Monthly Archives: March 2012

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The Killables by Gemma Malley

Teen Librarian Monthly: The EDGE Edition

The March EDGE Edition of Teen Librarian Monthly is now available! Featuring articles by:
Sara Grant, Savita Kalhan, Paula Rawsthorne, Dave Cousins, Bryony Pearce, Miriam Halahmy, Katie Dale & Keren David

Download it here: TLMMarch2012

Toxic Treacle by Echo Freer

This is a world of the future, a world of oppression, a world run on the strict rules of the toxic T.R.E.A.C.L.E. regime – Training and Resources for Educating Adolescent Children in a Loving Environment.

In writing Toxic Treacle Echo Freer has taken some of the most prevalent problems facing youth in the UK today and placing it in a future not too far removed from our time.

Single-parent families, state intervention in the raising of children and bloody youth violence on the streets. Toxic Treacle is a very British take on the Dystopian genre with lashings of biting satire.

Using teminology that could only have been dreamt up by a committee of spin doctors we have pre-breeders and pre-nurturers (teens), Nurturers (mothers) known as movs in this strange new world, Breeders and Providers the fathers whose only purpose is to provide genetic material for up to three children before going on to lives of work and play.

Monkey is 15 and only weeks away from becoming a Breeder, he cannot wait to move on from his gang-related lifestyle to live the life of his dreams, breeding with Angel and then moving on to becoming a pro-footballer. Lofty goals that many young men of today would wish to emulate. Monkey is a typical teen, desiring male companionship and confused about his feelings for Anel and fears that she will not reciprocate.

When his friend Trevor ‘Tragic’ disappears after a gang fight, Monkey starts to see beyond what the rulers of this new Britain want him to see and starts to understand that there is more to life than his selfish dreams and desires will offer him.

Toxic Treacle is brilliant! Offering believable male and female protagonists and a shift away from plucky freedom fighters rebelling against a monolithic totalitarian state (although there is some of that too). This is a novel about choices, the meaning of love, family and society and change, a change that comes not from a sacrificial figurehead but from ordinary people standing up and demanding change with the ballot not the bullet.

This is also a rare teenage love story told from the boys perspective.

Youth Libraries Group Scotland Spring Conference

A conference for learning professionals and workers interested in innovative approaches to engaging teenagers and young people.

This is a unique opportunity for those working with teenagers and young people, be they library, education, or community workers with a wide cross-section of practitioners and to develop networks.

The programme will include:

  • Librarians v Teenagers; challenging stereotypes
  • Storytelling for Teens workshops run by Bea Ferguson
  • Book Tasting for Teens workshop run by Jane Sandell of YLG Scotland
  • Bali Rai will be engaging us with his writing for teens and young people
  • In addition there will be an exhibition area and a bookshop provided by Scotia books.

    The conference will:

    • Enable us to meet and share good practice with colleagues from different sectors

    • Challenge us to break down the barriers of working with teenagers and young people

    • Inspire us to engage with teenagers and young people in an effective way

    The conference is being held at:

    The Mitchell
    North Street
    Glasgow G3 7DN

    Friday 27th April
    10am to 4pm.

    The cost is £35+ VAT

    No lunch will be provided, however, there will be refreshments available throughout the day

    For further details please contact Jill Reid: jill.reid[at]

    Origami Yoda Poll

    Booked Up Withdrawn

    Booked Up was a national programme that ran for five years from 2007 – 2011.

    Booked Up gave every 11-year-old in England the chance to choose a free book during their first term at secondary school. The aim of the programme was to support and encourage reading for pleasure and independent choice. Year 7 students chose their free book from a list of specially selected titles.

    During its five years, Booked Up distributed over 3.25 million books to children across England.

    Booked Up was run by Booktrust, funded by the Department for Education, and generously supported by children’s book publishers.

    When I was a teen & youth services public librarian I was only peripherally involved with the Booked Up programme, setting up displays in my libraries at the time of the book selections and promoting it in conjunction with teachers and school librarians who brought Year 7 classes in to the library.
    Since becoming a secondary school librarian I was able to see what joy receiving a free book brought to students.

    Now it is gone, in its place Booktrust is offering The School Library Packa brand new programme for young people. This will give school libraries fiction and non-fiction titles, and resources to help staff create a reading culture that reaches all pupils, encouraging pupils to discuss what they are reading and join in activities such as reading groups. This offer replaces the Booked Up programme offered in previous years.

    and Bookbuzz:

    From the team that brought you Booked Up, Bookbuzz offers the same great variety of books for your school. Every student will have the chance to choose their own book, from a list of 17 titles suitable for 11-year-olds and selected by a panel of experts. This exciting new programme from Booktrust is purchasable by schools at a greatly subsidised cost. This is thanks to Booktrust’s not for profit status as a charity and the generous support that we receive from a wide range of children’s publishers.

    This fantastic new programme includes:

  • a book and bookmark for every participating student to keep
  • a set of the Bookbuzz books for your school library
  • access to a website packed with a wealth of information and resources.
  • Participating schools will also receive a kit to support reading for pleasure across the school. This indispensible resource will provide you with all you need to embed reading for pleasure at your school, including:

  • an extra staff set of the Bookbuzz books to support teachers as readers
  • a comprehensive guide to whole school reading
  • tried and tested case studies and tips from other schools
  • With the support of children’s book publishers we are able to offer Bookbuzz at a greatly subsidised cost of only £2.50 per child. A school with 50 participating pupils would cost only £125 and would provide resources worth over £450.

    In the short space of time since the closure was announced I have seen a flurry of e-mails on mailing lists about how this will impact schools that have considerably more than 50 Year 7s. My school is a rather small private one and it has over 60 year 7 students, schools that have more will be harder hit. Budgets are being squeezed everywhere and while it is possible that the money could be found it will more than likely be skimmed off the library budget as many librarians acted as Booked Up coordinators.

    What I fear may happen is that many schools will be unable to afford it and will withdraw from the scheme as they will not be able to afford the overall cost or the time fundraising will take and as many librarians are already involved in fund-raising initiatives

    Offering the programme to a limited number of students is not feasible or fair and there will be complaints from students who have been excluded from the scheme.

    Booked Up was a brilliant initiative, much like the Bookstart programme, it puts books directly into the hands of young people that may not have owned a book since they received their Bookstart pack as a baby. Speaking from experience there is nothing like a freebie to excite people young and old as well as disproving the TINSTAAFL (There Is No such Thing As A Free Lunch – or in this case book) concept.

    The loss of Booked Up is a shame and I do not think that the offered replacement services will measure up to what was achieved in the past five years. The support materials will be of great use to librarians just starting out with whole school reading campaigns and those that may need a refresher.

    For everyone though, from Year 6 students to teachers and librarians who were involved in running it the closure of Booked Up is a minor tragedy, one of the many that exist in the current time of cutting expenditure and shuttering non-essential services.

    As librarians and readers we will endure and find other ways of nurturing a love of books and reading. We will still be able to give readers books but we will just have to remind tehm to return them when they have finished reading them!

    Author Siobhan Curham Running Poetry Competition

    To celebrate the launch of her new book Dear Dylan, Siobhan Curham will be running a poetry competition on her website

    Entrants must be age 10 – 17 and the poems should be based on one of the following themes:

    Friendship: Dear Dylan is the story of a friendship that begins online – in fact the whole novel is made up of emails between the two characters as their friendship grows. Perhaps you would like to write a poem about your own experience of friendship and how important your friends are to you.

    Family: The main character in Dear Dylan, Georgie, hasn’t had the easiest family life. Her father died when she was little and she doesn’t get on with her step-dad at all. There is no denying that families can be very complicated. But they can also be full of love and good times. Maybe you would like to write a poem about your own experience of family life – good or bad, happy or sad…

    Dreams: Georgie dreams of being an actress and the book follows her determination to pursue her dream, no matter what obstacles life – or her step-dad – throw at her. Do you have a burning dream or ambition? Would you like to write a poem about your pursuit of this dream, and the importance of never giving up?

    Please send your submissions to: contact[AT]siobhancurham[DOT]co[DOT]uk by Monday 2nd April. And please give your name and age in your covering email.

    The three winning entrants will each receive a signed copy of Dear Dylan and their poems will be published on her blog in April as part of the official book launch celebrations.

    City Read London Oliver Twisted Competition

    ‘The world according to Oliver Twisted is simple. Vampyres feed on the defenceless, orphans are sacrificed to hungry gods and if a woe-begotten catches your scent it will hunt you forever.’

    City Read London is giving away two copies of Oliver Twisted, JD Sharpe’s new teen horror mash-up. Post your name on their wall, and share this link: to be in with a chance to win. Winners announced on City Read London site tomorrow.

    Blade: Enemies by Tim Bowler

    Meet Blade. But be careful. You may not like what you see. He’s dangerous. He needs to be. Because there people who want him dead.

    It’s dog eat dog in his world. Win or die. He thought he was safe. But now they’ve found out where is. And they’re coming.

    I will just state for the record that I am a massive Tim Bowler fan. I love what he does with ordinary words – he puts them together in such a way that they weave a compelling narrative that sucks you in keeps you gripped to the very end.

    I am by nature a law-abiding citizen, I have respect for the organs of state and that includes the police force. Yet by the close of the first chapter of Enemies, I had developed such a hatred of the policeman that was grilling a young Blade in the lock up that I was hoping he would get shanked. In five pages Mr Bowler made me identify with a seven year-old and turned me into a police-hating Blade fan.

    The rest of the book was even better! Terse, exciting prose with a protagonist that broke the fourth wall and addresses the reader throughout the novel, cluing us in to what he is doing and why. It is quite possible that blade is an unreliable narrator, he openly admits to being a liar and gives us the choice to follow him or wig out and let him go his own way.

    We have all seen or know teenagers like Blade, hard, solitary beings who want or need no-one, at least on the surface. Enemies lets us in to Blade’s thoughts and shows us his distrust and loneliness. Enemies is a brilliant set-up to a series, Blade has many powerful enemies but we do not know who they are or why they are following him, we do not even know who he really is or what he has done.

    Enemies is noir for teenagers, Blade is no Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe but he has his own moral code and although his instincts warn against it he cannot turn away a damsel in distress even though the forces arrayed against him are cast and powerful.

    Enemies is the beginning of an epic quest set against the dirty streets of a modern world, where a boy must stand alone to stay free and battle against his darker instincts that threaten to drag him down!

    Enemies was previously published in two parts as Blade: Playing Dead and Blade: Closing In.

    Laura Jarratt: Why I wrote Skin Deep

    In the first instance I wanted to write a book that teenage readers would want to read and re-read. A page-turner that would stay with them. And the inspiration for that was a book I read when I was thirteen: The Changeover by Margaret Mahy. I adored that book and its characters. Before I wrote Skin Deep I saw some reviews of The Changeover on Amazon from people who’d read it years ago like me and still remembered it and loved it. I knew I wanted to write a book like that, where you could be a crazy little bit in love with the male mc and also totally rooting for the female mc.

    So I sat down to think about how I could write this page-turner that readers would remember and then promptly forgot all about that as I met Jenna and Ryan. They took over and I wanted to let them tell their stories in their own way. So writing the book became much less calculating than it initially sounds. There they were with their respective problems: when I put them together on the page, Skin Deep is what happened. I didn’t set out to write a book that preached a message. Any message a reader gets from Skin Deep is one they discover as a result of spending time with Jenna and Ryan and walking in their shoes. Neither of them is perfect; they have their flaws as do all the characters in the book.

    There is one factor that crucially influenced the direction of the book. Jenna’s accident didn’t initially open the book until a friend sent me a link to a clip of The X-Factor. It was Susan Boyle’s first performance and my friend thought it was inspirational. I didn’t. I was disgusted by how the judges and audience reacted to Susan when she first came on stage. After that, we had a vigorous discussion (read slight argument) about how people are judged on appearances. It was then I decided to bring in Jenna’s disfigurement at the very start rather than it being something that happened in the past so the reader could better see how it had changed her.

    Whenever I write a book I really have two desires: one is to entertain and the other is to make the reader walk a mile in the moccasins of my characters. I don’t see those as two separate desires but as two twinned essentials which must exist in the book for me to feel satisfied with it. If my characters don’t have something of value to say, then I’m not happy with my book. It’s not about preaching but about opening up someone else’s world for the reader to visit.