Author Archives: Matt Imrie

That Asian Kid – Savita Kalhan

Fifteen year old Jeevan is getting top grades for every subject except English. He suspects that his teacher, Mrs. Greaves, is unfairly marking him down. But he has no way of proving it, and even his best friends Dread and Sandi think he is over-reacting.

When Jeevan stumbles upon Mrs. Greaves talking about him with his History teacher, Mr. Green, he decides to record them. Then, to his horror, they start getting it on!

Now Jeevan is in possession of a radioactive video that he could use against Mrs. Greaves. But he’s caught in a huge dilemma . . . should he upload the video, or not?

As a complex game of move and counter-move escalates between Jeevan and Mrs. Greaves, the decision is taken out of his hands – with dire consequences. Jeevan’s life begins to fall apart. Does he have the winning moves to outwit and expose his arch nemesis?

That Asian Kid is an intelligent, gripping, fast-paced story of one boy’s battle against racism and for the right to be treated like everyone else.

Review:

I have met Savita several times over the years (we both know a bunch of the same people) and I have been a fan of her work since reading The Long Weekend (soon to be republished by Troika Books). Her writing has always gripped me but she has blown me away with That Asian Kid!

This book is a hard-hitting and timely read, shining a light on the bigotry and racism faced by so many people of colour. It shows how people have dealt with racist behaviour; from new arrivals keeping your head down and swallowing it because there was nothing else to do to the second and third generations making decisions to take a stand against the unfairness of it all, finding allies.

That Asian Kid is not a straightforward story of good people standing up to bigots, rather it is a subtle and multilayered tale that questions our prejudices and makes us look within ourselves and interrogate the decisions we would make if we had the opportunity to publicly shame someone that had done us wrong and defend a person we respected and admired.

It would have been so easy for this book to have been dragged down by the weight of the subject but it is uplifting; from Jeevan’s interactions with his grandmother (my favourite character), to the support from his friends and family, the story is shot through with humour and some of the best teen dialogue I have read in ages!

I have not even mentioned the tension I felt as I was reading the book, it might have taken a bit longer than it did but I honestly could not put it down as I needed to know what would happen next. Honestly it was more of a thriller than many of the thrillers I have read recently!

At the end of the story I was left feeling drained, but satisfied. Much like real life not everything was tied up neatly and presented to us but fir the story it was enough! That being said I still wanted to read more and hope that Savita will revisit the characters she introduced me to in the opening pages!

Reading develops empathy, reading That Asian Kid will give an insight to many readers to the experiences of others. It will let those who see themselves in Jeevan and his friends know that they are not alone in what they have experienced (or are experiencing).

No-one who reads it will be left unmoved!

That Asian Kid was written by Savita Kalhan and published by Troika Books – it is available now!

Library International Story Time

I have started looking towards 2020 for planning Library activities and currently at the top of my list is an idea to create an intercontinental story group.

Presently I am limiting my focus on linking my Library groups in the US and UK, mostly because I am in the US (Kansas) and most of the library people I know are based in the UK.

There is a six hour time difference between where I am and the UK so initial planning will focus on finding a partner or partners in the UK, agreeing on a date and time for the groups to meet. This means that during the school year I will be limited to baby & toddler groups, and, now that I think about it, home-school groups too. Older story-times will be limited to school holidays here.

The basic idea is, using video chat software (Skype or something similar), to link up two Library groups with a similar age range in the US & UK and form links through story-telling.

The sessions could begin with the reading of folk-tales an dlocal stories from where each group is based and then segue into general stories and rhymes (if appropriate for the group).

If the initial plan works, phase two will explore creating links with Libraries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

If successful these story times could be a springboard into intercontinental story suggestions via post card and once the story time links are are extended, a display could be made with post cards from the various groups around the world.

At present though I am just in the early stages of planning but if anyone wants to collaborate please let me know and we can create a network of connected international libraries!

Display: Back to School

In the run up to kids going back to school where I work, I set up a back to school display.

I created a classic chalkboard image that can be downloaded here:

To keep it interactive I added the interactive jokes in a mug that allows kids (or parents) to take a joke home (or to school) and share it.

US:

UK:

The display featured books about going back to school or going to school for the first time for students of all ages.

I also included a guide on how to access the homework and research pages on the Library website as well as how to use your library membership to access the resources online resources that the library offers.

I have had to restock the books several times and have spoken to several parents who were keen on finding out more about the homework help resources that the library provides

Teen Librarian Newsletter

The latest issue of the Teen Librarian Newsletter is now available to read online here:

https://mailchi.mp/96ee2aeba9ba/teen-librarian-newsletter

Welcome to the Neighborhood Library: a Fred Rogers Display

In November, the film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers will be released.

Thinking about this sparked the idea for a Fred Rogers display in the library.

The idea itself is very simple, the backdrop could be an image of the set from Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood, props are optional but a folded red sweater and a pair of sneakers should suffice as well as DVDs and CDs of the show and a selection of books by and about Fred Rogers and his creations.

The sweater and sneakers can be borrowed from colleagues or sourced from a thrift store/charity shop and are not strictly speaking necessry but would be eye-catching and recognizable to fans of the show.

The set image can be downloaded here:

A list of books by Fred Rogers can be seen here: http://www.neighborhoodarchive.com/publications/

A list of current and forthcoming Daniel Tiger Books is available here: https://www.simonandschuster.net/series/Daniel-Tigers-Neighborhood

Other books by and about Fred Rogers:

  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Fred Rogers & Luke Flowers (Quirk Books)
  • The Good Neighbor: the Life and Words of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King (Harry N. Abrams Books)
  • Who Was Mister Rogers? by Diane Bailey (Penguin Workshop)
  • Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood: a Visual History by Fred Roges Productions (Clarkson Potter) published in October 2019

DVDs:

A list of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is available here

As with any lists these are not meant to be exhaustive and are merely examples fo what my exist in library collections.

Live-action Warhammer 40K TV Series

The news popped up this morning on a Whatsapp group in South Africa, my friends were geeking out about the news that Games Workshop and Big Light Productions had landed Frank”The Man in the High Castle” Spotnitz as show-runner and Executive Producer on a forthcoming live-action Warhammer 40K television series.

I have been a fan of the Warhammer 40K Universe for quite some time! Mostly thanks to picking up a copy of Necropolis by Dan Abnett in a charity shop on the Sidcup high street in 2003. After devouring that I hunted down the other Gaunt‘s Ghosts books that were in print back then and then discovered the Eisenhorn trilogy (also by Abnett).

It is around Eisenhorn that the live-action series is being planned.

Now if you don’t know anything about Warhammer, the first thing you should know is:

It is the 41st Millennium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor of Mankind has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods and master of a million worlds by the might of His inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the vast Imperium of Man for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day so that He may never truly die…

Eisenhorn is an Inquisitor – one of the people that goes out amongst the stars to meet new species and annihilate them as well as searching for traitors, heretics, mutants, psykers and anyone else who may be an enemy of humanity. It is a big universe and the place is just filled with enemies.

I have high hopes for this series!

You can read the full press release here:

https://www.warhammer-community.com/press_releases/games-workshop-and-frank-spotnitz-to-create-live-action-warhammer-40000-tv-series/

Interactive Display: One Small Step for Man

Moon Landing Display

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing next weekend I put together an interactive display around the historic moment.

Kids are able to measure their foot against Neil Armstrong’s 9.5 moon boot size.

If you are interested in putting together your own display you can download the materials in US and UK formats below.

You can download an image of the Moon for the backdrop from NASA here

American Letter size


Download (PDF, 1.1MB)

Download (PDF, 38KB)

UK A4 size

Download (PDF, 1.1MB)

Download (PDF, 38KB)

Teen Librarian Newsletter

The first issue of the all-new TeenLibrarian Newsletter is now available to read here: TeenLibrarian Newsletter

Every Child has the Right to… The Children’s Laureate Charter

By now you should have heard that Cressida “How to Train Your Dragon” Cowell has been appointed as the Waterstones Children’s Laureate for 2019-2021.

Not content to just take up the reins, she has hit the ground running, with the announcement of the Children’s Laureate Charter.

This ambitious list forms the blueprint for her two years as Laureate, and is one that sees her drawing from Pennac’s Rights of the Reader, the campaign to save libraries and from further afield – calling for creative subjects to be retained as well as fighting to save our increasingly imperilled planet.

Championing the rights of young people in literature and beyond is no small task and I am sure that like me you will be supporting and amplifying her efforts in encouraging young people to read and gain agency in their literaery choices and beyond!

Congratulations on becoming Children’s Laureate Cressida! I will support you in any way that I can!

Cressida Cowell Announced as New Waterstones Children’s Laureate

Books are transformative because of their unique ability to develop three key magical powers: intelligence, creativity and, most important of all, empathy. Words are power; let’s take magic seriously.

Cressida Cowell, Waterstones Children’s Laureate

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

Tuesday 9 July, London: Cressida Cowell, the international bestselling author and illustrator of theHow to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series and the author of the Emily Brown picture books all published by Hachette Children’s Group has today been crowned the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019–2021.

Cowell was presented with the iconic silver Laureate medal by the outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, at a ceremony at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, awarded once every two years to an eminent children’s author or illustrator to honour outstanding achievement in their field. The ‘League of Laureates’ – including Quentin Blake, Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson – are the foremost representatives of children’s literature, showcasing the extraordinary and dynamic art form and its rich contribution to UK culture.

Managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, and sponsored by Waterstones, each Laureate brings their own passion to the prestigious role to create a unique legacy. Today, the new Laureate unveiled the Cressida Cowell Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter, a ‘giant to-do list’ to help ensure that books and reading are available to absolutely everyone. The charter asserts that every child has the right to:

  1. Read for the joy of it
  2. Access NEW books in schools, libraries and bookshops
  3. Have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller
  4. Own their OWN book
  5. See themselves reflected in a book
  6. Be read aloud to
  7. Have some choice in what they read
  8. Be creative for at least 15 minutes a week
  9. See an author event at least ONCE
  10. Have a planet to read on

At the ceremony, Cowell spoke about the importance of school libraries and her plans to campaign for these to be made statutory, and, along with public libraries and librarians, funded properly. Cowell also spoke about helping to develop children’s creative intelligence in the context of the cultural industries and the value they add to the UK economy and beyond, arguing for creative space on the curriculum.