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Meet Julia Donaldson Summer reading Books of my life - RNIB

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Read On<br />

<strong>RNIB</strong> National Library Service magazine for readers<br />

Issue 18 Spring 2013<br />

Passionate about books and <strong>reading</strong><br />

<strong>Meet</strong> <strong>Julia</strong> <strong>Donaldson</strong><br />

Children’s Laureate<br />

<strong>Summer</strong> <strong>reading</strong><br />

with Anne Zouroudi’s<br />

Greek detective<br />

<strong>Books</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>my</strong> <strong>life</strong><br />

with Vidar Hjardeng<br />

1


Read On 18<br />

Read On is published<br />

by <strong>RNIB</strong>.<br />

© <strong>RNIB</strong> April 2013<br />

Reg. charity number 226227<br />

Read On is available in print,<br />

DAISY audio CD, braille<br />

and email.<br />

Editorial<br />

Deborah Ryan<br />

<strong>RNIB</strong> National Library Service<br />

Highbank House<br />

Exchange Street<br />

Stockport SK3 0ET<br />

Telephone<br />

0161 429 1991<br />

Email<br />

readon@rnib.org.uk<br />

Visit<br />

rnib.org.uk/<strong>reading</strong><br />

To join<br />

Call <strong>RNIB</strong> on<br />

0303 123 9999<br />

Email<br />

library@rnib.org.uk<br />

First words<br />

From Deborah Ryan, Editor<br />

Deborah Ryan,<br />

Editor<br />

Hello and welcome to another packed issue <strong>of</strong><br />

Read On. We have plenty <strong>of</strong> news about services<br />

along with lots <strong>of</strong> <strong>reading</strong> recommendations. We<br />

hope we can tempt you to try something different<br />

whether it’s going to your public library and<br />

getting involved in Make a Noise in Libraries<br />

fortnight or picking up a book by an author<br />

you’ve never tried before – perhaps by one <strong>of</strong><br />

our featured authors Anne Zouroudi or AD Miller.<br />

Younger readers might enjoy a title by Children’s<br />

Laureate <strong>Julia</strong> <strong>Donaldson</strong>, who we catch up with<br />

on p24.<br />

We also have an excerpt from the winning piece<br />

from the <strong>RNIB</strong> members writing competition in this<br />

issue and hope it will inspire you to tell your story.<br />

Someone who knows a bit about telling a story, is<br />

our featured narrator Peter Wickham who has read<br />

over 90 titles in our talking book library.<br />

And finally, find out about <strong>RNIB</strong>’s newly launched<br />

Heritage Services in our behind the scenes<br />

interview with Robert Saggers.<br />

ISSN 1758-0188<br />

2


Contents<br />

Contents<br />

2 First words<br />

4 News<br />

4 Make a Noise in Libraries fortnight<br />

5 New catalogue and library<br />

computer system<br />

5 Load2Learn now free to schools<br />

6 Plan now for your holiday <strong>reading</strong><br />

6 Specialist insurance<br />

7 Travel safely<br />

7 Shop Window available in DAISY<br />

8 Members writing competition<br />

winner<br />

9 Book quiz<br />

10 Author pr<strong>of</strong>ile: Anne Zouroudi<br />

12 Narrator pr<strong>of</strong>ile: Peter Wickham<br />

14 <strong>Books</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>my</strong> <strong>life</strong>: Vidar Hjardeng<br />

16 Booker bonanza: AD Miller<br />

18 Have you tried?<br />

19 Reader review<br />

20 On our bedside table<br />

22 Literary news<br />

22 Jackson Brodie returns<br />

22 Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth comes to<br />

Channel 4<br />

22 Da Vinci Code sequel<br />

22 Philippa Gregory novels adapted<br />

for TV<br />

22 The Casual Vacancy to air on BBC<br />

23 The two faces <strong>of</strong> January<br />

23 Six degrees <strong>of</strong> separation<br />

24 <strong>Meet</strong> Children’s Laureate<br />

<strong>Julia</strong> <strong>Donaldson</strong><br />

26 Braille is fascinating! Discuss<br />

27 Children’s book news<br />

27 <strong>Summer</strong> Reading Challenge 2013<br />

27 Carnegie shadowing<br />

28 Children’s book<br />

recommendations<br />

29 New email magazines for<br />

children and young people<br />

30 Behind the scenes:<br />

Robert Saggers<br />

3


News<br />

News<br />

Make a Noise in<br />

Libraries fortnight:<br />

3-14 June 2013<br />

Are you getting hold <strong>of</strong> all the accessible<br />

books, newspapers and magazines you<br />

could be enjoying? This year’s Make a<br />

Noise in Libraries fortnight (MANIL) is<br />

an ideal opportunity to find out what’s<br />

available and help us to highlight<br />

the importance <strong>of</strong> accessible <strong>reading</strong><br />

material.<br />

Providing a quality information service is<br />

an essential part <strong>of</strong> a public library’s role.<br />

Last year’s MANIL library survey showed<br />

that frontline staff and volunteers<br />

need more training, information and<br />

awareness about what is available for<br />

people with sight loss. This summer, we<br />

will be following up last year’s survey<br />

by focusing on the signposting role <strong>of</strong><br />

libraries to <strong>reading</strong> services for blind and<br />

partially sighted people.<br />

We have created a quick free online<br />

questionnaire called Your Reading<br />

Choices, which anyone can use to<br />

identify organisations that provide<br />

accessible books, newspapers and<br />

magazines. We will be encouraging<br />

libraries to use Your Reading Choices and<br />

visit the Reading Sight website<br />

(www.<strong>reading</strong>sight.org.uk) for<br />

information about all aspects <strong>of</strong> <strong>reading</strong><br />

for people with sight loss.<br />

To find out more, email<br />

megan.gilks@rnib.org.uk,<br />

ring 0161 429 1980 or<br />

visit rnib.org.uk/manil<br />

And that’s where you come in. We need<br />

volunteers to ask their library for advice<br />

about <strong>reading</strong> between 3-14 June and<br />

report back to us with your experiences.<br />

Many libraries will be holding <strong>reading</strong><br />

surgeries, open days and drop-in events<br />

so you can visit your library then.<br />

Alternatively, just call in or ring up first<br />

to make sure someone will be available<br />

to help you.<br />

4


News<br />

New catalogue and<br />

library computer<br />

system<br />

We want to keep you updated about<br />

this important project, which will make<br />

browsing, choosing and ordering books<br />

from <strong>RNIB</strong> much easier. We had hoped<br />

to launch the new catalogue last autumn<br />

but unfortunately it has become clear<br />

that we need to allow more time for<br />

testing to ensure the system is robust<br />

and fully accessible before going live.<br />

Several different IT systems are being<br />

brought together to create a single<br />

catalogue and computer system. This is<br />

not an easy process, either technically or<br />

from an information management point<br />

<strong>of</strong> view. Results from the first phase <strong>of</strong><br />

accessibility testing showed that some<br />

processes needed further work before<br />

we could reasonably expect customers<br />

to carry out user testing. That work is<br />

being done at the moment and as soon<br />

as we are in a position to proceed to the<br />

next stage <strong>of</strong> the project we will be in<br />

touch with the many readers who have<br />

kindly <strong>of</strong>fered their services as volunteer<br />

testers.<br />

We are sorry that things have not moved<br />

as swiftly and smoothly as we had<br />

hoped. We will keep you informed in our<br />

enewsletter, this magazine and on our<br />

website at rnib.org.uk/libraryprojects.<br />

Load2Learn now free<br />

to schools<br />

Load2Learn, the online resource that<br />

helps improve the school experience<br />

for learners who can’t read standard<br />

print is now available free <strong>of</strong> charge to<br />

registered users.<br />

Delivered by <strong>RNIB</strong> and Dyslexia Action,<br />

the service helps schools to better<br />

support learners with dyslexia, who are<br />

blind or partially sighted, or who have<br />

a disability. Members can access over<br />

1,900 textbook titles and 1,000 images,<br />

downloadable as accessible documents.<br />

Providing Load2Learn as a free service<br />

will enable the resources to be widely<br />

adopted and used to support even more<br />

learners in schools today.<br />

For more information about Load2Learn<br />

please visit www.load2learn.org.uk,<br />

email info@load2learn.org.uk or<br />

call 0300 303 8313.<br />

5


News<br />

Plan now for your<br />

holiday <strong>reading</strong><br />

Specialist insurance<br />

We know it can be challenging to find<br />

insurance products that meet your needs<br />

if you’re blind or partially sighted.<br />

That’s why <strong>RNIB</strong> is delighted to have<br />

launched specialist insurance products<br />

through our partners, Unique.<br />

The days are a little longer, the sun<br />

a little warmer and you may well be<br />

starting to think about your summer<br />

holiday… Well, now is the perfect time<br />

to use the new Your Reading Choices<br />

tool (http://<strong>reading</strong>sight.org.uk/<br />

<strong>reading</strong>_tools/your_<strong>reading</strong>_choices)<br />

to plan your holiday <strong>reading</strong>.<br />

If you’re flying abroad with a budget<br />

airline where every milligram <strong>of</strong> luggage<br />

weight counts, you probably don’t want<br />

to take a braille copy <strong>of</strong> War and Peace<br />

with you. Your Reading Choices can<br />

point you to lighter braille options, for<br />

example, braille magazines.<br />

Our policies are available to you, your<br />

friends, family members or carers.<br />

Choose from:<br />

• Travel insurance and travel extras<br />

• Home insurance<br />

• Life assurance<br />

• Funeral plans<br />

Visit rnib.org.uk/insurance or call<br />

0800 052 1311 to find out more or get a<br />

quote.<br />

For every policy sold, Unique makes a<br />

donation to support our work. See<br />

rnib.org.uk/insurance for more<br />

information.<br />

If you’re holidaying in the UK and have<br />

internet access you could line up some<br />

interesting titles on your <strong>Books</strong>tream<br />

bookshelf.<br />

Set aside a few moments to check out<br />

Your Reading Choices and you may<br />

discover new ways <strong>of</strong> <strong>reading</strong> that will<br />

make this year’s summer holiday the<br />

most relaxing ever.<br />

6


News<br />

Travel safely<br />

If you’d rather be out and about this<br />

spring <strong>RNIB</strong>’s new travel pack could be a<br />

great starting point for you or someone<br />

you know to use public transport. The<br />

pack contains a guide for safe and<br />

independent travel, a customer service<br />

guide and a DVD with top tips from<br />

blind and partially sighted people about<br />

using buses.<br />

The pack is available in large print,<br />

braille and on audio CD. Order your pack<br />

by calling 0303 123 9999 or emailing<br />

helpline@rnib.org.uk. Alternatively, you<br />

can download the pack from<br />

rnib.org.uk/travel<br />

<strong>RNIB</strong> is also working closely with<br />

operators to improve transport services<br />

for blind and partially sighted people,<br />

as well as campaigning for changes to<br />

public transport. Find out more at<br />

rnib.org.uk/travel<br />

Shop Window available in DAISY<br />

Shop Window is <strong>RNIB</strong>’s monthly magazine packed with consumer advice, best buys<br />

and mouthwatering food articles. It costs just 43p per issue and is now available in<br />

synthetic speech in DAISY audio as well as in braille and electronically. To subscribe<br />

call 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk<br />

7


Members writing competition winner<br />

Members writing<br />

competition winner<br />

We are pleased to announce that Gladys<br />

Taylor has won the sixth <strong>RNIB</strong> Member’s<br />

writing competition with her short story<br />

“A Haunting Memory”.<br />

Gladys, 72, has been busy studying for<br />

a degree in Creative Writing, Literature<br />

and Linguistics, and is also part <strong>of</strong> a<br />

writing group where she lives in Cupar,<br />

but writing began with her passion for<br />

<strong>reading</strong>. The judges were particularly<br />

impressed with her use <strong>of</strong> metaphor and<br />

imagery in recreating this memory from<br />

her childhood, and Gladys herself said<br />

“You can build a world with imagery –<br />

it’s a way to see.”<br />

The panel <strong>of</strong> judges, which included<br />

Phillip Hoare, author <strong>of</strong> the<br />

award-winning Leviathan, or The<br />

Whale, and Di Speirs, Radio 4<br />

Recordings Editor, were impressed with<br />

the high standard <strong>of</strong> entries.<br />

If you would like to enter next year’s<br />

writing competition, and also receive<br />

Vision magazine and a range <strong>of</strong> other<br />

benefits, you can join <strong>RNIB</strong> as a member.<br />

Just call the Membership Team on<br />

0303 1234 555 or visit<br />

rnib.org.uk/membership<br />

You can listen to the full version <strong>of</strong> the<br />

three winning entries at<br />

rnib.org/visionmagazine and also<br />

listen out for them on Insight Radio’s<br />

talking books show in April.<br />

Here’s an excerpt from the winning entry:<br />

A haunting memory<br />

by Gladys Taylor<br />

Inside the hospital, the lady at the big<br />

high desk looks down at me. She’s<br />

got a squinty eye, and funny, twisted<br />

wire specs that are tied to a black<br />

string. She stares, and I say…<br />

“You’ve got a man’s face.” Well,<br />

she does. Her moustache sticks out<br />

like the bristles on granny’s orange<br />

hairbrush.<br />

“Oh, shush!” Mam<strong>my</strong> grabs a card<br />

from the lady, and we run along<br />

corridors where green doors rush<br />

past us, all looking the same. When<br />

we turn the corner, the floor squeaks<br />

at <strong>my</strong> rubber soles. “For God’s sake!<br />

Can’t you do anything right? Quick,<br />

that’s the door. Push it open.” So I<br />

do, and rows <strong>of</strong> tired-looking saggy<br />

chairs seem to look at us and creak<br />

and sigh.<br />

A nurse comes along, and she sounds<br />

like daddy’s best shirt on ironing day,<br />

sort <strong>of</strong>…crackly.<br />

“Are you the McKenzie child?” My<br />

mam<strong>my</strong> nods. “Then you’re late.”<br />

8


Book quiz<br />

Book quiz<br />

We have teamed up with audio book publishers AudioGo to <strong>of</strong>fer you a fantastic<br />

opportunity to win audio books or downloads worth up to £50.<br />

Stupendous sidekicks<br />

The hero may get all the glory but<br />

they couldn’t do it without their trusty<br />

sidekick. Name these fabulous friends.<br />

1. Robinson Crusoe was very lonely until<br />

he found this companion.<br />

2. Phileas Fogg needs a valet to help him<br />

get around the world in eighty days.<br />

3. Tom Sawyer’s friend was so interesting<br />

that he became the hero <strong>of</strong> his own<br />

story.<br />

4. Inspector Rebus needs this<br />

policewoman’s assistance to solve<br />

crimes in the Ian Rankin novels.<br />

5. Don Quixote persuaded this fellow to<br />

join him on his adventures.<br />

6. In Lord <strong>of</strong> the Rings, Frodo wouldn’t<br />

have completed his journey without<br />

the encouragement <strong>of</strong> this hobbit.<br />

Send your answers by email to<br />

readon@rnib.org.uk, telephone<br />

01733 37 53 33 or mail to <strong>RNIB</strong> National<br />

Library Service, Highbank House,<br />

Exchange Street, Stockport, SK3 0ET by<br />

30 June 2013.<br />

The winner <strong>of</strong> last issue’s Creepy<br />

conundrums quiz was Mrs L Johnson<br />

from West Bromwich.<br />

There will be a book quiz in each<br />

monthly enewsletter throughout 2013.<br />

Subscribe today – email<br />

readon@rnib.org.uk<br />

9


Author pr<strong>of</strong>ile<br />

Author pr<strong>of</strong>ile:<br />

Anne Zouroudi<br />

Robert Kirkwood<br />

from Insight<br />

radio talked to<br />

Anne Zouroudi<br />

about her crime<br />

series The Greek<br />

Detective and<br />

why she decided to give her books to<br />

<strong>RNIB</strong>’s Talking Book Service.<br />

Describe your series for us.<br />

It’s a series <strong>of</strong> seven books set in modern<br />

Greece on fictional Greek islands and<br />

features a detective called Hermes<br />

Diaktoros. I’m just finishing the seventh<br />

book which will be out In 2014.<br />

Your detective has been described<br />

as part Poirot and part Precious<br />

Ramotswe with “a rotundity all <strong>of</strong> his<br />

own”. Would you agree?<br />

Yes, he has been compared to Hercule<br />

Poirot, and the books do have an Agatha<br />

Christie feel to them – gentle but with a<br />

dark edge. They are similar in that Poirot<br />

and Hermes are both snappy dressers<br />

but they operate in very different ways;<br />

Poirot solves <strong>my</strong>steries with his “little<br />

grey cells” whereas Hermes relies on his<br />

heart to dispense his kind <strong>of</strong> justice.<br />

We have all six <strong>of</strong> your published<br />

titles in <strong>RNIB</strong>’s talking book library. I<br />

believe that is down to you?<br />

I’m a strong supporter <strong>of</strong> <strong>RNIB</strong>. I do<br />

have some family experience <strong>of</strong> sight<br />

problems. My grandmother went blind<br />

and she relied on talking books. It’s a<br />

great honour for me to be in a position to<br />

give <strong>my</strong> books to <strong>RNIB</strong>.<br />

You’ve already written about two<br />

blind characters. How did that come<br />

about?<br />

I only realised that after a library event in<br />

Sheffield so it was done subconsciously.<br />

In The whispers <strong>of</strong> Nemesis there is a<br />

character called Dennis who is blind and<br />

then, in The Doctor <strong>of</strong> Thessaly, the<br />

eponymous doctor is blinded by having<br />

chemicals thrown in his face.<br />

You did an event in Birmingham where<br />

you read in the dark, what was that<br />

like?<br />

It was a very enjoyable event. I was a<br />

little bit nervous about it. I was given a<br />

little <strong>reading</strong> light to put on <strong>my</strong> head and<br />

the audience was effectively plunged into<br />

darkness while I read to them from The<br />

bull <strong>of</strong> Mithros. I think the audience<br />

found it a really interesting experience –<br />

it gave them an experience <strong>of</strong> immersing<br />

yourself in the <strong>reading</strong> without looking<br />

at, or turning a page and they felt that<br />

they concentrated more. It had a slightly<br />

creepy feeling, a bit like <strong>reading</strong> in<br />

candlelight.<br />

You’ve participated in several blind<br />

and partially sighted <strong>reading</strong> groups.<br />

How did you find them?<br />

Just the same as any other <strong>reading</strong> group<br />

10


Author pr<strong>of</strong>ile<br />

really. There was lots <strong>of</strong> interest and<br />

questions. It’s been interesting because<br />

they have been mixed groups with<br />

sighted people too.<br />

Most <strong>of</strong> your books have been<br />

narrated by Sean Barrett. What kind<br />

<strong>of</strong> job has he done with them?<br />

He’s fabulous. The <strong>reading</strong> groups told<br />

me that the reader is absolutely crucial<br />

to the quality <strong>of</strong> the experience <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>reading</strong> the book. Sean has a fabulous<br />

voice, he did the voice over for the World<br />

at War series, I describe it as chocolate<br />

brown; it’s a lovely rich voice that really<br />

conveys the sedate pace <strong>of</strong> the Greek<br />

islands.<br />

<strong>Books</strong> in Anne Zouroudi’s<br />

Greek detective series<br />

available from the Library:<br />

The messenger <strong>of</strong><br />

Athens<br />

TB 19382<br />

The taint <strong>of</strong> Midas<br />

TB 19383<br />

The Doctor <strong>of</strong> Thessaly<br />

TB 19384<br />

The Lady <strong>of</strong> Sorrows<br />

TB 19385<br />

The whispers <strong>of</strong> Nemesis<br />

TB 19386<br />

The bull <strong>of</strong> Mithros<br />

– available soon.<br />

11


Narrator pr<strong>of</strong>ile<br />

Narrator pr<strong>of</strong>ile:<br />

Peter Wickham<br />

Peter Wickham has recorded over 90<br />

books for <strong>RNIB</strong>’s Talking Book service.<br />

He spoke to Kim Normanton.<br />

How did you get started with talking<br />

books?<br />

Like most people I started out by doing<br />

rep but then moved on to quite a lot<br />

<strong>of</strong> radio work which is how I came to<br />

be doing audio books really. I’m very<br />

grateful to <strong>RNIB</strong> because two things<br />

happened in consequence <strong>of</strong> that. I was<br />

approached by a commercial audio book<br />

company which gave the whole exercise<br />

a rather more pr<strong>of</strong>itable aspect and I was<br />

given the opportunity to write, produce<br />

and indeed sometimes voice audio<br />

described films which was just the most<br />

fascinating and enjoyable work.<br />

Can you just tell us about your<br />

background and where you got your<br />

acting training?<br />

I’m originally from New Zealand but <strong>my</strong><br />

family came to live in England when I<br />

was quite young. I’ve lived all over the<br />

place but I trained in Sidcup at the Rose<br />

Bruford College.<br />

How do you go about preparing to<br />

narrate a book?<br />

At the very beginning I used to read<br />

the book at least twice, and sometimes<br />

even three times, but I’m afraid as the<br />

years have passed I’ve become a little bit<br />

12<br />

economical with <strong>my</strong> own time. I read the<br />

book through carefully and mark it with<br />

stress marks, for example with initials in<br />

the margins, indicating who’s speaking<br />

because sometimes you get a page <strong>of</strong><br />

dialogue with no indication <strong>of</strong> who’s<br />

speaking at all and you have to work it<br />

out. Otherwise you can get it horribly<br />

wrong. I also write all sorts <strong>of</strong> notes<br />

about voice character to inform the way<br />

I read.<br />

Do you like doing accents?<br />

Yes, although there are some people who<br />

are brilliant and I don’t think I’m one <strong>of</strong><br />

those. I enjoy doing it and I think I’ve<br />

got better.<br />

Do you have a particular accent that<br />

you are known for?<br />

I tend to get Antipodean books because<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>my</strong> background. To be honest I<br />

worked very, very hard when I was young<br />

to get rid <strong>of</strong> <strong>my</strong> New Zealand accent<br />

because there was no market for it in<br />

those days. Russell Crowe even got rid <strong>of</strong><br />

his and got an Australian one.<br />

A lot <strong>of</strong> people will know you for the<br />

Colin Forbes books. How many are<br />

there in that series that you’ve done?<br />

I can’t remember now but it’s about<br />

15. I have become familiar with all the<br />

cast because, in the Colin Forbes books<br />

particularly, there is a group <strong>of</strong> half a<br />

dozen who are core to all the books<br />

that I’ve read. The only confusion came<br />

when, in order to distinguish them early<br />

on, I gave one <strong>of</strong> them a Welsh accent.<br />

In about book ten there was a moment


Narrator pr<strong>of</strong>ile<br />

when they said “he was going back to<br />

the East End” and I thought hells bells<br />

I’ve got to change, I’ve got to turn him<br />

into an East Ender now after ten books<br />

as a Welshman. But there was no way<br />

I could have known because nowhere<br />

previously had Colin Forbes said it so I<br />

had to suddenly make a bit <strong>of</strong> a change.<br />

What would you say is your most<br />

memorable read?<br />

It was quite some years ago and going<br />

back to when <strong>RNIB</strong> was based in Great<br />

Portland Street. Under the leadership<br />

<strong>of</strong> Christopher Scott, another narrator,<br />

seven <strong>of</strong> us read the entirety <strong>of</strong> the King<br />

James Bible. It took us two or three<br />

years because we were doing it bit by<br />

bit. It was a wonderful feeling when we’d<br />

finished it.<br />

It left me with an incredible sense <strong>of</strong> awe<br />

at the people who wrote it with such an<br />

extraordinary quality <strong>of</strong> language. There<br />

were many phrases you’d come across<br />

and think that’s where it came from.<br />

Is there a book that you’d really like<br />

to narrate?<br />

There’s just been a series on television<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Father Brown stories. I would love<br />

<strong>Books</strong> read by Peter Wickham include:<br />

The final dive: the <strong>life</strong> and death <strong>of</strong><br />

‘Buster’ Crabb by Don Hale<br />

(TB 18388).<br />

Martyr by Rory Clements (TB 17646).<br />

to read those because I think they are so<br />

beautifully written, so clever, so thought<br />

provoking.<br />

Finally, what are you <strong>reading</strong> at the<br />

moment?<br />

The daughters <strong>of</strong> Mars by Thomas<br />

Keneally who wrote Schindler’s Ark. It’s<br />

an extraordinary book about two sisters<br />

who are nurses in Australia in 1914 and<br />

sign up to go abroad and be military<br />

nurses. Inevitably their first port <strong>of</strong> call<br />

was Gallipoli and then on to the Western<br />

front. Obviously a lot <strong>of</strong> historical<br />

research has gone in to it, and it gives an<br />

extraordinary view <strong>of</strong> the first war from<br />

a different perspective. I’m enjoying<br />

<strong>reading</strong> it immensely.<br />

Margaret Rutherford: dreadnought<br />

with good manners: a biography by<br />

Andy Merriman (TB 18972).<br />

Tall animal tales: amazing true<br />

stories from the star <strong>of</strong> TV’s Animal<br />

Hospital by Rolf Harris (TB 17048).<br />

13


<strong>Books</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>my</strong> <strong>life</strong><br />

<strong>Books</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>my</strong> <strong>life</strong>:<br />

Vidar Hjardeng<br />

Vidar Hjardeng has been a journalist<br />

all his pr<strong>of</strong>essional <strong>life</strong> and is currenty<br />

Diversity Manager at ITV News. He is<br />

also kept extremely busy working on<br />

the boards <strong>of</strong> lots <strong>of</strong> different charities<br />

and organisations including Vocaleyes,<br />

Radar, SHAPE as well as <strong>RNIB</strong>. Vidar also<br />

received an MBE for his work in 2012.<br />

Kim Normanton talked to him about the<br />

books <strong>of</strong> his <strong>life</strong>.<br />

What role have books had in your <strong>life</strong>?<br />

Going back as far as I can remember<br />

books have played a really important role<br />

in <strong>my</strong> <strong>life</strong>. It was a real privilege to be<br />

asked to take part in this feature – quite<br />

a challenge though because there are so<br />

many books I’d like to include!<br />

Is there a book from your childhood<br />

which stands out?<br />

It comes down to two books for me –<br />

firstly The Hobbit, which <strong>my</strong> teacher<br />

read to us at Junior School at the end <strong>of</strong><br />

the school day. I’ve always loved<br />

having books read to me so that was a<br />

fantastic education and a real pleasure.<br />

But ultimately I’d have to pick one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Narnia series by CS Lewis: The Lion, the<br />

Witch and the wardrobe. I had a vivid<br />

imagination as I was growing up and to<br />

be taken into a magic world was really<br />

exciting; it still gives me a buzz even as<br />

an adult.<br />

Were CS Lewis books available in<br />

braille when you were a child or how<br />

did you access them?<br />

At that time I still had sufficient sight<br />

in one eye to be able to read print with<br />

a magnifier, albeit incredibly slowly and<br />

laboriously. In <strong>my</strong> twenties I learned<br />

braille so I do now have the basics but<br />

don’t tend to use it much as I prefer<br />

talking books.<br />

Where does your unusual name come<br />

from?<br />

My father is Norwegian and came across<br />

to Newcastle where he met <strong>my</strong> mum and<br />

stayed.<br />

What about your second book?<br />

I studied languages at Manchester<br />

University. It was a very literary-based<br />

course and <strong>my</strong> favourite period <strong>of</strong><br />

literature then was the 19th century. So<br />

I’ve opted for Gustav Flaubert’s novel<br />

Madame Bovary. Emma Bovary lives in<br />

a small town in France and is married to<br />

the local Doctor, a decent man. But she’s<br />

easily bored and wants to experience<br />

excitement and luxury. The novel is<br />

about how she tries to escape what she<br />

sees as a drab existence.<br />

14


<strong>Books</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>my</strong> <strong>life</strong><br />

Was it good to be able to read such a<br />

classic novel in French?<br />

Yes, absolutely. It was also <strong>my</strong> first<br />

connection with talking books.<br />

Throughout university there were lots<br />

<strong>of</strong> English titles we had to read and<br />

at the time <strong>my</strong> mother spent hours<br />

recording them onto cassette for me. I<br />

owe a lot to her for that. At the same<br />

time I got tremendous support from<br />

talking books which opened up another<br />

way <strong>of</strong> discovering literature for me.<br />

My eyesight was stable at this time so<br />

I could also plough <strong>my</strong> way through<br />

printed text but it was laborious.<br />

What’s your next book?<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the dimensions an audio<br />

book can give you is to bring an<br />

autobiographical novel to <strong>life</strong>. They are<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten read by the author themselves<br />

and that’s quite personal especially if it’s<br />

done well. My pr<strong>of</strong>essional <strong>life</strong> has been<br />

associated with news and current affairs<br />

so I’ve read a lot <strong>of</strong> political biography<br />

and autobiography. One that stands out<br />

for me is Hillary Clinton’s autobiography<br />

Living history which she read herself<br />

in around 2003 so is arguably a bigger<br />

figure now than she was then. Through<br />

this book I found <strong>my</strong>self having an<br />

enormous appreciation <strong>of</strong> her <strong>life</strong> and<br />

her side <strong>of</strong> the story.<br />

What’s next on your list?<br />

It’s a gripping, beautifully written story<br />

by Kazuo Ishiguro called The remains <strong>of</strong><br />

the day. It’s a novel that captures British<br />

<strong>life</strong> in the 1930s against the backdrop <strong>of</strong><br />

Hitler’s rise to power and the lead up to<br />

World War II. It illustrates the British stiff<br />

upper lip and the fact that you couldn’t<br />

reveal your innermost feelings. A lot <strong>of</strong><br />

the book focuses on that and I think the<br />

author gets to grips with it particularly<br />

well.<br />

Do you have a favourite talking book?<br />

Yes, it’s one that I have reviewed before<br />

for Vision, <strong>RNIB</strong>’s membership magazine.<br />

It’s Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – a<br />

popular choice but a great story <strong>of</strong><br />

good triumphing over evil. It also shows<br />

the strength <strong>of</strong> the human spirit with<br />

richly described characters. Perhaps a<br />

more sentimental reason for this being<br />

<strong>my</strong> personal favourite is the fact that<br />

it’s about Christmas. I love Christmas<br />

for all sorts <strong>of</strong> reasons; for its religious<br />

significance, for the music and the fact<br />

that you keep in touch with people.<br />

If you’d like to read Vidar’s choice <strong>of</strong><br />

books:<br />

The lion the witch and the wardrobe<br />

by CS Lewis (braille 2v, giant print and<br />

TB 1934)<br />

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert<br />

(braille 4v, giant print and TB 1337)<br />

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens<br />

(braille 2v, giant print and TB 896)<br />

Living history – Hilary Clinton’s<br />

autobiography is available<br />

commercially on audio CD<br />

The remains <strong>of</strong> the day by Kazuo<br />

Ishiguro (braille, giant print and<br />

TB 8107).<br />

15


Booker bonanza<br />

Booker bonanza: AD Miller<br />

Author AD Miller was shortlisted for the Booker prize in<br />

2011 for Snowdrops, a novel that explores an Englishman’s<br />

experiences during one particularly harsh winter in Moscow.<br />

He spoke to Clare Carson about the book.<br />

How did it feel to be on the shortlist<br />

for the Booker prize?<br />

It’s a wonderful thrill for it to end up on<br />

the shortlist for the Booker prize. I’ve<br />

always wanted to write fiction and this<br />

is <strong>my</strong> first novel. When I was writing it I<br />

wasn’t altogether sure that it would be<br />

published so it’s not something that you<br />

anticipate happening.<br />

Was the story going on in your<br />

head while you were the Moscow<br />

correspondent for the Economist?<br />

The idea for the book germinated in<br />

Moscow but I wrote the book mostly<br />

after I returned to London. The term<br />

“snowdrops” is a Russian slang word<br />

for a corpse that is buried in the snow<br />

during the winter and emerges in the<br />

thaw in the spring. I guess it grabbed<br />

me both as a stark encapsulation <strong>of</strong><br />

the harshness <strong>of</strong> <strong>life</strong> in Russia for some<br />

people but also as a kind <strong>of</strong> novelistic<br />

image with potential metaphorical value.<br />

It suggested to me things that we try<br />

to oppress in our lives that eventually<br />

catch up with us. My book is a first<br />

person book and the narrator is a thirty<br />

something slightly drifting English<br />

16<br />

lawyer. I hit upon his voice and the main<br />

image in the book and they were the two<br />

main ingredients.<br />

In the story he gets drawn into a<br />

tangled web <strong>of</strong> <strong>my</strong>stery and danger.<br />

Is it based on true fact or is that the<br />

novelist in you coming out?<br />

It is based on true fact in the sense<br />

that the kinds <strong>of</strong> crime and corruption<br />

that <strong>my</strong> book describes and the sorts<br />

<strong>of</strong> vulnerabilities that ordinary Russian<br />

people have, if they don’t have powerful<br />

connections, are real. The other<br />

important part <strong>of</strong> the story, which is the<br />

suggestible susceptible ex-pat narrator,<br />

is also drawn from real <strong>life</strong> too.<br />

This book is set specifically in the years<br />

<strong>of</strong> the mid-noughties before the credit<br />

crunch in the Russian oil boom in which<br />

there was a kind <strong>of</strong> reciprocal corruption<br />

between some new Russian businessman<br />

and western accountants and lawyers<br />

and bankers who were in town to sort <strong>of</strong><br />

service their needs and didn’t always ask<br />

too many questions about the kind <strong>of</strong><br />

people they were dealing with and where<br />

the money came from.


Booker bonanza<br />

You said you always wanted to be a<br />

novelist. Where does your ability to<br />

write come from?<br />

Well, I don’t know about the ability to<br />

write but the urge to write in <strong>my</strong> case is<br />

a very old one. I wrote lots <strong>of</strong> very bad<br />

poetry when I was a teenager and I’ve<br />

written another book called The Earl <strong>of</strong><br />

Petticoat Lane which is a story about<br />

immigration and class in London in the<br />

first half <strong>of</strong> the 20th Century. I’ve written<br />

a lot <strong>of</strong> journalism and that’s a kind <strong>of</strong><br />

writing that I value and enjoy. So where<br />

does the urge to write come from – I<br />

don’t know but if you’ve got it then it’s<br />

difficult to shed even if you want to.<br />

The descriptions in your novel<br />

are so evocative. Do you have any<br />

connection with people with sight<br />

loss?<br />

I don’t actually, but I am very pleased<br />

you say that, it’s a very perceptive<br />

observation. I did want the book to<br />

convey, in a very sensory way, what it<br />

was like living in Moscow and particularly<br />

during the winter. I wanted to convey<br />

what that smelt, felt and looked like. You<br />

also mentioned that there’s also a lot left<br />

unsaid that’s something I worked really<br />

hard on as well. It relies a lot on readers<br />

making judgements about the narrator<br />

and noticing things that he is missing<br />

out, deceiving himself or attempting to<br />

deceive readers.<br />

And what do you do next once<br />

you’ve written a book that has been<br />

nominated as a Booker?<br />

Well, I would definitely like to write<br />

another novel. I’ve thought hard about<br />

what it ought to be but so far I think I’ve<br />

mostly eliminated bad ideas rather than<br />

come up with any really good ones. I’ve<br />

almost written a couple <strong>of</strong> short stories<br />

that I hope to polish <strong>of</strong>f sometime soon.<br />

At the moment <strong>my</strong> wife and I have a<br />

five-month-old baby as well as a<br />

three-year-old daughter and I have a<br />

job, so it’s not going to emerge anytime<br />

soon I think.<br />

Snowdrops is available<br />

from the Library in braille<br />

3 volumes, giant print and<br />

as a talking book<br />

TB 19032.<br />

17


Have you tried?<br />

Have you tried...<br />

a new start?<br />

Ever wondered what it would be like to<br />

just pack up and start all over again? All<br />

<strong>of</strong> these books will give you a taste <strong>of</strong><br />

what it might be like but without any <strong>of</strong><br />

the hassle.<br />

Moving into an old<br />

farmhouse at the foot <strong>of</strong><br />

the Luberon Mountains<br />

between Avignon and<br />

Aix was the beginning<br />

<strong>of</strong> an exotic and<br />

bewildering new <strong>life</strong> for<br />

Peter Mayle and his wife in A year in<br />

Provence (braille 5v; TB 8719).<br />

Anthony Bailey found himself in<br />

America, lost and found. Evacuated to<br />

the USA and fostered for the next four<br />

years by the Spaeth family Anthony has<br />

to adapt quickly to a whole new way <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>life</strong> (braille 3v).<br />

Elizabeth Gilbert is in her<br />

thirties, settled in a large<br />

house with a husband who<br />

wants to start a family. But<br />

she doesn’t want any <strong>of</strong> it.<br />

So she begins her quest. In<br />

Rome, she indulges herself<br />

and gains nearly two stone in weight. In<br />

India, she finds enlightenment through<br />

scrubbing temple floors. Eat, pray, love:<br />

one woman’s search for everything<br />

(braille 10v; TB 17336).<br />

18<br />

Jon Katz doesn’t go quite<br />

as far as Elizabeth but<br />

does leaves the suburbs<br />

for a remote farm in order<br />

to give Border Collie<br />

puppy Rose a true taste<br />

<strong>of</strong> herding <strong>life</strong> as revealed<br />

in A home for Rose: how<br />

<strong>my</strong> <strong>life</strong> turned upside down for the<br />

love <strong>of</strong> a dog by Jon Katz (braille 5v;<br />

giant print 3v; TB 16691).<br />

In Reaching for the stars Lola Jaye’s<br />

step-by-step guide, shows that with<br />

plenty <strong>of</strong> self belief, confidence and<br />

hard work, anything is possible. She had<br />

always dreamt <strong>of</strong> being a writer but her<br />

journey to getting published wasn’t easy.<br />

It wasn’t until years later, after several<br />

rejections, that she finally got her first<br />

book deal (braille 3v; giant print).<br />

Who moved <strong>my</strong> cheese?<br />

an amazing way to deal<br />

with change in your work<br />

and in your <strong>life</strong> by Spencer<br />

Johnson is an amusing and<br />

enlightening story <strong>of</strong> four<br />

characters who live in a maze<br />

and look for cheese to nourish them<br />

and make them happy. The cheese is a<br />

metaphor for what you want to have in<br />

<strong>life</strong> (braille 1v; TB 17329).<br />

On a larger scale Days that changed<br />

the world by Hywel Williams describes<br />

50 days that marked the end <strong>of</strong> an era or<br />

the start <strong>of</strong> something new (braille 5v;<br />

TB 15406).


Reader review<br />

Reader review<br />

Jackie Cairn enjoyed The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill<br />

“If you enjoy crime fiction that takes you<br />

on a journey <strong>of</strong> suspense, covering many<br />

surprising twists and turns, then this<br />

book is for you.<br />

Wolf Hadda<br />

is the son <strong>of</strong><br />

a Cumbrian<br />

woodcutter.<br />

Growing up<br />

to become<br />

a successful<br />

entrepreneur<br />

and<br />

marrying the<br />

sweetheart <strong>of</strong><br />

his dreams,<br />

his <strong>life</strong><br />

appears complete. But the hammering<br />

at the door <strong>of</strong> his Holland Park home<br />

one morning changes everything. Wolf<br />

is suddenly parachuted from universal<br />

business acclaim to paedophile and<br />

fraudster. During the next seven years in<br />

prison, Wolf realises that the only way he<br />

may be released is to admit to the crimes<br />

and deceive both his psychiatrist, Alva<br />

Ozigbo, and the authorities.<br />

Once deemed fit to re-enter society,<br />

Wolf is on a mission to seek the truth<br />

and exact revenge. But his efforts to do<br />

so bring him into danger as he fights<br />

to clear his name. Who set him up and<br />

why?<br />

This is a gripping story, made all the<br />

more enjoyable thanks to reader David<br />

Thorpe. His ability to keep the reader<br />

entertained throughout the 17 hours<br />

38 minutes is due to his obvious flair in<br />

creating voices for the various characters<br />

in the book. Apart from the drama and<br />

suspense, it is also possible to enjoy the<br />

wit and strong personalities that define<br />

the main protagonists in this hugely well<br />

written crime thriller. It is indeed easy<br />

to see why author Reginald Hill won<br />

so many accolades. The book ebbs and<br />

flows in a carefully constructed web <strong>of</strong><br />

intrigue that holds the reader’s attention<br />

throughout.<br />

I am a new member <strong>of</strong> the talking<br />

book service, having decided to take<br />

advantage <strong>of</strong> so many more titles than<br />

the braille library is able to <strong>of</strong>fer. The<br />

Woodcutter was recommended to me<br />

after <strong>my</strong> partner, himself a longstanding<br />

talking book member, said how much he<br />

had enjoyed it. And how right he was! I<br />

would urge any crime fiction enthusiast<br />

to give this one a listen to.”<br />

The Woodcutter is available in braille,<br />

giant print and TB 18811.<br />

19


On our bedside table<br />

On our bedside table<br />

This time we feature several short book<br />

reviews <strong>of</strong> popular books provided by<br />

the people who work behind the scenes<br />

on Read On.<br />

20<br />

Lynne Livingstone<br />

works in <strong>RNIB</strong>’s Reader<br />

Services team and read<br />

The Radleys by Matt<br />

Haig (TB 18930).<br />

“The Radleys have problems: a<br />

disintegrating marriage, a bullied<br />

teenage son and a daughter battling<br />

an addiction. The Radleys have also<br />

been hiding a secret<br />

for years. They are<br />

vampires. It was<br />

fascinating watching<br />

this most normal<br />

family coming to terms<br />

with their natures. It’s<br />

Joanna Trollope meets<br />

Twilight and I loved it.”<br />

Jo Franks works in<br />

<strong>RNIB</strong>’s Products and<br />

Publications team and<br />

read The Daughter <strong>of</strong><br />

Time by Josephine Tey<br />

(braille 3V, TB 1396).<br />

“Inspector Alan Grant <strong>of</strong> Scotland Yard<br />

finds himself bored and frustrated in<br />

hospital with a broken leg so he turns<br />

to investigating the alleged crimes <strong>of</strong><br />

Richard III whose bones were recently<br />

found in a car park in<br />

Leicester. Was he really<br />

a villain? The answers<br />

that Inspector Grant<br />

reveals are really quite<br />

surprising.”<br />

Kim Normanton is Read<br />

On’s audio producer.<br />

She is <strong>reading</strong> The Help<br />

by Kathryn Stockett<br />

(braille 9v, giant print,<br />

TB 17729).<br />

“It’s set in Mississippi in 1962 and is<br />

written from three distinct perspectives<br />

which are cleverly interwoven. The book<br />

has a really strong sense <strong>of</strong> time and<br />

place: you’re in the deep American South<br />

in the early sixties. Civil rights have got<br />

under way – there’s an awareness that<br />

things might be about to change but<br />

they haven’t hit Mississippi yet. Author<br />

Kathryn Stockett has a good ear for<br />

dialogue and the book really moves<br />

along at a fast pace. For me, most<br />

interesting is that the<br />

author is white and<br />

writing about black<br />

maids, a brave thing to<br />

do. It’s very readable<br />

– not quite To kill a<br />

mockingbird but it<br />

reminds me a little <strong>of</strong><br />

that book.”


On our bedside table<br />

Clare Carson, Read On<br />

audio presenter read<br />

The Silver Pigs by<br />

Lindsey Davis<br />

(TB 10320).<br />

“This is Lindsey Davis’ first novel. I<br />

interviewed Lindsey, who is partially<br />

sighted herself, a couple <strong>of</strong> years ago<br />

and was enthralled by her talking about<br />

the hero in her books: Marcus Didius<br />

Falco. He is a crack detective in Rome,<br />

back in the days when Vespasian was<br />

Emperor. This is a wonderful story<br />

about how he sets up in<br />

business and also travels<br />

to Britain to solve a crime.<br />

There is also a love story<br />

intertwined with it. I loved<br />

it and it helped pass the<br />

time on a 10 hour flight<br />

to America recently.”<br />

Karen Porter works<br />

in <strong>RNIB</strong>’s Publishing<br />

team. She read The<br />

Lighthouse by Alison<br />

Moore, shortlisted for<br />

the Booker Prize in<br />

2012 (braille, giant<br />

print and TB 20038).<br />

“This is the story <strong>of</strong> Futh, a lonely<br />

middle-aged man who decides to go on<br />

a walking holiday in Germany. Woven<br />

around it is Esther’s story, the unhappy<br />

landlady <strong>of</strong> the hotel in which Futh<br />

stays. As the story unfolds you gradually<br />

discover more about Futh’s past, and<br />

how events,<br />

misunderstandings and<br />

missed opportunities<br />

have shaped him. It’s<br />

a rather melancholy<br />

book – quite short and<br />

beautifully written but<br />

left me feeling rather sad.”<br />

Deb Ryan is Reader<br />

Services Manager for<br />

<strong>RNIB</strong> and the Editor <strong>of</strong><br />

Read On. She read The<br />

Snow Child by<br />

Eowyn Ivey (TB 19614,<br />

giant print 4v).<br />

“Based on a traditional story this is one<br />

<strong>of</strong> the most atmospheric, beautifully<br />

written books I have ever read.<br />

Set in the twenties, Mabel and Jack<br />

move to Alaska to start afresh after the<br />

tragic loss <strong>of</strong> a child. One night, Mabel<br />

makes a child out <strong>of</strong> snow. The next<br />

morning, the snow child is gone, but<br />

there is a trail <strong>of</strong> small footsteps leading<br />

into the woods. The story unfolds as<br />

the child becomes part <strong>of</strong> the family,<br />

although she always yearns for the <strong>life</strong><br />

in the forest she had, and we see the<br />

healing effect she has on the couple. The<br />

question <strong>of</strong> whether the child is real or<br />

not haunts the book and<br />

you are left to make up<br />

your own mind. At times<br />

sad (I admit I cried), it<br />

is still an uplifting book<br />

about hope and the power<br />

<strong>of</strong> love.”<br />

21


Literary news<br />

Literary news<br />

Jackson Brodie returns<br />

A second series <strong>of</strong> Case Histories is in<br />

production, based on Kate Atkinson’s<br />

novels and starring Jason Isaacs as<br />

Jackson Brodie. (<strong>RNIB</strong> has all four<br />

Jackson Brodie novels for loan and sale.)<br />

Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth<br />

comes to Channel 4<br />

Channel 4 has<br />

broadcast a<br />

mini-series based on<br />

Kate Mosse’s 2005<br />

novel Labyrinth The<br />

cast includes Vanessa<br />

Kirby, Jessica Brown<br />

Findlay, Katie McGrath,<br />

Tom Felton, Sebastian<br />

Stan, Emun Elliott, Tony Curran, and<br />

John Hurt. The novel is available in<br />

braille 8v; giant print 7v; TB 14559<br />

and for sale in DAISY audio – order no<br />

800136, £6.99.<br />

Da Vinci Code sequel<br />

Dan Brown will publish his sixth novel,<br />

Inferno, on 14 May. Harvard pr<strong>of</strong>essor<br />

<strong>of</strong> symbology Robert Langdon finds<br />

himself at the centre <strong>of</strong> a <strong>my</strong>stery based<br />

on Dante’s classic work – Inferno.<br />

Philippa Gregory novels<br />

adapted for TV<br />

Philippa Gregory’s bestselling historical<br />

novel series The Cousins’ War has been<br />

adapted for a BBC television series.<br />

The White Queen is set against the<br />

backdrop <strong>of</strong> War <strong>of</strong> the Roses and tells<br />

the thrilling story <strong>of</strong> the women caught<br />

up in the ongoing conflict for the throne.<br />

The White Queen is a rich tale <strong>of</strong> love<br />

and loss, seduction and deception,<br />

betrayal and murder, vibrantly woven<br />

through the stories <strong>of</strong> three different yet<br />

equally driven women, in their quest for<br />

power as they manipulate behind the<br />

scenes <strong>of</strong> history – Elizabeth Woodville,<br />

Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville.<br />

It will be broadcast on BBC One this<br />

year. <strong>RNIB</strong> has The Cousins’ War novels<br />

available for loan or sale.<br />

The Casual Vacancy to<br />

air on BBC<br />

BBC One is to air a series<br />

based on JK Rowling’s<br />

best-selling novel The<br />

Casual Vacancy (braille<br />

9v, TB 20041, DAISY<br />

audio – order no 803972,<br />

£9.99). The programme<br />

is expected to air 2014<br />

and JK Rowling will be closely involved<br />

with the collaboration.<br />

22


Literary news<br />

The two faces <strong>of</strong><br />

January<br />

A big screen adaptation <strong>of</strong> Patricia<br />

Highsmith’s novel The Two Faces <strong>of</strong><br />

January is scheduled for release this year.<br />

Starring Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten<br />

Dunst.<br />

Six degrees <strong>of</strong><br />

separation<br />

A great actor in a great screen<br />

adaptation can lead you to books you<br />

didn’t know before or simply hadn’t<br />

got round to <strong>reading</strong> yet. Rufus Sewell<br />

may have had that effect on you as<br />

Lucas Romer in the BBC’s Restless a<br />

couple <strong>of</strong> months ago or as Aurelio Zen<br />

a year before. Here are some books (or<br />

series <strong>of</strong> books) that have benefited<br />

from his talents in film or television<br />

adaptations…<br />

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.<br />

Flora has been expensively educated to<br />

do everything but earn her own living.<br />

When she is orphaned at 20, she decides<br />

her only option is to go and live with her<br />

relatives, the Starkadders,<br />

at Cold Comfort Farm. What<br />

relatives though. Flora feels<br />

it incumbent upon her to<br />

bring order into the chaos<br />

(braille 5v, TB 1714).<br />

Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen detective<br />

novels <strong>of</strong>fer an insight into Italian<br />

society over two decades through the<br />

experiences <strong>of</strong> the middle-aged and<br />

somewhat jaded antihero.<br />

We have ten Aurelio Zen books for you<br />

to borrow or buy: Ratking (braille 6v,<br />

TB 9449); Vendetta (TB 12178); Cabal<br />

(TB 9618); Dead lagoon (braille 7v,<br />

TB 10508); Cosi Fan Tutte (TB 18409);<br />

A long finish (TB 15112); Blood rain<br />

(TB 15037); And then you die<br />

(TB 12904); Medusa (TB 14035) and<br />

Back to Bologna (braille 3v, TB 14489).<br />

The last book in the series, End Games,<br />

will be available as a talking book in the<br />

near future.<br />

Restless by William Boyd. During<br />

the long, hot summer <strong>of</strong> 1976, Ruth<br />

Gilmartin discovers that her very English<br />

mother, Sally is really Eva Delectorskaya,<br />

a Russian émigré and one-time spy. In<br />

1939, Eva is a beautiful 28-year-old<br />

living in Paris. As war breaks out, she is<br />

recruited for the British Secret Service<br />

by Lucas Romer, a <strong>my</strong>sterious, patrician<br />

Englishman. Since then, Eva has carefully<br />

rebuilt her <strong>life</strong> – but<br />

once a spy, always<br />

a spy. And now, she<br />

must complete one<br />

last assignment. This<br />

time, though, she<br />

needs her daughter’s<br />

help (braille 4v,<br />

giant print 3v,<br />

TB 14908).<br />

23


<strong>Julia</strong> <strong>Donaldson</strong> interview<br />

<strong>Meet</strong> Children’s Laureate<br />

<strong>Julia</strong> <strong>Donaldson</strong><br />

After a morning full <strong>of</strong> children<br />

performing her work at the Cheltenham<br />

Literary Festival, Children’s Laureate<br />

<strong>Julia</strong> <strong>Donaldson</strong> found time to speak to<br />

Clare Carson.<br />

Do you consciously try to encourage<br />

children to think that a book is not<br />

just a two dimensional thing?<br />

I think it’s great fun to act out the book<br />

but some children don’t like or aren’t<br />

familiar with the printed page and this<br />

might be way into books for them.<br />

When did you first start writing<br />

children’s books?<br />

I wrote a song called “A squash and a<br />

squeeze” for children’s TV, and then<br />

years later it was turned into a book.<br />

Since then I’ve<br />

been writing<br />

books but I still<br />

write songs and<br />

we never do a<br />

performance<br />

without singing a<br />

song.<br />

With over 15 million copies <strong>of</strong> The<br />

Gruffalo sold and over 150 books to<br />

your name, are you aware that you<br />

are making a difference in households<br />

with small children?<br />

It’s very gratifying and touching when<br />

people thank you for making bedtime<br />

so enjoyable because I remember vividly<br />

how enjoyable it was sharing a chuckle<br />

or a tear with <strong>my</strong> own children, and you<br />

can discover so much about them.<br />

Do special duties come with being the<br />

Children’s Laureate?<br />

It’s really a pleasure, not a duty,<br />

sp<strong>reading</strong> the word about <strong>reading</strong> and<br />

enjoyment <strong>of</strong> books. There are a few<br />

events in the diary that you have to<br />

do but mainly it’s up to you to bring<br />

something <strong>of</strong> yourself to the job. In <strong>my</strong><br />

case, because I have this background <strong>of</strong><br />

music and drama, that’s what I’m aiming<br />

24


<strong>Julia</strong> <strong>Donaldson</strong> interview<br />

to bring to the role. I’m encouraging<br />

children to act out their favourite picture<br />

books. I’m also very keen on libraries so<br />

I’m going to do a libraries tour where I<br />

hope children will come along prepared<br />

to act out something.<br />

Have you had much connection with<br />

children with sight loss?<br />

To be honest I have<br />

more connection<br />

with hearing loss as<br />

I have a degree <strong>of</strong><br />

hearing loss <strong>my</strong>self.<br />

I love seeing stories<br />

signed. I wrote a<br />

book called Freddie<br />

and the fairy who<br />

mishears a child’s wishes and I have<br />

recorded that for <strong>RNIB</strong> Talking <strong>Books</strong>. It<br />

really got me thinking because the way<br />

I originally ended the book you had to<br />

see the pictures for the joke to work so I<br />

completely rewrote the ending so that it<br />

worked for the blind and partially sighted<br />

children listening to it.<br />

At the talking book launch there was<br />

a little boy who had Freddie and the<br />

fairy from Living Paintings which had<br />

raised illustrations and braille and he<br />

sat stroking the images. That set me<br />

thinking a lot and I might get more<br />

involved in that side <strong>of</strong> things.<br />

Do you have a favourite book <strong>of</strong> your<br />

own?<br />

The snail and<br />

the whale is a<br />

favourite from a<br />

words point <strong>of</strong><br />

view as I think<br />

it’s the most<br />

poetic.<br />

Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>Julia</strong>’s books available from the Library:<br />

Cave baby<br />

A hairy mammoth<br />

takes a cheeky<br />

little baby on a<br />

thrilling ride (giant<br />

print)<br />

Freddie and the fairy<br />

Freddie is desperate for a pet, so<br />

when he rescues Bessie-Belle and<br />

she <strong>of</strong>fers to grant his wishes he<br />

knows just what to ask for. The only<br />

problem is that Bessie-Belle can’t<br />

hear very well (TB 18886).<br />

The gruffalo<br />

A rhyming story<br />

about a clever<br />

little mouse and<br />

a monster (giant<br />

print; TB 17117).<br />

25


<strong>Julia</strong> <strong>Donaldson</strong> interview<br />

The snail and the whale<br />

One tiny snail longs to see the<br />

world and hitches a lift on the tail<br />

<strong>of</strong> a whale (giant print).<br />

Stick man<br />

Stick Man lives in the<br />

family tree with his<br />

Stick Lady Love and<br />

their stick children<br />

three (giant print,<br />

TB 16556).<br />

A squash and a squeeze<br />

A little old lady thinks her house is<br />

a squash and a squeeze but, on the<br />

advice <strong>of</strong> a wise old<br />

man and the help<br />

<strong>of</strong> a few far<strong>my</strong>ard<br />

animals, she soon<br />

discovers that it’s<br />

not as small as she<br />

thought (giant<br />

print).<br />

Braille is fascinating! Discuss<br />

Are you a braille user?<br />

Do you teach braille?<br />

Do you transcribe braille?<br />

Or do you wish you could do some <strong>of</strong><br />

these things?<br />

If so we would like to invite you to<br />

enter the annual ONKYO braille essay<br />

competition. This year the competition<br />

is open to anyone who is interested<br />

in braille. The piece <strong>of</strong> writing can be<br />

creative or factual, just so long as it<br />

is about the role <strong>of</strong> braille or <strong>life</strong> with<br />

braille and is original and imaginative.<br />

The competition takes place all over the<br />

world and is sponsored by a Japanese<br />

technology company, ONKYO. British<br />

entrants compete for the European Prize<br />

and should send their entries to <strong>RNIB</strong><br />

who select the best 5 essays to represent<br />

the UK. The winning entry will receive<br />

$2,000 and there is a further $4,000 <strong>of</strong><br />

prize money on <strong>of</strong>fer in both junior and<br />

senior sections.<br />

The UK has been very fortunate to have<br />

had a number <strong>of</strong> winners over the years.<br />

Last year one <strong>of</strong> our younger braille<br />

users, Alexia Sloane (aged 11) won the<br />

“fine works” prize in the junior section.<br />

To read Alexia’s essay and download the<br />

entry pack, go to<br />

www.rnib.org.uk/essay or<br />

phone Sarah Martin on 01733 37 51 54<br />

for more details.<br />

The closing date is 20 May 2013.<br />

26


Children’s book news<br />

Children’s book news<br />

<strong>Summer</strong> Reading<br />

Challenge 2013<br />

Creepy House is the National <strong>Summer</strong><br />

Reading Challenge for 2013. Step inside<br />

the creepy house with our gang <strong>of</strong><br />

intrepid detectives; investigate clues and<br />

explore three different spooky zones!<br />

You will need to read six books over<br />

the school summer holidays in order to<br />

complete the Challenge and you can<br />

participate in activities in your local<br />

public library. You can read any books<br />

you like, including audio books, and<br />

you can read them either by yourself or<br />

with help. On completion, you will be<br />

rewarded with a medal and a certificate.<br />

We have been working with the Reading<br />

Agency and will once again be producing<br />

the pack for the Challenge in alternative<br />

formats (large print and braille).<br />

We will be producing themed booklists<br />

which will be ready for you in<br />

mid-June. Register now (contact details<br />

on p28) and prepare to be “creeped”!<br />

Carnegie shadowing<br />

Once again <strong>RNIB</strong> National Library Service<br />

is working to enable young people<br />

with sight loss to take part in the CILIP<br />

Carnegie Medal shadowing scheme.<br />

The Carnegie Medal has been awarded<br />

annually to the writer <strong>of</strong> an outstanding<br />

book for children since 1936 and was<br />

named after the philanthropist, Andrew<br />

Carnegie. Children’s Librarians from all<br />

over the country judge the books and<br />

children in schools and public libraries<br />

come together to discuss the shortlisted<br />

titles as part <strong>of</strong> the Carnegie Shadowing<br />

Scheme, although individuals can also<br />

shadow the award independently.<br />

This is a fantastic opportunity for young<br />

blind and partially sighted people to<br />

comment on the shortlisted titles for this<br />

prestigious book award. The books can<br />

be borrowed from <strong>RNIB</strong> in contracted<br />

braille, DAISY audio and giant print –<br />

register now to get involved.<br />

27


<strong>Books</strong> for children<br />

Children’s book<br />

recommendations<br />

New beginnings<br />

Spring has sprung at last! So we thought<br />

we would cheer ourselves up after a<br />

dreary winter with stories about spring,<br />

sunshine and new beginnings.<br />

Giant print readers can have some lunch<br />

with The very hungry caterpillar. In<br />

this lovely classic story by Eric Carle,<br />

we meet a caterpillar at the point <strong>of</strong><br />

hatching from his egg, and live through<br />

his first week as he eats his way through<br />

a multitude <strong>of</strong> treats.<br />

The end <strong>of</strong> the story<br />

is the caterpillar’s<br />

beginning… as a<br />

beautiful butterfly.<br />

Young talking book readers might like to<br />

take a trip to Greendale where they will<br />

find Postman Pat and the spring fair<br />

(TB13668). The villagers<br />

are busy spring cleaning<br />

and sorting jumble for the<br />

fair. <strong>Julia</strong>n can’t wait to<br />

spend his pocket-money<br />

and ends up choosing a<br />

very unusual present.<br />

A giant print chapter book with a<br />

springtime theme is Lucy Daniels’ Lamb<br />

in the laundry. Mandy and James are<br />

helping out at the farm and decide to<br />

hand-rear a little black lamb that is<br />

rejected by its mum.<br />

However, the lamb<br />

disappears. Will they be<br />

able to find it before it’s<br />

too late?<br />

Step into The secret garden and enjoy a<br />

classic book by Frances Hodgson Burnett<br />

where new beginnings are<br />

aplenty. Mary arrives from<br />

India to live with her uncle<br />

in a large house in Yorkshire<br />

and is miserable until she<br />

discovers a special place.<br />

Older readers may enjoy the fantasy<br />

element <strong>of</strong> Stephen Gately’s<br />

The tree <strong>of</strong> seasons.<br />

The eponymous tree is<br />

a doorway into a world<br />

with four kingdoms, each<br />

<strong>of</strong> which is forever stuck<br />

in either spring, summer,<br />

autumn and winter.<br />

Nothing evokes a sense <strong>of</strong> springtime<br />

and sunshine like Cider<br />

with Rosie. Laurie Lee’s<br />

timeless memoir about<br />

growing up in a rural village<br />

is a heart-warming read and<br />

just perfect for this time <strong>of</strong><br />

year.<br />

For further information about any <strong>of</strong><br />

these features or books for children and<br />

young people contact the Children’s<br />

Librarian on 0161 429 1975; email:<br />

childrenslibrarian@rnib.org.uk.<br />

28


Children’s magazines<br />

New email magazines<br />

Get five <strong>of</strong> the best children’s magazines<br />

from National Talking Newspapers<br />

and Magazines email service. Children<br />

and young people <strong>of</strong> all ages can tuck<br />

into Match <strong>of</strong> the Day, Aquila, BBC<br />

Horrible Histories, Top <strong>of</strong> the Pops<br />

and First News. You’ll get them all for<br />

the great price <strong>of</strong> just £19.50 per year,<br />

which covers more than 130 magazine<br />

issues delivered straight to your inbox!<br />

Visit tnauk.org.uk/children or call<br />

01435 86 61 02 to subscribe.<br />

Match <strong>of</strong> the Day<br />

Match <strong>of</strong> the Day<br />

magazine – as seen<br />

on TV. Check out the<br />

latest footie gossip,<br />

games, quizzes and<br />

the best interviews<br />

around.<br />

Aquila<br />

Our monthly<br />

magazine for factoids<br />

aged 6 -12. Jam<br />

packed with science,<br />

wild<strong>life</strong> and world<br />

facts as well as<br />

hilarious jokes and<br />

challenging puzzles.<br />

BBC Horrible Histories<br />

Don’t miss the<br />

gruesome Horrible<br />

histories magazine –<br />

history with all the<br />

nasty bits left in!<br />

From terrible Tudors<br />

to awful Egyptians,<br />

you’ll find all <strong>of</strong><br />

history’s nastiest<br />

nuggets inside.<br />

Top <strong>of</strong> the Pops<br />

Top <strong>of</strong> the Pops<br />

magazine features<br />

chart information,<br />

star gossip, fashion<br />

and beauty advice,<br />

quizzes, song lyrics<br />

and more. Find out<br />

the latest on the hottest bands and<br />

tunes around.<br />

First news<br />

Our weekly magazine<br />

bursting with current<br />

affairs and news<br />

for 7-14 year olds,<br />

covering all the latest<br />

stories from the<br />

UK and around the<br />

world. Special features include Kids in<br />

the Commons, science news and features<br />

from young reporters.<br />

29


Behind the scenes<br />

Behind the scenes:<br />

Robert Saggers<br />

Robert Saggers is <strong>RNIB</strong>’s Heritage Services<br />

Manager. Clare Carson caught up with him<br />

at <strong>RNIB</strong>’s talking book studios.<br />

What does your job involve?<br />

My job is very exciting at the moment.<br />

I’m managing the three different<br />

collections which have been brought<br />

together to form Heritage Services.<br />

These are the Research Library, Modern<br />

Records, which are all the reports<br />

and minutes which are produced on a<br />

daily basis and the Archive. It’s quite<br />

inspiring to have all the material at your<br />

fingertips.<br />

Tell us about what you’ve brought in.<br />

I have a photograph dated 1915 from<br />

the Worcester College for the blind sons<br />

<strong>of</strong> gentlemen. The photo shows the<br />

Worcester first four rowing out on the<br />

Thames. We have a whole collection<br />

<strong>of</strong> these photographs from Worcester<br />

College and one <strong>of</strong> the challenges is to<br />

put them all into order.<br />

Has managing the Archive been a<br />

journey <strong>of</strong> discovery for you?<br />

Absolutely. It’s wonderful. A lot <strong>of</strong> the<br />

collection still needs to be catalogued<br />

and we are literally opening boxes and<br />

finding undiscovered treasures all the<br />

time. We have photographic archives,<br />

we have original shellac recording<br />

discs going back to the 1920s, we<br />

might come across folders <strong>of</strong> reports<br />

and we have lots <strong>of</strong> material that has<br />

been bequeathed to us from other<br />

organisations.<br />

30


Behind the scenes<br />

I’ve also brought along a brailler from the<br />

late 1940s. This is a matrix brailler from<br />

the Coventry Gauge and Tool Company.<br />

It looks like a small typewriter with keys<br />

coming out <strong>of</strong> the end which are flat.<br />

This one still has a little bell that rings to<br />

tell you when the paper is running out.<br />

The later ones didn’t have that.<br />

Dr William Moon created a system <strong>of</strong><br />

embossed lettering in 1847. Can you<br />

tell us about the woman claiming to<br />

be related to him?<br />

We were left a large amount <strong>of</strong><br />

correspondence from Miss Lillian Moon,<br />

who claimed originally to be the great<br />

granddaughter <strong>of</strong> Dr Moon. Her story<br />

changed over time to being his niece and<br />

eventually his great niece. She wrote to<br />

lots <strong>of</strong> eminent people and organisations<br />

but it turned out that she had no<br />

connection to the Moon family at all.<br />

However, we are left with a wonderful<br />

collection <strong>of</strong> correspondence which<br />

draws together lots <strong>of</strong> contemporary<br />

documents from different blind societies<br />

<strong>of</strong> the time so it’s an interesting social<br />

study in itself.<br />

We are hoping to make this kind <strong>of</strong><br />

material more accessible to the public<br />

and perhaps to have some kind <strong>of</strong><br />

display area in <strong>RNIB</strong>’s Judd Street <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

so that we can show some <strong>of</strong> these<br />

things <strong>of</strong>f.<br />

And finally, I have a Swiss made braille<br />

alarm clock probably from the 1930s.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the problems we have is a great<br />

number <strong>of</strong> artefacts which have simply<br />

arrived over the years without any notes.<br />

It’s part <strong>of</strong> the fun working with these<br />

things that we have to play detective to<br />

find out more about them.<br />

If someone wants to come and use<br />

this amazing resource what should<br />

they do?<br />

It’s best to get in touch with us first to<br />

get the most from your visit. You can<br />

call us on 0207 391 2052 or email us<br />

heritageservices@rnib.org.uk<br />

You can also find more about us<br />

on our web pages at<br />

rnib.org.uk/heritageservices<br />

31


Switch and save<br />

Switch to paying for your <strong>RNIB</strong> Talking Book Service by Direct<br />

Debit and you can save £7 on your annual subscription – pay just<br />

£75 instead <strong>of</strong> £82!<br />

Or spread your payments across the year and pay only £7.50 a<br />

month for ten months – with two months <strong>of</strong>f.<br />

Switch to Direct Debit today and make the savings you need. Just<br />

call the <strong>RNIB</strong> Helpline on 0303 123 9999.<br />

32

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