Monday 23rd November 2020
Last week, we highlighted the charitable efforts of the organisation BookTrust during the run up to Christmas, where this year more children than ever will be living in poverty and the value of escaping into a book is appreciated more than ever. BookTrust isn’t the only organisation to recognise this. We also highlighted a few weeks ago the new platform for independent bookshops, Bookshop.org. They have since teamed up with Penguin Books as they launch their It Begins with a Book Christmas campaign where, for every book you buy from Penguin via Bookshop.org, another book will be sent to a person in need via food banks, homeless shelters and community centres across the UK.
Not necessarily aimed at children there are 32 bestselling Penguin titles to choose from, including Richard Osman’s The Thursday Club, Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other and the latest Jack Reacher story, The Sentinel, the first to be written by Lee Child and his brother, Andrew Child as the latter takes over the literary reins. There are some children’s titles on the list too, along with a few non-fiction ones. As a spokesperson for the company says “Many of us have been turning to books through the pandemic, be it for information, entertainment or escapism. We want to share the power of reading and get our books into the hands of those who need them most, while continuing to honour our commitment to support independent bookshops through this challenging time.”
And now we have Marcus Rashford. The young footballer is not content with the task of ensuring that the nation’s most vulnerable children are fed during the school holidays, he is now also interested in offering food for the mind. He has teamed up (see what I did there?) with Macmillan Children’s Books to publish a range of books, aimed at children 5-18, in order to provide them with resources and information to help them develop life skills and increase access to books.
Rashford has said “I want this escapism for all children. Not just those that can afford it. We know there are over 380,000 children across the UK today that have never owned a book, children that are in vulnerable environments. That has to change. My books are, and always will be, for every child, even if I have to deliver them myself. We will reach them.”
There has been some criticism on social media to this latest venture – not least from librarians who feel that the role of public libraries should be being supported as a route for the nation’s children to access books. And they have a point but there is only so much one young man can do and, to be honest, the more forms of encouragement there are the better – especially during a period where libraries aren’t as accessible as they used to be – even in the days before the pandemic due to closures and a reduction in opening hours. We would all like to see increased investment in these important services. And once a child is introduced to books – whatever the route – then it would be lovely for our libraries to be there for continued support.
And as this week’s blog title says you can never, ever have too many books.
Hot Key Books YA Ambassadors
Some young people who don’t need any encouragement to read are the YA ambassadors at Hot Key Books. Hot Key Books is a publisher of teen and young adult books and has established a voice for its audience via its ambassadors. Over the course of a year (September to August), these ambassadors review, blog and vlog about all things YA in the literary world. Ten are recruited each year and the final four ambassadors have just been introduced. What a wonderful opportunity to gain writing and reviewing experience with so much professional support.
Last week we recognised World Television Day and we looked at books that have been adapted for television. It wasn’t mentioned but few could have missed the phenomenal success of The Queen’s Gambit which was released on Netflix last month. It was riding high at the Top of the UK Netflix charts – and pretty much on all of the Netflix charts across the world – for some time.
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at the production meeting where someone offered up the idea that adapting a book about chess would make great TV. To be fair, they probably didn’t have to say much more than “remember Paul Newman and The Hustler?…well, same author” before they had the attention of the room.
And, on the whole, it has been an extremely faithful adaptation. The book is relatively short but each scene of the TV series has been staged beautifully to capture its mood – from the dowdiness of the orphanage to the excitement and razzamatazz of Las Vegas – and recreates the story of Beth Harmon – compulsive, focused and utterly single-minded – as she moves from chess prodigy to dignified young lady. This short-ish story has been translated into almost seven hours of viewing, and none of it is time-wasted. There has been a lot of attention to detail, with the sets, the clothes and the chess, with the games authenticity ensured with the arrival of Garry Kasparov, Grandmaster and former World Chess Champion, brought in as an advisor. Who knew chess could be quite this exciting? And if you don’t have a Netflix, the book is highly recommended.
Walter Tevis wrote the book in the early 1980s. His previous works had often featured a talented loner as its central character, from Beth Harmon to Fast Eddie Felson (The Hustler, The Color of Money) to Thomas Jerome Newton (The Man Who Fell to Earth). This selection has all been adapted to the screen. The Hustler was another faithful adaptation but its sequel, The Color of Money, bore little resemblance to the book that it was based on, save for the title and the name of the main character. And The Man Who Fell to Earth has become a cult classic from the 1970s, a highly stylised version with David Bowie as the eponymous hero.
Spotlight on… Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas is an award-winning author, best known for her Young Adult books The Hate U Give and On the Come Up. She is from Jackson, Mississippi, and witnessed gun violence from a young age. She studied at Belhaven University, where a professor told her that including her life experiences in her writing could give a voice to those whose stories were not being told. Angie Thomas’ writing has been influenced by police brutality and Black Lives Matter. She has also been inspired by her emotional response to the music of the late Tupac Shakur, and wants her readers to experience a variety of emotions when reading her work. Her writing breaks down stereotypes on race and poverty, providing a human perspective on news stories of police brutality.
Angie Thomas received a grant from We Need Diverse Books, an organisation that campaigns for diversity in children’s books. She used this grant to buy a computer to finish writing The Hate U Give. In an interview with Afua Hirsch, the author of Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, Angie Thomas revealed that she supports the organisation by mentoring young black people and holding sessions with aspiring young writers.
The Hate U Give follows Starr, a black teenager who exists in two worlds: her troubled neighbourhood Garden Heights and her mainly white private suburban school. Already struggling with balancing between these very different environments, Starr’s life is completely turned upside down when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil by a police officer. Khalil’s death becomes national news, and Starr hears people branding him a thug and speculating that he was a drug dealer. Traumatised by what she has witnessed, Starr hears this speculation a lot at school, where no one knows she was there when Khalil was killed. Some police officers and a drug lord attempt to scare Starr and her family, and everyone wants to know what happened on the night of Khalil’s death. Only Starr knows the full story, but whatever she says will change her community forever, and could put her life in danger. The Hate U Give has also been adapted into a film, with Amandla Stenberg playing Starr.
On the Come Up is also set in Garden Heights, and references the events of The Hate U Give. The main character, Bri, is a sixteen-year-old aspiring rapper, whose late father was an underground rap sensation. Her family falls on hard times when her mum loses her job, and the stresses of visits to the foodbank and power being shut off due to unpaid bills become a part of Bri’s life. This makes Bri even more determined to get her big break as a rapper and provide for her family. Bri fights to achieve her dreams and be herself in the face of her family’s struggles and people’s expectations of her. The film studio Paramount Players has bought the rights to adapt the novel into a film.
Angie Thomas’ latest book, Concrete Rose, comes out in January. It is a prequel to The Hate U Give, and follows Starr’s father Maverick Carter in his teenage years as a gang member. With his father in prison, Maverick sells drugs to support his family. When Maverick finds out he’s about to become a father himself, he struggles to finish school and leave the gang and drug dealing life behind. Maverick must fight against all the odds that are stacked against him to leave his old life and make something of himself.
If you are a college member, you can request to borrow The Hate U Give, On the Come Up, and any of our other stock.
One of our tutorial themes for our students this half term centres on how to keep yourself safe online. Paola has looked at what and where the dangers are when you’re online, and at how to remain safe in the real world by being careful in the virtual one. See her presentation here.
The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins
I enjoyed reading this book. It is easy to follow as it’s actually targeted at the teenage market. Dawkins explains science and nature and gives great explanations to back up his writing. He begins most chapters telling you how the ancient people viewed the world and the things they believed in. He then goes on to explain those views and beliefs in a scientific way. The names of some of these chapters, which are all in fact questions, are ‘Who was the first person?’, ‘Why are there so many different kinds of animals?’ And ‘What are things made of?’ Cue information about evolution, atoms and all things that really matter to life. The message that Dawkins is trying to convey in this book is that the most magical thing of all is reality. I believe he gets this point across extremely well. A brilliant read!
It’s back to the bright lights and greasepaint this week with a look at a regional theatre that has managed to successfully fill its (virtual) seats for productions because geography, quite frankly, is currently irrelevant. A relatively small but popular theatre in Huddersfield shifted its focus to streamed performances in March and has, somehow, managed to attract some stellar talent (Stephen Fry, Celia Imrie) to take part. But these aren’t streamed staged shows. Instead, technology has been used to create a visual world in which the actors – sitting in front of a camera in their own home – perform their lines. See more details of What a Carve Up! and The Understudy here – two of the productions that are available.
Our new books include fiction and course-related material. We have new editions for The Apprenticeship Guide, Disability Rights Handbook, Heap, How to Complete Your UCAS Application and, the ever popular, Guinness World Records, along with new revision resources for English and Maths.
Our fiction titles include the 2020 Quick Reads, finally emerging from quarantine, alongside some other World Book Night titles. On the Come Up (Angie Thomas), How to be a Footballer (Peter Crouch), The Man I Think I Know (Mike Gayle) and One of Us is Next (Karen M. McManus).
Books can be loaned from the LRC. Just pop us an email or fill in the Click & Collect form and we will sort out the book for you.
Worried about fines? No problem. All loans have been renewed and fines waived while the LRC was closed. Books can now be returned to the College. Please contact the LRC to find out about current procedures.
Access our virtual library online
You can search for e-books on the library catalogue or directly through our e-book providers.. Click on the Shibboleth login if requested and select Brooklands College. If you have any problems please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
The LRC is still available for book borrowing. Although our shelves are currently not available for browsing we can help find materials for you. Contact us with an area you are interested in or your assignment title and we can suggest some resources for you.
The LRC website contains links to our resources, our online catalogue and is full of information about LRC use, plus there are book reviews, links to our displays and other items of interest. It is only available to College members (sorry) and can be found through links on the LRC Google Classroom, and on the staff and student intranets.
LRC Google Classroom page
Tutors have been invited to join the Classroom and will be passing the joining code on to their students. It’s full of links to resources, and helpful advice and tips.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need support with e-books, e-resources or anything else.