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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.

The Hand of an Angel

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Feminist Fiction

I have to tell you about Angie Thomas and THUG and the Black Girls Book Club, but also about Feminist Book Fortnight which begins TODAY! I considered spamming you all with multiple blog posts on my first day on the job, then thought about it and realised that they’re so perfectly linked that I should just combine them.

On Thursday night, Matt and I went along to SAMA Bankside in Blackfriars for a small party celebrating Angie Thomas’s ‘The Hate you Give’ which, I’m sure you already know, is a powerful story of a young black woman in America dealing with the aftermath of witnessing a police shooting (of her best friend) alongside reconciling her school life with her home life. It is shortlisted for Carnegie and won the 2018 Waterstones children’s book prize. She gave us a bit of information about her next book, On the Come Up, that sounds to be about another strong female and her efforts to break into the patriarchal rap industry while dealing with her mum losing her job. It was wonderful to meet Angie, and chat to librarian colleagues and familiar faces from Walker, but I was also really pleased to meet some members of the Black Girls Book Club. They had collaborated with Walker to host Angie Thomas at an event and spread the word about her outstanding novel, but they don’t focus solely on newly published work. I was blown away by in their passion regarding the back catalogue of fiction written by black women over the years, and am going to be getting touch with them about having some of them as guest speakers at a CILIP YLG London event about what we should definitely have in our libraries. This segues nicely into my interest in Feminist Book Fortnight, which is an inaugural but hopefully annual event organised by independent bookshops to highlight feminist works by women writers. I intend to only read relevant books from my TBR pile, starting with Yaba Badoe’s ‘A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars’. What will you read?

Home Boys ~ Alex Wheatle

home boys.jpgFour friends decide to run away from the horror of their everyday lives in a children’s home in the English countryside. They head for the woods, their sense of freedom surprises them, and for the first time they feel the exhilaration of adolescence. Yet the forest slowly asserts its own power and what happens there will affect the four boys’ lives forever.

My initial reaction when picking up Home Boys was the thought that this was going to be an upsetting read with no joy or redemption contained within the pages. I was wrong! Home Boys is bleak and hard to read, but it is also a beautifully written, opening with grief and loss in the mid 1980’s as we are introduced the major players of this drama it then dives further back the 1970’s where the boys’ story begins. As hard and uncompromising as it was, Home Boys ends on a note of hope that I did not see coming, friendships and love built over years endure beyond what many people expect and continues past the story ending.

Alex Wheatle, always a gripping writer has given us an important work about life as a kid in care in the 1970’s and how brutality and abuse within the system can continue to distort and destroy lives down the years. Where Home Boys shines are in the interactions between the friends, capturing the love, anger, growing tensions and everything else that bubbles up within adolescent peer groups.

Wheatle weaves in the overt racism of the 1970’s and does not shy away from the language and brutality that still lingers just beneath the surface of society to this day. Home Boys is an important read – to help us face the cruelty and mistreatment that was prevalent in many care homes of the recent past, as well as the abuses people of colour still face to this day.

Home Boys by Alex Wheatle is published by Arcadia books and is available now

Judge Read: The Shadowing

I have been working on a Judge Dredd/CKG parody mash-up for the past few years. Today I am proud to unveil the first, and probably only Judge Read adventure:

Disclaimer: Judge Dredd is published weekly in the 2000AD Comic and is © Rebellion.
Judge Dredd was created by John Wagner (writer) Carlos Ezquerra (artist) & Pat Mills (editor)

Engaging Students using Technology in the Library with Lucas Maxwell

The Third Degree with Catherine Johnson

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

You have a new book coming out soon – Freedom, based in England at the time of the Zong trial. Can you tell me more about the book?

It’s one of a series published by Scholastic that looks at major turning points in history. I was asked to do abolition (of slavery) but I argued that since that took at least fifty years – the mind of the british public was very slow to change – I would do one of the things that kicked off that change. And I was aware loads of people had heard of Wilberforce but maybe that fewer people had heard of the Sons of Africa, a group of campaigning Black Britons, freed slaves, American veterans of the War of Independence, and others who worked to end the inhumanity of slavery.

The blurb taught me something new – much like Nathaniel I was always under the impression that once a slave set foot on English soil he was free, but after the blurb I looked it up and according to English common law while technically no longer a slave they were still bound to their masters until the abolition of the slave trade. Why do you think that a majority of people in the UK are ignorant of whole swathes of UK history except on a superficial level?

Er- Brexit is a prime example of this. We forget the ends of our own noses! I think every nation likes to tell its own story, and as a woman who grew up with 3 TV channels and endless WW2 films the story of Britains’ exceptionalism is the one we English like best. We say ‘Britain stood alone’, but conveniently forget we had the manpower and resources of India and Pakistain, many African countries, Canada, Australia and the Caribbean to call on. We often forget this too.

Once they have read Freedom can you recommend other sources for people to find out more information about the Zong massacre and the trial that followed? I first heard about it during the film Belle – a fictionalised account of the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle the niece of Lord Mansfield who ruled on the case.

Yes! It’s in Belle isn’t it! For anyone wanting to read more I’d recommend David Olusoga’s Black and British which is very accessible and also very interesting. Also Peter Fryer’s Staying Power.

I have been a fan of your books for years (since Nest of Vipers when you visited one of my reading groups in Edmonton Green), The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo and Sawbones are two of my favourites – it is so refreshing to read historical fiction that has not been white-washed. How much research do you do before you start writing?

I have read and written so much about the 18th century now (and a TV series which got optioned but never made set in 1790s and also a BBC2 docu/drama with Simon Schama called Rough Crossings that was on telly almost 10 years ago, that it’s a question of pulling out all the books. I love London maps of the time too. I like to see where my characters go. I lived very near where Loddiges’ Nursery used to be in East London.

The #OwnVoices movement in the UK is becoming bigger than ever before – are there any books by BAME authors that you can recommend?

Loads! For picture books I’d recommend Ken Wilson Max and Yasmin Shireen, of and I loved John Agard’s Come All You Little Persons illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, and Chitra Soundar’s work too. for first readers I love Atinuke’s Number One Car Spotter series. Other authors include the wonderful Patrice Lawrence, Bali Rai, Irfan Master, Muhammad Khan, Sarwat Chadda, Alex Wheatle and Sita Bramachari. Oh and Savita Kalhan and of course the perenially wonderful Malorie Blackman. And look out for a new UKYA by Danielle Jawando and Aisha Busby, two fresh new voices coming next year.

Do you still visit libraries or schools? If you do what is the best way to get hold of you to organise a visit?

Yes! I am all over the place very often! Contact me via my agent, Stephanie Thwaite at Curtis Brown, or via my Twitter account @catwrote

Lovely to chat Matt!

To find out more about Catherine Johnson and her books, visit her website: http://catherinejohnson.co.uk

Learn more about the Zong Massacre and the subsequent trial here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zong_massacre

Freedom is published by Scholastic and will be out in August

30 Days of Wild

This June the UK Wildlife Trusts are encouraging people to make room for nature, if you register they will send you a pack full of ideas, encouragement and Random Acts of Wildness. You’ll also receive a funky wallchart to track your progress, a wild badge, and regular blasts of inspiration throughout June to help you make nature part of your life.
Now for many librarians during the day at work the closest we get to nature is shooing out wasps, bumblebees and the occasional panicked pigeon that fly in to the library.
However we can participate by signing up and encouraging the people that use the library to do random acts of wildness and enjoy the nature that surrounds us.
I have a number of books on ecology and being a nature detective that I will be using for a display, and of course I will take my daughter out to wander in the woods and discover the wondrous creatures that we live next door to!
To find out more and sign up, visit: www.mywildlife.org.uk/30dayswild/

Supergirl: Being Super

supergirl1

Kara Danvers isn’t any different than any other teenager in her hometown. Problems with school. Problems with boys. Problems with friends. But while growing pains shake up Kara’s world, a series of earth-shaking events hits her hometown, leaving her with with the choice of blending in with the crowd or being different. Being an outcast. Being super. This reimagining of Supergirl will appeal to fans of all ages and readers new and old, as the Girl of Steel flies face-first into the struggles that every teenager faces. Collects SUPERGIRL: BEING SUPER #1-4.

Let me just start by admitting that I am an unabashed fanboy when it comes to Mariko Tamaki‘s writing! She hooked me with the magnificent Skim years ago and her work has just gotten better and better.

Supergirl: Being Super is the first superhero work of hers that I have read and once again she does not disappoint (not that I had any doubts). Tamaki takes the standard origin tropes (baby, sent to earth from a dying planet etc.) and makes them sing. This is not a superhero story, rather it is the story of a young woman growing up in a small rural town in America, attending high school, eating dinner with family, hanging out with her best friends and coming to terms with who she is and her place in the world.

Stories involving superpowers usually present their protagonists as remote, godlike beings, or flawed almost monstrous characters that readers can thrill to but often not identify with. It is the sheer humanity of the characters that lifts this story above other, similar tales; their doubts, fears and the love they have for one another brings them to life and makes them more relatable to the reader.

The story is wonderfully complemented by the illustrations by Joëlle Jones, a brilliant artist whose style fits the story perfectly!

Highly recommended for comic readers of all ages!

Anti Knife Crime Fiction and Resources Lists

Knife crime soared by almost a quarter last year in Britain amid warnings that the reduction in stop and search is fuelling violence on the streets…the police recorded just under 40,000 offences involving a knife in the year ending December 2017 – which was up 22 per cent on the previous year.
~https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/26/latest-crime-statistics-reveal-knife-crime-soaring-stop-search/

Violent crime in England and Wales is rising at an accelerating pace, according to police figures showing a 22% increase in knife crime 
~https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/26/surge-in-knife-offences-fuels-rise-in-violent

The news about knife crime in the UK has been on my mind for a while now, Libraries (both school and public) are well-placed to offer links to information and resources for library uses of all ages. The lists I have compiled are a beginning so if anyone knows of other books or has links to resources not listed below, please leave a message in the comments.

Below is a list of YA fiction titles that about crime and violence involving bladed weapons.

When I Was Joe Keren David
When Ty witnesses a stabbing, his own life is in danger from the criminals he’s named, and he and his mum have to go into police protection. Ty has a new name, a new look and a cool new image – life as Joe is good, especially when he gets talent spotted as a potential athletics star, special training from an attractive local celebrity and a lot of female attention. But his mum can’t cope with her new life, and the gangsters will stop at nothing to flush them from hiding. Joe’s cracking under extreme pressure, and then he meets a girl with dark secrets of her own.

Hello Mum Bernardine Evaristo
“It’s a hot summer afternoon. Tension is in the air. A gang of youths on bikes gathers outside a chip shop. A teenage boy is stabbed and left bleeding on the street. The boy’s mother wonders how this could have happened to her son. She is full of questions, but when the answers lie so close to home, are they really what she wants to hear?”

The Deepest Cut Natalie Flynn
Adam blames himself for his best friend’s death. After attempting suicide, he is put in the care of a local mental health facility. There, too traumatized to speak, he begins to write notebooks detailing the events leading up to Jake’s murder, trying to understand who is really responsible and cope with how needless it was as a petty argument spiralled out of control and peer pressure took ho

The Knife that Killed Me Anthony McGowan
Paul Varderman could be at any normal school – bullies, girls and annoying teachers are just a part of life. Unfortunately ‘normal’ doesn’t apply when it comes to the school’s most evil bully, Roth, a twisted and threatening thug with an agenda quite unlike anyone else. When Paul ends up delivering a message from Roth to the leader of a gang at a nearby school, it fuels a rivalry with immediate consequences. Paul attempts to distance himself from the feud, but when Roth hands him a knife it both empowers him and scares him at the same time .

The Knife of Never Letting Go Patrick Ness
Imagine you’re the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don’t fit in with their plans…
Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run…

Crossing the Line Gillian Phillip
Nick Geddes’s life is a mess. His sister’s boyfriend was killed in a school stabbing. His grandmother is descending into a world of her own, his mother has a ‘god-slot’ on local radio, and his father is drinking way too much. But that is nothing, because he is also crazy in love with Orla, the sister of the boy who has been killed.

Dead Boy Talking Linda Strachan
Josh has 25 minutes left to live.Lying alone in a pool of blood, Josh hasn’t much time to think.Yesterday he stabbed his best mate, and now it’s happened to him.But there are questions he can’t get out of his head. Like how did he get into this mess? Will anyone find him in time? Will his girlfriend forgive him, and what really happened to his older brother?As his life slips away, the events of the last 24 hours start to look very different…

The Passenger Dan Tunstall
Mikey’s trainers are box-fresh Nikes. They’re as white as new snow. White leather, white laces, white soles. But something on the right shoe catches my eye. It’s a tiny circle. The size of a five-pence piece. It’s bright, bright red. Blood.

Teacher’s Dead Benjamin Zephaniah
A teacher is dead, murdered by two of his students in front of the whole school. Right in front of Jackson Jones.
But Mr Joseph was a good man people liked him, respected him. How could those boys stab him and jog away like nothing had happened’
Unable to process what he has seen, Jackson begins his own investigation- everyone knows who did it, but as Jackson uncovers more about the boys, he becomes convinced that people need to understand why.

Knife Crime Resource Links

Safety Box Knife Prevention

The Ben Kinsella Trust

Red Cross Knife Crime Teaching Resources

Teen Knife Crime booklet

Say No 2 Knives

No Knives Better Lives Resources

Knife Crimes Young People & Teachers’ Resources

First Aid

Red Cross: how do you help a stabbing victim?

How to help someone who has been stabbed or is seriously bleeding