Monthly Archives: June 2012

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Teen Librarian Monthly June 2012

The June edition of Teen Librarian Monthly is now available to download here:

tlmjune 2012

CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards

Today history was made! For the first time in over 20 years the same author has won the Carnegie award for the second consecutive year (Patrick Ness) and for the first time in the history of the awards the same book has won both the Carnegie and the Kate Greenaway Awards.

The best part of the ceremony (for me anyway) was that I was there! It is the first time I have attended a CKG Awards ceremony and it was fantastic! I was in a massive room at the Barbican surrounded by fellow librarians, publicists, publishers, authors and several shadowing groups and there was an amazing buzz in the air. I was chatting to Karen Robinson – CKG judge & soon to be chair of the judging panel and mentioned that I had seen that e-mail notifications of the winners had gone out, she was dismayed and said she hoped I had not read the e-mails (I hadn’t) and that I would be happy with the choices.

Rachel Levy, current judging chair gave an impassioned speech on libraries and books giving hope followed by a speech by Phil Bradley CILIP president about reading as a child and being introduced to the Carnegie short-list.

the videos of the judges speaking about the books on the short-lists were fantastic and the acceptance speeches by Jim Kay and Patrick Ness were impassioned and from the heart.

Patrick’s speech was slightly more circumspect than his 2011 speech but he was particularly scathing about volunteer run libraries, Ed Vaizey (“how would he feel about having his appendix removed by a volunteer surgeon? It would save money by not having to pay his salary after” – that got a laugh) and Michael Gove.

What shone through in Jim & Patrick’s speeches was a love of reading, libraries and a positive view of young people. I felt like standing and applauding when Patrick made his views on how young people are treated known, how the negative is magnified and the positive things they do is marginalised and ignored. We need more high-profile public figures to be more outspoken about all the good things that are accomplished by the young people of today.

Hell I am going to be more outspoken, I work with teens out of choice and am going to start celebrating their accomplishments!

The awards were well-chosen and Patrick, Jim and Siobhan are all deserving of them, it was said that this was one of the strongest short-lists in years and it must have been a difficult decision to make, but it was the right decision!

Guardian article on the creation of A Monster Calls

Another Guardian article – this time about the CKG Award Ceremony

Raspberry Pi

I first mentioned the Raspberry Pi back in November

I was fortunate to be one of the early bookers and received my Pi in the week before half-term. As advertised it is about the size of a credit card and unless you have a love of all things techy it is not much to look at.

To prevent damage I bought a case from the Shropshire Linux Users Group and turned what looked like a piece of leftover circuit board into a sexy piece of kit! Ok maybe not sexy but pretty damn awesome!

The Raspberry Pi will not replace desktop computing, and that is not its function. I have started speaking to the IT department in my school and have made overtures to the Design & technology department as they have a laser cutter and I have the beginnings of an idea that may end up in the students crafting their own Pi cases as well as running a programming group at school.

I am hoping to launch it at a talk about open source computing that I have been asked to give to the IT classes here next year.

I have high hopes for the Raspberry Pi, and do not think that I will be disappointed.

Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks Blog Tour : FAMILY : Wednesday 13th June: Hairstyle of the Day

I think this one needs to be your Mum’s hair – tidy but not necessarily stylish – could you copy it? Would you want to? Go on – have a go – do her hair – be her for a day…

Family. Family. Family.

What a minefield?

And when you’re a teenager it’s like someone flicks this switch and everything that was warm and comforting about your family becomes like nails down a blackboard. You can’t even watch them eat without wanting to KILL THEM.

I can remember watching my mother drinking a cup of tea and having to leave the room because the way she did it was so irritating! And your family in public? Oh…so much worse. If we could just keep them in the house and not allow them out until you turn 25 – life would be so much better! I think if you can name all this stuff and laugh at it too then it can really help. It stops the feeling of isolation of ‘nobody’s family is more embarrassing than mine’.

In Dads, Geeks Sadie’s family is perhaps more extreme – being in such close proximity – than other families.

But all of your parents have friends don’t they? And they all talk – we know that. You leave the room and they’re talking about the latest things you’ve been up to . In my family my poor older sister’s exploits were legendary; the time she went to a David Bowie concert and was in a stampede and came back with only one shoe, the time she caught the wrong train home and had to fling herself out of a moving train at our station because possible death was preferable to the wrath of my parents etc., but by the time it got to me nobody noticed what I was doing. I was completely off the hook which of course was very unfair.


Dark & Sinister: an Interview with Barry Hutchison

Hi Barry, I hear you have launched an independent publishing company named Dark & Sinister – would you care to tell us a bit more about it?

Dark & Sinister is a new type of publishing company specialising in digital horror. We’re looking at finding new ways of taking advantage of digital technology to bring our readers into the worlds of our stories. So rather than bring out a 60,000 ebook and wait to see if it sells, we’ll be bringing out ongoing weekly installments of 8,000 – 10,000 words each, backed up by web content, audio, video and even apps.
To give you one example of what I mean by that, let’s say you’re reading an episode of our first series – THE BUG – and are interested in a minor character who appears for a few paragraphs. You’ll be able to go online and follow that character’s story leading up to the point they appear in the main story, and then follow them afterwards, too. So you’ll be able to see scenes from a different perspective, and learn things about the main ongoing story you may not have picked up on otherwise.

As I say, that’s just one example. Many of the ideas we have for how else to enhance the stories are quite “out there”, and need to be refined a bit before we unleash them on the world. We have big plans, though, and digital provides the opportunity to put those plans into action.

I see that you are going down the crowd-sourced funding route via Indiegogo – for those that are not aware of crowd-funding would you be able to explain how it all works?

Essentially creators or whoever post up an idea they want to develop and need to raise finance for. In that past they’d take that idea to a bank manager or whoever, but thanks to the internet anyone in the world can contribute funds and help make projects happen. In return, the creator usually offers a range of perks which contributors get in return for putting in some cash. Our perks include a severed foot, a manuscript critique, and a kiss on the lips. Oh and badges. Lots and lots of badges.

Why did you make the decision to go the indie route?

I love print books, and I love the work publishers do. Print books are pretty much my favourite things in the world, and my house is filled to bursting with them. That said, there are certain things that digital is better suited for, and I think the major publishers have their hands tied at the moment with regards how much they can take advantage of that. They produce print books first and foremost, with the ebook edition playing an increasingly large part.

So a large publisher has to put out electronic versions of their print books, and there are certain lengths and formats print books tend to have to stick to. By skipping out the print book stuff, we’re suddenly not bound to stick to those templates. THE BUG, for example, is following the comic book publishing model with six “episodes” or “issues” and then a collected edition at the end of that run. It’s not just a case of serialising a single story, either. These episodes are written almost like episodes of a big budget TV show like LOST or 24. There’s a hook at the start, and a cliffhanger at the end, with each six episode series tying some of the strands of the story arc, but leaving others to run on to series two.
And so… er… in answer to your question, the indie route allows much more flexibility and gives us the freedom to experiment in a way that larger publishers often can’t.

Will you still be writing for other publishers or will you stay with the creator-owned publishing model?

I still have a number of books to be published by HarperCollins, and I have no plans to stop writing for other publishers as long as they’ll continue to publish me! As I say, I think what Dark & Sinister is aiming to do is quite a different thing to what print publishers are doing, so it’s the equivalent of a newspaper journalist who also runs a news blog – there’s some crossover, of course, but they’re two disparate things for potentially very different markets. The stuff I’m personally writing for Dark & Sinister is for adult readers, too, whereas I’m very happy continuing to write for children and teens with my other publishers.

How will the money raised via Indiegogo be used?

The money will be used in a number of ways. Firstly, I want to build a solid website with which to run the whole venture from. So this would act as the central hub for the books, their spin-off sites, the community stuff we have planned, etc, etc. That, as I’ve discovered, doesn’t come cheap.
Because quality control is so important in indie publishing, some of the money will go towards professional services like editing, proof-reading, cover design, etc. For the audio stuff we’ll also need to pay voice talent and recording expenses, then there are fees for the writers who will be developing stories with us, marketing costs, the cost of the perks themselves, etc, etc. We’re also looking into doing the occasional one-off print version of some of our titles, with a run of around 100 copies, so some of the money may go towards that, too. I’m trying to raise $10,000 (Indiegogo is a US-based site and works in dollars) but with all the costs involved we’ll have to monitor every penny of that.

What can we expect from Dark & Sinister?

A finely-balanced combination of high-tech innovation, and good old fashioned scares. To me, horror is the most interactive of all the genres, sucking you in like Al Pacino in the Godfather III. It’s the perfect genre for a lot of the things we’re trying to do. Plus horror fans are some of the most hardcore passionate fans in the world!

How can readers, fans and librarians get involved?

The obvious answer is by donating money at but obviously in these times of austerity not everyone has cash to spare. You can help by going along to that page and using the buttons to share it on Twitter, Facebook or to your friends on email. Spreading the word, talking about the project, reading the free previews I’m posting and discussing them with other people – all these things help raise awareness of the campaign, and of what we’re trying to do. There’s a newsletter on our website – Just signing up to that is another way of helping, so there’s lots you can do without it costing you a penny.

Although, that said, you can donate as little as $2 (about £1.40) and get my eternal thanks and a potential kiss on the lips in return…

Lighting the Future

Presentations and blog posts are being added to the Lighting the Future site here:

Lighting the Future

I returned to my school from the Lighting the Future Youth Libraries Group (YLG), School Library Group (SLG) and School Libraries Association (SLA) joint conference yesterday with my head buzzing with ideas and inspiration.

From the opening address by Professor Stephen Heppell; a brilliant speaker and possibly one of the hardest working humans in education and outreach.

Don’t believe me? Then take a look at his website: – it will keep you busy for a while!

Also take a look here: then read the report:

Don’t just take a cursory glance at – take a serious read through you WILL learn something new. I can almost guarantee that!

One of the many other things he mentioned was and a free downloadable Hunger Games project:

The Reading and Technology panel was just as riveting, with Jonathan Douglas, Bev Humphrey and Dave Coplin
In brief:

  • ebooks good but tablets more immersive
  • Since 2005 10% drop in reading online. Reading in all formats dipping (Literacy Trust Survey)
  • Book trailers can help break genre boundaries – video can help attract non-readers to reading
  • Learning via youtube can be easier than via books
  • A skill we all need: ability to read a wikipedia article critically not word processing

  • The day was capped off with a networking session and dinner with poetry and stories with Liz Weir, John Agard, Tony Mitton and Atinuke

    Saturday brought with it, Reading in the Political Spotlight – Question time panel with Nic Amy, Aidan Chambers, Annie Mauger, Simon Mayo, Miranda McKearney and David Reedy with all participants being very vocal in their views

  • Aidan Chambers – librarians can teach more than teachers. Do not confuse the profession with the act of teaching
  • David Reedy what’s needed to support schools is a fully funded & resourced schools library service’
  • Annie Mauger ‘librarians do need to get less ‘nice’ we need to become more assertive’
  • Escaping the Echo Chamber – advocacy outside our own circle – Voices from the Library represented by Ian Clark

    Saturday evening’s dinner was brought to a close by Morris Gleitzman who spoke about his new book Again and how he was influenced to become a writer and a reader.

    Sunday featured AGMs for the hard-core YLG, SLG & SLA members, followed by Access and Opportunities through Libraries – a panel discussion with Tony Durcan (Newcastle City Council), Helen Boothroyd (Suffolk County Council), this brought with it highly politicized twitter discussions between a number of librarians unhappy with the SCL stance on what has been happening in tehj library world of late.

    The conference ended as it had begun with a fantastic address, this time by incoming SLA president, the author Kevin Crossley-Holland in which he dedicated himself to the service of the SLA and school librarians within the UK.

    Other highlights of the conference included the reliably entertaining Maggie Stiefvater, fresh from her attendance at BEA in New York on the Saturday and Angie Sage who spoke on the Sunday about her path to becoming an author and her Septimus Heap novels. The publishers in attendance were also fantastic offering proof copies of current and forthcoming YA and childrens books.

    For me the best part of the conference was meeting up with friends old and new and speaking to fellow travellers who have the same goals and aims that I have at serving the young readers who use our libraries and trying to convert those that do not use libraries into readers and participants in our service.

    My friend & colleague Caroline has a brilliant write-up of the conference here:

    Ian Clark also has an excellent view of the conference here:

    For a complete blow by blow account of the conference (via Twitter) take a look at the storify feed created by John Iona here:

    [View the story “Lighting the Future” on Storify]

    Do you think Shift would work as a movie?

    Let me state for the record that if someone bought the film rights to Shift I would instantly begin jumping around in a very excited manner. But at the same time I can’t help feeling a little puzzled whenever someone tells me that Shift would make a good movie. Why, exactly? Would the story work better? Reach a broader audience? Personally I don’t think I’ve ever liked a film adaptation as much the original book – although I’ll admit this is because I’m hard to please on this front. If the movie is too close to the book it’s often dull to watch, and things that work in print don’t always work on screen. But then if the film departs from the book too drastically it feels like it’s taking liberties with a beloved tale. See what I mean about being hard to please?

    Having said that, it would of course be thrilling and fascinating to see my characters come to life. How would a film-maker interpret them? Who would they cast? I imagine that the central character in Shift – Miranda, with her constantly morphing looks and personality would be a fun (if challenging) role to play. How would Olive – the book’s somewhat unreliable, self-doubting narrator come across on the screen? Possibly like a complete weirdo. Or maybe she would be easier to empathise with in this format because we could see the way she really was, as opposed to how she tells us she is.

    In my head Shift is very firmly positioned in Australia (which is where I’m from) – in one of the bayside outer suburbs of Melbourne. But the film could be set anywhere, really. The whole point of the location is its ordinary-ness: an ordinary suburb, and ordinary school filled with typical teenagers. Except for one not so typical one – Miranda.

    Music is very important to Olive throughout Shift – it’s how she keeps herself together after her ‘incident’ and I imagine the soundtrack would be very important in any film adaptation. But Olive is also something of a musical snob, this would be the perfect t-shirt for her:

    and I’m sure anything I suggested would not measure up. Nonetheless there are a few songs that I feel have a special connection with Shift. I’ve always imagined Olive having a similar, slightly kooky style and aesthetic as Swedish singer Lykke Li and this is the sort of song I imagine Olive’s favourite band – Luxe – performing:

    When I’m writing I can’t listen to music (too distracting!) but I did sometimes find myself singing the words to this Belle and Sebastian number while working on Shift

    – in particular the line: You’ve got the essence, dear / If I could have a second skin / I’d probably dress up in you. It seems like just the sort of thing that Miranda might hum when she and Olive are first becoming friends. And perhaps the film could finish with this scary song by PJ Harvey (thereby setting it up for a sequel):

    You’re not rid of me / No you’re not rid of me…