Free Copy of First News

First News is a brilliant weekly newspaper for young people, it's perfect for our reading partnerships. Full of topical articles presented really nicely with lots of images, graphics and accessible text.

Courtesy of Sainsbury's magazine you can get a free copy.

Call 0800 665480 and quote SBFREE or text NEWS to 78070 before 31 October 2011.

Another good deal is 3 issues for £1.

Reading Videos

A few videos I have spotted recently:
  • Inspiring Reluctant Readers - From the New York Times, authors James Patterson and Rick Riordan talk about the challenge of encouraging children, particularly boys, to love reading
  • Booked Up Film - New video featuring the Booked Up authors and 11-year-olds talking about the current selection of books
  • Going West - A wonderfully crafted video for the New Zealand Book Council, Where Books Come to Life!
  • Dyslexie is a typeface for dyslectics - Silent video with common issues encountered by people with dyslexia, and how a new font seeks to assist
I'll leave you with a beautifully designed video of the ubiquitous Stephen Fry talking of his love of language.


Thanks for Teaching Us

Just spotted this rather wonderful website campaign, Thanks for Teaching Us:
ThanksForTeaching.Us, a 30 day campaign to recognize amazing teachers all over the world. Our schools are in a tough spot right now, and we think there’s no better time to bring the spotlight back on the teachers that make our classrooms thrive.

Dear Great Teachers, ThanksForTeaching.Us from TBD on Vimeo.

The site is pretty inspiring, with beautiful posts from all over the world. Why not check it out and submit you own story, it would be great to get some UK schools represented.


Ninja: First Mission by Chris Bradford

Chris Bradford is quite an amazing guy, before becoming the hugely successful author of the Young Samurai series he was a professional musician, he is a black belt martial artist, he is funny (check out this video) and he is a nice guy too, all the proceeds for Ninja: First Mission are going to charity!

Naturally, hugely jealous, I really wanted to hate Ninja: First Mission, his first book for Barrington Stoke, but it is hard not to love it. 

The first of a series set in Japan in 1580. Taka is training to be a ninja. He is a little over-confident and the start to the story is not what you'd expect. The back story and setting is nicely woven into the story; we learn about his family history, clan, rivals, enemies, friends and training. Super language too, I love the sound of the 'Sixteen Secret Fists' technique.

The First Mission of the title, is a personal and significant challenge for Taka. We are not sure of his true motivation, is he being driven by or vengeance rather than dedication to his ninja clan? This truly adds to the thrill of the adventure.

I am very much looking forward to the continuing series. I enjoyed the realism and historical setting, a real contrast to the Lords of Pain series, and the manga-style illustrations are superb.

By the way, the video I mentioned above, is an introduction to the Ninja Challenge, a duelling card game to be played on or offline, looks brilliant for Reading Matters partnerships, more resources on the Chris Bradford website too.


The Gun by Bali Rai

Like The Fall by Anthony McGowan (reviewed recently) and Them and Us an earlier Bali Rai book (reviewed a while back) The Gun is a serious book for serious times.

The scene is set in the prologue, Jonas is in a police cell. The details are specific and telling; officials, fashions and smells. As Jonas begins his tale in Chapter 1, we know from the first line, the world he inhabits, "freezing our arses off outside Lahore Fried Chicken".

Jonas is not a bad kid but his situation in life means it is tough to avoid trouble. Especially when his best mate turns out to be worryingly crazy. Throw a loaded gun into the mix and things are never going to end well.

Their estate is always violent. Jonas and his mates dabble in gangs without getting sucked right in. But it is the gun than tips them over the edge.

In his intro Rai says the story was inspired by The Wire TV series. I am still having withdrawal symptoms after this ended, so I am bias. But, I have to say, in 65 pages Rai creates some moving characters and the journey they go on filled me with affection and dismay.


Sheffield Children's Book Award and Off the Shelf Festival 2011

Whilst at the Sheffield Children's Library I picked up a couple of leaflets giving details of the Sheffield Children's Book Award and Off the Shelf Festival 2011. Both look as excellent as ever.

Sheffield Children's Book Award

A nice line-up, although, if I am honest I haven't ready many at all. A few big names; Chris Riddell for Ottoline at Sea, David Walliams for Billionaire Boy, Terry Deary for Put Out the Light and Malorie Blackman for Boys Don't Cry. I'd like to mention a few local authors; Kevin Brooks for iBoy, Caryl Hart for Rhino, What Rhino and Alex T Smith for Egg.

But for me it is hard to look at anything except David Almond for My Name is Mina, a beautiful, beautiful tale, which I wrote about this time last year.

Off the Shelf Festival 2011

Like the book award, the festival has a real mix of interesting stuff;

I also notice a nice project A City Reads, mapping the books that have inspired the people off Sheffield. Pick up a programme and get involved.


Bookstart Book Crawl

This weekend, I was at Sheffield Children's Library. My daughter, Rose, completed her Bookstart Book Crawl. Part of the Summer Reading Challenge. Catching up with Alexis the Librarian it sounds like the Summer Reading Challenge Volunteers are doing a great job.

Alexis and Rose!