Author Archives: alison at wakefieldlibraries

One giant leap for Wakefield

Museum of the Moon Luke Jerram_Twitter


Celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA’s famous moon landing with The Festival Of The Moon at Wakefield’s former Market Hall, two weeks of mostly FREE music, dance, theatre, art workshops, wellbeing, kids’ activities for the school holidays and much, much more. It all starts on Fri 23 August 2019 with a free launch party and runs until Sun 8 September 2019.

The festival’s centre-piece is a stunning artwork Museum of the Moon by artist Luke Jerram. Suspended high up from the former Market Hall’s ceiling, a seven metre diameter replica of the moon beams to create an otherworldly mix of moonlight, NASA footage and music from BAFTA winning musician Dan Jones. Museum of the Moon has orbited earth, being seen from Glastonbury to Australia and experienced by thousands of people worldwide. A once in a lifetime opportunity to come face-to-face with the moon and grab an out of this world selfie!

As well as an audience with the moon, residents and visitors to Wakefield can blast off into more fun with theatre, singing, science virtual reality and more, including:

Dancing: A Moon Party and live music, street food, DJs and performance

First British Astronaut: Helen Sharman arrives in Wakefield to tell all about her time in space

Films & Fun: Catch a film and dress up during Star Wars Sunday

Plug In: A full day of computer gaming with Game Republic

Feel Out Of This World: Moonlit Yoga Evenings to take those stresses away 

Full event information and more announcements from The Festival Of The Moon can be found at:


Wakefield Libraries goes into orbit!

Wakefield Libraries Summer Reading Challenge 2019 promises to be our most spectacular ever! The theme is Space Chase and young readers will join the Rocket family on their mission to find some book-stealing aliens and save the Moon library. Children can join free at any Wakefield Library and collect their mission folder. As they read books over the summer they can collect stickers and rewards and when they have read six books they will win a gold medal, a certificate and a Space Chase kit bag.

Choosing and sharing books is a great family activity  to enjoy together. Books of any type count towards the Challenge and there is a special mini challenge for children aged 3 and under so they can join in too.

This year we have an extra treat- our official VIP ‘Ticket to the Moon’  Children can pick up a collector card when they join the Summer Reading Challenge and get it stamped at locations and activities across the district. A completed card will allow entry to a special VIP experience when visiting the incredible Museum of the Moon by UK artist Luke Jerram which will be at the former Market Hall, Wakefield from Friday 23 August to Saturday 8 September.

Every library has a fantastic programme of events, all free. Pick up a brochure to see what’s on and join the Challenge from Saturday 13 July.

Grab you space suit and take a giant leap into the library this summer!

Sugar Swap!

Sugar Swap

Come and explore the library to learn about healthier swaps!

Children are eating over twice as much sugar as they should. This is worrying because too much sugar can lead to serious conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as painful tooth decay. But do you know how much sugar there is in favourite drinks and snacks and the lower-sugar alternatives you could swap to next time you shop?

Visit libraries this half-term to find information from our Sugar Swap displays, join in events and activities and enjoy some free fruit for the children to help them enjoy a tasty low-sugar treat.

Free Fruit kindly provided by Ossett Market trader Richard Porter.

Visit Change4Life for more information


Castleford Library: Fun Science food event Friday 22, 11.30-12.30.  

Featherstone Library: Healthy Eating treasure hunt- on all week 

Hemsworth Library: Storytime Monday 18 ,9.30am, Thursday 21  Family healthy eating event, Storytime Friday 22, 10am 

Horbury Library: Storytime Thursday 21, 10.15am and Friday 22, 2.15pm  

Normanton Library : Juniper Foodwise Healthy eating event, Tuesday 19,10.00am, Very Hungry Caterpillar storytimes Fri 22 10.30am and 13.30pm 

Ossett Library: Storytimes Wednesday 20 10.30am and 2pm, Friday 22 10.30am 

Pontefract Library : Storytime Wednesday 20 10am 

Sandal Library: Healthy eating treasure hunt and plant your own veg (broad beans) in the library garden- on all week 

South Elmsall Library: Storytime Monday 18,  9.30am, Tuesday 19, 9.30am and Friday 22, 9.30am, Family healthy eating event Saturday 23, 10.30-11.30 

Stanley Library: Storytime Monday 18, 11.30am, healthy eating activity for older children Tuesday 19. 

Wakefield Library: Storytimes Tuesday 19, 1.30pm and Friday 22, 10.00am  

Please contact the libraries directly for further information. Storytimes are drop in events, other events make require booking. All events are free.


Reading Pictures: Seeing Stories

November 2018: Reading Pictures: Seeing Stories.

Yorkshire and the Humber libraries celebrating words and pictures.

Visit the website at for full details.

Events in Wakefield:

All dates are November, all events are free.

Code Club Animation. Wed 7 4.30 – 5.30 Pontefract Library. Ages 5-12, please book.

Comic Jam. Sat 3,10,17 and 24 10-12. Pontefract Library, ages 5-12.Drop in.

Comic Strip Storytelling 10.30 – 12.30 Ossett Library Sat 17, Wakefield Library Sat 24 Nov. Create your own comic strip with artist John Welding. For young people aged 12+ Please book.

Jackanory Pass the Story. Sat 10 Nov 1-2pm, Pontefract Library. Create a picture and bring it to life through a story. Age 5-12. Drop in

Lego animation. Sat 17 1-2.30 and Mon 26 4-5 Create your own stop-motion animation. Age 5-12. Please book.

Lego story club Sat 24 10-11 Normanton Library, 10.30-11.30 Hemsworth Library. Create your dreams in Lego. Drop in.

Magic Postman. Mon 26 1.30 Normanton Tues 27 10.00 Hemsworth, Tues 27 1.30 South Elmsall, Wed 28 10.30 Airedale. A magic adventure with puppets and music from Satellite Arts. Under fives, please book.

Mini Books. Sat 10 11-12.30 Castleford Library. Make your own cool mini books with artist Teresa Flavin Ages 7-11. Please book

Seeing is believing. Tues 13 9.30-10.15 South Elmsall, Wed 14 9.30-10 Airedale, Fri 23 10-10.30 Hemsworth. A special under-fives storytime bringing stories to life with simple props. Under fives, drop in.

Events for schools:

Launch event at the Hepworth Wed 7 with workshops led by Chris Mould, Kate Pankhurst and Teresa Flavin

Comic Art Masterclass at Pontefract Library with Kev Sutherland

Silent Stories. Children creating their own wordless stories, inspired by picture books without words. Castleford Library.

Reading Picture, Seeing Stories poster


A Sweet Wild Note

Our next Read Regional author event is at Horbury Library on Friday 25 May at 10.30am. We will be meeting Richard Smyth, a writer, researcher and editor who is a regular contributor to Bird Watching magazine, and reached the final of Mastermind with a specialist subject of British birds. He writes and reviews for The Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review, New Statesman, BBC Wildlife, New Humanist, Illustration and New Scientist. He also writes novels and short fiction, and has written several books on English history.

A Sweet Wild Note is a cultural history of birdsong – a book not just about what the birds are saying when they sing, but about what we’re hearing when we listen to them. It ranges from the poetry of Keats to the history of finch-keeping; from the music of Beethoven to the technology that allows us to capture birdsong in vivid high fidelity; from asking why birds sing to thinking about why we love their songs.

Richard comes from Horbury originally and we are looking forward to welcoming him back to his home turf.

Please note that the date of this event has changed from the original date of 18 May printed in the Read Regional booklet.

Contact Horbury Library on 01924 303060 or to book a free place .

Women’s Prize for Fiction

The Longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced and it’s an exciting list with a mixture of well known and debut authors. I’m particularly looking forward to reading ‘The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock’ and ‘Three Things about Elsie’. Which titles are going on your reading list?

From the Guardian:

From murderers to mermaids, the “whole wealth of experience” features on the longlist for the 2018 Women’s prize for fiction, according to chair of judges Sarah Sands, giving the lie to “that stereotype of women’s fiction”.

The 16-strong longlist for the £30,000 award for “excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women in English from throughout the world”, was announced on Thursday. The award, previously known as the Baileys prize, places two major names, Pulitzer winner Jennifer Egan and Booker winner Arundhati Roy, up against six debuts. The latter include Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which won the Costa first novel award, and Imogen Hermes Gowar’s The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, a tale set in Georgian London in which a mermaid is captured.

Topics range from Nicola Barker’s H(a)ppy, set in the far future in an apparent utopia, to Meena Kandasamy’s portrait of a violent marriage, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife, and Sarah Schmidt’s reimagining of the Lizzie Borden murders, See What I Have Done

“What strikes me is the range and the boldness of it – the true diversity of subject as well as authors. You’ve got mermaids and murderesses, which has got to be good,” said chair of the judges Sands, editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “You feel women could deal with any subject; they can take on big themes. It doesn’t feel like a partial list, where you think you need the men to make up the world. The world is really well covered in this list.”

We  have more than half of the titles in stock already and if there is one you would like to read, place a request and we will buy it.  The full list is

(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward


International Women’s Day

Thursday 8 March is International Women’s day

To celebrate, a number of activities will be taking place in Wakefield One from 10am – 3pm. This year marks 100 years since women were able to vote. Let’s celebrate the achievements of all the inspirational women that fought to make this happen.

Between 10am – 2pm the Electoral Services team is holding a voter registration event.

From 2 – 3pm people from Occupational Health will be promoting the Well Women Centre in Wakefield. They will be promoting the centre and offering advice and support around Women’s wellbeing – anyone can call in and have a chat.

There will also be:

  • Poets in Poll Booths – ask a poet to write and perform a poem especially for you
  • Display’s in the Museum about the first secret ballot held in Pontefract
  • From 10.10am – 11.50am there will be spoken word performances by the Forgotten Women of Wakefield
  • Rachel Reeves MP will deliver a talk in the library learning zone at 12.15pm about the life of Alice Bacon, the first female MP from Yorkshire
  • At 1pm – the unveiling of a blue plaque dedicated to Alice Bacon



What’s the Story?

Michael Yates is an established writer whose latest collection of fiction, 20 Stories High, is published this spring. The 20 stories are a mixed bag of the funny, sad and scary, with a cast list of heroes, villains… and ghosts! 20 Stories High will be launched at Henry Boons at 7pm on Thursday 22 February.

Michael will be working with us at Wakefield Library in March and April on a short story writing course ‘What’s the Story’ Over four sessions he will teach you how to write your own short story,  make your plots exciting and your characters come alive.

Monday 12 March, 2-4pm: What is a short story? How to build a plot. How to create character. Brainstorm a plot for your story. Write an exciting intro.

Monday 19 March, 2-4pm: Develop your plot. Find a setting for your story. How to win the reader’s attention. How to keep the reader’s attention.

Then a three-week break to write your story! You will be able to keep in touch with tutor Michael to ask his advice by e-mail!

Monday 9 April, 2-4pm: Hearing the stories (1). Writers read their stories. The class look at ways to improve them.

Monday 16 April, 2-4pm: Hearing the stories (2). Writers read their stories. The class look at ways to improve them.

The Learning Zone, Wakefield Library, Wakefield One, Burton Street

Wakefield, WF1 2DD

The course is free but please 01924 305376 or email to reserve a place



One of my spring highlights will be  Civilisations , an epic new series from the BBC spanning 31 countries on six continents, and covering more than 500 works of art. Presenters Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga will explore African, Asian and American as well as European cultures to explore how human creativity began and developed, how civilisations around the world influenced one another and how artists have depicted the human form and the natural world. Here are some reading ideas to enjoy as you watch. What would your suggestions be?


You can also visit Wakefield Library for Dancing with India, a performance and workshop exploring traditional Indian temple dance on Saturday 3 March 10-12. Free, no need to book.

On Monday 5 March you can enjoy Rainbow Serpent, an Australian creation story workshop, at South Elmsall Library 9.30-3.15. Free but booking is essential.

Castleford Library is hosting a talk on The Romans of Castleford, Tuesday 6 March. Free, no need to book. 2-3.15pm




Read Regional 2018

Read Regional is back for 2018,bringing 12 northern writers and their wonderful new books to libraries across the North of England. The free booklet will be available form libraries shortly with information about the books and interviews with the writers. You can also find out about this year’s writers here . 

Four writers are visiting libraries in the Wakefield district. We start on 13 March 11am with crime writer D.M Mark, talking about his first historical crime novel The Zealot’s Bones. It is set in Hull in 1849 during a terrible cholera outbreak and the author describes it as ‘ a story of redemption and revenge: bloody, grimy and raw’. Expect lots of bodies and giant rats!

A second crime event takes place on 26 April, 2pm  at Hemsworth Library. A.A. Dhand’s first novel Streets of Darkness was described as “A tense slice of neo-noir that has won Dhand comparisons to both BBC drama Luther and HBO’s The Wire ” (Observer) so we are thrilled he is coming to Hemsworth to talk about Girl Zero, a second outing for his Bradford based detective D.I. Harry Virdee.

May sees a change of mood with A Sweet, Wild Note by Richard Smyth. Richard will be visiting Horbury Library on 18 May, 10.30am. The book is a cultural history of bird song, its place in our literature, science and music, what it means to us and what it would mean not to hear it. Horbury is Richard’s home town and we are delighted to welcome him back.

The final event takes place at Castleford Library on 14 June, 2pm. Sarah Dunnakey will be talking about The Companion, a compelling mystery of buried secrets and unsolved murder set on the Yorkshire Moors and partly inspired by Gibson Mill near Hebden Bridge, a former cotton mill which became an entertainment centre in the early 1900s. Sarah lives in Hebden Bridge and as well as writing  works as a question researcher for TV shows like Mastermind, University Challenge and Pointless.

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