Templarassic Park: a Pictorial Review of Three Picture Books about Dinosaurs

Last week I won a Dinosaur competition run by Templar Publishing, the prize was three dinosaur picture books and a small pack of tiny dinosaurs. Now I love dinosaurs, I love books and put them together and you have two of my lifelong favourite things in one package.

I am also a massive fan of toys, so I thought I would send my toy dinos on a quest to find out about themselves and at the same time take a look at these wonderful books.

So without further ado, may I present my first, pictorial review of Factfinders Dinosaurs, Adam Stower’s Dinosaurs and Dinosaurology The Search for a Lost World in Templarassic Park

templarassic park logo pic Read More →

Eight Questions With… Esther Ehrlich

Hi Esther, welcome to the Eight Questions With… interview for Teen Librarian:

The first question I generally ask is for authors to introduce themselves to the audience- who they are, where they come from and so on, if you wouldn’t mind?

My pleasure! So, right now I’m sitting at my desk, looking into the branches of the oak trees right outside my window in Wildcat Canyon in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live with my family. I like it here, but I miss the east coast, which is where I was born and raised. NEST takes place on Cape Cod, and I really enjoyed hanging out there in my imagination—dunes and swimming ponds and salt marsh—while I was writing the book.


Nest is your debut novel and a thoroughly enjoyable read! Can you let me know what inspired you to write it?

Hmmm…There are so many answers to that question! In a way, I feel like everything I’ve ever experienced in my life filters through me and shapes my writing. What’s true is NEST began with an image that came to me and captured my attention—two sisters dancing together in the road in a summer rainstorm while their mother, a dancer who wasn’t feeling well, watched them from the porch. I wrote that scene and the rest of the story unfolded from there.

Did you set out to write specifically for younger readers or do you write for yourself and hope that your work finds an audience?

Honestly, I wrote the book that I wanted to write, not even thinking about an audience. It was other professionals in the book world who decided what niche NEST fit into. I’m glad that younger readers and adults seem to be really enjoying the book.

What is the most rewarding part of the writing experience for you?

I love discovering who my characters are. There’s a kind of careful listening that I have to do: What hints are my characters throwing in my direction? If I pay careful attention, I find out what matters to them. Over time, I get to know them really well, and that’s so gratifying.

I also just love words—the sounds and rhythms, and, of course, meanings. I like stringing them together and creating something new. It’s deeply satisfying.

Do you read the works of other writers for children and young people? If yes, can you give some recommendations?

Let’s see. I love The Pictures of Hollis Woods. Counting by Sevens. The One and Only Ivan. Okay, for Now. As a child, The Secret Garden was one of my favorite books. Charlotte’s Web. Stuart Little. The Trumpet of the Swan. I’d strongly recommend all of these to everyone. I recently read All the Bright Places and thought it was wonderful. Without Tess is another beauty. These last two, I’d recommend for teenagers and adults.

Which books would you recommend for readers who enjoyed Nest?

All of the above!

Are you currently working on anything new, or do you have any new books planned?

Stay tuned…

You are based in USA so visiting schools and reading groups in the UK may be a bit difficult but do you ever do Skype visits to international groups that are interested in meeting you?

I haven’t done Skype visits yet, but I’d like to give it a whirl! Also, I’d be thrilled to visit the UK. I’ve never been “across the pond!”

Thank you so much for giving up your time to answer these questions!

Thanks for your interest in me and NEST!

NEST publishes in the UK on 2nd July (Rock The Boat, £7.99).

Follow Esther on Facebook and Twitter: @EstherEhrlich

Midlands School Library Camp 2015

For the second year running the Midlands will host a School Library Camp.
This year we have decamped (sorry!) to the north of the region and the 2015 event will be held at the University of Derby’s main campus at Keddleston Road.

More details about the location here:
http://bit.ly/1xIw5hB

The event is taking place on Saturday 11th July. Doors open 10:00 and we expect to be finished and wiping up cake crumbs by 3:00pm.

Click here for more information and to grab your free tickets: http://bit.ly/1BMdw0l

At last year’s event we discussed all sorts of stuff from our policies towards noise to using Minecraft. What will you discuss this year?

Pitch your ideas or see what others want to talk about here: http://bit.ly/1IyvsZo

Hachette Enid Blyton’s Summer of Adventure Offer

Hachette are celebrating the May publication of five new covers for The Famous Five with Enid Blyton’s Summer of Adventure this summer and are producing a brilliant pack that will provide librarians and bookshops with everything they need to hold their own Summer of Adventure event in their library or bookshop. The call is celebrate Blyton’s birthday 11th August creating a Summer of Adventure.

The pack contains:
Detailed plan on how to hold your event;
Display poster;
When and Where fill-in-the-blanks poster;
100 x bookmarks;
6 metres bunting;
6 activity sheets (for copying);
Sticker sheets;
Certificate (for copying).

These free packs are now available for order ISBN 9781444930504 with a deadline of 30th June to ensure delivery. Orders after that date will be processed on a first come, first served basis. Get in quickly!

Hachette have set up a survey monkey order form here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BlytonSummer

Looking Towards the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards for 2016

Teen Librarian Monthly June 2015

Download (PDF, 633KB)

2015 CILIP Carrnegie & Kate Greenaway Medal Award Ceremony

Well the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals have been awarded for 2015 and what was an amazing experience for a first-time judge is now receding rapidly in the rear-view mirror.

The selection of Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman for the Carnegie Medal and Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill for the Kate Greenaway Medal was no easy task, cutting the long-list of 20 books (for each of the awards) down to eight titles was a painful process. I will not even attempt to describe the bloody winnowing of the nominated titles that went into creating the long-list.
Tears were shed, passionate arguments were heard and many persuasive techniques were made by the judges and now looking back I can honestly say that the correct decisions were made! As a judge alongside my fellow judges we stand proudly by the titles we chose.

Attending the Awards Ceremony is a perk of being a judge and I really recommend that everyone with an interest in literature for children and young people try and attend at least once. Heck, if you are a librarian and a member of CILIP then get involved with your regional YLG Committee and put yourself forward for the position of CKG regional representative (aka a Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Judge), it really is rewarding, you get to meet reps from other regions, improve your knowledge of children’s books (including YA, MG & picture books) and get to be part of a panel that selects the most outstanding books of a year (for children & young people).

The ceremony this year was amazing! It took place in the British Library, prior to the awarding of the medals there was a mingling with coffee and biscuits in the foyer with authors & illustrators being besieged for signatures by shadowing groups and everyone else in attendance that did not write or draw. During the awards ceremony we were welcomed by CILIP CEO Nicholas Poole and entertained by MC Mel Giedroyc, host of the Great British Bake-off. Chris Riddell the Children’s Laureate was in attendance and showed how swift he is at drawing by live-sketching the ceremony, you can view his sketches on his Instagram site here: https://instagram.com/chris_riddell/

You can see what the judges thought of the Carnegie-nominated titles here:

the Greenaway-nominated titles here:

and hear Tanya and William’s acceptance speeches here:

Check out the CKG site for full details on the 2015 awards: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/2015awards/

Eight Questions With… A.J. Steiger

Hi A.J. welcome to the Eight Questions With… interview for Teen Librarian

The first question I generally ask is for authors to introduce themselves to the audience- who they are, where they come from and so on if you wouldn’t mind?

Hi, I’m A.J. Steiger, and I live in Illinois. I’m a writer and freelance transcriptionist. My work keeps me in front of the computer a lot, so I try to get out into nature sometimes to remind myself that the world is more than words and screens. Mindwalker is my first young adult novel, and it’s out now with OneWorld Publications, and also with Knopf in the U.S.

Mindwalker is your first novel, can you give us an idea of what it is about and what inspired you to write it?

Mindwalker is set in a future where people can choose to have painful memories removed. Seventeen-year-old Lain Fisher is a prodigy who’s already skilled at wiping away her patients’ traumas. A troubled classmate asks her to erase a horrific childhood experience from his mind, and while exploring his memories, she learns that he’s connected to something much bigger…something their government doesn’t want the world to discover.

I’ve always found the idea of memory modification to be a fascinating and disturbing concept. There’s a quote from Gregory Maguire that sums it up well: “Memory is a part of the present. It builds us up inside; it knits our bones to our muscles and keeps our hearts pumping. It is memory that reminds our bodies to work, and memory that reminds our spirits to work too: it keeps us who we are.”

If you change someone’s memories, you change their identity. It’s the ultimate power over an individual. It could be used for good—to help people overcome horrors like war, abuse, and assault—but it could very easily go wrong, especially if institutions gain the power to control which facts people remember and which ones they forget.
Mindwalker is also a novel about mental illness and the social stigma that often goes along with it, which I think is a hugely important issue.

Dystopian novels seem to have an enduring popularity, especially amongst young adult readers, what do you think the reason for this is?

The world is already pretty scary. Transforming our fears into fiction gives us a sense of control and reminds us that there are things we can do about the situation we’re living in.

I think young readers especially like these books because they often involve themes of rebellion or bucking the system. When you’re young, the universe hasn’t had time to wear you down and make you cynical and complacent, so there’s still this burning fire to tackle injustice, and that’s a wonderful thing.

There’s a danger of sliding into escapism, though. If we satisfy our need for rebellion vicariously, through movies and books, it can take the edge off our hunger for real change. So I think a good dystopian ought to leave you at least a little bit nervous. Truth and justice doesn’t always win—it doesn’t happen automatically. You have to keep fighting for it.

Mindwalker has been compared favourably to The Giver by Lois Lowry – have you ever read it and do you read novels by other YA writers? If yes would you be able to recommend some authors and titles?

I first read The Giver as a teenager, and it left an impression on me. Its world seems very safe and civilized and pleasant on the surface, but once you peel back the outer layers you see the darkness underneath, and to me that makes it more interesting than a world where everything is blatantly horrible. Real horror doesn’t always advertise itself.

I’ve also read more current YA fiction like The Hunger Games and Marie Lu’s Legend series, and I enjoyed all of those. But my favourite YA novels tend to be brooding, introspective stories like The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Did you set out to write specifically for teenagers or do you write for yourself and hope that your work finds an audience?

I think all writers have to strike a balance between writing for themselves and writing for an audience. I originally conceived of Mindwalker as a science fiction story for adults, with adult characters. But in the process of writing, I decided to make it YA, and something clicked.

What is the most rewarding part of the writing experience for you?

Revision. Apparently, many writers hate editing, but for me it’s a lot of fun. Writing the rough draft is kind of like generating the raw clay—it’s messy, lumpy and unfinished—and once you have enough of that clay, you can start shaping it and playing with it and seeing it really become what it’s supposed to be. That’s a very exciting feeling.

Of course, I also love getting feedback. Writing is fundamentally an act of communication. Without readers, the experience is incomplete.

What is coming next after Mindwalker?

I’m currently working on the sequel, Mindstormer. After that, we’ll see. I’ll probably continue to write young adult fiction, though I’d like to try branching out into different genres, like fantasy.

You are based in the US so visiting schools and reading groups in the UK may be a bit difficult but do you ever do Skype visits to international groups that are interested in meeting you?

I haven’t yet, but that could be a possibility for the future.

Thank you so much for giving up your time to answer these questions!

Mindwalker is published by Rock the Boat and is available now

Children and Young People’s Promise: the Public Library offer to Young People

ASCEL (The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians) is today launching a new version of the Children and Young People’s Promise. The Promise outlines the public library offer to children and young people. It highlights the quality of the experience they should have when visiting their library or using digital services. It identifies the role the public library plays in supporting children’s literacy and reading for pleasure; their health and wellbeing; cultural activity and community participation.

The Promise also outlines the children’s library journey detailing the interactions public libraries should have with children as they grow, responding to their changing needs, from providing rhyme times for babies and toddlers, support for school transition to volunteering opportunities for young people.

The Children and Young People’s Promise supports the Universal Offers developed by the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and their partners.

Sarah Mears, Chair: ASCEL. “Children and public libraries need each other. We want every child to love their library. This Promise means that we’ll do everything we can to ensure that all children using libraries feel inspired, excited and valued”.

Ciara Eastell, President: Society of Chief Librarians “Regular access to a library for children is a vital ingredient of a happy childhood, and sets children up to benefit from all that public libraries offer at every stage of life. We embrace this new Promise and library journey research and look forward to seeing it used in libraries across England.”

www.ascel.org.uk
@ASCELUK

Chris Riddell the Waterstones Children’s Laureate for 2015-2017

Each Children’s Laureate brings something new and amazing to the role, my personal favourite has been Malorie Blackman due to the frankly amazing work she has done in raising the profile of teen fiction and YA engagement in general.

When Chris Riddell’s name was announced yesterday I punched the air and whispered “Yeah!” (I was in the Library), I think he is a brilliant choice and has appeal from small children to their parents and grandparents as well as everyone in between.

I am a big fan of Chris Riddell’s work and after hearing his views on libraries, reading, illustrations and how he let his chidren draw in his sketchbooks with him, I have become a fan of the man himself!

At his unveiling as Laureate he released his Five Point plan for the next two years and School Libraries feature heavily:

five point plan

Chris Riddell on Illustration:

During my term I want to use the immediacy and universality of illustration to bring people together and lead them all into the wonderful world of books and reading

On School Libraries:

It’s bizarre that it is not a requirement for the very places where children will learn how to read, draw, think and create to have a space for books…

I want to help and encourage every school to do more for readers. If they have nowhere to read, create a space with a few books; if they have a bookshelf, have two; if they have a reading room, aim for a library.

I am looking forward to following what he does as Laureate and will be sharing it with the students in my school and encouraging them to pick up pencils and paper with their books.

Find out more about Chris, his plans and previous Laureates at the Children’s Laureate site here:

http://www.childrenslaureate.org.uk/

Follow his Laureate Log here: chrisriddellblog.tumblr.com