Category Archives: Uncategorized

Libraries. Who needs ’em?


Libraries are old and dusty

They really need to go

and then a few days later:

“Reading really needs to grow”

Teachers need to share the love

and give all kids a kindle!

Everything is now online

So libraries who needs ‘em?

No-one uses books no more

Let alone to read ‘em!

It is a shame that no-one reads

It’s a thing we must promote

Quickly put some books in gyms

and a shelf of books on ‘planes

But we don’t need no libraries

The government explains!

They are far too expensive

and also past their best!

So fire the Librarians

and put their jobs to rest!

Sell off library buildings

Or make the public run ‘em!

Cut the hours, cut the stock

Cut to the very bone

and if some people shout and moan

Well they should have some books at home!

DadLife: Waking up & Peppa Pig

My little gingersnap woke up perky and vocal at 5:45 this morning.

We are currently weaning her off what she calls “boobas” so I am on morning milk call. I am not by nature a morning person, but having a gorgeous smiling child bouncing excitedly at the baby gate does wonders for motivation at springing up to face the day.

After a quick nappy change (her not me) I prepare a bottle of milk and we settle down on the couch for a feed and a cuddle.

Her request this morning is for Peppa Pig – actually it is this most mornings! Hler excited “Bebba Beeeg” is impossible to resist.

Peppa is her favourite cultural icon for littlies. The Mrs and I have watched so much of it we have developed a weird fascination with it, we are both convinced that local workaholic Miss Rabbit is having an affair with her twin sister’s husband Mr Rabbit – I mean it is pretty obvious as they do work together in some of Miss Rabbit’s jobs and you seldom see Mr & Mrs Rabbit together.

This is just a theory brought on by overexposure to a kiddy cartoon.

If I end up jumping in muddy puddles it is probably time to lock me away!

Amnesty International UK: CHILDREN’S BOOKS HIGHLIGHTING GLOBAL REFUGEE CRISIS WIN AMNESTY CILIP HONOURS

Two books that address the global refugee crisis have won the Amnesty CILIP Honour, an additional commendation attached to the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals for outstanding children’s writing and illustration.

Zana Fraillon’s powerful ‘The Bone Sparrow’ – which highlights the plight of Burma’s Rohingya people and life inside a detention centre in Australia – has won the Honour in the CILIP Carnegie Medal category.

And Francesca Sanna’s ‘The Journey’ – which tells the story of a family forced to flee their home because of war – has won the Honour in the CILIP Kate Greenaway category.

Both books tell the stories of families displaced from their homes and detail their struggles with their new lives in a troubled and fractured world.

Today also marks the start of Refugee Week in the UK, which encourages people in communities across the country to celebrate the contribution that refugees make to life in the UK.

Zana Fraillon said:

“I wrote ‘The Bone Sparrow’ so we wouldn’t forget the people and the stories behind the statistics and asylum seeker policies. I wrote it so that we would listen to, and really hear, all those silenced voices. This is something that Amnesty International does every single day. They hear the voices of those who have been silenced and they listen. I am so very proud to have been given this honour, and to have my book recognised by such an inspiring organisation.”

Francesca Sanna said:

“I think that books are a powerful tool to raise awareness for human rights, to encourage empathy for those stories that feel very different and far away from our reality. Stories take us to unexpected places, they make us feel what it might be like to walk in somebody else’s shoes. Amnesty International stands for justice, equality and respect for human rights, and knowing that ‘The Journey’ has been awarded makes me feel particularly overwhelmed and honoured.”

The Amnesty Honour commendations are awarded to the two books on the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway shortlists that best illuminate, uphold and celebrate human rights.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty UK, said:

“These books are vital at a time when we are facing a global human rights crisis on an unimaginable scale, highlighting the realities faced by millions living as refugees. The power of children’s literature to shine a light humanely can have a lasting and significant impact on young readers and help develop compassion for those affected. I’d like to offer my congratulations to both authors from all at Amnesty for their moving and inspirational work in raising vital human rights issues.”

Bali Rai, author and one of the Honour judges in the Carnegie category, said of ‘The Bone Sparrow’:

“The book makes you cry, it makes you think, it makes you angry. It has great potential for doing good in promoting and illuminating human rights. It’s an important story in bringing to the fore issues we’re not aware of, such as detention camps and the treatment of the Rohingya people.”

Ross Collins, Honour judge and winner of last year’s first Amnesty CILIP Honour for his book ‘There’s A Bear on My Chair’, said of ‘The Journey’:

“What Francesca Sanna has achieved with ‘The Journey’ is really quite extraordinary. Francesca brings light, colour and style to the most difficult of imagery, and shows us the family’s plight with warmth and subtlety. Ultimately it is a tale of hope over adversity which will not only open new doors for young readers, but enchant them with its beauty.”

The Amnesty CILIP Honour is the result of a major human rights partnership between Amnesty and CILIP, the libraries and information association. The Amnesty CILIP Honour is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

The winners of the 2017 medals were Ruta Sepetys with ‘Salt to the Sea’ (CILIP Carnegie Medal) and Lane Smith with ‘There is A Tribe of Kids’ (CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal). The winners were announced today at a gala event in London’s Royal Institute of British Architects.

Amnesty International is the world’s leading human rights organisation with more than seven million supporters worldwide

 

About the CILIP Carnegie Medal

The Carnegie Medal, awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children, was established in 1936 in memory of the Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). A self-made industrialist who made his fortune in steel in the USA, Carnegie’s experience of using a library as a child led him to resolve that “If ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries.” He set up more than 2,800 libraries across the English-speaking world and by the time of his death over half the library authorities in Great Britain had Carnegie libraries.

About the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children. Named after the popular nineteenth century artist, known for her beautiful children’s illustrations and designs, the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards


 

CHILDREN’S LAUREATE URGES NEXT UK GOVERNMENT TO ADDRESS THREE INEQUALITIES HARMING CHILDREN

In the UK thousands of children can’t claim British citizenship due to extortionate costs; child refugees are denied the right to family reunion; school libraries continue to close.

As he steps down as Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell highlights human rights concerns and calls on next government to address them.

Warning comes ahead of new book and theatre collaboration celebrating human rights for children.

Chris Riddell, UK Waterstones Children’s Laureate and Amnesty Ambassador, has raised concerns about children’s rights in the UK in a final statement before handing over his laureateship on 7 June, a day ahead of the General Election.

In a statement, Riddell has called on the next government to urgently address three human rights issues that affect children in the UK:

  • Thousands of children living in the UK are prevented from accessing their rights to register as British citizens simply because they and their families cannot afford the near £1,000 profit-making fee; 
  • Child refugees are the only refugees that the UK government denies family reunion, preventing their chances of overcoming the trauma of escaping conflict and rebuilding their lives in a new country;
  • A lack of investment in school libraries has caused many to close around the country. 

Chris Riddell said:

“As the UK Children’s Laureate it has been a pleasure to celebrate human rights with children through projects such as ‘My Little Book of Big Freedoms’ and Chickenshed Theatre’s production of ‘Dreams of Freedom’.

“But as I step down as Laureate, and a new government is formed, I would like to voice some deep concerns.

“It can’t be right that thousands of children in this country are not registered for British citizenship because their parents cannot afford the high fee currently charged.

“Also, I am troubled by the policy that refuses child refugees – and only child refugees – the right to be reunited with their families.

“Finally, the continuing closure of libraries in our communities and schools is a blight on the intellectual development and creative future of all our children.

“At the end of my Laureateship, I’d like to urge our future government to address these issues urgently.”

Riddell became an ambassador for Amnesty International UK last year. Amnesty has been campaigning for the expansion of family reunion to children, and for provisions to be put in place to support children to access their right to register as British citizens, including through the removal of the profit-making aspect of the registration fee. 

Riddell has championed human rights during his time as Children’s Laureate, and today’s intervention comes ahead of two new projects he has worked on with Amnesty that will celebrate human rights for children:

  • New book launch – on 22 June, a new colour, hard back edition of My Little Book of Big Freedoms, an illustrated version of the Human Rights Act by Chris Riddell, will be published in partnership with Amnesty.
  • New Chickenshed theatre collaboration– on 26 June, Chris Riddell will be joining 600 school children on stage at the Royal Albert Hall who are performing their interpretation of Amnesty’s illustrated children’s book ‘Dreams of Freedom’. Chris and 9-year-old Jude will be live drawing throughout the performance, with their illustrations projected to the whole of the Hall.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK said:

“Amnesty is delighted that the Children’s Laureate has done so much to make human rights fun for children. The right to laugh, to draw, to read and play are just some of the freedoms that we should all be able to enjoy and treasure. No matter what our age, it is important we learn about the rights that keep us safe, so that we can protect them.

“It is devastating that many children living in the UK don’t have access to the rights that should be there to keep them from harm. I sincerely hope the new government listens to Chris Riddell’s warning and takes action before more children’s lives are threatened.”

 

Gandalf’s Exam Tips 2

The second poster in the Gandalf’s Exam Tips series

The White Hare by Michael Fishwick – Interview

Hi Michael, welcome to TeenLibrarian. Thank you for giving up your time to answer a few questions about The White Hare.
Before we begin would you please introduce yourself to the audience?

I am a publishing director at Bloomsbury, where I have authors like Peter Frankopan (whose book The Silk Roads was on the bestseller lists for thirty-one weeks last year, William Dalrymple, Frank Dikotter, Adam Sisman, John Simpson, Anna Pavord and many others.  Lots of biography, history, memoir.  I live in south London, and have a family that includes three now rather tall sons.

I think that I am right in saying that The White Hare is your first novel for young readers?

It is.  I’ve written two other, adult novels; Smashing People and Sacrifices. 

What inspired you to begin writing for a teen audience?

About fourteen years ago I went with a New Zealand friend to see the film ‘Whale Rider’, where a young girl has to win the trust of her grandfather by proving herself the natural leader of their tribe; she forms a bond with a whale and is ridden out to sea, and indeed under the sea.  It made me want to write something that combined human relationships with a magicality that perhaps transcends and heals the fractures in the real world. I think Robbie’s encounter with Mags’s world helps him reconcile himself to the world he finds himself in, and ultimately to forgiveness towards his father.

What feeling did you have when you saw the first finished copy of The White Hare?

As a book comes together you see all sorts of aspects of it; cover ideas, proofs, book proofs, bits of flap copy, the look of the pages, and you know the text back to front from working on it so long.  So in a way there’s no surprise when you see the final thing; but it is just amazing anyway, especially when your publisher has taken such care and paid such attention as Zephyr has.  And detail such as the light blue silk ribbon and the way in which they have used the cover on the pages within the book, which I didn’t know about, were a source of lovely surprise and delight.  

What is the most satisfying part of the writing process for you?

To be honest, it’s simply the writing; making something up on the pages, especially when you have an idea you are confident with and are just working it through.  I write in ink in a rather lovely library, so there’s a very pleasurable feeling of seclusion and communing with one’s own thoughts and ideas; I’m always rather astonished that I have any. 

TWH is also the first novel published under the Zephyr imprint – do you feel any pressure being their headline author?

I’m very proud to be their launch title, and I so hope it works for them (and me).  They’ve done a terrific job, and I feel just the ordinary anxiety about what’s going to happen to my poor little brainchild, whom I hope many will love as I do. 

Is any part of the story based on personal experiences?

That’s tricky.  Lots of little bits and pieces along the way.  Generally, I grew up in south London, as did Robbie, and we’ve been going down to a cottage between Arthur’s Seat on the Stourhead estate and Cadbury Castly, King Arthur’s castle, as Mags tells Robbie for twenty-five years, which I always felt was a deeply magical place (the cottage overlooks the Somerset Levels, which feature in the book).   

Do you ever read the works of other Teen/MG authors? If yes what can you recommend?

Apart from Rowling and Patrick Ness, I drew upon my own favourites: Alan Garner, John Masefield and Barry Hines’s A Kestrel for a Knave (a friend of mine spotted a bit of Jez Butterworth in there, too).

How would you describe The White Hare to pique the interest of a potential reader?

That’s a hard question and something I am still working on! To any readers out there I would say that The White Hare is, at its core, a coming-of-age story. I would love the reader to join me on Robbie and Mags’ journey as they learn about what it means to love in a world where this is the bravest thing a person can do. And if you enjoy my story as I tell it, then I have succeeded in all I set out to do. 

Do you ever visit reading groups in schools and libraries? If yes what is the best way to get hold of you?

Not so far, but very happy to do so.  You can get in touch with the Publicity Director at Head of Zeus, Suzanne Sangster.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Every now and then a book will come out of nowhere and hit you so hard that you don’t know whether you are coming or going!

For me The Hate U Give is that book!

It had me openly weeping on a train by page 26.

It stoked anger within me – against the systems that keep people down, that normalise the murder of children at the same time as denying them fair and equal choices, freedoms and education.

I am a child (and adult) of privilege; growing up white and male insulated me from what most of the world experiences. Having a conscience and sense of social justice I naturally gravitate left and believe that the inequalities of the world have to be fought and the systemic racism and patriarchialism of the world as it is need to be challenged and dismantled. What I do not have are the experiences of those that are not white and male.

The Hate U Give has been my first experience of seeing the world through the eyes of a person that lives in a world that judges her and her friends and family by the colour of her skin and gender.

It has been said that writing is a political act, and it cannot be more true with The Hate U Give, reading this novel is activism. But it is more than that, to merely describe it as a political novel or an ‘issues book’ would be to diminish it. This is a story about life, love, family, community and loss. For people who daily experience the acts contained within its pages, this book is a mirror showing themselves and their lives; for communities disconnected from these experiences it can act as bridge to understanding and building empathy.

To Angie Thomas I say want to say thank you! With this book you have strengthened my resolve to fight for and with my friends and colleagues for a better world.

To everyone else I say – read this book!

If you know people that say things like “All lives matter!” in the face of the Black Lives Matter movement and the institutionalised oppression and murder of those whose skin colour does not resemble their own, or they believe that we live, love, work and play on a level playing field then buy then a copy. While you are doing that, buy yourself a copy, The Hate U Give is a book for everyone.

Thug Life: TuPac Shakur:

Discussing The Roanoke Girls with Amy Engels

roanoke-girls-jkt-image
Hi Amy, welcome to Teen Librarian, now at the moment you are best-known for the YA Book of Ivy series but (strangely for a Teen Library blog) we are not going to be discussing those today, rather we are going to focus on your first novel for adults: The Roanoke Girls.

The proof of which I must say was the darkest and one of the most twistedly brilliant books that I read last year.
 
But before we get into the book would you like to introduce yourself to the audience?

Well, as you said, I’m the author of The Book of Ivy YA series and The Roanoke Girls is my first novel for adults. I am a former criminal defense attorney and now work as a full-time writer. I live in Missouri with my husband and two teenage children.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but to my mind at its heart The Roanoke Girls is about being a woman and what women face now and throughout history – objectification, having to pander to the needs and desires of others, hatred, abandonment, being replaced and murder!

Yes to all of that! I’ve always been interested in the ways in which women are viewed by society and also by the sometimes fraught relationships women have with one another. I’m fascinated by how women often turn on one another, rather than on the person who has wronged them. And on the flip side of that, the ways in which women are valued, or devalued, by society is of tremendous interest to me as a writer. Women are so often viewed as a commodity, valued for their beauty and their ability to act a certain way. The blaming of female victims, both blatantly and subtly, for their own abuse is also something I wanted to tackle.

The Roanoke Girls made me think of two quintessential American art-works American Gothic by Grant Wood and Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth in my mind I identified Allegra quite strongly with both the women portrayed in the paintings. Similarly Roanoke reminded me of Manderley from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and the themes made me recall the discovery of Flowers in the Attic in the Library by a group of students when I was in school – it caused a rush of students reading together and discussing it in hushed tones in the corridor which stopped whenever someone walked past. What were your inspirations for writing The Roanoke Girls?

You are spot on with the Rebecca reference. The first line of The Roanoke Girls is actually my own homage to Rebecca. Growing up, I was fascinated by gothic novels and so those have a huge influence on the book. I also took inspiration from Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. That book evoked such a strong sense of place and I knew I wanted to try and do the same with The Roanoke Girls. My hope was to transport the readers to the world of Roanoke as they were reading. I was also somewhat inspired by my own work as a criminal defense attorney. I think people have a tendency to judge victims by the characteristics of the perpetrator of the crime. So if you have someone who looks like a monster and acts like a monster, then the victim is more likely to be believed. But what about someone who seduces rather than forces? Who charms rather than assaults? Then people are much more likely to blame or disbelieve the victim, I’ve found. And I definitely wanted to explore those feelings and ideas in the book.
amy-engel-trish-brown-photography

The interactions between Lane and Allegra seemed very real to me do you have any close cousins or siblings that you based their relationship on?

Interestingly enough, I have no siblings and my cousins are much younger than I am and live far away. But because of that void, I always had very strong female friendships growing up. My best friends and I were inseparable and they took the place of siblings for me. I think female friendships, especially as teenagers, can sometimes take on slightly obsessive undertones, so I drew on that for the relationship between Lane and Allegra.

At times The Roanoke Girls made uncomfortable reading – which I suppose is the point, without giving away too many spoilers were there any parts of the story that you found difficult to write?

The interludes from the points of view of the past Roanoke girls were probably the most difficult to write from a purely emotional standpoint.

You tell the story of Lane, Allegra and the other inhabitants of Roanoke and Osage Flats through Lane unpicking the contemporary mystery of Allegra’s disappearance and flashbacks to the summer that Lane lived at Roanoke – how much planning went into the writing as it all flows so seamlessly?

First of all, thank you. You never really know if a past/present narrative is going to work until people begin reading it, so I’m gratified to know it’s being well-received. In answer to your question, not much planning at all. I don’t outline when I write, not even with a dual timeline narrative such as this one. And I didn’t write all of the present day portion and then go back and insert the past. I wrote the book as it’s meant to be read: a “then” section and then a “now” section, etc. I did go back and add in the interludes from the other Roanoke girls after the first draft was finished. For some reason, it wasn’t difficult for me to keep it all straight in my head as I was unspooling it. More proof, I think, that sometimes writing is a kind of magic.

The online response to The Roanoke Girls has been phenomenal – did you expect this when you first started writing it?

Ummm…no? I mean, at the time I was writing it, the first Ivy book had been published, but I knew I’d need a new publisher for this book because it was adult. So I didn’t even know if it would ever see the light of day. I hoped, of course, that it would be published and people would like it, but I knew it was dark and would be too disturbing for some readers. So the reaction thus far has been amazing and I’m so, so grateful.

If you had to describe the novel in six words or less to entice a potential reader what would you say?

Oh, I’m such crap at this sort of thing, but I’ll give it at try! How about:

Dark, disturbing, character-driven psychological suspense.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

Blackout by Marc Elsberg

A cold night in Milan, Piero Manzano wants to get home.

Then the traffic lights fail. Manzano is thrown from his Alfa as cars pile up. And not just on this street – every light in the city is dead.

Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electricity grids collapse.

Plunged into darkness, people are freezing. Food and water supplies dry up. The death toll soars.

Former hacker and activist Manzano becomes a prime suspect. But he is also the only man capable of finding the real attackers.

Can he bring down a major terrorist network before it’s too late?
 
 
It has been said (by a number of people) that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.

Marc Elsberg has taken that premise, wrapped it up in a taut, fast-flowing thriller and has shown how Europe and the western world can be brought to it’s knees by a small group dedicated fanatics with the technical skills and the knowledge needed to implement a coordianted, catastrophic power grid failure.

Up against them is a ex-hacker and a number of people across Europe wrapped up in bureaucratic red tape, suspicion, conflicting end goals and divided loyalties. In all honesty there were times when my sympathies lay with the terrorists but as the body count grew and the cost of their actions became clearer I felt a chill grow within me as I read.

Blackout brings home how reliant we are on a unified power network and the inability of safety services to cope with a massive collapse in infrastructure. I would like to believe that such an event is not possible, but in a world where elections can be manipulated remotely and code that can hack cars, pacemakers and the growing Internet of Things can be cobbled together by people in their bedrooms we all need to know how vulnerable we are.

Blackout had opened my eyes!

I have not read too many European thrillers, but if many of them are like Blackout then that will change!

A Crafty Way to Protest

Over the weekend the world witnessed The Women’s March (against Trump); this was possibly the largest demonstration in American history; and it was not just in the USA, there were sister marches in many citiesaround the world.

This is just the beginning! One of the things we as Librarians and Library workers can do is encourage the people we work with in many small ways, one of these things is if we run crafting clubs we can provide patterns for members to make protest crafts. This is important as not everyone is able to march but may still want to show their support!

I recently read Crafting with Feminism by Bonnie Burton, a wonderful book that contains 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy

From Feminist Badges of Honor to Next Gen Feminist Onesies this book has it all (well not all but a lot of excellent, eye-catching project ideas and patterns) to provide activity ideas for months.

These crafts are perfect for people of all genders whether you march or not

Crafting with Feminism by Bonnie Burton published by Quirk Books is available now!