And the winner is…

The winner of the first ever Bridge Book Award is…

One‘ by Sarah Crossan!

Congratulations to Sarah, and to all the shortlisted authors – all your books were loved by pupils in Cambridgeshire and the debate was intense.

Thanks to pupils, librarians, english teachers, authors, publicists, and the magical team at Heffers, for all your support during our inaugural year – I will be in touch about the ceremony shortly.

The competition to design the award/trophy/medal is still open – so if you, or anyone you know, has an eye for design have a go! Entries need to be with me by 11th January – so contact me via Twitter for more details. (


The Bridge Book Award – voting closed!

So students from across Cambridgeshire have been voting to decide the book which will win the first ever Bridge Book Award – and even better, there are more reviews that have come in.

The winner of the Bridge Book Award will be revealed on Wednesday. 

Ghosts of Shanghai Review by Michael R Y9 – St Ivo School

Ghosts of Shanghai is a book about a girl called Ruby Harkner.  Prior to when the book is set her brother had died of an illness after falling in a river.  She had started to witness un-natural things since and has even caught a ghost with her friends.  Later on in the story we find out that these un-natural events and ghosts may just be a figment of her imagination.

My favourite character in the book so far is Ruby Harkner.  I like her because she has to be so brave that she doesn’t cry about her brother who died before the book is set.  I also like her because she is adventurous and kind hearted and would do anything to help her friends and even their family.  I also like her because she doesn’t really fit in as she is foreign compared to everyone else in the city and there are not that many like her.

My favourite part of the book so far is the start where they are trying to catch a ghost of a fox by luring the hungry ghost with a plate of peaches and then trying to hit it with a special sword.  They then proceed to try and scoop it into a glass jar.  Once its in the jar they feel it becoming cold as they believe there is a ghost inside. They think the only way  to get rid of it is to drop the bottle containing the ghost down a well.  The reason I like this part if because you really get the feeling that you’re there in the cold, dark ruins of temple camping out to try and catch this ghost.

I like this book because it really gives you the feel of a city like Shanghai in that time period and makes you realise how rough and scary it was.  You get a feeling of unknowing when reading this book as Shanghai is a city that people don’t really know a lot about and the fact that its set before the year 2000 really make it seem even more strange.  Its also a very interesting book to read from a cultural point of view as it really gives you an insight into how life was in rural areas of Shanghai.

I would recommend this book as it is very exciting and it isn’t too long and is a very good and enjoyable book.  I think that there aren’t many difficult words and the book is quite easy to read.

Ghosts of Shanghai Review by Jacob Dale Y9

I was intrigued when I received this book from the front cover it looked interesting.  I liked the title and the was the title was presented and his choice of colour added to the mysterious appearance, but for some reason I was concerned I might find the story a hassle to get through.

It gripped me straight from the start as immediately Ruby and her gang were catching ghosts, or at least that’s what I thought they were doing.  I was keen to see how the story developed and what happened next.  However, it then went into telling me the back story of the character Ruby and her family, and this is where I got lost!  After this initial section on the back story, the story followed a pattern, going between the present for Ruby and her past, and for me this lost my interest.

Although I initially enjoyed the book, I feel it could have been improved by the story just being set “now” and following Ruby and the gang she was part of ad their search for ghosts and spirits.

However, I particularly liked the character, Andrei.  I found him mysterious and was intrigued that he didn’t speak in full sentences.  I wondered if the way he spoke led to a hidden message.

Book review of Awful Auntie from Deborah K (Year 7, ST Ivo School)

Name: Awful Auntie

Author: David Walliams

Class: Fiction/Humour

Characters: Stella, Awful Auntie, Lord and Lady Saxby and the Ghost

Summary: The Cruel, awful Auntie is back! She tells Stella her parents have died in a car crash and she can’t move a single muscle in her body.  But she is lying.  Stella calls the mysterious policeman who turns out to be the Awful Auntie herself.  She later gets locked up and a spooky, cheeky, snotly ghost comes to her rescue.  What will happen next? Read the story and find out.

Recommendations: Y5+

Star rating: 5 out of 5


Bridge Book Award – Reviews

Brilliant reviews of some of the shortlisted books…

Name: Awful Auntie

Author: David Walliams

Class: Fiction/Humour

Characters: Stella, Awful Auntie, Lord and Lady Saxby and the Ghost

Summary: The Cruel, awful Auntie is back! She tells Stella her parents have died in a car crash and she can’t move a single muscle in her body.  But she is lying.  Stella calls the mysterious policeman who turns out to be the Awful Auntie herself.  She later gets locked up and a spooky, cheeky, snotly ghost comes to her rescue.  What will happen next? Read the story and find out.

Recommendations: Y5+

Star rating: 5 out of 5

By Deborah (Year 7) from St Ivo School


Reviews of One by Sarah Crossan

“This book is good because you want to know what is going on to happen at the end of each page so that’s why you keep on reading. [edited to remove spoiler).” Sophie C, Year 8, CottenhamVC

“This book really makes you feel grateful for what you have. The twist at the end is very emotional. I love it.”Ciara M,  Year 8, CottenhamVC

“It has a unique way of writing. It’s quite interesting and I like it. I would recommend it to Year 9+ readers because younger readers might not understand it.” Jinyu L, Year 8, Cottenham VC

“It’s an intriguing read – which keeps you hooked until you unfortunately end the book. On picking up the book we knew it was about conjoined twins – but the expectation was of a descriptive novel, rather than a plot driven novel. Annie, having already read ‘The Weight of Water’ was pleased to see Sarah Crossan use poetry again. Ellie, having not read Sarah’s previous book was surprised to find it in poem form, and thought it would revert to prose after the beginning. However, this made it much easier to get into the book. We agree that the poetry allows the emotion to take centre stage without being overwhelmed by text. This is at the cost of description, but both agree that it is the best format for the novel.

Reading the book, they experienced sadness, curiosity, empathy, confidence in their reading and sympathy for all the characters. Alexandra thought that the cover looked like it would be a ‘girly’ book, but was pleased it had a deeper meaning. The poetry allows the story to progress and allows Crossan to tightly control the pace at which the reader goes.” From a discussion between Alexandra, Ellie and Annie (Yr8) Cambourne VC while they ate their lunch!

One review by Ellie Y9

“One “ is a gripping novel about two conjoined young teens.  This novel follows their life from Graces, one of the twins, point of view showing the highs and lows of their daily life.  Little details like Grace putting on weight when Tippi starts to eat more or when Tippi starts to drink and smoke even without Graces permission, make the reader realise how hard life must be for them.

However, I don’t think the purpose of the book is to get pity from the reader.  They hate people feeling sorry for them and just want to get on with life as “normal”. I think the book shows how conjoined twins separate people, we shouldn’t think of them as one.  This book really made me see things in a different way.  The way it is written is very different, almost like a poem. At first I wasn’t sure whether I enjoyed the way it was written because of the short chapters but as I got further into the book I started to get used to it.

The thing I like about the main characters if that even though they are judged, whispered about and stared at because people don’t get to know them and treat them like they would like they are still strong.  It touched me how brave Grace and Tippi were. They held their heads high and this was something I really looked up to.

Overall, i think this is a very good book and I think Sarah Crossan is a very talented writer.  I will definitely be reading more of her books.

Ellie Y9, St Ivo


The Bridge Book Award – Shortlist!

The votes have been collated and the shortlist is:

Awful Auntie – D Walliams

Ghosts of Shanghai – J Sedgwick

One – Sarah Crossan

Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods – R Riordan

Well done to all the authors and readers! It’s a very strong shortlist, and I’m anticipating some heated discussions in the next few weeks. All readers will vote individually for the book they want to be the inaugural winner of the Bridge Book Award.


Below are some book reviews from readers at Bassingbourn Village College – thank you for sending them in!

Awful Auntie by David Walliams

I enjoyed this book because of the plot because it made me think. I also liked how in-depth it went into a character’s personality and past.           Tristan P-P, 12


Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams

I enjoyed this book because it was based on real facts and David Walliams didn’t just make things up to add to the history. I also liked all the problems Grandpa got into.   Tristan P-P, 12


13 Hours by Narinder Dhami

I found that this book is packed with numerous mysteries and action scenes that I wouldn’t have thought possible in a book this size.

The blurb made me choose this book and the start of the story made me just want to keep reading to find out what had happened and what was going on. As well as this, the title is another mystery and you just have to pick up this book and read it.

The story starts off with a girl called Anni who is a young carer and looks after her mother who walks with sticks and is scared of going outside (agoraphobia) – although social services do not know anything about their situation. When Anni reaches home after school her mum tells her that there is someone upstairs, so Anni has to check the house. This is something Anni is used to as her mum is paranoid about intruders, and Anni finds nothing. Her mum then asks her to go shopping but when Anni returns, she realises something is wrong. Her mum thinks someone has broken in, and this time someone has …

I really liked this book. I found it very enjoyable for a short read and I think it is probably the best short(ish) book I have read. If you are looking for a book that will entertain you for a few days, go for this one!        Archie L, 13


Bridge Book Award – winners of the first draw!

To try and encourage students to take part in a longer term reading activity the very generous sponsors of the Bridge Book Award – Heffers in Cambridge – have provided 3 £10 book vouchers a week! All students taking part in the book award are entered into a draw to win one of the £10 vouchers each.

The winners for last week were from:

Comberton VC

Greneway Middle School

Bassingbourn VC

If you haven’t been to Heffers – it is an amazing bookshop, particularly the children’s section – filled with incredibly knowledgeable and helpful staff. The website with more information on is here:

The Bridge Book Award…

So, once again, it’s been a while since I last posted, but this is an important post! This post is to introduce….

The Bridge Book Award

The idea behind this book award is to give schools in Cambridgeshire a chance to have their own book awards – many SLS’s provide this for other counties, but here in Cambridgeshire we lost our SLS many moons ago.

The Bridge Book Award reflects both the area of Cambridgeshire, from the Great Ouse, the Fens and the Cam, and the nature that this book award will hopefully encourage more reluctant readers to read more books continuously, and bridge the gap between reading one book or series and stepping out into the wider world of children’s publishing. Because we wanted to keep it accessible there are only two criteria:

  1. What is your favourite book from last year?

  2. Was is published in 2014 or 2015?

We have had a beautifully varied longlist created by pupils in our schools and I can’t wait to see which ones make it through to the shortlist… I think it’s going to be close!

The logo was designed and created by the extremely talented Richard Morgan – he’s a local illustrator and I was so pleased when we agreed to do this for the Award. More information about Richard can be found here:

To comment or review a book use #BridgeBA

Congratulations to all the authors of the books below – students in Cambridgeshire are really enjoying them!

The longlist is:

Title Author Year pub
Awful Auntie Walliams, D 2014
The Emperor’s Blades Staveley, Brian 2014
Grandpa’s Great Escape Walliams, D 2015
Murder Most Unladylike Stevens, Robin 2014
13 Hours Dhami, N 2015
Itch Craft Mayo, S 2014
Tom gates: top of the class Pichon, L 2015
Buffalo Soldier Landman, T 2014
Lone Wolf Muchamore, R 2014
Girl Online Sugg, Z 2014
All the Bright Places Niven, J 2015
Demon road Landy, D 2015
Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods Riordan, R 2014
One Crossan, S 2015
Ghosts of Shanghai Sedgwick, J 2015
Middle School, Save Rafe! Patterson, J 2014
Boot Camp Muchamore, R 2015




A New Year, and a note to start on…

cardIMG_0547  IMG_0548

Now, I haven’t written anything on here for quite a while, but it is part of my ongoing CPD, and attempt to complete my CILIP Chartership that I blog more often. Being a Librarian means I come across a wide variety of information – there’s always something to talk about!

It is a new year, and I want to share something that solidified my own reasons for being a school librarian. I don’t think there is another role where you get the chance to impact someone’s world in quite the same way. The pupils aren’t in lessons, you don’t have that teacher – student relationship with them when they are in the library before/after school, but for me these are the times when the most impact can be made – encouraging someone to complete their homework; congratulating them on their work; just taking the time to talk to them about their day – something that happens at this school a lot – but still something that is important.

Towards the end of last term I had just read Chris Riddell’s love letter to libraries which filled me, and lots of other school librarians, with a renewed energy. What we do is important, and some people know and remember that.

A few days later I was talking to one of my Year 7 student library helpers about Riddell’s “Goth Girl and a Ghost of a Mouse” (Have a look here if you’ve not come across them) she’d picked one up to re-shelve it and was caught by the cover, the gilded edges, and as we flicked through the little book in the back.

“What’s this?”
“A little book – it’s written by one of the characters in the story – the mouse, in fact.”
“Oh. Hmmmmm.”

And off she went.

The day before the end of term, the Head of Year brought me something. A Christmas card. From the same student helper. The pictures are linked to this post, but inside was the most brilliant thing. “Dear Librarian, Thank you for being there”. After quite a tough term, this choked me up. I had done my job. I had been there for a student. And then I looked at the page opposite. The student had included her own little story book. Here is that story:

“One day a little girl came to school, and went in the library and the library made her frown upside down. When it was break she asked the Librarian to be a Library helper and she said Yes!!! to her and she was very pleased. The End.”

The Library had done it’s job. It had been inviting and welcoming, and made a student who may not have naturally gravitated towards books feel like she belonged. That’s what libraries do. There is space for all the characters that can be written, and all the people who could be, would be, users.

And I had done my job. I had welcomed her as a pupil library helper, and included her in something where she had an impact.

The Librarians that inspired Chris Riddell, whose Love Letter to Libraries inspired me to do my job to the highest possible standard, which included taking the time to talk to a student about a book she has no intention of reading. She was inspired by Riddell’s book to create a special Christmas card, which has re-inforced the importance of what we do to me.

Books, Libraries, Librarians, they inspire and educate. You need the two together. No one reads unless they have felt where a story can take them. No one listens to a story unless they are engaged. Our job is important.

Self Evaluation –



Time has escaped me! The shortlists have been announced, and a new term has started, and many other things have occurred since the last post. Most of the posts on the blog will be about things we have been up to – the shadowing group starts next week – but this one is about paperwork!

One of the things that took up a significant amount of time at the end of term was doing a Departmental Evaluation for the first time. It wasn’t something that was asked of me, but something I felt it was important that I do. It is something that is expected of all the departments in school, and so why the library shouldn’t complete one is beyond me. However, as it is something that isn’t commonplace practice I turned to the School Library Association and the School Librarians’ Network for support. And I received it. There was a template that I could fill out, and so I went about it. It raised some interesting points, things that I hadn’t examined or stopped to think about in the whirlwind of a year that has just been (as I’m sure they all are and will be!). However, once completed, I looked at the Self-Evaluation Forms the other departments would be completing. Not only were they very different, but they looked at things from such a different perspective I felt it would take quite a lot of time to transfer and mould the answers from the template which I had just completed. So I started again. Pupil progress, interventions, sub-groups, ICT – all things which the other one did look at, but not in enough detail for it to say anything meaningful about the contribution of the library within the school as a bigger picture. 


The two reports together give a full picture of the Library, and the role it has within school, and starts to project as to how successful it is being. They both highlighted important areas that need attention, and my focus over the next term has been decided by these. It took me a number of hours to do each of these reports, but that will be paid back by the renewed focus I have. My first SEF was a christening of fire in sorts – having three days to do 2 reports, with no experience of having done one before – but it will become a yearly process, hopefully proving my programmes and schemes are working, and the library is contributing towards progress made by pupils. 

Longlists announced!!


A very exciting day as the longlists for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have been announced. Here is a link to a pictorial display of the titles which are appropriate for Year 7s (11 year olds): 

The awards are massively important for authors, illustrators and publishers as they are one of the only children’s literature awards to focus on the quality of the writing. The criteria are available here: Carnegie ( ) and Kate Greenaway ( ) so see if you can pick the winner! The shortlist will be announced at the beginning of March, with the winners being revealed in June.
Apologies for the links, my Java is struggling, so you might have to paste them into your address bar! 

National Storytelling Week


It is National Storytelling Week this week, and all the pupils are telling their own stories. They are either making up their own stories or they are using stories already out there – we have focused on Myths and Legends. They have 3 days to rehearse and perfect their performance before performing to their class on Thursday. The storytellers which are voted as the best will be able to perform at one of our feeder primaries, which the pupils are all very excited about! 

It started with an example of storytelling from our very own Mr Jones, and he filled the pupils with an excitement that they didn’t have before. The idea for making use of National Storytelling Week came from an essay by Pat Ryan looking at the academic benefits of storytelling (it can be found in the publication from the School Libraries special interest Group which is part of CILIP). I couldn’t have done it though without some of the resources from the Society of Storytelling. The pupils are loving the change of pace, the teachers are getting a Speaking and Learning assessment from it, and we are building confidence in all our pupils. If even a few of them realise how special storytelling can be, it will be a great thing.