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This year, Shell celebrates the 10th anniversary of its staff African Network. As part of the celebrations, Tamarind and various African and Caribbean exhibitors were invited to sell at the Shell African Network Expo yesterday. After spending two hours in security (!) we set up a stand with lead titles and discounted overstocks for sale. Staff on their way to the cafeteria or the company gym stopped to admire the stalls and buy art, fashion, furnishings and of course, books. The network’s chair led by example, buying over £30 worth of books for her children. Over the lunch period we sold 112 books, including 15 copies of the Barack Obama biography.
Tamarind catalogues will also go into goody bags for another network event tonight, where the star of one of our biographies, Attorney General Baroness Scotland, will be speaking.
This time of year is always like a military operation at Tamarind. The editorial staff become booksellers on the road, couriering a mobile shop to education and cultural events, and meeting readers old and new. Boxes of books, hundreds of plastic bags, posters, rubber bands, table cloths and paraphernalia clutter up the office.
Every day for a week we’ve been either preparing for an event, or at an event. The first weekend of October loomed large and busy too: two days at the Times Educational Supplement show in Kensington Olympia, meeting educators, local government staff, nursery owners and trainee teachers. We discounted our overstock titles to £1 each especially for the show, a perfect offer in a time of budget cuts, and gave a poster to each buyer to bring positive images of black children to their homes and classrooms.
In 2 days, with 4 staff, in 5 square metres of space, we sold 1,054 books!
At this week’s second event, Tamarind set up shop in the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, Southwark. We sold 101 books to educators, local parents and trainee teachers who come to the centre each year to find resources that make every child feel included. Comments from attendees show how hard it still is for them to find quality multicultural resources in mainstream bookshops.
This year London Mayor Boris Johnson cut funding for Black History Month from £132,000 to £10,000. Consequently, various multicultural events and festivals are feeling the pinch or closing down. Despite these cuts, Croydon Council’s annual Multicultural Resources Fair expanded this year, filling a meeting suite at the local Hilton hotel and attracting exhibitors such as Oxford University Press, Hodder and Tamarind. This year’s event was rebranded as an Inclusive Resources Fair, reflecting the broader range of products and services.
Although many teachers had tighter book budgets, Tamarind’s timely overstock sale went down a storm. Local teachers bought 389 books, giving Croydon schools fantastic resources for BHM and a truly integrated library all year round.
Just yards away from where George Michael ‘whammed’ into a wall in his jeep, Tamarind launched its first novel. Author Ken Howard’s local Waterstone’s on Hampstead High Street hosted the event, with posters displayed in the windows and 70 books ordered for sale and signing. The beautiful upstairs space was opened up and librarians, booksellers, supporters and friends gathered to celebrate The Young Chieftain.
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From Ken Howard’s blog piece ‘Launched‘:
“Verna Wilkins, spoke movingly about her 23 year struggle to provide books for a multicultural society and quoted a glowing commendation for the imprint from Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen. Commissioning Editor Patsy Isles brought the company up to date with its first fiction title – The Young Chieftain – and I told the story of how it had originally been conceived as a movie with the giant Disney Corporation…
Suddenly it felt like the book was really published and my Young Chieftain was setting out, hopefully to survive and prosper in a tough world.”
All the books sold out that evening, and The Young Chieftain remains among the Top 10 bestsellers in the shop. Thanks to all the staff at Waterstone’s Hampstead, to Adam, Boji and Daniel for their superb reading, to Jonathan Ricks for the photographs and to everyone who made this a warm and inspiring event.
Tamarind will be on the road again this autumn, sharing the list with education practitioners. We’re visiting the Hilton hotel in Croydon on 27th September to meet local needs for inclusive resources. All the schools in the borough have been invited. It’s always a great exhibition to be at.
Here are some pics from last year’s show:
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Pore over a range of resources that you couldn’t find elsewhere. Equip your school with inclusive resources. Enjoy workshops and meet the people who create and distribute multicultural books. Tamarind will be among the exhibors at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) book fair. Several titles will be selling at only £1 each.
Multicultural Resources Fair
Wednesday 29th September 2010
12pm – 6.30pm
CLPE, Webber St, London SE1 8QW
CLPE is holding its seventh multicultural book fair where specialist booksellers and publishers display and sell their books and resources. The book fair will be of interest to teachers, early years practitioners, parents, librarians and students. www.clpe.co.uk
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.
During the bank holiday, Tamarind sold over 200 books at the Afro Hair and Beauty Show in Islington. Princess Katrina and the Hair Charmer went down a treat, and A Safe Place and The Night the Lights Went Out were particularly popular. Five hundred catalogues were taken away, and 45 attendees signed up to the e-newsletter. Patsy ran a creative writing workshop for those interested in writing multicultural books for children. The exhibition has been running for 29 years and is an iconic event in the UK black community. Most buyers asked where they could find Tamarind books in their local areas. The books can be ordered through any book shop.