Author Archives: Mattlibrarian

SelfMadeHero Press Catalogue

Myebook - SelfMadeHero catalogue 2009 - click here to open my ebook

Manga Jiman 2009 Competition

manga jiman
The Embassy of Japan is once again launching another major manga-writing competition, MANGA JIMAN 2009, with fantastic prizes. This year the competition is open to anyone fourteen (14)* years of age or over.

The amazing First Prize is two (2) return air tickets to Japan, courtesy of All Nippon Airways!**
The Second Prize is a fabulous TOSHIBA laptop computer.
Third Prize is a superb RICOH digital camera.
Runners-up will receive and a selection of manga publications, available in the UK from various UK manga publishers and Japan Centre gift vouchers amongst others prizes.
The winners’ works will also be displayed in a special MANGA JIMAN EXHIBITION at the Embassy of Japan.
Manga Jiman 2009 Mascot: Sorano-chan
This competition is open to all UK residents. All creations should be original and between six (6) to eight (8) A4-sized pages in length and although entrants are free to choose their own theme, restrictions do apply, and importantly the manga should in some way make reference to the ‘sun’. The closing date for the competition is Friday, 25 September 2009.

You can now view examples of the winning entries from previous years on our Myebook page

How to enter:
The full MANGA JIMAN COMPETITION 2009 RULES & REGULATIONS can be found here. (PDF file)

All entries must be accompanied by an official entry form which can be downloaded here. (Word file)

Please contact manga@jpembassy.org.uk with any queries about the competition.

*Entrants must be fourteen (14) by the time of the competition prizes are awarded (January 2010).
**Terms and conditions apply.

Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd received the Carnegie Medal for her novel Bog Child and is the first author to have won it posthumously.

I first became aware of Siobhan Dowd after having a colleague force a copy of The London Eye Mystery into my hands and tell me to read it or else. I only found out later that she had passed away, but not before writing several other truly amazing books.

London Eye Mystery pbblankSwift Pure Cry hi resBog Child pbblankSolace

TheSiobhan Dowd Trust is the dying bequest of the celebrated children’s author Siobhan Dowd. Just before her tragic death from cancer in August 2007 she personally and energetically supervised its foundation, to support, in all ways possible, disadvantaged young readers in the UK and Ireland. It was one of the very last things on Siobhan’s mind and clearly for her the most pressing cause in our society today.

The aims of the trust are simple and direct:

To take stories to our children without stories.
To bring the joy of reading to our children deprived of reading.
To bring books to our children deprived of books.
To fund disadvantaged readers where there is no funding, and to support disadvantaged readers where there is no support.
To fund and support any persons or organizations who help disadvantaged young readers.

The Trustees believe that the best and truest way faithfully to observe Siobhan’s last wish is to invite applications from persons or organizations in the UK or Ireland who need funding to directly help disadvantaged young readers. The Trustees will take a few months to consider and evaluate applications and then begin to disburse awards in the way that best seems to follow Siobhan’s wishes.

By the terms of Siobhan’s will, all royalty income derived from her published novels and any posthumously published work will go to the Trust.

The Trustees believe that Siobhan’s generosity will be the seed of something much larger, and so the Trust also welcomes donations from the public. The aspiration is to help as many disadvantaged young people as possible.

The Trustees are in no doubt of the importance of this bequest and its fundamental urgency for our children and for the future culture of the British Isles and Ireland. We may think we live in a literate society but, as Siobhan was well aware, there are too many places in our own ‘house’ where children are denied the opportunity to read. This is a charity that must begin at home, a home that, like Siobhan’s life, spans both sides of the Irish Sea.


A brief note on Siobhan:

Siobhan spent most of her career looking after writers. Working for PEN she fought to help writers silenced by oppressive regimes around the world. Closer to home, she did all she could to get reading material into the hands of disadvantaged young people from all walks of life, Siobhan co-founded and then ran the Readers & Writers Programme for English PEN which encouraged disadvantaged children to read by sending books and writers into schools as well as working with other institutions such as prisons. Siobhan also encouraged youngsters from the Romany culture to record their history. Her support for, and encouragement of, her fellow-writers was inexhaustible.

In some ways perhaps she sacrificed her own brimming talent for the benefit of other authors. And then, just as she discovered she was fatally ill, she put pen to paper and produced four of the most remarkable novels for children you could wish for. She was a writing phenomenon. The overriding thought of all those who knew her work is that her loss to the world of children’s writing is a tragedy. It is utterly characteristic that Siobhan should, at the end, put her mind unerringly to the most deserving group of all: the young reader. Siobhan realized that our literary culture – critics, bookshops, agents, publishing, libraries, schools – depends ultimately on the reader. And, of readers, the young reader is the most vulnerable. And amongst young readers, the disadvantaged young reader is the most deprived of all. Siobhan, at the last, and with all her usual clarity, decided to help them. And you can help them too.

The Siobhan Dowd Trust Books
A Swift Pure Cry
The London Eye Mystery
Bog Child
Solace of the Road

The Trustees
Tony Bradman
Rachel Billington
Polly Nolan
David Fickling

Rachel Billington
Siobhan has the number one gift of gripping you from the first page and not
letting you go till the final, always satisfying, last page. Her gift for
fabulous characterisation, however small the role, combines brilliantly with
original and carefully constructed plot-lines. Always believable, she yet
raises the drama to a frighteningly intense level. Hardest act of all, she
manages to keep up the humour even when the going gets tough. Solace with all
her gripes and bravery, is a fitting heroine for our times. Yet again, hooray
for another Siobhan Dowd masterwork!

Fiona Dunbar
Siobhan inhabits her characters so completely, you feel you know them. In
Holly, she has done it again; here is someone whose wit and humour carries
her through the hardest of times, and whose journey of self-discovery is both
poignant and heart-warming. A delight.

Jonathan Heawood, Director, English PEN
‘Siobhan Dowd believed passionately in the power of writing to change
people’s lives. She brought this passion to her work for PEN over many years,
whether defending writers in prison or promoting literature in schools. It’s
inspiring and moving to see her work continuing even now.’

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

fohatIn Mary’s world there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated will never relent.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan is the best zombie novel I have read in a long time! Set in a post zombie apocalypse world and narrated by Mary a young woman who is starting to question her place in the limited world of the village and the choices being made for her.

Every zombie-novel and film I have read or seen opens with the world in the throes of a zombie attack. This is the first novel I have read that takes place after the fact (or The Return as it is known in the world of The Forest of Hands and Teeth), where a group of survivors have built a village and thrived in their closed environment. The village life is run on theocratic lines by the Sisterhood who make up the ruling body and the Guardians who protect the village and maintain the fences. The villagers themselves do as they are told and on the whole are content. The portion of the novel set inthe village reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan’s film The Village with its inhabitants living with strict rules to keep them safe, with the one difference being that in this book the villagers often come face to face with the Unconsecrated at the fence, and sometimes they are the people that they have loved and lost.

The village has been protected and kept safe for generations, but as any lover of the zombie genre will know – no location is safe forever against the undead. Mary discovers that an outsider entered the village through the fenced pathways and is being sequestered by the Sisterhood. She later comes face to face with the woman and that is where everything changes. Forced to flee with her fiancee, the man she loves and his girlfriend plus her brother and sister in law, Mary hopes to reach the ocean and to finally be safe.

I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and particularly enjoyed nods to other books and films contained within the pages – specifically the shambling zombies of the original Romero films and the running zombie from the remake. The world creation was fascinating, the tale hinted of other groups of survivors who for some time at least were in contact. Reference was made to The Return and I am hoping to find out more about this world when The Dead-Tossed Waves is released next year.

Hacking Timbuktu – trailer

Teen Librarian Monthly June 2009

The June edition of TLM is available to download here.

Bond… James Bond @ Plymouth Headspace

Plymouth HeadSpace project – a place where young people 11-19 can read/listen/surf/chill every Tuesday night.

A group of 15-19s HeadSpace at Efford Library recently hosted their own James Bond themed night called Bond James Bond. The library became the Casino Royale for the evening! The group were made over by professionals and took part in a glamorous photo shoot for the local Evening Herald newspaper. After the photo shoot we took part in a quiz hosted by Q, played Poker and chocolate roulette. This is a link to the article on the Evening Herald website and there are more photos on the Plymouth Libraries Flickr account.

HeadSpace Efford also have their own blog and Twitter account, which young people and teen librarians can follow.

Vermonia: Quest for the Silver Tiger by Studio YOYO

At the centre of the universe, at the beginning and end of all creation, sits the planet of Vermonia, ruled by Queen Fransinella. All worlds including the fragile Blue Star, orbit around her, following pathways of the net between galaxies, wherein the Turtle Realm also lies.

Queen Frasinella’s reign of harmony is ending in civil war due to the betrayal of the commander of her army, General Uro. Hungry for personal power, he seeks the Queen’s sacred Bolirium, fighting his own twin brother, the Lord Boros to obtain it.

As the final battle rages and Lord Boros suffers defeat at the hands of his brother, Queen Frasinella gathers her four most trusted ministers. She uses her magic to transform them, then bids them to flee in order to safeguard the wisdom of her world and to work for its rebirth.

As her final sovereign act, Queen Frasinella summons from deep within her the four Veras of her Spirit; these four will be reborn on a distant planet as four warriors who will one day restore her reign of harmony

So begins Vermonia: Quest for the Silver Tiger a new manga title by Studio YoYo, published in the UK by Walker Books. It is the first in a series, for all ages and illustrated in the shonen style. Nevertheless Vermonia will have a broad appeal amongst girls as well as boys.

The heroes of this tale are four friends (Mel, Doug, Kim and Naomi), who after falling out at their skating hangout each have an identical dream about a boy being strangled by snakes and pleading for help. The next day Mel is kidnapped by Gazso an agent of the evil General Uro. The group leave earth with the aid of the magical Satorin, a Squelp (the obligatory cute manga mascot), and waste no time in trying to track Mel down to free her, and also, they learn, the planet of Vermonia.

I was thrilled (and surprised) to receive a copy of this book in the post. I had been shown some early proofs of Vermonia when I visited Walker Books late last year. From a purely aesthetic point of view the book is beautiful, published in the traditional Japanese style to be read from right to left, Walker Books has also followed the Japanese habit of giving it a dust jacket and a semi-rigid cover. The contents do not disappoint either, the artwork by artist Saki Uchida who was discovered by Akihuro Miyata, the editor and publisher who nurtured the talent of the extraordinary Haruki Murakami, is stunning. The story is gripping and provides a perfect set up to the future volumes that will follow. The only downside is that the book ends on a cliff-hanger and I want to know what happens next but volume two is still a few months away.

Strange Angels by Lili Saintcrow

strange angels

Dru Anderson has been “strange” for as long as she can remember. She travels from town to town with her father, hunting the things that go bump in the night and eat the unwary. It’s a weird life, but a good one–until it all explodes and a zombie busts into her new house.

Strange Angels is Lilith Saint Crow‘s first young adult novel, and tells the story of Dru Anderson, the daughter of a (monster) hunter. When her dad ends up dead she has to use hard-learned lessons and smarts to stay alive long enough to find out who killed him and who wants her dead.

Throwing werewolves and vampires into the mix with her preternaturally gifted heroine, Lilith hits most of the paranormal urban fantasy genre’s stererotypes There is nothing wrong with this as she has managed to craft an excellent story. Her teen characters are well written and believable (within the bounds of the story) and she weaves suspense and horror together well to tell a tale that will keep her YA readers attention throughout the story. The book is the first title in a series about Dru that will appeal primarily to teen girls although boys should also find it gripping. I am a bit out of her target market but I do love paranormal urban fantasy – the more adventure-oriented style, not really the para-romance that is so popular these days and Lili hit the nail on the head with this one (for me anyway). I am currently eagerly awaiting the second volume Betrayal – due out later this year.

The Reformed Vampire Support group by Catherine Jinks

rvsg
People often think that vampires live in decrepit old castles, or mausoleums, or sprawling mansions full of stained glass and wood panelling. Unfortunately that is not the case.

Nina is 15 years old (and has been since 1973) when she was attacked by a vampire.Her life since then has been one of suffering from the effects of vampirism, living with her mother, fanging guinea pigs and every Tuesday attending the Reformed Vampire Support Group meetings. The group is composed of all the surviving vampires in Australia – including the vampire that originally brought the infection from Europe.

The Groups’ carefully ordered lifestyle is thrown into disarray by the staking of the oldest vampire among them. What follows is a desperate search by committee that will bring them face to face with a terrified slayer; into contact with the brutal world of werewolf fighting as well as Nina’s acceptance of being a vampire as well as finding a greater meaning to life (and love) after death.

I love monster stories and have a particular fondness for urban paranormal tales by authors like Jim Butcher and Lilith St. Crow (and the early Laurell K. Hamilton). Catherine Jinks’ creations takes the vampire myth in a (humourous at times) direction that I do not see often. They have all the weaknesses that traditional vampires have – burning in the sun, only able to feed of blood, death by staking and none of the strengths. So no transforming in to bats, no super strength none of the sexy vamp. lifestyle popularised by Twilight and the Underworld series – both referenced in this novel. The closest Nina comes to this `way of life is in the novels she writes (under an assumed name) about Zadia Bloodstone. Jinks’ vampires live the lives of junkies desperate for a fix but terrified of spreading their infection and of being discovered and being slaughtered by a population that is unaware of them living in their midst.