Monthly Archives: October 2012

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The Diviners by Libba Bray

Looking for a book to while away the long nights of Hallowe’en and the days of the Dead?

May I present to you The Diviners by Libba Bray.

The Diviners is the sort of book that looks daunting when you pick it up, weighing in at 583 pages in length it is no lightweight.

It gave me pause for a few seconds. I used those seconds to gaze in adoration at the cover, I may have stroked it in awe. It is a thing of beauty to behold! Silver raised text on a hard cover of dark and blues with a flapper girl in silhouette against a modern skyline and hovering above it all is the all-seeing eye.

Then I opened the cover and started reading.

Not having been born in the early years of the 20th century I have no idea what it was like to live through the ’20’s but Libba’s prose swept me away. From the first chapter I was caught up in the final party of the season where young men and women were shaken from their lethargy and boredom by the hostess who produced a ouija board to commune with the other side. I was chilled by the the thread of darkness and unease that wormed its way in that even the bright lights of the mightiest city ever built could not dispel.

New York in 1926 is in the grip of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution better known as Prohibition.It is a time of secret gin parties, flappers and good times that will never end. The Great War is becoming a distant memory, with old anguishes and losses dimmed by time the future has never looked brighter.

Into New York comes Evie O’Neill, flapper, party girl and labelled as that wicked O’Neill girl by the residents of the town of Zenith.

She has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York city – and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926 and New York is fileld with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets. the only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will – and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

If you read only one book this Hallowe’en make sure it is The Diviners by Libba Bray!

The first in a tetralogy, The Diviners will make you ache for the New York of yore while still giving you chills.

PrinterInks Short Story Competition

Are you a budding writer?

Fancy putting your skills to the test in the PrinterInks Short Story Competition?

By entering the competition you have the chance to get your book printed in hard copy. This prize is perfect for any author who would like to get their work published. The winner will receive 10 copies so they can share their winning story with family and friends.

To celebrate the beginning of the autumn season we are asking you to write your story on the theme ‘autumn’.

For a chance of winning this amazing prize, email your story in a Word document to .

The competition is free to enter.

For further details please visit:


  • The story can be no longer than 3000 words.
  • We will only accept one entry per person.
  • The competition deadline is 1st December 2012.
  • Competition is open to residents of the U.K, Europe and North America
  • Prize

  • The winner will have their book published and receive 10 copies of their story.
  • The story will be published in a 14.8 x 10.5cm book, with a 350gsm card cover.
  • The winner can either choose to design their own cover or our in house team can help.
  • The runner up will receive £50 worth of amazon vouchers.
  • Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?

    Cutting a novel to make way for graphic illustrations is hard work, but ultimately very rewarding, says Zella Compton author of The Ten Rules of Skimming.

    When I wrote The Ten Rules of Skimming I had no idea that it would turn out to be half book, half graphic novel. Why would I? I wrote it for young adults, and it’s not often that you see books with multiple illustrations in that genre (although many of the covers are truly awesome).

    But my publisher gave me a choice. He would either print it as a straight novel, or with sequential illustrations on pretty much every page, it was up to me. It took me a few days to decide. The first draft was around 70,000 words, and the publisher told me if I went to an illustrated format I’d have to chop at least 30,000 of them. That was daunting.

    But then I saw some pitch artwork from one of the potential artists, Jess Swainson. She’d drawn two scenes from the book– and they blew my mind. The scenes she’d chosen were so cool. The first was when Adam, the protagonist, is being questioned about how he found his sister’s – and other girls – bodies. The second depicted some of the side-effects of skimming through people’s minds . . . and I loved both drawings. It was like seeing a movie trailer for your favourite book and knowing that the film will do it justice. The excitement swelled in my belly, I couldn’t believe she’d got my characters so spot on. The decision was made.

    Jess and I met for lunch, and I looked over her character roughs. She asked me lots of detailed questions which I’d never thought about. It was really simple stuff like what kind of clothes does Adam wear, and does Jenny-Ray (the female lead) tie her hair back? It made me realise that I am quite sparse in my descriptions, my default position is to leave readers to fill in the blanks. I had to think long and hard about it; thankfully Jess gave jenny-Ray much better dress sense that I ever had.

    The next task was to get rid of the 30,000 extra words (I had used three adjectives where one would do, so that wasn’t too hard) and start planning out the images. My publisher wanted me to aim for one on every page, which meant cutting more and more text. For example, where I would have used a couple of pages to describe the horror of being chased through minds, Jess drew it in half the space.

    I had to be very careful about the images I chose to use. The book is gritty. Physical violence between adults and children, bodies in conservatories and murder. It was a balancing act to work out what is best left to a reader’s imagination (younger siblings do pick up books!), and what to literally show.

    When these broad decisions were taken, I had to think about speech bubbles. Condensing dialogue into three or four words was the hardest part of the process. I have so much respect for comic book creators now!

    As the editing process moved on, the publisher sent Jess final versions of chapters, with broad instructions for what the images should be and the speech bubbles. I ‘signed off’ roughs before she drew the finals. Jess is a genius drawer; it’s fair to say that my favourite part of being an author (so far) was watching the pictures come in and seeing my story from someone else’s eyes.

    Jess drew over 130 images; so based on the old adage that a picture’s worth 1,000 words, I would have had to cut nearly double the length of the first draft. In The Ten Rules of Skimming each picture is actually worth about 300 words, and I am delighted with the end result: a taut thriller which leaps off the page.

    The Ten Rules of Skimming by Zella Compton and Jess Swainson is available to order from all good bookshops, from (free postage), from Amazon, Sainsburys (online) and WH Smith (online).

    For more information visit:

    LFC National Short Story Week Competition for Primary Schools

    Budding young authors have the chance to win a really novel prize by entering a writing competition – a visit to their school by top children’s author Vivian French. The story-writing competition aims to celebrate National Short Story Week (12-18 November), and is being run by School Library Supplies specialist, LFC.

    The competition is open to the first 250 primary schools who register, with each primary school allowed to submit a maximum of 10 entries. Pupils must be aged seven to 10 years to submit their entries which should be 350 to 500 words long and must contain three elements – creepy crawlies, a secret and the library.

    They will be competing for a first prize, which will be a visit to the winning school by prolific children’s author Vivian French – giving pupils a chance to meet the face behind the books, and experience stories brought to life by their creator. Professional storyteller Vivian French is the bestselling author of The Tiara Club, The Tales from the Five Kingdoms and numerous picture books, plays, and novels for children and young adults. French has created such memorable characters as Iggy Pig, the Staple Street Gang and Tottie Pig. There will also be two further prizes, with a £100 LFC voucher going to the runner-up story and a £50 LFC voucher going to the one placed third.

    Schools should register by 31 October and submit their entries by 30 November. The winners will be announced before Christmas with the first prize author’s visit taking place during the first half of the spring term, 2013

    Please visit for further information and registration details.

    UK Teen Read Week

    No one would have believed, in the first years of the twenty-first century, that the YALSA Teen Read Weeks were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences more or less the same as theirs and just as mortal as their own; that as librarians busied themselves about setting up their activities and outreach programmes they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

    The first question that may come up is: “Why a UK Teen Read Week?” It is the first question that popped into my head after I thought hey why not do this?

    The answer is simple; I have been involved in UK Teen Library Services for almost 10 years now. I have watched teen library services grow and change – I have even been involved with several services and left them better than they were when I started, well there were more teens using them when I left so that is always a plus.

    Librarians that work with teens in libraries are constantly involved in outreach and working with and chatting to teenagers. We run events, visits and activities as frequently as is practicable. We are also very few and far between, and since the cuts there are less of us than there used to be.

    There are dozens if not hundreds of teen reading groups, manga groups, movie clubs, craft workshops and short term teen groups running in UK libraries at any one time. How do I know this? Well through Teen Librarian I speak to other Librarians who share my passion for teen services, I count as friends many library staff members that do the good work, some of whom I have actually met. There are others I will meet eventually and one of the things we do do, is talk about what we are doing, share our worries and woes in the teen library service market and share ideas (sometimes).

    Librarians that work with teens in libraries are constantly involved in outreach and working with and chatting to teenagers. We run events, visits and activities as frequently as is practicable. We are also very few and far between, and since the cuts there are less of us than there used to be.

    For all the work we do I have seen remarkably little sustained publicity about it on a national scale.

    So if we all choose one week of the year to shout about what we do and publicise it with prepared publicity material to send to print, radio, television and online press outlets we can make people sit up and take notice. We may be able to inspire new readers, encourage new library users and celebrate the teens that use our services already.

    Teen Read Week as I envision it is not and should not be looked upon as an attempt to wedge all teen service offerings into one week but rather to take one week and CELEBRATE what we do, what we have done and share ideas of what we can do to encourage Teens Reading for Pleasure.

    The text below is taken from

    What is Teen Read Week ?

    Teen Read Week is held each year during the third week of October. In 2012, it will be celebrated Oct. 14-20.
    Teen Read Week is an national literacy initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association. It’s aimed at teens, their parents, librarians, educators, booksellers and other concerned adults.
    Teen Read Week’s theme is Read For The Fun Of It. Each year, YALSA offers a new sub-theme to serve as a basis for developing programs in schools, public libraries, and bookstores. The 2012 sub-theme is It Came From the Library, which dares teens to read for the fun of it. The event offers librarians and educators a chance to encourage teens to read for pleasure and to visit their libraries for free reading materials.
    Teen Read Week 2012 will be celebrated at thousands of public and school libraries, classrooms, and bookstores across the country. Although teens realize the importance of reading, they have a huge menu of activities to choose from when deciding how to spend their free time, and reading gets lost in the shuffle. Reading skills get rusty when they are not used. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports that over the last 20 years there have been only modest gains in reading achievement. And although there are many active literacy campaigns, very few efforts focus on teenagers.

    I am interested in Teen Read Week, but how do I participate?

    There are many ways that you can participate in Teen Read Week. You can offer special programs or activities or simply encourage teens to read. Over the summer, encourage teens to read nominations from the Teens’ Top Ten and then vote for their favorite books online

    I admit this post is still a little rough around the edges, when I first tweeted the idea on Twitter I got a lot of positive feedback and decided to put my rough ideas down and polish them up. I have started looking forwrd into 2013 to see if I can see any dates that are may be feasible, any suggestions in this regard are welcome! If anyone would like to be involved in the organising UK Teen Read Week or would like to suggest ideas for activities please leave a comment on this post. Any suggestions of dates are also welcome.

    Phase two of Operation UK Teen Read Week will be to reach outto Librarians, The Book Trust and The National Literacy Trust as well as UK YA Publishers and authors.

    Teen Librarian Monthly October 2012

    The October edition of teen Librarian Monthly is now available to download: tlmoctober2012

    In this month’s edition:

    The TS Eliot Prize Shadowing Scheme
    The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
    National Novel Writing Month
    The Student Library Assistants’ Network
    All Hallow’s Read
    A Night on the Edge
    and Eight Questions With… Chris Ould

    Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

    What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall? What if Hector had never gone looking for it? What if he hadn’t kept the dark secrets to himself? What if…

    Then I suppose I would be telling myself another story. You see, the ‘what if’s’ are as boundless as the stars.

    I am not a person prone to jealous fits, I like to think of myself as living on a fairly even keel but Sally Gardner made me jealous!

    Not because she is a fantastic author and a lovely person (she is!) but because she has taken a complex concept (alternate earth, a moon landing conpsiracy theory and a Britain without anything that made it great – except the courage and determination of a boy who missed his friend) and then told the story using simple, accessible language and made a beautiful, haunting story!

    Maggot Moon is perfect! I have never said that about a book before – and it is possible that I may never say it again.

    If, before I had read it, someone had said to me, “Hey you know that book by Sally Gardner the one with the kid with two different coloured eyes looking out from the cover and a ladder stretching from his head to a moon writhing with maggots, um… Maggot Moon – well that book is perfect!”

    I probably would not have believed them. I would have picked up the book and read it much like I hope that you do once you have finished reading this review – find a copy and read it! It might make you smile, it may make you cry but it will make you think!

    Narrated in an alternate Britain against the desperate race to the moon, Maggot Moon is a complex story, simply told, by Standish Treadwell (Can’t read, can’t write. Standish Treadwell isn’t bright.) a boy with a dyslexia, in a Britain where the disabled are locked away with dissidents and other non-people that have earned the displeasure of the state.

    With his best friend missing, a moon man in his basement and a potential opportunity to escape, Standish must make a choice and possibly find out the truth about what is happening on the other side of the wall.



    The Importance of the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Award

    On Wednesday the CILIP Youth Libraries Group London held our annual CKG Awards Nominations Party, on Thursday I posted a short write up of the evening and posted the link to twitter. I was soon embroiled in a discussion about the merits of Children’s and Young Adult Book Awards where selections are made by adults (in the CKG case by Librarians) versus Awards where children and young people responsible for the selection of the long and short lists as well as choosing the winner.

    It is not the first time that I have had an encounter with friends and colleagues who believe that awards for children’s literature should be selected by children themselves. Indeed there are a growing number of regional and national awards that have children either as the selectors and judges or both. These include the Red House Children’s Book Award, The Blue Peter Book Awards, the Leeds Book Awards and The Berkshire Book Award amongst others.

    Is it really so awful for one award to have the same literary rigour as something for adult books, for example the Man Booker, if only to highlight the literary merit of children’s books to those that decry writing for children as ‘easy’?

    Some of the accusations that I have heard levelled against the CKG Awards range from the belief that the awards focus on books that adults think children should read to statements like “I think that the wrong book won so your award is flawed!”. As the eligibility for nomination is simply that a book has to have been published for children and young people in the UK in that year, and not previously in another country, the long list can include all sorts of things. The judging criteria avoid subjective bias and to make sure the books are looked at objectively. This can and sometimes has led to less populist books winning the award – much to the consternation of onlookers who, through no fault of their own, are unaware of the selection and judging process. Saying that the shortlist is of books that children don’t like is, quite frankly, an offence to the children that do enjoy these books whether or not they are a mainstream success.

    My good friend and colleague Caroline tweeted something that I totally agree with (and wish I had said): ”Children’s/School Librarians know what kids like/can access. Not only ‘worthy’ books are long listed

    On the CKG website in the frequently asked questions section, the concerns raised by the awards detractors are answered

    What is unique about the Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal?

    The Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal are unique in that they are awarded by librarians who work closely with books and children. The books that are nominated for the awards are nominated by library professionals and not by publishers, a democratic process which ensures that any title has an equal chance of being considered for the Awards. The judges are totally independent and make their choices purely on their own judgement of the titles’ merits against the criteria. Throughout their history the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have provided a literary standard by which other books are measured and they are the Medals most authors and illustrators want to win.

    Are young people’s opinions taken into account when the winners are chosen?

    It is important to recognise that the Medals are awarded by librarians to writers and artists that they wish to honour for the outstanding books they have created. Naturally the judges do consider children’s and young people’s responses to the books as a part of their assessment, but the criteria take into account a broad range of other factors, such as construction of the plot, the strength of the characterisation and the quality of the writer’s style. Outstanding literary or artistic quality are the most important elements when choosing the winner of these awards; there are several other awards where popularity with children and young people is the main criterion.

    The emphasis placed on the above sentences is is mine.

    The target audiences are involved in the Awards via the Shadowing scheme, whereby groups of young people are encouraged to read the books and debate with other group members, as well as interacting with other groups through the shadowing website. Opening a dialogue on how the winners are selected is an important part of these groups, as is the debate once the winners have been announced, as feelings can run high especially when some of the group believes the ‘wrong’ book wins.

    Taking the CKG Awards to task because young people are not involved in the selection or judging process is just as wrong as stating that other children’s book awards are less valid because the choices are made subjectively. The variety and abundance of awards is a good thing, surely there’s no such thing as too much publicity for reading!

    To find out more about the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, including the judging criteria, have a look at the website
    This post was co-authored by @mattlibrarian and @CazApr1 both of whom will be Shadowing the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards this year.

    The YLG London CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards Nominations Party

    Last night (Wednesday 3rd October) the London branch of the Youth Libraries Group (YLG) held its official
    CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards Nominations Party at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE)

    For those of you who are unaware, the evening was an opportunity to vote for YLG London’s nominations for the 2013 awards. Books published between 1st September 2011 & 31st August 2012 are eligible.

    Over 20 CILIP YLG Members and affiliates attended to listen to the YLG London Committee champion the books that they thought should go forward for the long-listing selection.

    Each of the committee members spoke for two (ish) minutes about the books they were championing. The speeches were eloquent, witty and moving and made all the more amazing by the time limitation. Two titles from each list were voted for and will go forward as the official YLG London nominations. The remaining titles will be nominated by committee members on an individual basis.

    The five books for each award were considered last night are below.

    The Carnegie Award selection titles were:

    Dark Endeavour Kenneth Oppel
    After Morris Gleitzman
    Mister Creecher Chris Priestly
    Saving Daisy Phil Earle
    The Prince who Walked with Lions Elizabeth Laird

    The Kate Greenaway titles were:

    Oh no George! Chris Haughton
    I want my hat back Jon Klaasen
    A First Book of Nature Mark Hearld
    Black Dog Levi Pinfold
    A Boy and a Bear in a Boat Dave Shelton

    The Official YLG London Carnegie Award Nominations are:


    The Official YLG London Kate Greenaway Award Nominations are:


    All CILIP members are eligible to nominate and members of YLG are actively encouraged to nominate titles. Being actively encouraged does not amount to having threats made against you if you don’t, but it can be upsetting if you see a book that is worthy of either the Carnegie or Kate Greenaway Award miss out due to not being nominated.

    The awards nomination form is below! Each CILIP member can nominate two books for each award. It is a good idea to read through the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Award criteria before nominating.

    League of Strays by L.B. Schulman

    When Charlotte, a lonely student at a new high school, receives a mysterious note inviting her to join a group called the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends.  What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative leader named Kade, who convinces them that they need each other for friendship – and for taking revenge on the classmates and teachers who have wronged them in the past.  But Kade has an even bigger agenda.

    Vandalizing the school and causing fights between other students aren’t enough.

    Kade masterminds a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

    So, confession time – when I received this book from the lovely people at Abrams & Chronicle I committed a cardinal sin – I… I judged a book by its title.

    Yes – I read the title “League of Strays” and honestly thought it was going to be a story about werewolves – in high school with no pack to protect them, which isn’t a bad plot idea but seeing as I have read a bit too much urban fantasy the idea did not appeal.

    I was wrong, so very, very wrong!

    This novel is about as far away from being a paranormal teen romance as any book can be!

    It is a high school revenge fantasy, and not one of those where you cheer on the protagonists as they wreak vengeance against those that had slighted them.  No this tale is darker and more unsettling; it is about revenge, obsession and how far people go to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

    Told from newcomer Charlotte’s perspective, it details the coming together of a group of lonely and vulnerable teens that fall under the spell of the handsome and manipulative Kade Harlin.

    I read League of Strays on Monday (1st October) I picked it up to read while I was sitting with the evening homework club in my school boarding house.  I read the first 44 pages in between helping students with geography, history, English and getting the maths kids to help each other.  It hooked me, and I continued reading after homework club ended.  I finally finished the book at 23:14 – it is the first time in ages that I have finished a book in one sitting on a week night.

    I do not think that I was not the only teen that imagined wreaking vengeance on my peers for being belittled, bullied and insulted.  I never attempted to seek vengeance as I did not have a clique that could help me realise my fantasies of vengeance (and I was just too chicken to even attempt it).

    Seeing what has happened when outsiders go out looking for payback in schools in the US and UK (sometimes with knives, guns and homemade bombs) I think that it is a good idea to confront issues relating to persecution and the consequences that seeking revenge can bring .

    League of Strays was a brilliant read and I enjoyed it thoroughly!