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Posted 22 July at 2:37 pm in authors, black authors, out and about, teachers, Verna Wilkins

Last month, Class 3O at Brecknock Primary School studied the work of Tamarind author Verna Wilkins. They each wrote her a letter asking questions about her life. On Thursday, Verna visited Class 3O in person!  Their teacher Siobhan reports… 

Class 3O have been studying many books by the author Verna Wilkins, including biographies of Stephen Lawrence and Benjamin Zephaniah, as part of the Literacy Unit Authors and Letters. When they wrote to her to ask her to come and visit, imagine their surprise when she did! Especially as they were to first to hear her read her new book, Abdi’s Day which is not due out until September 2010.  Here are some of the class’ comments about her visit:

Danae: “It was delightful that what I wanted to happen happened on Thursday because Verna Wilkins came when we wrote letters to her.”

Josh: “It was extremely good that our dream to meet Verna Wilkins came true.  She is an extremely nice woman and she told us about how she wrote her books.”

Merrill: “It was amazing to see Verna Wilkins and her telling us her new story, Abdi’s Day.  I asked her if she would ever write her autobiography and she said she would get to work on it when she gets home!”

Amal: “It was so outstanding to meet Verna Wilkins because I really want to be an author when I grow up and she told me everything about how to be a writer.”

Verna shares 'Abdi's Day'
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This morning Ben Morley, the author of The Silence Seeker, dropped into our office from Singapore during his holiday in London.

After a minute’s silence, Ben enthralled an audience with an intimate reading. The publicity director, managing director and production controller were among those who enjoyed the story and asked Ben questions. Although we can’t repeat the magic of the book read aloud, you can see a video Q & A with Ben below.

Ben signed copies of the book which you can win on Facebook and Twitter next week.

What inspired Ben to write The Silence Seeker

Ben Morley on… Favourite books

Ben Morley on… The Crown Prince of Brunei

Ben Morley on… Being a writer

Ben Morley on… Workshopping the book

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Posted 14 July at 3:59 pm in Africa, illustrators, news, out and about, recommended reads

Friday July 9th saw Brighton’s Balfour Infants School in for a treat – not only did they get a visit from their newly-elected local Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, but also Tamarind illustrator Karin Littlewood! The Year 1 and 2 pupils listened cross-legged to a great speech from Caroline about biodiversity. She explained that if you imagined the world as an apple, only a quarter of it would be land, and the rest water… and only a half of that bit of land was habitable! So you can imagine how important it is to protect that relative slither of land we live on.

Illustrator Karin Littlewood and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas

Illustrator Karin Littlewood and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas

After Caroline spoke, Karin gave a brilliant reading of The Day the Rains Fell. The book explores the idea of how the watering holes appeared in the savannah desert and celebrates the diversity of the animals living in the plains. One by one, each animal lends its colours to Thandi’s beaded necklace until she has a rainbow assortment of colours! After the reading the children decorated their own beads with all the patterns of their favourite animals.

The children enjoyed the arts and crafts no end, but the event had a serious message. Caroline Lucas said “…young people need to learn about the earth’s fragile state.  We’ve taken the biosphere for granted for too long. The global climate talks last year in Copenhagen failed to tackle climate change in any meaningful way so time is running out.”

Caroline also praised the book, saying “The Day the Rains Fell is the best book I’ve seen for younger children – and for parents who want their children to enjoy and learn at the same time – about why humanity and every species on the planet is threatened.”

More of Tamarind’s ‘green’ books:

Amina and the ShellHurricaneThe Day The Rains Fell
North American AnimalsSouth African AnimalsCaribbean Animals

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This week Ealing Council held its Early Years conference. Tamarind founder and author Verna Wilkins gave the keynote speech. Verna shared a lifetime of experience and success with local practitioners. The event was held to launch Building Futures: Believing in Children, a government document giving guidance on inclusion in the Early Years. Verna brought the Tamarind titles to life, injecting heart and humour into good inclusion practice. Here’s what the audience thought:

“She was so inspirational.  Every word she said had a deep meaning to it.  I thoroughly enjoyed her speech.” – Attendee from Ealing Montessori School

“[Verna’s speech] reminded me as to why I am still in teaching. Does she do talking books???!!! What a fantastic reader.” – Delegate from Greenfields Children’s Centre

“We should have more sessions like this to enhance our creativity and understanding of the world.” – Attendee from Sudbury Hill Montessori School

“[Verna] encouraged me to look and think about what children say and to promote children learning through their personal experiences.” – Delegate from Windmill Children’s Centre

Multicultural bookseller Colourful Kids displayed the full range of Tamarind’s Early Years titles on the day.

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Posted 8 July at 5:10 pm in news, The Young Chieftain

Tamarind’s first fiction title release is fast approaching. For over 20 years, children have grown up with our sumptuous, fun and diverse picture books. Now, The Young Chieftain  provides the next step in their reading journey.

But all the images are not lost… Enjoy this book trailer by the BAFTA and EMMY nominated author Ken Howard.

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Posted 4 July at 9:44 am in news

Now you can try before you buy. Look inside Barack Obama: The Making of a President biography for beautiful design, inspiring quotes, factfiles and maps. It’s history in your pocket.

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Posted 2 July at 4:09 pm in teachers, Verna Wilkins

You know you’ve done something special when children are studying you at school. The charming Class 3O from Brecknock Primary School in Camden wrote to tell us about their work on Verna Wilkins‘ books. Their teacher Siobhan says:

"We have really enjoyed reading your books this term... The children were so motivated by your stories and have asked that we contact you."

Here are a few of the letters for you to enjoy. Thanks Class 3O!

[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157624385054416"]

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Posted 2 July at 2:42 pm in news, out and about, Verna Wilkins

It’s not every day that you get to learn complete nonsense at school. But that’s exactly what 20 lucky Year 6s did at St Anselm’s School in Harrow: The author Verna Wilkins read Edward Lear’s poetry book Complete Nonsense with the class, and inspired them to write their own hilarious rhymes. See their work below.

The children worked with Verna for six sessions, learning how picture books are written, laid out, illustrated and edited. Verna brought in works in progress marked with red corrections and illustrated with rough, thumbnail sketches. The sessions demystified the process of how a book is made. The children became authors themselves, taking their own writing from an initial idea to a finished product. They completed the sessions by performing their work to an appreciative audience of reception children.

[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157624385136434"]

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Posted 2 July at 11:18 am in interviews, news

So far you’ve heard from a picture book author, an illustrator and a designer on how Tamarind books are made. (If you missed out, you can read the interviews here.) This month, meet our commissioning editor, who chooses the books we publish and works with authors to get the story just right.

Which Tamarind books have you worked on?

All the September 2010 titles. I’m currently working on our 2011 list. There are some fantastic new books in the offing.

What would you be if you weren’t an editor?

A musician if I could actually play an instrument! Seriously, though, I’d be on the other side of the editor/writer divide. 

Describe a typical day.

Hectic and varied. Anything from editing or writing copy to thinking up cover briefs, checking illustration roughs, liaising with authors, planning workshops or competitions and much, much more.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished Trash by Andy Mulligan – fantastic! I’m reading Bitter Leaf by Chioma Okereke; a sequel to Spike and Ali Enson from Malaika Rose Stanley and Ipods in Accra by Sophia Acheampong.

What’s your favourite Tamarind book and why?

There are too many to mention… I Don’t Eat Toothpaste Anymore was one of the first books I bought my daughter 16 years ago so that has always been special. More recently I love The Silence Seeker and the forthcoming Spike and Ali Enson, and not forgetting our first full-length novel The Young Chieftain by Ken Howard.

To find out more about writing for Tamarind, click to see Patsy’s submissions guidelines. If you’d like Patsy to do a workshop about how books are made for a school or library in London, please contact Kelly Tapper on ktapper@randomhouse.co.uk.

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