Thursday, 19 February 2009

Emma Turnbull: Reading Mountaineer

Emma Turnbull, Literacy Officer at Scottish Arts Council pops in to blog about the mountain of reading she is currently doing for us as a member of the shortlisting panel for the 2009 Royal Mail Awards.

My living room is full of piles of book and bits of paper covered with scruffy scribbly notes, I haven’t been out after work for the last three weeks and I’ve started having crazy dreams because I’m reading non stop about magical, mythical and mystical happenings, far off lands, days gone-by and playground sagas of bullying, unrequited love and hair-dye gone wrong. It can only mean one thing: it must be the Royal Mail Awards!

I love being on the panel for the awards, I love the feeling of collecting the giant box of books and then getting home and arranging them all in piles wondering which ones I’ll love and which ones I will throw across the room in despair. I love the panel meeting in March where we all argue over which books should make it to the shortlists. The bits of scribbly scruffy paper are essential tools I need for the panel battle. It should be a nice civilised meeting where everyone comes to the same conclusion but it isn’t! No! It is all out war, polite war of course, the panel is made up of adults (and 4 kids who are probably the most civilised of all of us).

Since collecting the box-of-books I’ve been tearing through them every night and every spare minute I get-I’ve even stopped cycling to work so I can read on the bus. Reading so many children’s books in a compressed space of time definitely does funny things to your mind, you find yourself thinking about all kinds of stuff you wouldn’t normally: this year there have been a couple of ‘knights of old’ type books in the teen category so I’ve found myself thinking about that sort of world a lot. Last year I remember looking out at the sea thinking ‘where are all the galleons?’ yes, being a judge definitely unsettles your mind!

The books for the youngest age group are usually my favourite, I normally test them out on tots I babysit but this year I just had to force my boyfriend to listen to them instead, (‘But I’m watching Match of the Day’ ‘no but listen, there’s this kitten right, look it’s going to have some adventures’ etc etc) with the picture books you really need to know what they are going to sound like out-loud, sometimes it is completely different to the way something looks on the page.
So far I’ve read the picture books and the mid age range books, I had one clear favourite in the mid range, it was the sort of book you couldn’t wait to get back to. It was so good I was dipping into it at work in between meetings and at one point in the middle of a (very boring) meeting. I always get a bit nervous when I like a book too much though in case the other members of the panel hate it.

I’m reading the teen books now. Most of the time with the books it’s easy to remember back to when you were a certain age and think ‘I would have loved / hated this’ with the teen books most of them are much the same as books written for adults so it is much easier to judge. There is still about a month to go before the panel meeting, I have been saving some of the authors I know until the end as treats but there has been a lot of really great stuff already, some very nice surprises. There have been no absolute stinkers so far, I haven’t thrown a single book across the room and I also haven’t gone cross eyed yet! 40 down 10 to go.

Thank you Emma.

1 comment:

@jjash said...

Hello, nice post sounds so much work reading all those books. I was wondering if I could have permission to use the pile of books pic in a presentation for library techs?

many thanks from Jenny Ashby