Time to Read Blog

Eloise Unerman reviews Dumplin' by Julie Murphy.

Posted Friday 30 August 2019 by Writing Squad in Writing Squad Reviews

Dumplin book cover

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is a young adult book about Willowdean Dickson, a self-proclaimed fat girl from Clover City, Texas. She’s always been at home in her own skin and her idea of having the ultimate bikini body is just putting a bikini on your body.

When new love leaves her doubting herself, she enters her local beauty pageant in an effort to take it back. The world of Dumplin’ is very important to me – both it and its sequel Puddin’ are sat on my shelves right now. I was hesitant to start reading at first. I had this fragile idea of who this girl should be and I was afraid that turning the page would ruin her. But I didn’t need to be.

I felt all the highs of Willowdean’s love life and all the lows of her relationship with her mum. But what struck me the most was something incredibly personal. She wasn’t the first plus size character I’d ever seen in a book or even the first well written one. But Murphy had perfectly pinpointed all the thoughts about being fat that I’d never spoken of, never read. And I think that’s what made Willowdean feel all the more real to me. She came along at a time when I was trying my best to have the same attitude towards my body as she did to her own. And, in an odd way, I was more than a little bit proud of her for accomplishing that.

Although Dumplin’ is a book about a girl in high school, I don’t think you need to be that age to enjoy her journey. I’d recommend this captivating book to anyone but especially those who have, at some point, felt uncomfortable in their own skin or had the sudden desire to enter a beauty pageant.

Inspired by Eloise's review? You can reserve Dumplin' from your library online for free. Or download the ebook or audiobook from your library or have a good ole Dumplin' party and watch the new film on Netflix! 


This month's Writing Squad guest reviewer is Eloise Unerman. Eloise is based in South Yorkshire and writes poetry and short stories, plus she runs poetry workshops for adults and young people.

She was awarded the Cuckoo Young Writers Award 2017 in the Northern Writers Awards and was Young Poet in Residence at 2018’s Ledbury Poetry Festival.

She is currently Barnsley’s Poet Laureate. When not writing, you can find her learning ballet and modern dance, sketching or adding to her scarf collection.  You'll also find Eloise on Twitter @inkandamaranth

Discover The Writing Squad - creating the next generation of young writers in the north.

Joseph Coehlo's Library Marathon

Posted Friday 30 August 2019 by Guest blog writer in Latest Libraries News

Poet and author Joseph Coelho called in to Blackburn Central Library this week, as part of his national Library Marathon. On Saturday 24 August he joined the library, chatted to staff, and donated two books. Plus he posed for a photograph with the library’s other special guest Marshall the puppy, part of the Brickburn Paw Patrol trail around the town centre!

As part of his Library Marathon Joseph is physically visiting a library in each authority to join and receive his library card. He’s plotting his progress on a giant library marathon map on his website, tweeting and blogging his journey around the UK.

Joseph has long been a passionate and vociferous supporter of libraries in the UK. His debut picture book, Luna Loves Library Day, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers and published by Andersen Press, celebrates his love for libraries and his own childhood spent in libraries. 

The Library Marathon is undertaken with the support of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals) and Libraries Connected. 

Oldham libraries celebrate over one million visitors

Posted Friday 30 August 2019 by Guest blog writer

Oldham Council Libraries Service is celebrating after it was revealed more than one million visitors walked through their doors between 2018 and 2019. Oldham Libraries is also the second most visited library service in Greater Manchester and the sixth busiest service across the North West region out of 24 other Library Services.

All 12 libraries across the borough offer health, learning and business resources, family and cultural activities, and signposting to partner services that aim to benefit the whole town.

Oldham Libraries staff

Plus a range of services and activities, including reading groups, author events, sensory story times, craft workshops, digital activities, cultural events through our live@thelibrary programme and inspiring events such as TEDxOldham and Fun Palaces.

Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet Member for Economy and Enterprise, Councillor Sean Fielding, said: “These figures just go to show how much our libraries are valued across the borough and we’re delighted residents get so much out of the service. “To get more than one million people through the doors is such an achievement, especially when there’s around 220,000 people living in the borough. On top of the thousands of books on offer, there’s also a top-class events programme to suit everyone including families, children, entrepreneurs, and book lovers. I’m proud of our libraries team as they’re forever looking to improve the service by being more flexible, accessible, easier to use and creating a more inclusive environment for everyone.“

To further increase both visitor numbers and literacy levels among young people we abolished library fines on all books at a Cabinet meeting on Monday 22 July. This means that library users will no longer be fined for late returns on borrowed books.

The library will be welcoming a new building in the winter of 2021 when OMA launches. The new heritage and arts centre for Oldham (OMA), will transform Oldham’s former Library, Museum and Art Gallery into a vibrant multi-use cultural complex on Union Street. OMA will feature ambitious new displays of our collections and provide a new home for Oldham Archives and Local Studies Library. The new building will include a performance space, a new café and a bigger and better shop. This work has been made possible thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and local philanthropist Sir Norman Stoller.

To find out more about the exciting new activities taking place in Oldham Libraries just sign up to our monthly Love Libraries email. This can be done in your local library, or online on the library website.

Elizabeth Gibson reviews The Space Between Us

Posted Tuesday 21 May 2019 by Writing Squad

Space BetweenThe Space Between for me is proof that word-of-mouth recommendation can really work, and gives me hope that beautiful, unusual books from indie publishers can find a deserved audience. A year ago, I wasn’t seeing this book in shops. However, I took part in regular Twitter book chats, covering issues like mental health and queer representation, and every now and again someone would mention The Space Between as a hidden gem they really, really loved. I looked it up and the blurb spoke to me, so I took a punt and ordered it. It fast became one of my favourite books.

The is a cuddle or a picnic or a warm drink in book form. It is cosy and gentle and unpretentious. It is written in verse, which gives breathing space for the heart of the story and the emotions of the main character, Beth, to lead the way, without being crowded by endless description or melodrama. We follow just three characters: Beth, her mysterious new friend, Alice, and Alice’s dog, Mouse. The entire story takes place in Beth’s house and garden, and within the space of a year. There is a purity to it, without being cheesy.

The burgeoning love between the characters feels organic and real, while maintaining a lovely otherworldly quality, like a fairy-tale. Difficult issues are confronted without hesitation, but also without the novel feeling patronising, or as if it were attempting to tick boxes – everything in there feels like it should be there. There are also refreshingly frank depictions of different body types, and of female sexual desire and pleasure. I am now starting to see The Space Between pop up in bookshops, and I approve, but do check out libraries, too, and give this gorgeous book a go. It is different from anything else I’ve read.

Elizabeth GibsonReviewer Biography

Elizabeth Gibson is a Manchester-based writer and spoken-word performer. She has won a Northern Writer's Aware and been shortlisted for the Poetry Business' New Poetry Prize. Her writing touches on city life, nature, queerness, and physical and mental health. She tweets as @Grizonne and blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk. She will be appearing at Bad Language in Manchester on 29 May.

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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