Friday 28 June 2013

Marvellous librarian - Anne Thompson

I met Anne Thompson on Twitter, she's A Library Lady. We were discussing Beverley Naidoo's The Other Side of Truth. Since then, she's been a stalwart for me in discussing books, especially middle grade fiction. It's people like this that make book blogging glorious. So, here's more about Anne!

They're madhatters! Staff dressing up for World Book Day.
Anne Thompson has been a  librarian at Notre Dame School Cobham (an independent school for girls) for 13 years. She’s an institution!  Currently, she works in the prep library with 7-11 year old girls. At present there are two libraries, one for the pre-prep catering for ages 2-6 and another for the juniors (but this is changing!). The senior part of the school is on the same site and the girls in year 6 are also able to visit the senior library once a week.

WSD: What sort of activities are you involved in, as the librarian?

Anne Thompson:
The book related events such as author visits are something that really give me satisfaction. Although hard work to organise, the fabulous book related buzz they generate is wonderful. I have arranged visits by author illustrators such as James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy for the younger ones and talks and workshops by non-fiction writers like Stewart Ross and poets such as Philip Wells and Brian Moses for the older girls. We also have book fairs, quizzes, Get Caught Reading photo competitions and the ever popular dressing up as book characters too.

Aside from my library work I get involved with all aspects of school life, the role of school librarian can be a pastoral one too. For example each year I go on a residential trip to France for a week with our year 6 girls and do everything with them, including canoeing, the assault course and eating snails!
Author illustrator, Clara Vulliamy, in school visit
Author illustrator, Clara Vulliamy, in school
WSD: Your library space is changing? What would sorts of experiences would you like to enable in your new (or current ) library?

Anne Thompson:
In September we are opening a new prep library combining the existing pre-prep and prep libraries in one space. This is very exciting and I have been involved with the plans from the outset. The library will be made up of two areas, a quiet reading area containing fiction with comfy seating and a larger teaching area with non-fiction resources, computers, mobile technology (tablets of some sort) and a whiteboard.

This opens up lots of new opportunities. We are having a renewed focus on reading for pleasure, with DEAR (drop everything and read) sessions timetabled for all year groups and more reading aloud by both me and teachers. The increase in technology and seating in the new library will allow me to lead more research lessons which is something I have long wanted to do. We will also open the library to parents one afternoon after school each week.

WSD: Any top recommended reads for middle grade readers?

Anne Thompson:
My recommended reads change all the time but at the moment one of my favourites is Wonder by R J Palacio and lots of the girls love it too. Many enjoy Jacqueline Wilson books and I think Kate Maryon is a very good alternative. Her latest, Invisible Girl about a runaway is very thought provoking and excellent for provoking discussion. I have just read The Child's Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnston and thought it was brilliant and a possible future award winner. If you like historical books, Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes set in Italy during World War 2 is a good read.

WSD: Anything else you're bursting to tell us?

Anne Thompson:
I love my job, there is something so special about being able to introduce a child to that special book that may turn them into a reader.
Thanks Anne, and all the best with your new library. Opening it up to parents - brilliant!
You can also find Anne over on the Bookbag book review website where she often reviews fiction for the 7-13 year oldish reader.

Next time, it's Duncan Wright, a marvellous superhero librarian.


Wednesday 26 June 2013

7 one line reviews- Little M

Just because Lucy loves reading these, and to help with memory recall sometime in the future, here are seven more one line books reviews. These are books that Little M read in 2012 but has not reviewed. They are mostly middle grade fiction.


Shadow – Michael Morpurgo
Very sad but a brilliant novel, set in the Afghan war!

Cool – Michael Morpurgo (not pictured)
One of Michael’s younger novels but it was only okay not very good.

The Silver Brumby – Elyne Mitchell
A lovely story about a wild silver brumby; good book!

The Star of Kazan – Eva Ibbotson (not pictured)
A very heart touching novel of an old woman who has very expensive jewels; good novel!

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece - Annabel Pitcher
A sad and upsetting story about  a boy whose sister got blown up in a London terrorist bombing.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney (not pictured)
Funny, laugh your socks off type of book. Not my cup of tea.

The World According to Humphrey – Betty G Birney
Funny, a quick read, okay book though not the best. About a hamster.

Monday 24 June 2013

Malorie Blackman chat

Little M sat down for a chat..with Malorie Blackman

Little M was Booktrust’s Young Reporter for the day at the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2013-2015  Announcement. She managed to squeeze in a few minutes with Malorie Blackman, the new Children’s Laureate.

Little M from the We Sat Down blog interviews Malorie Blackman for Booktrust
Little M interviewing Malorie Blackman

On becoming a writer
Malorie Blackman started writing short stories and poems for herself since she was about seven. She said that “when I knew that I wanted to be a writer, I didn’t have a clue about how to go about it so I started doing a writing class.” She wanted to know how to do it professionally.

Little M: Can you remember what your favourite book or series was when you were a child?

Malorie: “There was a series called The Chalet School. It was about girls in a boarding school in Switzerland and their adventures. I read a number of those for a while but then I stopped reading them because I thought... they were okay but I wanted to read something that I felt reflected my life a bit more. From about 10 or 11, I wanted to read more books that reflected life as I knew it so I started reading adult books – because there weren’t books for teenagers really. So when I was 11 or 12 I started reading the Agatha Christie books and I loved Poirot and Miss Marple. I also read a number of books about myths and legends from around the world.”

Little M: What is your opinion on library closures?

Malorie: “I think it is a really short sighted thing to do. I understand that local authorities are under pressure so they have to save money somewhere. But in these times I think we need libraries more not less. I think a number of people go there to get advice and to find a safe environment to do homework. My mum, who is 75, has recently started taking computer lessons at her local library. I think when countries like Russia and South Korea are actually building new libraries because they recognise the value of them, it seems a shame that we don’t recognise the same value in this country and we’re shutting them down. Very shortsighted.”

Little M: What is your favourite novel you have written so far?

Malorie: “I think of all the ones I have written so far, probably Noughts & Crosses. Noughts & Crosses was the hardest book to write, but it was the most satisfying book to write. It was the most painful to write because some of the things that happened to Callum in the book happened to me. Like when I first travelled first class on a train, the ticket inspector insisted that I must have stolen the ticket and stuff like that. And some of the stuff that happened at school. That happened to me.”

Below is Little M’s reporting of events behind the scene at the announcement. This report originally appeared on the Children’s Laureate website and is reproduced here with Booktrust’s permission. But the pics are newly posted!

Behind the scenes at the Children’s Laureate Announcement 2013-15 - by Little M

I give a big thank you to Booktrust for inviting me to be their young reporter for the Children’s Laureate Announcement on the 4th June 2013. It was a massive honour to be there. Thank you! Malorie Blackman was selected as the Children's Laureate for 2013-15. She will be the Laureate for 2 years and then in 2015 another author will be selected.

Laura Dockrill
Author Laure Dockrill
We travelled far to get to London but it was well worth the long journey. When we entered Kings Place which is next to The Guardian, we were greeted by Caroline and Leanne from Booktrust and were shown into the lovely Battlebridge room which overlooked the Canal. There we bumped into a few authors. We had a chat with Laura Dockrill who was wearing an amazingly colourful dress, Patrick Ness, and Philip Ardagh.

Authors Liz Pichon and Philip Ardagh
Fuuny, funny authors Liz Pichon and Philip Ardagh
Everyone was in a jolly, excited mood waiting to find out who the new Laureate would be. Every person who went there had their own suspicion and I thought it might be Malorie because she has written some amazing novels like Noughts & Crosses and Pig Heart Boy which many people love. Patrick Ness also hoped it would be Malorie.

A monster walked in.......Patrick Ness
We all then went into Hall 2 and Krishnan Guru-Murthy from Channel 4 News kicked off the announcement. He was very jokey and then after a bit of talking passed us onto Viv Bird who is the Chief Executive of Booktrust. She said thank you to all the sponsors and everyone who made this wonderful role happen. She also mentioned that ALCS is now one of their new sponsors.  Abigail Campbell, who is the Chair of the Children's Laureate Steering Group, spoke next. She spoke of how the Laureate award came to be. It started up from a conversation between Ted Hughes and Michael Morpurgo and now we have this fabulous laureateship. She also said that on Twitter there was something going around saying Julia Donaldson should be Dr Who!

We then listened to Julia Donaldson who was the previous Laureate. She listed what she had achieved whilst being the Laureate and showed us photos of her library journey through  the country. One of the pictures was of her van/car before and after her trip. Before, the car was nice and looking new and then after it had dents. She was quite funny!

Also, deaf pupils from Thomas Tallis School and Life and Deaf put on a play which Julia had helped them with. It made every one laugh.

And finally the wonderful, magnificent Malorie Blackman was announced as the 8th Children’s Laureate. I never knew that Malorie was so funny. Right from the first words, she was very funny.   We then did a bit more mingling and I got to speak Anne Fine and Julia Donaldson.
Malorie Blackman and Julia Donaldson
Malorie Blackman and Julia Donaldson
Then I got to ask Malorie Blackman a few questions. She said that the closure of libraries “is a really short sighted thing to do” and that “Noughts & Crosses was the hardest book to write, but it was the most satisfying book to write”.

I think Malorie will be a brilliant Laureate, she will inspire hundreds to thousands of children and teens to either read or write. I like the idea of her making schools read for at least 10 minutes a day.  In our school we read the play of Noughts & Crosses and pretty much everyone enjoys it. My favourite book by Malorie is her new book, Noble Conflict. It has a brilliant plot and I think many people will love it!    

This was a wonderful day that I am never going to forget. It was definitely worth the trip down to London and I hope that everyone who attended enjoyed it. My favourite part was being able to interview Malorie Blackman and meeting everyone.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Hot Key Books & Red Lemon Press Summer Party 2013

Imagine this: a grown-ups party children's style. Yay! And double yay for me because I was invited!

Hot Key Books and Red Lemon Press held their authors Summer Party last week. I was invited because I’m part of the judging panel for the Hot Key Young Writers Prize 2013 (budding 18-25 year old authors, check it out!). Having had such a successful Hot Key launch year, what a party it was. And with Sally Gardner having scooped this year’s CILIP Carnegie medal the day before, everyone was literally over the moon.

Hot Key Books & Red Lemon Press Summer Party 2013 content guidance.*
Yes, glasses of bubbly, intoxicating colours and tastes, nibbles, buckets filled with bottled contents on ice, and fairy lights. There were games too: giant Jenga and Connect4. I didn’t even get to go on them because I was far too busy chatterboxing with lots of interesting, funny and excited people. I didn’t even get to speak to Viv (Serendipity Reviews), the other blogger member of the judging panel! But I did eventually have a go on the tombola – and I won a book: The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson.

Of course, Sally Gardner was there – before she rushed off to appear on Newsnight. I chatted to her about the differences between two of her books, Maggot Moon and The Double Shadow, as both had been nominated for this year’s Carnegie. Good news from her: The Double Shadow is going to be republished as an adult novel and will include scenes and details that were cut from the original YA version. From Sally’s details, this is exciting news as it will provide the binding that many of us wanted from The Double Shadow. I didn’t ask who the publisher was – I’m guessing Orion?
I chatted with friendly authors I’d met before – Alison Rattle (The Quietness) who told me some exciting personal news (I’m not the one to spill the beans on here though); Julie Mayhew (RedInk) and I got deeply sociological and spoke openly about insect bites and the taboos of how we ‘other’ people, environments, and situations: all of it scary, mucky stuff.

There were many authors I hadn’t met before and it was great to get to know some of them like Fleur Hitchcock who is on the Young Writers Prize judging panel with me. Tom Banks (The Great Galloon) was funny and endearing, and we talked not-pirate adventures and balance of gender in his novel. We also had a whale of a time talking (with Olivia Mead, Hot Key) about the ‘pacifics’ of language usage in talk and writing. And, it turns out Gareth P Jones is also funny and is as selective as me about his reading choices.

James Dawson quietly told us stories about questions that 11 year olds ask about sex (he was a sex ed type teacher once upon a time and is the author of Being a Boy, forthcoming from Red Lemon Press). Tom Easton was a pleasure to meet and I probably could have talked to him all night about South African politics, Disney, and stuff. He has written a new book and says it is a funny one about boys and knitting (forthcoming from Hot Key; private aside here – “Little M, I told you, knitting is hot, hot, hot!”).

At last I met the author who on Twitter has urged me to continue with my reading of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Nigel McDowell. He is a very, very tall and quietly unassuming man and I have a hunch he is kind. His first novel, Tall Tales from Pitch End, has just been published and it features a very richly constructed dystopian/fantasy/steampunk world. And I met Isobel Harrop who is just 18 and Hot Key is publishing her illustrated journal (take note all you young would-be-published-writers out there).


Two of my favourite surprise introductions of the night were Alex Campbell and Tori Kosara.

Earlier this year, I’d made note of a novel that Sarah Odedina purchased in Bologna. It’s called Land. I’d forgotten about it (because its publication date is quite far into my reading future) so was happily, happily delighted to be reminded of it by meetng its author Alex Campbell. The sorts of things we chatted about – including translating aspects of personal experiences into fiction - have heightened my anticipation of Land’s publication. I recommended an adult novel, Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley, to her.

Tori Kosara is an editor at Red Lemon Press, Hot Key’s non-fiction sister publisher. We chatted for ages about sex and violence in children’s books, including fiction and non-fiction, middle grade and YA. We both agreed that we didn’t like “gratuitous anything” in these books. And Little M was delighted to hear from me that Tori has worked on The Hunger Games novels!

And then I left....sort of. Nothing finishes a good night off like a controversial chat on the pavement outside with a children’s author and a literary agent! Should prestigious children’s fiction prizes be judged by select groups of adults – or by children? Should the judging process be a reflection of our democracy and involve its intended audience or do some judging criteria justify the use of adult only judging panels? What ifs, hey.....
Things I learnt:
  • Literary scouts have nothing to do with knots or birds.
  • At literary parties, most of the couples are not romantic partners - they're author and agent.
  • No matter how low, heels become killers: so take plasters or best wear flip-flops.
  • Laughter is always good.
  • Best hangover prevention tip: lots of chatterboxing means less guzzling.
Thank you Hot Key Books and Red Lemon Press for hosting such a wonderful evening.
* Yep, Little M fiddled about with the Hot Key Books' ring - without asking first!

PS. You may have noticed, no photos taken by me this time and all my notes were made post event. Memory Recall is liable, not me.

Friday 21 June 2013

Six brilliant series - says Little M

Little M's thoughts on books she hasn't reviewed but read in 2012 that were part of a series.....
Covers for The Hunger Games, The Medusa Project, Sister Missing, Slated and World's End

The Hunger Games trilogy - Suzanne Collins
3 books: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay (all read)
A fantastic dystopian trilogy about a world that makes their children fight for their life in a game. Fantastic books.

The Medusa Project series  - Sophie McKenzie
6 books, all read. A wonderful sci-fi series about teens with supernatural powers.
The Medusa Project #1: The Set Up -Sophie McKenzie
The Medusa Project #2: Hostage - Sophie McKenzie
The Medusa Project #3: The Rescue -Sophie McKenzie
The Medusa Project #4: Hunted - Sophie McKenzie
The Medusa Project #5: Double-Cross -Sophie McKenzie
The Medusa Project #6: Hit Squad -Sophie McKenzie (not pictured)
Missing series - Sophie McKenzie
3 books - Girl, Missing; Sister, Missing; and Missing Me (all read)
Brilliant series of a family whose kids keep on going missing. Brilliant series though Sister, Missing was not my favourite.

World's End series - Monica Dickens
Have read the first two books: The House at World’s End and Summer at World’s End.
A brilliant series, set many years back but a house full of rescued animals with just kids living there. Very good books!

Slated - Teri Terry
Loving the books so far (Slated is the first book and Fractured is the second book in a planned trilogy)! It is about a girl who has had her memory wiped clean, like a slate.

Insignia - SJ Kincaid (not pictured)
Sci-fi novel about a boy who is fighting in WWlll. Brilliant series - This is the first and Vortex is the second in a planned trilogy.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Marvellous Librarian - Nicky Adkins

Do any of you remember the 24 hour readathon that we did for our first birthday? Well, here's the  person who gave us the inspiration to actually go ahead with it: Nicky Adkins! Misss Adkins is a school librarian and she sounds fantastic. Today, it's her turn on the blog but over the next few weeks, we're going to showcase a few librarians who we think are really great: Marvellous Librarians.

Miss Adkins works in a comprehensive school (academy now) with about 1200 students, aged 11-18. We asked her a few questions.

It's a rainbow cake inside!

WSD: Your school library is not just about books - you have sewing machines and creatures and I think you even bake? What 'experience' do you hope/aim to create with your library?

Miss Adkins:
Our school library is about pretty much everything! We encourage and celebrate learning in all of its forms. We read, write, sing, craft, everything. We do NaNoWriMo every year which is amazing fun and really pushes students to write in a format that isn't covered on the curriculum. We have craft clubs running both formally and casually every lunchtime (they're currently making 1000 paper cranes, so that they can have a wish!) and also host the school's Nerdfighter group and Project Rainbow, our gay/straight alliance. There is quite often cake. We have a tank of creatures and will soon be getting fish. They requested a monkey but we couldn't get the Head to agree to it. The library tiger, Hobbes, plays a central role too, acting as confidant, pillow and student hugger.

Hello Tiger! Meet Hobbes.....
There's a lot of emphasis on books and reading. All our students are encouraged to read as much as possible, but much more than that, they're encouraged to enjoy reading. There is no book snobbery here. If a student only wants to read graphic novels, I'll buy them more. Quick reads, web comics, ebooks, whatever form reading takes, it's reading. As important as developing reading is, I feel really strongly that it has to develop at its own pace. It is all too easy for teens to drop the habit of reading.

Above all things, I want the library to be the place that says yes to the 'Can I...?' questions that students bring to us. Yes, you can read all the books, make a film, do an animation, build a coffin out of cardboard boxes (it was hilarious!), do random acts of kindness, design a board game, write a novel.

WSD: You took your students to meet John Green.....

RPS Library trip to meet author John Green
Miss Adkins:
We met John Green! *happy dance*

Our readers and Nerdfighters are of course HUGE John Green fans, and as soon as we heard he'd signed with Penguin, I spoke to them about possible school visits and we were absolutely delighted to be invited along to the filming of the The Fault In Our Stars webcast. Many of our students had also gone along to some of the Nerdfighter gatherings, but they were able to get their books signed and give him the presents that they'd made, including cake and a mini-John made out of plasticine. It was an amazing day.

WSD: Any highly recommended reads for KS3 age readers?

Miss Adkins:
I recommend ALL THE BOOKS! But especially anything off this year's Carnegie shortlist (Code Name Verity FTW!), The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, the Gone series by Michael Grant and the Amulet graphic novels which are amazing.

WSD: Good luck to Code Name Verity then. Anything else you're bursting to tell us?

Miss Adkins:
The main thing I would tell anyone is how lucky I am. I am doing a job that I adore, in an excellent school where the library is well supported, with some of the best staff and students in the whole world. It doesn't get much better :D
Thank you Nicky for joining in. You're a marvel!
Here is her students' book blog.
Next in our Marvels series, we'll introduce you to Anne Thompson. She's A Library Lady and has been chatting away with us since about the time We Sat Down began.



Monday 17 June 2013

We Need New Names - M's review

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Adult fiction review by M
This novel slipped its hands around my throat and the bruises won’t fade to pale that quickly.  I suspect it will never fully let go.

We Need New Names tackles the displacement that has become part of our contemporary global landscape.  Set just a few years back in post-2005 Zimbabwe, it is narrated by Darling, a 10 year old girl who lives in a Paradise shantytown shack and dreams of escaping to an American paradise.  The novel follows Darling and her friends until she is about fourteen (or fifteen) although there is a section that suggests it follows her for many years after that as the latter chapters follow a distinctly non-linear chronology. It seems appropriate to post this review during Refugee Week.

We Need New Names by NoViolet BulawayoWonderfully, this is a novel whipped with the complexities of African identities in a post-colonial and globalised world and its most compelling theme is that of contemporary displacement, a theme that will resonate with many readers. The formation of the informal settlements is the first displacement that takes place – in Darling’s life – and a few more follow. At some point the novel asks what is home and reminds us that when someone is talking about home we need to listen very carefully to hear which paradise they are actually talking about.  We Need New Names is not only about physical displacements of home, it is about lives, countries, systems falling apart until we don’t know which part of the broken Coca-Cola glass bottle we are. Where some books get under your skin, We Need New Names snakes right in and tugs at every essence.

Aside from displacement, We Need New Names will appeal to anyone interested in Zimbabwe. The novel deals with power and corrupt leadership, religious beliefs and customs, cultural mores, childhood values, land ownership, AIDS, race, language and the pains of self-imposed exile. It is a painful read with many disturbing scenes. Darling’s voice is occasionally reminiscent of Harrison in Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English.

While this is up there with some of my favourite post-colonial African writing like The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (Ayi Kwei Armah) and Nervous Conditions (Tsitsi Dangarembga), intriguingly We Need New Names also reminded me of The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (especially one chapter). Because the clause "things fall apart" repeatedly crops up in We Need New Names, I have also been prompted to start a re-read of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (since writing this review but prior to its posting, I have finished the Achebe and highly recommend reading these two novels together. A parallel review of Things Fall Apart is coming up...).  Younger teen readers may like to read Now is the Time for Running (Michael Williams) which is a novel about similar issues around Zimbabwe and exile.

I’m very keen to see what NoViolet Bulawayo does next.

NoViolet Bulawayo left Zimbabwe when she was eighteen and now lives in the USA.

Some asides (may be a bit SPOILERY – but only a teeny bit):

  • I don’t think Zimbabwe is ever named in the novel, nor is its political leader.
  • Once again, dogs get a raw deal in this novel: ouch.
  • Although quickly replaced, Darling is also permanently remembered: another ouch.
  • Remember: oranges are definitely not the only fruit – there are guavas too.
Publication details: Chatto & Windus, June 2013, hardback
This copy: digital copy received for review from the publisher






Saturday 15 June 2013

CILIP Carnegie 2013 - Our wrap up

CILIP Carnegie 2013 – Our wrap up
CILIP Carnegie 2013 shortlist
CILIP Carnegie 2013 shortlist
Our CILIP Carnegie 2013 shadowing has been a journey. We actively started following the longlist in November 2012 (although we'd already read some of the titles before they were announced). M had read 7 of the 8 shortlisted novels before they were announced (and predicted 5). We’ve enjoyed reading a variety of good books, seeing the nominations, seeing what other people think, discussing what we think about each book and considering what might win. We’ve enjoyed learning about judging and exploring the analysis of a book/piece of writing together – and discovering how complicated it all is. We’ve loved every minute of it and we’re going to miss it.  Yes, the winner still has to be announced but it’s the nomination and shortlisting discussions (and reading) that we enjoyed the most.

From the shortlist, we don’t have a clear favourite each. Little M’s gut favourite is Code Name Verity but In Darkness is licking at its heels. And of course The Weight of Water. M’s favourite is possibly Maggot Moon but some days it’s In Darkness or Code Name Verity. A lot of overlap between the two of us!

What we learned about judging from Shadowing
  • Subjectivity is difficult to avoid (& an apparent absence of it might really be more about an individual’s skill in hiding it). Because of this, clarity of judging criteria and shared meaning of these is important.
  • It is difficult to judge books based on one reading only, especially if you don’t make detailed notes.
  • It is difficult to judge books that you have read over a one year period, especially if you didn’t apply any judging criteria to your reading.
  • It is difficult to judge books that are intended for widely different age groups: we both felt that A Boy and a Bear in a Boat was at a disadvantage (except it might still win!).
  • We enjoyed discussing and debating together within set guidelines and timeframes.

What we think will win:

The criteria
The CILIP Carnegie website states that the winner “ should be a book of outstanding literary quality. The whole work should provide pleasure, not merely from the surface enjoyment of a good read, but also the deeper subconscious satisfaction of having gone through a vicarious, but at the time of reading, a real experience that is retained afterwards.” The criteria doesn’t state originality, experimentation, pushing boundaries, or refreshing.

Here’s how our panel of two non-librarians shaped the criteria. We created a spreadsheet with 17 criteria and paid attention to anything that got an interesting response. We found flaws in every title, were a bit baffled by some of the criteria, and got bored after a while. Also, first and foremost, both of us read fiction for leisure and for pleasure. So, using what we understood from the criteria and paying more attention to the point about “providing pleasure”, we decided the things that were most important for us are:
  • Flow – the work must flow although it doesn’t have to be linear; this is probably about plot construction, language use and ease of comprehension; might also be what some people refer to as accessibility.
  • Connection & Emotional response – the criteria emphasises that the winning novel must produce a real experience during reading and one that remains with you. This doesn’t mean it has to be a comfortable or happy experience, just a deep and longlasting one. We see this as how affective the novel is.
  • Unanimity – we wanted to agree on a winner. With just two people with widely different reading histories, that is difficult. We got close but sorry, no cigar.

The titles we both agreed on as meeting most of the criteria best – and fulfilling our interpretation of how to differentiate between these – are:

1.      Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

2.    In Darkness - Nick Lake

3.    Weight of Water – Sarah Crossan

However, M thinks that Maggot Moon (Sally Gardner) will win because she thought it ticked more of the boxes more clearly than any of the other titles. Interestingly, Little M doesn’t agree because she found it a bit confusing. Also interesting, she gave more ticks to A Greyhound of a Girl than I did (though she doesn’t think it will win).

Good luck to all the shortlisted authors. We'll be thinking of you during the announcement of the winner on Wednesday. And if you're shadowing and on Twitter, watch out for next year's version of #tweetckg - this year's was brilliant.


Friday 14 June 2013

Judging a Carnegie book by its cover - we're split!

More Carnegie 'coverage'. The three of us (M, Little M and Daddy Cool) are split on how we feel about these covers. Some of us love them while others show much less enthusiasm.....What do you think?

The Flask - Nicky Singer
M: Didn't like picture of a girl's face.
Little M: Didn't like the photo either but liked the flask illustration.
The Traitors - Tom Becker
Cover for The Traitors by Tom Becker
M & Little M: Too jumbled, too grey, confusing, looks like stitches
Daddy Cool: Liked it. Looks like someone's in prison counting days.
Dying to Know You - Aidan Chambers
Cover for Dying To Know You by aidan Chambers
M: Didn't like the goldfish.
Little M & Daddy Cool: Really liked the goldfish.
 The Prince Who Walked With Lions - Elizabeth Laird
Cover for The Prince who Walked with Lions by Elizabeth Laird
Little M: can't read the text easily; looks Lion Kingey.
M: Liked the warm colours and the African setting/influence that reflects the story.
Itch - Simon Mayo
Cover for Itch by simon mayo
M: Quite interesting but didn't like the interactive thing; couldn't see the point of it.
Little M & Daddy Cool: Loved the interactive thing.
All Fall Down - Sally Nicholls
Cover for All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls
Daddy Cool: Didn't like the font.
M & Little M: Like it.
This Dark Endeavour - Kenneth Oppel
Cover by This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
M: The colours and the suggested texture around the keyhole were creepy.
Little M: It's cool; like the keyhole.

The Terrible Thing That Happened To Barnaby Brocket - John Boyne
Cover for The Terrible Thing That Happened To Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne
Little M & Daddy Cool: Can't read the text; looks all superheroey; too much colour blending.
M: Actually, I haven't got any strong views either way on this one.
What do you think?





Wednesday 12 June 2013

Anne Frank’s Thirteen in 13 Campaign

On this day in 1942, a young girl was given a diary for her 13th birthday. She recorded her thoughts in this diary while she and her Jewish family hid out in an attic before being captured by Nazis. Her name was Anne Frank and her diary is know worldwide as The Diary of a Young Girl.  Inspired by her diary, the Anne Frank Trust is running the Thirteen in 13 campaign.
If you’re thirteen years old - at any time during 2013 – get involved with the Thirteen in 13 campaign. It’s your chance to tell the Prime Minister, David Cameron, what you would do if you were the prime minister.
Anne Frank at a desk. Thirteen in 13 campaign
Anne Frank at a desk. Image courtesy of Anne Frank Trust.
The Anne Frank Trust said that the “Thirteen in 13 campaign gives young people the opportunity to make their voices heard at the highest level. We are inviting thirteen year olds to write a letter to the Prime Minister expressing their thoughts and hopes about growing up in twenty-first century Britain and telling him about the world in which they would like to be adults. Thirteen selected letters will be presented to Prime Minister, David Cameron, excerpts from which will be printed in The Times in early July. The Times will also print an open letter of reply from the Prime Minister, responding to the views and concerns of Britain’s newest teenagers.”
David Cameron mask for Thirteen in 13 campaign

Francesca Simon, one of the judges for the competition element of the campaign (some of you 13 year olds might know her from your Horrid Henry reading days), told us a bit about her involvement.

WSD: When you were 13, what might you have written in a letter to the Prime Minister?

Francesca: When I was 13 I was very active politically. I grew up in America and I would have written about ending the war in Vietnam and gun control. Those were the two issues that really concerned me.

WSD: What inspired you to get involved with this campaign?

Francesca: I'm Jewish and so I've always been very aware that what happened to Anne Frank would have happened to me and any relatives living in Europe at the time. I think it is important that Anne's legacy be remembered. Children are the future and the sooner that they get involved in the issues that affect them the better! I first met The Anne Frank Trust when I gave a talk in Cambridge as part of a week looking at families and refugees and was delighted that they approached me to be involved in this campaign.
Little M said about the campaign: “I think it is very good and it may help the world become a better place. I have already written a letter.”
David Cameron mask for Thirteen in 13 campaign

To find out more about taking part, check out the Thirteen in 13 campaign website – it’s easy to get involved and takes just a couple of minutes to upload your letter. Do it before 21 June 2o13!
You can support the campaign
and Twitter (@13in13campaign).
Join the conversation with #Thirteenin13.