Last week at a ceremony in London, the SLA announced the winner of the 2010 School Librarian of the Year Award. For the first time since the award was established, two librarians received the accolade. They are Duncan Wright of Stewart’s Melville College, Edinburgh, and Kevin Sheehan of Offerton School, Stockport.
Ginette Doyle, Chair of the Selection Committee and Chair of the School Library Association described them as ‘two exceptional librarians, from completely different schools, working in different ways to bring their libraries into the heart of the school and learning. Kevin’s school has a higher than average learning support register and more pupils eligible for free school meals than normal. He makes his library fun; he goes beyond the book to entice pupils in and demands that they respect the space so that it has become highly valued. Duncan’s school is more academic and he has ensured that the information literacy ladder he helped to devise is at the heart of lessons, but he too, makes the Library a fun place to be and engages disaffected readers with his enthusiasm for other things than just the Library.’
Books for Keeps asked Duncan and Kevin to select their books of 2010, the novels they will recommend to the pupils using their libraries. Here are their selections.
Duncan Wright – School Librarian of the Year 2010 – Books of 2010
The quality of literature available for children and young adults continues to be at the highest level and 2010 has been no different. It seems that 2010 has been all about the Trilogy with the final instalments of two exceptional trilogies both arriving in a blaze of glory during the year.
First up was the tremendous finale to Patrick Ness’ amazing Chaos Walking (Walker Books) series, Monsters of Men, which exploded onto bookshelves in May. The trilogy forces us to look at the devastating reality of war and how it affects us all. We suffer with Todd and Viola as they try once more to work out how to stop the fighting which is about to engulf New Prentisstown. Full of heartbreak and loss, suffering and love this dystopian world may not be too far from our own after all.
Katniss Everdeen on the other hand has no such plans to stop fighting. In Mockingjay, the third and final instalment of The Hunger Games Trilogy (Scholastic), Katniss embarks on a mission to take down the leader of the Capitol, President Snow. Suzanne Collins has stayed true to the ideas which served her well in the first two instalments of the series, however the effect is far from diminished as we watch the Capitol put every effort into destroying the Mockingjay and bringing down the rebels.
After the fictional worlds of New Prentisstown and The Capitol, Behala Dumpsite, the setting for Andy Mulligan’s Trash (David Fickling Books) brings the reality of life clearly into focus. Behala is based on a similar place Mulligan visited during a trip to Manila and is the home to the books two main characters, Raphael and Gardo. The boys trawl through the trash for a living and one day they find something which has the potential to change their lives for ever. The story which follows, cleverly told in alternate chapters by the characters of the book, is pacy and exciting and the suspense is kept up right to the end.
Suspense is also cleverly constructed in Marcus Sedgwick’s Revolver (Orion). Set during the Arctic North Gold Rush this book can make you feel cold just reading it. After answering the door to a stranger, who it’s clear, has not come for a friendly visit, Sig Andersson spends the book wrestling with the idea of going to the storeroom for his father’s revolver. The story is exciting yet thought provoking and even I wasn’t sure what Sig should do for the best!
Other books to have caught my eye this year which I need to find the time to read include Numbers (Chicken House) by Rachel Ward which sounds freaky and awesome at the same time. Blood Ties (Simon and Schuster) by Sophie McKenzie – I’m not sure how I have missed this so far. Finally I need to read The Enemy (Puffin) by Charlie Higson. After showing so many classes the spooky trailer on Youtube I need to find out what happens when the Zombies take over!
Kevin Sheehan – School Librarian of the Year 2010 – Books of 2010
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (Definitions)
This is one of my clear favourites for 2010. I enjoy all of Tabitha’s books and didn’t think that her writing could get any better. But it has! Don’t be deceived by the heart on the book cover into thinking that this is going to be a sentimental love story, it is not. The story’s focus is the love between Lochan and Maya, who happen to be brother and sister. Tabitha has approached this difficult and taboo subject with lots of humanity. Whatever your perceptions and prejudices you can empathise with the main characters and can fully understand how their love for each other is a very precious thing. This book lingers in your mind for a long time afterwards. There are many words I could use to describe this book, but if there were one it would be ‘powerful’!
Luke and Jon by Robert Williams (Faber and Faber)
This is a tale of friendship between two teenage boys. This book has really engaged not just me but lots of our students. The story focuses around Luke whose mother has just died in a car crash. He moves to a small town with his father to start afresh. The story tells you how hard it is to move on without revisiting your past. However his friendship with Jon, who has issues of his own, helps him through his own problems and that of his father. Although there are no dramatic plotlines the story will engage the reader from the first page and you will savour every word and sentence. A book that is full of hope!
Whisper My Name by Jane Eagland (Young Picador)
When you start this novel you have a feeling that it will be a dark Victorian tale of paranormal activity. Actually that was the reason why I picked it up! However, there is so much more to this gripping book: the reader is taken on a journey of obsession and jealousy. You are gripped from the first page when Meriel is sent to live with her grandfather in London after her mother dies in India. Trapped in a strict and solitary existence she feels that, although alone in herself, somebody is nearby. She explores these feelings when unexpectedly she is introduced to Mrs Myrtle Quinn, ‘Celebrated Medium’, and her assistant Sophie. Lies and deception are uncovered and there is a sinister twist when Sophie helps discover a long buried secret. A good book to curl up with during the autumn nights.
Inside My Head by Jim Carrington (Bloomsbury)
This thought provoking book examines the impact teenage bullying has from the perspectives of different characters. Throughout the book Gary is bullied by Knaggs with vindictive name calling and teasing. David is Knagg’s friend and the book explores his uneasiness with the bullying. Zoe befriends Gary and tries to console and help him deal with the bullying. Having read and enjoyed the book I think it would be a fantastic title for school reading groups as it has a really powerful message: it shows that how standing back and not doing anything can be just as harmful as bullying itself. I can’t wait for Jim’s next book.