Friday, 29 January 2010

Book Requests


I can get it for you! You just need to ask.

Last year the students asked for Cecilia Ahern, Nicholas Sparks, Mr Midnight, Meg Cabot, Goosebumps, Chicken Soup, and Sophie Kinsella. They got them. We now have an excellent collection of those books.

How do I do it? Well, I have a number of ways to get books. Sometimes I get lucky and our HOD gives me a bit of money (remember your $1 donation to the SRR fund) to buy books. Then I go to the bookstore and stare at the shelves trying to guess what a teenage girl would like to read! Sometimes I buy books from book depository (an incredible online bookstore) that I want to read and pass them on to the SRR. At other times, our generous benefactor Peta is able to get us books in the UK and she donates them to us. As well, we have a group of other mysterious donors who give us books that we request. Isn't that amazing?

How do I choose which books to get? That's the challenge. I need your help. You need to tell me which books to get. I'm older. I'm a guy. What do I know? Help me.

Don't be afraid to ask. Leave me a note on the shoutmix. Better yet, leave me a note in the comments section of this post. That way I have a permanent record of what you requested and who you are - making it easier for me to get the book to you.

Actually, I'm happy to report that a lot of girls are now getting the courage to ask me for books. Even girls from the other classes will now approach me in the office to ask about getting a book they like. It's great! I know it takes a lot of courage to do that so I try my best.

Notes on Books
  • A girl asked for the book Discover Your Destiny by Robin Sharma. I don't have that one yet, but I do have a woman in Australia (Cherelle) who has agreed to send The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari. I hope you will enjoy it. Can you remind me of your name by leaving a comment on this post and I'll let you know when it comes in?
  • For all the girls who are waiting for Poison Study. Our book hero Peta is sending us a new set from Book Depository. Yay! Actually, she was the person who "discovered" the study series and sent us the first set. It has been a huge hit at the school. Too bad the bookstores here haven't caught on yet.
  • For the Form 5 girls who asked me about Lord of the Rings, I have contacted a number of book donors and I hope to hear from them soon. I read this series five years ago and it is absolutely incredible.
  • As for My Sister's Keeper, we have one copy in SRR that is being read but I'll try to get another copy from Best Eastern as soon as possible. This book is very popular and a lot of girls want it so we had better get another copy.
  • Also, Eqah in 5D really enjoyed the first book of Vampire Academy. Good news, Egah! Peta is sending us copies of #2 and #3 from Book Depository. You're first in line to read them!
  • Another booklover in the UK named Sal (froglady) has donated 50 books to us! Isn't that amazing? We are so lucky to have the support of wonderful people like Peta and Sal. Thanks ladies!

Book Lovers

Some of you may have noticed the bulletin board near the SRR stairs has some book reviews on it. A few of the girls from Lit class wrote them and I typed them up to make posters. I'd love for the other book lovers out there to make similar posters for display in February.

It's really easy and fun. Here is what you do:
  • Write your name and class
  • Write the title of your favourite book and the author's name
  • Write a quotation to go in the speech bubble by your picture. It would be great if you were saying something about how much you love reading.
  • Next, write a paragraph about the favourite book. Why did you like it so much?
  • Drop it off at my office or send it to me by e-mail.
It is amazing. Every time I walk by I notice people reading the reviews and girls have started requesting the books that were mentioned on the noticeboard. Isn't that great? You should promote the book/author you love too!

BTW, this was our principal's idea and she is really happy with what we have so far. She really is an amazing supporter of our reading program and SRR! We are so lucky to have her on our side.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Lovely Bones - Coming to the SRR

Hi girls,

Every day a girl asks me if we have The Lovely Bones. I'm not sure what has happened but this is the most requested book since Twilight. Well, Poison Study is also highly requested, but I think Lovely Bones is number one.

We have one (or two?) copies of The Lovely Bones in the SRR but it is being read by one of my students right now. Keep your eyes open for it.

Anyway, due to popular demand, I have just ordered three new copies fresh from book depository. The books should arrive in two to three weeks.

If you would like to be one of the first girls to read "The Lovely Bones" all you need to do is add a comment to this post. Put your name and your class. The first three girls to put their names on the list get to read the books when they arrive and then the other girls will be waitlisted and can read them as they get returned to me.

Alice Sebold would be so proud!

If you have seen the movie, could you write a short review in the comments section? I'd like to know if it is good - you know I'm a big Peter Jackson fan! I still want to read the book first, but I was so close to getting the DVD last week.

Monday, 25 January 2010

BGIC 2010

I've invited 12 Year 9 students for an introduction to the Model United Nations Club tomorrow at 10:00 in the Senior Reading Room. Students were chosen by teachers in the English Department and they will have a chance to join the new ECA this year.

Let me just say that BGIC is the best thing you will do all year. You will meet some of the cleverest and most amazing young people around. Students come from many schools from Brunei as well as from other countries for this big event.

Year 9 students who participate in the Model United Nations Club will have the chance to observe the BGIC this year and may also be selected to participate as delegates in 2011.

Also, congratulations to the three girls from Form 5 who will represent the school as delegates this year!

We are in Forum 1 and we will be working in the Human Rights Committee
  • Humairah will be representing new Zealand
  • Ruth will be representing Cambodia
  • Lim will be representing Malaysia
Congratulations girls!!!

To see pictures from 2009 you can look here.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Zee Avi Loves Books

If you listen to Krystal FM in the morning on the way to school you have probably heard the young Miri singer's "Kantoi" song in which she plays a ukulele (a kind of small guitar) and mixes both Malay and English. If you haven't, you can by pressing HERE. The first time I heard it while driving to school I was really shocked. First of all, it has a style that sounds kind of old, but at the same time it sounds very fresh and fun. Plus I kept wondering what language it was she was singing and then it hit me - it's Malay!

Her voice is incredible, isn't it? I'm really impressed by her work. I just love to hear songs that are different, new, and catchy. This girl is an original. I just think it is great that young artists have the freedom to explore new things - singers like Agnes Monica and even Lady Gaga just go out and find their own style. Fantastic! I mean, nobody sings with Zee Avi's style anymore and nobody plays the ukulele. Very cool.

I just sent her a message on her youtube page to congratulate her and wish her all the best. You can find her youtube page HERE at KokoKaina's channel.

I guess she has recorded an album in Los Angeles and has had her song used in a WalMart commercial. It also seems like she has played live on American television and managed to sneak onto the Billboard countdown list. She is on her way up! And all of this because she posted a video on YouTube. Cool.

I've always said that it is only a matter of time before somebody in Brunei becomes a worldwide sensation. If a girl from Miri can do it, a girl from Brunei certainly can!

Anyway, it turns out that Zee is also a book lover and we have proof in this short youtube video where she talks about how she started promoting her music just last year and her love of books. She seems like a very talented and clever girl (and I'll bet reading had a lot to do with that). :-)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

New Reading Room Books

We have some amazing new books for the SRR thanks to former STPRI girl Hudiya from 5B. She was in my class last year and is a great book lover just like the rest of us and on her vacation to Australia in December she was kind enough to get us some incredible books - especially if you are a Twilight fan! I think it is absolutely wonderful that she would think of us.

First of all, she got us a copy of the New Moon Movie Companion. Last year the Twilight Movie Companion was probably the most popular book in the SRR so I'm sure this year the New Moon book will get a lot of attention.

I guess Hudiya knows that the students like the guys in the movie because she got us a Scholastic book with lots of pictures in it called The Guys of Twilight. I wonder when they will publish a book of The Girls of Twilight. It's not really fair is it (btw, my favourite character is Alice)?

Once again on the Twilight theme, Hudiya got us a a parody of Twilight called "nightlight". How cool is that? I didn't even know there was a parody made of it. What's a parody? Well, it is a joke version of a story and it makes fun of the original. If you love Twilight (or even if you didn't like Twlight), you'll probably get a few laughs from this one.

As well, Hudiya bought us a copy of a book called Surf School which looks really good. I'm certain that it will be another popular book to read this year.

Thanks again for your generosity Hudiya. That was so nice of you!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Peter Pan

Hi everyone,

Today I read a little from Peter Pan in Scarlet with the 9A and 9D girls. Isn't it just the most beautiful book you've ever seen? I'm still amazed at what a great job the publisher did.

You can read my review of the book: HERE.

Anyway, we talked about the mysterious change in dates on page 11 (one book said Saturday and another said Sunday) and we also talked about the mysterious writing on the inside cover page. As I told you, I e-mailed the publisher and was pleasantly surprised when the auther, Geraldine McCaughrean sent back a reply.

I thought some of you might like to read the e-mail she sent us. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it. Here it is:

Dear Jason,
I'm so glad you and your class have been enjoying Peter Pan in Scarlet. It sounds as if you explored it pretty extensively!! I agree about the cover and silhouettes - gorgeous, aren't they? A new younger edition was published at the end of last year with fewer words but many more full colour pictures. The illustrator really excelled himself working on the book. I think he, like me, knew it was a very special assignment to be given.

As to the mystery, I think I can probably solve it. Sometimes bookshops buy too many copies of a book and return some to the publishers. I expect I signed that book in some big London store, the store then sent back some copies to the warehouse and the warehouse sent them out again to different customers. I have found myself signing in a shop, opening a book and finding I have already signed it!

Also, I did sign about 800 copies of the book at the warehouse, so it may be one of those.
I can tell you for certain that the signed book comes from a different print-run. At the beginning of the book, on the copyright page, you will see a string of numbers. The last number tells you how many printings there have been of the book. I believe that after the first or second edition, a few little changes were made, including that date in chapter 2. There is a story behind that which I can tell you and which nobody else knows. When I wrote the book, I sent the characters to Neverland on Saturday 6th June, because 6th June is my birthday and I thought that made it auspicious. My clever editor did not know this. She worked out that 6th June in l926 was not a Saturday but a Sunday, so she changed it to June 5th before publication. Then someone pointed out to her that it was my birthday ...And she changed it back in the next print-run! I didn't expect her to, but it was very sweet of her. A sort of birthday present, I suppose!

Anyway, I am delighted if a mere signature added to your enjoyment. I can't imagine why it should! (Now when the illustrator invents and draws a fairy on the title page - then and there, in front of you - that's special.) I'm afraid I can't arrange that, but if any of your students would like signed bookplates to go in their copies of the book, I will willingly send them. (I would need your postal address, though.)

Wishing you everything you wish yourselves and a little more besides,

After reading her e-mail I guess it is easy to tell that she is a talented writer. Even when she sends out a quick e-mail it ends up sounding a lot like poetry. I think that you can also get a sense that she is a really nice person, can't you?

Anyway, in the coming weeks you will have a chance to read some of the story if you like. Also, we have added two books to the regular collection so you will have a chance to read them at any time in the next two years. As well, you could order the book online at bookdepository for 11 british pounds and the delivery is free: HERE: The last time I went to Icklebooks in Kiarong they had a few copies that didn't get sold last year. You can find a map for Icklebooks: HERE. You may want to call them and check first, though.

If you do decide to buy your own personal copy, I have a few autographs left and I will be happy to put one in your book!
By the way, the younger version that Geraldine mentions in the letter will also be available soon in the SRR. Our marvelous book angel Peta in the UK sent us a copy in December. It is absolutely beautiful. The artwork by David Wyatt is simply stunning. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Finally, I'd like to put together a thank you package for Geraldine. If you'd like to send her a note or ask her a question, please let me know and we can add it along with some postcards and stuff from school.
I'd also like to get a picture or two of you reading the book. I'm sure she would love to get pictures like that from us.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Amazon description from Publisher's Weekly:

Violence, in McCarthy's postapocalyptic tour de force, has been visited worldwide in the form of a "long shear of light and then a series of low concussions" that leaves cities and forests burned, birds and fish dead and the earth shrouded in gray clouds of ash. In this landscape, an unnamed man and his young son journey down a road to get to the sea. (The man's wife, who gave birth to the boy after calamity struck, has killed herself.)

They carry blankets and scavenged food in a shopping cart, and the man is armed with a revolver loaded with his last two bullets. Beyond the ever-present possibility of starvation lies the threat of roving bands of cannibalistic thugs. The man assures the boy that the two of them are "good guys," but from the way his father treats other stray survivors the boy sees that his father has turned into an amoral survivalist, tenuously attached to the morality of the past by his fierce love for his son. McCarthy establishes himself here as the closest thing in American literature to an Old Testament prophet, trolling the blackest registers of human emotion to create a haunting and grim novel about civilization's slow death after the power goes out.

On a layover in Chicago I found a nice little book kiosk and loaded up on books for the 14-hour flight ahead of me. This book grabbed my attention immediately. I had heard something about the movie which is now being shown world-wide except here in Brunei and I always love a good end-0f-the-world movie so I was keen to see this one. Also Viggo Mortensen is awesome, right? Anyway, I figured if they made it into a movie it must be good and if I'm going to watch the movie I'd rather read the book first. This book before movie thing has worked out so far. I enjoyed Harry Potter more for reading the books first and can you imagine seeing New Moon if you hadn't read the book - disaster!

On my plane, the in-flight entertainment was awful, I was squished against the emergency door exit that jutted out about a foot and a half inside the plane and into the space where I wanted to put my rather long legs, and I kept catching a whiff of noxious toilet fumes from the area next to me....but none of that mattered because I was totally engrossed in this book. I started it as the flight took off and didn't stop reading until every last page had passed before my jet-lagged eyes. And, sure enough, while I was reading the end of the book, tears started flowing down my cheeks so badly I had to turn off my overhead light before the people waiting to use the can noticed the blubbering baby in the window seat.

Let me just say, this book is pretty intense. It isn't so much about the end of the world as it is about what it means to be a father and what it feels like to take care of a son. Of course this is child-care pushed to the extreme. If the father fails to take care of his son here, he will either freeze to death, starve to death, or get eaten by wandering bands of nasty degenerates. It's fascinating to watch as these two characters try to take care of each other. It's tense, it's dark, it's sad, and it is utterly gripping.

I'd also like to mention that I loved the way McCarthy wrote all the dialogue in this book without quotation marks. It is an extra touch that makes this book even more fascinating to read.

The Road won the 2007 Pullitzer Prize and it was chosen to be an Oprah Winfrey's Book Club selection. If you think you might like this book, I think you will.

I'll be adding my copy of this fabulous book to the SRR next week. Let me know if you are interested in being the first one to read it.

5/5 Stars

Friday, 8 January 2010

Welcome back...

Hello everyone and welcome back! It has been a busy first week at school and I'm still recovering from jet lag so I haven't had a chance to post on my blog until today.

First of all, I'd like to say hello to all my wonderful new students. So far I've met my sweet 9A form class of 21 students and my big, friendly 9D class with 37 students. On Saturday I'll finally get the chance to meet 9F and I'm sure they will be equally lovely. In our first English period together I'm afraid I did most of the talking but I look forward to next week when you will have a chance to participate more in the lessons.

I also met with my mega outgoing 5ACD Lit class. It's so good to see you all again! Really, I love teaching you girls so much that the time just flies by, doesn't it? This year is going to be another great year for us! Anyway, welcome back and I can't wait to dive back into our short story collection. Isn't Desai's Sale a powerful story? I'll be looking over your Reader Reaction assignment later today. See you Saturday.

BTW, the principal has made a special request. She would like us to decorate the noticeboard near the SRR again. This time she'd like us to put posters with pics of students and quotations about reading. I think it would be great to put a book recommendation as well. I would like the girls in 5ACD Lit class who absolutely love reading to make posters. I've made a template so you can just delete stuff and add your own ideas. Also, I have your pics so I can always put your pic if you don't have one.

Please click here for the template:

I would also like to send out a big thank you to my wonderful 9A form class for processing 120 new books for the SRR while we were waiting for our textbooks on Wednesday. I put the books on the shelves yesterday so that when students go in for their first reading period there will be a lot of added excitement. I hope you love the Reading Room as much as I do!!!

As usual, I'd also like to send out a big THANK YOU to our book angel Peta. For those of you who don't know, Peta is our mysterious donor from the UK who has been sending us big packages of incredible books for the last year. In December she sent us an amazing 39 books, most of them brand new. Wow!!! There are so many beautiful new books that she has sent us that I can't single out one for special recognition. All I can say is that Peta has a great eye for Teen lit and she has sent us so many books that have become a huge hit with the girls at the school. Thanks again Peta! You're amazing! To see all the great books she has sent us you can look at the bottom of the entry here.