Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book 59 - Desirable by Frank Cottrell Boyce - England

This is a Barrington Stoke book - in other words - high interest but low vocabulary for reluctant readers or ESOL students. I am a huge fan of Frank Cottrell Boyce's other books - Millions, Framed and Cosmic so when I saw this was available through Barrington Stoke I knew it would be great.

George, the main character, is unpopular. Well that is an understatement - even his own grandfather doesn't want to spend time with him on his birthday. He does, however, give George a gift - some after shave called "Desirable" that he was given years ago - way past its 'best by' date. George decides to try the potion any way and suddenly everything changes. The girls all want to sit with him, the boys all become jealous of him and everyone wants to join the warhammer club just to be with him. Two people seem to be immune to this new wave of popularity - George's best friend, Tiny and the girl George has a crush on, Daniella.

This is a very funny read. George is a wonderful anti hero. I love when he is trying to replace the after shave and his says "I searched the internet. Desirable is not a good word to google." Some real laugh out loud moments and a happy ending too. 

Here is the promo material from Stoke books

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book 58 - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - the arena

I don't often read the best sellers. I find these promote themselves - everyone is reading them, everyone is talking about them, everyone is sharing them by lending their own copies or borrowing the library copy. I thought I would read this book simply because some of the grade 4 students had seen the film and were now clamoring to borrow our copies. I am so pleased I did. The dystopian view of the future is brutal so are the Hunger Games the characters take part in.

Katniss Everdeen's sister Prim's name comes up during the 'reaping' and instead of seeing her go to the National Hunger Games Katniss steps up to take her place. A skilled hunter and poacher, she has some survival skills but nothing like the cunning and brute strength she will need to survive the Games. The Hunger Games are a reality TV show in which 12 boys and 12 girls hunt and kill each other until only one survivor remains. 

This book has been challenged in school and libraries across the USA. A 'challenged' book is one that someone asks to removed from a library collection. In the blog My Hunger Games one of the team run by Jacqui explores why The Hunger Games might make it on to such a list. They provide some good links. It is interesting that the book has led to such a website - run by a group of fans. I am not one to remove challenged books from our library - students should be able to choose what they do and don't read. I am cautious about which students under grade 5 are wanting to read this book though. How do I make the call? I check with the student's teacher and check their borrowing history which should give me clue as to whether they are able to read such a book. When it comes down to it though it really is the student's choice.

Having read 'The Hunger Games' I am not keen to continue on to the other two books in the trilogy. I have other adventures to go on.

Book trailer done by Han Wang as a school project

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sharing in the library

Today a student expressed surprise that I thought he should return his library books in a timely manner so other students could also share them. I used the word "share" and I wonder if that was the disconnect. Today when a young person "shares" something electronically they don't "share" it at all - they simply pass it on. When they "share" a photo, video or audio file it actually never leaves them. They do not experience any cost to themselves, they are not without it, it never leaves them. To return a library book, however, does have a cost to them - they cannot use it while someone else has it. In this easy-to-access electronic age I am wondering if our language is becoming too soft and meaningless as well. Yes there is a cost to sharing, there should be. Sharing means that I choose to go without so that someone else can participate in an experience. Now we can pass on the experience without losing anything at all. I am not sure that is a good thing.

By the way - I still want that library book returned so someone else can read it......

How to wish a librarian a happy birthday? Say many happy returns.......

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book 57 - My most excellent year by Steve Kluger - Boston, USA

This novel was on the ALA laugh out loud list. It really lived up to the description. It is the story of 11th graders Anthony (TC to his friends), Augie and Ale. Their English teacher has given them the assignment to journal throughout their year. Each student takes a slightly different approach. Anthony addresses his thoughts to his Mum who died when he was about 6 or 7. Augie addresses his thoughts to a different diva each month, Bette Davis, Liza Minnelli and so on. Ale's journal is written to her heroine Jacqueline Kennedy. As ewach student reveals their lives we see how their friendship grows. Augie and Anthony had already adopted each other not long after Anthony's mother had dies. They are so much brothers that both their families have adopted the other family. Ale is the new girl in town. Her diplomat parents mean she has met many stars and alienated a few countries. 

During their year the three of them discover things abut themselves and each other that make them very close indeed. Ale's performing career begins as she reluctantly enters the talent show Augie is directing. Augie finally discovers he is gay - something his family has already figured out for themselves. Anthony meets Huckie, a deaf 6 year old and befriends him.

The summary above simply does not do justice to this complex and comic look at life and growing up. I really enjoy the portrayl of the teens in this book and their very supportive families. No horror tales here though there is some tragedy to overcome that is for sure.

Steve Kluger's website

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Networks and professional development

During the past week I have attended two Network meetings. The first one was the inaugural meeting of a new group called L-TEN - Learning and Technology Educators Network (I think). Thirty teachers from about 6 - 7 different schools in Istanbul and from one school in Sofia met at our school. We were tech integrators, librarians, teachers, school leaders, some were all of the above. We discussed issues facing all of us, shared ideas and solutions and talked about interesting apps and websites and tools. It was fun. Next year there will be three meetings of L-TEN.

Today I went to the Istanbul School Librarians' Network. There were about 15 of us and we had discussions about ebooks, collection management and writers. Not too different except, I have been attending this Network for three years and I feel I am getting to know the other librarians well. We had cake and farewells this afternoon for two of our colleagues who are leaving Istanbul in June. I will miss them both.

Networks are great for sharing ideas and for making friends. It is wonderful to get together with people who are passionate about the same things as you are. I really appreciate my colleagues who make the effort to attend these meetings - their contributions help me work more effectively in my own school. Thanks.