The Slaves of Socorro: a great story needs a great trailer

Many of our boys love John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series and its spin-off the Brotherband series

This year we have had many students enjoying #4 in the series “The Slaves of Socorro“. It is a great story with lots of the sort of action that our boys love. The official book trailer, whilst advertising that the book is out, does nothing to really recommend it. So much could be put into the short trailer to really whet the appetite but this is a really bland attempt. We show trailers of our new books on a screen in our library. I am always looking for something to attract the eye of not only the good readers but especially the less interested students.

My challenge to our students is to come up with a better trailer, one that offers more to the imagination and may bring new readers to the series. We created a guide to the process and a rubric for class assessment several years ago. It has been used (and adapted) by students and teachers,and is available on one of our wikis


John Flanagan on his Ranger’s Apprentice series

These books are well-loved and the final book was a fitting end to the series and Will’s story.

John Flanagan has often answered questions about his books via YouTube. Below are two recent videos offer some insight into what he is thinking and answer a few of the questions fans are asking. I will use them in our library next year to remind our readers about the books/series.

The first short video was done in answer to why he finished the series

And will there be a movie?

Shaun Tan’s newest book: Rules of Summer

I have been waiting impatiently for Shaun Tan‘s newest work Rules of Summer (published by Hachette Books.)

An email (from The Little Bookroom) came today reminding me that it is available tomorrow in the bookshops. Of course I did not need to be reminded about availability but it did remind me to forward the email to others on staff and to send out a tweet as well.

Rules of Summer, is a deceptively simple story about two boys, one older and one younger, and the kind of ‘rules’ that might govern any relationship between close friends or siblings. Rules that are often so strange or arbitrary, they seem impossible to understand from the outside. Yet through each exquisite illustration of this nearly wordless narrative, we can enjoy wandering around an emotional landscape that is oddly familiar to us all. (YouTube)

Combining humour and surreal fantasy, Shaun Tan pictures a summer in the lives of two boys. Each spread tells of an event and the lesson learned. By turns, these events become darker and more sinister as the boys push their games further and further. (Hachette)

There are some great supporting videos for the Rules of Summer available on YouTube.

Video 1 was published on 10 June 2013 and Shaun speaks about what Rules of Summer is about and where the ideas came from.

Video 2 was published on 10 Jun 2013. In this video Shaun speaks about how he came up with the theme behind his new book Rules of Summer, available from 8th October 2013.

Video 3  was published on 2 September 2013. Here Shaun explains his drawing process and explores the potential meaning of a particular image from Rules of Summer,

There is more about Rules of Summer on here for extra detail and images.

There is an added bonus this time: There will be a Rules of Summer Exhibition that is open for a brief space of time (3 days)

  • The Venue: Bright Space Gallery, 1st Floor, 8 Martin St, St Kilda. Vic 3182
  • Dates: Friday 25th October – Sunday 27th October 2013
  • Gallery Opening times: 12 – 5pm
  • Price: FREE   If you want to book for group/school bookings please email them

The Royal Ranger: the last Ranger’s Apprentice story

The Ranger’s Apprentice series has been a favourite in our library since we bought our first copy of book 1 in 2004. Finally John Flanagan has written the final book about Will and his friends.

Entitled “The Royal Ranger”, the story will take place 16 years after the last story and Will has known tragedy since we last joined him on his adventures. John Flanagan stated in an interview that the final book of the series will tell the story of Will’s first apprentice.

The publisher’s description: After a senseless tragedy destroys phis life, Will is obsessed with punishing those responsible – even if it means leaving the Ranger Corps. His worried friends must find a way to stop him taking such a dark path.

It is Halt who suggests the solution: Will must take an apprentice. The candidate Halt has in mind surprises everyone – and it’s a request Will cannot refuse.Training a rebellious, unwilling apprentice is hard enough. But when a routine mission uncovers a shocking web of crime, Will must decide where his priorities lie – finishing his quest for revenge, or saving innocent lives?

You can read an excerpt from the Random House site. I am looking forward to reading this adventure when it is published Oct 1st although it is always bittersweet when a series you have enjoyed comes to an end.
Below is the 2013 book trailer for the series.

“For the Term of his Natural Life” now has an app

Last week (Thursday, 1st Aug) on ABC’s Radio National Books and Arts Daily (presented by Michael Cathcart) there was a program with some news about the classic Australian novelFor the Term of his Natural Life.It was written in the 1880s and it has never been out of print. Now there is an e-book app which the creators hope will extend its life into the future. The app is a condensed version of the novel interspersed with segments of the mini-series, interactive footnotes, historical documents, video notes, bios, maps, and photos and there’s even a bonus song from the 1927 silent film. “

If you are interested – you can listen to the discussion podcast and/or go to the website. 

The website offers some good information with a books synopsis, information about the mini-series and also links to where you can purchase the app and the mini-series as a DVD or from iTunes, The app looks to be a great resource and may bring a new audience to this Australian story. I am only disappointed that (at for the moment at least)  the app is available for iPads only.

For the Term of his Natural Life

Looking forward to John Flanagan’s latest book

Our boys at school love the Ranger’s Apprentice series. It has been a great adventure series. We recently purchased The lost stories (#11 in the Ranger’s Apprentice) which fills in a lot of background to the characters in the series. The stories were in part inspired by the questions the author received from his readers. This book flew off the shelf but the students are also very keen to get their hands on the longer story that is advertised on the back cover.

They are all seem to be eagerly awaiting the publication of The outcasts, book 1 in a new series Brotherband. This is a story that picks up on the lives of the Skandians, people from one of the nations mentioned in The Ranger’s Apprentice books. Set on the high seas it looks to be another winner. To avoid answering the same question over and over I hope it comes out soon!

Watch the brief interview with John Flanagan:

And then the official trailer:

The Inky Awards – 2011 long list

It is not long before the CBCA winners are announced and so it is also the time for this year’s Inky’s  awards to be considered. Friday saw the announcement of the long lists. The Inkys are international awards for teenage (or YA) novels and are co-ordinated by the Centre for Youth Literature via insideadog.

This year we will be celebrating the fifth year of the Awards that are voted for online by the readers (who are under 20) of from anywhere in the world. You can read about the history of the Inkys (the winners and the books that have made the long and short lists) here. There have been many wonderful titles that have made these lists so all are worth a look even if they are not the eventual winners.

If you have not read some of these books you can go to this part of the site to find out more about each of them. We will know which titles have made the final cut on September 1 with the online voting open until October 18.

The winners will be announced at the Inkyfest on October 25.

You can read about the 2011 judges with interviews and links on the insideadog site. Lucy Christopher is on the blog already and the other judges will be interviewed each day this week.

Gold Inky 2011 long list:

  • Pig Boy by  JC Burke. The “Tom Brennan” book was such a great story and a well read book in the library. It was also one of the books our VCAL boys had to read. They are boys who, on the whole, do not  usually like reading but it was one they could relate to.  This story is again one that has very strong Australian characters and it is a very honest story about boys, bullying and violence.
  • Good Oil by Laura Buzo. 
  • Just a Girl by Jane Caro.
  • The FitzOsbournes in Exile by Michelle Cooper.
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. A book whose characters were very recognisable to many of our students.
  • This is Shyness by Leanne Hall.
  • Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick.
  • Silvermay by James Moloney. This one is new to us. We have all of James Moloney’s books for secondary school students. The fantasy ones have been very popular and this looks to be no exception.
  • The Comet Box by Adrian Stirling. Adrian Stirling’s first book Broken Glass was a very a contemporary story about rural Australian life. The Comet Box  is another look at Australian life. It is a suburban mystery that examines life in 1986  Geelong. Told through the stories of a number of different characters as they are touched by one family’s traumatic event but experienced by many within the community.
  • All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield. We only bought this book last week and another member of our staff has it for the holidays. It another first novel and what an achievement to make it to the Inky long list

Silver Inky 2011 long list:

We have some of these books, some we have not seen and some we have looked at but decided not to buy. As a school for teenage boys, we have to work out what to spend our money on to get the “best value” for our money. Books may be very well written and interesting but literature that looks to “girlie” on the cover will not get read. The boys all have to bring wider reading books to all English classes and the covers matter. Science fiction and fantasy can get away with certain symbols on the cover but in general the boys are very sensitive to how the book looks to the others.

This is the great thing about having books in e-book format. The boys who are interested in reading beyond the traditional “boys” literature, who are willing to give different stories a go, don’t have to worry about message the covers will give to their school mates.

There are others here that, after reading the on-line comments, I must get my hands on and read. I will also be encouraging our boys to vote for their favourites.


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