Saturday, 7 March 2015

Children's Books Question Time

Richard Wilcocks writes:
Zoe, Nicolette Jones, Lucy               Photo: Richard Wilcocks
It was a real pleasure to listen to the breathtakingly fluent and encyclopedic Nicolette Jones this afternoon. A national authority, she knows what she is talking about more than most. It was her second time as a guest of ours: seven years ago she spoke to a LitFest audience about her extensively researched book The Plimsoll Sensation, and made us aware of the nineteenth century campaign led by the MP Samuel Plimsoll against overloaded 'coffin' ships. This time she made us aware of the great wealth of new books written for children, and advised us on making best use of it.

She became a reviewer of books for children on the Sunday Times almost by default: it was decided by the arts editor that a new angle was needed, and she was drafted in, moving on from her position as a respected reviewer of new books for adults. She reminded us towards the beginning of her session of what W H Auden said:

There are good books which are only for adults.
There are no good books which are only for children.

 She is still proving that what he said was absolutely right, which she made clear by making so many enthusiastic recommendations that audience pens and pencils were seldom at rest.
There were all sorts of questions, from the general ("Do you find that today's children are less interested in books than we were?") to the specific ("What books do you suggest for a boy with Nigerian parents who is mad keen on sports and is more interested in computer games than books?") and all of them were answered in great detail, to the full satisfaction of the questioners. Prominent amongst her favoured authors were Shirley Hughes, Eva Ibbotson and Philip Pullman. To chime with the theme of the LitFest, she finished with a reading from Something Else by Kathryn Cave, to our delight.

Mary Francis adds:
Nicolette talked about Northern Lights, the first volume in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Apparently, it is now twenty years old: there is a piece in the Guardian (see link) and an opportunity to win a twentieth anniversary edition of the trilogy … as long as you are aged between seven and eighteen. Or if you enter on behalf of a child ….

Audience Feedback:
 I liked it when Nicolette Jones read a book out loud called Something Else and she helped us with books for recommendation. I enjoyed it thoroughly. (Girl aged 9)

First-class presentation and responses from Nicolette Jones. A good range of queries answered with a wealth of intimate knowledge. A very fluent and eloquent performance, obviously popular with a good audience.

Excellent! - and great cake! 

I’m not a mum or involved with many children but found the presentation v. interesting.  I could relate to my own experiences as a child.       

Absolutely excellent!  Nicky gave lots of valuable tips and information.  A fantastic and articulate speaker.  Thankyou!   

Very well informed and encouraging – infectious enthusiasm.  Fun!      

A most interesting and informative session – I learned a great deal.  What a world of information Nicolette Jones brought before us!  Good presentation too.    

Very informative. Wonderful to have such an authority on Children’s Books in the room.  For a first time self publisher her insights were very valuable.    

Very informative and clear presentation.  I could have spent more time listening to Nicolette and look forward to her return.  Many thanks.     
Great event!  Lots of info! V. interesting.  Loved the book reading – more of that would keep children interested?  Shame more children didn’t attend.     

Lovely chat, good ideas, nice to have café seating and refreshments.  More please.  
A delightful informative discussion on contemporary children’s lit.  Full of charm and relevant information and useful tips.     

Brilliant!  Thank you.  Useful, entertaining, educative... tea and cake appreciated.

Event was very informative.  Ms Jones was charming, engaging and very helpful. 

Very enjoyable – thank you!  Glad I took notes of most of the titles to check out later. Not enough time for questions.      

Charming speaker, very informative, lots of good suggestions.    

An excellent event, very informative, with some interesting questions and answers fromn Nicolette (although couldn’t hear clearly everything she was saying).  Good venue, lovely cake.   

Made me realise how old my children are – good to hear about contemporary writers. 

Absolutely terrific!  Nicolette Jones was so knowledgeable and informative.  Clear concise and so so useful.  I liked the Q&A format.  V. entertaining, and well worth repeating.   

No comments:

Post a Comment