Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Looking for a scary movie or a spine-chilling book?

Happy Halloween everyone! It’s the scariest time of the year again – ghosts, ghouls, witches, and probably some assignment deadlines looming! Pop into your Swansea Met library to borrow something suitably creepy to get you in the mood.

Last week, we put the spotlight on the black cat / Halloween display in Townhill Library’s Teaching Practice collection, but we’ve lots more to offer too! Search for horror fiction on our catalogue and see what takes your fancy. If you’re looking for a recommendation, Edgar Allan Poe is surely the king of the spooky story, especially with all those Simpsons tributes through the years which seem to have have linked him inextricably with Halloween.

And we’re not just about books! Speaking of The Simpsons, you’ll find the seventh series in Townhill Library at 791.457 SIM, so you can re-visit some old adventures, including Treehouse of Horror VI  to continue with our Halloween theme. Griffith Library on the Dynevor campus has an excellent selection of DVDs which includes genre classics from kitsch Hammer Horrors to modern chillers like The Ring.

Remember, you can ask for books and DVDs to be sent between our four libraries, so you don’t need to miss out if the item you want is on another campus. Just ask staff for a request form. And don’t have nightmares!

(If it's your assignment deadline keeping you up at night, you might want to take a look at some of our study skills books!)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Lucky black cats?

Ruby and Bella
Today is National Black Cat Day! ‘Why do black cats need their own day? What about the other cats?’ I hear you ask. Well, it seems that rescue centres have found that black cats take significantly longer to re-home than cats of other colours. No one knows why this is the case, but to try and combat it, Cats Protection have come up with a special day to honour these overlooked felines.

Library workers seem to have a special affinity with our feline friends (not all of us, but most of us do love cats!), so this was all the excuse we needed to pull out some lovely books and make a feature of black cats. You’ll find Six Dinner Sid, Slinky Malinky, Mog from Meg and Mog and many others on display in the Teaching Practice area of Townhill Library. Black cats do have an association with witches (is that why nobody wants them?), so they fit in quite well with all the Halloween books that are also on display! Do call in and have a look.


 If you’d like to find out more about National Black Cat Day, there’s information on the Cats Protection website. There are lots of resources and links to local branches if you’d like to adopt your own moggy.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

And the Man Booker prize winner of 2012 is...

Bring up the bodies by Hilary Mantel! This is something of an historic victory for Mantel as she becomes only the third person to win the prize twice (J. M. Coetzee and Peter Carey are the other two) and the first person to win with a sequel. Following on from Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Bring up the bodies continues the story of Thomas Cromwell, tracing the fall of Anne Boleyn from his perspective.

The winner and shortlisted titles are all now available in Townhill Library where they are part of our Man Booker display. You’ll find nominees from this year and selected titles from previous years on the ground floor of the library near the stairs. If you spot anything that takes your fancy, do feel free to pick it up off the table and borrow it!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

What's on our 'new books' shelves?

You may wish to take a stroll into the Griffith Library at Dynevor, to have a look at the new books that have arrived recently! They can be found on the 'new books' shelves, on display next to the current journals.

To give you a taster, we've had some fabulous Art & Design exhibition catalogues in recently, and currently on the shelves (amongst others) are:
'Hollywood Costume' the exhibition of which is on at the V&A from 20th October to 27th January;
'Bronze' exhibition on at the Royal Academy of Arts, from now until 9th December;
'Art of Change - New Directions from China' at the Hayward Gallery also until 9th December;
'Pre-Raphaelites - Victorian Avant-Garde' at Tate Britain until 13th January.

We have new titles in on a regular basis, so do keep an eye on the new books shelves both at the Griffith Library and Townhill Library! Lastly don't forget that you can borrow any of the items found on there, either at the counter or via the self-service kiosk.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

What we are reading - A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

This Children’s Book Week you might be wondering about the cream of the crop in the world of children’s literature. Everyone has different tastes, of course, but Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls must be considered among the best of the bunch this year. This book made history in the summer when it became the first book to win both the CILIP Carnegie Medal for best children’s book and the CILIP Greenaway Medal for best illustrations (find out more about these prizes from our previous blog posts).

Hannah, who works in Townhill Library, was quick to snap the book up when it arrived in the library this summer. She shares her thoughts below:-

A Monster Calls – A Novel by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd

This book is interesting for two reasons:
1.       It is the first book to win both The Carnegie Medal and The Greenaway Medal.
2.       The author adapted a story originally thought up by another author; Siobhan Dowd.
Siobhan Dowd wrote in the young adult/teenage category of children’s literature.   Her books ‘A Pure Swift Cry’ shortlisted for The Carnegie Medal in 2007, and ‘Bog Child’ which won the award in 2009 both deal with controversial, and social realist issues.  ‘A Monster Calls’ is aimed a little younger than a typical Dowd book – which is fine: – Ness was not trying to be Dowd; he was writing her story in his own style.
A few pages into ‘A Monster Calls’ I thought I probably wouldn’t finish it.  Even though the illustrations were very creepy, I thought the book was just too young for an adult to give it a fair go.  But something kept me going.  It was deep, dark and intriguing and before long I forgot I was reading a children’s book at all.
Ness worked in his own style, on a story he adapted in his own way, and let it go in its own direction. Yet it still managed to capture the heart wrenching drama and tragedy of a Dowd book. Her books can touch teenagers and adults alike and this story is no different. Yes, the book is about a monster-tree.  But this book about a monster-tree DOES deal with serious issues. This book about a monster-tree CAN be taken seriously by adults.Like any Dowd book, it deals with subjects that are hard to deal with:
Illness and death: “I can’t stand it anymore!.. I can’t stand knowing that she’ll go!”
Bullying: “Harry had tripped Conor coming into the school grounds… And so it had begun…and so it had continued.”

Feeling guilt: the need to be punished: “Why didn’t it kill me?..  I deserve the worst.”

The book also contains three tales told by the monster-tree, which are actually very philosophical. Each of the three tales has a surprising moral to it.  The conclusions about ethics, intentions, justice and punishment are debatable, and will really make children stop and think.  
The story is not only told with Ness’s words, but also with Jim Kay’s pictures.  Each picture, scattered with minute detail is not only a superb piece in its own right, but also compliments and enhances the feel of the story.  The illustrations are thicker and darker when Conor is feeling gloomy; light and minimalist when there is hope in his life.  When Conor is feeling under pressure, the drawings engulf the pages and surround the words creating an almost claustrophobic atmosphere.
This is a thrilling yet moving read, full of twists and irony.  The way the story is told is excellent.  Children will be enthralled within its world of magic and fantasy,   while adults will accept it as realistic and allegorical. The illustrations are dark and detailed; harsh yet elegant. 

Well. That definitely sounds like it’s worth a read! Thanks Hannah. A Monster Calls is available in the Teaching Practice section of Townhill Library, as are the two Siobhan Dowd books mentioned. Hankies at the ready!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Children’s Book Week – Let’s celebrate reading for pleasure

Children’s Book Week is an annual event in support of children reading for pleasure.  This year’s event takes place 1st – 7th October with the theme of Heroes and Heroines. It’s aimed at children of primary school age and anyone who is involved with the support of children’s reading (teachers and trainee teachers, we're thinking of you, as well as any parents out there), but might also be of interest to some of our illustration students. You can find out more from Booktrust.

The Booktrust website is an excellent resource in itself (see our blog post from April). It has all sorts of information about books, authors and illustrators, including interviews and reviews. It’s also a great place to go if you’re looking for a book to read and need some recommendations!

If you’re particularly interested in children’s reading, you might also like to take a look at Books for Keeps. This is a freely available online magazine which focuses on books for children from babies to teenagers. This is a fantastic place to go to keep up to date with the children’s book world. There are lots of articles, interviews with children’s authors and illustrators, and reviews of the latest publications for different age ranges. Books for Keeps was also published as a paper magazine up until 2010. You’ll find lots of back copies in the journal stack on the ground floor of Townhill Library (where the photocopier is). Definitely worth a browse!

It is generally accepted that the practice of reading for pleasure benefits a child (see the report from the Department of Education) so it’s definitely worth trying to instil a love of books in our children. If you’re in need of inspiration, give the resources above a try, and also call into Townhill Library to have a look at our Teaching Practice collection where you’ll find lots of lovely books for children of all ages.