Doctor Who: Friendly Dalek teaches you to code

The BBC has unveiled a computer game called The Doctor and the Dalek, as part of the Make it Digital initiative to get more young people into computer coding.

It is voiced by Peter Capaldi and the story, starring a friendly Dalek, is written by Doctor Who series writer Phil Ford.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29645991

First UK Comics Laureate Announced

Bestselling graphic novelist Dave Gibbons is to become the first Comics Laureate. The announcement was made by internationally acclaimed comics authority and graphic novelist Scott McCloud at the launch of new charity Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on 17th October.

The role of Comics Laureate is to be appointed biennially to a distinguished comics writer or artist in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the field. Their role is to champion children’s literacy through school visits, training events for school staff and education conferences. Dave Gibbons has won universal praise for his comics and graphic novel work for Marvel and DC Comics including the ground-breaking Watchmen (with Alan Moore), as well as the UK’s own 2000AD and Doctor Who. “It’s a great honour for me to be nominated as the first Comics Laureate,” he says. “I intend to do all that I can to promote the acceptance of comics in schools. It’s vitally important not only for the pupils but for the industry too.” Dave Gibbons takes up his two-year position from February 2015.

Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) is a new UK charity formed by a group of passionate, highly experienced professionals from the fields of education and comics. Its primary aim is to improve the literacy levels of children and to promote the variety and quality of comics and graphic novels today, particularly in the education sector.

The Board of CLAw’s trustees includes renowned graphic novelist Bryan Talbot, winner of the 2012 Costa Award for Best Biography for Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes (a collaboration with his wife Mary Talbot). He says, “In many other countries, comics and graphic novels have been used extensively in literacy drives. The sheer accessibility of the medium, the way in which complex information can be easily absorbed through its combination of words and pictures, actively encourages reading in those intimidated by endless blocks of cold print.”

The other trustees are Julie Tait, Director of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival; Ian Churchill, comic book artist for DC and Marvel, and writer/artist on his Image Comics title Marineman; Emma Hayley, Managing Director and Publisher of UK’s independent graphic novel company, SelfMadeHero; Paul Register, school librarian and founder of the Stan Lee Excelsior Award; and Dr. Mel Gibson, comics scholar and senior lecturer at Northumbria University.

Alongside the Comics Laureateship, CLAw will work closely with schools on a number of initiatives, including staff training events and classroom visits by comics professionals. They will liaise with museums and galleries on a variety of comics-related projects, and provide reading lists and general guidance to school staff and parents unfamiliar with the comics medium, demonstrating the wider educational benefits it can offer.

For further information about: Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) – www.claw.org.uk

Teen Librarian and the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards

Those readers who also follow me on twitter or know me in real life will be aware that for the next two years I will be a Judge for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards.

The effects of the CKG Awards have been slowly creeping in to the way I have been running Teen Librarian. I have been reading as many of the potential nominations as I could so that when the list of nominated titles is revealed I would not have an almost insurmountable task in getting through all of them. I have not felt that it would be a good idea to review the books I have read over the past year as it may create a conflict of interest if my views on them are made known and they are nominated.

My reviews will cease entirely from now as I will have no time to read anything other than the nominated titles, the list of titles will become public next week.

The voices of past judges has become a Greek chorus in my mind, collectively and individually they have all said the same thing: Life as you knew it is over! All your free time will be taken up with reading the nominations, you don’t really need eight hours of sleep a night and say goodbye to your friends and significant other…

The list of things in life that will be set aside because of the awards does go on a bit, but those were the salient points.

I know that I am not the most prolific of posters in the library & book blogging worlds but I may become even quieter. I will not be posting on any of the authors and titles nominated, or about any of the meetings relating to the Awards. I will keep posting ideas and items of interest as I usually do and if anyone reading this would like to become involved with writing articles or reviews for Teen Librarian please do let me know.

I will also not be able to answer any questions relating to views on the nominated titles or authors, or about the awards process or my fellow judges. I will be happy to talk about the importance of the Awards, the criteria and any general questions people may have. I may even write posts about those subjects in case.

First Story National Writing Competition

First Story is very excited to announce the launch of its annual National Writing Competition!

Students from state schools across the country are invited to submit 850 words or less of poetry or prose on the theme of ‘Home’ – what does home mean to them? Is it a place, a smell, a taste, a group of people?

This year we are delighted to offer the fantastic prize of a residential Arvon creative writing course for the winners. We will also publish all the shortlisted pieces in a collected anthology, and hold a special prize-giving ceremony at LSE in 2015.

The competition will be judged by five acclaimed writers: Anthony McGowan, Bernardine Evaristo, James Dawson, Kate Kingsley and Laura Dockrill.

Teachers will run the first stage of the competition within schools, and then send 3 top entries to First Story before the deadline on Friday 5th December 2014. The first 100 teachers to get 50 entries within their school will be given £100, and £30 in book tokens will be given to every school to be awarded to the top three winners within each school.

Four stories from each key stage (KS3, 4 and 5, twelve stories in total) will be selected by First Story from the final entries submitted by each school, and then the five judges will pick a winner for each key stage. One winner overall will be selected, with the results announced in a prize ceremony at the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) in early 2015. The three key stage winners will each be offered a places on an Arvon residential writing course in March 2015. And on top of that, they get to invite 3 friends to come on the course too, and bring the teacher who entered their piece along with them.

Teachers can also enter themselves, in a separate contest: 4 top teacher pieces will be chosen, and a final winner, selected by the judges, will also get a place on the Arvon course.

For full details and resources please visit this page:

http://www.firststory.org.uk/2014/09/24/first-story-national-writing-competition/

Historical Graphic Novels

historical graphic novels threeFor everybody who thinks that the Spartan’s were the squeaky clean heroes of democracy portrayed in 300 (the graphic novel and the film).

Three is a fictional tale of three Helots – the slave class that resided in Greece, set a century after the Battle of Thermopylae and their attempt to escape from 300 Spartans despatched to kill them.
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Crecy_cover_artA longbow-man’s view of the Battle of Crecy, written by Warren Ellis. Crecy is a relatively brief introduction to one of the most important medieval battles that England fought in Europe. It contains a copious amount of swearing, but is highly entertaining and informative.
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terra-cover-for-blogTerra Australis charts the epic voyage of the First Fleet from London to Port Jackson, Australia.
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historycomicsuffragetteTells the story of the campaign for votes for women. This title presents a tale of loyalty, love and courage, set against a vividly realised backdrop of Edwardian Britain, it follows the fortunes of a maid-of-all-work swept up in the feminist militancy of the era.
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historycomicdotterPart personal history, part biography, this title contrasts two coming-of-age narratives: that of Lucia, the daughter of James Joyce, and that of author Mary Talbot, daughter of the eminent Joycean scholar James S Atherton.
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Charleys-War-coverDescribed by Andrew Harrison as “the greatest British comic strip ever created”, Charley’s War tells the story of an underage British soldier called Charley Bourne. Charley joins the British Army during World War I at the age of 16 (having lied about his age and told the recruiting officers that he was 18; they conveniently overlook the fact that Charley gives his date of birth on his application form as 1900), and is quickly thrust into the Battle of the Somme.
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Berlin-cityofstones-jasonlutes-cover Berlin: City of Stones is the first volume of a trilogy of graphic novels detailing the decline of Weimar Germany.
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battleofbritainOn the 15th of May 1940, the forces of the 3rd Reich surged into the north-west of France. In preparing for complete peace, the unwary French are surprised and defeated without having been able to avoid the manoeuvres. The Germans block off the British Expeditionary force in the ‘Dunkirk Pocket’. This book tells the story.
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CASTRO_COVER_FINAL_RGB_115dpi-e1308319065443In October 1958, Karl Mertens, a young journalist, arrives in Havana. Having read an interview with Castro in the New York Times, he sets out to meet and interview him. When he arrives, he finds himself in a country plunged into revolution, he quickly becomes involved in its events.
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waltz_with-Bashir_coverWaltz with BBashir is a graphic novel adaptation of an animated film about an israeli soldier’s search for lost memories of his time in Lebanon during the Israeli-Lebanon War of 1982.
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persepolisPersepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution.
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Marzi-coverMarzi is Marzena Sowa’s memoir growing up in communist Poland during the lead up to the fall of communism in the 1980’s.
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Bloomsbury launches HARRY POTTER BOOK NIGHT

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February 5th 2015 will see the first ever Harry Potter Book Night. This exciting event will give new and existing fans a chance to share the wonder of J.K. Rowling’s unforgettable stories and, most excitingly, to introduce the next generation of readers to the unparalleled magic of Harry Potter. You are hereby invited to embrace the magic and banish the midwinter blues!

Bloomsbury Children’s Books is inviting schools, bookshops, libraries and community groups to host early evening events in celebration of Harry Potter Book Night. Bloomsbury is creating a complete Harry Potter Book Night Kit – available for free download – offering hosts everything they need to plan an unforgettable evening. The kit will include invitation templates, an event poster, games, activities and quizzes as well as ideas for dressing up and decorating the venue. The kit will be available from the new website harrypotterbooknight.com. Event hosts can register now at the site to receive the kit and updates in the run up to the big night.

In addition to the community events outlined above, there will be public events in London and key regions, a major competition for UK and Irish schools and many further treats and surprises – all celebrating J.K. Rowling’s seven iconic Harry Potter books – to be revealed soon.

Bloomsbury Children’s Books will be marking Harry Potter Book Night on February 5th in their key territories, giving fans across the world an opportunity to join in the celebrations.

Bloomsbury is working closely with Harry Potter partners on plans for the inaugural Harry Potter Book Night, and this interactive celebration joins the new Jonny Duddle jackets, Harry Potter book festival events and the Jim Kay illustrated editions publishing October 2015 as part of a wider strategy from Bloomsbury to pass the magic of these unique adventures on to as many readers as possible.

Find out more details here

The Rather Amazing Race: Introducing Students to Finding Information Quickly

Telling students that finding information in a book can be faster than using the internet is fun!

I told a class of year nines this morning and I could see the naked disbelief in their faces. The moment the words left my mouth a sea of hands shot up and a clamour of voices stridently disagreeing with me filled the library.

They shouted that the internet was faster, easier and had more accurate sources. I managed to quieten them down and then one lad stood up and said that he would show me that using the internet was faster. I asked him how he would accomplish this and he challenged me to a race.

He said that he would use the internet and I would use the books in the library. The rest of the class cheered loudly at this.

I was rather surprised, as I had been planning on running a books versus the internet lesson in October so I agreed. I suggested that we both stand in the centre of the library and said that the first person to take the information they found to their form tutor who was also in the library would win. I also gave him the choice of subject.

He said one word: “Football!”

He ran to the closest available computer while I walked over to World Book Encyclopedia, took Volume 7 (F) off the shelf and looked up Football. World Book is an American publication, so the information contained therein was about American Football, but it did reference Soccer (Association football). So I grabbed Volume 18 (So-Sz) found the entry on Soccer and took it to the teacher.

By the time my worthy opponent had started shouting that the computer was too slow, so I called him back to the rest of the class who started accusing me of cheating. I disagreed with them but that only made their fury greater, they told me that it was not fair and that I knew where all the information books in the library were and could just walk to them and find the information I wanted.

At this point I gave a silent thank you to whoever was listening and then agreed with the students.

The point of the exercise I told them, was not to show off what I can do in the library, but rather to show them what they can learn to do. The point of library lessons for year nine is to continue helping them learn how to find relevant and reliable information for the work they are doing, both in print and online.

I think that the lesson went well, the class was quieter by the end of the lesson than it has ever been before. They thought about what I was offering them over the course of the year ahead.

The next lessons will focus on finding information online.

Top 10 Myths about Teenagers (link)

Stewart Ross has written a brilliant article detailing 10 pernicious myths about teenagers.

Have a read here:

Top 10 Myths About Teenagers

Iron Sky: Dread Eagle The Tour Alex Woolf’s Top Steampunk Reads

Avast children of the steam! Today I am pleased to announce that Alex Woolf is sharing his favourite YA steampunk reads with us.

So put on your goggles, brew a cuppa tea and push play on Abney Park’s Airship Pirates and have a read…

I’ve been asked to put together a list of my top steampunk books for children and teenagers. As it happens, most of the steampunk books I’ve read so far were written for adults. I’ve now learned that there is a whole library out there of fabulous-looking steam-powered stories for younger readers, which I plan to start reading as soon as I find the time. For this reason, the following list is rather short, and in no way comprehensive. Call it a list-in-progress!

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
His-Dark-Materials-trilog-001I read this trilogy before I’d even heard of the term steampunk. Although I read it as an adult, it had a similar heady impact on me as the Narnia books, which I read as a child. It follows two children’s adventures through various parallel worlds and includes talking, armoured bears, vagabond gyptians (gypsies) and a Texan with a hot-air balloon. I loved the second one, The Subtle Knife, in particular.

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Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Someone recommended this book to me, thinking I’d love it – and they were right! It’s set on the eve of World War I, but a very different World War I than the one we’ve studied in history books. In this world, the Axis Powers are armed with Clankers, steam-driven iron machines bristling with guns. Opposing them are the British ‘Darwinists’, whose weapons are specially altered animals. Leviathan is their whale-airship, the most powerful beast in the British fleet. The story, focusing on a boy prince and an aviator girl caught up in the action, is enhanced by some beautifully intricate illustrations. Altogether wonderful!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Hungrycitychronicles
The premise of this book is so ingenious I wish I’d thought of it myself. Imagine it: mobile cities! Big cities hunting down and eating smaller cities for their resources. It’s called ‘Municipal Darwinism’. Added to this, it’s a real page-turner: an adventure involving murder plots, obsession and betrayal. The book features a host of unforgettable characters, including Grike, a veteran soldier who’s more machine than man, Chrystler Peavey, the posh pirate, and Mayor Chrome, the power-mad leader of London.

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The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling
This book, by my Curious Fox stablemate, is a high-tension, high-wire adventure set in a gritty alternative Victorian London. The star of the show is Remy Brunel, a circus performer who moonlights as a jewel thief. She is a character you can’t help warming to, not least because of all her delightful contradictions: a noble soul forced by circumstances to work as a criminal; ephemeral as a butterfly yet with a will of iron; obstinately independent, yet she cannot resist the pull of love when it finds her. A top trapeze artiste, Remy defies expectations as well as gravity, and much the same can be said for the book, which begins as a fairly straightforward jewel hunt and then transforms into something much stranger and more intriguing as our unlikely band of heroes race to foil the plans of the evil Lord Abernathy. The book builds to an extremely tense and exciting climax as we follow Remy and her friends into a netherworld of labyrinthine tunnels beneath London, where we encounter some truly weird and wonderful steampunk machines.

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Cloud Riders by Nick Cook
I declare an interest with this one, as Nick Cook is a friend, and I read and commented on various drafts of this book before it was published. However, I can say hand on heart that if I’d chanced across this book afresh, without knowing Nick, I’d still have loved it. The hero, Dom, lives with his mother, who runs the Twister Diner in Tornado Alley, USA. After a year-long drought, with the diner about to go bust, a tornado suddenly appears – the first in months – and emerging from it is a mysterious airship, which crashes in Dom’s yard. It’s the start of an amazing adventure through parallel worlds for Dom and his best friend Jules. The book is exceptionally good at charting the emotional journey of the main characters, but what I loved most was the world building, the amazing technology and the rich and atmospheric descriptions. I recommend this to anyone who’s ever wished there were other worlds out there and longs for a chance to explore them.

The Clore Poetry and Literature Awards

The Clore Poetry and Literature Awards fund poetry and literature initiatives for children and young people, under the age of 19, across the UK. Individual Awards range from £1,000 to £10,000. The Clore Duffield Foundation has created these Awards with the aim of providing children and young people with opportunities to experience poetry and literature in exciting and compelling ways, in and out of school.

Get full details here: Clore Poetry and Literature Awards