And a big congratulations to two friends who were shortlisted yesterday for the Blue Peter award: Candy Gourlay with Tall Story and Philip Reeve with A Web of Air. I've read both books and they are FAB (and, together with Mo-Bot High, perfect for Christmas prezzies).
Libraries. I feel like I need to say something about all these horrendous budget cuts. (Yes, probably just below Nigella Lawson is not the best place, but hey.) I said something on Facebook and got a mixed reaction; some people love their libraries, others wrote that they find them less than useful, or even discriminatory. Here was my response to them:
It does depend on the library, I agree, some are so much better than others. I'm thinking of a visit to Craigmillar Library, a rather unassuming building in the middle of a housing estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The small team of staff who work there are so incredibly dedicated; one guy in particular has really put his heart into making it a welcome space for kids to go, when there aren't any places nearby for them to hang out. It's a laid-back environment, has decent video game facilities and computers, but also a great display of recently published books.
In fact, it was during a quick browse of the display that I discovered the Mr Gum books (by Andy Stanton), and got a terrible case of the giggles reading some of the madcap chapters. 'On to Chapter 8.' 'There is no Chapter 8.' I love to think that loads of other kids may have discovered Mr Gum there, too, and realised books can be a great laugh, and want to read more.
I hate to think that places like Craigmillar will have to stop buying Mr Gum books, possibly lose people like that lovely guy with his huge heart for his community, or even have to shut their doors because of these cuts. It's more than a library, but the focus on books makes it so much healthier a place for these kids to hang out than, say, loitering around a fast food joint or a shopping mall.