Category Archives: Books

My library teen reading group’s favourite reads ~ Savita Kalhan

Hi Matt, thanks for inviting me on your blog today and for being part of the amazing blog tour for THE GIRL IN THE BROKEN MIRROR!

So for my guest post today, I wanted to tell your readers about my teen library group’s favourite reads. I started the group because as a teenager I spent hours in the library and if there had been a group like this I would have joined it in a heartbeat!

The kids in my group range from 10 to 16 years old, it’s a diverse group and it’s half boys and half girls, so the huge range of books we read are reflected in the dynamics of the group. Also, because it’s a library group and we only have access to books on the library catalogue, we don’t get all the books that are published for middle grade, teen or YA readers, which is a real shame. It would be brilliant if all public libraries would stock at least one book of every title published, wouldn’t it?

So here’s the list, which comes highly recommended by my teen library group:

Rooftoppers and The Explorer by Katherine Rundell – both of these books have been loved by my teen reading group – the older teens and younger teens alike, which tells you that Rundell’s writing can be enjoyed whatever age you are.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13b by Teresa Toten – this book is about a group of teenagers with various problems/issues such as OCD and ADHD, who meet with a counsellor once a week. It’s the characters that my teens fell in love with, and the book opened their eyes to the types of problems some teenagers face.

The Last Leaves Falling by Fox Benwell – this book made them cry pretty much without exception. The book is set in Japan and the main character has a rare terminal illness that makes him age too quickly.

I’m not going to tell you all about every book on the list – but I hope you will go and look them up, find the right book for you and read it.

  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

  • Booked by Kwame Alexander

  • The Book Thief by Marcus Suzak

  • The Harder They Fall by Bali Rai

  • Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

  • The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cotterell Boyce

  • Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis

  • Phoenix by S F Said

  • Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

  • Beetle Boy by M G Leonard

  • Wonder by R J Palacio

  • The Stars of Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

  • Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

  • Hidden by Miriam Halahmy,
  • A Library of Lemons by Jo Cotterill

  • The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Milwood-Hargrave

  • The Last Wild trilogy by Piers Torday

  • The Child’s Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnston

  • Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

  • Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

  • Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sacher

  • She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

  • Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green

  • Harry Potter books by JK Rowling

  • The CHERUB books Robert Muchamore

I could go on – my library group read four or five books a month – but I think your readers have enough there to be going on with there, Matt!

It’s been great fun looking at all the books my teens have been reading. I think it’s a great list – wide in range, subject matter, scope, from poetry to prose, from stand alone novels to series fiction, from fantasy to contemporary to historical!

Thank you so much for hosting me on the blog tour for THE GIRL IN THE BROKEN MIRROR. My book is not an easy read for younger readers, so I would recommend it for 14+ readers.It’s the story of a fifteen year old British Asian girl and her journey after a terrible trauma. It’s also a story about negotiating your way between two very different cultures – the world at home and the world outside. If your readers want to find out more about me, here’s my website www.savitakalhan.com, or they can chat to me on twitter @savitakalhan. I love to hear from my readers!

The Brandford Boase Award 2018 Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2018 Branford Boase Award is announced today (Wednesday 2nd May 2018). The Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent.

Now in its nineteenth year the Branford Boase Award is recognised as one of the most important awards in children’s books with a hugely impressive record in identifying authors with special talent at the start of their careers. Previous winners and shortlisted authors include Siobhan Dowd, Meg Rosoff, Mal Peet, Philip Reeve, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Patrick Ness; Costa Book Award winner Frances Hardinge won with her debut novel Fly By Night in 2006. The shortlist for the 2018 award is as follows:

  • A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe, edited by Fiona Kennedy (Head of Zeus: Zephyr)
  • The Starman and Me by Sharon Cohen, edited by Sarah Lambert (Quercus Children’s Books)
  • Fish Boy by Chloe Daykin, edited by Leah Thaxton (Faber)
  • Knighthood for Beginners by Elys Dolan, edited by Clare Whitston and Elv Moody (Oxford)
  • Kick by Mitch Johnson, edited by Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker (Usborne)
  • Potter’s Boy by Tony Mitton, edited by Anthony Hinton (David Fickling Books)
  • The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein, edited by Gill Evans (Walker Books)
  •  
    This year the judges are Urmi Merchant of children’s bookshop Pickled Pepper Books; Helen Swinyard, librarian at Heartlands High School and founder of the Haringey Children’s Book Award; author and reviewer Philip Womack; and M.G. (Maya) Leonard, author of Beetle Boy, winner of the 2017 Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival.

    Julia Eccleshare says: Each year the Branford Boase Award discovers authors with outstanding talent and promise: this year is no exception. The BBA also celebrates the lively state of children’s publishing in the UK and we were excited that no less than 26 different publishers entered books with seven making the shortlist. By concentrating on the most exciting new voices, the Branford Boase consistently highlights trends in contemporary children’s fiction: our 2018 judges were struck by the huge predominance on the longlist of domestic dramas. Children’s adventure it seems has become internal, the setting no longer the outside world but frequently the family, with narrative tension and action arising from issues such as mental health and individual trauma. Nonetheless, our seven shortlisted books have new stories to tell and vibrant new voices to tell them.

    The winner of the 2018 Branford Boase Award will be announced on Wednesday 4th July at a ceremony in London. The winning author receives a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor receive a unique, hand-crafted silver-inlaid box.

    For more information about the award, including a full list of past winners, and the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition visit www.branfordboaseaward.org.uk

    There is a Rumer going round…

    Rumer Cross is cursed. Scraping by working for a dingy London detective agency, she lives in the shadow of her mother, a violent criminal dubbed the ‘Witch Assassin’ whose bloodthirsty rampage terrorised London for over a decade.

    Raised by foster families who never understood her and terrified she could one day turn into her mother, Rumer has become detached and self-reliant. But when she’s targeted by a vicious mobster who believes she’s hiding an occult relic, she’s drawn into the very world she’s been fighting to avoid.

    Hunted by assassins and haunted by her mother’s dark legacy, Rumer must also confront a terrible truth: that she’s cursed, because no matter what she does, everybody she’s ever grown close to has died screaming.

    Bloody good and at times just plain bloody… Vicious Rumer is a book that I refuse to call a guilty secret – because no-one should feel guilty about what they read! There are times I just want a good knock-down, curb-stomp novel that grabs me by the eyes and drags me through a city’s dark underbelly leaving me wanting a cigarette and a stiff drink!

    Billed as a thriller for fans of Jessica Jones, Lisbeth Salander and films like The Craft I came to this book with high expectations and Josh not only met those expectations he exceeded them in ways too bloody to mention in a family-friendly library blog like this one!

    Key-words: anti-hero, blood, violence, gore, bad guys, worse guys, make it stop, please make it stop!

    Vicious Rumer is out soon from those stout-hearted folk at Unbound – order it in print or pixels here: https://unbound.com/books/vicious-rumer/

    Only You Can Save mankind by Terry Pratchett

    As the mighty alien fleet from the latest computer game thunders across the screen, Johnny prepares to blow them into the usual million pieces. And they send him a message: We surrender.

    They’re not supposed to do that! They’re supposed to die. And computer joysticks don’t have ‘Don’t Fire’ buttons . . .
     
    But it’s only a game, isn’t it. Isn’t it?

    Often overlooked in favour of his Discworld series, Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell trilogy is nevertheless an amazing set of books that desrves its place in the sun.

    First published when I was 17, Only You Can Save Mankind was the fourth non Discworld book that I had read (the other three were the Bromeliad trilogy).

    Now re-jacketed, re-illustrated (by Mark Beech) and re-released, Only You can Save Mankind more than holds up 26 years later. It is as magnificent as I remembered it the first time I read it – an anti-war novel that is also about friendship, fitting in, the importance of talking and a reminder that abuse and neglect can happen anywhere.

    Look I should not have to sell you on a Terry Pratchett book – he was a phenomenal author and is still my favourite story-teller and one day I will have read all his works but that day is not today! Today marks the third anniversary of his passing and on this day if you have not discovered his work why not make a start with Only You Can Save Mankind?

    My last post about World Book Day

    As anyone who knows me or follows my blog and twitter account will know, I have had a bit of a problem with World Book Day – not the celebration of books, bookshops and reading but what I perceived as missteps in their organisation of WBD 2018 (and also some issues with WBD 2017). Rather than rehashing what I have already written, you can read my thoughts here and here.

    I did try and engage with the organisation on social media in an attempt to have a public discussion about my concerns but to no avail, so on the 19th February I sent them an e-mail. You can read it below.

    To whom it may concern

    I have a number of conflicted feelings about World Book Day, on one hand I am a massive supporter of getting young people reading and into bookstores but on the other hand I feel that World Book Day ltd has made a number of missteps recently, some of which which I have publicly criticised on TeenLibrarian and via social media.

    I dislike the idea of criticism without allowing a response and not having been able to engage with you via social media I wondered if a representative from WBD would be able to answer some questions regarding the issues I feel have arisen?

    My questions are below.

    Firstly, the YA offer this year

    Why did it take three months for the YA titles to be announced instead of during “the coming weeks” as reported in the Guardian? (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/oct/02/childrens-authors-slam-celebrity-heavy-world-book-day-lineup)

    Regarding the £1.50 YA premium on top of the WBD voucher, I am aware that they are full novels and are still considerably cheaper than a non-WBD branded copy book would cost; but do you not think that this will further alienate young people from impoverished backgrounds*; not to mention the young people go to a participating bookshop or supermarket to pick up a book with their voucher and find out when they get to the till that they have to pay.

    I also note on your website that the YA ‘special editions’ will be available in participating retailers only – will these retailers be listed to help shoppers find the books they are looking for? Are you not concerned that this will exclude older readers who wish to participate in World Book Day but do not live near a participating store?

    Secondly the proliferation of the World Book Day logo on advertising costumes on posters in malls and in supermarkets. Contrary to popular belief I am not against dressing up to celebrate one’s favourite books for World Book Day, but is not using your logo to sell costumes a contravention of the style guide usage policy which states that the logo should only be used on materials promoting books?

    I also fear that the dress-up aspect of the day is occluding the celebration of reading which forms a central part of World Book Day. An online search for “World Book Day” returns mostly news articles on where to find the most affordable costumes and news that a Welsh language book will be available for the first time.

    Thank you for taking the time to consider these questions

    Matt Imrie
    Editor: Teen Librarian

    *There were 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2014-15. That’s 28 per cent of children, or 9 in a classroom of 30 and this number is projected to rise by 2020 [source: http://www.cpag.org.uk/child-poverty-facts-and-figures]

    I received a response on Friday the 9th but owing to a school trip and family obligations over the weekend I only received it today. You can read it in full below

    Download (PDF, Unknown)

    I appreciate the Director Kirsten Grant taking the time to personally respond to my questions, it made for interesting reading and while my fears have not been completely allayed (or answered fully) I look forward to seeing what happens with WBD in the future.

    Love, Simon

    LOVE, SIMON also stars Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Miles Heizer, Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel and Tony Hale and is directed by Greg Berlanti.

    The film is an adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s bestselling 2015 YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

    Blog Tour: A Library Miscellany by Claire Cock-Starkey

    Claire Cock-Starkey will be speaking about A Library Miscellany (and The Book Lovers’ Miscellany) at the Oxford Literary Festival on March 20th at 12pm

    Visit Claire’s website www.nonfictioness.com and follow her on Twitter @nonfictioness

    A Library Miscellany FRONT ONLY

    Mine by S.A. Partridge

    On stage, Fin is Thor. Angry and invincible. Yet for all his potential, people always leave him. Kayla is the only girl he’s ever met who’s worth loving. The only one he’s ever wanted to be worth something for.

    Kayla knows she’s weird and unlovable. But she wants to believe there is no reason to be sad anymore.

    In each other Fin and Kayla find the only place they’ve ever belonged. Until the ghosts from the past come to break them apart.

    This book is something else!

    I could tell you that Mine by Sally Partridge is one of the best YA novels I have read this year. Or I could explain (at length) how she has captured the very essence of young love and toxic high school relationships.

    Maybe I could try to convince you that this book will resonate with anyone who has been, or is, in love and will recognise the feelings of desire, insecurity and fear that well up as we try to second-guess what the object of affection is thinking or feeling at any given time.

    I could, but I won’t – instead I will just say that this book should be an essential part of any YA selection in libraries or in private ownership! Buy it, read it and share it – you will, laugh, you will cry, you will get angry and at the end you will say “Jesus I did not see that coming!” (well that is what I said anyway), I am still not over it – thanks Sally!

    Told from the point of view of Fin and Kayla in alternating chapters their passion for each other is so raw and real that it almost hurts to read their story. It is testament to Sally’s skill as a writer that even when our main characters are portrayed at their worst and most unlikable that we never lose the feelings of sympathy and hope for their future.

    Mine is a beautiful, broken love story that will remain with you long after you have finished reading.

    Mine is published by Human & Rosseau in South Africa and is available now

    The Moderately Large World Book Day Quiz 2018


     
    Answers

    A number of colleagues have mentioned that they are not able to access the slideshare quiz so I have made the powerpoint downloadable below:

    Download (PPTX, 4.55MB)

    #BookBuddy: an interview with Maz Evans

    Over the weekend a discussion about donating books to School Libraries blew up on Twitter, led by author Maz Evans (Who Let the Gods Out?); she and other Children’s Authors in the course of visiting schools to speak to students had stumbled onto an open secret – that School Libraries in the UK are not statutory and many (if they exist at all) are not adequately funded.

    Rather than writing an article about it I reached out to Maz with a request to interview her about the idea she had for a BookBuddy programme to introduce it to library folk and others that may have missed the initial discussion.

    So without further ado, here is the BookBuddy interview with Maz Evans

    What is BookBuddy?

    It is essentially a scheme to pair those who have spare kids’ books with schools that can give them a great home. Anyone who has children’s books lying around – or wants to buy some new ones for a school – will be put in touch with a school for either a one-off donation or a longer partnership – entirely up to them.

    What sparked the initial idea?

    I travel extensively around the UK and visit at least one primary school a week. Most schools I visit don’t have a library, very few have a librarian and some have no books at all. I’ll say that again. There are schools in this country with no books in them. I don’t think people realise this. So many books are being funded by the educators themselves, which is insane. I have been badgering the government to address this issue, but I am a lone voice. I was trying to encourage the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, to pass comment when one kind individual offered to donate all her reading books for a year to a school as their “book buddy” – I retweeted her offer and a school that follows me was ecstatic to take her up. More people came forward and schools started putting their hands up, so I drew up a “first-come” list and matched them to the offers. It was a total accident, but a happy one.

    Has the response to your idea surprised you?

    Yes and no. The number of schools desperate to join the scheme has, sadly, come as no surprise. The government should hang its head in shame to see schools in this parlous state when we have such wonderful people doing such a great job inside them. The generosity of people has been beyond uplifting. Authors, bloggers, reviewers, booksellers, schools and caring members of the public have come forward in their dozens, offering to donate used or buy new books for schools. What has been a very sad surprise has been the negativity the scheme has attracted in certain quarters, but more on that later…!

    How many schools responded to your offer before you had to cap it?

    On a Saturday afternoon, within an hour I had 100 schools on my list – I had to cap it to have a hope of finding those schools book buddies and didn’t want to create false hope. I currently have 28 schools left on my list – although many matches have been made ad hoc on Twitter for people who can only donate locally or have a particular type of donation. Over 100 schools are now receiving books from total strangers. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.

    Will you be opening the school waiting list again if more buddies come forward?

    Me sitting at the laptop copying and pasting Twitter handles is not the most efficient or sustainable way of running the scheme. But a very kind person has come forward and offered to build a website where schools can register and book buddies can find schools when they want to clear out or simply be lovely. I am absolutely behind the scheme and will do everything I can do to support it while I’m trying to pester the state to sort this mess out.

    Does the non-statutory nature of school libraries shock you?

    Horrifies me, actually. Something that came of the conversations prior to BookBuddy was that libraries are (rightly) statutory in prisons, but not in schools. So some children have a better chance of being exposed to books if they are convicted of a crime than during their primary school years. It’s a national disgrace.


    What do you say to those that have criticised your endeavours by saying that:

  • it is the government’s responsibility
  • that it will spark an increased wave of schools approaching authors directly for donations or free visits
  • or that it will reduce an author’s pay
  • I’m not going to lie, I’ve been incredibly disappointed by the reaction of a certain (small) number of people, primarily because they haven’t bothered to research what I’m actually doing before sounding off on social media. To be explicit on this point, I am NOT putting the begging bowl out to the publishing industry. I receive hundreds of requests for free books and free visits and feel horrible that I can only fulfil a fraction of them. The last thing I want is to put further pressure on people. BookBuddy is firstly for people who have books they WANT to clear out. Yes, many of those are coming from the publishing industry because lots of us are fortunate enough to receive a lot of free books and not everyone wants to keep all of them.

    But as a parent, I know how easy it is to accumulate books that are never going to be read again and I have always donated them. I haven’t approached anyone to do anything – people are hearing about the scheme and coming to me. This whole thing was born out of me trying to get the government to see the damage they are doing to our future and the need to fund schools properly – how nice it would be if those who have the time to denounce this scheme on Twitter put their energies into lobbying their MP or Mr Hinds to demand action, as I am also doing.

    As for the financial argument, sorry, I just don’t buy it. These are books that are a) books for which royalties have already been paid 2) books for which royalties were never going to be paid (free copies to publishing people) or 3) new books that are being bought for the scheme, therefore are paying royalties! Also, put a book in a school and watch it breed like a randy rabbit. If anything, this will market books, not cost sales – and it gives schools a place to ask for donations, potentially easing the need to approach publishers/authors directly. If none of that convinces you, question your own humanity and privilege. At the end of the day, this is getting books to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have them. Should we have to do it? No – the government should. But as one author eloquently put it, we shouldn’t have to donate to food banks. But are we going to stand back and let people starve?

    If given the opportunity to speak to Damian Hinds the Education Minister what would you say to him?

    I want – no, demand – that the government enshrines funding for books in schools. One school I spoke to has £40K put aside for sports equipment, but can’t remember the last time they bought a new book. The government itself insists that reading for pleasure is at the heart of education – how the hell can educators do this without the books?! I see inside 100s of schools and while I see so much passion and inspiration from teachers and students, I also see an education system that is at breaking point. If we don’t invest in our future, we won’t have one.