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#TeenLibrarian Monthly March 2019


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Voices is back for 2019!

Coram Voice is excited to announce the return of Voices, its annual writing competition for children in care and young care leavers across the country. The competition is open for
entries until 10 February 2019.

Coram Voice, a charity that provides a range of services for children and young people in
and around the care system, first launched the competition in 2016 as a platform for care-
experienced young people to express their creative talents and to celebrate their voices.
The theme of this year’s competition, ‘Growing Up’, was chosen by young people who took part in the competition last year.  Entries can be in any written form including poems, short stories, raps or newspaper articles, with a 500 word limit.

There are four age categories:

  • primary school,
  • lower secondary school (age 11-14),
  • upper secondary school (age 15-18)
  • care leavers (age 19-25).
  • Entries will be judged by a panel of high-profile authors, poets and presenters:

  • Kit de Waal, the award-winning author of My Name is Leon which tells the story of a vulnerable young boy who is taken into care
  • Jarvis, whose book Alan’s Big Scary Teeth was selected by the BookTrust to be distributed to children across the country
  • Kiran Millwood-Hargrave, the Waterstones Children’s Book award-winner for 2017
  • Mr Gee, the Sony Gold award-winning poet, comedian and presenter
  • Ashley John-Baptiste, care leaver and ground-breaking BBC reporter, who was shortlisted for the Royal Television Society Young Talent Of The Year award in 2018
  • Alice Broadway, best-selling Young Adult Fiction author of the Skinbooks Trilogy
  • Jenny Molloy, care leaver and inspiring novelist, author of the Times bestseller, Hackney Child
  • Ric Flo, care leaver, innovative rap artist and creative director of the hip-hop collective Jungle Brown
  • Louise, who was a runner up in last year’s competition and met the Queen in December, said: “I entered Voices 2018 on a whim and I’m glad I did! Since entering, I was fortunate enough to read my entry for the Queen. This was a scary experience however getting to share my experience as a care leaver with the Queen was a privilege. I am passionate about making the voices of care experienced people heard and I am very thankful for this
    experience.”

    Previous competition entrants said that participating had inspired them to write more, made them feel appreciated and valued for their talents and helped them to express their emotions about being in care.* One young writer said: “The competition is a safe opportunity to share your personal story – it’s a wonderful way to embrace your history and yourself”, while
    another added “to put what you feel on a piece of paper is quite therapeutic.”

    Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice said, “We are delighted to launch our Voices competition for the fourth year running and can’t wait to see children and young people’s amazing entries.. We are continually inspired by the talent of the young people, their creativity is immense and we hope their stories improve understanding of their experiences.”

    Entries can be submitted on the Coram Voice website until 10 February 2019.

    Does this Poster Spark Joy?

    Inspired by the new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Click on the image below to save a copy of the poster.   School Library Edition Once you have tidied your living area you will have more space for Library books!

    The Third Degree with David Owen

    David Owen’s latest book, All The Lonely People, is released on 10th January. It is a fantastic read with a fascinating premise: can you be so lonely that you actually disappear? There are two main characters, who rarely meet but their paths are entwined when Wesley’s “friends” choose Kat as a target for an online hate campaign with the intention of hounding her off the internet. Kat (like me as a teenager tbh) only feels like she can be herself online, and so as she deletes her accounts she herself begins to fade in real life. The Kat storyline resonated but Wesley’s side was the outstanding side for me – he’s trying to find a place to fit in but has chosen a toxic community that he realises he doesn’t agree with but fears he’s in too deep to get out. I was so impressed with his confused and also lonely voice, and hope it isn’t too much of a spoiler to say I was very pleased with his redemption without forgiveness. It is a brilliant examination of the damage of toxic masculinity and the ease with which lonely boys can be indoctrinated by misogynistic online groups, something I’ve not seen in YA before, as well as a touching look at the prevalence of lonliness in teens and how important it is to remember that no one has it together but some people fake it better. There is no “get off the internet and find a real friend” moral, but it does lead the reader to think about the potential pitfalls of social media use.

    In fact, I loved it so much that I pinned him down to ask a few questions:

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

    All the Lonely People is about online culture, did you spend a lot of your teenage years online?

    Waaay too much time! I was part of the first generation to grow up with online culture. I spent an inordinate amount of time in chat rooms and forums, and I had LiveJournal, MySpace, and was an early adopter of Facebook. I’ve been online since I was about ten years old. 

    I spent most of my online time on an RPG video game forum that had quite a small but very active community. The opinions of these people came to really matter to me. If I said something stupid or accidentally broke a rule there, I’d feel bad about it for days. It was so stupid! That was my first taste of how an online life can have a significant impact on your wellbeing.  

    Do you have any words of wisdom for teenagers, like Kat, who feel like their online presence is more important than their real world presence?

    I’m not sure about words of wisdom. It’s so easy for me to encourage people to disconnect a little and not take it quite so seriously, but the reality is very different. Social media is such an integral part of the lives of young people now, much more so than when I was a teenager. There is a sense that if you’re not online, or if you don’t get enough attention there, you don’t exist. And one wrong move can be instantly seen by the entire world. 

    I suppose all I can say is to encourage teenagers to seek out people, whether online or in the ‘real world’, who share similar values, who have similar interests, and who will treat them with kindness. Those are the people that matter, rather than striving to gain the approval of people who don’t care about you. Use your online presence to enhance your life – if the negatives begin to outweigh the positives, it’s time to reassess how you use the internet. 

    What inspired the title?

    It is shamelessly lifted from the Beatles song ‘Eleanor Rigby’. I listened to it a lot while I was writing the book, because it’s such a terrifically melancholy song, and quite succinctly sums up the isolating experience of loneliness. And, of course, it fitted in well with the Lonely People group in the story, and the idea that more people than you realise are struggling with feeling alone. 

    Your day job as a journalist obviously involves a lot of writing, how easy is it to switch between researching for articles and writing fiction?

    Switching between the two modes of writing isn’t something I find too difficult. They’re sufficiently different that my brain can easily differentiate them. The fact I go to an office for my day job and then write fiction at my desk at home also helps! The only real problem is time and tiredness – after a day of work, especially one that’s involved a lot of writing, the last thing I want to do is sit down at a computer and write some more, even if it is something different. So sometimes fiction has to wait. 

    You’ve chaired a few panels at events in recent years, who were your favourite panellists and what would you love to chair next?

    I’m going to give a cop out answer here and say I’ve loved everybody I’ve chaired – but it’s true. It was an honour to chair Melvin Burgess because he’s such a titan of YA fiction and listening to him talk is fascinating. Taran Matharu talks really eloquently about fantasy fiction, and Alice Oseman was also a delight to chair. 

    I’d love to chair a panel of authors of really weird YA fiction – like Andrew Smith, Margo Lanagan, M. T. Anderson, authors that really push what YA can be. I think that would be really interesting.  

    If you go into schools, do you prefer writing workshops or author talks?

    I like a mix of both! A talk is a good way to introduce yourself and your books and talk about the things that really matter to you to hopefully get them thinking. But not many school kids want to be talked at for an hour straight, and doing workshops is a great way to keep them engaged and to encourage a love for reading and writing, which is ultimately what we’re trying to do. Young people are so creative, I think authors often get more out of the workshops than they do!


    What are you currently reading and who would you recommend it to?

    I’ve just (figuratively) cracked the new Alex Wheatle novel ‘Home Girl’, which is the next in his brilliant Crongton series. They’re such unique books, packed with the types of characters we don’t see enough in YA, and the writing is just brilliant. I’d recommend to pretty much anyone, but particularly to people who are cynical about YA and how tremendously powerful it can be. 

    What are you hoping 2019 will bring?

    In books? Better representation of marginalised voices, better coverage of children’s books in the national press, and for our libraries to be protected. In the world? For everything to be significantly less terrible.

    I also wouldn’t mind All the Lonely People being a bestseller…

    You won’t regret it!

    Jason Reynolds – event review

    I wasn’t able to attend the event that Waterstones Piccadilly hosted on Friday 30th November but I told a colleague about it, having recommended his books to her, and she jumped at the chance to go, saying “I couldn’t get Michelle Obama tickets but this will do!”. I asked her if she’d write a few words about the event for us (thankyou Tracey!)

    Attending this author event was very different to most I have been to because Jason Reynolds didn’t actually read from his book For Every One, but had a conversation with the audience and Mark Maciver who chaired the talk. He spoke about his journey as a writer, his mother, travelling around England and meeting a few unicorns (basically Black British people who were young and wrote poetry). It was very clear that he was soaking up cultures, conversations and experiences on his book tour and he was definitely reflecting on how important it is to be truthful. A very poignant moment was when he described how he didn’t enjoy classic literature and his mother had said who actually made that a classic? This led onto him to simply saying that if you don’t see yourself and your life reflected in literature how can you engage with something so different to your life. Rap music was so important to him as a young man and that was never part of the literary narrative of any character in a book, so to take an interest in Shakespeare was not on the agenda. Once you engage with stories that you get, then you are open to new experiences and able to appreciate what others may see. His honesty about not knowing things that authors are supposed to know, such as what are semi-colons for – which obviously made the audience laugh – was truly refreshing. For Every One is probably the best book by Jason Reynolds to read first if you are not familiar with his work, as it is beautiful, poetic, accessible, and very short.


    His other title recently published in the UK, Long Way Down, is on the current nominations list for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards – Carnegie for his writing and the Kate Greenaway for the wonderfully evocative illustrations by Chris Priestly. Knights Of will be publishing his 4 book middle grade series, The Run, next year.

    Black History Month Ideas: African American Spies, from the Revolution to the CIA

    The CIA has an incredibly interesting article available on their site titled Black Dispatches: Black American Contributions to Union Intelligence During the Civil War

    It provides details about African-American spies and the work they did to provide intelligence for the Union.

    Spies ranged from Harriet Tubman, better known for her work in helping escaped slaves find their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad to William A. Jackson – a slave in the Confederacy’s presidential household who provided invaluable information to his northern contacts. You can find out about more Civil War spies here.

    Still with the CIA, they have a list of operatives who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country: https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2014-featured-story-archive/remembering-cias-african-american-heroes.html

    Other agents include James Armistead  a slave of William Armistead in New Kent County, Virginia, he volunteered to spy for the Continental army commander General Lafayette. James became a servant to British general Lord Cornwallis, who asked him to spy on the Americans! As a double agent, James gave unimportant information to Cornwallis, while keeping Lafayette informed about British troop strength and positions. James Armistead remained enslaved after the war. In 1784, Lafayette wrote to theVirginia General Assembly, describing his valuable service and asking that he be freed. In 1786, he was freed—and from then on, he called himself James Lafayette.

    Born into extreme poverty in St Louis Missouri Josephine Baker went on to become a vaudeville star, was recruited into an all black dance troupe and went to Paris. In 1940 she became a spy for the French Resistance, while she picked up intelligence at parties, her fellow secret agent Jacques Abtey, masquerading as her assistant, recorded the information in invisible ink on her sheet music.

    On her return to the USA she fought segregation across the states and ended up on an FBI watch list.

    Activity Idea:

    There are several methods one can use to make invisible ink:

  • Lemon juice & water – made visible by heating paper
  • Baking soda in water – made visible with dark fruit juice concentrate
  • Write with white crayon – made visible paint over with watercolors

    Once you have decided which technique to use encourage attendees to choose a spy, or more than one if they are feeling adventurous and create an invisible drawing of the agent or write a secret message to a friend hidden in another message.

    They could even create a cipher and make an invisible, encoded message.

  • Black History Month Ideas: The Tuskegee Airmen

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    Black History Month began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African Diaspora. In the US Black History Month is celebrated in February, in the UK it is observed in October.

    This is the first in a series of posts about ideas of activities for BHM 2019 that I am planning on running. I am putting them on TeenLibrarian so that others can make use of them if they so choose.

    Tuskegee Airmen Activity

    The Tuskegee Airmen were African American pilots who fought in World War 2.

    I am planning on introducing them to young library patrons that may never have heard of them, via a display of books and possibly showing one of the films that have been made as well as giving them the opportunity to construct a paper model of a P51 Mustang flown by the Airmen in many of their missions.

    Thai Paperwork have made their model of a P51D Mustang free to download here  it is a fairly complicated model to construct so for younger participants the models below may be more appropriate.

    The Kid Scraps Mustang model is available here 

    Paper Model Airplane also has a simpler version of the P51 Mustang to download here

    Books about the Tuskegee Airmen

  • Who were the Tuskegee Airmen? By Sherri L. Smith
  • The Tuskegee Airmen by Sarah E. De Capua.
  • You can Fly: the Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Red Tail captured, Red Tail free : memoirs of a Tuskegee airman and POW by Alexander Jefferson
  • The Red Tails : World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen by Steven L. Jones
  • Tuskegee Airman : the biography of Charles E. McGee : Air Force fighter combat record holder by Charlene E. McGee Smith 
  • Tales of Famous Heroes by Peter and Connie Roop
  • Black Wings : courageous stories of African Americans in aviation and space history by Von Hardesty
  • Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen by Thomas Reilly & Lynn M. Homan
  • Dreaming Eagles by Garth Ennis & Simon Coleby (graphic novel / fiction)
  • DVDs

  • The Tuskegee Airmen
  • Red Tails
  • The Tuskegee Airmen

  • Christmas Books on Television Times December 2018

    Helen Smith the Learning Resources Manager at Eckington School has produced her annual literary television guide for December

    Download (PDF, 3.91MB)

    British Museum Manga マンガ Exhibition

    In association with The National Art Center, Tokyo and the Organisation for the Promotion of Manga and Anime; The British Museum is putting on the LARGEST display of Manga to ever take place outside of Japan!

    I have been a huge fan of manga (and anime) for years and am also a big fan of the British Museum – they have done some of my favourite exhibitions over the years and the Manga Exhibition looks like it will be amazing!

    It is typical that they would wait until I left the country, but even though I will be unable to go – you should really take the time to book tickets and immerse yourself in one of Japan’s best-known exports! 

    The exhibit will run from 23rd May until 26th August and will introduce the historical roots of manga, including woodblock prints by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), and their influence on anime, games and cosplay.

    Among the original manga pieces to be put on display is the late Osamu Tezuka’s Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy), Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, Moto Hagio’s Po no Ichizoku (The Poe Clan) and Akiko Higashimura’s Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish).

    For more details follow this link:  https://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/manga.aspx

    Guest Post: Show Stealer by Hayley Barker, Blog Tour


    As part of the blog tour for Hayley Barker’s , Show Stealer, sequel to Show Stopper, she shared this playlist with Teen Librarian.

    If you love these songs I’m sure you’ll love this book!

    I loved making this playlist so much. It reminded me of when I was a teenager, way back in the dark ages, when we made mix tapes of our favourite songs and played them again and again and again.

    It didn’t take long to come up all the songs. Some of them were in my head all along, the whole time I was writing and others just seemed a natural fit. I always find myself relating lyrics to an experience I’ve had, or an imaginative scenario I make up in my head, so I’ve already got a long list of songs in my head that fit pretty much every emotion out there.

    1. Bryan Adams, Everything I do (I do it for you): I realise I’ve picked a bit of a cheesy one for my first choice but, really, there’s no other song I can think of that fits the start of Show Stealer so well. Just like Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood (who I was more than a little in love with back in the day) would willingly lay down and die for his Maid Marian, so Ben risks everything save Hoshiko, Greta and Jack. It’s not a big decision he’s suddenly faced with—for him, there’s no choice there to make.
    1. The Doors, People are Strange: Early in the novel, Hoshi, Greta and Jack are forced to seek asylum in the great London slums which are so lawless and violent that even the police avoid entering them. This song captures perfectly the feeling of paranoia and unease they have as they tread through the sprawling metropolis of decay searching for someone who might be willing and able to offer them asylum.
    1. The Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil: Once he’s captured, Ben finds himself back in an even darker and deadlier version of the Cirque and comes face to face with more than one old foe. The devil in this song is a “man of wealth and taste” who has manifested himself in various ways across the centuries, looking for souls to tempt and evil to spread. There’s definitely a character in Show Stealer whose behaviour leaves Ben, and Hoshi both wondering more than once if he actually “really is the devil himself.”
    1. Guns and Roses, Welcome to the Jungle: One man controls the London slums; the ambiguous Kadir, who has a jewelled tooth and maintains order with violence and savagery. In this jungle, he’s the king of the beasts.
    1. Billy Joel, Angry Young Man: There are two very angry young men in Show Stealer. Fragile and voiceless they’ve grown up watching helplessly as those they love suffer in the cruel and unfair society they live in. Every angry young man started life as a frightened little boy who struggled to be heard. Terrorists, suicide bombers, violent criminals–more often than not they’ve been failed and let down so much in their life that all they know is hatred.
    1. Richard Gere, Razzle Dazzle: Just like Silvio Sabatini, the savage and syrupy ringmaster who dominates Show Stopper and may, or may not, return in Show Stealer (!), Billy Flynn, the lawyer in Chicago is unscrupulous and immoral but, boy, he sure knows how to put on a show!
    1. Michelle Williams, Tightrope: My working title for Show Stopper was Tightrope and it symbolises so many aspects of both books. Hoshiko literally walks the tightrope in the circus and Ben and Hoshiko walk it metaphorically in so many ways–always balancing precariously, always at risk, always about to fall. I think this song belongs more to Ben that Hoshi. He gives everything up for her and never regrets it, not for a second.
    1. Meghan Trainor and John Legend, Like I’m Gonna lose You: When situations are intense, things happen so much more quickly. From the moment they meet, the threat of death looms over Ben and Hoshiko. There’s no time for games, no time for a long and complicated courtship, they just have to love each other as hard as they can for as long as they can.
    1. Labi Siffre, Something Inside so Strong This song is the one that I listened to again and again when I was writing both books in this series and the song that has inspired me more than any. Labi Siffre wrote it as an outcry against apartheid but it is a song that speaks for all people who resist the yoke of oppression, never allowing it to break them, knowing that right and goodness are on their side.
    1. Smokey Robinson, The Tears of a Clown: There are clowns in Show Stealer and, just like the sad song in this story, their painted on smiles don’t do a very good job at concealing the pain and anguish they are feeling inside.
    1. James, She’s A Star: the first time Ben sees Hoshiko, she’s dancing on a wire across the night sky. Her name means child of the stars, and, for him at least she is a star: A light burning bright in the darkness and showing him the way.
    1. Sara Bareilles, Brave: It’s not always easy to stand up and say what you really think and feel, and sometimes it’s safer not to. In Show Stopper and Show Stealer, Ben and Hoshiko both learn to be brave and to speak out despite the danger it places them into.
    1. The Beatles, Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite. There’s something about a Circus and the Beatles that so well in this unique and quirky song.
    1. The Scorpions, Wind of Change: This song was written after the fall of the Berlin Wall and is about the shared sense of joy and reverence felt after something so wonderful that nobody had even really dared hope for it has actually happened. At one point in Show Stealer, a breakthrough is made that’s so significant that Hoshiko says: “There’s something powerful in the air: something palpable, like we’re all connected. It feels like the end of something. It feels like the beginning.” Those lines were directly inspired by this song.
    1. Pete Seeger; We Shall Overcome”: This song became an anthem of the civil rights movement in America. I use the lyrics directly in Show Stopper because no other words represent so well the determination, unity and self-belief of the circus family which Hoshiko, and then Ben, become a part of.
    1. Rachel Platten, Fight Song: I hope that both of the Show Stopper novels are, ultimately, uplifting, and that both carry the message that sometimes we all have to stand up and fight for what is right.
    1. Pink What About Us: A song about voices which refuse to be silenced, which demand answers and call out for justice.
    1. Les Miserable Cast, Do you Hear the People Sing: The characters in Les Miserables have been part of a revolution and are determined never to “be slaves again.” I hope that some of the sense of unity and liberation this song evokes is also there in some of the later parts of Show Stealer.
    1. Queen: The Show Must Go On. Every performer in the Cirque has to perform, even if their heart is breaking inside. This song is so sad and beautiful and Freddie Mercury’s voice portrays perfectly the despair and agony of the clown who, under his mask of make-up, is “aching to be free.”

    So, that’s my playlist. It’s an unusual one, I know, as eclectic and varied as my own music tastes. Just like I did with my old mix tapes, I’ve played it on repeat pretty much ever since I made it and I haven’t got bored yet. I hope you don’t either.