Drop in on DEAR 5.4

The current focus of the Authors Page on the DEAR Homepage is…

Patrick Ness and his award winning book: A Monster Calls


 Available to borrow from the MRC – Click HERE to check

Carnegie – 2012 the end….

Last Wednesday the TDA Carnegie Reading Group voted for their favourite illustrated book on the Greenaway shortlist and their favourite book on the Carnegie Shortlist.

Amazing results – and I actually agreed with them this year.

See our results video!

Imagine our surprise when I was able to reveal the official results on the next day – not only had our favourite book won – it had won both awards!.

I hadn’t this mainly because I had discounted the beautiful illustrations as I had read “A Monster Calls” on  my Kindle App which only includes the cover illustration. (Another downside of e-books!). I think I’ll re-read “AMC” but borrow a real book to enjoy these in context. That’s if there are any left on the shelf to borrow!

Book of the Week


 Click HERE to find out if this book is still available from the MRC.


Carnegie Long List – continuing the challenge to read them all….

I’m setting myself the challenge to read all of the books on the long list before the winner is announced. 52 titles in 6 months. That’s 2 a week….. I’d better get reading!

Since my last post I have read….

Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis

I really liked this book, and as my 9 year old is obsessed with bird watching / Springwatch etc I have passed it straight onto him. I am just wait for the wailing when he reaches the sad part in the middle of the book. This saddness isn’t really resolved in the remainder of the story and this is the books downfall. But a good read for all those bird and nature fanatics.

And that’s it I’m done! The announcement of the winner comes out this week – and I dread “Everybody Jam” winning and hope that Patrick Ness walks away with it again with the fantastic “A Monster Calls”. Our Carnegie group will be doing our own vote before the announcment so I’ll report back.

I am really looking forward to next years long list – it made me read some really good and surprisingly really bad books this year, and now I feel kinda lost!


 Books I’ve read so far….

      The Language of CatSee full size imageHidden




Carnegie Shortlist announced…..

With trepidation I opened the envelope from CILIP…..would the shortlist contain the books that I have read and loved so far? Or would it have some of the ‘duds’ on it?


Turns out it’s a bit of a mixture….


What I thought after reading it….

“My name is Mina” by David Almond

I wasn’t a big fan of “Skellig” so when I realised that this was a prequel I was a little apprehensive. However this book is much better than “Skellig”! Based around the life of Mina, a girl who is seen as a strange misfit and is excluded from school, she records her thoughts and her slightly excentric home schooling in her journal. The topics that are covered are at times bizarre at others times thought provoking. A really good read.


What I think now it’s made the shortlist….

It was a thought provoking and a slightly ‘different’ read which gave opportunities for self reflection. It is a standalone from “Skellig” so I should be able to persuade at least some of my reading group to read this book. However it only made it to my “It was okay” category….


What I thought after reading it….

“Small Change for Stuart” by Lissa Evans

A book for younger readers. This story is very easy to read, where strange, magical things keep happening to Stuart when he returns to his ancestors town and he discovers his inheritance in the form of a mystery and some old coins (small change). The story ends well with everyone getting what they deserved, but some of the characters were two dimensional (the ‘girl’ next door for example) and the plot suffers from lack of depth in places.

What I think now it’s made the shortlist….

Can’t say I’m thrilled to see this on the list. It is a nice easy read that is likely to go down well with Primary students, not sure how my more sophisticated year 8’s and 9’s will be enthused about it. Plus it still seems a little ‘lightweight’ against the Carnegie Criteria. Another one from the “It was okay” category! 


What I thought after reading it…. (which was after I knew it had made the shortlist)

“The Midnight Zoo” by Sonya Hartnett

As soon as I saw that there was one book on the short list that i hadn’t yet read I finished reading the book I was in the middle of and started this straight away. A well written book that despite being an ‘easy read’, leaves a sense of “What just happened?” I’m not convinced I’ve worked out what the ending meant for the characters – I have several theories and am a bit disappointed that resolution is so absent.


 What I think now it’s made the shortlist….

I am looking forward to discussing this book with my reading group. Perhaps they will understand the outcome better than I did! One from the “I really enjoyed” category.


What I thought after reading it….

Everybody Jam by Ali Lewis

Another story about grief. (This Carnegie long list is getting really depressing!) This time set in the Australian outback. Danny lost his brother a year ago and no one talks about it, but his sister reveals that she’s pregnant, a so a  ’Pommie’ comes to stay to help and during the annual Muster, and a drought that threatens their livelihood events take hold of Danny and help him to accept and move on.



What I think now it’s made the shortlist….

Another book from the “It was okay” category, and I’m really not thrilled to see this book make the list. (What did I miss?) Not sure how I’ll enthuse my reading group to give it a try, as I found it a fairly boring book really – despite the ‘action’ of the muster. My least favourite on the list – so it’s bound to win!


What I thought after reading it….

Trash by Andy Mulligan

I read this book last year just after it was published and thought it was a really good read. Action packed and set in such appalling conditions.



 What I think now it’s made the shortlist….


However when I read “The Glass Collector” (also on the Carnegie long list) I knew I preferred TGC to Trash as it was more realistic and the poignant ending was more satisfying than the ‘everything turns out okay’ (for a few) ending in Trash. So it is in my “A really good read” category but slightly disappointed that it has made the short list.


What I thought after reading it….

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Another book that I read last year shortly after publication. I read it in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down (even though it was really late when I finished). It made me cry, it made me wonder, it made me think. It was a fabulous read.



What I think now it’s made the shortlist….

It was in my “Excellent” category and remains a front runner for the overall winner! Absolutely thrilled that it has made the shortlist.


What I thought after reading it….

My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher

I really enjoyed this book, and the issue with lack of speech marks was avoided by having all talking in italics, so whilst not normal I was able to read without it being too distracting. The story covers the neglect of the surviving children many years after the death of Rosie, the subsequent breakdown of their parents marriage, alcoholism and the resulting bigotry. An uplifting story of survival, and a satisfying read.


What I think now it’s made the shortlist….

This was in my “An okay Read” category. But on reflection I can understand why it has made the shortlist. The innocence of the narrator just oozes from the pages and may give “A Monster Calls” a run for the top spot!


 “Between Shades of Gray” by Ruta Sepetys

What I thought after reading it….

The last one of the Carnegie ShortList and one I had read before the long list was announced. ( I did really well this year!) This was a sad, and at times distressing story about the deportation of  those considered to be ‘anti soviet’ in WW2. A story that quite rightly deserves to be told. It gripped me, it shocked me, and in the end this horrific story was a ‘satisfying’ read.


What I think now it’s made the shortlist….

This was in my “really good Read” category, and the realities behind this story will be more widely known and talked about simply because this book has made the shortlist. However the mixture of flashbacks woven into the gritty story make this an excellent read.


Ones that got away….

Books that I had hoped would be on the shortlist….







Christmas recommendations: Best from 2011


You can borrow books from the MRC to read over the Christmas Holidays, especially uesful during the days before the man in the red suit pops down you chimney!


Here are some of the best titles from 2011 that you might have missed!


A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Siobhan Dowd, Patrick Ness

Winner of the Galaxy Children’s Book of the Year Award 2011 Prize-winning Patrick Ness displays brilliant new skills of sensitivity in this hauntingly touching story of how a boy deals with the…

There is No Dog

There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

Carnegie Medal winner Meg Rosoff gives a whole new look to life in this brilliantly entertaining novel about what if the job of being god was in the hands of a…

Withering Tights

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

Laugh out loud at this launch title of a brilliant new series by Queen of Teen author Louise Rennison. Tallulah Casey, cousin of the irrepressible Georgia Nicholson, signs up for an…

The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This is a debut novel that once read will never be forgotten.  It’s a vibrant, deeply romantic novel that will bring tears to your eyes but it will also bring laughter through…

The Radleys


The Radleys by Matt Haig

Dripping in blood, this is a story of family secrets so terrible that they shouldn’t be uncovered…Rowan and Clara think they are ordinary teenagers. They live quietly with their ordinary Mum…

Out of Shadows

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace

A memorable, moving and disturbing coming-of-age story about how different individuals react to the political changes around them and, especially, to the changing power structure between blacks and whites under the…