Image of the It's Your Story Competition Logo. The background is white and features blue silhouettes of a girl, a bird, a butterfly and stars walking on an undulated surface. Below them the logo reads It's your story competition. Below them are logos for Through Scarlett's Eyes and Access2books.

It’s Your Story Competition

About Wiritng, bookmaking, Braille, Children's Books, Competitions, Education and Training, Giant print and Braille, Picture Books, Publishing

A few weeks ago we wrote telling you about the It’s Your Story Competition on our Facebook Page. Now, all the details have been finalised. Check them out on the link above.

It is time for you budding creative writers who are readers and contributors to Through Scarlett’s Eyes website to whip out your pens and tap away on your keyboards and let your imaginations run wild. Do what you do best – tell stories.

Write an accessible children’s picture storybook.

Parents and guardians you are welcome to help your child or children to write their story. As long as the story is:

  1. funny
  2. up to about 400 words
  3. includes your child in the story
  4. supply a front cover design: it should illustrate the main characters and the story line.

That’s simple, right? Then get writing!

There are three main categories. These are:

  1. 0 – 6 years
  2. 7- 12 years and
  3. 12 – 17 years.

Each category has prizes donated by either VICTA or John Lewis [Milton Keynes] and Access2books. You can  check out the specifics on the It’s Your Story Competition page.

An overall winner will be selected from the three pools and they will receive a copy of their story book published by Access2books.

The book will be in dual format; i.e., in giant print, and Braille with accessible illustrations.

A copy of the book will be sent over to the British Library in London as per custom. Everyone will be able to access their publication.

Four judges will be doing the judging. They are:

  1. Sue Hendra: an award winning children’s author and illustrator of books like Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell, Supertato, and many others.

    Image of Sue Hendra at the Imagine Children's Festival. She is pictured holding up a copy of Norman the Silly Shell With the Silly Shell in giant print and Braille.

    Sue Hendra, author and illustrator of books like Supertato, pictured at the Imagine Children’s Festival earlier this year. She is holding up a copy of one of her books Norman the Slug With the Silly Shell which she saw for the first time in Giant Print and Braille.

  2. Charlotte Mellor: an employee of VICTA and a representative of Through Scarlett’s Eyes.
  3. Tim O’Sullivan: the BAFTA Award winning Creative Director at Karrot animation will be on the panel. He is Series Director and Script Editor of CBeebies Sarah and Duck.
  4. Eileen Finch: she is a cofounder of Access2books and also a Director. She has published over 60 plus book titles in accessible format. 
    Picture of Eileen Finch, Sue Hendra and Mike O'Sullivan chatting at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre with the London skyline behind them.

    Sue Hendra chatting to Eileen Finch and Mike O’Sullivan [founders of Access2books] at thye Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

 The competition is now open to readers and contributors to Through Scarlett’s Eyes website. It will be closing on the 8th of January 2016.
The winners will be announced on the 31st of January 2016.
Check out the It’s Your Story Competition link for more details and how you can send in your entries. Good luck writers!
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Front cover of the accessible version of A Squash and a Squeeze which was written and illustrated by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and produced by Access2books in Giant Print and Braille. In the picture, the little old lady is wearing a blue dress which is covered by a white apron. She is surrounded by her hen, goat, pig and black and white cow.

Norfolk Libraries Takes on A Squash and a Squeeze for Record Breaking Readers Summer Challenge

A Squash and a Squeeze, Access2books, Axel Scheffler, Braille, Children's Books, children's laureate, Giant Print, Giant print and Braille, Guinness World Record Books, Guinness World Records, Julia Donaldson, Monkey Puzzle, Norfolk, Norfolk Libraries, Publishing, Record Breakers Summer Reading Challenge 2015, Record Breaking Readers Summer Challenge, Stick Man, The Gruffalo, The Highway Rat, The Reading Agency, The Smartest Giant in Town, The Snail and the Whale, UK, United Kingdom, Visual Impairment

Norfolk Libraries are conducting their summer challenge for the most readers at one time of the book A Squash and a Squeeze written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Norfolk Libraries picked this title because it fits in with their Summer Reading Challenge theme and it is a great story to read out aloud.

Their intention is to make A Squash and a Squeeze accessible to everybody and have it available in every format, including Access2books giant print [75 point], Braille and specially adapted pictures.

The Record Breakers is the theme initiated by The Reading Agency for their Summer 2015 challenge. They are challenging young readers to explore the records featured in the Guinness World Record Books.

The Reading Agency will be working with Guinness World Records on the 2015 Summer Reading Challenge.

A Squash and a Squeeze began life as a song on children’s television. Former children’s laureate, Donaldson admitted she was surprised when a publisher phoned and asked her if they could make the song into a book.
Front cover of the accessible version of A Squash and a Squeeze which was written and illustrated by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and produced by Access2books in Giant Print and Braille.
She had written it years before as a song but never imagined the words could exist without the tune but with pictures.
It was interesting for her to collaborate with Axel Scheffler who she had never met until after the book was published.
A Squash and a Squeeze centres on a little, old woman who is convinced that her home is too small for her and she wants something bigger.
She takes her complaint to a wise old man and enlists his help. He gives her some drastic advice to follow. She follows it to the tee but hardly solves her problem. In fact, it complicates matters further.
She keeps returning to the old man complaining that, “My house is a squash and a squeeze”.
Each time she returns, the old man recommends even more drastic action. His advice is both unhelpful and helpful.
It is unhelpful because it doesn’t provide her with the means to make her house bigger.
Interior pages of A Squash and Squeeze. The page on the left hand has text which reads,
However, it helps the woman finally realise the implications of the old man’s advice. She is then able to resolve her problem and realise the error of her ways.
Julia Donaldson admits in a video insert that A Squash and a Squeeze is probably the simplest of all the books she has ever written to act out.
The book is fairly easy and fun to read. It is suitable for both mainstream and Special Educational Needs [SEN] settings.
Publishing A Squash and a Squeeze in giant print and Braille makes this book accessible to an even wider audience who might not have been able to access it in normal print.
The large text and accessible pictures makes the book easier to read and share as a group or within one. This is one of the reasons why the Access2books format is so popular.
The recurring phrases, sentences and refrains combined with alliteration and other poetical devices create a musicality to the text of A Squash and a Squeeze. It is fun to read out aloud, or act, and makes it a memorable read.
The book and its characters will remain etched in your brains long after you have closed the pages of the book.
Julia Donaldson, an author and former children’s laureate, and illustrator Axel Scheffler have a close working relationship: it spans two decades. However, A Squash and a Squeeze was their first collaboration.
Their other works include The Gruffalo. Coincidentally, it is one of the first books we ever made into an accessible book with giant print, Braille and specially adapted pictures.
Picture of a front cover of The Gruffalo.  The Gruffalo is standing on the edge of a dust path, holding onto  a tree trunk as he  stares down at a small mouse standing on the gravel path.  Behind the Gruffalo are green fields and trees stretching into the distance.

An updated front cover of The Gruffalo. The pictures of this version were revamped to improve the picture quality and accessibility. Our Techniques and software have improved over time.

It was not the easiest of books to make at the time because of our inexperience.

However, we have recently reworked the book to improve the pictures because we have a lot more experience now, and we have a much better understanding of our software, plus we have honed our techniques.

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s other popular works include The Smartest Giant in Town, which we also made into an accessible book; Monkey Puzzle, Stick Man, The Highway Rat, The Snail and the Whale, etc.

Picture of the front cover of The Smartest Giant in Town  written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. In the picture, the rolled up hems and big, black shoes of the giant are just visible. A giraffe and mice are gathered at his feet and staring upwards, supposedly, to the face out of picture.

The front cover of the book The Smartest Giant in Town also written and illustrated by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

A Squash and a Squeeze is ready to order now if you want a copy. If you haven’t seen our books, you might want to see this one via the link to our website above. You can also have a look at the other titles such as The Gruffalo and The Smartest Giant in Town on our website.

If you are in Norfolk, check out Norfolk Libraries’ A Squash and a Squeeze initiative. If not, look on The Reading Agency’s website to see how you can take part in the Record Breakers Summer Reading Challenge 2015. Happy reading.