Friday, November 28, 2008

Fiction Friday: The Twilight crowd recommends...

The Twilight crowd has been reading faster than me (or, that would be, enthusiastically borrowing books before I have time to read them myself!).  Here are some of the ones they've liked best in the last little while - some newer, some that have been around for a while longer:

(Actually, I've also been reading the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire mysteries.  We had a conversation, the Twilight crew and I, about all the vampire romances we aren't stocking in the school library.  The words "too much bonking" and "local library" came into the discussion...that's the thing about vampires.  They ain't all 'vegetarians'....).
Another reader of The Hunger Games (a Fiction Friday pick from a week or two ago) had exactly the same beef as I did with the incompleteness of the ending.  So it's not just me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Twilight movie reviews

Entertainment Weekly has a roundup of the reviews of the Twilight movie (not out in Australia till 11 December unless you've got tickets to an advance screening) here.  Interesting to read the reader comments (many of them negative)

Or read an amusingly snarky-eyed view of them here.

The consensus seems to be that if you like that sort of thing, you'll like it; ie. it's probably similar to a film like Dirty Dancing, involving swooning fans and bewildered critics.  Sometimes a meringue movie is an excellent thing.  But only if you like meringue movies.  And among the hardcore Twilight fans, there are bound to be those charmed and those appalled by any film that translates their imaginations onto a screen.

EW also has an article about filming New Moon (the success of the first film fuelling the second).  Also, a box office analysis of Twilight's opening week - at $US70+ million, it's the largest opening weekend for a film directed by one woman.

If you love Twilight, you probably don't want to read Twilight: The lost script.  (If you like snark, you do).  That was the source of the image above.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shelving YA fiction

Interesting discussion of YA fiction "a genre that's getting harder and harder to box" on the blog Bookshelves of Doom, in an interview with A.S. King, author of the forthcoming Dust of 100 Dogs.  Read it here.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vampire of the Mall and the T-shirt of 2008

In conjunction with the release of the Twilight movie (not yet in Australia, but 11 December isn't far away!), Robert Pattinson (who plays Edward Cullen, a distinction as invisible to many girls as such distinctions often are...) is being mobbed in American shopping malls (read the NYT article here) - and one fan wore the best T-shirt of 2008.

On the front:

I never got my letter from Hogwarts.

On the back:

So I am moving to Forks to live with the Cullens.

Hmmm.  Think I might borrow the school's badgemaking machine for a little while...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fiction Friday: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, was recommended by Stephenie Meyer on her website, so the Twilight fans are keen to read it, given its anointing by their favourite author EVER.  It was also favourably reviewed by Stephen King (that review is reproduced on the page for this book).

The gist of the story: in a dystopian future America, each of the twelve districts is forced by the authorities to send a girl and a boy to participate in the annual Hunger Games: twenty-four into the arena, constantly televised, and only one will survive to be the winner - the death of the other twenty three being prime time viewing, manipulated by the authorities.  A gruesomely engaging premise, and naturally the heroine, Katniss (odd name - doesn't quite work for me) is one of the twenty-four.

It's done cleverly, sidestepping too much grue and violence (despite the setup), and will probably find a ready audience.  My gripe is with the ending - a major plot point is held over to the sequel.  I recognise that many books have ongoing plot lines linking books in a series, but this particular one was a payoff that should have been addressed - even if not fully explored - in book 1.  Just felt a tad disrespectful of the reader, to me, given that book 2 is not available/published.

Still, if Stephenie and Stephen like it, who am I to argue?

Image source.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Google hosts LIFE picture archive

The picture archive from LIFE magazine goes back to the 1750s, and in the twentieth century in particular, includes many iconic images.  The archive is now being hosted by Google - find it here.

Image source.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Plagiarism and malpractice

Ensuring students are aware of what constitutes correct use of information, and what is plagiarism and malpractice is important (of course).  The NSW Board of Studies has a program done by all NSW HSC candidates.  If you're not aware of All My Own Work, you may find it a useful online resource.

The program's content is divided into five modules:

1. Scholarship Principles and Practices
2. Acknowledging Sources
3. Plagiarism
4. Copyright
5. Working with others

Each module contains:

• Information and advice on the module focus questions
• Quiz questions
• Summary
• Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
• Link to a glossary
• Links to relevant websites.

The site also includes the statement: Honesty in HSC Assessment, detailing the roles and responsibilities of staff and others as well as students.

(HSC=Higher School Certificate, the end of high school qualification in NSW schools)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wanting to be famous

Two points of view.  Author Andrew O'Hagan, interviewed on the Book Show here, sees the wish of teenagers to be 'famous' as a signal of moral decay and likely to lead to disappointed adults.

Author Justine Larbalestier, in her blog entry here, sees this wish as evidence of an answer that conceals uncertainty, and not necessarily anything to do with moral decay.

Apart from the interesting variations in viewpoint, also possibly a resource for debating or writing involving the discussion of different perspectives on the one issue.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twilight fanfiction

The internet has facilitated the sharing of fanfiction to an extraordinary degree.  What is fanfic?  Stories that use the characters and world of an existing story - a book, film, game - and embellish and develop it in the fan's particular ways.  Harry Potter is just one example of a book that has generated lots of fanfic (over 370,000 stories).  Check out the list here of fanfic inspired by particular books.

The Twilight section on has nearly 1500 pages of stories by a vast multiplicity of authors, 15 stories per page (quick maths: that adds up to A Lot! - but nowhere near the Harry number), with different endings to existing books, stories that take place within the time frame of a book, utterly different character stories, you name it.  There are RSS feeds, so updates/additions to stories can be tracked.  One example a Twilight fan here is enjoying has Bella as Aro's daughter - she looks eagerly for the next instalment of Volturi Secrets

The quality of fanfic is, as you would expect, highly variable.  In the classroom, some students engage with creative writing exercises by writing fanfic; although you need to watch that they don't let the world and its rules constrain their writing (or spend all their time reading for research, to avoid writing...).  The volume and popularity of fanfic also attests to the affection in which the original works are held; and shows that young people are writing (not just texting!).


Monday, November 17, 2008

The 200th post

Just thought I'd note that this blog has reached 200 posts with over 6000 visits and 10000 page views.   And not just by mentioning Twilight (oops, I did it again!), she grins.

Thanks for visiting!  Come again!  I keep finding the useful stuff and keep posting it here, so I can remember and you can enjoy.


ms b

PS We thought up a GREAT school library Christmas decoration idea.  When we've got it refined, we'll share it.  And you still haven't seen the fabulous foyer, either....

Things a teacher librarian can't do: No. 2

Bring forward the release date of the Twilight film in Australia to match its US release. 12 December isn't so far away, is it??? The anticipation is positively feverish. Hmmmm. I don't want to know when the first little enthusiast finds an illegal online source of a pirated copy of it...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Twilight film - advance screening in Australia on 3 December

The Twilight film's Australian release date is 11 December, but Hoyts has advance screenings on 3 December at some cinemas, including some in Sydney, for members of its club (you cansee which cinemas, and join on the site).  Other cinema chains (Greater Union, Reading) may have similar offers - check their sites.

I've had some kids already tell me they've booked for 11 December, and Gold Class, so they have the best possible experience.  Aaaaah.  I hope they do!

After the A-mazing initial cover (you've forgotten?  Let me remind you:

OK.  Breathe deeply.  The worst is over.
Entertainment Weekly is featuring three 'collector' covers on an upcoming issue.  Rather better, at least if this is anything to go by (sourced from
Head over to Stephenie Meyer's site for more news, if you're not full to bursting yet.


Fiction Friday: Temeraire

This is one of the best books I've read in ages, adult or YA. It had grazed my consciousness, sorta kinda, and then something brought it to my attention again. Hmmm. Think we do have a copy of that in the library. I fished it out a couple of weeks ago, and devoured it in short order, before promptly ordering the rest of the series for the school library. What's the gist? Historical fantasy: the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and France, from the point of view of the British. Oh, and the military includes an aerial corps. With dragons. Excellent dragons.
It's terrific writing, great imagination, a sense of history, good storytelling. I put it in the hands of several of my keenest fantasy readers, and they've all read it fast, asked for more and are evangelising about it independently. One of them, who'd been at the top of the list, hopping from foot to foot for months waiting for Brisingr, and enjoyed that, said this was the best book he'd read in ages and ages (and where's the next one, miss?). Well done Naomi Novik.
Temeraire is the first book (also published as His Majesty's Dragon), and then follow Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles. The last only in hardback until February next year. Peter Jackson has the film rights (director of The Lord of the Rings series. Yes, him. Should be good! - but probably not for a couple of years). Naomi Novik's website is here .
The cover on the copy I had in the library is a more painterly thing, less graphic - I like these striking covers, and the kids do too. As you would have gathered, we have a building list of reservations, and they're turning over fast.
The object lesson for me - and I've made a conscious effort to read more of the YA fiction this year than last - I've always read it, of course, but this year even more - is that a) I'll make happy discoveries for myself and b) never underestimate a good book, well-recommended. I know my enthusiasm meant more than if I'd just said, what about this? without having read it myself.
Oh, and will I admit to adding these to my personal library at home?
Image source: The Book Depository .

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PLR/ELR: Australian books in libraries

The 2007-8 Public Lending Right/ Educational Lending Right Annual Report might not be on the top of your to-read pile, but it's an intriguing look at what's popular in school and public libraries in Australia. It relates to books written by Australian authors, fiction and nonfiction, and on the general lists included, children's literature rates highly. The Appendixes cover popular books over the last year and over a longer time span.

Here's the top twelve from the last year (ELR):

1 Fox, Mem: Possum Magic
2 Vaughan, Marcia K.: Wombat Stew
3 Rodda, Emily: Rowan of Rin
4 Klein, Robin: Hating Alison Ashley
5 Baker, Jeannie: Where the Forest Meets the Sea
6 Rodda, Emily: The Forests of Silence
7 Jennings, Paul: Unbearable: More Bizarre Stories
8 Gleitzman, Morris: Two Weeks With the Queen
9 Jennings, Paul: Unreal! Eight Surprising Stories
10 Marsden, John: Tomorrow, When the War Began
11 Park, Ruth: Playing Beatie Bow
12 Jennings, Paul: Round the Twist

I don't know offhand the publication date of any of these, but my guess is that they're all at least five years old, if not more, which is interesting to note too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One book, three covers

It is fascinating to see how one book can have a multitude of covers (as I've blogged about previous-like ) - and the assorted, varying, interpretations associated with them.  The Allen and Unwin blog, Alien Onion, has the US, UK and Australian covers for Teen Inc - and a description of the book - in this blog entry .  Worth reading (and seeing).  Which one would trawl in the most kids in your library?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Interactive best seller list

The Wall Street Journal, source of yesterday's article on vampires, has an extensive book section, including an interactive bestseller list where you can see how fiction and nonfiction rate against each other over time, as well as viewing past bestseller lists. Look at it here.

While it is American-focused, I find lots of useful ideas in the online versions of international newspapers. Had you expected the WSJ to range so far from economic and financial matters?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Real Men Have Fangs: vampires have never been more popular

Pulp genres interbreed as wantonly as alley cats. The vampire novel, once strictly relegated to the horror section, has in recent years infiltrated the romance, science-fiction, fantasy and young-adult shelves of bookstores. Individual authors may specialize in anything from gothic swooning to crime-fighting, globe-spanning action, high-school intrigues, chicklit-style shenanigans and Southern-fried humor.

Whatever the chosen literary mode, however, vampires are pretty much a constant. And while America's men may still regard the vampire as a nasty, blood-guzzling villain who prowls cheap horror films, to female readers he now appears as the latest incarnation of Prince Charming.

Vampires have never been more popular.

From Real Men Have Fangs, by Laura Miller, a thoughtful critical piece in the Wall St Journal that explores, among other things, issues of Edward's (controlling) relationship with Bella in Twilight.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Strange maps

Had you thought of comparing the size of China's provinces (population-wise) with other countries of the world? Nope? Don't need to. This entry from the Strange Maps blog has done it.

There are more things in heaven and earth (and in the blogosphere), Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.*

One to share with the Geography teachers at your school, or just keep an eye on for your own fascination. Maybe a library display possibility, strange map of the week?

*With apologies to Shakespeare, and Hamlet.

Image source

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Presidents and Picture Books (first Tuesday in November)

Read the Allen and Unwin blog, Alien Onion , for their take on presidential aspirant picture books (Obama and McCain and Hillary Clinton).

And then read the source article from the New York Times, here.

As Alien Onion says, it's a field unploughed by the Australian picture book industry.  Rudd? Howard? Turnbull? Gillard?  Hmmmmm.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Inkheart film trailer

There's a film of Cornelia Funke's book, Inkheart, that's close to release - imdb shows no date yet for Australia, but the UK is down for this December, the US January 2009, so it's not far off.  Inkdeath, the third book, will be published very soon, and I have some happy kidlets hyperventilating at that prospect.

Here's the Inkheart trailer from trailerspy (DET users can usually see trailerspy video).  The page's link is below if the video doesn't show for you.  There's also an earlier teaser (usually shorter) trailer there too.

Trailerspy link to Inkheart trailer page.