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Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Month: April 2008 Page 1 of 3

This belongs in a museum

Before Lara Croft and all the Tomb Raider stuff there was Indiana Jones. Way smarter and, well, cooler than Lara, Indy liberated ancient artifacts and restored them to their rightful resting places (museums, according to him (but that’s debatable)) in three movies in the 1980s. We haven’t seen him since The Last Crusade in 1989, so the news that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be making its way to a theatre near you on the 22nd of May is worth a mention.

TV3, conveniently, is playing all three movies to date on Saturday nights, beginning this week with the iconic Raiders of the Lost Ark, so you’ve got the perfect opportunity to become an Indiana Jones expert and check out the moves that action heroes have been imitating for the last 20+ years.

And if you think Harrison Ford is too old to be hot, go see The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for Shia LaBeouf because, you know, he’s such a great actor.

Terror From The Deep II

The giant squid that was caught last year is currently being defrosted at Te Papa. Excitingly, you can watch it defrost in real-time here from cameras in the ‘tank and dissection room’. There is also a blog detailing the event. Eventually the squid will be put on display. Awesome.

Cult books

The Telegraph has a list of 50 cult books! Several of them are, indeed, available in the teens’ section of the library’s collection – I Capture the Castle, The Beauty Myth, The Catcher in the Rye, some of the Dune books, the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, and To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s difficult to explain what makes a book a ‘cult book’ – the article does say that you know them when you see them, and their appeal doesn’t necessarily lie in any literary merit.

 Do you have a favourite, ‘cult’ book that means more to you than it probably should?

SUBTXT Review Fifteen

Dover Beach
Leslie Thomas
307 pages
It is about life in a town in war-time Britain called Dover during World War 2. It shows how the people coped with the food restrictions, the death of loved ones, and constant bombing from the Germans.

Recommend?: I would recommend this book to mainly girls because I think it will be what girls like: the lives/relationships of other people. I thought this book was about the action of war, instead of the effects of war, which is what this book is about.

Favourite Character: : This book is about the lives of many people so there wasn’t exactly a main character. But this was based on kind of true events so there are some things to learn from it. I’ve learnt that both the English and the German army forces showed very good sportmanship through the war.

Favourite Scene: : My favourite scene was when the commandos stormed the beaches of France to destroy the coastal guns. I liked it because it was one of the few action-packed scenes in the book though I was slightly disappointed because of the lack of detail and action.

Score: 3 stars
~ gazza

Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak, author of the excellent and award-winning The Book Thief, is interviewed in the Guardian. It’s an interview of particular interest to new writers; such as the best advice he received:

Probably that getting published was going to be very hard, and that it would take a lot of work, a lot of rejection and a lot of repeated attempts. That way you go in knowing what it will take, and there’s more chance that you’ll appreciate it if you’re one of the lucky ones.

He also spends five hours each morning writing! Read on …

Top 10: we love them, we love them not

Writing is interesting… one person’s meat is another person’s poison. At one end of the spectrum you can have people saying your book’s the best to come out since Pride and Prejudice (or whatever), and at the other, people lining you up for a book burning. So what’s a reader supposed to think? Here are some authors who have been showered with both roses and triffids (sometimes simultaneously, for the same book)…

  1. Junk, Melvin Burgess. You know you must be doing something right when you create mega controversy *and* win a prestigious award at the same time. Melvin Burgess did this with Junk in 1996. The book won the Carnegie Medal, and Burgess writes on his website that the fuss was like “there was a free pack of soft drugs with every copy!” Junk is about Gemma and Tar, two fourteen year olds, and their journey through the world of drugs, from initial buzz to bitter end. This was published as Smack in the United States. We have both Smack and Junk in the library – they’re the same thing.
  2. The Catcher in the Rye, J D Salinger. Fancy writing a book with teenagers swearing in it. I mean, if teenagers read this book, they might get ideas. Having said that, it was the 1950s.
  3. Book CoverWide Awake, David Levithan. Set in the future, with the political backdrop of a gay Jewish man being elected as president of the United States of America.
  4. The Ghost’s Child, Sonya Hartnett. Sonya Hartnett recently won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. She’s also won numerous other awards and had her first book published when she was 15. While The Ghost’s Child is not a controversial book some of her other work has definitely caused raging storms – she doesn’t seem to be afraid of tackling anything.
  5. Book CoverNecklace of Kisses, Francesca Lia Block. She received a lifetime achievement award from the American Library Association a couple of years after publishing Wasteland, a book about incest.
  6. Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre. Not only was this book controversial, the writer himself has been too – he used his Booker prize winnings to pay off some troublesome debts (so they say)…
  7. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. Dealing with the subject of what is a living creature and what is not, Frankenstein touches on subjects debated hotly in scientific circles at the time the book was published (and still today). Way before its time and still relevant. [An aside: the story goes Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron decided one day to have a competition to see who could write the best monster story. Mary wrote Frankenstein and the two guys wrote, well, poems of no consequence. You go girl, and all that…]
  8. Book CoverThe boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne. ‘Far too obviously allegorical,’ a lot of liberal-minded people complained on intellectual list-serves… ‘sounds too much like an adult pretending to be a small boy,’ others moaned (that might have been me)… ‘we absolutely loved it!’ most readers cried as they turned back to page one to re-read it. You decide for yourself.

It was a big ask. I crashed and burned trying to come up with 10 in one go. Will keep thinking and add a couple more if I become more enlightened.

SUBTXT07 Review ~ XIV

The Perks of being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
213 pages
Adolescence, its hardships, and growing up.

Recommend?: It’s a book that many people — teenagers as well as adults — can relate to.

Favourite Character: : My favourite character was the narrator, Charlie, because he is someone who people can relate to. He is an innocent adolescent who only watches from the sidelines — like a wallflower — but later becomes a man of action.

Favourite Scene: : My favourite scene was the one in which Charlie, Patrick and Sam drive through the tunnel and they feel “infinite”… it gave me a sense of joy and excitement.

Score: 4 stars
~ idiom

Not just books

Some libraries in Los Angeles are having gaming nights – Guitar Hero, Wii Sports, and other console games. While we don’t have anything like that here – yet! – there will be a gaming night during this year’s SubText08. Wicked.

 We do stock some good gaming mags in the teens collection; they often come with demo discs. Playstation mag, XBox 360, and Total Gamer.

Writers’ rooms

Have you ever wondered what a writer’s room looks like? The Guardian has a running feature on the rooms of many authors, like Jacqueline Wilson (very tidy) and Russell Hoban (very messy).

What does your writing space – assuming you have one – look like?

I wish mine had Alain de Botton’s chair.

New Graphic Novels

A stack of new comics have arrived and are available to you all. We have:

  • Bad Company vol. 1 – by Peter Milligan, and originally published in 2000AD – which usually means it’s a pretty grim futuristic tale of war, and this is certainly all those things.
  • Spider-Man and the Black Cat : The Evil That Men Do – another team-up comic, this one is written by Kevin Smith, director of films and writer of comics.
  • Heroes For Hire : Civil War – fills in some of the plot from the (somewhat) epic Civil War event that shook up the Marvel universe.
  • Avengers : The Initiative – the Civil War has been and gone, and the US Government is creating its own superhuman force called The Initiative. Here they are, having adventures and fighting the Hulk.
  • X-Men : Supernovas – This is advertised as a good starting point for anyone wanting to get into X-Men comics. It’s a very good read – I recommend it!

There’s a lot more, inside …

Read More

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