Nouns and verbs

I heard yesterday that East of the Sun has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal and Little Evie in the Wild Wood and I am Cat for the Greenaway. The nominations list is long, long, and the company my books are keeping is strong, strong, which says much about the standard of children’s books in the UK today. I am very pleased to say that Frances Lincoln have 7 books in all on the list.

I heard this week that in Penrith my books were being held up as examples of excellence of writing to primary school teachers who were attending an inset day introducing the new curriculum. In this, thanks to Mr Gove and his new policy, children in reception will be taught all about nouns and verbs.

I didn’t learn to read properly until I was about 12. I struggled. I am completely unqualified to write. I know what a verb is and a noun, but never really give it a thought when writing. When writing I think about the story, the rhyme and the rhythm of the language, the way it tastes in the mouth and how it feels in the ears, how it brushes the mind. Not about adverbs and grammar and spelling. I still can’t spell.

I have very little respect for the secretary of education, but a great deal of faith in teachers, who will work around all the obstacles that Gove puts in the way of creativity to add light, life and creativity to the life of the child.

I hope that my books will help them.

I would like to thank CILIP for the nominations. I am thrilled. And I would like to thank Janetta Otter-Barry for publishing East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It took me at least 7 years to find a publisher for the book. And I would like to thank her for being my editor and having faith in my writing.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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13 Responses to Nouns and verbs

  1. Ruth Doyle Walter says:

    Well said! Congratulations on your nominations – your books have a magical combination of beautiful artwork and wonderful stories that capture children’s interest and spark their creativity. I have lots in my own collection and I lend them out regularly to young readers and their parents/carers and they are always loved! I visited the Solva Woolen Mill last year on holiday but just missed your visit – but they sent me a signed copy of your gorgeous cat book to go in my collection! Thank you & good luck with the awards.

  2. John Ward says:

    Congratulations on your nominations, Jackie, I am delighted to hear it. It has taken me a long time (I can be a bit slow) to realise how bizarre it was that I should have made a profession out of teaching English, not to people from other countries, but to children who had been speaking the language for longer than they could remember because they learned it at their mother’s knee and were already competent speakers before they ever went to school or learned to read. Of course what I was really doing was training people in the use of a particular sort of literary English with standardised spelling, grammar and punctuation and in the process (sad to relate) teaching many of them either to despise or be ashamed of the language they spoke at home and to one another because it happened to use a different grammar from the one that had (arbitrarily, for historical reasons) become the standard. It’s a point I discuss here, if you’re interested:

  3. Congratulations Jackie, a well deserved nomination. I too use your books in the classroom, along with your blog posts. My children loved your posting on writer’s notebooks. When teaching the children to read and write I think most teachers have only two real aims in mind: to foster a love of books that matches our own and to give the gift of communication to all. I love the wonderful complexity that is our language, it’s dialects, idioms and colloquialisms. I passionately believe in the right of every child to be able to control and command that language so that they have a voice; preferably one that argues back.

  4. Compostwoman says:

    Congratulations on the nominations Jackie – you deserve them. I love your books and the feel and the texture and the sound of your writing is lyrical. I can see East of the Sun becoming a wonderful opera 🙂

  5. Bill Lord says:

    Like everyone else I am so pleased that you have been recognised in the shortlist. It is so well deserved.
    In terms of the grammar versus oral rhythm point I am not certain that there has to be a tension between these two aspects. What teachers must never lose sight of it is the fact that we can teach the children all the grammar we want but if they leave Primary school without a love of books and reading then we have failed.
    We are teaching our children in readiness for the SPaG test through songwriting!!!

    • Jackie says:

      Wish I was on the shortlist. It’s not even the longlist I am afraid, just the nominations. But being there is good enough.It’s a recognition that is wonderful to have.

  6. Karin says:

    I am a teacher. I can’t spell and I tell the children that. I think it is good for them to know you can be clever and a scientist and not be able to spell. You are not stupid if you read later or can’t spell or can’t do numbers or whatever. I don’t know an adjective from an adverb or any of that stuff and I’m still clever. I have always wondered when learning foreign languages how children are taught at school all these things like pluperfect tenses etc. What on earth is one of them? I can speak and write English without ever knowing what that is. I pick words apart with them so they get a picture and a meaning, otherwise they are strange beings. Today, we followed a path from the strange word Chemistry that is hard to spell and has no rhyme or reason to Alchemy -wizards and Merlin, the occult and the Black arts and the link to the Black landers, the Keme of Ancient Egypt. We now can picture chemistry and draw it.
    I am currently reading Skellig to a class of 12 year olds and when we have finished that, I am going to read them East of the Sun. This is a religion lesson. They will learn about so much from hearing this story and they will learn a love and beauty of language and sound and flow that will enrich their souls and does it matter a jot what you call the word? No. I won’t be asking them to underline the nouns. We will imagine though.
    Gove is Gradgrind in Modern (ish) clothing.
    Gove is bad news. You Jackie are good news.
    Thank you. And a well deserve congradulations on your nominations.

    • Jackie says:

      Bless you. Children need teachers like you who will wrap them around in stories. I first learned to think for myself when I was learning History at school. I had always thought that I was rather stupid as no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t do spelling tests. I never saw the letters, just pictures of objects, and couldn’t hold the order of letters in my mind. But I was taught History by a Catholic who questioned the Reformation, and so I began to question what I was told too. I still think in pictures.
      I love Skellig. There is a real beauty about that book.

  7. Steph Nicholas says:

    Words draw magic pictures in the mind, and you Jackie have a wonderful gift, because you make pictures with words and paints. So pleased for you to be nominated.

  8. Congratulations on the nominations!
    I luuurve the way you write.. you weave a magical web with words that draws me in and takes me off on adventures.

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