Monthly Archives: April 2016

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CILIP Action Plan 2016-2020 & School Libraries

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BLOG TOUR: The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Welcome to Cringefest by Ben Davis

cringecest
Well, hello there! I’m Ben Davis – author of the Joe Cowley book series. The latest title, The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Welcome to Cringefest sees Joe in a bad way. The love of his life, Natalie still won’t talk to him and nothing he can do will change her mind. He is about to give up hope when he happens on an inspired idea – The Grand Gesture.

You know what I mean by that, right? The standing outside her window playing her favourite song, the rain-soaked declaration of love, the last minute airport dash? Well, Joe thinks that something like that could be the key to winning back Natalie and that there would be no better place to attempt it than Buzzfest – the greatest music festival of all time.

Now, you’re reading this fine Teen Librarian book blog so you must be an intelligent person, and thus will know that Grand Gestures don’t work in real life. Joe isn’t that clever, though, so of course his every attempt ends in disaster, humiliation, and consequently – cringe.

As the book is largely set at a music festival, I have been asked to come up with Joe’s Ultimate Playlist – a list of songs that relate to Joe’s desperate situation. Anyone who knows me will understand that this is literally a dream come true for me. I compile playlists at every opportunity – parties, barbeques, bare knuckle fights in my shed, everything.

Now, the first song on Joe’s Ultimate Playlist is Frontier Psychiatrist by the Avalanches. Partly because there are many elements in it that crop up in the books – therapists, ghosts, parrots, and partly because the song, and accompanying video, are what I imagine the inside of Joe’s brain to look and sound like.

When people ask me what Welcome to Cringefest is about, I’ve found that it’s quicker to point them in the direction of this song by your granny’s favourite soul band, the Drifters.

Because all the kids love the Drifters, right?

Alternatively, if you prefer your music a bit more twenty-first century, If You Wanna by the Vaccines sums Joe’s predicament up pretty well.

A major element of the book is Joe examining who he is and what it means to become a man. The song Man Up from the Book of Mormon does that, too, and unlike most songs in that show, is pretty family friendly. Well, except the very last line.

Also, this version is performed by Josh Gad, who went on to voice Olaf in Frozen, so you can imagine it’s being sung by a jolly snowman.

On a similar theme, Are You Man Enough by the Four Tops takes a look at masculinity, emphasising the importance of being there for your mates. Plus, listening to it makes you feel dead cool like Shaft or someone like that.

As we have already established, Joe Cowley is thoroughly fed up in Welcome to Cringefest. Two songs that sum up that state of mind are Why Bother by Weezer (the band of my adolescence)

and Zombie by Jamie T.

The latter’s title is particularly relevant to Cringefest.

Now, there is one question that everyone asks themselves in times of strife. One question that helps us decide how best to live our lives – What Would Captain Picard Do?

This song sums up Joes life philosophy, even if he does forget it sometimes. I mean, could you imagine Picard doing something as vulgar as a Grand Gesture? This song is by Hank Green, brother of John.

When I’m writing Joe Cowley, I often listen to songs that remind me of when I was an awkward teenager (before I became an awkward adult) and two of the best are When the Girls Get Here by the Young Fresh Fellows

and Am I Normal by Art Brut.

Nerd rock par excellence.

Similarly, Billy Bragg (ask your dad) absolutely nails the classic but slightly pathetic unrequited teenage love story in The Saturday Boy.

Seriously, it’s so good, it makes me sick.

Punk Rock Girl by the Dead Milkmen

was a big influence on Joe Cowley, particularly the line, ‘She took me to her parents’ for a Sunday meal, her father took one look at me and he began to squeal.’ Also, is it just me, or does the lead singer look slightly Cowley-like?

Moving onto something a bit more modern, (2013 is as modern as I get) Everything is Embarrassing by Sky Ferreira is a great song.

And let’s face it, it may turn out to be the title of Joe Cowley’s autobiography.

Last but not least, it wouldn’t be a Joe Cowley playlist without some Pink Floyd, with a song that is, according to Joe, the best of all time – Brain Damage. This song actually appears in the book. I didn’t quote the lyrics though, because what am I, a millionaire?

And that’s it. To be honest, I think I’ve been neglecting a lot of important duties in the hours I’ve spent honing and refining this list, but the lawn isn’t going anywhere, is it? And I’m sure reports of a previously undiscovered Amazonian tribe living in it are exaggerated.

I’ve also compiled Joe’s Ultimate Playlist on Spotify,




because despite what my taste in music may suggest, I’m not a total granddad.

If you have any comments or questions (besides ‘your playlist needs more 1D’) you can reach me at my Facebook page www.facebook.com/bendavisauthor on Twitter @bendavis_86 or at my website www.bendavisauthor.com

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Welcome to Cringefest is out now.

UK’S TOP COMEDY TALENT LEND THEIR SUPPORT AS NEW SCHOOL COMEDY WRITING COMPETITION LAUNCHES

Charlie Higson, Kerry Howard, Marcus Brigstocke and David Walliams give their backing to the BBC competition

Some of the UK’s top comedy talent including comedian Charlie Higson, Kerry Howard, Marcus Brigstocke and David Walliamsare calling on secondary school students to become classroom jokers for a new comedy writing competition launched today (April 19th) by the BBC in partnership with the National Literacy Trust.

The Comedy Classroom competition will give 13-15-year-olds across the UK the chance to have their work made and broadcast by the BBC this autumn. The winners will also have a chance to visit the BBC to see it filmed and receive a Comedy Classroom trophy, a signed certificate and a visit from a BBC Comedy comedian to their school.

There are three categories to enter:
Class Joker – Stand-up. Students can turn their personal observations and views of the world into a written and performed stand-up comedy routine.
Class Act – The Sketch. Write your own unique sketch and bring to life funny ideas and characters.
Class Comic – Clever Captions. Find the funny in the image and write a comedy caption.

David Walliams is giving his backing to the competition by starring in online film resources that explain to teachers and their classes more about each category and what is required.

He says: “We all love to laugh, and we all love a competition. The BBC’s comedy competition is where your class of comedians can share their comedic ideas with the nation.

“I was 12 when I first started writing and performing comedy sketches in my school. They were simple spoofs of TV shows at the time, but immediately I discovered that there’s no better feeling in the world than making people laugh. So whether your class is full of budding per formers, or they’re bursting with brilliant ideas for new comedy sketches – BBC Comedy Classroom is for you and your students.”

As well as David Walliams, Charlie Higson, Marcus Brigstocke and Kerry Howard, the competition also has support from the likes of comedians Katy Wix [Not Going Out]and Citizen Khan star, Adil Ray, who have contributed to a teachers’ resource pack, as well as top BBC comedy producers and writers.

Head of BBC Learning, Sinéad Rocks, says: “We want this competition to provide a fun and inspiring way to engage students by helping them find the funny side of literacy and by demonstrating how literacy is the bedrock of good comedy and comedy writing. We hope it provides some great laughs in classrooms across the UK as well as giving students the opportunity to produce some fantastic entries.”

The National Literacy Trust, alongside the BBC, has produced bespoke and flexible classroom learning resources and activities to help teachers easily integrate the competition and comedy writing into lessons. These 60 minute lessons are drawn from the curriculum requirements for literacy and build on key reading, writing and speaking skills.

Jonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy Trust, says: “Our research shows that young people don’t enjoy writing as much as they enjoy reading. We believe that introducing them to comedy writing can change that. Comedy harnesses many key writing skills to create laughs and can be a great asset in the classroom.”

Details of the competition, along with the David Walliams’ films and teaching resources, are available at bbc.co.uk/comedyclassroom with schools being able to submit entries from April 19th.

The closing date is July 24th with winners announced in November. The competition is open to schools students in Years 9 and 10 in England and Wales, Years 10 and 11 in Northern Ireland and S3 and S4 in Scotland. There will also be a special Comedy Classroom Live Lesson streamed into classrooms on May 12th.

BBC Comedy Controller Shane Allen, says: “While this competition might uncover the next generation of brilliant comedy writers and performers the main aim is for everyone taking part to have fun and learn about some of the techniques that make great comedy. There is a great sense of original thinking and authorship in creating comedy as it often involves playing with language, concepts and a degree of lateral thinking. Lots of big name comedy talent are really engaged in this and promoting the joy of learning through laughter”.

#TeenLibrarianMonthly April 2016

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