Having a look at Everything beautiful

zeverything beautifulAfter my Inkys shortlist post I had a comment about  Simmone Howell suggested that I take a look at her novel, even though I work in a school populated by teenage boys. My comment about how powerful covers can be I think is relevant. Not one of our regular book suppliers brought this book in for us to have a look at. I suspect they looked at the cover with the heart and that had a great bearing on their decision. I also did not give it any thought and did not notice it on the book shelves.

Since then I have looked at some reviews including the one from Magpies Magazine below

Riley Rose thinks of the Spirit Ranch Holiday Camp as more a concentration camp than a chance for spiritual revival. What she believes is nobody’s business. Clever and observant, with a reckless courage and disregard for consequences, Riley creates a stir that changes the outlook of several fellow campers.
However, it isn’t all one way because after many incidents when Riley has a chance to escape with her crazy best friend Chloe and gorgeous hunk Ben Seb who have come to rescue her, she chooses to stay with fellow camper Dylan and face the music.
The two are in trouble because they have stolen a car and runaway into the desert to a salt lake supposedly with healing powers. Dylan is in a wheelchair after an accident no one will talk about. Although Riley has no apparent disability she is still broken-hearted after the death of her mother and expresses her feelings through angry recklessness. Anger brings them together and each give way enough to find a relative peace, and hope for the future. An unusual romance tale with a complicated and likeable heroine.

Having made the Inkys shortlist and after reading various reviews I thinks I have been remiss and will now read the book. I know some boys who would be interested in reading something that is like the above review. Afterall if they can read Twilight …..

The interesting little one-handed book trailer for her novel is by Simmone Howell.


Inky Awards Shortlist

InsideadogThe Inkys short list was decided a few weeks ago. These are all great books. The highlighted ones are those we have at our school and, although a couple of stories I liked have not made the cut, I am quite satisfied with those that have (I should say – Of those I have read, I am happy with their inclusion).


Golden Inky (for Australian titles)

  • Broken Glass (Adrian Stirling) This is a dark story of life in a fairly remote country town, with a confronting conclusion that makes this novel more suitable for older or more mature readers. It has a grim scenario involving violence and intimidation. I found Broken Glass a good read but it is also very confronting at times and I find similarities with the book Wake in fright as it shows a less savory view of Australian male friendships.
  • Jarvis 24 (David Metzenthen) This the story of 15yr old Marc Jarvis, who is from the very comfortable Melbourne suburb of Camberwell. He, like many of his contemporaries, spends a lot of time dreaming about girls and his future. Work experience brings him into contact with Electra, a verygifted runner, from another very different world and his life will never be the quite the same. It is a gently told story that touches the emotions as well sees the humour in life.
  • Where the Streets had a Name (Randa Abdel-Fattah) The Middle East is still a rare setting for YA literature. This is an interesting, intelligent and thought-provoking novel that is told through the stories about the protagonists and various people they meet. The reader learns about a human side of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem and the Middle East ‘conflict’, one which has often been reported about in our daily media. It is interesting that the author has managed to be funny, despite such heavy content. This story is one of family love, survival and hope.
  • Worldshaker (Richard Harland) We only recently purchased Worldshaker and it forms part of the collection of steampunk fiction that we are building. I have only skim read it as yet but it looks good. The Worldshaker is a juggernaut, an enormous city that moves around the world, through sea and over land, crushing all in its path under giant rollers. It and the juggernauts of other nations were created after the Industrial Revolution, and exist in a world that has turned out very differently to the one we know. The story starts with an exciting incident and then, after many twists and turns, it builds inevitably towards a violent conclusion.
  • Everything Beautiful (Simmone Howell)

 Silver Inky (International titles)

  • Exposure (Mal Peet)  An interesting and good adaptation of Othello, set in the world of today’s football (soccer). It could make a good companion novel for a study of Othello. 
  • Paper Towns (John Green) The College fiction blog has a good discussion about John Green and his writing  (with links) here
  • The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) (My favourite) Dystopian societies seem to have become the next major after vampires. This was a gripping story. In this dystopian world teens, between the ages of 12-18, are all possible candidates for what are called the Hunger Games, a contest to the death. It is a bleak world with enough of a reflection of our current reality to see how this might have come about. However the power of humanity also shines through some of the chacaters
  • Skim (Mariko and Jillian Tamaki)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)

These are great books and I want to encourage all our students to vote. 

Vote in the Inkys

To vote you go here and there are very simple rules: Voters must be aged under 20 and they can only vote once. They can live anywhere in the world. Voting closes on Nov 20th.

For library staff: Don’t forget to go to shelftalkers for help in getting your students started.

Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Interesting ways to use…. by Tom Barrett

Tom Barrett has been sharing his class ideas and tips about using various tools in GoogleDocs presentations for quite a while and I have been collecting them in my bookmarks. He has now put all of them together in his blog. The presentations are in easy to use in their Google docs format and he invites others to share ideas. They are worth looking at/using and, if you have some tips that have not been mentioned, think about contributing.

The latest one I found was Ten Interesting Ways* to Use Audio in your Classroom. We have been doing some work with audio and I recently listened to a discussion on music in the novel, so I am interested in exploring this area some more.

 The other presentations are listed below but don’t be surprised if the numbers have changed.

Still in the early stages are:

Steampunk links

Since first hearing about Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan about 6 months before it was published I have been looking up more information about the “steampunk” concept, trying to get a better understanding of the literature that has been classed as “steampunk”. The Steampunk librarian’s blog is an interesting site to read that gives you many links to all things “steampunk” as is the blog Steampunks links. Recently the later site highlighted art by James Ng. I really liked his artwork but it has information about many other visually interesting sites as well .

Another  site I really like is The Steampunk Workshop. It has some great posts and offers all sorts of interesting ideas and projects. Working in a school populated by teenage boys, it is a great site to get their attention. There are links to many things”steampunk”, from links to literature and reviews, projects, technical links , ephemera (that includes all manner of things that have caught the author’s attention) and even music.

The projects the author, Jake Von Slatt, takes on, ranging from the Steampunk keyboard to the Victorian camper to the Victorian PC, are amazing. I am not sure how he thinks up his ideas but as this photo is from a post about creating a “steampunk” PC  it is all quite fascinating. 

Steampunk PC

This is a comprehensive site that also features many other people’s works and anything else the author discovers. It is a good site to keep tabs on to get solid overview of whatever is happening in the steampunk community.

Boys and reading

The Guys Read site has had a revamp (Thanks to Tristan Bancks on the Boys, Blokes, Books and Bytes site.) It has a completely new look and feel and it has a lot of cool boys’ book “stuff”.

If you have not been to the site before, their mission is stated as being “Our mission is to motivate boys to read by connecting them with materials they will want to read, in ways they like to read.”

They have a number of points about encouraging boys to read but the second one (and one that I have been arguing for) is

2. Expand our definition of reading.
Include boy-friendly nonfiction, humor, comics, graphic novels, action-adventure, magazines, websites, audiobooks, and newspapers in school reading. Let boys know that all these materials count as reading.

I also really endorse their third point as well and that is the one about giving our boys some choice, they thrive on it! I also believe that role modelling reading, especially male role models have a great effect on boys. I can’t do the male bit but I try to read and discuss the books , and whether I like them or not and why.

Talking with some boys yesterday they asked me about reading. For instance, had I read the Twilight books? I answered yes but…. I find them interesting but not the greatest reads although they are somehow compelling when you are reading them. So what did I like to read, blood, guts and gore like a few of them? I talked about some of the historical books (they did have some blood and gore in them), science fiction and books set during in wartime (yes bg&g there) and crime/detective and mystery stories (often a murder or two) so we all had to agree that my reading did involve often involve blood, guts and gore. I hadn’t quite thought of it in that way before but they seemed quite satisfied that I read stuff like them!

From the Guys Read site boys can get tips for great reads, rate their favourite books and there are plenty of links to other fun sites. 

Some of the ideas for engaging boys include:

  • Great Book Suggestions. “This is the place to come if you’re looking for something to get a guy reading. We’ve collected recommendations from teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, parents, and guys themselves.”
  • The Author page is good for finding the author’s homepage or about books they have written
  • If you prefer to listen to a book being read, try Guys listen.
  • The readers of the Guys Read site are asked how they rate the books found in the site. The results are given here on the Guys Read Top 20.  To vote you, visit any book page and vote in the “What Do You Think?” section. You can vote as often as you like and the votes tell us which books the readers  think guys should be reading!
  • Stats and Facts on Boys and Reading. Odd details and ideas.

If you have not been here it is worth having a look and better still take your boys there.

Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.