Friday, January 30, 2009

What to read after Twilight

It's a topic this blog has addressed before, and no doubt will again.  But here's a list, compiled at the end of 2008, of some titles to consider:


Here's a list (in no particular order) of some of the books the Twilightery fans at school have also enjoyed. They are not all vampire romances, but some are; some involve faerie/magic/science fantasy in a similar kinda sorta way:

Libba Bray: The Gemma Doyle trilogy
  • A great and terrible beauty
  • Rebel angels
  • The sweet far thing

Suzanne Collins 
  • The hunger games (first of a series, the only one out so far)

James Pattinson: Maximum Ride series

  • The angel experiment
  • School's out - forever
  •  Saving the world and other extreme sports
  •  The final warning

Justine Larbalestier: Magic or Madness 
  • Magic or madness 
  • Magic lessons
  • Magic's child

 Justine Larbalestier

  •  How to ditch your fairy

Robin McKinley

  • Sunshine (my personal favourite vampire book)
  • Beauty
  • Chalice
  • The blue sword
  • The hero and the crown (both these last two set in Damar, but standalone rather than sequential stories)


Scott Westerfeld: Uglies series
  • Uglies
  • Pretties
  • Specials
  • Extras
Scott Westerfeld
  • Peeps

Richelle Mead: Vampire Academy series
  • Vampire academy
  • Frostbite
  • Shadow kiss

 Melissa De La Cruz: Blue bloods etc
  • Blue bloods
  • Masquerade
  • Revelations

Melissa Marr: Wicked lovely etc
  • Wicked Lovely
  • Ink Exchange

Holly Black: Tithe etc series
  • Tithe
  • Valiant
  • Ironside

Shannon Hale

  • Book of a thousand days 
Kristin Cashore

  • Graceling

Catherine Murdock

  •  Princess Ben

Juliet Marillier

  •  Wildwood dancing

Cornelia Funke: Inkheart series

  • Inkheart
  • Inkspell
  • Inkdeath

 Two other series that I find poorly written and shallow - a few kids like, but not as many as the books above. They read like try-hards, written too fast so they can exploit the trend:

  • PC Cast and Kristen Cast: House of Night series
  • Alex Duval: Vampire Beach series (just reissued in doublebook format with covers that ape the Twilight's white/red/black style - snort!)

 Also of course Stephenie Meyer has written a separate science fiction/fantasy book, The host.

Some of the above are in UK and US editions, some only US editions.  Any good independent bookshop can indent titles for you, or The Book Depository is another option (free shipping worldwide). 

But of course, first ask at your school or local library!! (That's what my kids do...).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

YouTube as search engine

Is YouTube the next Google? Is YouTube your search engine of choice?  Maybe not yet, but for some, including kids, it is.  A thought-provoking article, At first, funny videos.  Now, a reference tool in the New York Times, written by Miguel Helft, discusses this phenomenon.

The explosion of all types of video content on YouTube and other sites is quickly transforming online video from a medium strictly for entertainment and news into one that is also a reference tool. As a result, video search, on YouTube and across other sites, is rapidly morphing into a new entry point into the Web, one that could rival mainstream search for many types of queries.

And further on:

At YouTube, Hunter Walk, a director of product management, said the move toward video might not necessarily lead to a decline in the consumption of text or other media. Video, text and other formats, he said, will complement one another in interesting ways.

Mr. Walk said a good example is provided by an ad for Hillary Rodham Clinton during the Democratic presidential primaries — the one in which a voice asks “Who do you want answering the phone?” at the White House at 3 a.m. during a crisis. A search for “Hillary Clinton 3 a.m.” on Google would bring up news stories about the ad and the controversy surrounding it. On YouTube, the same search brought up the original commercial, as well a response by the Barack Obama campaign, pundits’ commentaries and an assortment of spoofs, giving users a much different understanding of how the story unfolded, Mr. Walk said.

At present, the school system in which I work has blocked all access to YouTube, for students and staff, due to concerns including those related to child protection.

I wonder about what decisions will be made in the future.  Dictionaries, for instance, always had words like f**k and s**t in them; kids could find them, but had to hunt.  Few school libraries would not have pictures of naked people, whether in a National Geographic or a health book.  Now, with the internet making searching many sources faster and simpler, stuff kids had to work to find is more immediately located.  The openness of the internet makes it a challenge for educational systems, deciding what to allow, what to block, and why; and even if they can. 

And then there are always the sites like YouTube.  Like the dictionary, a collection, a cornucopia, of material judged worthy and less worthy.  And at what point (assuming that it's not possible to allow some access only, as I've been told is the case - to allow some is almost inevitably to allow all) does the educational value outweigh the educational and social (eg. child protection) negatives? 

Web 2.0 is about interaction, user-driven, user-uploaded content.  But in a free, democratic society, the freedom is there to upload the good, the bad, the indifferent.  There are great YouTube videos and vilely stupid ones.  Great blogs and vilely stupid ones.  Fabulous Flickr images and ridiculous/troubling/antisocial ones.  The collection that is our human society, our mess and melange of thoughts and ideas, available in unimaginable volume, as never before.

I don't know the answers.  As a teacher, as a teacher librarian, I think about these questions, though.  What access should we offer at school?  It's probably always going to be less than home internet access (and that's assuming all kids do have home internet access), but where the line is drawn?  That's a problem for Solomon.

And creeping up on the horizon are cheaper and cheaper netbook computers, wireless broadband, mobile phones (cell phones/cellphones) with internet access), so it's getting easier and easier for kids to step past the protective systems their school may put in place, and jump onto the internet.  To use YouTube as a search engine, for example.



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

President Barack Obama, books and reading.

In the New York Times, a matter of days before the inauguration of Barack Obama, Michiko Kakutani writes:

In college, as he was getting involved in protests against the apartheid government in South Africa, Barack Obama noticed, he has written, “that people had begun to listen to my opinions.” Words, the young Mr. Obama realized, had the power “to transform”: “with the right words everything could change -— South Africa, the lives of ghetto kids just a few miles away, my own tenuous place in the world.”

Much has been made of Mr. Obama’s eloquence — his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world.

Read it in full: From books, President-elect Obama found his voice.  Books.  Even though he is, from everything I've read and seen, internet savvy.  Like many teacher librarians, the majority of his formal education took place before the internet was commonly accessible.  And books, from this article's information (including a book reading list) remain important to him.  As they should to us. 

As they are to us.  If I've learned one thing from the Twilightery of 2008, it is to see that those kids discovered that the hit they wanted to get, the one their friends were talking about, could only be found in the covers of a book, the immersive, engaging experience of reading a book.  Yes, there was a film - but the book (books/series) was not superseded by that.

The challenge for 2009 is to discover and work towards whatever it is, this year, that will build on that, keep the library relevant, important, fundamental to the school's educational endeavours.  How we can help them understand who they are.  How we can help them apprehend their world.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Welcome back! with a Neil Gaiman quote

It's a new year, a new school year here in Australia.  Welcome back!  This is the poster we're putting up on the library noticeboard, for our students and for ourselves.

Neil Gaiman just won the Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Summer holiday break

As you may have worked out (Happy Christmas!  Happy New Year!) this blog's on holidays.  School starts after the summer holidays, and after Australia Day in late January.  So enjoy your break (if you have one) or your work (just remember we'll be plugging through winter while you're on summer holidays mid-year) and regular posting will resume in the new school term and year.

All the best to this blog's regular readers, as well as those who've dropped by or found your way here via googling, and have I hope found an answer to your question.  Even if it wasn't about Twilight (as so many are).  Current stats after almost a year: around 9000 visitors, 15000 page views, and this many countries:

Cheers and holiday wishes,