Author Archives: Matt Imrie

From This American Life: The Room of Requirement

Noooo! Not the one from Harry Potter (although it is named for that) rather this is a podcast from the awesome people at This American Life about Libraries.

Libraries aren’t just for books. They’re often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It’s actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required. 

You can take a listen here:
https://www.thisamericanlife.org/664/the-room-of-requirement

The Night Before Christmas: Lark by Anthony McGowan

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
Out in his sett the old badger was resting
In the eves of my house a rook was still nesting.
The pike it was swimming in the depths of the lake
Just waiting for prey to make a mistake!
On my nightstand lay McGowan’s book Lark
The perfect read for bed after dark!

The final story about Kenny & Nicky,
Two brothers who have come through situations quite sticky!
The strength of the books lies in the love that they had
One for the other, their dog and their dad!
But in this dark tale the stakes are so high
Will the brothers both live, or will one of them die…
Out on the moors with the temperature dropping,
with a bitter, cold wind and snow that’s not stopping?

I read this story with my heart in my throat
My tea grew ice cold but I did not know it!
The reading was fretful, I wanted to stop!
When out in the hall there came a soft ‘pop’
My daughter was roaming so I took a break
and put her to bed, my head I did shake.

Oh! Lark I did finish and so went to bed
With thoughts of the brothers and the North, in my head

The Truth of All Things sequence is a masterpiece! I have covered Tony’s work quite a bit over the years and do not want to rehash what I have already said. You can read my opinions on the first three books here.

I will just say that I stand by my words and to my mind Lark is a fitting coda to the story and slots in very well with my theory of the books being based on the elements.

Thank you Tony! It has been an honour and a pleasure following and sharing in Nicky and Kenny’s exploits over the years!

Lark is a must-read book for 2019 – along with Brock, Pike and Rook!

All the books are written by Anthony McGowan and published by Barrington Stoke.

Lark will be released in January 2019

Black History Month Ideas: African American Spies, from the Revolution to the CIA

The CIA has an incredibly interesting article available on their site titled Black Dispatches: Black American Contributions to Union Intelligence During the Civil War

It provides details about African-American spies and the work they did to provide intelligence for the Union.

Spies ranged from Harriet Tubman, better known for her work in helping escaped slaves find their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad to William A. Jackson – a slave in the Confederacy’s presidential household who provided invaluable information to his northern contacts. You can find out about more Civil War spies here.

Still with the CIA, they have a list of operatives who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country: https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2014-featured-story-archive/remembering-cias-african-american-heroes.html

Other agents include James Armistead  a slave of William Armistead in New Kent County, Virginia, he volunteered to spy for the Continental army commander General Lafayette. James became a servant to British general Lord Cornwallis, who asked him to spy on the Americans! As a double agent, James gave unimportant information to Cornwallis, while keeping Lafayette informed about British troop strength and positions. James Armistead remained enslaved after the war. In 1784, Lafayette wrote to theVirginia General Assembly, describing his valuable service and asking that he be freed. In 1786, he was freed—and from then on, he called himself James Lafayette.

Born into extreme poverty in St Louis Missouri Josephine Baker went on to become a vaudeville star, was recruited into an all black dance troupe and went to Paris. In 1940 she became a spy for the French Resistance, while she picked up intelligence at parties, her fellow secret agent Jacques Abtey, masquerading as her assistant, recorded the information in invisible ink on her sheet music.

On her return to the USA she fought segregation across the states and ended up on an FBI watch list.

Activity Idea:

There are several methods one can use to make invisible ink:

  • Lemon juice & water – made visible by heating paper
  • Baking soda in water – made visible with dark fruit juice concentrate
  • Write with white crayon – made visible paint over with watercolors

    Once you have decided which technique to use encourage attendees to choose a spy, or more than one if they are feeling adventurous and create an invisible drawing of the agent or write a secret message to a friend hidden in another message.

    They could even create a cipher and make an invisible, encoded message.

  • Black History Month Ideas: The Tuskegee Airmen

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    Black History Month began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African Diaspora. In the US Black History Month is celebrated in February, in the UK it is observed in October.

    This is the first in a series of posts about ideas of activities for BHM 2019 that I am planning on running. I am putting them on TeenLibrarian so that others can make use of them if they so choose.

    Tuskegee Airmen Activity

    The Tuskegee Airmen were African American pilots who fought in World War 2.

    I am planning on introducing them to young library patrons that may never have heard of them, via a display of books and possibly showing one of the films that have been made as well as giving them the opportunity to construct a paper model of a P51 Mustang flown by the Airmen in many of their missions.

    Thai Paperwork have made their model of a P51D Mustang free to download here  it is a fairly complicated model to construct so for younger participants the models below may be more appropriate.

    The Kid Scraps Mustang model is available here 

    Paper Model Airplane also has a simpler version of the P51 Mustang to download here

    Books about the Tuskegee Airmen

  • Who were the Tuskegee Airmen? By Sherri L. Smith
  • The Tuskegee Airmen by Sarah E. De Capua.
  • You can Fly: the Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Red Tail captured, Red Tail free : memoirs of a Tuskegee airman and POW by Alexander Jefferson
  • The Red Tails : World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen by Steven L. Jones
  • Tuskegee Airman : the biography of Charles E. McGee : Air Force fighter combat record holder by Charlene E. McGee Smith 
  • Tales of Famous Heroes by Peter and Connie Roop
  • Black Wings : courageous stories of African Americans in aviation and space history by Von Hardesty
  • Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen by Thomas Reilly & Lynn M. Homan
  • Dreaming Eagles by Garth Ennis & Simon Coleby (graphic novel / fiction)
  • DVDs

  • The Tuskegee Airmen
  • Red Tails
  • The Tuskegee Airmen

  • Christmas Books on Television Times December 2018

    Helen Smith the Learning Resources Manager at Eckington School has produced her annual literary television guide for December

    Download (PDF, 3.91MB)

    Poster: Books are Lit

    British Museum Manga マンガ Exhibition

    In association with The National Art Center, Tokyo and the Organisation for the Promotion of Manga and Anime; The British Museum is putting on the LARGEST display of Manga to ever take place outside of Japan!

    I have been a huge fan of manga (and anime) for years and am also a big fan of the British Museum – they have done some of my favourite exhibitions over the years and the Manga Exhibition looks like it will be amazing!

    It is typical that they would wait until I left the country, but even though I will be unable to go – you should really take the time to book tickets and immerse yourself in one of Japan’s best-known exports! 

    The exhibit will run from 23rd May until 26th August and will introduce the historical roots of manga, including woodblock prints by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), and their influence on anime, games and cosplay.

    Among the original manga pieces to be put on display is the late Osamu Tezuka’s Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy), Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, Moto Hagio’s Po no Ichizoku (The Poe Clan) and Akiko Higashimura’s Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish).

    For more details follow this link:  https://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/manga.aspx

    Crafty Scotsman Activity

    An activity for Burns Night or just any time you would like to colour in and dress up a burly Scotsman in a range of exciting outfts.

    Download (PDF, 3.49MB)

    Library Planet

    Founded and edited by Christian Lauersen of Roskilde Libraries and Marie Engberg Eiriksson of Gladsaxe Libraries, Denmark; Library Planet is like a crowdsourced Lonely Planet for libraries of the world, meant to inspire library travelers to open the awesome book that is our world of libraries, cities and countries.

    Visit Library Planet here: Library Planet

    If you want to share your library or libraries you have loved then you can contribute to Library Planet here: https://libraryplanet.net/contribute/

    BBC One Watership Down Trailer