Author Archives: Mattlibrarian

Free eBook offer from YA author Jonathan Zemsky


YA author and all-round excellent bloke Jonathan Zemsky has released his first novel Beyond the Shadows of Summer into the wilds as an eBook.

Download the book here: Beyond the Shadows of Summer

It is one of the first books I reviewed, you can read the review here.

Did I mention that it is free? Get downloading! It is a fantastic read and an excellent introduction to a brilliant writer!

Booktrust Teenage Prize

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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is the winner of this years Teenage Book Prize.

Congratulations Mr Gaiman!

Neil Gaiman, commonly known as the ‘rock star’ of the literary world, is revealed as the winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009.

His book The Graveyard Book saw off competition from five other authors including Patrick Ness who was nominated for a second year. Ness won the prize last year with The Knife of Never Letting Go.

The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens, a child abandoned in a graveyard after the vicious murder of his parents and sister by The Man Jack. Raised and educated by the ghosts that live there, Bod encounters terrible and unexpected menaces in the horror of the pit of the Sleer and the city of Ghouls. It is in the land of the living that the real danger lies as The Man Jack is determined to find Bod and finish him off.

Neil Gaiman is listed as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama. He is the creator of the iconic DC comic series The Sandman, the only comic to ever make the New York Times Bestseller list.

His books have been adapted for a number of successful films, most recently the animated adventure Coraline. His screenplay Beowulf starred Angelina Jolie and Ray Winstone, and his book Stardust was adapted for a film starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.

In his acceptance speech, Neil paid credit to the authors that had inspired him:

‘Sometimes when we look big, and seem to see further, it’s because we are standing on the shoulders of giants. The field of children’s literature has seen many giants, and those of us who toil in the field make our contributions using what we’ve learned from those who came first.

‘I’m proud of The Graveyard Book. But I know I got to stand on the shoulders of giants in order to write it. There were two writers of children’s fiction who influenced The Graveyard Book. Foremost, obviously, Rudyard Kipling, and his short story collection The Jungle Book; less obviously Pamela “P.L” Travers, and her Mary Poppins stories. And everyone else: the writers I learned from as a young reader, and the writers I’ve learned from as a writer: a host of other craftsmen and women I learned, or borrowed, or stole from, to build The Graveyard Book. ‘

Neil was awarded a cheque for £2,500 and a trophy at a ceremony in London at lunchtime today (Wednesday 18 November).

Judi James, Chair of Judges commented:

“The six shortlisted books for the Booktrust Teenage Prize Award 2009, were chosen by the judges, for their exceptional quality of writing and storytelling, ranging from Helen Grant’s superb first novel, to the highly acclaimed Neil Gaiman whose novel, The Graveyard Book was unanimously chosen the winner. ‘Nobody Owens’, won the hearts of all the judges, young and old as did the delightfully sinister, generous, eccentric and heart-warming characters that inhabit the old graveyard. Gaiman’s writing is gentle, fluid and humorous, and fundamentally uplifting.”

This year’s shortlist was:

Auslander by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury)

Ostrich Boy by Keith Gray (Definitions)

The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine (HarperCollins)

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant (Puffin)

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Walker)

The Booktrust Teenage Prize was launched in 2003 to recognise and celebrate the best contemporary writing for teenagers. Booktrust administers the prize with the support of writers, publishers, teachers, parents and libraries. Publishers may enter works of fiction, including novels, collections of short stories and graphic novels, and non-fiction. The Reading Agency is promoting the Booktrust Teenage Prize in libraries across the UK primarily through coordination with public and school library services.

Previous winners include Mark Haddon for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003) and Anthony McGowan for Henry Tumour (2006).

Beautiful Dead: Arizona Competition Winners

The winners of the Beautiful Dead: Arizona competition are (in no particular order):

Maxine Grant

Milka

Jenny N

Bianca Flatman

I added a fourth book (my review copy read only once and still in near perfect condition)

The winners were chosen using Random.org

RANDOM.ORG is a true random number service that generates randomness via atmospheric noise.

Do schools need libraries and librarians?

Take it away Lucy Bakewell from Hill West Primary School in Sutton Coldfield.

“Today, when schools are striving to raise standards in reading and writing, we need champions to place themselves at the heart of school strategies. Their aim – to engage pupils in and enthuse them about books.”

Am amazing article by the School Librarian of the Year 2009.

Teen Librarian Monthly: November 2009

The November edition of TLM is available to download here.

Sea Djinn by Linda Davies

Fear one thing in all that is… Fear the Djinn – The Wishmaster

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In writing Sea Djinn Linda Davies has created a book that takes you inside the story and makes it real. The description of the sand, sea and surf in the opening chapter made me long for the ocean and to feel a surfboard move gliding me over the waves, it was then that I knew I was hooked that Sea Djinn had hooked me!

Set in Dubai, Sea Djinn mixes 21st century Teens with the myths and folktales of the Emirates. Finn Kennedy lives in Dubai with his aunt and cousins and attends a prestigious local school with Georgie and his friend Fred. His life is changed when he comes face to face with Triton a Djinn of the Sea. Triton tells him that his parents have been kidnapped by Hydrus – the evil sea Djinni and that he Finn is a descendant of the royal blood of Atlantis and is an important part of the fight that is brewing between the forces of Light and Darkness.

Mixing mythic encounters into contemporary life is not a new concept but Linda Davies has created something special here, adding in human greed and intrigue as well as ecological awareness into a fast-paced adventure no part of the story feels forced or false. The characters are fleshed out through the book and even the (human) villains are more than two-dimensional caricatures that often populate YA books as foils for the heroes. The twists in the story are artfully done and I did not see them coming until they were happening. The sense of the fantastic is present throughout the book but magic never comes to dominate the story instead it is the humanity of the protagonists (mortal, animal and mystical) that shines through and leads the story.

I loved it and am eagerly awaiting Fire Djinn which is due out next year.

I also learned that Djinn is plural and Djinni is the singular. They are beings of fire and not to be trifled with even if you have a hankering for some free wishes…

Crocodile Tears Launch

As all fans of the fantastic Alex Rider series written by Anthony Horowitz must now know, the newest book – Crocodile Tears was launched on Thursday the 12th November. I was privileged enough to be invited to the launch party by the always amazing people at Walker Books.
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As it was a party there was cake involved…
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crowds of people had been invited to celebrate (authors, publishers and even librarians)
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Piles of Crocodile Tears were placed artistically around the room
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There was even a pianist tickling the ivories for the evening
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Our host spent the evening mingling with friends and well-wishers
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Although he was not too busy to stop for some publicity shots
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or to sign some of the rare copies that were given to the lucky attendees
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At the end of the evening there were some very smug Librarians
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including me ^_^
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amosdaragon
Four Masks, sixteen stones of power. A struggle between good and evil.
On the day of his birth, his fate was written in golden letters in the great history of heroes. His destiny: to re-establish the balance between the forces of Light and Darkness.

Covers_Amos_Daragon

Amos is a boy with a quick mind and the intelligence to direct it, despite being unschooled he proves himself to be the intellectual equal or smarter than many of the people he meets. After encountering a dying mermaid he helps his parents to escape a cruel lord who treats them little better than slaves Amos is thrust into a series of adventures before being anointed as the first of a new order of Mask Wearers and is tasked with bringing balance back to his world.

The author mixes folk-tales into the story with Amos cast in a role that combines trickster and hero in equal quantities. The first book introduces Amos’ world and some of the many species that inhabit it, including merfolk, fairies, manimals, gorgons, nagas and gods including Seth (Egyptian) and Baron Samedi (a loa from voodoo belief). This mixing of world myths works well and makes the books accessible to readers from different cultures as they will be able to identify stories that they may have heard woven into the narrative.

The Mask Wearer is written as a series of mini-adventures that combine into an overarching narrative that is brilliant for readers that struggle with their reading as it is as enjoyable to read in parts as it is to read from beginning to end. The Key of Braha is slightly more complex with fewer side adventures but is just as gripping and enjoyable to read.

The author Bryan Perro does not shy away from using themes of redemption, loss and death in his books.

Amos Daragon was originally written in French and to date has been translated into 19 different languages. The first two books are currently available in English and I am eagerly awaiting the release of book three: The Twilight of the Gods.

Beautiful Dead Competition

Thanks to the wonderful people at Galactus – the digital design, marketing & online PR agency not the planet devourer from Marvel Comics (although that would also be cool). I have three copies of Beautiful Dead: Arizona to give away.

arizona

Something strange is happening at Ellerton High. Summer, Phoenix, Jonas and Arizona…

All dead within a year.

To stand a chance of winning one of these amazing books all you have to do is put the names of the four teens that died in the order that they perished (hint: it is not in the above order). You can find the answers here: www.beautifuldead.com.

Leave your answers in the comments form under this post. The comments will remain shielded until the close of the competition.

The competition will run until the 15th November and is open to all.

Library Myth Busters

This is an idea I have been working on that can be run with a Reading Group and also for breaking the ice for new users in the Library:

This event can be run by following the Myth Busters format of having small teams investigating various Library Myths and then presenting their findings to the entire Reading Group. If permission can be obtained for filming, a short DVD could be made of the proceedings. This could tie into a larger media and film-making programme that can be run over half-term or summer holidays. It is fun and educational – teenagers learn how the library works and what the staff do all day as well as debunking misconceptions they may have on what goes on in libraries.

Here are a a list of library myths that can either be debunked or confirmed:

  • Librarians have lots of time to read on the job
  • All librarians are fast readers
  • Public libraries are only busy during the school year
  • Public libraries are only busy during summer holidays
  • Libraries are used only by those who cannot afford to buy their own books.
  • Librarians have no stress
  • Librarians have read every book in the library.
  • Librarians know the answer to everything
  • Everyone who works in the library is a librarian
  • Libraries are just about getting books
  • Libraries aren’t necessary because everything’s available on the internet
  • Libraries have plenty of money because they get so many donated books and charge so much in fines
  • The librarian can be held responsible for everything that kids check out because they work for the government and must protect young people from bad things
  • School libraries aren’t needed because kids can get everything they want at the public library or online
  • Librarians wear their hair in buns, have wire-rimmed glasses, and say shhhhh! all the time
  • Librarians only issue books
  • Everything in the library is free
  • You have to know Dewey to use the library
  • Libraries are serious and quiet all the time
  • It is difficult to get a library card
  • Libraries are for English readers only

The list is by no means complete and if anyone would like to add library myths in the comments you are most welcome.