Norfolk Children’s Book Festival 2017

Before the torrential rain descended this week, two of our team popped to Norwich Cathedral to attend the Norfolk Children’s Book Festival, taking place as part of the Young Norfolk Arts Festival. Now in it’s sixth year, the one-day event is hosted by Norwich School, and is a great way to promote literacy and books by giving pupils the opportunity to see and hear from real life authors- and we love it too! One of our library assistants, Zoë, writes a recap below:


Tony and I attended the Norfolk Children’s Book Festival this year and once again, it was set in the majestic Norwich Cathedral. Lots of pupils from many schools attended. We spoke to quite a few pupils as they participated in our small quiz based around some of the books we had on display. They were pleased with the badges, bookmarks and stickers they received for their correct answers.

Dave Rudden stopped for a chat. He thanked our department for circulating information for him to visit schools in the area. He also said Norfolk is fortunate to have lots of schools with dedicated librarians as that doesn’t happen in Dublin, his home. He lamented their loss and declared the importance of their roles in schools.

Helen Dennis was really very interesting to listen to. She decided at age 7 she wanted to be an author because she is not adventurous. However the power of books enables you to be adventurous – defeat dragons; climb mountains – all in your head. Her first full story, ‘Not just an ordinary girl’ was written when she was 11/12 years old, in her shed, and this was the start of her passion for using stories and secrets hidden in ordinary, everyday items and people. More information can be found on her website.

The many questions from the audience gave Helen the opportunity to explain more about her writing. The ‘Secret Breakers’ series took 11 years to write, with Hunter Jenkins being her favourite character. She explained he is based on a real person of that name and, during the 11 years it took her to write the series, he regularly asked her, ‘Have you killed me off yet?’ You’ll have to read the series to find out, but the real Hunter Jenkins is now in his mid-20s and 6’ 7”.

We also found out Enid Blyton was her favourite author when younger – particularly the Mallory Towers and Famous Five books.

Thank you to all the staff and pupils at Norwich School for yet another successful festival. The hard work paid off (and we loved the food too!).

Our Friday Reads are below and if you’re after more recommendations, don’t forget you can find our archive just here.

Apryl: Houses of Hogwarts: A Cinematic Guide by Felicity Baker

Last week, a few days before #HarryPotter20, an awful thing happened to me, the terror of which I cannot accurately put into words.

I was sorted into Slytherin.

In my heart- like Harry, Ron and Hermione- I’d always been a Gryffindor but Pottermore thought otherwise and allocated me to the much maligned house founded by Salazar Slytherin. I was devastated, and I’m still struggling to adjust so this book, then, is perfect for me to use to swot up on my new Hogwarts home; did you know, the house colours are green and silver and are represented by a serpent? Or that the Slytherin common room is in the dungeons of Hogwarts Castle? Or that actually all Slytherin’s AREN’T bad (Regulus Black, for example!).

Of course, you can find the other three Hogwarts Houses in this book, which takes a look at how they appear in all 8 of the HP films

(Scholastic, £5.99 hardback, ISBN 978140717319, find it at a Norfolk Library)

Harriet: Ballerina Dreams by Michaela & Elaine DePrince, illustrated by Ella Okstad

How lovely to have a simple, attractive short read which is a heartwarming true story about a young refugee from Sierra Leone who discovered a talent and love of ballet when she had to flee to the USA at a young age. Ahhh!



(Faber, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780571329731)

Zoë:  Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt

I really enjoyed this book, set just before WWI, as Opal is a likeable, though flawed, character plus there are events and reactions she experiences that the reader can identify with.

Opal and her family are quite comfortable. She is at school, having won a scholarship and her sister is apprenticed in a hat shop. After making a foolish choice her father is sent to prison so the family face great change if they are to keep the roof over their heads. The biggest change for Opal being she must leave the school she loves to earn a wage. How will this impact on her friendship with her best friend, Olivia?

It takes time for Opal to settle into the routine at Fairy Glen sweet factory. After a while she is taken under the wing of the factory owner, Mrs Roberts, who introduces her to the suffragette movement. Life begins to look up when Morgan Roberts comes into her life. They have much in common despite their differences. However Mrs Roberts resents their blossoming relationship, then World War I intervenes.

This book is aimed at girls 10 – 14 and gives some decent descriptions of life in the 1910s using a wider than usual vocabulary.

(Corgi, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780552574013, find it at a Norfolk Library)


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