Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What they don't tell you in Library School

Part one of What They Don't Tell You in Library School - this afternoon, we have been busy setting up for our first Writer-in-Residence event. This involved setting out 60 chairs as we have amalgamated two Y7 English classes who have the honour of being the very first pupils to meet Joe Craig.

Not only did we set out 60 chairs - we also moved tables and the chairs that swivel (a BSF set of furniture that was NOT chosen by us - we KNOW about the temptation offered by chairs that swivel. Let us not mention the even more tempting zipping up and down by means of small lever on side of chair ... At times one longs for good communication between suppliers of BSF goods and those who use them. Let us further avoid mentioning the bonkers tables with wheels that are an absolute swine to shift and cause the Assistant Librarian to move into full furniture rant in a nanosecond.)

Anyway, one of the first things they do not tell you about at Library School is the need to move stuff. Mostly heavy stuff, sometimes awkward and heavy stuff. BE WARNED you students of Library Science, Information Studies or whatever. You will at times have to move loads of stuff so take every opportunity to ensure that any furniture you have is not lumpen with sharp and evil corners that take lumps of flesh off you at every opportunity.

However, now we are in the very happy position of being ready for Joe and his first session. Huzza! Let the good times roll.

Photo by robives
Photo by Gothick_Matt
Never daunted , we are marking our lunchtime launch of the WiR programme with lashings of ginger beer and assorted cakes (in true children's literature style). So we shall let the ginger beer flow and know the cakes we offer will be truly delicious - especially the one that Y7 Book Group is making.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Ealing Readers' Award 2013

Our School hosted this year's Ealing Readers' Award - students from nine Ealing Schools met to make their presentations and to vote for their choice of the best book published for young readers in 2012 from the shortlisted books.

We had to clear the stacks to make space for everyone and our wonderful caretakers found us 40 extra chairs so that we could give everyone a seat. The Library becomes very spacious once the stacks are shifted - though it does reduce choice. Borrowers could have any book they wanted as long as the author's name began with an 'M'. 

We were extremely fortunate in having Geraldine McCaughrean as our keynote speaker  for this event. She not only inspired us about writing but also was jolly good fun! (One of her books is on our Y6 incoming booklist - it is an excellent story with a superb twist. Look out for The Positively Last Performance.)

The shortlist for ERA was interesting; two Jacqueline Wilson books, Emerald Star and Four Children and It, Cathy Cassidy's Summer Dream, Morris Gleitzman's After, Charlie Higson's The Sacrifice, Jeff Kinney's The Third Wheel, Sophie McKenzie's Missing Me, Robert Muchamore's Guardian Angel, and David Walliams' Ratburger. 

The winner was Missing Me by Sophie McKenzie - a refreshing choice as the other writers have been shortlisted before. The cheer that went up when the winner was announced was a joy to hear. It is a fast-paced story that is about convoluted family ties and child surrogacy.
Close runners up were Charlie Higson's The Sacrifice and David Walliams' Ratburger.

Geraldine's latest book

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Musings on booklists

Booklists are something that can produce a rant from me in seconds. I cannot say how many times I have come across a booklist intended for children that has not been updated for years (sometimes decades). Indeed I have seen booklists with suggestions that would not have been out of place in my own schooldays, over 40 years ago.
This is, in my opinion, really lazy and shoddy. It is vital that children are given the opportunity to discover the best new writing that is available for them. There is, of course, a place for classics but it is shameful that the same list is churned out year after year by people who claim to know about children's literature.
Every year I set up a booklist for the new Y7 students. This is annotated with a short description of the book. (I have yet another rant about booklists that are mere lists but shall not indulge myself this time.) I do not include popular authors as I believe that my job is to encourage pupils to read as widely as possible - they will find the popular writers by themselves, it is up to me to introduce them to others. My colleague and I have had many discussions about our booklists (her particular list will be available later this term and is intended for Upper School, Y10 and above.) We are of the firm opinion that our lists are suggestions for reading and should not be considered definitive or prescriptive. We are firmly for choice in reading for pleasure.
This year I have managed, with the assistance of the site's technical help, to set up a list for Y7 on Love Reading For Schools. (You will need to register to use the site - instructions are on the site and a blog page) This list has a mixture of titles as our students have different reading abilities and different interests. I hope there is something for everyone.

For the first time we are linking with the Public Libraries' Summer Reading Challenge and following their Creepy House theme. There are two books that are definitely not creepy just in case it is too much for anyone. We are in the process of developing an exciting aid support book choice from this list- I shall keep you posted!

Two books missing from the main picture, both on loan at the moment.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Normal Service Resumes ...

Hello there! The blog is back in business and life in the Library is getting hectic. We have three special events in June based in the Library and more being planned even as I write.

The first event is Ealing Readers' Award (ERA) 2013. The grand final will take place in the Library on Tuesday 11th June and we shall be shifting the stacks around to make room for the eight visiting school panels. We are delighted that the shortlisted book that we are championing is Charlie Higson's The Sacrifice. The shortlisted books are:-

Summer's Dream by Cathy Cassidy
After by Morris Gleitzman
The Sacrifice by Charlie Higson
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
Missing Me by Sophie McKenzie
Guardian Angel by Robert Muchamore
Ratburger by David Walliams
Emerald Star by Jacqueline Wilson
Four Children and It by Jacqueline Wilson

The second big event is the welcome for our Writer-in-Residence, Joe Craig on Friday 14th June. We consider ourselves to be very lucky indeed to have Joe as not only is he a very accomplished author but he also has many strings to his bow, including music, cricket and philosophy. His latest book in the Jimmy Coates sequence is published on June 6th (Jimmy Coates: Blackout)so we shall have copies of his books on sale. I shall keep blog readers updated about the many things Joe is doing in school.

The third big event is Carnegie Shadowing. The judges' decision will be announced on 19th June and our band of readers is cracking on reading all the books on the shortlist. This year's list is extremely strong - I'm particularly glad to see Wonder on the list as it did not make the cut for ERA. The Carnegie shortlisted books are:-

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
In Darkness by Nick Lake
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Midwinter's Blood by Marcus Sedgwick
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Sheldon
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Killer heels

As mentioned before, I am a sucker for a good cover and I think this one is fabulous. I'm not a wearer of heels but that doesn't mean to say I don't appreciate them and, yes, I was drawn to this book by the killer heel on display.

Then there's the intriguing glimpse of an apparently metallic skeleton inside the leg, and a hint of an old, old story. It also indicates that it is the first of a series ... The Lunar Chronicles. So, does Marissa Meyer make something of the Cinderella story in this book?

Well I think she does. Cinder lives in a future time when vast swathes of earth have been devastated and individual countries no longer exist. She lives with a cruel stepmother who despises her partly because she is a cyborg - part human, part machine.

And yes, there is a handsome prince who asks Cinder to a ball. There is much more too so the author is not just ticking off the appropriate Cinderella boxes. There is a terrible, deadly plague that is killing off the citizens of earth and trouble with the lunar colonists who seem to have amazing mental powers.

Then there's the fact that there seems to be some mystery about just who, and what Cinder is. There's plenty to think about in this book and I found it most enjoyable. Cinder has great character, she is no wimpy princess who relies on others, she is a self-assured mechanic who faces up to her problems.

Roll on the next books in The Lunar Chronicles.

(Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a Puffin paperback and costs £6.99.)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Seraphina - meaning fiery or ardent - very apt

I read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman partly on the tube on the way home from a buying expedition to Foyles in Charing Cross Road. It was powerful enough to hold my attention from Tottenham Court Road to my home station in the western 'burbs and then that journey in reverse the next day when I went to a CILIP meeting at Library HQ.

Seraphina lives in a world where dragons and humans co-exist in an uneasy fashion. Dragons are able to assume human form but lack, and despise, human emotions.
There have been forty years of a truce between the species, but something is amiss and Seraphina gets herself involved in the heart of it all. She is a great character, full of power and energy and lives up to her name.

Early on, we discover a secret about her birth and about her family that she is unable to tell her friends - usually I find this plot device infuriating but this time, it is believable and works well.

There is loyalty and love and treason and adventure and plenty of action. Seraphina is tried and tested as are many others. A traitor is unmasked and emotions run high even amongst the dragons.

This is Rachel Hartman's first (published) novel. I am looking forward to many more.

Summer in the city

I was delighted to receive a cheering text on Friday from my daughter-in-law (who resides in bonny Scotchland) - school's out for summer - a celebration of the prospect of six weeks to hope for better weather, i.e. much less rain and much more sun. Yes, indeed, the summer holidays have started as has the summer reading.

I am refusing to think of the horrors of moving the school library from its old home - two former technical rooms - into a spanking new block. The books and shelves have made the transition, albeit unpacked but we may not do anything with them until September. Sadly, all our other bits and bobs have gone awol ... Lost in the abyss of the old gym, the hall, somewhere behind the bike sheds. Who knows.

So, thinking positively, summer reading. I intend to read as many new books for children and young adults as possible whilst also keeping up with a goodly amount of adult novels.
Today, I have just finished Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan and jolly good it was too. It's set in contemporary USA and its characters are vampires, humans and zombies. However despite there being something of a lurve story there is also mystery, intrigue and an exploration of friendship that had me engrossed. I even put aside my Saturday crossword in order to finish it. I forgot to mention that it avoids having a feeble heroine, a tedious love triangle and sparkles with wit and humour.

I've read several books by Justine Larbalestier* (and enjoyed them all very much) but none yet by Sarah Rees Brennan, something I shall rectify over the holidays.

*LiarHow To Ditch Your Fairy, and the Magic Or Madness Trilogy