book to be
- Write as little and often as you can
- Be willing to let people read your writing
- Be concise
Leila Rasheed then spoke to us about her part in the Voices series that Scholastic have already successfully published several titles from, and hearing of her childhood trips out as a family and how that relates to her book was touching, raw, significant and inspirational – a word that I could use to describe every part of this event!
A little bit brave was the picture book at the focus of Nicola Kinnear’s presentation, detailing her technique and inspiration behind the story. Seeing the process undertaken to reach the finished product really inspired me and left me feeling as though I had a connection with the book which now has a special place in my reading box within my school library and is a favourite with the younger children during their library sessions. It was incredible to hear that Nicola’s journey began after she sent a christmas card to publishers that she had illustrated.
Discussing ‘books with a message’ were authors Laura Wood, Lisa Thompson, Keren David and Eve Ainsworth – what a line up! From the message behind each of their latest/upcoming publications to books that inspired them growing up, this panel of authors really spoilt us with the wealth of information they shared. Lisa talked about there being pre judgement in her book and how her latest book The Boy who Fooled the World leaves you asking does having lots of money really make you happy, whilst Laura talked of how events such as Brexit, Trump and the first women’s march (2016). Eve spoke of a documentary she had watched inspiring her upcoming publication Magpie ( June 2020) which focuses on Alice from Lost which published in June 2019. The message of hope resonates massively in Magpie as it does in What We’re Scared Of which is the February 2021 publication from Keren David, educating readers about jewish people and how they are not all victims (frequently the case in other books) and featuring twins with differing beliefs and values.
When the authors were asked which books they have found to be very powerful they answered the following
Lisa – The Boy At The Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf
Laura – Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and books written by Eva Ibbotson
Eve – Under the Broken Sky by Jacqueline Wilson as it is relatable and features working class characters.
Keren – Masha by Mara Kay. The story is russian based and Keren has family from Russia and Poland.
A second panel of authors delighted us with their adventure stories while discussing the inspiration for their latest publications – Vashti Hardy, Amber Lee Dodd, and Damaris Young. From Darkwhispers (February 2020) to The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley (February 2020) to The Creative Keeper (August 2020) the publications from these three phenomenal authors promise to be gripping, emotive, and offer readers the escapism they desire when reading a book. With Vashti releasing the next installment to the hugely successful Brightstorm which has been hotly anticipated by so many and Amber publishing her book about a cursed family dealing with having to move lots as a consequence of their bad fortune it was definitely a huge month on the children’s book publication calendar. That said, Damaris has her new book due for release mid school summer break making August even more exciting, especially as we heard about her books contents and heard about main character Seren, who looks after animals for a Lady Torrington – and let’s not forget Damaris likes a bit of spooky!
The Scholastic showcase concluded with highlights of the Picture Books and Non-fiction titles being published this year which made for an exciting end to an unforgettable event as it included details of M.G.Leonard’s picture book Rex the Rhinoceros Beetle, a history atlas that looks stunning and has all the interesting content readers will appreciate, and Kimberlie Hamilton’s April release Generation Hope! – which looks to be both inspiring and interesting.
These sort of events prove of huge benefit to bloggers as they allow us to socialise while getting inspired by the upcoming releases the publishers have to be proud of, and this event was a prime example of how publishers being inclusive of bloggers has added value for all that attend. I would like to thank Scholastic for inviting me to this event, their continued support of my roles as blog owner and Website coordinator for the FCBG.