Friday, November 27, 2020

The Can in Can't - Poems by Sheffield Children in Care Council

On November 12th, 2020 a celebration took place to launch a quite incredible anthology of work created by young people from The Sheffield Children in Care Council, 'The Can in Can't'. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, as children and guests read poems from this very special book which was the result of a collaboration between organisations and, of course, the talents of these young people.

Some of these poems are now proudly displayed in shop windows along Pinstone Street and you can also listen to the young people read their poems, with thanks to Vicky Morris on the Hive South Yorkshire Podcast.


Scroll down to download and read a digital copy of this remarkable collection of poems. But first we welcome a few guests to introduce the book:

"It is with absolute pride that I would like to introduce ‘The Can in Can’t’. Who knew that when Sheffield Year of Reading offered to run a few writing workshops, that the project would end up running in such extraordinary circumstances. Undeterred by a global pandemic, our wonderful young people from Sheffield Children in Care Council and Care Leavers Union, worked virtually with Sheffield Year of Reading Writer in Residence, Nik Perring and spoken word artist Dom Heslop, to create this amazing anthology of writing. The poems and writings express in ways we can understand what it's like to be in another individuals' shoes, a glimpse of understanding and empathy that connects people and hearts is so needed and important in times like these. 

This partnership not only cements Sheffield Libraries as a corporate parent but also shows how important libraries can be in people’s lives. They not only offer a plethora of reading materials, but offer a space to escape and get lost, allowing creative thoughts to flow and demonstrating that with the help of Sheffield Year of Reading, Sheffield Libraries huge digital presence is just as important, spearheading the way forward for new ways of working!"

Carly Speechley

Director of Children & Families




"The poems and writings convey a depth of experience of what it's like to be in care, its the young people's view on their lives, open, proud and real. A great piece of art needed by us all at this time to remind us of our humanity."


Nick Partridge

Head of Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Service




"Honestly. jumping onto Zoom with those amazing and inspirational humans was the highlight of lockdown. Not only did we write some incredible pieces of work, I got to know some incredible people."

Nik Perring
Sheffield Libraries Writer in Residence

So the long and short of it is, if you only read one book in 2020, read this one! 

Click the picture to download The Can in Can't (PDF).


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Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Sheffield Children's Book Award - Young Adult

The Sheffield Children's Book Award is brought to you by Sheffield Libraries and is a celebration of our favourite children's books of the year! This Award is a way to share with you books that children will love to read, whilst also promoting inclusion, diversity and empathy in great stories.

Right about now we would ordinarily be counting up your votes for this year's shortlisted titles, readying for our ceremony in November, but like many things, Covid-19 has meant a change of plans. Don't fear, the book award is still happening. Watch this space for more details.

However, we still have an exciting bunch of beautiful books that we want to promote and enjoy on this year's shortlist so for the next few weeks we'll be blogging about each category of shortlisted titles and giving you a closer look at each one.

Vote for your Favourite!

Why not read the books for yourself and let us know which is your favourite?
Then submit your vote via our online form.


Young Adult Novels

Our final category is the Young Adult Novels. These books mean business, embracing diversity, excitement, and storytelling that can't be beaten.



The Black Flamingo

Written by Dean Atta 

Illustrated by  Anshika Khullar

Published by Hodder

A fierce coming of age verse novel about identity and the power of drag.
This is not about being ready, it's not even about being fierce or fearless, it's about being free!

Michael Waits in the stage wings, wearing a pink wig, pink fluffy coat and black heels. One more step will see him illuminated by spotlight. 

He has been on a journey of bravery to get here, and he is almost ready to show himself to the world in bold colours ... 

Watch Dean Atta performs The Black Flamingo here:



Chinglish

Written by Sue Cheung

Published by Andersen Press

Jo Kwan is a teenager growing up in the 1980s Coventry with her annoying little sister, too-cool older brother, a series of very unlucky pets and utterly bonkers parents. But unlike the other kids at her new school or her posh cousins, Jo lives above her parents' Chinese takeaway. Things can be tough - whether it's unruly customers or the snotty popular girls who bully Jo for being different. Even when she does find a BFF who actually likes Jo for herself, she still has to contend with her erratic Dad's behaviour. All Jo dreams of is breaking free and forging a career as an artist.

Told in diary entries and doodles, Jo's brilliantly funny observations about life, family and char Sui make for a searingly honest portrayal of life on the other side of the takeaway counter. 


Toffee

Written by Sarah Crossan

Published by Bloomsbury

Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in an abandoned house. But the house isn't empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee.

Allison is used to hiding who she really is and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be. 

But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself - where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?

You can watch Sarah Crossan read from her novel Toffee in the video below:




Discover More


To discover all the shortlisted titles download our new Recommended Reads Booklet (PDF).

Join the discussion, tell us your favourite over on our social media pages:
Instagram @shefflibraries










Please leave your comments (subject to moderation).














Friday, November 13, 2020

Annie Bindon Carter and the story of Painted Fabrics, Sheffield, 1915-1959

Developing from occupational therapy for men who had lost limbs during WWI, Painted Fabrics was a unique enterprise which combined the physical and psychological rehabilitation of ex-servicemen with the artistic and entrepreneurial talents of a small group of Sheffield women. The company they founded went on to produce fabrics and clothing of fashionable design and high quality for over thirty years. 


The establishment of Painted Fabrics Ltd was almost entirely due to the imagination and energy of one woman - Annie Bindon Carter (1883-1969) who, in 1915, volunteered to help at the Wharncliffe War Hospital at Middlewood. With the help of a few women who had trained with her at the Sheffield School of Art, she organised painting classes as a form of occupational therapy for men who had suffered horrific war injuries, including amputation as well as associated psychological effects. 

One man in particular, who had lost both his right hand and his left hand and forearm, was in a state of hopeless despair. With characteristic determination to help, Mrs Carter hit on the idea of tying a brush to his bandaged stump to enable him to do some simple stencilling on scraps of material. 

Phyllis Lawton, one of her friends, wrote later 

I guided his arm from the saucer [of paint] to the material and gently dabbed it over the stencil until completed, and when I removed it he was astonished at the result.” 

Soon after this Mrs Carter had a special leather strap made for him into which three or four brushes could be screwed, that by twisting his arm around he could use several different colours in turn. The realisation that he could actually do something after all marked the start of his recovery. That case inspired Mrs Carter to develop the idea into a proper business model. Providing work to men who otherwise, faced a bleak future without employment or purpose. Starting with small items such as tea cosies and table mats the range of goods was eventually extended to dresses, scarves, lingerie, furnishing fabrics and leather goods. Although hand stencilling using paints remained a mainstay of production, screen printing, block printing and spray painting with dyes were also used.


At the end of the war Mrs Carter and the committee she had formed obtained premises at West Bar in the centre of Sheffield which were converted and equipped as workshops for a few men, with financial help from local people. It was only after a visit from Earl Haig, however, that the authorities began to take serious notice of the possibilities of employment for severely disabled ex-servicemen that the enterprise presented. In 1923, land and hutments at the old WAACS (Women's Auxiliary Army Corps) camp at Norton Woodseats on the southern edge of Sheffield were purchased by the United Services Fund and leased to the newly formed company Painted Fabrics Ltd. Some of the huts became workshops, while others were converted to homes for some of the men and their wives and families, thus realising Mrs Carter's ambition of including housing on the site. 


Mixing dyes in the workshop

Painted Fabrics was officially opened in 1925 by Princess Mary (the Princess Royal) who became the company's Royal Patron. This was the first of several visits she and other members of the Royal Family made, and on this occasion she was presented with one of the painted shawls by two of the men - Taffy Llewellyn, who had the most war decorations, and Mr Hardy, who had the longest service with Painted Fabrics. By that date 29 men were employed. They were paid a minimum of 1 shilling an hour and guaranteed 30 hours work a week. The houses and gardens were let at 6 shillings a week. Both the living accommodation and workshops and equipment were adapted to the special needs of these former servicemen. In 1928 ten houses in a two storey block were built as Haig Memorial Homes. Over the next fifteen years as many as 67 men were employed at Painted Fabrics, some staying for quite short periods, others remaining there all their working lives. Most had suffered amputations of arms or legs or both, some also had neurasthenia or gunshot wounds, not to mention PTSD. The scale of their disablement can be gauged from the distressing statistic given in one publicity leaflet - "47 men with only 56 undamaged arms and 50 undamaged legs between them".

Painted Fabrics clothes being modelled

Through her compassion and activism Annie Bindon Carter became a champion for the disabled and created national awareness of the issues they faced. Her work forced the authorities to take serious notice of the possibilities of employment for severely disabled ex-servicemen that the enterprise presented. Painted Fabrics offered dignity, rehabilitation and recognition for injured veterans and promoted hope for all disabled people.


Discover more...

Delve deeper into the history Painted fabric Ltd by reading our Research Guide produce by the Sheffield Local Studies Library.



Annie Bindon Carter features on our timeline of local activists and rebels.  Download the timeline and discover more about Sheffield's long history of rebellion and resistance.



Check out the full list of events and recordings to accompany the Sheffield rebels season






Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Mary Anne Rawson & the Sheffield Ladies Anti-Slavery Society

Mary Anne Rawson (nee Read) was born in 1801 to wealthy parents who encouraged her involvement with good causes.  She became actively involved in a number of philanthropic campaigns, including better conditions for chimney sweep boys, and better education for the poor. Her abiding interest from the mid-1820s onwards was championing the campaign for anti-slavery in both Sheffield and at a national level.


In 1825 Rawson became a founding member of the Sheffield Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, which campaigned for the rights of the slaves in the British Empire. The Sheffield society was one of the first Anti-Slavery Society to campaign for an immediate end to slavery, rather than the gradual and managed end advocated by more conservative abolitionists. 


Through lectures, public meetings and pamphlet campaigns, the society raised awareness and successfully brought economic pressure to bear on plantation owners by implementing boycotts of goods produced by slave labour such as coffee, cotton and sugar. Featured is a pamphlet produced by the society, campaigning for a boycott of sugar produced by slaves in the West Indies, and advocating that people switched to buying East Indian goods instead, which were produced by paid workers.



Following the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833, the society formally ended, but it was later re-established in 1857 to continue campaigning against slavery in other parts of the world.  Anti-slavery organization’s run by women, such as Mary Ann Rawson and Lucy Townsend of Birmingham, were sometimes dismissed as of marginal interest, but recent research has revealed that these groups had a significant national impact.

Rawson corresponded with key figures in the abolitionist movement such as George Thompson in Britain, as well as Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison in the United States. Prominent campaign visitors to her home included Lord Shaftesbury and William Wilberforce.  She was one of the few women to attend the world's first International Anti-Slavery Conference at Exeter Hall in London in 1840, which attracted delegates from America, France, Haiti, Australia, Ireland, Jamaica and Barbados. She can even be seen in the painting of ‘The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, by Benjamin Robert Haydon’ (Mary Anne can be seen in a bonnet in the front far right of the painting).




In 1841, Rawson and her sister, Emily Read, arranged for a day school to be created in the chapel on the grounds of their home at Wincobank Hall. The school was open to local children and became very successful.  In 1860 the sisters created a trust to provide for its future financial endowment and management. The school continued until 1905.


Mary Anne continued to campaigning for the rights of fugitive slaves as well as other local charitable causes up until she retired from public life in 1875.  She died in August 1887 at the age of 86.



To discover more, take a look at our Slavery and Abolition Research Guide.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Rebellious Sheffield

Sheffield has always had a reputation for being a little bit rebellious.  In fact they've been causing trouble round these parts for a thousand years.  In our new season of events, blog posts, and podcasts, we’ll highlight some of the stories that make Sheffield what it is today.     




We’ve fostered one or two troublemakers in Sheffield over the years.  They include the activities of the radical Chartist, Samuel Holberry and his fight for voting reform, and the violence of the Sheffield Outages, where a series of murders were committed by militant Trade Unionists.  But they also include the more peaceful protests of the poet Ebenezer Elliot, also known as the Corn Law Rhymer, who led the fight to repeal the Corn Laws which caused such hardship and starvation among the poor in the North.   


Yes! We have many protesters, rebels, and activists within our city’s history. To remember these individuals and the political movements they championed, Sheffield Libraries will be producing a series of blog posts, podcasts, and online events in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This will run in parallel with the British Library’s ‘Unfinished Business’ programme, which through a series of digital events will examine the ongoing fight for women’s rights. From bodily autonomy and the right to education, to self-expression and protest, these events (and the London based exhibition) will explore how feminist activism in the UK has its roots in the complex history of women’s rights. 


But back to Sheffield!  We have produced our own timeline, looking at the key rebels, trailblazers and mischief makers associated with the city. It spans nearly a thousand years of history from 1075 to the 2010’s looking at a variety of activists, campaigns and protests. Our earliest featured rebel is Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland. He was the last Saxon lord of Hallamshire (which covered the parishes of Sheffield, Ecclesfield and Bradfield), and for taking part in the ‘Revolt of the Earls’ against William the Conqueror in 1075, was condemned for treason and ultimately executed. 

Sheffield Tree Protesters, 2018 Courtesy of the BBC

The timeline then goes on to explore some of the significant dates in Sheffield’s past, including the destruction of Sheffield Castle, due to the city’s role in the English Civil War. Via the jail break and riot of 1791 in opposition to the introduction of the Enclosure Act, and the infamous Flour Riots of 1812. Through to more modern history, including a look at why the Sheffield region became known during the 1980’s as ‘The Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire’, as well as the recent Sheffield Street Tree protests which garnered international attention in 2017/2018.                              


Reflecting the themes of the British Library exhibition we will also focus on some of the, perhaps, lesser know female activists from Sheffield’s history. These include abolitionist Mary Ann Lawson (who founded the Sheffield Ladies Anti-Slavery Society and fought on both a local and national level to bring about an end to slavery in the British Empire);Adela Pankhurst (sister of Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union) and the Sheffield Suffrage movement; Ann Eliza Longdon (Sheffield’s first female Lord Mayor), and Annie Bindon Carter (founder of Painted Fabrics, an arts charity that provided rehabilitation and employment for disabled ex-service men who had suffered catastrophic injuries in WWI, becoming a national champion for disabled workers rights). All four women broke new ground in society and championed causes that have affected the city to this day.

We will also look at some aspects of Sheffield’s women’s rights campaign, the role of women during the miners’ strike, the campaign for sexual equality and the history of the Sheffield Feminist Archive.

So please come and join us to find out more about Sheffield’s rebellious past and the significant role these Yorkshire Men and Women have played in the city’s history.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

The World Made a Rainbow



Inspired by all the beautiful rainbows that children, and adults, across the world created and displayed during the 2020 lockdown, author Michelle Robinson wrote a story to help young children navigate through the complex emotions of this unusual and confusing time. The result of this was picture book The World Made a Rainbow, illustrated by Emily Hamilton and published by Bloomsbury, a proportion of the profits from the sales of this book will be donated to Save the Children UK.

Light can't shine without dark. Rainbows can't colour the sky without rain. And the world is always full of hope and possibility, even when we feel lost and alone.

UK. Join author Michelle Robinson and hear her reading the story. This video was specially made for children in Sheffield.


We are also delighted to offer a downloadable rainbow themed activity pack to accompany the book.



Please leave your comments (subject to moderation).


The Sheffield Children's Book Award - Longer Novels

The Sheffield Children's Book Award is brought to you by Sheffield Libraries and is a celebration of our favourite children's books of the year! This Award is a way to share with you books that children will love to read, whilst also promoting inclusion, diversity and empathy in great stories.

Right about now we would ordinarily be counting up your votes for this year's shortlisted titles, readying for our ceremony in November, but like many things, Covid-19 has meant a change of plans. Don't fear, the book award is still happening. Watch this space for more details.

However, we still have an exciting bunch of beautiful books that we want to promote and enjoy on this year's shortlist so for the next few weeks we'll be blogging about each category of shortlisted titles and giving you a closer look at each one.

Vote for your Favourite!

Why not read the books for yourself and let us know which is your favourite?
Then submit your vote via our online form.


Longer Novels

Our fourth category is the Longer Novels. The category where children can really get their teeth into substantial and wonderful stories.


The Girl Who Speaks Bear


Written by Sophie Anderson

Illustrated by Kathrin Honesta

Published by Usborne

They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found - only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong. Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins; from icy rivers to smouldering mountains meeting an ever-growing herd of extraordinary friends along the way. 

Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka's journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House with Chicken Legs.

Watch author Shopie Anderson read the prologue of The Girl Who Speaks Bear.




Where the River Runs Gold

Written by Sita Brahmachari

Published by Hatchette

I asked myself where does the river run gold for children's rights? What kind of society can we build in which the rights of the children are truly honoured and protected. I have imagined a near future world in which environmental damage has brought forward a crisis in food production, leading to the decimation of bees, pollinators, tree and plant life ... and of course into this world children are born. Greta Thunberg is such a bright beacon in our times, and like Great, my young characters Shifa and Themba must fight for their rights to be protected. In my story The Emergency Ark Government has suspended the laws to deal with the immediate climate and food production crisis ... and as a result the children must trust in the promises of leaders.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Written by Catherine Bruton

Published by Nosy Crow

Aya is eleven years old and has just arrived in Britain with her mum and baby brother, seeking asylum from war in Syria.
When Aya stumbles across a local ballet class, the formidable dance teacher spots her exceptional talent and believes that Aya has the potential to earn a prestigious ballet scholarship.
But at the same time, Aya and her family must fight to be allowed to remain in the country, to make a home for themselves and to find Aya's father - separated from the rest of the family during the journey from Syria. 

Author Catherine Bruton introduces No Ballet Shoes in Syria.




Discover More


To discover all the shortlisted titles download our new Recommended Reads Booklet (PDF).

Join the discussion, tell us your favourite over on our social media pages:
Instagram @shefflibraries






Please leave your comments (subject to moderation).

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Sheffield Children's Book Award - Shorter Novels

The Sheffield Children's Book Award is brought to you by Sheffield Libraries and is a celebration of our favourite children's books of the year! This Award is a way to share with you books that children will love to read, whilst also promoting inclusion, diversity and empathy in great stories.

Right about now we would ordinarily be counting up your votes for this year's shortlisted titles, readying for our ceremony in November, but like many things, Covid-19 has meant a change of plans. Don't fear, the book award is still happening. Watch this space for more details.

However, we still have an exciting bunch of beautiful books that we want to promote and enjoy on this year's shortlist so for the next few weeks we'll be blogging about each category of shortlisted titles and giving you a closer look at each one.

Vote for your Favourite!


Why not read the books for yourself and let us know which is your favourite?
Get a closer look at each title in our Instagram Highlights

Then submit your vote via our online form.

Shorter Novels


Our fourth category is the Shorter Novels Reads. The crucial first steps into reading for children, where the storytelling really starts to come into its own. 


The House of Light


Written by Julia Green

Illustrated by Helen Crawford Wright

Published by Oxford

The sea gives and the sea takes. The sea took Bonnie's mother away from her, to a new life on a distant shore. And now it has brought her three things: A boat, a boy and a chance to be free. A moving story of courage and friendship.


Watch the lovely author Julia Green as she reads an extract from The House of Light.


The Land of Roar

Written by Jenny McLachlan

Illustrated by Ben Mantle

Published by Egmont

When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found by climbing through the folding bed in their Grandad's attic. Roar was filled with things they loved - dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure - as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow).

Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar ... real?

Watch Mrs S read an extract from The Land of Roar


D-Day Dog

Written by Tom Palmer

Published by Barrington Stoke

Jack can't wait for the school trip to the D-Day landing beaches. It's his chance to learn more about the war heroes he has always admired - brave men like his dad who is a reserve solider. But when his Dad is called up to action and things at home spiral out of control, everything Jack believes about war is thrown into question. Finding comfort only in the presence of his loyal dog, Finn, Jack is drawn to the heart-wrenching true story of one particular D-Day paratrooper. On 6 June, 1944, Emile Corteil parachuted into France with his dog, Glen, and Jack is determined to discover their fate. 

Watch Tom read chapter one of D-Day Dog to his gorgeous dog 



Join us on the blog next week as we share with you the Longer Novels ....


Discover More


To discover all the shortlisted titles download our new Recommended Reads Booklet (PDF).

Join the discussion, tell us your favourite over on our social media pages:
Instagram @shefflibraries










Please leave your comments (subject to moderation).