Author Archives: Mattlibrarian

The Third Degree… with Candy Gourlay

Hi Candy, welcome to TeenLibrarian and thank you for giving up your time to submit to the third degree!

My pleasure! Unless of course this really turns out to be a third degree (long and harsh questioning) in which case, I invoke the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Author (if it exists).

I feel the need to apologise to you – for years you have been one of my favourite people to bump into at literary events and we have known each other for years (online mostly) but this is the first time I have interviewed you on TeenLibrarian – it is long overdue!

I would have nagged you incessantly over the years, except you are always in a new, nefarious disguise whenever we meet!

You have two books out this year (that I am aware of) your first picture book Is It a Mermaid? out now from Otter Barry Books, and Bone Talk … coming soon from David Fickling Books.

Yes! This is going to be my year of promotion … but I’m trying to write another novel while jumping up and down and begging people to pay attention to my new books.

How did you come to write a picture book work with artist Francesca Chessa?

I wrote the words of the picture book two years ago now. My editor, Janetta Otter Barry, then launched a search for the right illustrator. I suggested all my friends, as you do, but Janetta was looking for something in particular. A picture book is not just the work of a writer and an illustrator, there is a third vision involved that the world is usually not aware of – the editor. The editor is like a Third Eye that puts it all together. Janetta had worked with Francesca on her eco-Christmas book Elliot’s Arctic Surprise, written by Catherine Barr, in which children all over the world set sail to rescue Father Christmas. Then of course there is the Art Editor, in this case, Judith Escreet, who saw Francesca through the long months of illustrating the book. It was very strange, after working on novels, which requires long periods of solo creativity, to experience the coming together of a picture book! I was delighted and astonished by the final product!

Without giving too much of the plot away can you tell me what Is It a Mermaid is about (I am guessing mermaids feature somewhere in the story)?

I’ve begun speaking to Nursery, Reception and Year 1 children, and the first thing I do is hold up the book and ask them where the mermaid is on the cover. Their responses are hilarious! I wrote the story after I heard that European sailors arriving on our shores in the Far East back in the Age of Discovery, mistook dugongs (sea cows) for mermaids. How do you do that? Perhaps they’d been at sea for looooong time! I wondered what would happen if someone met a dugong that thought she really was a mermaid!

What inspired you to write Bone Talk?

I actually wanted to write another book, set in a World Fair in 1904 where American exhibited Filipinos in a human zoo. But it would have been a disservice to the tribal people AND to Americans not to show the context of that story. So I decided to begin at the beginning, when the United States invaded the Philippines in 1899 and annexed it as “unincorporated territory”. We became a republic in 1945 but Puerto Rico, which was annexed by the US on the same year, continues to be unincorporated territory. It’s odd how so much of the world has no idea of this. I realise that the Philippines is a small state that doesn’t do much to influence the world but the United States is a major world power.

Is there much resentment against America in the Philippines because of their history?

To be honest, there is a lack of awareness of our shared history. I memorised dates and events in my history classes, but nobody ever told me the context of these stories. And more importantly, ours is an unfinished story.

My grandparents were part of a generation that lived under American colonial rule. They were taught to despise their own culture, to be ashamed of their race and to look up to everything American. My parents’ generation survived the second world war and their formative memories are of gratitude at the flood of American help that arrived after the war. My father used to wish that we could become another state of the United States! My own generation parroted our parents’ love for anything American, grew up watching American TV and being encouraged to speak American.

To this day, the Philippines is a work in progress – nationhood doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen over a mere century and we’ve only properly been a nation since 1945.

I know it is fiction, but how accurate are the representations of Samkad and his people?

As I write in Bone Talk‘s afterword, it was difficult to hear the authentic voices of people from that forgotten era because all of the documentation was done by or curated by the United States, and tinged by the racism of that era. The observations of professionals like historians, anthropologists and state officials treated the Bontoc people as objects. It was only when I read the diary of an American housewife living in Bontoc, who documented her daily encounters with children and ordinary people, that I began to hear the Bontoc as real people. It gave me the confidence to create characters who would have been like a child of today.

I visited Bontoc and asked a lot of questions about specific events in the story, especially about ritual and belief. It was difficult to be totally accurate because the Bontoc of 1899 was made of tiny communities, each with their own specific practices. I was careful not to name the community where my characters lived, so that no community in today’s Bontoc would feel slighted if there was a deviation from their practice.

I based a lot of domestic detail on an anthropological description of Bontoc The Bontoc Igorot by the American anthropologists Albert Jenks. But Jenks was short on human detail and I also read many books on pre-Christian belief in the Philippines, going back to before the first Spanish explorers arrived in the Philippines in the 1500s. An American historian named William Scott Henry , realising that Filipino voices were missing from historical accounts, attempted to glean these voices from the written record. His books were a godsend.

I was enthralled by Bone Talk, can you suggest sources of information I can use to find out more about the history of the Philippines?

A great history (despite the focus on our relationship with the US) is In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow. America’s Boy: America and the Philippines by James Hamilton Paterson (although I disagree with some of Paterson’s conclusions about the Marcoses, he’s a gorgeous writer). You might also read the story of how Magellan “discovered” the Philippines in Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen, which his a thriller of a book! There are other brilliant books but they are written with Filipino readers in mind.

I must admit that you are the only writer from the Philippines that I know (personally and as an author), are you able to suggest works by other Filipino authors that are available in the UK?

When I was a child, there was virtually no publishing in the Philippines, but now, the Philippine book industry is thriving! Unfortunately it is hard to access books over here so I have to load up suitcases with books whenever I go home. The works of Filipino Americans are widely available in the UK however. Erin Entrada Kelly recently won the Newbery Medal for her middle grade book Hello, Universe. Another Filipino American, Elaine Castillo, has been getting rave reviews for her debut America is Not the Heart. It riffs on another book worth reading by Filipino author Carols Bulosan, America is in the Heart, about the dehumanising experiences of Filipino migrants at the beginning of American colonial rule in the Philippines. I’ve just begun reading Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan, a serial killer story. Very promising.

Will you be visiting schools and libraries to promote your books? If yes, what is the best way to get hold of you to book a visit?

Oh yes! I love doing school visits! Please contact me by messaging me on Facebook or via the contact form on my website, candygourlay.com

Thank you so much for giving up your time to answer these questions!

It was my pleasure, Matt. May the best stories follow you wherever you go.

http://candygourlay.com

Dark Nights: Metal

The Dark Knight has uncovered one of the lost mysteries of the universe…one that could destroy the very fabric of the DC Universe! The dark corners of reality that have never been seen till now! The Dark Multiverse is revealed in all its devastating danger–a team of twisted, evil versions of Batman hellbent on destroying the DC Universe!

I first read of the demon Barbatos in Batman 452, the first part of Dark Knight, Dark City trilogy – you may remember it, it had the Mike “Hellboy” Mignola cover, actually the covers for all three issues were by Mignola. I remember tracking the comics down for ages before finding them for sale at a stall on Cape Town train Station. It was these three comics that made me a Batman fan – written by Peter Milligan, they detailed the Batman hunting for his foe the Riddler through the streets of Gotham, plagued by riddles that made no sense, flashbacks to the founding fathers of the United States of America engaging in a sacrifice to raise a demon. This was the stuff of ‘70’s pulp horror novels and the satanic panic of the ‘80’s, it had teenage me hooked!

Flashforward 27 years to the release of Metal – a miniseries to end all miniseries, centring on the nightmares of the Batman, the world is slipping into darkness, twisted beings from the darkest realities stalk the night. All of them wearing the symbol of the Bat and towering above them all, its name spoken only in whispers is Barbatos!

I had to, read it I mean again and again. How could the Batman triumph against his darkest selves, the story was dark and twisted, referencing the darkest aspects of the Batmythology, this is honestly I think Scott Snyder’s finest written work featuring the Bat!

The artwork by Greg Capullo fits the tone of the story perfectly! I have not read a comic illustrated by him since I cancelled my Spawn subscription. His work is better than I remember it – and I remember it being phenomenal!

Snyders words and Capullo’s art blend together to bring you the darkest takes on the Darkest Knight and it works perfectly!

God, I was 15 again, a Batfan for the first time and I revelled in it!

I have read Metal even, maybe eight times since I received a copy and tonight I am going to read it again!

You should too – go on treat your shelf!

Akissi: Tales of Mischief


What do flying sheep, super-missiles, and grandmother-attacking coconuts have in common?

One feisty little girl!

Join Akissi and friends as they get up to all sorts of antics around their town in the Ivory coast.

There’s loads of fun to be had… as long as they manage to stay out of trouble!

I have been aware of Marguerite Abouet’s work for a few years now as a friend introduced me to her Aya series of graphic novels about a young woman living in Yop City in Côte d’Ivoire in the 1970’s. Written by Marguerite and illustrated by her husband and partner Clément Oubrerie.

Akissi, published in English by Flying Eye Books was a welcome return to West Africa, a series of the comic misadventures about the eponymous heroine, a small girl living in a village somewhere in the Côte d’Ivoire. Written for a young audience, this comic will be a hit with readers of all ages.

Marguerite Abouet is a keen observer of the lives of small children, she has captured several things that I have found my toddler doing and going by the cartoons I have many more to look forward to; although I hope and pray that we never acquire a pet monkey! There was one incident in the book involving Akissi and her older brother Fofana that took place one night when she was too afraid to go outside that mirrored an event from my childhood (I am not going to say which one in case my brother ever reads this).

My favourite vignette (and there are so many to choose from) was Sunday Feast, it made me laugh out loud (although the hilarity as tinged with a hint of guilt at the potential blasphemy)

Akissi is funny, heartfelt and a very real look into the lives of children!

The art in this volume is by Mathieu Sapin who captures the frenetic energy of children running around or just being, perfectly!

The Hand of an Angel

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How to be a Lion by Ed Vere

Meet Leonard – a lion like no other. Leonard doesn’t like to raw and chomp. Leonard likes to read and daydream on his thinking hill.

Leonard’s best friend is Marianne, a duck. But lions chomp ducks, don’t they? But Leonard doesn’t want to chomp Marianne!
 
Leonard and Marianne work together to write a special poem to show the other fierce lions that just because lions are supposed to be fierce, it doesn’t mean they have to be.

How to be a Lion is beautiful – this should come as no surprise as Ed Vere is always a phenomenal artist, but his words can stand on their own and they form a beautiful meditation on the power of being different, ignoring the herd (in this case the pride) and being true to your beliefs, yourself and your friends; and in knowing that tough decisions do not have to be faced alone.

As the cool, young kids of today say this book gave me all the feels!

It is usually extremely hard to find a picture book of the year but for me, I think, it may be How to be a Lion!

How to be a Lion is written and illustrated by Ed Vere, published by Puffin Books and will be available in all good bookshops on the 28th June.

Whatever Happened to the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals?

The Time: Next week?

The Place: Austerity UK

When the last Libraries closed and the final Librarians and Library workers packed off the retraining facilities or retired it was realised that the minute savings made from destroying the public library service made no impact on reducing the deficit or ending austerity.

Still every little helps (or not as the case may be)
 
CILIP quietly disbanded the YLG and felt guilty about it, without Children’s & Young Peoples Librarians there were no facilitators, no organisers, no judges so the awards just did not happen. There was shock and disbelief that awards with such a prestigious and high profile history could end but what could one do? The librarians were just not there anymore – who knew this could happen?
 
Oh sure there were a few protests and people shouting about how important they were but apart from a few column inches here and blog posts there they just faded into history.
 
Without authors and illustrators there would be no need for the Awards, but without Librarians there would be no Awards.

That may be the future but it is not this day!

Today the CKG Medal winners are announced, the 81st CILIP Carnegie Medal will be awarded to the most outstanding book for children and young people and the 61st Kate Greenaway Medal will be awarded to the most outstanding illustrated work.

It is amazing, for years I have been fascinated by the Medals and then I was selected to join the Judging Panel and became one of a select few to see behind the curtain and now I am more engaged with the awards than ever before! Knowing how much work, dedication and personal sacrifice goes in to running and judging the awards is mind-boggling.

Seriously if you want to know more about how the awards function then get hold of a judge and speak to them! You will learn that Librarians are Super Heores!

The fact that the awards are run wholly and solely by librarians is often overlooked, and in the current era of cuts and closures this makes them vulnerable. The threat is very real, and the loss of prestigious awards such as the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals is something that could be used by Library Activists protesting the ongoing loss and deprofessionalisation of Libraries in the UK.

That, however is a consideration for Tuesday morning, for today is a day for celebrating literature, reading, authors and librarians!

If you excited about the 81st CILIP Carnegie Medal and the 61st CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal recipients then you can watch live here: http://carnegiegreenawauk/sty.org.ream.php from 12pm and join the celebrations on social media using the #CKG18 hashtag.

#TeenLibrarian Monthly June 2018

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LGBTQ+ Books: a List

A selection of picture books, fiction, non-fiction and graphic novels featuring LGBTQ+ characters in either main or supporting roles.

Usual caveats apply: there are many more titles available, but these are books that I have in my library collection and I do recommend them. If anyone would like to recommend additional titles, then please leave a comment below.

Picture Books

  • Pride the story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders & Steven Salerno
  • A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill twiss & E.G. Keller
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell & Henry Cole
  • The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
  • Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton and Dougal MacPherson
  •  
    Fiction

  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Kaleidoscope Song by Fox Benwell
  • Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman
  • The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Undone by Cat Clarke
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post Emily M. Danforth
  • Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
  • If You Could be Mine by Sara Farizan
  • Tessa Masterton Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
  • Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green
  • Skylarks by Karen Gregory
  • Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler
  • Pantomime by Laura Lam
  • Boy Meets Boy
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

  • A Line in the Dark
  • Ash
  • Huntress by Malinda Lo
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Lee Mackenzie
  • The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here
  • Release by Patrick Ness
  • Things a Bright Girl can Do by Sally Nicholls
  • Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
  • Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
  • Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
  • Playing the Oart by Daria Wilke translated by Marian Schwarz
     
    Graphic Novels
     

  • Giant Days by John Allison
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  • The Authority by Warren Ellis & Bryan Hitch
  • Death: The High Cost of Living
  • Death: The Time of Your Life by Neil Gaiman & Chris Bachalo
  • The Wicked + The Divine
  • Young Avengers by Kieran Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
  • Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Ottaviani & Leland Purvis
  • Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka & J.H. Williams III
  • Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn Allen & Shannon Watters
  • Skim by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
  • Supergirl: Being Super by Mariko Tamaki & Joëlle Jones
  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  • Pedro and Me by Judd Winick
  •  
    Non-Fiction

  • Issues: Sexuality and Gender edited by Cara Acred
  • How to Transform your School into an LGBTQ+ Friendly Place: a Practical Guide for Nursery, Primary and Secondary Teachers by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile
  • Queer : the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge
  • This Book is Gay
  • The Gender Games by Juno Dawson
  • From Ace to Ze: The Little Book of LGBT Terms by Harriet Dyer
  • LGBTQ Comedic Monologues That are Actually Funny by Alisha Gaddis
  • Understanding Sexuality: what it means to be Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual
  • Understanding Transgender by Honor Head
  • GLBTQ: the Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Teens by Kenny Huegel
  • From Prejudice to Pride: a History of the LGBTQ+ Movement by Amy Lamé
  • Identity and Gender by Charlie Ogden
  • Straight talk About… Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity by Rachel Stuckey
  • Home Boys ~ Alex Wheatle

    home boys.jpgFour friends decide to run away from the horror of their everyday lives in a children’s home in the English countryside. They head for the woods, their sense of freedom surprises them, and for the first time they feel the exhilaration of adolescence. Yet the forest slowly asserts its own power and what happens there will affect the four boys’ lives forever.

    My initial reaction when picking up Home Boys was the thought that this was going to be an upsetting read with no joy or redemption contained within the pages. I was wrong! Home Boys is bleak and hard to read, but it is also a beautifully written, opening with grief and loss in the mid 1980’s as we are introduced the major players of this drama it then dives further back the 1970’s where the boys’ story begins. As hard and uncompromising as it was, Home Boys ends on a note of hope that I did not see coming, friendships and love built over years endure beyond what many people expect and continues past the story ending.

    Alex Wheatle, always a gripping writer has given us an important work about life as a kid in care in the 1970’s and how brutality and abuse within the system can continue to distort and destroy lives down the years. Where Home Boys shines are in the interactions between the friends, capturing the love, anger, growing tensions and everything else that bubbles up within adolescent peer groups.

    Wheatle weaves in the overt racism of the 1970’s and does not shy away from the language and brutality that still lingers just beneath the surface of society to this day. Home Boys is an important read – to help us face the cruelty and mistreatment that was prevalent in many care homes of the recent past, as well as the abuses people of colour still face to this day.

    Home Boys by Alex Wheatle is published by Arcadia books and is available now

    Judge Read: The Shadowing

    I have been working on a Judge Dredd/CKG parody mash-up for the past few years. Today I am proud to unveil the first, and probably only Judge Read adventure:

    Disclaimer: Judge Dredd is published weekly in the 2000AD Comic and is © Rebellion.
    Judge Dredd was created by John Wagner (writer) Carlos Ezquerra (artist) & Pat Mills (editor)