Tag Archives: books

The Best LGBT Novels for Young Adults – recommended by Cassie Kemp

Good books for teens and young adults are often about identity and figuring out who you are. Novels with LGBTQ+ characters are some of the best examples of (fictional) young people learning to be themselves while navigating the world.

Cassie Kemp is a librarian with Creative Learning Services in Leicestershire. She is a CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Judge and is a former committee member of CILIP SLG. Here she shares her top picks of LGBT novels for teens and young adults with Tuva Kahrs.

The Best LGBT Novels for Young Adults

Good reading we bring, to you and your kin!, by Annie Everall

Christmas is fast approaching so If you are still looking for last minute presents or ideas for keeping children occupied over the festive period, here are a few children’s non-fiction, young adult books that might fit the bill plus some adult titles that you might enjoy.
How to Draw Nativity
Written and Illustrated by Steve Smallman
Lion Hudson £8.99
ISBN: 978-1781283455
A series of clear, step by step visual instructions, show how to draw different nativity
characters so that by the end, a child will have created a complete nativity. The book
includes a sketch pad and the nativity story itself. I had a go and produced some very
passable pictures. A great gift for a child who loves to draw (7+)


Unbelievable Football
Written by Matt Oldfield
Illustrated by Ollie Mann
Wren & Rook £6.99
ISBN: 978-1526362445
A fascinating compilation of true stories about the game of football. It includes well known stories like the Christmas Day truce when German and English soldiers stopped fighting and shared Christmas and a game of football to lesser known stories like the goalie who saved two crucial goals with a broken neck. Divided into six story sections, each contains a Weird and Wonderful story and there is a good references section to enable children to explore each story further. (9+)


A Giant Dose of Gross
Written by Andy Seed, I
llustrated by Claire Almon,
QED Publishing. ISBN: 978-0711243507
A follow on from The Clue is in the Poo, this time the king of fun and disgusting facts looks at some of nature’s most disgusting creatures. From puking vultures and farting goats to stinky opossums who pretend to be dead, this title includes disgusting but enlightening facts exploring each animal’s unusual skills and how they use them to survive.


It has been a very strong year for Young Adult fiction and here are just a couple that I’ve really enjoyed.
That Asian Kid
Written by Savita Kalhan
Troika ISBN: 978-1909991972
What do you do if you witness your favourite teacher kissing and in a compromising position with the teacher that you dislike the most and the one you think treats you unfairly and gives you really low marks because of racism. Fifteen-year-old Jeevan films it and then facesthe dilemma – should he post it on social media even though to get Mrs Greaves in trouble might also get Mr Green in trouble too. A fantastic read, which shines a light on the impact of social media, makes some thought provoking points about racism, has a great cast of characters and is both humorous and cranks up the tension. For ages 14+


I will not be erased
Written by gal-dem
Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406386370
An incredibly powerful collection of essays, reflecting the stories of women of colour
growing up in a world that made them feel erased. Written by members of gal-dem, an
award winning online and print magazine, created by and for women and non-binary people of colour, this book reflects some of their stories. Featuring fourteen stories about identity, sexuality, family, love and power, each is written from that authors perspective of looking back, reflecting and writing to her younger teenage self, offering an adult perspective on life then and now and the journey in between. The essays are re-assuring, powerful, emotional..
Some of the themes covered are hard hitting e.g. drug taking, virginity, sex and sexuality but they are very relevant to all young people. The book begins with a letter from two of gal-dem editors explaining that the book was written because it’s one they wishes they could have read when they were growing up and struggling to cope with their erasure from books, film, TV and the world they lived in, while dealing with the racism and sexism they were exposed to and experiencing. An interesting biography of the contributors is featured at the back along with a useful help and information section. I found this to be a thought provoking, challenging and inspirational read. Its subject matter is at times quite hard hitting but it has significant place and relevance for today’s young people. For age 14+


And what about us? – the adults, the parents, the librarians who want to curl up at some point over Christmas with a glass of something, a mince pie and a good book. Most of my adult reading is non-fiction and I’m particularly interested in American history and politics, criminology and biography as well as crime fiction. Here are a few of the adult books that I’ve enjoyed – just in case there are any kindred spirits out there with similar tastes to me.
Reading and Rebellion An Anthology of Radical Writing for Children 1900 – 1960
Edited by Kimberley Reynolds, Jane Rosen, Michael Rosen
Oxford University Press ISBN: 978-0198806189
It’s always fascinating to look at children’s literature from different perspectives, seeking and gaining new understanding, especially when edited by three authors with excellent pedigree and a preface by Polly Toynbee. This is exactly what Reading & Rebellion offers. It’s an anthology that brings together writings reflecting left wing radical perspectives from 1900 – 1960. It includes extracts from children’s fiction, non-fiction, plays, cartoons, poetry, newspaper pieces and Russian storybooks in translation, exploring how they shaped the authors themselves and other children who read them. Each of the fourteen thematic sections and individual pieces has an introduction, setting its context and history and bringing the extracts to life. Each extract is interesting on its own but looked at as a whole, they give a picture of the impact that children’s literature can have on culture and its potential influence on child readers. A thoughtful, thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable book, to be dipped in and out of and returned to many times. It could be a valuable tool to spark discussions with young people, particularly as our world feels like it is moving further and further to the right, with ever increasing speed. It definitely makes readers want to go back and re-read with fresh eyes, books by writers such as Geoffrey Trease and Eleanor Farjeon.

A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump’s White House
Written by Jon Soppel
BBC Books ISBN: 978-1785944376
Jon Soppel is the BBC North America Editor and I loved his first book If Only They Didn’t Speak English. In this new book he takes the reader inside Trump’s West Wing and explores the impact that Trump’s presidency is having. It is a brilliant look at the chaos, subterfuge, relationship breakdowns that takes place on what seems like an almost daily basis. I couldn’t put it down.
Corrupt Bodies
Written by Peter Everett and Kris Hollington
Icon Books ISBN: 978-1785785528
Peter Everett used to be the Mortuary Superintendent at Southwark, the busiest mortuary in the country. This is his story of life in the London death industry. In his time there he dealt with over 1,200 deaths, 400 of which were murders and some very high profile ones such as the Stockwell Strangler murders. He also performed the post mortems for a number of notorious East End gangster’s and Hitler’s confidant Albert Speer. An absolutely fascinating look at this subject – gruesome, mind boggling – I was hooked from page 1.


Librarian’s Night Before Christmas
By David Davis
Illustrated by Jim Harris
Pelican Books ISBN: 978-1 589803367
My all time favourite Christmas book is Twas the Night Before Christmas. Every year I buy a new version of it and on Christmas Eve, I read it to my husband. One of my favourite versions is the one illustrated by Christian Birmingham and published by Harper Collins but no longer in print. I also love The Librarian’s Christmas and I re-read my copy every Christmas and I still enjoy it even though it also makes me sad to think we are experiencing these things more and more in our libraries. It’s a story in rhyme, telling how due to low staffing and reducing budgets, a librarian must spend her Christmas Eve, stocking shelves at her library which is in desperate need of refurbishment. After the strain of a long night that has left her feeling “like Bob Cratchet in A Christmas Carol”, she is so happy to see Santa and his elves coming to her rescue in their red book mobile. The illustrations are superb and I love the closing lines which Santa makes as he takes off again in his book mobile “Nick boomed from his book van – do one more good deed. Have a real Merry Christmas – teach someone to read”

So enjoy what time you manage to get for reading over these holidays, I hope Santa brings you some great reading material and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Annie Everall
Director
Authors Aloud UK

Carnegie 2016: Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

It’s something of a cliché to start a review like this, but among writers of fiction for children and “young adults”, Marcus Sedgwick is genuinely unique. His cold, oddly distant tone gave his early novels a distinctive feel even as they used essentially familiar story-structures, but his recent work has moved even further away from convention, embracing the kind of abstract, non-linear styles that are rarely found in fiction aimed at a younger audience.

Ghosts Of Heaven is similar to his own Midwinterblood in structure, being composed of distinct stories linked by a single theme, but the connection here is looser and more deliberately abstract. A short, non-fiction introduction in Sedgwick’s own voice gives a brief explanation of the events following the big-bang, describing the formation of our solar system as describing a spiral pattern. Sedgwick then introduces four short stories linked by the spiral theme, explaining that they can be read in any combination in order to create different effects.

The stories themselves cover different times and themes, and are as confident and engagingly awkward as we’ve come to expect from Sedgewick. A narrative poem about a young girl from a pre-historic tribe making a discovery with profound future implications; another girl much later is accused of witchcraft by a village who fears and envies her; a psychiatrist starts a new job in a very unusual hospital in the early twentieth century; much later, the only conscious passenger on a faster-than-light colony ship carries out the slowest murder investigation in history. As with Midwinter Blood, recurring themes link the stories, but whereas in the earlier book a large number of themes are used to array a mostly linear narrative, here things are more abstract – the symbolism is pared down to mostly just the constantly-repeating motif of the spiral, a pattern mirrored in the lack of straight narrative story.

The techniques Sedgewick uses here will be familiar to readers of less narrativist fiction, but are still quite unusual within the “young adult” market – the closest points of comparison being Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Alan Moore’s notoriously reader-unfriendly Voice Of The Fire, hardly references one normally comes across in fiction aimed at younger readers. Within the stories themselves there are some surprises too – the pure science fiction of the final story is unlike anything Sedgewick has put his name to previously, while the psychiatrist’s tale gets closer to capturing the genuine spirit of HP Lovecraft than most “adult” horror fiction with that intent manages. It’s not surprising that the weakest individual story – that of the witch – is also the most conventional and familiar, though its recurrence in the other stories goes some way to redeeming that.

The unorthodox structure of Ghosts Of Heaven will no doubt put off some younger readers, and some of those who stick with it will be frustrated by the lack of clear narrative or fixed conclusion, but more confident or precocious readers may well find that Sedgwick has given them access to a style of fiction not usually available to younger readers. A genuinely distinctive release from an author who continues to be one of the most interesting in his field’.

Refugees and child migration: essential book titles

the refugee experience banner

Are you celebrating World Refugee Day this June ? Do not miss the opportunity to stock up your library with our fantastic book recommendations and prepare for this worldwide initiative.

Amanda Ball (Morpeth School) has kindly put together a fantastic booklist of her favourite titles which have a refugee-related theme: click Refugee and Displaced Person Reading List by Amanda Ball to view her booklist.

The UN Refuge Agency has also put together a very comprehensive book list for different reading ages: booklist here.

As part of the Trinity Schools Book Award, Librarian Cecile Mayanobe (Brighton College Senior School Library) has run a reading programme with a group of year 7 students on the novel ‘Alone on a Wide Wide Sea’ by Michael Morpurgo.

She has put together an informative and moving Alone on a Wide Wide Sea presentation which contextualises British forced child migration which is also the centre-theme of Morpurgo’s book. The presentation also includes various links to news articles and a link to the trailer for the film “Oranges and Sunshine”.

Cecile also recommends a visit to the V&A Museum of Childhood which is running a special exhibition from 24 October 2015 until 12 June 2016.

Exhibition – On Their Own: Britain’s Child Migrants

Exhibition overview: ‘An exhibition telling the heart-breaking true stories of Britain’s child migrants who were sent to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries between 1869 and 1970. These children were sent overseas by migration schemes, which were run by a partnership of charities, religious organisations and governments, and claimed to offer boys and girls the opportunity of a better life in Britain’s Empire overseas. Many migrants never saw their homes or their families again.”

Featuring detailed first-hand stories, photography and personal items which belonged to child migrants, as well as video and audio which recount this period of history.

The exhibition will explore the complex moral motivations to these schemes and share the work of the Child Migrants Trust, which has brought some comfort to former child migrants, by finding their families and reuniting them with surviving members’

Article’s contributors: Amanda Ball (Morpeth School) and Cecile Mayanobe (Brighton College Senior School Library) 

Recommended graphic novel titles for school libraries

Recommended graphic novels for school librariesOur fantastic visit to the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London has really given all participants an insight into the world of graphic novels and really interesting discussions about some of the pitfalls regarding content and appropriate audiences for different age groups.

The store manager, Lou Ryrie, who is also a huge advocate for school libraries has put together just for our event a list of recommended titles, with very detailed comments about age-suitability and useful warnings. You can now find the list below:

Recommended graphic novels for school libraries.

Another fantastic source of recommended manga and comics lists for children and Young Adult is the Comic Literacy Awareness organisation (CLAW): www.claw.org.uk/

You can contact Lou for any queries at the following email: manager2.london@forbiddenplanet.com

Stan Lee Excelsior Award

We would also would like to draw your attention to the Stan Lee Excelsior Award which is the only nationwide book award for graphic novels and manga. Kids aged 11-16 decide the winner out of a shortlist of eight titles by rating each book as they read it.

To discover more, visit the award website: www.excelsioraward.co.uk

 

Why everybody should read Neil Gaiman

I used to hate London.

An odd way to introduce Neil Gaiman, you might think, but it’s true – the noise of the crowds, the smell, that particular level of physical and social discomfort that can only be found on a packed tube, everything about the place seemed hateful and dark. Throughout childhood and adolescence I could find nothing positive to say about that great sprawling city, nothing that cast it in a more pleasing light… and then I read Neverwhere.

Where before there had been only urban sprawl and smoke, I could now see the magic that animated it, hear the secrets whispered behind it. Empty tube trains moved through silent, shifting tunnels, connected by stations named after major arcana in an obscure hidden Tarot. Rats and the cults that serve them conducted arcane business in a shadow London ruled over by figures both familiar and deeply alien. Mystical London is not a unique concept, and Neil Gaiman was neither the first nor the last to write about it, but in my opinion he is the most successful, his vision of London Below simultaneously simple and charged with energy. Through his writing I was finally able to see a different London, a London transformed by hidden meaning into a place of magic, and it’s still his London Below that I see every time I take a tube, or walk past a piece of obscure graffiti, or catch a pigeon staring at me from the corner of my eye.

Like his literary heroes Michael Moorcock and Alan Moore, Gaiman’s great strength is to shine a light just behind the surfaces of our mundane world, and allow us to see beneath. He spent his childhood devouring mythology, fantasy and science-fiction, but rather than simply regurgitate them in familiar shapes he’s processed them into something simultaneously more mundane and more profound. He takes us to places we have seen a hundred times before, and shows us the danger and beauty we had never thought to see in them. In his stories, a conversation over a cup of tea can have repercussions that change the nature of reality, mundane daily items and places are charged with occult significance beyond a thousand Holy Grails. He pulls the mask away from life and reveals that it’s every bit as strange as we’ve always secretly hoped.

It has been said that the finest achievement any writer can aim for is to write something that is never forgotten – I have no doubt that my favourite passages of Neil Gaiman will stay with me until I die. The Angel Islington singing to himself in an empty room. The narrator of Murder Mystery piecing together those last broken fragments of memory, in the presence of a being beyond his ability to ever understand. Shadow finally realising who his old cell-mate was, in a piece of word-play so subtle that we’re applauding Gaiman for tricking us at the same time as wandering how we didn’t notice. The entirety of Snow, Glass, Apples, which will forever change a classic story beyond recognition in the mind of anyone who reads it. These moments – and the many equally powerful ones that can be found throughout American Gods, Anansi Boys, his short-fiction and the towering, genre-changing masterpiece of his Sandman comic series – combine comedy, beauty and genuine horror in a way that the greatest stories always have.

Put simply, and with great risk of hyperbole, Neil Gaiman is one of the best Fantasy writers of his generation, and the strengths of his writing are precisely the reason why Fantasy should be liberated from those who would turn it into a ghetto for Elves and Dwarves so that the approved fiction can glory in some other name. Like all true Fantasy, Gaiman’s stories are about humans, that strange synthesis of the animal and the divine who stands at the threshold of eternity and complains about the weather. Even the most mundane of his stories are ablaze with real magic, the magic which can be found in a discarded wrapper or comfortable living-room as readily as in a ruined castle – the magic which, at its core, is a reflection of the people who observe it. Allow yourself to see the world through the filter these stories provides, and you’ll see a world which is more frightening, more beautiful but, ultimately, only more human.

Book Review – The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

When the vampires, or the soul-eating ghosts or the emissaries from the Domain of Light come to Earth, they go after the Indie Kids. Romantic, free-spirited loners with their own whimsical style and distinctive names, the Indie Kids listen to music that isn’t popular anymore, write poetry about their feelings and move through the crowd of faceless, boring normal people with the confidence that comes from knowing that they have a Destiny that sets them apart and makes them special. Mikey and his friends are not those kids.

This ninth offering from two-time Carnegie Winner Patrick Ness isn’t just an engaging coming-of-age story and a sharp parody of Young Adult Paranormal Romance, it’s a book with a mission – to dismantle the toxic and harmful myth of the Chosen One and the Magical Loner still enormously popular in YA fiction. What one might otherwise expect to be the main plot – in which thoroughly unique and special indie kid Satchel falls in love with the achingly handsome Prince of the Immortals and battles to exile his people back to their own dimension – is relegated entirely to brief chapter-headings which gleefully, and savagely, mock the pompous style of Twilight, Mortal Instruments and their less famous kin, with the main body of the text exploring Mikey and his friends’ much more mundane struggles. Though markedly different in content, in theme it could be seen as a Young Adult companion to China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, which does a similar thing for Narnia-style escapist fantasy.

Part of how Ness achieves his goal is through unflinching often brutal honesty – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s Disease and eating disorders are all stripped of the comforting lies and obfuscations they’re usually dressed up in, and Mikey’s experiments with his own sexuality are rendered in a matter-of-fact, unsensational tone which neither belittles nor objectifies them. Mikey himself – the attractive, broadly popular son of a Republican senator – is the last person who would ever be the star of one of these books, and his friends are likewise far too “normal” and vanilla for the indie kids to pay attention to, but by focussing on the details of their lives, Ness shows us that they are every bit as tragic, brave and interesting as the kid with the silly name who spends all day writing poetry. As well as deconstructing the Chosen One mythology, The Rest Of Us… is also a deft reflection on family, self-worth and the process by which teenagers give up enough of themselves to be adults.

Teenagers are a demanding audience, and of course none of this would mean anything if the story and characters weren’t strong enough – but Ness has never had problems in this area, and he isn’t starting now. Even if one chooses to ignore the subtext, The Rest Of Us… is still a skilfully handled, wise and entirely human coming-of-age story, and the Twilight-parody is sharply observed and often genuinely funny. Beyond that, however, it feels important – a bold, confident strike at one of the most dangerous lies we still tell teenagers, that your problems are more real, more interesting, more special than those of “normal” people, and that being important is some kind of reward for the struggles you’ve faced. Everyone’s special, Ness reminds us – which means that no-one is.

Top Ten Graphic Novels For School Libraries.

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TEN GRAPHIC NOVELS (AND MANGA) FOR SCHOOLS!

The London and South East SLG recently hosted a fantastic event at Forbidden Planet and to accompany the event one of our committee members shared with us the top picks for graphic novels and manga for use in schools. Choosing GNs and Manga for schools is such a minefield and if you are not familiar with the genre it is very easy to end up with material of a type that does not fit the needs of your pupils.

You can download the PDF of this list below…

TEN GRAPHIC NOVELS

You might also find these links helpful…

Recommended Websites for Further Guidance
http://www.koyagi.com/Libguide.html :: manga in libraries
http://www.abcb.com/parents/ :: parents’ guide to anime
http://my.voyager.net/~sraiteri/graphicnovels.htm :: recommended graphic novels for libraries
http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/asl/guides/comics.html#Recommended :: more recommended graphic novels for libraries
http://ublib.buffalo.edu/lml/comics/pages/ :: comics especially for young adults
http://www.koyagi.com/teachers.html :: teachers’ companion to manga
http://lists.topica.com/lists/GNLIB-L/ :: graphic novel listserv for librarians, book industry professionals
http://www.noflyingnotights.com/index2.html :: reviews of graphic novels for youth, teens, and adults, maintained by librarians

Please feel free to add your top titles in the comments below, we’d love to see them!

 

 

A Trip To A Forbidden Planet

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It is notoriously difficult to choose graphic novels for school libraries and so On Wednesday, 22 October, CILIP’s School Libraries Group for London and the Southeast met at Forbidden Planet (https://forbiddenplanet.com) As you may know (or may not if you’ve been living in the Batcave) Forbidden Planet is the world’s largest and best-known science fiction, fantasy and cult entertainment retailer, and the largest UK stockist of the latest comics and graphic novels. What they don’t know about the genre isn’t worth knowing.
The event was well attended by around twenty school librarians and paraprofessionals, who were able to spend the evening browsing across the many genres available at the store, get advice from the extremely knowledgeable staff and then purchase at a discount. At the end of the night the store’s Deputy Manager, Lou Ryrie, gave the librarians in attendance a talk about what manga and graphic novels were appropriate for school-aged children and made other suggestions for ideas of books that could be purchased that evening, such as Batman Year One, Maus, Case Closed and Full Metal Alchemist.
Of course it finished with everyone having tea, coffee and biscuits and exchanging contact information, etc. What would a school librarian event be without chat and biscuits!?

Forbidden Planet gives a 10% discount to all libraries. If you are interested in ordering from them, please contact Lou at manager2.london@forbiddenplanet.com, for advice and purchasing. Forbidden Planet will take a purchase order and then when payment is received will deliver to libraries free of charge. Drop them a line for advice too, they really know their stuff and can guide you through the graphic minefield!

We will be compiling some lists based on the night, so watch this space for that info, and for news of other events.

Image credit to http://paperzip.co.uk/classroom/banners-posters/batman-returns-books

Post contributed by Amanda Ball

Harry Potter Night 2015

Bloomsbury have made this exciting announcement about the launch of Harry Potter Night in February 2015. Their press launch said this….

February 5th 2015 will see the first ever Harry Potter Book Night. This exciting event gives new and existing fans a chance to share the wonder of J.K. Rowling’s unforgettable stories and, most excitingly, to introduce the next generation of readers to the unparalleled magic of Harry Potter. You are hereby invited to embrace the magic and banish the midwinter* blues!

Bloomsbury Children’s Books is inviting schools, bookshops, libraries and community groups to host early-evening events in celebration of Harry Potter Book Night. We’re creating a complete Harry Potter Book Night Kit – available for free download – offering you everything you need to plan and host an unforgettable evening. The only missing ingredient is your own ideas and flair!

The kit includes invitation templates, an event poster, games, activities and quizzes as well as ideas for dressing up and decorating the venue. Booksellers, librarians and teachers, register now to receive the kit. Registration will close on Friday 28th November. 

In addition to the community events outlined above, there will be public events in London and key regions around the UK, a major competition for UK schools and many further treats and surprises – all celebrating J.K. Rowling’s seven iconic Harry Potter books – to be revealed very soon. 

Bloomsbury Children’s Books will be marking Harry Potter Book Night on February 5th in our key territories, giving fans across the world an opportunity to join in the celebrations. Sign up to our Harry Potter newsletter for updates in the run up to the big night.

*That’ll be midsummer if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere!”

This looks well worth making a note of!

More details on the Bloomsbury website