Booktrust Newsletter

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Getting Linking 5 - Big Hitters

I have been tidying up my bookmarks (I live a very exciting life), it has inspired a long overdue return to my Getting Linking series. I previously posted up lots of links resources for use in Reading Matters one-to-one sessions. This time I have a list of websites from major institutions, that you may well know about, but are none-the-less useful.



Peter Pan and Book Drum

I have just finished reading Peter Pan by JM Barrie, can't believe I have't read it before. My motivation was to read it before moving on to Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean, which has been on the shelf for a while.

I really don't know what to make of Peter Pan, I found it a very unsettling 'children's' book. This probably says a lot about me as the reader. Similarly, as many people have said before, Peter Pan is very much about the author's pre-occupations; "the desire for immortality, the urge to shirk responsibility and the role of motherhood". This is quote is taken form the Peter Pan entry on the the wonderful Book Drum website.

Book Drum offers comprehensive reading notes for a growing list of 'classic' books. Each book is covered by a dedicated fan including pictures, videos, maps and music.

I don't think Book Drum is going to be appropriate for the struggling and reluctant readers that Reading Matters supports, but I think our Reading Leaders and Reading Mentors, and anyone with a passion for reading will get a lot out of it.


The Fall by Anthony McGowan

I am back on track with my Barrington Stoke reviews. After the sweetness and light of Sterling and the Canary by Andy Stanton, The Fall by Anthony McGowan is dark, dark, dark.

From the start The Fall is obviously a denser book than most Barrington Stoke titles; no pictures, more words on a page and a harder use of language. By page five we have read about death, bullying and young offenders. By then end of chapter one I was thoroughly depressed and things do not get improve as the tory progresses.

This bleakness isn't a problem, the book is hugely relevant. I read it during the Summer 2011 riots, and it got to the centre of society's issues better than most media coverage I have seen. Dealing with the causes of young people's lack of morality and angst.

Mog, the narrator, has a poetic streak that is at odds with the tale he tells. There are flashes of brightness amongst the gloom; "like the colour turned into a feeling".

The book has a sense of reality that is quite disturbing. Something about the real sounding names, nick-names and places makes the violence and destruction even more shocking. A challenging read but very deep and very worthwhile.


Rugby World Cup 2011 Resources

In my spare time I like to shout at the TV in the hope the England Rugby team might live up to its potential.

With the 2011 Rugby World Cup on the horizon, why not download the National Literacy Trust Rugby World Cup Toolkit. It is aimed at schools, but has lots of great ideas and resources for reading mentors and families. It has been put together by Tom Palmer, who really knows his stuff, check out Scrum!.


Summer Reading Challenge 2011: Circus Stars

I finally got my daughter signed up for the Summer Reading Challenge. It's been running for a few weeks now through the summer holidays. We really do need to get reading!

Like last year I trained some young reading volunteers to work in libraries across Sheffield. And reports are they are really making a difference to the success of this year's Summer Reading Challenge.

This year's theme is Circus Stars. The website has some nice games, opportunities to chat and author videos, including my new friend Andy Stanton.

Get reading and get some fancy stickers!


Sterling and the Canary by Andy Stanton

After a full year of Barrington Stoke book reviews, I have not done any for months. What better way to get back on track with Sterling and the Canary by Andy Stanton author of my favourite Mr Gum Books.

It's all about Sterling Thaxton's attempts to get new girl Lizzie Harris to go out with him. A fairly standard sort of plot, but it's the language that makes the story fizz. Sterling "flopped around the house like a bored pancake", brilliant!

There are some great recurring jokes too. It starts raining every time Lizzie breaks Sterling's heart.

There is a super ending. With the the help of the Canary, Sterling realises what he actually wants has been right under his nose all along.

It feels like a modern take on a fable.  I had to re-read it immediately, it's the sort of book you have to read twice!

It's a hard book to review, I had to go back and take out a lot of my 'ironic' exclamation marks! I really like the way Andy Stanton writes. As you read the words just flow, but you can tell it is very carefully crafted. I loved it.


Involve Yorkshire and Humber - Swan Lake heads only!

I have been to a couple of Involve Yorkshire and Humber events recently, their Village hall to Whitehall: local government and the voluntary and community sector conference and Learning and Skills Voluntary Sector Network meeting. Both very interesting with lots of great people in attendance. 

The Village hall to Whitehall event was at the Northern Ballet in Leeds.  The post-lunch energiser was a heads-only version of Swan Lake. And inevitably this is the photo of me they have used.

No harm in looking a bit silly; here is Kate Winslet Reading one of my favourite Mr Gum books at the Port Eliot Festival in St Germans, Cornwall.