Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Jeff Bridges, The Giver and dystopian fiction

Jeff Bridges hopes to bring to the big screen a classic young adult novel, Lois Lowry's The Giver. In a world without conflict, poverty and inequality, conformity and happiness are a way of life. But for Jonas, things are different. While his friends are selected to be doctors or teachers, Jonas is sent to the Giver where he discovers the secrets beneath the surface of his world. The Oscar-winning Bridges would take on the role of The Giver if the film comes to fruition.

We have the book in the library, and it's on our Survivor booklist. Mostly set in apocalyptic versions of the future, the books on this list share a common theme: the battle for survival. Their central characters, usually teenagers, have to overcome fire, floods, demons or some other horror as they struggle to build new lives or new societies. As well as being good stories, the books will also make their readers think about the way we treat our world today.

Dystopian fiction is a popular, current theme. Julie Bertagna also features on the list with Exodus and Zenith - she's recently published Aurora, the final part of the trilogy. Read her article in the Scotsman earlier this month on why teenagers are such avid readers of books on dystopias. Books for Keeps also recently published its list of 10 of the best dystopian novels.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Carnegie / Greenaway awards and Pottermore

Thursday, 23rd June was a big day in the children's book world. It had long been set as the award date for the Carnegie and Greenaway medals, but a few days beforehand it began to look as if these would be upstaged when cryptic messages began to emanante from JK Rowling. What could they mean?

First, the Carnegie / Greenaway awards. These are presented annually by CILIP, the professional body for library and information workers. The Carnegie Medal is for the writer of an outstanding book for children and the Kate Greenaway Medal is for distinguished illustration in a book for children. This year's winners were Patrick Ness, for Monsters of men, and Grahame Baker-Smith for FArTHER (sic). Read more about them in CILIP's press release.

I've blogged about Patrick Ness several times before, including reviewing the Chaos walking books which I loved. I'm also happy to report that his acceptance speech included a fierce defence of libraries - read about it here in the Guardian. There is also an interview with him in today's Independent. You can borrow his books from us but, unfortunately, that's not yet true of Baker-Smith's book, which seems to have flown under my radar. However, I've ordered it now and, in the meantime, here is a slide-show of his work, again from the Guardian.

So what was Pottermore all about? "Pottermore is a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books" - but you still have to go back on 31st July to find out more. Here's JK Rowling announcing it on YouTube and here again is the dependable Guardian. Clever marketing or unnecessary hype? You decide.

Finally, there was another piece of news yesterday which probably got a bit swamped by everything else that was going on. Penguin announced the winners of their cover design awards - the children's entries were illustrating James and the giant peach - you can see the winning and short-listed designs here.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Visual Journeys: Children's Creative Responses to The Arrival by Shaun Tan

I've just found out about the exhibition described below, which sounds really good. If you want to know more abot Shaun Tan's books, we have The Arrival and several other titles in our catalogue.

"This exhibition emerges from the Visual Journeys project (School of Education, University of Glasgow), led by Dr Evelyn Arizpe, with Dr Maureen Farrell and Ms Julie McAdam. The project explores how immigrant children construct meaning from the images in Shaun Tan’s award-winning wordless graphic novel. The display includes a range of creative strategies drawing on children’s own experiences of migration and journeys and on their literacy practices, allowing them to engage with and reflect more fully on their own and others’ experiences of migration and contributing their own words to the collective story. Exhibition runs 6 June to 29 July at Hillhead Library, Byres Road."

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Books for Fathers' Day

Happy Fathers' Day on Sunday to all you Dads out there. You can use our catalogue to find lots of stories about fathers (good, bad and indifferent) and our Books for Boys pages highlight some of them in the Lads and Dads section. Publisher Nosy Crow has done a blog post on Dads in children's literature and you can follow further suggestions both through that blog's comments and via the Twitter tag #kidsbookdads.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Competitions for budding young writers

Wow, lots more writing competitions to blog about. Lets start local with Scottish Book Trust's Young Writers Awards. They are looking for three enthusiastic writers between the ages of 14 and 17 who could have the chance to be mentored by an established teen writer over a period of six months as well as meeting industry professionals and visiting a top London publisher. In order to be eligible you must be living in Scotland - if interested, follow the link above and apply by 31st August.

Canongate Young Writers' Competition is aimed at 16-19 year olds who are invited to enter either a short story or extract of no more than 3,000 words. You'll need to be quicker with this one as the closing date is 1st July.

247tales is an online writing competition open to UK residents between the ages of 10 and 16. The challenge is to write a short story using 247 words or fewer, and the prize for the winning story is £75 worth of Bloomsbury Children’s books plus a framed copy of your winning story which will also appear on the website. There's a new competition on a different theme every month - the closing date for June (theme: The Game) is Monday 27th.

The smash hit West End musical WICKED has announced the second year of its hugely successful WICKED Young Writers’ Award.  The Award recognises excellence in writing, encourages creativity, and helps develop literacy and writing talent in young people between the ages of 5 and 25 years old. This one runs until 31st July.

So - if you know any budding young writers, tell them about these competitions. They could have a busy summer ahead of them!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Is teenage fiction "rife with depravity"?

A lot of controversy has been stirred up by an article in the Wall Street Journal by Meghan Cox Gurdon, entitled Darkness too visible, in which she asks "contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?" I'm not sure I would describe the teen books coming into this library in those terms, although as the books she cites are American I couldn't judge any of them apart from Suzanne Collins' Hunger games trilogy which I''ve blogged about (approvingly) here. I've now noticed quite a few rebuttals coming through, one of which is from another writer on her own paper, Christopher John Farley, whose blog post asking Should young adult books explore difficult issues? comes up with a "Yes", as does another blog post from Not just for kids. Today, the Guardian has joined in with an article on its Teen Books page and a plea Don't censor teen fiction on its Books Blog. The controversy has also spawned its own Twitter tag, #YAsaves.

If you want to explore teenage books and the issues involved through our pages, see the one on Teenage Literature and our Banned Books reading list which deals with titles for all ages which have caused controversy over the years.

New Children's Laureate announced

The new Children's Laureate for 2011-13 was announced today at noon - it's Julia Donaldson! She is the 7th to take the title and is the author of over 120 books and plays for children and teenagers, including some of the UK’s best-selling picture books, most famously The Gruffalo. I think Julia is a great choice, though I'm slightly surprised they went for two picture book authors in a row - my guess was Philip Pullman, so what do I know?

Julia succeeds Anthony Browne, author of Gorilla, Willy the Wimp and many other popular titles. In one of his final acts as Laureate, Anthony wrote an open letter to his (then unknown) successor which was published in the Independent on Sunday with the sub-heading "Cuts are outrageous". In it, he warns that we will "pay the price in the long term" for closing public and school libraries and urges his successor to do everything to support them. The Guardian  also has advice for the new Laureate with a page headed "What should the new Children's Laureate do?" and invites you to contribute:
"We want to create a "To Do list" for the new laureate, telling him or her what children want their Laureate to do. It might be as big as "save our libraries" or as small as "visit our school because we never have authors come to see us". It might be something to do with writing rather than reading, or making sure kids' voices are heard in the books world. Whatever your idea, email it to and we'll create a big list to present to the new Laureate. We'll also be checking up on him or her during their two year term to see how they are getting on."
Some ideas are already coming through via Twitter, e.g. @dewey027 says "New children's laureate should campaign for statutory school libraries and librarians and getting books to children." Julia is likely to warm to this theme too - she took part in the lobbying of the Scottish parliament on Save our Libraries day in February. That's good news for all library-lovers, and even better news for us as she's Scottish based.

Click on the links for the books we hold by Anthony Browne and Julia Donaldson.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

The longlist for this year's award was published on Saturday  - read the Guardian's Julia Eccleshare's introduction to the eight titles here and reviews by the Bookbag here. So far, we have four of the books in stock:
My name is Mina by David Almond
Twilight robbery by Frances Hardinge
My sister lives on the mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
Mr Gum and the secret hideout by Andy Stanton

Friday, 3 June 2011

Beat the bullies

The summer vacation is here, and with it a chance to update all our children's reading lists. The first one to get a major overhaul is Bullying - I've removed some older titles and added some new ones. The list falls into 3 parts, listed below with a taster of each.
  1. Fiction for younger readers, e.g. Rosen, Michael. (2009). I’m number one. Walker.
    There’s trouble in the toy box! Once their owner goes off to school, the other toys are bullied by the toy soldier – but eventually, they win him over with humour. 5+
  2. Fiction 8-12 years, e.g. Dahl, Michael. (2010). Eye of the monster. Raintree.
    Ren is tired of being bullied – but when his eyes turn golden and his skin turns scaly he thinks he can finally get revenge. What will he do when he sees what fear looks like? 9+
  3. Fiction for older readers: 12+, e.g. Packham, Simon. (2010). Comin 2 gt U. Piccadilly.
    Sam has been brutally murdered in an online game. What’s worse, it looks like his killers are out to get him in real life too. 12+
There are also hints on finding non-fiction and media material and some links to useful websites. This is just one of a range of booklists on our Children's Literature web pages - they can also be picked up in hard copy from the children's books display area upstairs in the Library.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Cathy Cassidy Design-a-Cover competition

Do you know any Cathy Cassidy fans? If so, direct them to her website where there is a book design competition which is open till 30th June. Borrow the books from us first: we have several in our catalogue.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Astrosaurs competiton

Here's another competition - this time for Steve Cole's Astrosaurs fans. This series combines two perennially popular topics, dinosaurs and space. To enter, children need to create their own Astrosaurs character and describe in 25 words what makes them an Astrosaurs superfan.

The 20 winning superfans will have Steve Cole visit their school this autumn to perform a madcap event and receive a complete signed set of Astrosaurs, Slime Squad and Cows in Action. There will also be an overall winner who will have their winning Astrosaurs character featured in the next Astrosaurs book and get £500 worth of children’s books for their school library.

We have three Astrosaurs titles in our catalogue, but there are many more.

Who's your favourite Harry Potter character?

Head over to JK Rowling's Harry Potter website to vote for your favourite character. Forty names are provided, and if your choice isn't there you can add him or her through the "Other" box. The poll closes on Friday 26th August 2011 and the favourite character will be announced on Tuesday 30th August 2011. As always, don't forget that you can borrow the books and DVDs from us, as well as teaching materials and readers' guides - full list here.