All posts for the month January, 2012

Penguin Kids TV

Published January 31, 2012 by electricbluegaloo

Here is a new dimension in the old “author study”.

Flick through the episodes to learn more about what and who’s hot in kids books.


Zeph the King!

Published January 30, 2012 by electricbluegaloo

If you’re a teacher, strugging to find poems to use with your students – stop looking! I have provided you with the answer.  British poet Benjamin Zephaniah brings words to life on the page the way slamers do it on the stage.

If you’re a writer looking for inspiration take a look at the way he reaches into your mind and expresses it exactly the way you wanted to.

Yes, people – today you have struck gold!

The Puzzle Ring is AWESOME!

Published January 30, 2012 by electricbluegaloo

I just finished reading The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth, and it was AWESOME!

I haven’t been swept away by a book like that in ages (not counting The Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband).  I love books that really show the author knows what he or she is writing about.  When the author is a passionate word lover and is writing on a topic of particular passion it just brings an extra depth to the work that cannot be faked.

I know that at some stage Kate and her family lived and travelled around Scotland for a year in order to research one of her novels.  I am not 100% sure it was for The Puzzle Ring but it would make sense because the countryside, characters, events, just everything read so authentically.  I have lived in the UK and spent time in Edinburgh and around Carlisle, and can honestly say Kate’s representation is superb.

The four main characters are all really well-formed and each bring their own special dimension to the story.  In the way that JK Rowling makes you know and love everything about her characters (even Malfoy in his own “good, but deeply horrible” way) the reader knows that Forsyth has created real and credible characters.  You will laugh, cry and get totally freaked out along with Hannah and her friends.

And speaking of freaked out – wow! There are some really scary scenes in this book.  The characters are 12-13 years old, and I know our young teens can cope with it, probably better than I can, but I was reading the Halloween scene in our outdoor room at night and had to run inside and ask my hubby to go back and turn the light out or the Black Witch might get me.

It’s interesting that I read The Locket of Dreams over the holiday period, written by Belinda Murrell who is Kate Forsyth’s sister.  Both books have similar themes, but have treated the stories and characters so differently.  The Locket of Dreams in many ways reminded me of Jackie French’s writing (ie The Day they Stormed Eureka) having  parallel storylines and what appears to be the main story is actually a way for the lead character to come to terms with what is happening to her in her waking hours.

The Puzzle Ring is different.  The apparently non-magical aspects of Hannah’s life are not really that common and in this way the reader is not intended to relate this to their own life.  While The Locket of Dreams is an uplifting story of courage and survival, The Puzzle Ring is high adventure.


3 Keys to Getting Lost in Austen

Published January 29, 2012 by electricbluegaloo

I had to read Austen for high school English, and I totally did not get it.  I watched all the films: Sense and Sensibility with what’s her name and Hugh Thingo, the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice mini-series, Clueless, and some other dreadful one about Something and Somethingelse, but I was still  . . . clueless.

And then many years later I watched another little BBC oddity entitled “Lost in Austen” and it just clicked.  The first key. This is the power of literature sans frontieres. Once you take the book off the page you open up so many possibilities.  I hope you will be lucky enough to come across “Lost in Austen” yourself so I won’t even bother to review or summarise it here.

The second key that unlocked my secret garden of the first lady of early 19th Century literature was the movie “The Jane Austen Book Club”. This fictionalised book chat show really opened my eyes to why women today love Jane Austen.  It gave just enough summary of the book without overdoing it, characters’ interpretations of the stories and a modern context.

The third key, the one that really got me was a comment made by the interminably irritating Merike Hardie on the Tuesday Night Book Club.  The only useful comment she ever made was “I wish I’d read Austen when it was contemporary.” That hit me like a slap on the face.  We are so privileged to live in a world where Jane Austen had the courage to write and guts to publish what these days seems so tame in comparison to the who we are today.  It is incredible to think of life before someone put their tounge in their cheek and wrote

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife

But fortunately my daughters and I do live in that world, and I have finally managed to download Pride and Prejudice  onto my new eReader.  Is it true that Elizabeth sees Darcy in a wet shirt, clinging to his manly chest?  I wonder how that will compare to Jacob Black and his shirt tearing antics.  Can’t wait to find out . . . .

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