beautiful brand, new books by authors of colour for us to collect. We then set up an online ‘free bookshop’ where students were able to read about and pick which title they would like to be gifted. I am planning to turn our ‘free bookshop’ into a permanent service for our students.
My experience with Teams classes meant that when we moved into partial closure again in January, I was ready to deliver weekly live lessons remotely. In these I discuss books, share ‘virtual’ classrooms made with Canva, promote our library apps, show author videos, run Accelerated Reader, and run sessions on dealing with ‘Fake News’ using Mike Caulfield’s SIFT method. I’ve used MS Stream to record video readalouds and ‘How To’ videos to promote titles and English GCSE texts; and run Manga Club and Book Clubs online on Teams using Nearpod, Kahoot and Microsoft Forms for quizzes, surveys and polls. Having a segment on our school’s ‘Lockdown Laughter’ podcast to talk about new book releases has been fun too.
Zoom meetings and CPD have also been important. Lewisham school librarians continued to meet online to shortlist books for our Lewisham Book Awards but also offer mutual support; the SLA and NEU Librarians Network have run webinars on new ways of working during Coronavirus. Some of the key texts I’ve read and recommend during this period have been Zoey Dixon’s article in Books for Keeps ‘How to be an anti-racist librarian’ along with Phil Beadle’s book What is Cultural Capital? and Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s book The Dark Fantastic.
Now that we’re return to wider opening, our click and collect service will resume and I will continue to co-run Teams classes and clubs. I feel confident that many of the things I have implemented during the pandemic can, post crisis, be continued and built upon.
My experience is not necessarily the same as other school librarians; some have been running services as close to usual, or supervising students on site during partial opening; others have been redeployed into different roles; some have been furloughed; and some worryingly have had roles downgraded or been made redundant. The positive impact of a well-funded and professionally staffed school library on students’ achievement, reading for pleasure, information literacy, access to knowledge and self-esteem is evidenced; if we are serious about supporting children’s education and wellbeing after the pandemic, then they must be valued and prioritised.
Kristabelle Williams is a secondary school Librarian at Addey and Stanhope School in Deptford, in the London Borough of Lewisham, where she is also an NEU Health & Safety rep. She has worked in school libraries for seven years and previously worked in public libraries. Kristabelle is currently an Honour Listee for the SLA’s School Librarian of the Year Award. You can follow her on twitter @ LibThroughThis and the library @addeyslibrary.
Obituary: Victor Ambrus
19 August 1935 – 10 February 2021 Nicholas Tucker pays tribute to
Victor Ambrus, who has died aged 85. László Gyözö (‘Victor’) Ambrus survived a perilous time in his youth before becoming a prolific and hugely successful illustrator. Born in Hungary in 1935, during his third year at the Budapest Academy of Fine Arts he and some fellow students were part of the resistance during the 1956 uprising. Under returning fire from Russian soldiers, eight of them were shot after enabling others to escape. Wading through heavy snow to the Austrian border, he finally decided to come to England. Speaking no English, he arrived at Crookham Army camp just before Christmas. He then enrolled at Farnham Art School, later transferring to the Royal College of Art where he studied engraving and lithography. There he met his future wife Glenys Chapman, also to become a noted illustrator. The couple had two sons.
Already familiar with classic British illustrators, Ambrus followed on in a tradition combining a fine line with strongly atmospheric detail. Early on he illustrated stories by Hester Burton and K.M. Peyton, both published by Oxford University Press with whom went on to have a lifetime association. A fine horseman, winning two rosettes for show-jumping, he once rode a lively steed around a field, slashing with a sword taken from his own growing collection of weaponry. This was in order to get a better idea about what charging into battle was like.
In 1965 he won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Three Poor Tailors.
Based on a Hungarian folk tale, Ambrus was now
supplying his own texts and alternating between black and white line drawings and full colour. He won the Medal again in 1975 for two books, Mishka, about a boy who runs away to the circus and becomes an expert violinist, and Horses in Battle. This last title drew on childhood memories of the wild horses he used to see driven out each morning during his summer holidays in the Hungarian countryside. Based on true stories about cavalry horses
Victor Ambrus at work on a Time Team shoot
and their close links with the men riding them, this was history brought thrillingly to new life.
He also appeared for over twenty years on Channel 4’s Archaeology series Time Team. Here he would visualise and then draw how the various sites being excavated might have looked in their prime along with pictures of those who may also have been around at the time.
Equally at home with primitive man or British nobles, his
ability to create instant personalities on the page was extraordinary. Lecturing at Farnham, Guildford and Epsom Colleges of Art for over twenty years, he was an outstanding teacher. There were also six stamps designed for the Royal Mail, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hans Andersen.
Neatly dressed, courteous, unfailingly benign and with a quiet but mischievous sense of humour, Ambrose was universally popular with everyone he worked with. Speaking with barely a trace of accent and eloquent both in writing as well as in his wonderfully vivid use of watercolour, his contribution to illustration over the years was immense.
Books for Keeps No.247 March 2021 17
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