Quick Lit: May news

A round-up of the month’s Scottish children’s book news.

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Lindsay (left) and Barbara

This month marks 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria, and Scottish children’s authors Barbara Henderson and Lindsay Littleson are marking the occasion with a unique book tour.

The friends, who have both published books set in Victorian Scotland, will spend a week visiting locations from their stories, and meeting children in the primary schools nearby.

Barbara Henderson, whose book Punch, follows a boy’s adventures with a travelling Punch and Judy Show, will include Edinburgh, Perth and Inverness on her trip. Lindsay Littleson’s book A Pattern of Secrets, is set in Victorian Paisley, and her tour will visit schools in Paisley and Troon.

“I was researching significant Victorian dates for teaching resources, when I realised that the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth was just round the corner,” says Barbara.

“I cover a bit of ground in Punch. The plot moves from Inverness along Loch Ness, to Perthshire, Royal Deeside and then to Edinburgh and back to Inverness. The idea came to me: Could I visit all these locations to celebrate #Victoria200? At a festival for historical fiction, I ran the idea past my fellow Cranachan author Lindsay Littleson – and the deal was done.

“I am beyond excited to read in the primary schools closest to the locations in my book. The one that takes the biscuit for me is Crathie school next to the Balmoral Estate. They only have nine pupils, but my favourite chapter in Punch is when the not-very-tame dancing bear escapes in the grounds of Balmoral at night.

“The adults swarm out to find him, but it is left to the children to handle the situation, in the dark, when the beast returns, angry and hungry. And who knows, maybe I will get a chance to take a picture of my book in front of Balmoral Castle.”

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Podcast Promise

Plans to introduce a regular podcast about children’s books and libraries have been met with enthusiasm – from across Scotland and further afield.

Youth Libraries Scotland first aired the idea in April, tweeting: “Are you interested in children’s books, libraries and love chatting? Want to help create a monthly podcast about kids books and libraries in Scotland?”

The initial call resulted in a flurry of enthusiastic responses, including from authors, journalists, librarians and teachers. We’re looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Bookbug week

This year’s Bookbug Week runs from Monday May 13 to Sunday 19 with the theme: Bookbug’s Big Picnic.

Bookbug PicnicThe Scottish Book Trust’s festival of reading, rhyming and singing for little ones promises lots of outdoor and foodie fun, and will include an ‘Author’s Live’ online session with writer-illustrator Emily MacKenzie, who will be sharing her wonderfully picnicky picture book There’s Broccoli in my Ice Cream.

Plans for local events across Scotland include a ‘Paolozzi Picnic’ at the Paolozzi exhibition in Ayr’s Rozelle Park at 11am on Tuesday May 14th (the joint event is organised by South Ayrshire Libraries and Museums) with a bookbug session, sensory garden and toys and games.

Bookbug will be visiting the AK Bell library in Perth in person for a Bookbug session on Wednesday May 15th. The library will also host a teddy bear’s picnic and craft session on Saturday May 18, with a similar event taking place in North Inch Community Library on the same day. Click here for more information about activities in Perthshire.

At Fife’s Jennie Lee Library in Lochgelly, celebrations for Bookbug Week (on May 13) will also mark the 30th Anniversary of Michael Rosen’s and Helen Oxenbury’s picture book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with a picnic, messy fun and games and the chance to for everyone try ‘Going on a Bookbug Hunt’. A similar event will take place at Rothes Hall in Glenrothes on Thursday, May 16.

  • More events are set to be revealed this week, so keep an eye on posters in your local library and on social media to find out what’s happening near you.


With the sun out, the festival calendar is getting busier, and Boswell Book Festival Children’s Festival (at Dumfries House in Ayrshire) on May 11th and May 12th promises plenty of fun for families.

We particularly liked the look of ‘Look at My Book’ a workshop with the starry team of Nick Sharratt and Vivian French, as well as Kjartan Poskitt’s ‘Magic with Murderous Maths’ and illustrator Jill Calder’s ‘Deep Sea Voyagers’ – a journey of drawing and discovery.

While Edinburgh Book Festival is a few months away, we were chuffed to discover that another of Roaring Reads’ favourite artists, Eilidh Muldoon, will be that event’s 2019 illustrator in residence.

Drawing a crowd

You might have spotted Little Door Books’ tiny ambassador, Len the Ogre, out and about over the last few weeks, spreading the news about the publisher’s crowd-funding campaign for its forthcoming book What Not to Give an Ogre for his Birthday, by Will Hughes.

Image from What not to Get an Ogre for His BirthdayLen’s travels must have paid off, because Little Door hit their crowd-funding target of £3551, which means that the story – the first of the Little Door Debut’s imprint, championing new illustrators – will be published in July. We’re looking forward to getting to know Len a bit better then.

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