Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Marcus Alexander: Keeper of the Realms

Books and imagination has always been my thing. I was a nerd and a bookworm from a young age and I know this is going to sound outrageously dumb but the books that inspired me the most were ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and anything by Dr. Seuss. Sure, it sounds crazy and a little juvenile but I started reading aged 3 and it was these books in particular that lit that flame inside my chest and kindled my imagination. So I read like a beast and by the time I was an early teen I was devouring up to a book a day and getting all kinds of grumpy with the local bookstore when there was nothing new on the shelves.
Teen Librarian Get Your Read On
Books inspired me to travel the world and to seek adventures of my own and imagination gave me the ability to think outside the box and overcome obstacles that came my way. So when I write and when I create my realms of fantasy I do my best to spin imagination and create worlds that surpass everything that I have experienced in my own travels. And in turn, when I’m on tour and get to hang out with young writers or chat to students I always encourage the act of reading as a great source for building imagination but more than that I urge teens to get out and do more. Yes, imagination is born from books and built in libraries but it’s honed through experience. So after school don’t just jump on the xbox, don’t just switch on MTVBase, things like that are imagination killers. Instead go out and do something new. Go and learn capoeira, try parkour, go to dance class, fight class or learn calligraphy but the more you do and the more you live the faster your imagination will blossom.

Get your read on.

Booktrust unveils judging panel for Best Book Awards with Amazon Kindle

Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, Bake Off host Mel Giedroyc and Made in Chelsea’s Andy Jordan amongst judges for inaugural Booktrust Best Book Awards with Amazon Kindle

The reading charity is today delighted to reveal the judging panel that will decide the winners of the brand new Booktrust Best Book Awards with Amazon Kindle.

The diverse group features widely loved names from literature, showbiz and business, including Waterstones Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, Apprentice star Tom Pellereau and Made in Chelsea’s Andy Jordan. Great British Bake Off star Mel Giedroyc will host the awards ceremony that will take place on 2nd July.

Tom Pellereau will be joined by literary scout John McLay and author and illustrator Lauren Child in judging the 0-5 years category, while TV presenters Cerrie Burnell and Andy Akinwolere will judge the 6-8 group, alongside the Guardian’s children’s books editor Julia Eccleshare.

As well as her duties as ceremony host, Mel Giedroyc will swap pastries for pages in judging the 9-11 category alongside Blue Peter’s Helen Skelton, DJ and radio presenter Nemone Metaxas, and respected school librarian Andy Lancaster. Judging the oldest age group, the 12-14s, are novelists Amanda Craig and Louise Rennison, with Made in Chelsea star Andy Jordan.

To reflect how reading has embraced the digital era, there will also be a technology award that will celebrate the best innovations in online literature. Tech journalist Stuart Dredge will assist Amanda Craig and Cerrie Burnell in deciding this award.

The panel will now go into bookworm mode, reading their assigned categories’ long list, to create a short list that will be announced on 27th March. Children across the country, signed up for the project by schools and libraries, will then be invited to vote for the overall winners of each specific category.

The current and former Children’s Laureate – Malorie Blackman and Booktrust President Michael Morpurgo – will be on hand to decide the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, alongside the Daily Telegraph’s culture editor Martin Chilton and Booktrust’s CEO Viv Bird.

Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman commented;

“I am thrilled to be part of the judging panel for the Lifetime Achievement Award, to help to recognise the outstanding talent in the world of children’s books. We are incredibly lucky in this country to have a wealth of authors and illustrators who have entertained generation after generation with fantastic stories, and it’s important to celebrate this whenever possible.

“Many of us writing today owe everything to the stories we read at home, at school and in libraries as children, so I couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of honouring achievement in this field.”

Booktrust Chief Executive Viv Bird, added;

“We’re very excited to announce our panel, which is a great mix of some of the nation’s most talented writers, respected journalists and popular celebrities.

There’s a lot of fantastic reading ahead for our judges, and we hope they enjoy embracing their inner child in providing a shortlist for the nation’s school-children to choose from. With so many top authors and titles in the running, we anticipate an exciting vote.”

The full judging panel is below:


0-5 years

• John McLay

• Lauren Child

• Tom Pellereau

6-8 years

• Julia Eccleshare

• Cerrie Burnell

• Andy Akinwolere

9-11 years

• Adam Lancaster

• Helen Skelton

• Mel Giedroyc

• Nemone Metaxas

12-14 years

• Amanda Craig

• Louise Rennison

• Andy Jordan


• Amanda Craig

• Stuart Dredge

• Cerrie Burnell

Lifetime Achievement Award

• Viv Bird

• Malorie Blackman

• Michael Morpurgo

• Martin Chilton

Maker Library Network to launch in South Africa

The Maker Library Network (MLN) is a British Council project commissioned as part of Connect ZA, a programme running throughout 2014 & 15 which aims to create connections between young creatives and audiences in the UK and South Africa. The MLN is a new initiative that promotes collaboration and knowledge-sharing between designers and makers. The programme will culminate with an event to showcase the achievements of the first year, with the ambition to expand into a world-wide network.

Maker Libraries are creative spaces that combine reading, showing and making. This new type of library, whilst encouraging local development, is also part of a new international mentoring network. When a Maker Library (ML) is set up, the librarian receives a starter kit which includes a blueprint and materials budget to build a library, a core set of books, a growing resource of open designs and access to a panel of mentors via an online platform.

Maker Libraries are workspaces defined by three key elements: a library, a makespace and a gallery. Librarians in each country will be able to share and adapt the MLN principles for their local conditions and location; whether in their studio, in the corner of a cafe, or in a purpose built traveling vehicle.

Each Maker Library is led by a librarian who is interested in fostering creative, social thinking and learning through making. Each library will run a dynamic programme of activities which is informed by the librarian’s interests. As an active member of the MLN community, the librarian has an opportunity to connect, learn and contribute with like-minded people. Members of the MLN will also have access to a pool of mentors who will be sharing knowledge and resources via the online platform.

For more information and to follow the story, visit the Maker Libraries website at

Narnia Border Protection Agency

Due to a reshuffle of school property the Library is now hosting a rather large cupboard that I have started using as I believe in squatters rights. The only downside is that it is in the library proper and not behind my desk, I did not want to put a boring no entry sign on the doors so I went with a literary alternative involving the Narnia Border Protection Agency that students have been finding very amusing.

You can view the sign below.

Malorie Blackman and The Black Tentacle

This is not the title of a new penny dreadful featuring our Children’s Laureate versus a fearsome octopoid from the depths; rather it is news that this year The Kitschies Black Tentacle, the judges’ discretionary award for special achievements, was this year, awarded to Dame Malorie Blackman OBE.

The Kitschies, presented by The Kraken Rum, reward the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining works that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic.

The prize is now entering its fifth year.

The Kitschies Tentacle Awards are some of the most amazing looking awards available for writers.

The Tentacle Awards are:

The Red Tentacle is awarded annually to the novel containing speculative or fantastic elements that best fulfills the criteria of intelligent, progressive and entertaining.

The winner receives a £1,000 prize, a hand-crafted tentacular trophy and a bottle of the Kraken’s finest black rum.

The Golden Tentacle is awarded annually to the debut novel that best fits the criteria of progressive, intelligent and entertaining. The book must be the author’s first published work of novel-length fiction in any genre.

The winner receives a £500 prize, a hand-crafted trophy and a bottle of The Kraken’s black spiced rum.

The Inky Tentacle is named in honour of The Kraken itself and is awarded to the year’s finest cover art, as selected by a panel of visual arts experts.

The winning artist or designer will receive a £500 prize, a hand-crafted Tentacle trophy and an appropriately inky bottle of The Kraken’s finest dark rum.

The Black Tentacle is a special achievement award. It is handed out at the discretion of The Kitschies’ board, which is comprised of editors, authors, marketers and social entrepreneurs.

The prize is awarded for a work or body of work that does not otherwise fit The Kitschies’ criteria. The winner receives a hand-crafted tentacle and a bottle of The Kraken’s black spiced rum.

For full details about the Kitchies and for a ful run down about the prizewinners please follow this link:

CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards Dates to Diarise

Shortlist announcement: Tuesday 18 March 2014

The shadowing website will be updated on the 18 March, when the shortlists are announced. From the 18 March your group will be able to write reviews and personalise your homepage.

All shadowing groups in the UK will be sent a pack of posters, bookmarks, stickers and postcards to arrive in the post shortly after the 18 March.
Posters, bookmarks, doorhangers, certificates, event posters and the award logo will be available to download.

The winners of the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards will be announced on Monday 23 June 2014

Open consultation Public libraries: what do you think?

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government has jointly commissioned William Sieghart to produce an independent report considering the current structure and role of public libraries, including community libraries, in England as well as identifying any opportunities for future delivery.

William is supported by an Advisory Panel. Interested parties are invited to submit evidence to help inform their considerations, on the following areas:

1. What are the core principles of a public library service into the future?
2. Is the current delivery of the public library service the most comprehensive and efficient?
3. What is the role of community libraries in the delivery of a library offer?

Grasshopper Jungle: Book Trailer

One of the trippiest book trailers that I have ever seen!

Boys Don't Knit by T.S. Easton

After an unfortunate incident with a lollipop lady (it’s a long story) Ben Fletcher narrowly avoids the Young Offenders Unit. Instead he is told to Give Something Back to the community and develop his Sense of Social Alignment

Of course Ben does what most teenage boys would do: he takes up knitting. he’s always had a Thing for the teacher and it would be a welcome change from the endless conversations about Top Gear and Chelsea FC with his dad.

Obviously it doesn’t quite go as he thought it would. There is a high risk of eternal HUMILIATION and becoming REPELLENT to all girls. but Ben’s nothing if not a risk-taker.

Just ask the lollipop lady…

I finished reading Boys Don’t Knit late last night and hurt myself as I had to keep from giggling as my wife was sleeping next to me and I did not want to wake her. Tom Easton has written the funniest book I have read in ages, it was a pure, unalloyed joy to read is now my favourite funny book of the year (so far)!

Ben Fletcher joins Adrian Mole, Georgia Nicolson and Sam Taylor in the pantheon of awkwardly adorable heroes of diary fiction

Tom’s descriptions of Ben’s insecurities are spot on – I can remember life as a teenager, being less than cool, having friends that took the mickey a lot and hobbies that would have made life difficult if my friends and classmates had ever found out. However this book is more than the embarrassments of being a teenage boy, it is about relationships: between families – parent & child as well as between adults, between friends, the youth of today and the elderly people as well as dealing with romantic attractions and navigating the minefields of getting a girlfriend and avoiding being beaten up.

If you ever thought that knitting is boring and that it would not work as a spectator sport and that a book about a recovering young offender would be anything but sombre and worthy then Boys Don’t Knit is the book that will disprove all your theories. It is gripping, heart-warming, hilarious and the last 38 pages makes for one of the most gripping endings I have ever read!

Boys Don’t Knit is published by Hot Key Books and is available now!

Quick Reads

If you have been working with teens for a number of years it is entirely possible that some of them by now have reached adulthood with a love of books and reading ingrained in their being; it is likely that some of them may have left the teen group still unsure about reading as a pleasurable pastime. If you do know some of the latter you may still be able to reach them with the Quick Reads collection; and not just previous members, you can also invite the parents or guardians of current teen reading group members if they are reluctant readers and run a special combined group and extend the reach of the library in reducing illiteracy and reluctant reading.

1 in 6 adults of working age in the UK find reading difficult and may never pick up a book.

People’s reasons for not reading are varied but are often based in fear. Some people say they find books scary and intimidating, thinking they are ‘not for them’ or that books are difficult or boring.

Quick Reads sets out to challenge these beliefs and to show that books and reading can be for everyone. Each year we commission big name authors to write short books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. They are the same as mainstream books in every respect but are simply shorter and easier to tackle for adults who are less confident in their reading skills. The books are then sold through major retailers, online booksellers and are loaned from libraries.

Key findings of The National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC) and YouGov report commissioned by Quick Reads:

•12m adults very rarely read (less than twice a year)
•One in ten never read a book
•A quarter of all adults say they don’t have time to read
•53% said reading made them more relaxed
•61% said reading helps them switch off from day to day life
•40% said they read to learn new subjects

Visit the Quick Reads website for more information:

It has downloadable resources, ideas on how to use the books, information about the 2014 titles and more!