Ewan Chalmers gives a round-up of the work of the Book Trust Scotland. The Book Trust Scotland's termly newsletter, Shelf Life, launched in January, provides a wealth of information for everyone interested in children's books, their authors and illustrators.
Each issue features a round-up of all new children's books with a Scottish connection: books written or illustrated by Scots or people resident in Scotland, or with a Scottish setting or content. And in each issue, an informative profile focuses on a Scottish author or illustrator, providing an introduction to their books.
Book Trust Scotland receives a copy of nearly every children's book published in the UK and Shelf Life also reviews a selection of the best ones from any author, Scottish or not. Each review includes a reading age and bibliography.
Issue two, for the summer term, highlights some of the best recent information books for children and profiles Mairi Hedderwick, the creator of the hugely successful Katie Morag picture story books. The first issue, which includes a profile of the award-winning author Theresa Breslin, and a round-up of every Scottish children's book published in 1995, is also still available.
Shelf Life is distributed free by Book Trust Scotland (BTS) to schools, libraries and individuals throughout Scotland.
To celebrate the bicentenary of Robert Burns, BTS has produced a handsomely illustrated, colour, A5 postcard depicting the poet alongside places of significance in his life; complete with a brief biography of Burns on the reverse. Featuring original artwork by Edinburgh illustrator, Sean Lee, this informative memento of the Scottish Bard's bicentenary is as lively and colourful as Rabbie himself. Available direct from BTS for 50p each (including pp) or from bookshops. Each card is supplied with an envelope.
Another innovation is a series of literary guides to Scotland, the first of which is Reading Perthshire - an attractively produced leaflet providing an introduction to writers associated with the area, including John Buchan, James Kennaway, Naomi Mitchison, Sir Walter Scott, Patrick Geddes, and J M Barrie. A booklist details books and writings by or about each writer. The free leaflets have been distributed to bookshops, libraries and other outlets. Other guides in progress include one on Glasgow and another on Fife.
BTS's colourful Now Read On leaflets feature 48 books (grouped in four themed sections), their jackets and a short resume of each title. They are a great way to discover new authors and explore unfamiliar genres, and perfect for Higher English candidates (and their teachers!) looking for fresh ideas for their Review of Personal Reading.
Writers included in Now Read On 5 include Janice Galloway, Kathleen Jamie, Anchee Min, Louis de Bernieres, Duncan McLean, Iain Banks, Susan Hill, Peter Ackroyd and Anne Rice. Price Pounds 5 for 50 copies, including pp.
Book Trust Scotland, an educational charity funded by the Scottish Arts Council, produces a range of useful resources to encourage and extend enjoyment of books and reading. For more details, send an SAE to Book Trust Scotland, Scottish Book Centre, 137 Dundee Street, Edinburgh EH11 1BG.
* Ewan Chalmers is on the staff of Book Trust Scotland