Moving on.

January proved to be a very difficult month, fraught with ill health, bereavement and ill fortune. I would never want to wish my life away but I have to say that I am glad to move forward into February. The slight increase in daylight hours, the sound of a blackbird singing, the possibility of catching sight of a kingfisher, sunlight on snow, all have the effect of lifting the spirits and quickening the step.

There has been some very encouraging news regarding the sales of "Can it be True?", you can read about it here in The Bookseller. There may also be new opportunities for those of you who write for the seven to eleven age group, read more in the article.

You may have been aware of the controversy surrounding Oxford University Press who have decided to drop nature words like acorn and buttercup in favour of app and blog. In fact around 50 nature words are to be axed as they are considered to be no longer relevant to today's children. You can read more about it here-
I believe that nature will always be important but technology is too. Why not teach your children about acorns on an app or buttercups on your blog? In "Down the Lane" I have attempted to do both. I will always love actual books but I also enjoy sharing stories and pictures on my iPad. I am sure this has done my grandson no harm whatsoever as I overheard him saying that he wants to be an author/illustrator when he grows up!
You can see for yourself what advantages there are in a book made interactive here.
and all for less than the price of a cup of tea!


  1. I admire your attitude Valerie. You are so right. I even read that in Finland they are thinking of stopping teaching handwriting in schools and teaching computer skills instead. Surely there is room for both.

  2. Dear Valerie,
    Yes, I do hope February proves better for you.
    Your books are a big hit with the grandchildren - we look at them very carefully to 'discover' things.
    Yes, I think there is a place for 'screens' as well as real books. My grandchildren go for everything - including playing in the garden.
    Grandchild number three was born yesterday.
    I was most interested in Susan's Hill's new venture and have written to her.
    Cheers from a snowy, icy and miserably cold New York.

  3. Sorry to hear you had a less than splendid month, I hope things pick up now. I can't quite believe that about nature words that's crazy, there is room for all surely? I am constantly uplifted by the tiniest things in nature, walking my old dog veeery slowly on a horrible patch of ground last weekend, I noticed and heard a different bird, a tiny little gold crest in amongst the cities grime, it was a little gem and brightened my day, most people wouldn't notice, but I'm lucky to be wired up and tuned in to all new sights and sounds :) X

  4. I agree with you Weaver of Grass, there is room for both.

    Elizabeth, congratulations on grandchild no 3! Stay warm in the Big Apple.

    Julie, I do miss walking my dog and having the time to observe. I have seen Goldcrests on a few occasions, they are so tiny! Would you believe that one flew into our local Boots the Chemist? !!!

  5. Dear Valerie,
    I am so sorry that the past month has proved to be such a heavy one of your heart. May the rest of the new year be kinder to you!
    I feel taken aback about OUP's unfortunate decision to drop nature words, what has the world come to?
    Sending you a warm embrace and best wishes for a very good year,

  6. Thank you Merisi, I have been taking solace in my virtual trips to Vienna. Maybe one day!

  7. Valerie, I send you my wishes that 2015 will begin to bring you happier days. You've a very good attitude about how we truly must move on.

    Of course, in light of the Oxford Junior Dictionary's decision re what's in and what's out, I might wish to retract that last sentence.

    An article in a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine reported various studies about how children's vocabularies develop and how this process might be enhanced. (I may still have that issue around here somewhere, and could send it to you if you like...or at least give you a proper cite.)

    What I am getting at, is that these examples that you and the Guardian article mention really made me wonder if we were nearing April 1, rather than just entering the tiny month of February. Acorn...that's a very important word. I don't want to fill this comment box with a rant, but...I could easily do so.

    Switching over to my positive side, it's grand to see that Susan Hill has this new venture in mind. I do hope that you will be part of it. The folks whom I know who have seen Is It True really, truly think that your illustrations were a very important contribution to that book's value.

    Backing off from another potential rant. xo

  8. Thanks Frances for you kind thoughts and warm wishes. I will try to find the article you mention. Feel free to rant, I often do and feel the better for it. x

  9. Recent studies have revealed that 20 people who all read the same book could all recall more details than the same number of readers who read the e-book version, and that it may relate to dementia.
    Quite sad that images on a computer are replacing children's natural wonder of the world on their doorstep.

  10. Interesting points Jenny. My book "Down the Lane" was originally published as an actual book first but went out of print. It was then made into an interactive app which is somewhat different to an E Book. Just as the printed images would be no substitute for real life experiences, nor would the images on an app.

  11. Let's hope February turns out to be a better month for you. Lots to think about in this post. We often comment on the lack of children outside. Our lovely village field and playground is often empty.
    In my own teaching years I always made nature a priority, part of the classroom throughout the year. Children are fascinated by nature. I think you might know how I feel about it all.

  12. This is how behind I am with my blog reading! And I am so sorry to discover that you had such a tough time last month.

    'Can it be true', with your exquisite illustrations, is a perfect gem ... of course it sold well. And hurrah for Little Barn Books, may it enjoy much success.