Library Lessons: What is a Word?

A discussion on words and the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year leading into creating emoji book reviews

Book List: Refugees

A selection of books about refugees from around the world for young readers

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan
  • The Breadwinner
    Mud City
    Parvana’s Journey
    My Name is Parvana by Deborah Ellis
  • Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill
  • Close to the Wind by Jon Walter
  • Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird
  • Little Soldier by Bernard Ashley
  • Mahtab’s Story by Libby Gleeson
  • The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo
  • Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Boy Overboard
    Girl Underground by Morris Gleitzman
  • Home is a Place Called Nowhere by Leon Rosselson
  • A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
  • Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
  • Now Is The Time For Running by Michael Williams
  • Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian
  • Where I Belong by Gillian Cross
  • Shadow by Michael Morpurgo
  • A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk by Jan Coates
  • The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman
  • Refuge by Anne Booth & Samuel Usher
  • The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland
  • The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman and Karin Littlewood
  • See also: The Letterbox Library list of books about refugees & migration

    #TeenLibrarianMonthly November 2015

    Download (PDF, 601KB)

    Every P1 child to get three free books during Book Week Scotland

    As part of Book Week Scotland 2015, the national celebration of reading taking place between 23 –29 November, Scottish Book Trust will gift three free picture books to every Primary 1 child in Scotland.

    The books, all by Scottish authors or illustrators, will be gifted in the Bookbug Primary 1 Family Bag and comprise the Bookbug shortlist for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2016. The titles include: Never Tickle a Tiger, by Pamela Butchart and illustrated by Marc Boutavant, Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock and illustrated by Ali Pye and Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar by Emily MacKenzie.

    The bags also include resources such as an activity book, pencils, whiteboard and pens, to help support learning at home. These resources also contain additional counting and writing ideas for parents and children to explore together, developed through the partnership with Education Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Read Write Count campaign. The bag will also contain Ziggy and Maggie Start School, a children’s book about road safety created in partnership with Road Safety Scotland.

    Marc Lambert, Director of Scottish Book Trust, said:

    Primary One is a crucial point in every child’s learning journey, and it is the perfect point at which to begin a lifelong love affair with books. The Bookbug Family Bag has been designed to help teachers, librarians and parents show children how much enjoyment can be derived from books and the possibilities that lie between the pages. This association of books with fun will in turn lead to a more positive educational experience, inspiring children to seek out and devour more books. The bag is also intended to create a lasting link between reading at school and at home.

    For more information about Book Week Scotland 2015, visit, where you can find information about all the events taking place in your local area. Take part in Quote Vote, a poll for the most shareable quote from a book or offer your #ThankBooks, a praise to a book, author or person from the world of literature that has inspired you or changed your life.

    Initiated by the Scottish Government and supported, along with a Readers in Residence programme in libraries, by £250,000 from Creative Scotland, Book Week Scotland will be delivered by Scottish Book Trust. Book Week Scotland in libraries is funded by The Scottish Library and Information Council.

    #ParisAttacks Display

    daesh parisxcc


    I started planning a display on the Paris Attacks the day after they happened. Initially I was planning on using reports from the various news agencies around the world to give an international perspective on what was happening in Paris. This idea did not last long as there was so much information being generated that I could have papered the library with everything that was available.

    Another are of concern was the fact that as a boarding school, I work with a large number of students that have English as a second language and I wanted one display for everyone. Fortunately The Day has created a report on the attacks that they have made free to use

    I also used the sketch by French artist Jean Jullien,

    peace paris

    the teachings of Islam from a tweet by Khaled AL Homsi

    to show that what the terrorists do is not in the name of the faith they profess

    and the joint statement from the London Mosques denouncing this crime against humanity.

    I included a travel guide on Paris, the World Book Encyclopedia entry on Paris as well as a book on being Muslim, The Times and The Guardian newspapers from today, an explanation of why Da’esh is being used by a growing number of people and organisations instead of ISIS & ISIL and three general information books on terrorism.

    Lastly, I added a sketch from French cartoonist & film-maker Joann Sfar to stimulate conversation about religion and secularism

    paris sfar

    Back on the air!

    Yes… after a month of website silence TeenLibrarian is back!

    I tell you throwing a baby into the life of a couple can be disruptive*

    chip off the old brick

    *Oh yes, in case you do not know – my wife and have had a beautiful baby girl.

    For reasons of privacy and whatnot sadly we will not be sharing any photos of our daughter online, apart from the Lego version above! However if you see me at an author, library or other related event please do let me know and I will quite happily show you photos (I have loads), heck I may even have a baby with me!

    It may take a while to get TL up to speed again but reviews, news and other things will start appearing again, hopefully with some regularity. I ask you to bear with me in this time of fatherhood – which is the best thing ever! For me anyway, I have learned that there are many “best things ever” and parenting is just one of them.

    Book List: Child Soldiers

    child soldiers header
    A list of novels, comics and non-fiction about children and teenagers that through necessity, trickery or coercion become soldiers

    Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
    A Long Way Gone – Ishmael Beah
    Attack on Titan (manga) – Hajime Isayama
    Boy Soldier – Andy McNab
    Buffalo Soldier – Tanya Landman
    Charley’s War (graphic novel) – Pat Mills & drawn by Joe Colquhoun
    CHERUB series – Robert Muchamore
    Child Soldier – Jessica Dee Humphreys & Claudia Davila
    Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
    Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein
    Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
    Fullmetal Alchemist (manga) – Hiromu Arakawa
    Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
    How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff
    Leviathan trilogy – Scott Westerfeld
    Little Soldier – Bernard Ashley
    Percy Jackson series – Rick Riordan
    Refugee Boy – Benjamin Zephaniah
    Rose Under Fire – Elizabeth Wein
    The Hero and the Crown & The Blue Sword – Robin McKinley
    The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
    Tomorrow When the War Began – John Marsden
    Warchild – Emmanuel Jal

    Book Review Bunting

    Over the past few years of being a school librarian I have been using reading passports/diaries to help students keep track of their reading. These schemes were all relatively successful but did not really work well when it came to encouraging students to pick up books that others had read.

    This year I have started an ongoing project to create book review bunting. I have asked every student in years 7,8 & 9 to write a short review on the back of an image of a library book that they have enjoyed and use it to create bunting to decorate the library. The bunting will be hung low enough for students to reach & read what others think about the book, I am hoping that this will encourage them to hunt down and read the book itself.

    At the end of the year I am hoping to have introduced as many students as possible to new books via peer review and also decorate the library with bunting that mirrors the collection. It will also be interesting to see what the most popularly reviewed books are.

    Eight Questions With… Anthony McGowan

    Hi Tony, and welcome (finally) to Eight Questions With… an interview for Teen Librarian. I was just trying to work out why considering how long we have known each other I have never interviewed you before – do you have any idea why?

    I seem to remember that you did interview me for Teen Librarian, back in the Henry Tumour period … In fact, YES! Found it.

    Editor’s note: yes, I did interview Tony, it appeared way back in 2007, you can read it here: TLM May 2007 Now let us never mention this embarrassing incident again and get on with the interview…

    You currently have three books published by Barrington StokeThe Fall, Brock & Pike, would you be able to give a short introduction to each for readers that may not have already discovered these?

    It might be easiest if I discuss Brock and Pike first. They both feature brothers Nicky and Kenny. At the beginning of Brock their family is in a bit of a mess. Their mum has left them, and their father can’t really cope – he’s lost his job, and generally fallen apart. Nicky is the narrator, and acts as a sort of carer for Kenny, who has special needs. Nicky thinks the best word to describe his brother is ‘simple’ –

    People say he’s simple, and he is. I know you’re not meant to say ‘simple-minded’ anymore, but it seems to me that it’s the exact right word for Kenny. He hasn’t got all the stuff going on that mess up other people’s heads. He isn’t always trying to work out the angles, or how to stitch you up. He thinks other people are as kind as he is, and he only has one idea at a time. His brain was starved of oxygen when he was getting born, so now he has what they 9781781124666call learning difficulties. But, like I say, I think ‘simple’ is better and kinder and truer than talking about ‘difficulties’ or ‘disabilities’.

    The Nicky-Kenny relationship is the key to the two novels. In Brock, they save a badger from a terrible fate, and Pike is a sort of treasure hunt/adventure story about a body in a lake, and a gold watch, but the relationship between the brothers remains central. They’re stories about love and friendship and redemption. The boys love helps to save the family. Unusually, for me (!) the books have upbeat endings.

    The Fall is a rather darker book, telling two traumatic linked tales, about a kid called Mog. The book is about betrayal, and bullying, but doesn’t end well … But I think it has a certain bleak power.

    I recall reading a while ago that Brock & Pike are the first two parts of a trilogy – is this true or is my brain making up things as I have not been able to find anything about it?
    fall mcg
    I decided that The Fall was just too depressing – especially as the main character is partly based on me, so I bring Mog back in Pike, giving him a kind of redemption, too. So The Fall, Brock and Pike do finally form a sort of loose trilogy.

    You are one of the most entertaining authors I follow on twitter and facebook, will you ever be producing a book or e-book of your online musings & conversations?

    Hah! Well, a few people have suggested it. I’m not much good at Twitter – my speciality is a sort of rambling surrealist anecdote, and I can’t squeeze that into a tweet. My whimsy really needs the greater length of Facebook. But I do think that some of the best things I’ve ever written have been ‘wasted’ on Facebook, so it would be quite nice to give them a second life.

    Are you currently working on anything you can share with the audience? (I am hoping for a follow-up to Hello Darkness as it was one of my favourite reads last year)

    I’ve just finished a book I’ve been writing on with another author – the brilliant Jo Nadin. It’s called Everybody Hurts, and it’s a twisted little love story, written from male and female perspectives. The first draft is done, and we’re about to give it a final polish. It probably won’t come out until 2017, as these things always seem to take forever. I’m also well into a huge blockbuster horror project – a sort of Stephen King for teens. The working title is The Wrath. There’s a lot of blood.

    Apart from your books, can you recommend any other titles on the Barrington Stoke teen lists?

    Barrington Stoke, although small, attract some amazing authors – Kevin Brooks, Keith Gray, Meg Rosoff, Sally Nicholls, Aidan Chambers, Eoin Colfer, Frank Cottrell Boyce, to name but some. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of their Barrington Stoke books.

    Are any of your works based on personal experiences?

    They all are, to some extent – even the mad, surreal ones, like Hellbent and Hello Darkness. But Brock and Pike are very much set in the small town where I was brought up – Sherburn in Elmet, in Yorkshire. Although it isn’t named, anyone from Sherburn would recognise it instantly. But, in general, most of my characters are versions of people I’ve met. Warped, twisted versions …

    Lastly what are you currently reading and would you recommend it to a bunch of librarians?

    I’m working my way though the My Struggle sequence by Karl Ove Knausgård – which reads a bit like a po-faced version of my facebook posts. It has a richness and depth, but can also be a bit … dull. So not sure I’d recommend it. What I would certainly recommend, however, is How To Be A Public Author, by Francis Plug (really Paul Ewen) – an hysterical novel about a drunken would be writer, who attends every possible book event to learn the job. It’s ludicrously funny and silly, but also oddly moving, and a tribute to all us bibliophiles.

    Thank you so much for giving up your time to participate in this interview!

    Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption by José Domingo


    Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is one of my favourite books, published by Flying Eye Books (the people that brought you the Kate Greenaway Medal winning Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill).

    It is a brightly-coloured insane romp that appeals to the cartoon, adventure and monster loving young reader inside of me! The artwork sears itself onto the back of my eyelids so that each time I blink I catch flashes of the story, It is a bit like after-images of the sun when you walk inside on a really bright day.

    But – for all the brightness, Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is a dark, twisty adventure story filled with insane cat scientists, monsters, a heroic mouse and two children on an urgent journey through the monster dimension. The artwork is beautiful and incredibly intricate, it is what you get if you mash up Where’s Wally, Billy & Mandy and fever dreams that Roman Dirge & Jhonen Vasquez would shelve as being too far out there!

    It is not just the story and art that is fantastic! Flying Eye has gone all out to make sure that Pablo & Jane feels as wonderful as it looks, from the gleaming soft-to-touch cover to sumptuous end-papers and high quality paper the book is a work of book-making art as well as being a bright and beautiful book to read!

    This is an adventure comic book to read again and again, to revel in the art, and work your way over the pages marvelling at all the little things that you missed the first 50 times you paged through the book. If it was purely a written work it may be as long as War and Peace as so much is going on in the pages!

    Seriously take a look at the image below:

    and that is just a part of one page.

    If there was ever a book to buy to keep your kids quiet or partner out of the way or even just to full hours of time with looking in amazement at and enjoying the story; then Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption is it!

    I don’t often say this, but, buy this book! Support Flying Eye Books and Nobrow Press as they challenge the boundaries of what picture books are and can be!

    Find out more about the book and where to get it here:

    Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption


    Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption written & illustrated by José Domingo and published by Flying Eye Books is available now!