Monthly Archives: January 2014

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'Doctor Who' Spanish fan film: 'El Mundo Imperfecto'

I just saw this mentioned on Twitter.

A Spanish fan-made Doctor Who episode, created to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.

It would be perfect for a language day or for teachers of Spanish to possibly suggest to their students for homework. If anyone runs a dotor Who Club it would be perfect for a Library/Modern Foreign Language Department cross-curricular event.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green – trailer

No dystopias, no end of the world scenarios just two teens in love… and cancer.

I am looking forward to seeing this film!

I See the Promised Land by Arthur Flowers & Manu Chitrakar: a review


Arthur Flowers is a novelist, essayist, and performance poet. A native of Memphis Tennessee, he is the author of novels, Another Good Loving Blues and De Mojo Blues; a children’s book, Cleveland Lee’s Beale Street Band, and a memoir/manifesto, Mojo Rising: Confessions of a 21st Century Conjureman. He has published shorts and articles and is a bluesbased performance poet. He is a founding member/director of New Renaissance Writers Guild, NYC, The Griot Shop, Memphis, and the Pan African Literary Forum. He has been Executive Director of the Harlem Writers Guild. He has been the recipient of NEA and NYSFA awards in fiction and nonfiction.

Manu Chitrakar lives and works in Naya Village in Bengal, India. A Patua scroll artist who sings and paints, he is part of a living art and performance tradition that is as open to contemporary news stories and politics as it is to ancient legend and myth.

These men are both storytellers – Arthur Flowers a modern-day griot uses his voice to tell stories, recite poems and oral histories; Manu Chitrakar is a scroll artist and tells stories through his art.

Together they have created not just a graphic novel about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. but a truly beautiful work of art, combining the best of their talents! The illustrations throughout the book are vivid and beautiful and may come as a bit of a shock to those that come to the book expecting a manga or western style of illustration. Arthur Flowers’ words are meant to be spoken out loud, shared with an audience; I have watched him perform on Youtube and now whenever I read the book I hear his deep, musical voice filling my head telling me the story as I read.

I See the Promised Land is made to be looked at, the colours on the page are rich and vibrant; the words written as a story that are meant to be read out or sung.

The life story of Martin Luther King Jr. is one known to many, even if people are only aware of the broad strokes of what he accomplished, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott and his I Have a Dream speech to his assassination on the 4th April 1968. This book is a celebration, not just of his life but also of the art of story-telling from two different cultures that have been brought together and blended to to tell the story of a great (if flawed) man.

As Arthur Flowers said: “The Civil War may have delivered the blacks from slavery, but it was Martin Luther King delivered us from bondage!

The editorial notes contain explanations of American organisations as well as brief explanations about people and events of historical significance to MLk Jr.

There is also an essay on how this book came to be and an explanation about Patua art that may be of interest to artists and teachers.


An introduction to the scourge of plagiarism using the current disagreement between Shia LaBoeuf and Daniel Clowes as an opener and going on to look at what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan


Meet the a-mayonnaise-ing Dylan Mint.

He’s sixteen and he’s got Tourette’s.

His life is a constant fight to keep the bad stuff in – the words that explode out of his mouth, the tics, the growling, howling dog that tries to escape whenever he gets stressed. Plus there’s his mum, who buys him cheapo clothes from Primark and keeps crying. And his dad, who’s away in the army and could get wiped out by a sniper any minute.

A routine visit to the hospital turns his life topsy-turvy. Dylan discovers that he’s going to die next March. It’s only August, but still – he has THINGS TO DO. So he makes a list – and sets out to make his wishes come true…


Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It

Number One: Have real sexual intercourse with a girl (preferably Michelle Malloy and definitely NOT on a train or any other mode of transport . . . if it’s possible at her house).

Number Two: Fight heaven and earth, tooth and nail, dungeons and dragons that people stop slagging my mate Amir because he smells like a big pot of curry. And, help him find a new best bud.

Number Three: Get dad back from the war before . . . you-know-what . . . happens.

This book, this story had me howling out loud with laughter one minute and biting my lip trying to keep tears from running down my face – I was not crying ok? I, well, I was in a room with a lot of things that got into my eyes!

I do not know a lot about Tourette’s – when I was a child I had heard about it, it went around the school a few times about how there was this thing that made you swear and you did not get into trouble for it because you were ill.

Still not being able to stop swearing – it sounds pretty amusing, when you are 12.

I had never seen a person with Tourette’s until I saw a couple of episodes of Big Brother a few years ago, the one that had the one guy that had it and was on the show to raise the profile of Tourette’s sufferers. I watched him swearing and twitching while interacting with the other housemates and suddenly the 12 year old me felt ashamed of laughing about it.

When Phil Earle recommended When Mr Dog Bites and sent me a copy I knew I had to read it, I had to as I was cheeky enough to ask for a copy as he had praised it on twitter (and when an author that I enjoy recommends a book that they have not written I know I have to give it a try!*

It is a novel that may introduce the reader into the world of people with special needs; it gives a very human voice to people with Tourette’s, beyond the caricature that many people expect when they hear about the syndrome.

*Phil’s actual words to me about the book were: “it has heart!” and he is right!

I urge you to buy the book, put it in your teen collections – teenagers will love it (adults will too), and not just because (as the strapline says) it is “a story about life, death, love sex and swearing” It is that but it is so much more!

LANGUAGE WARNING: When Mr Dog Bites contains strong language and terms that, if taken out of context, may be considered racist.

London Youth Libraries Group Unconference Sunday 2nd March

The YLG London Committee is organising an Unconference on Sunday 2nd March at Balham Library.

This Unconference is aimed at people with an interest in promoting Reading for Pleasure to children and young people; we intend to have a day filled with sessions offering support, advice and ideas on:
Story times and picture books
Practical advice for engaging with a teenage audience
Ideas for reading promotion
Raised stock awareness
Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Shadowing, including CKG Judges past and present talking about the process
Reading groups
Representatives from publishing houses will be talking about their books
Anything you’d like to talk about!
Members of the CILIP YLG London Committee will be available to talk to all day

Full details on the day can be found here:


9th January 2014 — Simon and Schuster Children’s Books today announced the launch of a new YA community, Hashtag Reads, to highlight upcoming titles and encourage interaction with older readers who are notoriously difficult to reach via traditional media channels.

The focus of Hashtag Reads is ‘books worth talking about.’ Hosted on blog platform Tumblr, alongside a Twitter account and Facebook page, Hashtag Reads is the online home for showcasing upcoming S&S novels aimed at teens and young adults. The site will focus on two new titles each month, which will be highlighted via author interviews and guest posts, behind-the-scenes features and exclusives, but content will also include classic reads and backlist titles, regular features such as themed book reviews and Top Five lists, videos and event round-ups.

The community has been created to encourage maximum interaction with readers through the public feedback and discussion features offered via social media channels. Kat McKenna, Senior Marketing & Publicity Executive at S&S, explains: “We want to get as much feedback as we can, so the conversational element of this project is key for us. We’ll be looking at how users respond to the content we offer and will tailor future posts accordingly, so we can build a loyal fan base and find out much more about what our readers want – and in turn give them exciting content they will share with their own communities and social networks.”

The two featured titles in January are Defy the Stars by Sophie McKenzie and Find Me by Romily Bernard. Defy the Stars concludes McKenzie’s four-part romance exploring the turbulent first-love between River and Flynn. Find Me is a debut thriller following computer hacker Wick after she discovers a dead school-mate’s diary with the message FIND ME scrawled inside.

Join the conversation at
Twitter –
Facebook –

The Black Crow Conspiracy by Christpher Edge

Across Britain readers are awaiting the next edition of The Penny Dreadful with breathless anticipation, for it will mark the return of Montgomery Flinch – author of the macabre and mysterious tales that made The Penny Dreadful a must-have publication with commoners and gentry alike.

However, there is a problem, Penelope Treadwell proprietor of The Penny Dreadful and the hand holding the pen of Montgomery Flinch has not had a decently lurid idea for months.

When she creates The Black Crow – a gentleman thief based on an idea from an anonymous member of the public, Montgomery Finch attracts the attention of the Metropolitan Police, for suspicions of treasonous crimes. But the stories are made up, nothing more than fantasies created to amuse and astonish the public… or are they?

Where to begin about the Black Crow Conspiracy? I was lucky enough to receive a pre-publication version of the story (before the proofs came out) last year and devoured the story over two days.

There are dastardly deeds committed by mysterious caped and cowled figures, a plucky heroine with a tragic backstory, a failed actor standing in as a best-selling author and rum foreign-types perverting science for nefarious purposes – what is not to like?
Dotted throughout the story are actual historical figures from Arthur Conan Doyle to Wilhelm Röntgen and Marie Curie, even members of the royal family make an appearance.

What I thought was initially merely an enjoyable crime/mystery romp with supernatural overtones turned into a realpolitik thriller for young readers involving a desperate race against time to unmask the masterminds behind a conspiracy focused on regime-change in the United Kingdom and a very real threat against world peace.

Penelope is a smashing heroine – intelligent, resourceful and plucky enough not to rely on her lawyer and assistant to get things done. Monty Maples – the actor that plays the public face of Montgomery Flinch is an enjoyable comedic and cowardly foil to Penny’s serious heroine.

It is an enjoyable tale, rich in mystery, humour and the dark powers of science!

If you don’t believe me give the first chapter a try!

Stories, Reading and Me

I have always loved stories, before I could read books I still had stories; I was lucky enough to have parents who read to my brothers and I in the evenings and on rainy afternoons when we were very young.

I can still recall the times my mother took me to Muizenberg Public Library for the story-time in the Children’s Library; the curtains would be drawn and the Librarian would light a candle for the duration of the story-time and while the candle was burning we would sit in silence while she read to us.

I do not remember when exactly I learned to read, at times I am still surprised that I am a reader as my primary school used Dick & Dora and Nip & Fluff – books that were created in the 1950’s & ‘60’s to teach us to read.

My younger brother went to a different school for sub-A & sub-B (grades 1 & 2 in modern schooling) and he regularly brought home books on world myths. I have vivid memories of the boojks with Jamaican and West Indian myths about Anansi the Spider-Man and ghost stories about Duppies and all manner of new and interesting stories that I had never come across before. I regularly nicked the books to read them (I always gave them back when he needed them).

One of the highlights of my week when I was a young child was my mother walking my brother and I down to Kalk Bay Library to borrow books. It was a relatively small library, but through the eyes of a child it seemed to loom massively with rows of shelves and high windows. The library was closed in the early ‘90’s and the only memories I have are of the smell of wood polish, rows of bookshelves, colourful carpets and bright books in the Children’s Library and the sound of windows slamming as the Librarian closed them; it was this sound that signalled that the library would soon be closing foro the day so we would have to hurry up and choose our books.

The last time a teacher read to me and my class I was 11 going on 12, I was in Standard 4 – Grade 6 in modern teaching terms. Our teacher Mr Paul would, for the last 30 minutes or so every Friday, read us a story. If it was a hot summer’s day we would be taken out to sit under the trees on the school field, but mostly it would be in our classroom, which was a prefab room that had been constructed as the school (Kalk Bay Primary) had become too small for its students. The only story I can remember with any clarity is The Monkey’s Paw – a brilliant short horror story. Then from Standard 5 and on through secondary school I have been reading stories on my own.

I have worked with several storytellers in Libraries over the past few years and they held their (mostly teen) audiences and me spellbound. Anyone who claims that young people are incapable of sitting still and concentrating has never witnessed a storyteller plying their trade with a group of young people.

For me being a reader does not mean I love books (I do) but rather that I love stories. Being able to read allows me to choose the stories that I want to experience, either in written form, listening to audiobooks or someone telling or reading a story.

Before there were books, scrolls or clay tablets there were stories; in times before literacy was widespread skalds, scops, griots, minstrels and troubadours roamed their lands telling tales, poems and histories to kings and commoners alike.
In my current role as a school librarian I read a story to my year 7s, 8s and 9s during at least one library lesson per term. All the students love being read to – even those that profess to hating books, a love of stories is present in everyone.

In 2014 I am going to try something new with reluctant readers in my library; instead of trying to get them to focus on reading books or e-readers as physical artefacts I will try to engage them with stories using audiobooks, audio lead-ins to stories and short stories to kick-start their interest in reading to and for themselves.