IPG Children's Publisher of the Year

Growing up with Nosy Crow - a guest post by Sarah Giddings

Posted by Tom on Apr 15, 2014

Today’s guest post is by Sarah Giddings, a parent who got in touch with us to share her experience of reading Nosy Crow books with her new baby.

My husband and I have always been enthusiastic readers. When we decided to have a baby, we knew we had some book shopping to do. By the day our son was born he already had a large collection of books waiting for him. We started reading to him on his first day home from the hospital. To get him started we showed him high contrast black and white images, which he was fascinated by. We looked forward to the day when he would begin interacting with books as he got older.

We found our first Nosy Crow book at our local independent book store, The Avid Reader Magazines and Books in Cobourg, Ontario (Canada). It was Bizzy Bear: Fire Rescue. We choose this title because it looked like it would be a lot of fun to read with him, and it it was a very well constructed book.

Around the 8 month mark, he started really taking an interest in this book. Because it was so durable, there was no concern that he would damage the book (as a book lover, it pains me to see him tear or bend pages of his other books). The older he gets, the more he can interact with the features, such as pulling back the flaps, turning the wheel, and pushing Bizzy Bear up and down the fire pole.

We started buying more Nosy Crow titles and he loves them all. The Teeny Weeny looks for his mummy! book is another big hit. They are by far his favourite books, and he stays engaged through multiple readings of the same books each time we sit down to read (and sometimes gets grumpy if I try to read him something else!). He is always surprised and delighted to see what is behind the flaps and slides. These books are really helping his vocabulary develop – he now knows what I mean when I say “up and down” and can demonstrate this by pushing Bizzy Bear up and down the fire pole. In Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm, he is able to recognize several of the animals, and it is fun for him to find the familiar animals on each page. After months of use, the books all still look brand new which is something we really appreciate. The books have a simple and fun rhyme scheme and very detailed, colourful pictures.

We look forward to exploring the whole Nosy Crow library as he gets older.

Thank you, Sarah! Bizzy Bear: Fire Rescue is available to buy online here and Teeny Weeny looks for his mummy! available here. If you’d like to stay up to date with all of our book news, you can subscribe to our monthly books newsletter here.

Familiarity with fairy tales: using Jack and the Beanstalk in KS1

Posted by Nosy Crow Blog on Apr 14, 2014

Today’s guest post is by Lucy Marcovitch, an education consultant and writer who blogs about writing and children’s literature at www.lucymarcovitch.wordpress.com, on using our Jack and the Beanstalk app in the classroom.

Can there be any new ways to teach fairy tales in the classroom? The answer, with Nosy Crow’s Jack and the Beanstalk app, is: absolutely. And what a lovely innovative way it is too, lending itself to a whole range of teaching possibilities that go beyond straightforward storytelling.

On the face of it, Jack and the Beanstalk is an attractive, interactive re-telling of the fairytale. That in itself would qualify its use against the 2014 National Curriculum for KS1, which requires a familiarity with fairytales in its reading – comprehension strand. A younger or less able reader could choose to have the text read to them and words highlighted, while still interacting through swiping or touching the clearly-signposted ways through the story. A more able reader could read the text to themselves, an adult, or other children. The app’s versatility means it could be used for whole-class teaching displayed on a whiteboard, in small groups on tablets for guided reading, or for paired and individual work for a more personal experience.

Jack has other tricks up its sleeve, however, which takes it into a whole other realm of teaching opportunities. For example, you don’t have to proceed through the story in a linear way if you choose to do otherwise. By using the screen that gives a graphic overview of the story, you can enter different rooms in the giant’s castle and make various choices, solve puzzles or play games within those rooms. If you make particular choices, the story might end very differently – wake the giant up when you steal his gold coins or the goose who lays the golden eggs, and you’ll be chased from the castle and have to do some quick thinking at the bottom of the beanstalk. Each child could end up with their own individual version of the story, which they could use to re-tell the fairytale as their own version of the story.

Alternatively, you could develop inference and prediction skills with older or more advanced readers, by doing some careful questioning of each screen. What might happen if you wake up the giant? What will you do if he wakes? What could be behind that door? Or you could comment on one another’s progress through the story, based on what you already know, both of the story and of fairytales in general: if your friend takes Jack into that room, what do you predict might happen?

New research published by the National Literacy Trust in conjunction with Pearson (March 10th 2014) has found that children from more disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to perform below the expected reading standard for their age if they look at stories using books and touch screens, rather than using books alone. The research also found that children from all backgrounds are more likely to enjoy reading if they use both books and a touch screen to look at stories. Using an app such as Jack and the Beanstalk as another way into teaching fairytales could therefore provide not just an opportunity to teach about texts, but another way to lay the foundations for reading enjoyment.

Jack and the Beanstalk is available on the App Store here, and you can watch the trailer below. If you’d like to stay up to date with all of our app news, you can sign up to our Apps Mailing List here.

Where I Work: Benji Davies

Posted by Tom on Apr 11, 2014

This is the latest instalment in an occasional series of blogposts, in which some of our authors and illustrators share their favourite spots for work. Today Bizzy Bear illustrator Benji Davies takes us inside his studio…

This is my studio – I’m fairly new here. Six months in and I’ve still not managed to put any shelves up or hang any pictures on the walls. Just left of this photo are stacks and stacks of books, other people’s work, vintage and new, waiting for their new home to be completed.

Before I was in a large open plan space, where I lived and worked, with a distracting lounge and kitchen all around me and my studio. But no longer. The new studio is more compact but more peaceful and hopefully more productive. Time will tell.

It’s still part of my home though and tea-making is a staircase away. I live with my wife who is a fashion designer. Her studio is downstairs so its very much a live-work house and we get to meet by the kettle.

The plan chest is off ebay and was supposed to be a way of cataloguing old work neatly but quickly became more of a stuff-it-and-see system. The key to a good working space for me is to keep things simple and efficient, or at least fool myself into thinking they are.

Two desks; one for digital the other for real pencils, paper and paint. The square one, my iMac atop, is my dad’s old family kitchen table which he ate around as a boy and still has meat-mincer clamp marks under the table top edge where my gran used it for cooking. It has a great cutlery drawer with a brass handle where I stash all my ink cartridges and other stationery nick-nacks. On the right, an industrial sewing machine frame that I salvaged from my wife’s old studio, makes my drawing desk. I stripped all the cabling and fittings and had a new top made, but kept the lamp and rewired it. But I need a better chair – the inherited Ercol is not so ergonomic.

The room itself is a simple white box so its nice to surround myself with objects that have a bit of history. I would hate everything to be shiny and brand new (except the technology). I think the familiarity instantly grounds me to the space and my work, and I settled much faster when I moved.

The two latest volumes in the Bizzy Bear series, Zoo Ranger and Knights’ Castle, are out now – you can buy Zoo Ranger online here and Knights’ Castle here.

Previously in the series: Helen Peters, Caryl Hart, Elys Dolan, G. R. Gemin, Olivia Tuffin