Friday, February 27, 2009

A blogger's list of sweet sexy romance novels for tweens and teens

Read Donna Freitas' list from her School Library Journal article here.  Good stuff!  Fabulous categories!

And wise, sane comments like this:

Many people view romance novels as fluffy and not worth reading. These are the same people who ask pointed questions like, Why should teens waste time on intoxicating, heady, first love when they can instead trudge through a despair-inducing journey of real-life pain and agony? Granted, books that tackle heavy issues have an important place in one’s reading life, but so do lighthearted novels that do nothing more than make your heart go pitter patter—especially during those years when kids are just beginning to feel their pulse race. So, fair warning: I’m going to be shameless in my offering of romantic bliss, even in its cheesiest, most blush-inducing form, because there’s a worthwhile place for these books in our kids’ imaginations.

Because if one of the reasons I read for escapism, rather than always trudging through a worthy Bit of Litteratcher, then why shouldn't the school library offer the same?

I've also noticed that part of the Twilight Effect is that even if a kid has seen the film, the hit is from reading; the hit that everyone else is talking about, the hit they want to have because their friends are talking about it, is contained within the covers of a book.  Not online.  Not on a screen.  Reading a book.  Whether or not it's page-turning crack, it's getting non readers to read.  And thus some of them come back and say, what next?  What else? And we're able to offer them more of that hit.  Maybe we won't keep them all, but for some, Twilight has been the key that has opened their eyes/changed their minds/started them reading.  Hurrah!

Also on the SLJ website: Why are teens wild about Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga? by Amrisa Nirajin. 


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Loan stats - going like a rocket!

At a teacher librarian conference last year, I heard Kevin Hennah speaking about applying retail merchandising principles and ideas to the presentation of school libraries.  We had already started on a number of projects in the library with the aim of sprucing up the space to make it more beautiful and useful, and so his ideas were additional useful food for thought.
One thing he mentioned was keeping a close eye on loan statistics.  They don't tell the whole story, but they do give an indication of how things are travelling, given that research shows that a proportion of borrowing is, like buying in shops, impulse rather than deliberate.  So at the end of last week, I did a check on how we're going this year, comparing 2009 to 2008 to 2007.
And the answer?  Wow!  Going like a rocket!  2008 was 30% higher than 2007.  2009 is 60% higher (than the same period so far in) 2008, and nearly triple the figure for 2007.
There are multiple possible reasons for this, including:

  • library renovations (not expensive ones, but ones involving thought and imagination)

  • the Twilight effect - that series has brought some to reading who were not readers before

  • focus time at school during roll call, silent reading and literacy programs

  • more teachers bringing in classes to borrow

  • resources in the library meeting user needs
and probably more than that.  Also, there will be week by week variations, depending on school events (eg. nobody borrows on the day of the school swimming carnival).
But it's great to look at those figures with satisfaction, and be keen as well to see if we can keep going.
Overall last year, loans were up 20% on the year before, so that's a figure to aim for again in 2009.  We'll see!
Can I encourage you, if you're a teacher librarian too, to check your loan stats and see what story they're telling you about your library?
Image source: NASA (copyright free) found via Copyright-Free Photo Archive.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Release dates for New Moon and Eclipse

The release date for New Moon in the US is November 2009, and for Eclipse, June 2010 (apparently Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is already locked in for November 2010).  The Australian release dates for New Moon and Eclipse are not yet on the imdb, but keep watching (see New Moon's link below).  UPDATE: Hoyts lists New Moon's Australian release date as 19 November here.
The movies have the titles of the books, with The Twilight Saga as a prompt for those who may need reminding...
Read more at E Online! here (which was the source of the official movie artwork above), and the imdb news page for New Moon here, which links to multiple sites giving this information about both films.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is listed on the imdb for release in May 2011.  In case you wondered.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Australian Children's Laureate and Australian Children's Literature Alliance

A CHILDREN'S laureate to champion reading among kids will be appointed from next year under a program established by an alliance of authors, teachers, librarians, publishers, booksellers and arts administrators.

The newly formed Australian Children's Literature Alliance hopes the initiative will promote Australian children's and youth literature, as well as convince schoolkids of the importance and pleasure of reading.

Read more: Kids' lit seeks its laureate, by Justine Ferrari in the Australian 16/2/09. 
Australian Government/Australia Council press release here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Victorian Bushfires - ways to help with books

There would be few readers of this blog who would not be aware of the devastating bushfires in Victoria.  The initial need is always money - the Red Cross appeal is here.

 Here are a couple of bookish ways to help:

Borders are taking donations of good second hand or new books and will match the retail price to $200,000.  Read more here.

Dancing with Frogs is collecting books for a keen reader called Jarryd, a boy whose extensive library was entirely lost in the fires.  Check the list here, or read how to donate a voucher to him.

Handmade Help is a Melbourne-based blog co-ordinating (and publicising) all sorts of ways to help.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Book frames

I'm not sure yet how or where I might use this idea in my school library - but it's an idea... It's called Picturebook.
It's from this site, which only delivers to the US.  And boy you could waste some happy time looking at their gadgets and ideas! (One category is "Cool Car Crap" - that's my sense of humour!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Poetica - podcasts of Australian poets

To quote from the ABC email about this:

A Pod of Poets is a unique partnership between ABC Radio National's Poetica program and the Australia Council for the Arts that brought eleven
Australian poets to the microphone to read and talk about their writing.

The project was inspired by Poetica's audience who consistently request podcasts of programs, a difficult request to fulfil because of copyright restrictions. Each of the forty-minute Pod of Poets episodes is read by the author and features only rights-free music, enabling the podcasts to be created.

"The Poetica podcast series A Pod of Poets will extend the connection between poetry lovers, students and some of Australia's leading contemporary poets," said Poetica presenter Mike Ladd.

"The intimacy of hearing the poets read and discuss their works is enhanced by images and sounds and transcripts of poems and interviews. This is a way of engaging with poetry in the 21st century and the series brings good poetry to the ipod generation."

The eleven podcasts recorded and produced by Poetica, include established and emerging poets: Robert Adamson, Les Murray, Joanne Burns, John Kinsella, Josephine Rowe, Craig Billingham, L.K. Holt, Aidan Coleman, Jayne Fenton Keane, Martin Harrison, Sam Wagan Watson, Kathryn Lomer, Esther Ottaway, John Clarke and Jordie Albiston.

The A Pod of Poets website ( includes all podcasts, transcripts, photographs and biographical information about each of the poets.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the  Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

In reponse to the first comment: storing these: I'd suggest getting your English teachers to download these into iTunes.  I don't currently store podcasts at school, but it's certainly something to look at.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Google Ocean

Some time ago, a scientist said to one of the Google Earth team, "You've done a great job with the dirt - but what about the water?"

The latest upgrade to Google Earth is Google Ocean. One feature is an historical one - eg. watch the effect on the coast of Hurricane Ike.

Another feature, Historical Imagery, provides the ability to scroll back through decades of satellite images and watch the spread of suburbia or erosion of coasts.

Click a function called Touring and you can create narrated, illustrated tours, on land or above and below the sea surface, describing and showing things like a hike or scuba excursion, or even a research cruise on a deep-diving submarine.

Read about the changes and possibilities in a New York Times article here.

Google Earth's page for educators is here.  Google Ocean is in Google Earth 5.0, so check your current version if the ocean options aren't there.


Monday, February 16, 2009

World wide Twilight book covers

If this is indelible in your mind as THE Twilight book cover (and I note with interest that on Australian best seller lists, this cover outsells the movie tie-in cover - as well of course as the movie including a reference to this image), then take a look at the huge range of cover art used on editions of the book in different countries here.  I've blogged about different book covers before.  It's fascinating to see.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Twilight companion books - update

If your kids can't get enough of Twilight, then maybe you could add the following to your library collection:

Twilight movie companion book -out now (image from
Twilight saga companion book by Stephenie Meyer - not yet released (image from
Director's notebook for the Twilight film, by Catherine Hardwicke (more info on Stephenie Meyer's site here, which is the image source).  Due out March 17, 2009 in the US, according to Amazon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Source of Australian pictures

The National Library of Australia has a picture source/search engine with over half a million images.  Find it here.  Be amazed.  Explore.  Enjoy.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Social networking and the bushfire disaster

The impact of social networking - in reporting, keeping in touch, trying to discover the safety of loved ones - was evident in the dreadful bushfire disaster in Victoria over the last couple of days.  Read more in a Sydney Morning Herald article here.

"Social media rush as Victorian bushfires rage" by Asher Moses.

Donations can be made by phone or online through links provided here on the Australian Red Cross site:


Twilight DVD Australian release date

According to this site, the Australian release date for the Twilight DVD is Wednesday 22 April 2009, a month and a day later than the US DVD release date (21 March, according to, source of above image). No doubt there will be a Blu-ray edition also.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Fiction Friday: 1000 novels everyone must read

According to the Guardian, that is.

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time in a single list.

Agree, disagree, make new discoveries and remember old friends: find the single list here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Why I write for kids"

Recently, children's author Adrienne Kress guest blogged (for literary agent Nathan Bransford) on why she writes for children. 

When asked, she says she doesn't.  Why?

I don’t write for children.

Yes, I am incredibly fortunate that one of the side effects of my writing is that I get to meet with some of the most amazing kids out there. That I get to be a source of inspiration to children around the world (which is still a little overwhelming for me). No author could ask for more. But in all honesty, I write in a genre that I happen to really love.

So what I’m doing, actually, is not so much writing for children as writing what I enjoy.

The question then becomes: What do I enjoy about children’s books?


I have never once had to explain to a child why it is possible for my story to have tall ships and laptops in the same universe. Why there is an Extremely Ginormous Octopus having conversations with people in a world where the rest of the animals behave as typical animals and no one blinks an eye. But I have had adults balk at those elements. And I have explained these odd juxtapositions simply as typical elements of “Magical Realism” (because that is truly my genre). Children are so much more willing just to sit back and enjoy the story, instinctively understanding that not everything has to have an explanation and that, in fact, sometimes a lack of explanation makes the story that much more fun.

It's an excellent piece.  Find it here.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Culture Now: a social magazine about art, design and media

What is this?  It's a Playpump.  The Playpump is a great way to make clean water available to people in third world countries. The pump is essentially a merry go round which is powered by kids or adults and serves to retrieve water from deep below the earth. With most schools in deprived regions not being able to afford playgrounds for children, the Playpump addresses more than one problem simultaneously.
I found this, and a cornucopia of other items on modern culture, art, design, media, at Culture Now.
The Playpump is an example of its offerings in the Objects section (read more, and see a diagram of how it works here).  The Objects section has a bunch of fascinating subsections:

  • Art

  • Exterior

  • Extraordinary

  • Gadgets

  • Graphics

  • Interior

  • Personal

  • Utilitarian

  • Vehicles
The Interior one, for example, has great examples of current modern design featuring designers such as Kareem Rashid.  Useful for Design and Technology and other subjects too.  Explore.  Tell your colleagues and let them explore too.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Halloween decorating

OK, so it's early to be thinking about Halloween decorating.  We did it last year, and the kids liked it.  So we'll have another go this year.

Oddly enough, Ikea's Christmas 2008 decorating included some colours which seemed more Halloween to me than Christmas - black, orange, green anyone?

So when I spotted these:
well, the black ones, on special for under $4 the pair (they're sturdy enough and 6in/15cm in diameter) I invested in a few.  The size they are means that even in the largish spaces a library can have, they will have some impact.  Here's the source of that image and their info page on the Ikea site.  Ours came from Homebush Bay/Rhodes Ikea in Sydney - they're in the As Is section.  But take a squizz at the Ikea nearest you.  Sooner rather than later.
I found a few other treasures there, which I'll blog about.  Lots of good ideas for inexpensive library decor/display/marketing with pizzazz.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where the wild things are (the film)

The movie version of Where the Wild Things Are is slated for a 2009 release, and there you can find some info and stills in this EW article about upcoming releases.  And it was partly filmed in Australia.

Picture source: article link above.