Monthly Archives: July 2015

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him.

But as they arrive at her husband’s home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realises that she barely knows him.
In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.

It has been over 20 years since I first picked up the book and when I started reading the chills crawled down my spine.

It was the opening line that did it;

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.


I have never experienced a reread so viscerally as I did with Rebecca!

This read was haunted by the ghost of past reader me who hung over my shoulder reliving the feelings I experienced back then.

I would have been around 11 going on 12 when I first encountered it, I heard the girls in my class whispering about it – it was always whispers with Rebecca. The only other book that was spoken of in hushed tones was Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews – but talking about that book is a topic for another time!

I was a nosy child, I still am depending on whom you ask; so I asked them who Rebecca was, and was told that “Rebecca is not a ‘who’ Rebecca is a ‘what’ and she showed me the book but would not let me touch it.

I managed to get a copy from my school library (a medium-sized room full of books), I can remember that it was old and creased but I did not care as I loved reading.

Rebecca was first published in 1938 and stands up well against modern fiction. The pacing is slower than late 20th/early 21st century works but the language is rich and draws you in, painting a rich tapestry in your mind with beautifully descriptive passages. I found that reading it as an adult gave me a greater appreciation for du Maurier’s skill as an author and her ability to give me chills on a second reading.

Rebecca is a wonderful and near perfect example of a gothic novel; it is dark, bleak and has enough twists to keep the reader guessing. If this tome is new to you then get yourself ready to stay up all night visiting with the second Mrs. de Winter in her lovely home!

If you have already read Rebecca don’t you think it is time to go to Manderley again?

Library Lessons: Emoji Reviews

I do not know about anyone else but sometimes getting students to write reviews is akin to getting blood from a rock.

No matter how many times I show examples of good reviews or give out review questions to help students write their reviews but from a large percentage of them all I get reviews like:

“I enjoyed this book”

“It is a good book”

“This book is funny it made me laugh”

I know for a percentage of the classes I work with reading is a chore and not something that they really enjoy so this coming year I will be trying something different.

Instead of a written review I will ask them to use emoji to give an outline of what the book is about and what they thought about it. It will force them to actually think about what they have read either a novel, short story or comic book and engage their non-language communication skills as well as their creativity.

For this exercise I will allow them to use their mobile phones in the lesson

For example:


In the days running up to the lessons I will use emoji posters to recommend books for students to hopefully catch their interest.

Library Lessons: Looking at Genre

This lesson will act as an introduction to Genre for Year 7 students.


A particular type or style of literature, art, film or music that you can recognize because of its special features

Start with a general discussion on genres and look at some examples

Examples of Genre:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Crime
  • Drama
  • Family
  • Fantasy
  • Historical Fiction
  • Horror
  • Humour
  • Paranormal
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Thriller
  • Discuss some of the features of each that make novels fall into that particular genre.


  • Can a book belong to more than one type of genre?
  • Can you think of any books that may belong to a particular genre?
  • Does the cover of a book give any indication as to what genre it could be?
  • Do you have a favourite genre?
  • Do you have a favourite novel if yes what genre does it fall into?

    Choose a book it can be your favourite book or the book you are currently reading, determine which genre it falls into then design and draw six alternate covers for it as if it was another genre. This can be done in library lesson time and also for homework.

    Teen Librarian Monthly July

    Download (PDF, 571KB)

    Stuff Mom Never Told You: Judy Blume Forever

    For the past several months I have been listening to the phenomenal Stuff Mom Never told You

    “What is that?” you may well ask, the website explains it far more succinctly that I ever could!

    Hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin, Stuff Mom Never Told You is the audio podcast from HowStuffWorks that gets down to the business of being women from every imaginable angle. Fueled by boundless curiosity and rigorous research, Cristen and Caroline are girls-next-door gender experts who skillfully decode the biology, psychology and sociology of ladies and gents, from their evolutionary past to millennial present, to better understand all the Stuff Mom Never Told You.
    (taken from

    One of their recent podcasts is called Judy Blume Forever a celebration of the awesomeness that is Judy Blume – one of the greatest writers for children, young people and, well everyone actually!

    Judy Blume will be at the Manchester Central Library this evening – in conversation with brillaint UK author Keris Stainton and will also be popping up around the UK – check out her UK tour details here:

    If you cannot make any of those appearances, heck even if you can and want to find out more about JB then take a listen to Judy Blume Forever here:

    Episode Summary
    One of the most beloved and banned authors, Judy Blume wrote adolescence like no other. Cristen and Caroline investigate how Judy Blume’s real life intersected with her fictional books, censorship activism and feminism.

    The Guardian Young Critics Competition 2015

    If you are aged 18 or under and love reading, or you run or are part of a school book group, then you should enter the Guardian’s young critics competition – and here’s how:

    All you need to do is submit a review (maximum 500 words) on one of the books long-listed for the Guardian children’s fiction prize 2015. The prize for 10 individual winners is a complete set of the long-listed books plus book tokens and an invitation to the Guardian children’s fiction award party on 19 November 2015. The group winners will get 10 copies of each of the long-listed books, the chance to come to Guardian’s education centre and make their own newspaper and up to 20 members of the winning book group are invited to the awards party.

    The deadline for entries is 30 October 2015, so you’ve got all summer (and some) to read one of the books. Great for new school book groups that don’t start until September!

    There are two ways to enter:

    1. You can enter on your own by filling out form on the Guardian Young Critics Competition page including your review of a Longlisted Book.


    2. you can enter as part of a school group if you and at least three other students from your school all submit reviews. The school that is judged to have the strongest overall group of entries will win a prize – there will also be one runner up prize in this category. In order for a submitted review to be entered as part of a school group, that review must be submitted, either online or by post, together with at least three other reviews by other eligible students from the same school.

    The prizes

    The 10 individual winners will each receive a complete set of the eight longlisted books, plus a £20 National Book Tokens gift card and an invitation to attend the award ceremony at the Guardian on 19 November 2015.

    The winning school will be invited to spend a day at the Guardian Education Centre: up to 30 students (chosen by the winning school’s Head of English, or equivalent) from the winning school will have the chance to edit and print the day’s news at the Guardian Education Centre in London. In addition, the winning school will receive 10 complete sets of the eight long-listed books, a £150 National Book Tokens gift card as well an invitation for up to 20 pupils to attend the ceremony in London on 19 November. The runner up school will receive a complete set of the eight long-listed books.

    For full details and to enter the competition follow this link:

    Hacking the Library with Year 7

    For this coming school year I am thinking about showing the new year 7s how to make use of the library using the analogy of computer hacking. I am also playing around with the idea of Knowledge-Fu and making the Library a Dojo of Learning – I will post something about that one soon.

    Anyway on to hacking the library, these are just thoughts that have been coalescing, and if I can get it to work to my satisfaction I will post a complete program.

    The advantage of libraries over computers is that a library will not be able to accidnetally destroy the world with global thermonuclear war if you hack it.

    I will start with teaching them how to use the library and will begin with the Librarian as the (speech activated) graphical user interface (GUI).
    Communication is vital to being able to use the library effectively and efficiently.
    I want them to never be afraid to approach the GUI when they need assistance or even just to be polite, and will coach them to say something along the lines of:

    “Hello” or “Good morning/afternoon Mr Imrie/Sir/Librarian”

    I will then greet them turn.

    I am very aware that I am tall and can appear stern or imposing if I accidentally loom at someone, particularly small students, so I want them to get used to my presence and make sure they know that this works:

    C:/Good morning Librarian
    Librarian:/Good morning small student
    C:/Librarian can you please find me a book on origami
    Librarian:/I have found three books on origami for you
    C:/Thank you

    Once they are used to the idea of coming to me for assistance I will teach them that information is stored in different places in the library.

    Reference Works and Magazines are Read Only Memory (ROM) – only accessible within the Library

    Everything else (Fiction & Non-fiction) is Random Access Memory (RAM) – random because at times it will not be available as it is being read by another user. Using the Librarian as the interface to the library makes it easy for the student user to know what is available at any given time.

    The Library & Librarian is a combined tool that the student user uses to gain information or entertainment in the shortest space of time.

    There are times when the Librarian is not available either due to upgrading, picking up a virus or busy helping another user and then the student user is stuck; as while it is possible to find information without knowing exactly how the Library works it can take a long time and often student users do not have the patience to find exactly what they need.

    Showing student users how to hack the system without resorting to the User Interface is best begun in the Fiction section.

    It is important to teach them the importance of knowing what they are looking for – Fiction makes it easier to do this as (in my fiction collection at least) the main collection is not divided into genres, only the reluctant reader collection is filed separately. So if they are looking for a specific book by an author they can find out pretty quickly if it is on the shelf or not.

    If the book is not on the shelf I tell them that they have two options, they can either ask me if the library has a copy of the sought-after text or they can use the catalogue.

    After student users have grasped how to search for Fiction titles and use the catalogue I will then turn my attention to Non-fiction.

    This will begin by introducing them to the Dewey Decimal Classification System.
    I have already developed lessons on introducing Dewey and will start with The Quest for the Missing Duck and then discuss the massive DDC numbers and subject headings on the wall as a way to navigate around the library.

    I also have the Dewey Decimal Card Game but will save that for an in-depth session on the DDC System.

    As an added attempt to get the basic idea fixed in their heads I will run a Dewey Bookmark making lesson with Dewey numbers corresponding to the subjects they take as well as the main subject headings.

    I will show them how to access the reference books as well and explain why they are for library use only.

    When students appear to have a firm grasp of searching the shelves using author names and Dewey subject numbers I will return to the catalogue and talk to them about keyword searching to help them find subject specific information in the non-fiction section and genres in fiction.