Minutes of the Oxford Children’s Book Group Annual General Meeting
Tuesday 26th September 2006 7pm
At the home of Tizzie Ballard, Tyeswood, Stanville Road, Cumnor Hill, Oxford.
Tizzie Ballard, Sue Neale, Louise Stothard, Helen Taylor, Joy Taylor, Moira Da
Costa, Jackie Yolland, Alexa Davies, Alex Brown, Jackie Holderness, Bill Laar,
Sheila Slater, Ollie Boren, Terry Milne, Erica Davis, Pat Silver, Marian Bloice-
Smith, Liz Hearupt.
Mary Sutcliffe, Judith Bovington, Jo Edwards, Linda Newbery, Sue Robertson, Jean
Minutes of the previous AGM 29/09/05:
These were accepted as a true record.
The welcome was given by Louise to all present and in particular to Tizzie for
hosting the event, the committee for their work and Bill for being the guest speaker.
Chairman’s report- Louise Stothard:
Welcome you to all to our Annual General Meeting. First may I thank Tizzie for
being our host this year.
Once again I would like to wholeheartedly thank the committee for all their hard work
over the year. I know I said this last year but they have each played a very important
role in the running of the group and in organising the many and various events we
have held over the year and it is thanks to them that they have all been such a success.
I find it hard to believe that I have been Chairman for three years now as they have
flown by very quickly. I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment and I am now
looking forward to taking more of a back seat role and support others with fresh ideas.
We have as usual had a busy year and have been very pleased to organise various
events bringing children, authors, illustrators and their books together.
Our main event was of course our bi-annual conference held at the OUP buildings in
Oxford in November and we thank OUP for their support and encouragement for this
The line up was impressive with Alan Snow, Nicky Singer and Geraldine
McCaughrean speaking to us and we also had the opportunity to visit the OUP
museum. The talks were a good mixture of fiction and non fiction and it was an
interesting and enjoyable day. Thankyou to everyone involved – it is always amazing
how much has to be organised behind the scenes and how it all works out on the day!
We were delighted to be asked to organise author events in schools during the year.
Simon Mason of The Quigleys fame was excellent entertaining the children at North
Hinksey and Watlington Primary schools. We were also pleased to take Susan Price
to Matthew Arnold school where she was very successful – thankyou for organising
this Joy. Cindy Jefferies visited the American school in Croughton, Northants and
Chris Wormell was a great hit with the children at Culworth Primary school.
This year it was our turn to organise the RHCBA Regional Party and we hosted a
very busy and successful morning at West Oxford Community Centre in Botley on a
Saturday in March. As well as a Bookswop, we had talks and workshops led by
Korky Paul and John Foster, and Katherine Langrish, Robert Muchamore and Simon
James also spoke to groups of children and parents. We also provided refreshments
and a bookshop so it was a very hectic but enjoyable time. Simon James also visited
two schools the day before.
It seems that this event was such a success we have been asked when can we arrange
the next one! In fact Korky Paul has already offered his services so watch this space!
Also in March Sue Neale arranged a very different evening courtesy of Oxford
Brookes University. Sarah Adams who had just been awarded the Marsh Award for
Literature in Translation gave a very entertaining talk about her work and tested us all
on our knowledge of a foreign language. Our thanks to Mary Sutcliffe for her help in
organising this evening. Sue and Joy also arranged for Sarah to visit two schools in
Joy and I attended the FCBG annual conference in Birmingham and enjoyed
listening to a variety of speakers and meeting many other children’s book enthusiasts.
We can wholeheartedly recommend this weekend to any member – Next year it is
being held at Worth School, Turners Hill near Crawley in West Sussex on March 30th.
Lookout for information in the Newsletter.
I am sure you’re all aware that it would have been Roald Dahl’s 90th Birthday on 13th
September, had he been alive, and we were pleased that Joy and North Hinksey
school celebrated this in true Dahl fashion!
The Reading Group continues which Joy will give more details about. Thank you to
those who join in these evenings and to the various people who have hosted them.
We always have such lively discussions and anyone is welcome to join us. In July we
had a very interesting evening with Terry Milne who is a local illustrator and came to
talk to us bringing various examples of her work.
Thank you Tizzie for keeping the membership lists organised and up to date – I
believe we have about 75 members at present?
Thank you to Moira who has organised various Library Storytelling events this year,
which are always very popular. I am always amazed at the variety of excellent
storytellers she finds each time!
A very big thank you to Sue and Joy who organise the Red House Children’s Book
Award testing and for organising the boxes of books which arrive weekly, into
ordered red bags ready for schools to review. I know how delighted the schools are to
have this opportunity to read new books. Sue and Joy are passing on their role as
regional co-ordinators next year and I know they will be missed. Thank you again
for your years of hard work.
Thank you too, to Jackie and Helen who have also had important parts to play in the
running of the book group during the year in various ways.
This year we have produced new leaflets and we have branched out with postcards
and bookmarks too – Thank you to Korky Paul for allowing us to continue to use his
Looking to the months ahead – our web site is on the brink of ‘going live’ which is
We are holding a Bookswop in Hornton, North of Banbury in November and we have
various authors lined up for school visits over the next few months. Also Sue is busy
organising an evening with Sophie Masson, an Australian writer and Ted Dewan in
Jackie has been busy looking at the Child Protection Policy which we will adopt this
We are always very keen to have fresh input from our members –and in particular we
would be delighted to have new faces on the committee. Often our events need only a
little help and the more people we have supporting us the easier it is to organise. So I
hope we will be able to recruit some new people soon. Once again may I thank the
present committee for their enthusiasm and commitment, and in particular for their
support and encouragement to me as chair over the past three years. Good luck for
The committee expressed their thanks to Louise for the excellent job she had done as
chair and Moira presented her with a bunch of flowers on the committee’s behalf.
Treasurer’s Report - Sue Neale:
At last’ year’s AGM it was agreed to move the date of the end of the year to July 31
so that it would give more time for the accounts to be completed by the treasurer.
Therefore both the OCBG and RHCBA accounts represent the income and
expenditure for 11 months from 1 September 205 to 31 July 2006.
Starting with the main OCBG account, the largest sums of both income and
expenditure are those which relate to book sales for events. In this set of accounts we
have paid for books by Debi Gliori and Alexis Deacon (income in 2005 accounts),
Cindy Jeffries, Simon Mason, Alison Boyle, Emily Smith, Sarah Adams, Terry Milne
and Chris Wormell. We also paid for storytelling sessions in libraries (Alison Boyle
and Marion Bloice-Smith). Simon James came up early for the RHCBA regional
party in order to talk to children in two schools and OCBG contributed towards the
cost of these visits.
We received funding from Writers in Oxford that paid towards the visits by three
authors, and also from the Red House Children’s Book Award for hosting the regional
party in March 2006 with a number of authors and illustrators: Simon James, Korky
Paul, Robert Muchamore, John Foster and Kathryn Langrishe. Our income was also
made up of subs, conference fees and book sales – of which we usually gain at least a
10% profit as for instance the cheque for £81 from The Book House £81 for books
sold at the November conference. For mailing out leaflets for the Oxford Literary
Festival we were refunded the additional postage we had to pay. Sue and Joy
attended The Guardian books for schools conference in March. When they were
asked to participate as speakers, their fees and travel were refunded.
We have invested in printing leaflets, cards and bookmarks for giving away at events
and for promoting OCBG. We are also in the process of setting up a website. Our
main other expenses apart from copying the newsletter and postage are Carousel and
the FCBG newsletters. We base our annual subscription on the costs of these and we
aim to keep it as low as possible, just breaking even, in order to encourage as many to
join as possible.
At the Regional party the money we took for the bookswop should have been paid to
the other account but this has not yet been done. Sue’s expenses for the year still have
to be invoiced for. Along with the recent payment for books for the Chris Wormell
event in June (for which we have already received the income), these items will all
appear in the 2006-7 accounts.
This account is mainly used to pay the annual donation to the RHCBA (£150 pa) and
to supply the top ten titles at the special reduced price to any schools who wish to
purchase them. The main income is book sales, funding from RHCBA to help pay for
sets of copies of the top ten and bookswops. When we cease being involved in the
RHCBA any monies will revert to OCBG.
Sue was dealing with a cheque that Simon James had not cashed and just wanted to
check with the committee that she should follow this up.
Reading Group report – Joy Taylor:
It seems a long time ago now since last October when the reading group read, at the
suggestion of Kathryn Languish, E. Nesbit’s ‘The Enchanted Castle’. A group of
children find a magic ring that leads them on several adventures. The group had
mixed feelings about the book thinking that on the whole it did not ‘wear as well’ as
some of her other novels. There were some very well written sections and some
lovely ideas but it did not hold together as a story. The group thought it over long and
a little tedious for today’s reader.
In November the group were due to discuss ‘Fly Cherokee Fly’ by Chris D’Lacy
about a boy and how he becomes involved in pigeon racing having found an injured
bird. It was apparently semi-autobiographical. Unfortunately the meeting was
cancelled but I personally thought it a really engaging story that without
sentimentality had me tearful in places.
During March the group read ‘Eye of the wolf’ by Daniel Pennac. It was a magical,
poetical and mysterious story of how a wolf and a boy share their stories. It is a
difficult book to describe but had universal praise from the group. The translation was
In May the group read ‘Chloe’ by Francessa Adey. This was a first novel based on
real life about a young girl who had been adopted dealing with the addition of another
adopted child in the family. The group thought the characters were very well drawn
and enjoyed the story but thought there were bits of the story that worked better than
In June the group read Frank Cottrell Boyce’s book ‘Framed’. This was about an art
theft in a small remote Welsh village. The writing was pacy, witty and some times
very funny. The characters were really well drawn especially Dylan who has an
obsession with recording the details of cars that attend the garage, a friend who was
made about the Ninja turtles and a worry that if any more of the families leave the
village he would never be able to play football again. The group thought this book
was great, a really good read.
The last book the group read was ‘Wolf Brother’ by Michelle Paver. The group
thought the book really captured the Stone Age in which it was set.
The writing had just enough description interspersed with the story to hold the reader.
They were amazed by the research that had gone into it.
It was well worth a read to see how Torak and an orphaned wolf cub manage with a
lot of skill and a little magic to complete their quest. It is the first book in ‘The
Chronicles of Darkness’ series.
The group will be looking at poetry books on 8th. November at 7.45pm in Moira’s
Storytelling events- Moira Da Costa:
Moira explained she organised three half term events in different libraries each year.
Last October the event was organised very well by Cowley library. Twenty children
attended and Alison Boyle entertained them with her stories. There was plenty of
audience participation and Moira would not forget the buzzing bees for a while.
At Headington Library Marian Bloice – Smith told stories from around the world. It
was unfortunate that Headington had not given this the publicity it deserved but never
the less as children came to the library they joined in the session and it was very
successful. The third event was in Kidlington and here the event had been well
organised. Moria and Joy read a selection of their favourite stories to an appreciative
audience before joining them in some squash and drawing.
Moria was happy to continue organising these events and Louise thanked her for all
her work organising the events.
RHCBA - Sue Neale and Joy Taylor:
We have had another good year with the RHCBA with over 20 schools in this area
testing books. We have extended our area to include High Wycombe and Reading
where there are children’s groups who want to be involved. Our area extends
geographically from the edge of Northampton to Wycombe, Reading and Faringdon.
The schools range from inner city primaries to rural secondaries. We are also
delighted to have been able to include an American air-force school whose curriculum
does not normally include British authors and illustrators. Our schools contributed
some great illustrations and written work for the portfolios which are presented at the
award ceremony in June.
This year Joy and I undertook the compilation of the portfolios for the longer novels
which varied in subject. Percy Jackson and the Olympians was fantasy, Driftwood
dealt with a foster child trying to fit in and Paralysed tackled mature issues about
relationships of a boy paralysed in a rugby accident. For the first time this year the
award party was held at the Hey Festival in early June. Children and adults were able
to stay overnight in Oxfordshires outdoor education centres in nearby Glasbury on
Wye. Although the party from Wood Green in Witney chose not to stay over, the
party from Ickneild did stay and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. As 2007 will be our
last year with the RHCBA and we have not attended the event for some years, Joy and
I will be taking the children from two schools to be chosen soon. We are looking
forward to an exciting final year with the RHCBA.
As Sue and Joy are retiring from the award this year the committee gave their thanks
especially to Sue for the large amount of work she has done for many years for the
Appointment of the committee:
Louise is stepping down from the post of chair this year but was willing to remain on
the committee as were the other members. Terry Milne kindly expressed a wish to
join the committee. Louise asked anyone else who would like to join to see her after
the meeting. A committee meeting would be held shortly to organise specific roles.
Mary Hine Award:
Louise explained that Mary had been a well- loved member of the group for a long
time. The award is a way of honouring her. It consists of a bursary to be given to any
member who wishes to attend a conference or lecture and will help with the fees. It
was still available for this year. Mary’s article had been published in America and the
committee hoped to get a copy.
The issue of the child protection policy would be dealt with at the next committee
meeting. The AGM closed at 7.45pm and everyone had a light supper before settling
down to listen to Bill Laar.
Bill’s talk was as inspirational as always and made us realise the importance of the
short story, and not to mention comics, to children’s narrative writing.
Sue delivered our thanks.