Monthly Archives: February 2015

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Recommended by a Librarian: Morganville: The Series

The Recommending Librarian this week is: Matt Imrie

What are you recommending?

Morganville: The Series

What is it?

It is a web-series* based on the best-selling Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine

*A web-series is a series of scripted videos, generally in episodic form, released on the Internet or also by mobile or cellular phone, and part of the newly emerging medium called web television. A single instance of a web series program is called an episode or webisode. (thank you Wikipedia)

Why have you recommended it?

I had to start with something and I have found this ten episode series short and punchy enough to get the attention of several vocal non-readers that I work with and it has hooked them enough to give the books a try. I also enjoy vampire stories and as a Star Trek fan I was stoked to see Robert Picardo, the Emergency Medical Hologram from Star Trek: Voyager play a role.

It goes without saying that if you enjoy this series you should also give the books a try: The Morganville Vampires novels

You can watch the first episode below, and see the entire series here

Google & Information Privacy How the corporation collects & uses consumer information: a basic introduction

How the corporation collects & uses consumer information. An introduction for Year 9 students that I put together

The Third Degree with Malcolm Rose

Hi Malcolm, welcome to Teen Librarian and thank you for giving up your time to answer some questions for the Third Degree.

My first question to all participants is to please introduce themselves to the audience.

I’m a daydreamer. I’m probably the best footballer the country has ever produced. I’m also a fantastic musician, computer genius and brilliant detective. And I like murdering people.

Sorry. I got carried away there. I live near Sheffield at the edge of the Peak District and, when I can’t see the way forward in a story, I walk in the hills for inspiration. Sometimes, though, taking a long bath works just as well. It requires less effort but it’s not as scenic. I am a writer of thrillers and crime stories. The newly launched Body Harvest is my 40th book. By coincidence, I’ve been married to Barbara for 40 years. We have a son who’s an architect in London.

Body Harvest, is the first book in The Outer Reaches your new series for teen readers, from what I have read it is a crime series with a science fiction aspect, could you tell us something about it?

Before becoming a full-time writer, I was a scientist. To be precise, I was an analytical chemist. That means I enjoyed finding out what things are made of. That’s very similar to forensic scientists who analyse paint flakes, blood, unknown substances and all sorts of yucky stuff at the scene of a crime. Because I like forensic science, I inject lots into The Outer Reaches. After all, the first person I need to interest in my stories is myself.

Being an ex-chemist, I also like poisons, explosions, medical advances, and the amazing set of chemical reactions that happens within bodies that make life. Come to think of it, I also like the amazing reactions that happen after life has ceased: something we call decay. Each of these things finds a place in my crime stories.

How did you come up with the concept of two Human races in Body Harvest?

I was reading a scientific article about human evolution, noting that Homo sapiens (that’s us), Neanderthals and Denisovans were all alive tens of thousands of years ago. There was even some interbreeding going on. That’s why we all have a bit of Neanderthal DNA in us. Anyway, Neanderthals and Denisovans became extinct and Homo sapiens continued alone. I thought it would be fun if one of the other humanoid races had not died out and evolved alongside us. In The Outer Reaches, they’re called outers. Homo sapiens are in the majority so they’re called majors. Majors and outers have different body chemistry which makes the forensic science more interesting.

I understand that you have a science background, specifically as a chemistry lecturer, how has this informed your work as an author?

Every author wants to write original stories so we have to come up with original ideas. I look to science for those ideas because, by its nature, science is always discovering or inventing new things. Just think of everything we can do today that we couldn’t do just a few years ago. DNA profiling, cloning, a variety of fertility treatments, making life from scratch, being online almost everywhere we go and so on. Then there’s the science that’s just around the corner such as gene therapy, humanoid robots, brain implants, growing body parts from stem cells, and lots of other things. It’s a great big store of fresh ideas for the novelist. What’s more, many of the topics – like creating a new life form – are controversial so the thriller and crime writer will always be able to find the necessary ingredients for conflict in themes like these.

Because I’m writing for young people, I need to interest them with the themes of my books. Young people have a great deal of natural curiosity and science is the application of natural curiosity so my readers and science are very well matched. But the average science textbook isn’t always thrilling. I think the best way of engaging people in science is to wrap it up as entertainment in an exciting story. Teens enjoy reading about modern forensic science when it helps to catch the bad guys, and they like science-based thrillers when the themes are genuine and preferably gruesome, such as medical transplants, viruses and bacteria, chemical and biological warfare, the use of animals in labs and medicine, and that sort of thing.

I know from your Traces novels you are an excellent crime writer, are you a fan of that particular genre?

I feel I ought to rave about crime stories because I write them. But… I wonder if someone whose job is making chocolate every day goes home at night, puts the telly on and eats lots of chocolate. I suspect they don’t. They probably want a break from it. So, yes, I love writing crime – because, like analytical chemistry, it’s an investigation and a finding out – but I don’t read other authors in the same genre. That’s a terrible confession you’ve forced from me.

Do you get inspiration from other authors or are all your ideas rooted in real-life occurrences?

Taking ideas from other authors is close to cheating. I’m happy to be inspired by something that actually happened and bend it – personalize it – so it becomes my fictional story, but I don’t steal other people’s imagination. Besides, I want to be original and avoid the well-trodden paths. Mostly, I’m inspired by a new forensic method. Then I work backwards. What sort of crime would this new method solve? Why would someone commit such a crime? How would someone hope to get away with it? Then I start at the beginning with the crime. But I often don’t know who did it till I’m well into the story!

I understand that the second book is due out soon, can you drop any hints about it?

In Lethal Outbreak, four scientists working on samples of soil from Mars in the highest safety laboratory are found dead. How did it happen – and why? Actually, the first few chapters set in a secure laboratory will remind readers of the images we see of medics working on the ebola virus, and there’s a lot of interesting stuff about biosafety as well as possible sabotage of the protective suits or the laboratory itself.

The story reflects genuine concern about our ability to deal with alien bugs if they are ever found and brought back for study on Earth. If they turned out to be harmful, there would be serious consequences to the well-being of human civilization. In the Earth’s mild atmosphere, we simply don’t know what it would take to kill bugs that might be hardened to the extreme extra-terrestrial conditions of a planet like Mars.

How many books do you have planned for the Outer Reaches series?

You’ve saved a nice easy question to the end. There will be four books. All of them will be based on genuine scientific issues. In order, they are the illegal trade in body parts for transplants (Body Harvest), the return of toxic matter from another planet (Lethal Outbreak), industrial pollution (Fatal Connection), and the killing of endangered animals so their parts can be used in “traditional” medicines (Blood and Bone). That means the victims of a serial killer in the fourth book will be mostly tigers. I’m really looking forward to writing that one but the topic will make me angry.

Teen Librarian Monthly February 2015

Download (PDF, 445KB)

Read any Good Films Lately?

The Academy Awards took place yesterday. To celebrate I put together a display based on novels (mostly for children and young people) that have been adapted for film and television.

The centrepiece of my display is my Reading Oscar:

I used my photocopier to enlarge him to eye-catching size and placed my version of the Hipster Kitty next to him:

The books I used are:

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Dracula by Bram Stoker
the DUFF by Kody Keplinger
The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula le Guin
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Gansta Granny by David Walliams
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
Holes by Louis Sachar
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
I Know What You did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Nick and Norah’s infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
Twilight sequence by Stephenie Meyer
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

If you would like to create your own book of the movie display you can download the Reading Oscar here and Hipster Kitty here

The Third Degree with YA Book Prize Judge Imogen Russell-Williams

I am extremely happy to welcome Imogen Russell-Williams to TeenLibrarian today to discuss The YA Book Prize

Would you like to introduce yourself to the audience and let us know how you got to be involved with the YA Book Prize?

Hi audience! I’ve been a massive children’s literature and YA geek enthusiast since I was a child myself, and am now lucky enough to do some reviewing and other journalism on kids’ books for the Guardian Books Blog and the Metro. The Bookseller Children’s Editor approached me because I’m very interested in YA literature, especially YA literature published in the UK, and I know quite a bit about it.

There are 10 judges in all how were you all selected and for how long will you all hold your positions as judges?

We were all selected in the same way – on the basis of being experts in YA fiction – but we all have different kinds of expertise – in book-buying, reviewing, writing, etc. The idea was to get a really diverse mixture of knowledgeable judges to weigh up the shortlist, and we’ll be judges just for this year (although the prize will continue.)

The YA Book Prize is the latest and at present only (I think) national Award for UK (& Irish) YA novels, how did the award come about?

The Bookseller ran a feature about current prizes for children’s literature, and realised that since the winding up of the Booktrust Teen prize, there was no UK award that focused specifically on books for teenagers. After that, they heard from some indie booksellers that people were keen to see an award focusing on YA books – and the rest is history!

Currently Movellas is the primary sponsor of the Award, how did that partnership come about?

The Bookseller approached Movellas to see if they’d be interested in sponsoring the award. They felt Movellas would be a good fit for this prize, since they’re at the cutting edge of how teenagers create and consume fiction (especially fanfiction!) and were delighted when they agreed.

How are YA titles selected? Is there a nomination process, or are all YA novels published in the UK eligible for the Prize?

There’s no nomination process, no – publishers were simply invited to submit up to six titles that meet the ‘published in the UK’ criteria and were definitely YA novels.

Who is involved in the short list selection?

An eight-strong Bookseller committee narrowed down the submissions (almost a hundred titles) to the current short-list of ten, which were then passed on to the judges.

Your job (along with the other judges) to select the overall winner is no easy task, what criteria are used to make the final choice?

Judging is always highly subjective (although I’d love to say we’re all totally objective and omniscient!) and it really comes down to what each judge really rates in a book. I’m on the look-out for superb writing, enthralling plotting, and engaging but nuanced characters (I don’t have to like a character, but I do want to be deeply interested in what will happen to him or her.) I also have a particular interest in diversity – putting people front and centre who aren’t just ‘the usual suspects’.

There has been a big social media push to publicise the Award and the short-listed titles, has it been successful in involving readers in the discussion of the titles?

The prize’s Twitter account @yabookprize has 1,387 followers, and the successive #Team(BookName) hashtags have encouraged readers to champion their favourites (in a really nice, positive, generous-spirited way). The YA Book Prize is also active on Tumblr and Facebook, so yes, I think it has been!


It is the books that grip us as children that stay with us as adults

I am a reader, this does not come as a surprise to people that know me – in real life or online. Even people that just meet me and find out what I do automatically assume that I must love books because I am a Librarian proving once again that stereotypes are alive and well and that many, many people do not have librarians in their personal lives – because there are loads that do no read much or at all.

I used to be surprised that I was a reader as when I was just starting school I had to ‘learn’ to read with

Unlike a number of people that claimed that Dick and Dora put them off reading, these books only made me hungry to read more challenging literature!

These are (in no particular order) the books that made me a reader:

The Tim books by Edward Ardizzone – I read the entire series thanks to my local Library. For the small child I was, they were a thrilling read and incredibly believable. It has been over 30 years since I read them, but I can remember the characters and stories fondly.

The Adventures of Tintin was the first series of books I can remember owning, as well as being a joy to read the books also cemented my love of the comics medium. The stories are still as good as I remember when I was a child!

Blade of the Poisoner
was the first book I stayed up all night to read, well this one and the sequel Master of Fiends. Douglas Hill had quite a large influence on my reading tastes as a child, this is the book that awoke my love of fantasy.

The second book by Douglas Hill, and this time science fiction. It is the second part of the ColSec trilogy, my younger brother had borrowed it form the library but I nabbed it before he could read it and it was one of two books that turned me into a scifi nut.

Norby the Mixed-Up robot was one of the first books by Isaac and Janet Asimov that I read. I enjoyed it enough to track down as many as Isaac Asimov’s books as I could over the years and devour them.

I was heartbroken when as a newly minted librarian my library manager told me that Franklin W. Dixon was a construct of the Stratenmeyer Syndicate a book packager that produced books for young readers. They did a good job as The Haunted Fort was the first book (apart from comics) that I compulsively read and reread, usually on a Friday night until I fell asleep.

I seem to have been a bit of a book kleto as a child, as I nabbed this one from my older brother, he had it as a reading book for English when he was 12 or 13 and when he was telling our mother about it I liked the sound of it. To this day it remains one of my most recommended books for people looking for something to read. The rest of the Dark is Rising series is brilliant as well, it did not even matter that this is the second in the series.

These are books I read in my formative years, all genre fiction and all books I can remember as vividly as if I had only finished them yesterday. I can recall other titles; the Vampire and Zombie short story collections, edited by Peter Haining, the Doctor Syn series by Russell Thorndike tales of smuggling and derring do on Romney Marsh. I am proud to say that I am a genre fiction man – and always have been going by my recollections of being a young reader.

YLG London Unconference 2015

YLG London will be running a new Unconference on the 8th March in the Richmond Reference Library.

Full details are available here:

The American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards

Each year the American Library Association honors books, videos, and other outstanding materials for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards, including the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards, guide parents, educators, librarians, and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media.

Download (PDF, 343KB)

Google Earth Pro is Now Free

Google is now offering Google Earth free of charge. A licence previously cost $399.

To find out more and sign up for a free key follow this link: