Behind the scenes at Bethnal Green Library

A group of parents and children met on Saturday November 5th to explore the parts of Bethnal Green Library that customers don’t usually get to see.

St Elizabeth's ready to explore

One of the most striking hidden features of this very beautiful library is the wonderful stained glass window that commemorates peace.

The Peace window at Bethnal Green Library

We aren’t going to tell you VERY much about what we saw in the rooms that are usually locked and unavailable to the public – we want to keep surprises in store for future trips!

Rachel warns that there are shocks in storeOur children were fascinated by the old reference books they found upstairs: records of parliamentary debate amongst them – we had to explain that before the internet, you came to the library to look things up – no Google!

Fascinating old books upstairs

After we had explored every secret room – and some of them are quite creepy – we made our way down a winding stone staircase back to the library to browse the books.

Book selection made just for us

The Bethnal Green Librarians Mark and Lorraine created cards for everyone that needed one. Did you know that you can take up to twelve items at a time from the library? Some of our children did just that, carrying their spoils home in smart green book bags that Mark and Lorraine gave them.

So much to choose from

Bethnal Green library is a valued part of the Tower Hamlets Idea Store family, and if you live, work or play in Tower Hamlets, you can sign up and use any and all of the libraries and Idea Stores – you don’t have to be a borough resident. You can treat every library that is part of the London Consortium as your own home branch.Reading and sharing is what a library is all about There is a wide, varied and exciting selection of stock at Bethnal Green Library, for adults as well as for children. And if you’re after something that can’t be found on the shelves, it can be requested from another London Consortium library. Our children saw the room where Will takes care of the hundreds of books that move between the different libraries every week.

You could pick up some books from Hackney Central, check them back in at Bethnal Green, and Will will make sure that they are returned to the home branch. This makes it much easier to fit library visits into a busy week!

Mrs Braniff relaxes with a good readIf you’d like to know more about joining a library or the services they offer, please feel free to speak to Rachel (our school librarian) during the Friday parents’ coffee morning. And if you missed this trip, but would like to peek behind the scenes at Bethnal Green, then please let Sue or Rachel know you’re interested – we would be very happy to arrange more visits.

Find out more about Tower Hamlets Libraries and Idea Stores here

A New Era Begins! Book Clubs at St Elizabeth

Some of the titles that the Bookworms Book Club enjoyed

NEW Book Clubs are starting! The library has felt very quiet on a Friday lunchtime since the Bookworms left, and so it was lovely to welcome the Year 5s that are starting their own club this year.

If you are in Year 4 or above, and interested in being part of a  Book Club, please make your interest known to your teacher. If you’re not sure if it’s for you, you could pop into the library on Friday and ask Rachel the Librarian to tell you more about it.

The photo above shows a small selection of the books that the Bookworm Book Club read over the two years that the club ran. We are looking forward to discovering what books and authors our new Book Club members enjoy!

Goodbye to the Bookworm Book Club …

Bookworm Book Club

Dear Bookworms, we wish you every success in your secondary schools and hope that you will seek out the library the moment you get there!

The Bookworm Book Club are pictured here with just some of the books that they have enjoyed together over the last two years – how many of these have you read ..?

Winter is a wonderful time to read!

Christmas display at St Elizabeth’s Library

Can you spot Spot?

Is there anything nicer than curling up with a wonderful book when it’s dark and cold outside?

We don’t think so!

Our library volunteer with her Christmas selection

Our library volunteer with her Christmas selection

We’ve been choosing our favourite books about CHRISTMAS and you will find them on display in the library, ready for you to take home and enjoy.

Is it Christmas yet?

HOW many sleeps until Christmas ??!!


Tower Hamlets Book Awards 2015

Tower Hamlets Book Awards 2015


The Tower Hamlets Book Awards of 2015 are underway, and the members of the Bookworm Book Club are busily working their way through the six shortlisted books to decide which one they think deserves to be the winner.

One of the rules that the Bookworm Book Club is ‘no spoilers’ so I shall not tell you in words which book is an early favourite … but maybe you can guess!

Click the link to find out more about the Tower Hamlets Book Awards 2015

Bookworm Book Club

In the spring of 2014, some of our Year 4s had the idea of forming a book club. That Friday lunchtime book group is still going strong, and together, the Bookworm Book Club have discovered and discussed some wonderful books.Bookworm Book Club Poster

The poster above was a brilliant collaborative effort (as indeed is the Book Club) and the paper copy is brightening one wall in our library. Have you seen it yet?

Authors Aloud! Eileen Browne visits Years 1 and 2

Eileen Browne with Years 1 and 2Eileen Browne, author and illustrator of the classic children’s picture books Handa’s Hen and Handa’s Surprise, visited Years 1 and 2 on March 25th.

A ‘hands-up’ in the audience showed that almost all of our children had read the Handa books and remembered her stories. Following Eileen’s reading of Handa’s Hen,  we helped her to draw a very special character – the St. Elizabeth’s spoonbill! Eileen emphasised to us that he is our spoonbill, and so we could make him any colour that we liked, give him any name that we liked, and spell his name any way that we liked. This artistic freedom is partly what makes being an author – or an illustrator – so special!Eileen Browne and the St Elizabeth's spoonbillEileen also led us in a very exciting dancing session, in which we moved like the birds and animals that Handa sees every day – Years 1 and 2 enjoyed this very much, and were particularly skilled at sticking out their tongues like lizards!Eileen Browne leads a lively dancing sessionEileen also showed us how a picture book is put together by the publishers.  Eileen drew and painted her pictures for the Handa books, mixing hundreds of colours to create Handa and her home in Kenya. Eileen’s original paintings were then photographed by the publishers to create the Handa picture books. Eileen explained to us that although there are hundreds of different colours in picture books, they are created using just four different inks: cyan (a bright blue), magenta (a pinkish-purple), yellow, and black; and from these four colours, all the others can be made.

Our action-packed hour with Eileen was very exciting, and full of surprises, but perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that Eileen didn’t live in Kenya when she wrote and drew the Handa books: she lived in North London! This goes to show how powerful imagination and inspiration can be, and what beautiful images and stories we can create when we allow ourselves the freedom to enjoy and explore our ideas.Eileen Browne and Nursery pm

An ENORMOUS thank you to Eileen Browne for such an action-packed and inspiring visit to Years 1 and 2. St. Elizabeth’s must also give a special thanks to Eileen for the visit that she made to Nursery before meeting Years 1 and 2. This was particularly kind of Eileen, as she had some free time in a busy schedule and offered it to our children. Nursery pm enjoyed Eileen’s stories In A Minute, and Boo Boo Baby and the Giraffe, and then drew some beautiful patterned babies and giraffes with Eileen’s help.

Can you guess what name Years 1 and 2 gave to the St. Elizabeth’s spoonbill? It is written on Eileen Browne’s original drawing, which will be displayed in the Library, so look out for it next time you visit!

Authors Aloud! Tony De Saulles visits Years 5 and 6

Authors Aloud! Tony De Saulles visits Years 5 and 6

Horrible Science illustrator Tony De Saulles

Tony De Saulles, illustrator of the wildly popular Horrible Science books, visited Years 5 and 6 on March 6th to conduct a drawing workshop.

Tony began by telling us that many people – especially adult people – tell themselves that they aren’t ‘good’ at art, but that in fact, all of us can draw. Tony told us that throughout the session, as we held our finished work up in the air, we should look around and notice that although we were all drawing the same subject, no-one’s work would look exactly the same as anyone else’s – and all the work would be good!

Years 5 and 6 pay close attention to Tony De Saulles

Years 5 and 6 pay close attention to Tony De Saulles

In just one hour, Tony taught us how to draw: a snail on a fork; a dog in two states of being; and an elephant’s bottom – featuring elephant poop that looked so real you could almost smell it! He also demonstrated how to make our cartoon figures really active: running, kicking, and falling; so realistically that there’s no need for a speech bubble saying ‘Ouch!’ (although you could add one if you wanted to…)

Can you spot 'Dairylea Girl' in this picture?

Can you spot ‘Dairylea Girl’ in this picture?

Could you make a memorable cartoon character from a simple triangle shape? Tony De Saulles can, and he showed us how to do it too! He also told us the secret to making cartoon characters consistent: be aware which parts of the face change, depending on how we’re feeling. So, if we’re angry, our eyebrows might come together in a frown, our mouth might purse up tight and our eyes might narrow. However, our nose won’t change shape, and our ears will stay the same – even if steam is coming out of them!

Big smiles and beautiful work on display!

Big smiles and beautiful work on display!

Tony De Saulles gave us so many tips and tricks to create great cartoons and illustrations, but he also made time to encourage us to look around and notice that design and illustration is all around us – and that means that there are opportunities to make a career out of our creativity. Would you like to illustrate books as Tony does? Maybe you’d like to be an animator in a film studio? Or perhaps you always notice great design and packaging, and could make our every-day products that bit more artistic and exciting?

A HUGE thank you to Tony De Saulles and Authors Aloud for such an exciting and inspirational workshop! And if you are wondering what a ‘dog in two states of being’ might be, here is a video that Finn in Year 6 made following Tony’s workshop that will show you!

Authors Aloud! Jane Clarke visits Years 3 and 4

Author Jane Clarke

Jane Clarke, author of the Gilbert the Shark picture book series, visited Year 3 and 4 this week to tell us about being an author and show us how a picture book is put together.

Jane recited poems, showed us her working notebooks for the Rex Stone: Dinosaur Cove series (for which she is the lead writer), and explained to us how a picture book is made – it takes a LONG time and a lot of work to get from the first idea to the book you can buy in the shops!

Mr Vidal helps Jane Clarke to recite 'The Teacher's Pet'

Mr Vidal helps Jane Clarke to recite ‘The Teacher’s Pet’

Jane is a keen fossil collector and loves sharks and had a surprise for us all at the end of her talk. She had brought with her 120 fossilised shark’s teeth: enough for every child in Years 3 and 4 to take one home as a souvenir of her visit.

We are very happy to have met Jane, who told us that Years 3 and 4 were a lovely audience: well-behaved and engaged with great questions for her. Well done Years 3 and 4!

Jane Clark showing an original draft copy of one of her picture books

Jane Clark showing an original draft copy of one of her picture books