Thursday, 9 February 2012

North and 14th February

Everyone's favourite date in the year is coming up on Tuesday. The one you look forward to and prepare for all year. The one that brings a spring to your step and a song to your heart. The one that's all about feeling and spreading Love Sweet Love around the planet. That's right. 14th February is International Book Giving Day. Hurray!

Think back to all the disappointing 14th Februaries you've had in your life prior to this one. I recall a weekend in Cromer with the husband where most people's Special Meal tables had been marked with a floating heart-shaped balloon. We had a nice time but my main memory is of the suppressed  fury and muttered complaints of the couple on the next door table who had been given a floating round balloon instead. Imagine how much more harmonious everyone would  have been if placements had  rather  been a lovely gift wrapped copy of say, 'Alfie's Big Out of Doors Storybook' or 'Dig Dig Digging' to enjoy? We wouldn't have had to chat or anything. Takes the pressure off doesn't it?

International Book Giving Day has been brought to my attention by Amy of Delightful Children's Books and Zoe of Playing by the Book and you will find full information of how to participate on their sites and on Facebook. It's about matching new and used quality children's books with a pair of hands eager to hold them, and it can be as simple as  gift wrapping a library book for your own child or as thorough as donating your outgrown library to a charity that can distribute them within the developing world.

I'm going to be marking it by donating today's book the beautiful 'North' by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Patrick Benson to the Year One classroom at my sons' school where I know it will benefit their 'animals' topic next term. I will also choose a couple of books to add to the Volunteer Reading Help box that I use at another school that will be appreciated by my just starting out readers there. Something 'cool' with a bit of suspense, a few visual jokes and not too many words. Suggestions please! (maybe now's the time for me to track down the much lauded 'I want my hat back')
A lovely book giving day illustration  to inspire me and you from Viv Schwartz.

'North- the greatest animal journey on earth' is going to be hard to part with. It's a gorgeous thing. Sublime illustrations by Patrick Benson of 'Owl Babies' fame tell the story of Arctic migration through the seasons. Grey whales are shown leaving a Mexican lagoon on their five thousand mile journey. Terns travel twice as far from the Antarctic. Caribou, walruses, wolves, herring, narwhal, snow geese and musk ox; all are lovingly rendered in the softest of watercolour, in a palatte that perfectly evokes the slow transformation from icy waste to flowering tundra.
Nick Dowson's text  is sparse but poetic, the marriage with the pictures a thoughtful song.

"It's summer in the Arctic. All day and night, the sun spreads light, warming soil and water.
Tundra flowers glow rainbow-bright, the calm air hums with with summer bees, and mosquitoes rise like smoke from shining pools.

A great gift for any 'Frozen Planet' fan, whatever their age.

'North' written Nick Dowson, illus. Patrick Benson, pub. Walker, isbn 978-1-84428-775-8


  1. Thanks so much for writing this great post, Polly!

    Leave a comment here to have your name included on the list of people giving books for International Book Giving Day --

  2. Well it seems the first book I need to give to VRH was staring me in the face in this post! Viv Schwartz's 'There are Cats in this Book' looks purrrfect. Sassy and simple to read with surprise flaps (they love those). Thanks Child led Chaos for a very useful Fiction Friday review!

  3. Hi, Polly. Thank you very much for writing this International Book Giving Day post. I am excited to share International Book Giving Day's brand new website with you: