Archives for posts with tag: library visits

Twitter is a wonderful way to make new friends. Recently a head teacher I follow drew my attention to a knitted puffin that a Glasgow teacher had put up on Twitter. She thought it looked very like one of the characters of my puffin books, Lewis Clowns Around and Harris the Hero.

Knitted puffin by Susan Quinn.

Knitted puffin by Susan Quinn.

I was impressed, and wondered if Susan the clever knitter would be able to create a fluffy grey puffling to go with me on school and nursery visits when I’m reading my new puffin story, Skye the Puffling. Through Twitter I was able to chat to Susan about what Skye should look like, and show her the lovely illustration by Jon Mitchell:

Skye coverSusan immediately set to work, and soon I was able to see my little puffling taking shape! Not being a knitter myself, I was baffled by the complex knitting instructions she seemed to be following. A fluffy little grey thing began to emerge…

knitting-skye-1Next she sent me a little bird shape and I could imagine a very cute, fluffy puffling who looked soft and snuggly:

knitting-skye-2Finally, Susan sent me a picture of Skye with eyes and a beak, with the message, “only the feet to add.” Little Skye was soon finished, and Susan and I agreed to meet up so I could repay her with three copies of my puffin books.

knitting-skye-3My fluffy Skye has already come with me to a Bookbug Library Challenge event at Drymen Library, and she was very well received! I’ve got another event tomorrow at Alloa Library, and Skye will be coming with me again, to be sure.

fluffy-skyeI was very touched by Susan’s generosity, and it was a real pleasure to meet her for a chat as we exchanged puffins. Many thanks to Joyce Hawkins who first alerted me to Susan’s impressive knitting talents!

Cute knitted cactus plants I spotted at fnac bookshop in Barcelona.

Cute knitted cactus plants I spotted at fnac bookshop in Barcelona.

While I was on holiday in Spain another knitted item caught my eye. It was a pair of soft and squishy cactus plants with brilliant care instructions: “Cactus of extremely slow, almost imperceptible growth. Easy to care for, simply give abundant morning smiles.” As my daughter is a huge cactus fan, I took a photo of them to show her. I’m glad I did, as it meant I could show the same photo to Susan. I thought she could easily knit a cactus and find a pot for it, and sure enough, she had already done it!

Susan Quinn's cactus.

Susan Quinn’s cactus.

It seems there is no end to what you can do with knitting needles! Susan is already thinking about Christmas…


Woodland Park Cooperative Preschool in Seattle has a new community library. From

Woodland Park Cooperative Preschool in Seattle has a new community library. From

It’s nice to know that in these days of library closures and cutbacks, the desire to share books and celebrate reading is still a powerful force in many communities. I follow the blog of a preschool teacher in Seattle called Teacher Tom, who recently posted about the new community library he has installed (with the help of a parent who built it!)

The idea of providing free access to a small collection of books on a local level has been around for generations, and one particular movement called Little Free Library developed recently in the United States. Its aim is “to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.”

The first Little Free Library, from

The first Little Free Library, from

The first Little Free Library was built in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin. It was designed to look like a one-room schoolhouse, and was created as a memorial to Todd’s mother Esther Bol who was a teacher. He filled it with books and set it on a post in his front garden for anyone in the neighbourhood to enjoy. I think the concept may have sprung in part from the American tradition of the curbside mailbox.

The traditional mailbox found in rural and suburban settings in the USA.

The traditional mailbox found in rural and suburban settings in the USA.

These are similar in concept – a box on a pole at the end of the drive – and can be quite fanciful in design, ranging from red barns and Victorian houses to boldly painted American flags. There is just as much variety in the Little Free Library designs, and many have outdoor seating and shady umbrellas for your reading pleasure.

Todd Bol’s original library spawned a growing movement, and by the summer of 2010 little postbox-style structures made of recycled wood were popping up all over Wisconsin. By the end of 2011 there were four hundred of them across the United States. Today that number has reached 36,000 and is still growing!

Anyone in the US and Canada can order a Little Free Library box online to install in their own neighbourhood. Its location will then be pinpointed on a map on the Little Free Library website. If you live elsewhere in the world, you can still be part of the scheme by registering your own mini-library with Little Free Library. This will put you on the map too!

If you happen to live near Minneapolis, Minnesota, you can catch the first Little Free Library Festival:

LFL Festival

The festival will feature live music, poetry, storytelling and of course library-building. That last option appeals to me, as I love all the amazing designs and would quite enjoy giving my library a colourful and distinctive paint job!

One example of a rather unusual mini-library is this TARDIS one from Macon, Georgia:

The TARDIS Little Free Library built by Christopher Marney. From

The TARDIS Little Free Library built by Christopher Marney. From

It has room for all sorts of books and access for all heights, from the smallest readers to the tallest ones. Not everyone can have a TARDIS in their neighbourhood (although I do!) Ours is a real Police box that now serves as a tiny coffee shop outside the Botanic Gardens. I wonder if they might consider having a collection of free books on one shelf…


I love being invited to book festivals. It’s so nice to be able to share my stories with lots of children! Recently I read Pink! and Green¬†and Jacob and Lewis to a big crowd of nursery children at Dunblane Library as part of the Off-the-Page Festival.

The library was lovely and bright with a big colourful rug and beanbag chairs for kids to sit on. There were even giant soft toy dogs and pandas for some lucky children to hug while they were listening to the stories!

This little girl was lucky enough to get a big dog to hug. She looks like she will never let him go! All the children were very well behaved and I think they enjoyed the stories. Everyone joined in with me when I read the lines, “I do not eat the colour green.”

One little boy must have been a bit hungry. He decided he wanted to EAT one of my books! Luckily he didn’t get it too soggy.

On a very wet Thursday morning I made my way to the Kingdom of Fife, where a lovely bunch of children were waiting for me to read them stories. This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is on the theme of Circus Stars, so my book about a puffin who becomes a circus clown was perfect for the occasion!

I started at Kirkcaldy Library, where I read Lewis Clowns Around, Pink!, Jacob O’Reilly Wants a Pet and I Do Not Eat the Colour Green. My audience was very attentive and we had a great time!

While I was there I was delighted to meet Jacqueline, the little girl who sent me a great letter with a picture of her two pink penguins (see the entry below). She arrived with her big and little penguins as well as a new puffin toy that looked just like Lewis!

In the afternoon I went to Rothes Halls Library in Glenrothes and read all my stories to a new group of children. They all squashed onto a big colourful rug, and after I read Pink! everyone got up for a little break and had a penguin-waddle around the library! At the end we all had a special treat – chocolate biscuits and juice!

Thanks very much to Maggie Gray and Sharron Brown and her team who made me feel very welcome. It was lovely to meet everyone and I hope the children had as much fun as I did!

My new book, Lewis Clowns Around, will soon be published (on 22 September) and I am very pleased to be giving a small group of children a little sneak preview! On Thursday, 11 August I will be reading a special copy of the book at Kirkcaldy Library in the morning, and at Rothes Halls Library in Glenrothes in the afternoon.

I am especially looking forward to meeting one little girl who has written me a letter. Her name is Jacqueline and she is a keen reader, but I will let her speak for herself:

Jacqueline is a big fan of Pink! and she has two pink penguin toys that look just like Patrick. I do hope she likes Lewis just as much. Perhaps she can find a little puffin soft toy for her collection… Thank you, Jacqueline, for your lovely letter which made my day!

When I was on holiday recently in Norfolk I came across this clever sculpture of two puffins made of wood and metal. It looks just like Lewis and his brother Harris! I was very tempted to buy it, but it was a bit too expensive. Perhaps I can make my own sculpture, as I do enjoy making things.

I’ll write again soon to tell you all about my Lewis Launch in Fife. I’ll try and get some new pictures to show you. Maybe I’ll see some of you there!