Useful sites (weekly)


Useful sites (weekly)

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

Andy Griffiths on Roald Dahl

Sitting at home I have had time to listen to the Radio National Book Show, Yesterday (Tues 16th) there was a discussion by Andy Griffiths about Roald Dahl. The podcast is now up and you can listen to the recording of the  session. This is the 20th anniversary of the death of the wonderful English (Welsh) storyteller Roald Dahl and Andy Griffiths talks about the impact of Roald Dahl on his own life and work.

Andy Griffiths is well-loved by many, especially the boys at our school. He quirky humour, that appeals to all children, especially to boys,  is not always loved by adults, who seem not to remember their inner child. He has however won many awards and recently was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award for children’s fiction for Just Macbeth, his adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. This was a great way to introduce the Macbeth story to younger children and was a lot of fun.

The latest book by Andy we bought into the library this year was The very bad book. When the first one (The bad book ) came out a few years ago there were again adults selling the young people short and wanting to prevent it being sold let alone put into school, due to some of the impossible storylines. Talking about the stories with the kids just brought home how silly it is for adults to assume that the young cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is just fun and silly and totally not real. Some of this is discussed in the podcast and related to Roald Dahl’s writing as well.

Also on The Book Show site is a link to a podcast where  Donald Sturrock and Ophelia Dahl discuss Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl left instructions nominating his daughter Ophelia to write his biography or to choose a suitable person to do so. Ophelia is a trustee of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre and has archived much of his work. She chose Donald Sturrock , a former BBC documentary maker, biographer and director, to write the biography. As a young man Donald had made a documentary on Roald Dahl and has also written five opera libretti including one based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  At the recent Times Cheltenham Literary Festival Dahl’s daughter Ophelia and biographer Donald Sturrock discussed the life and times of the great English storyteller.

YA and children’s Literature – podcasts

There has always been a steady readership for John Marsden’s Tomorrow, when the war began series. After the publication in the early nineties the  initial very high interest levels in this series has settled to  remain constant until this year. There can be no denying that a film can breathe new life to a novel as it has done in this case.

 The film version of Tomorrow, When the War Began was released in cinemas during the September school holidays, and Pan MacMillan have re-published the series of novels, with new cover designs.  

There are obvious advantages for authors to have their novels made into films but in the translation from book format into screen format there will inevitably be some compromises made and that can sometimes be difficult for the author.

This was the subject of a broadcast on the ABC Radio National’s The Book Show on 19th. of October. The discussion by John Marsden about his story being filmed and “put out there’ to a whole new audience makes for a very interesting podcast that can be downloaded for later listening or sharing with classes. The way the characters look and behave in the film, the violence the screen and the visual images of the hitherto unknown enemy are just a few of the items covered by JM in this 17 minute interview. Apart from general interest in the books it would be good for students who are contemplating creating book trailers to hear John Marsden speak about the differences between the two mediums.

Another podcast worth listening to was the ABC’s Life Matters program where author and illustrator Graeme Base discusses the inspiration for his latest beautifully illustrated book, The Legend of the Golden Snail. In this podcast he talks about drawing on his childhood sea voyage to Australia as inspiration for the story about an epic sailing adventure, with some big lessons in life for a boy called Wilbur. If you visit the Graeme Base’s site you will also find trailers for the title.

YA literature – Printz award winners and a podcast

Thanks to a post on the Fiction Focus (CMIS) site, I found out about  a collection of book trailers. These have been created for many of the Printz Award winners and Honor Books and go back as far as 2000. They were created by students at the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Women’s University.

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. The award is sponsored by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association.

There are some Australian books also on the list of trailers. Melina Marchetta’s On the Jellico Road, Printz winner in 2009, has been included as has Sonya Hartnett’s Surrender, a Printz Honor Book in 2007 and Margo Lanagan’s Black Juice, a 2006 Honor Book.

Speaking of using the film media to promote books – here is another interesting item.

Since the movie came out we have had a great rush on John Marsden’s books. There has always been a steady readership but, invariably, after a movie adaptation there is a rush back to the book. We are fortunate that we have mini class sets of the Tomorrow series books and we have been able to accommodate all those who have come to the library keen to read the books

There was a great interview from the RN Book Show has John Marsden discussing the film adaptation of his very popular Tomorrow when the war began book.  and some of the compromises he has had to accept.

The first book in the Tomorrow series was published in 1993 but there is a renewed surge of interest in the novel because it is now ‘a major motion picture’. The film version of Tomorrow When the War Began was released in cinemas during the September school holidays in Australia, and as a tie-in Pan MacMillan have re-published the novel, and its numerous sequels, with new cover designs made up of stills from the film.

Any author would be happy to have their novel back at the front of the book store but the translation from page to screen inevitably involves compromise and that can sometimes be less comfortable.

John Marsden was as articulate as ever and he gave thoughtful answers. He discusses the changes/differences between his story (the characterisations, the portrayal of violence, the way the enemies are less faceless to name three) and the new medium of film. The podcast is 17 minutes long but very easy to listen to and many of our boys would have opinions on the issues discussed.


Audio book options

Uploaded from Flickr by Colleen AF Venable

Audio books are becoming more important/useful in many ways. It does not have to be sight-impaired students that benefit from audio books. We have students who have trouble with reading for a variety of reasons but who are perfectly capable of understanding and assimilating the spoken word. Many students enjoy listening to a book being read or there are those who have long journeys to get to school or who have training runs. Many use their portable device (be it iPod or others) already to break up the boredom so why not still listen to a podcast of a book reading.  It is a way of using otherwise “down-time” as reading time.

There was an interesting article in the Age Greenguide last Thursday about Bolinda Audio Books. Entitled “Telling stories to the world” the history of this company was outlined in terms of their development into a thriving audiobook company.

I remember buying a number of the Large Print titles for a vision impaired student from the earlier version of the company. In some respects it does not seem all that long ago but I must admit that I have become a much bigger fan as they have developed the audio book business, especially when I drive out into the country areas and I am faced with 3-6 hour drives.

Bolinda has become a large audio book publisher with a great  line up of authors and titles, especially Australian, and they are also beginning to offer simultaneous releases of audio books. This has been a boon to me as I want to “read” the new titles as I introduce them into our library. I am always trying to keep on top of the current literature and this is a great way for me to “read” a number of titles. I have also tried a few audiobooks for my iPod and it is very easy it is to download/use their MP3CD’s.

I have yet to investigate Bolinda digital which is a fairly recently decided to offer an option that will enable libraries to offer eAudiobooks to its library customers from its Library’s website. This will enable users to download time-limited version of the novel. How and if I can make use of this in a school library is yet to be seen, but I am interested.

There are also options for free books as well. If a teacher decides to study a book that is in the public domain, they can access the text from the site. ManyBooks has public domain books already formatted for various handheld devices.

Another advantage is that if you download a book for an iPod, for instance, Manybooks can provide it in iPod notes format. The text is divided into various files and each file is linked to the file that comes before it and the file that follows it. This is done because there is a limit to the number of characters allowed in one iPod notes file but no limit to the number of “notes” files than can be uploaded to an iPod. The user can then  access the text and audio of a book at the same time from the same device whenever they want to. I do not like reading from small screens but the iPad will change this.

Mp3 files can be downloaded and uploaded to handheld devices just like music is uploaded. If we want free books another option is LibriVox. This site hosts free public domain audiobooks that are read by volunteers. The quality of voice varies but it is still a good option.

From Fiction Focus there comes another audio option – in the form of podcasts. Entitled “Listen Up”, this sounds like an interesting idea and I plan to check it out tonight.

Audiobook Community is a US-based ning. The largest of its groups (104 members) is called Sync: YA Listening. During the months of July and August, the group is offering two free audio downloads each week to support the summer reading programs held by many school and public libraries in the US. Administrator Kirsten Cappy is still fine tuning the list, but here’s a glimpse. She is playing with pairing modern and classic books.

We are fortunate to have many options to enable us to give our students a gateways into literature. The above options only scratch the surface.

BookShow Podcast – How to write YA fiction

bookshowFiction for young people has had a long tradition. You can go back to Dicken’s David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol, Mark Twain’s  Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, Louisa Alcott’s Little Women and our own Seven little Australians. There were the Biggles stories and the boys and girl’s own adventures and today there are a plethora of styles and genres that encompass the books that are also labeled YA.

In a podcast, How to write YA fiction, from the 27th of July, two very successful current YA authors, John Green (US) and Bernard Beckett (NZ), talked to Sarah leStrange on the The Book Show (Radio National). The books of both authors are much prized by young adults and so they are worth listening to when there is discussion  about writing for young adults. You can hear, in the 12 minute conversation, the things they consider to be the key ingredients to capture the attention of teen readers today.

Good literature is just that. I wrote a post trying to define my thoughts about what constitutes “YA” literature. Good YA literature is enjoyed by older readers as well as the YA audience. In some ways this literature has to be better than a lot of adult literature. For instance young people tend to be less forgiving about slow beginnings and padding. At the moment, if I had to quickly define YA literature,that the books must have a good story, driven by the actions and choices of the teenage characters, and essentially be about the growth of those characters.

These two authors voice some very interesting thoughts and again there are no firm definitions. Have a look on the Fiction Focus site for discussions and links to further exchanges about YA Literatue

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