An on-form Chris Brookmyre on overenthusiastic fan mail, one-star Amazon reviews and poorly thought-out titles.
(Contains strong language)
An on-form Chris Brookmyre on overenthusiastic fan mail, one-star Amazon reviews and poorly thought-out titles.
(Contains strong language)
Stockbridge Library is the venue for an event celebrating the life and work of Seamus Heaney this Friday (13th December) from 2.00 – 3.00pm
Poet in Residence Ryan Van Winkle will read some of Heaney’s most famous poems, as well as some of his lesser known work.
Congratulations to Leith Primary School’s Jack Elliott, winner of this year’s Green Pencil Award for creative writing on an environmental theme.
Twenty finalists attended the awards ceremony at Central Library, where Jack was presented with the overall prize by Edinburgh Makar Ron Butlin.
And here’s the poem that beat off more than 800 other entries from schools across Edinburgh to claim the coveted trophy.
My cousin said
“It’s raining cats and dogs”
(Why doesn’t it rain ferrets?)
“It’s the fine rain that gets you wet”
(Yeah yeah, how does that work?)
“It might be an Indian Summer this year”
(What about our summer?)
The old lady croaked
“It’s bucketing down son”
My Granny laughed
“It’s awfy muggy”
(You have lots of mugs already Gran!)
The Green Pencil Award is run by Edinburgh City Libraries and Eco-Schools in Edinburgh with sponsorship from Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Poetry Library, Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Seabird Centre, SEPA, Camera Obscura and The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland who provided prizes for all the winners.
See the full list of finalists and find out more about the Green Pencil Award.
Wendy Pearson, Library Service Development Leader for Learning and Literacy Support, talks about some of the work we are doing to help people with dyslexia.
What’s dyslexia got to do with libraries?
Dyslexia affects one in ten people in Scotland. Because struggling to read is one of the problems most commonly associated with dyslexia, libraries seem a really appropriate place to focus energies. We support children and adults with dyslexia by providing books such as those published by local publisher Barrington Stoke which use a unique blend of ingenious design and editorial tricks to ensure an accessible read. And the stories are brilliant too!
Listening to words and stories provides the foundations for reading and our e-audio collections are available for everyone. We also have supportive software on all our library computers which helps open up the internet to less confident readers.
And every November we take get together with Dyslexia Scotland to put together a programme of events for Dyslexia Awareness Week.
Who gets involved with Dyslexia Awareness Week?
Anyone really. But it tends to be families who are affected by dyslexia, or parents and teachers wanting to find out more about it. We work with local schools, young people and adults, and this year several literacy practitioners organised sessions in local libraries.
This year over 200 people visited our libraries for dyslexia related events. At both Muirhouse and Leith Libraries groups of adult learners, parents and literacy workers watched an excellent DVD starring Kara Tointon from East Enders. Kara is herself dyslexic and her open and honest story provoked some useful discussions. Indeed a really positive outcome is that a new group for adults with dyslexia or parents of children with dyslexia will be starting up in North Edinburgh in January.
We have fabulous support from several Ambassadors from Dyslexia Scotland. Fencing champion Keith Cook delighted children at Leith, Granton and Sighthill libraries, as he encouraged them to try lunging and moving stealthily whilst wearing their protective masks! Keith showed that despite still struggling to read and not the best of spellers, he can represent our country and run a really successful business. He’s heading up the Scottish team for the Commonwealth Games next year, by the way!
For youngsters struggling to read it is a real inspiration to meet Ambassadors like Keith, and his ‘glass half full’ personality easily rubs off on whoever he engages with.
In a similar way, young adult learners were able to celebrate their achievements in the company of Paul McNeill, who must be The Scottish Football Association’s most dynamic area manager. Another Ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland, Paul has a very powerful story to share of his struggles growing up with dyslexia, his disengagement with the education system, and his determination to move forward. His passion for football and life enabled everyone to relax and fully participate in the celebrations.
Literacy Practitioner Neil Saddington commented after the event: ‘It was a real privilege to work in partnership with both Edinburgh Libraries staff and Dyslexia Scotland to put on such a wonderful, celebratory, event for young literacies learners in the local community. The success of this event was in no small part down to our amazing guest speaker Paul McNeill who successfully captured the imagination of all the young adults in attendance. For days after young people kept coming up to me and saying thanks for getting Paul to come and talk to us.’
And it only lasts one week?
Well, the official week does, but Edinburgh Libraries continues to work in partnership with Dyslexia Scotland all year, and support for people with dyslexia is an ongoing commitment. Our Chatterbooks Reading Group for children with dyslexia has been running successfully for three years and we are delighted to be starting our second group at Sighthill Library in February next year. These groups offer children a safe, supportive and informal environment to discover the joy of words, stories, reading.
Staff are supported by a band of wonderful volunteers and this high adult to child ratio produces a really positive group where we literally watch the children growing in self-esteem and confidence. And, yes, it’s fair to say they develop a new appreciation of books and reading too!
As part of Dyslexia Awareness Week this year, some of the children took part in an animated discussion about dyslexia at The Filmhouse, following a showing of ‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters’. It was a very proud moment for us all.
And there are other things in the pipeline for next year. ‘Dyslexia and Us’, published by Edinburgh Libraries in partnership with Dyslexia Scotland in 2011, is to be made available in e-book and e-audio formats, making this collection of powerful personal stories accessible to everyone. Local Dyslexia Scotland meetings will also be taking place in several of our libraries during the next twelve months
In fact, so delicious and unexpected is this turn of events that it moves a book that is already part detective fiction, part historical novel and part pirate adventure into entirely new territory, adding themes of natural philosophy and moral turpitude to a story as rich in ideas as it is in intrigue.
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
London, 1811. The twisting streets of Wapping hold many an untold sin. Bounded by the Ratcliffe Highway to the north and the Dock to the south, shameful secrets are largely hidden by the noise of Trade. But two families have fallen victim to foul murder, and a terrified populace calls for justice.
Intrigued? Of course you are. Use your library membership to download the whole book – free – with Oneclickdigital.
James Skene (1775-1864), advocate, antiquarian and confidant of Sir Walter Scott, had a profound sense of Edinburgh as a changing city. In the early 19th century, he witnessed, at first hand, the demolition of parts of an increasingly unfashionable Old Town as it made way for the New Town of Edinburgh. He remembered the opening of the South Bridge which had dramatically altered the character of the Cowgate, and, later, observed the new western development of the Old Town – and with it, the partial the destruction of the Old West Bow and the construction of Johnston Terrace.
The imposing outline of Edinburgh Castle, “overtopping the whole city… and dominating for miles on every side on every side” is at the centre of this water colour drawing by James Skene. At the top right hand corner, the semi-circular half-moon battery is plainly visible. The battery was built in 1588 as part of a new defence system following the destruction of David’s Tower during the course of a two year siege – the Lang Siege – by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, and Regent of James VI of Scotland. Immediately beneath castle rock, at the bottom left, there are signs of engineering work. The beginnings of a new Edinburgh approach road are being cut out of the castle rock. The road, contouring the southern flanks of the Castle and connecting the Lawnmarket with the King’s Bridge (crossing King’s Stables Road) is now known as Johnston Terrace.
Skene was an inveterate draughtsman who had an eye for architectural detail. He recorded the changing face of Edinburgh in a series of over 200 watercolour drawings, and, following an abortive collaboration with Sir Walter Scott, an accompanying journal, known as Reekiana. These now form part of the Special Collections of Edinburgh Libraries.
Over the past year, Alastair Learmont, a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh – and a former practising advocate himself– has been researching the background of James Skene’s Reekiana. His work has culminated in a story using Skene’s own words and paintings to provide a remarkably vivid account of Edinburgh during the 19th century. Read it on Our Town Stories: James Skene’s Reekiana: a Changing City.
If you ask any teenage boy what his favourite book is, the answer is very often “dunno” or a blank face. Reading is “boring” or “hard work”. This can be down to:
But if you ask the same boys about their favourite video games you may well get a completely different response. Games, unlike books, are perceived as being fun.
Achievements can be unlocked by performing certain tasks. As these add up they are displayed on the player’s gamer or online tag (an avatar showing games played and achievements unlocked).
This acts as a reward for playing the game and acknowledges the time and effort put in by the player. Bragging rights over other gamers is an added bonus.
Peoples Republic by Robert Muchamore = 200XP
Gamer by Chris Bradford = 125XP
Once the player reaches the level’s XP cap (the set amount of XP needed to progress) they can then move onto “LvL2” which has its own list of books and XP cap, as does “LvL3” and “LvL4”.
The XP awarded to a book is based simply on how long the book is. Each list includes 5 short books/graphic novels, some of which are dyslexic friendly, and 5 longer books. This is to give those who have issues with reading the option of an “easier read”. Reading the shorter books means reading more books to reach the level cap but this adds to the sense of achievement in completing the level, encouraging them to try a longer book in the next.
Each level will also have a set of achievements obtained by reading certain combinations of books or completing the level e.g.Spy Games – awarded for reading People’s Republic, Stormbreaker and Codebreakers
Each player can then log their achievements in the “Reader Tag”, which is a journal of the books they have read. This works the same way as a “gamer tag” which shows achievements and scores to other gamers and allows players to view their accomplishments.
Players are encouraged to write a review no longer than 140 characters (a nod to twitter) of each book onto a review slip and / or give it a star rating out of five.
For more information call Tony Stewart on 0131 529 5667 or email email@example.com
Celebrations have been taking place worldwide to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the English composer, conductor and pianist Benjamin Britten, born in Lowestoft on 22 November 1913.
Britten was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1945).
Britten showed a talent for music from an early age. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London and also privately with the composer Frank Bridge. With the premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945, Britten leapt to international fame. Over the next 28 years, he wrote 14 more operas, establishing himself as one of the leading 20th-century composers in the genre. Themes in his operas include the struggle of an outsider against a hostile society, and the corruption of innocence.
Britten died in 1976. Audiences for his work have continued to increase and subsequent composers influenced by his life and work: Britten was a key figure in the growth of British musical culture in the second half of the 20th century.
See what delights the Music Library holds in store for Britten fans and learn more about Britten and all other matters musical with Grove Music Online (use your library card number for full access to the site)
With Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary almost upon us what better time to find out a bit more about Central Library’s pet Dalek.
The Dalek’s many guises have been amusing and confusing visitors to the lending department for several years now. Here is his tribute to Robert Louis Stevenson’s masterpiece:
We caught up with John and Lesley from the lending library to find out more about their resident exterminator.
So what is a Dalek (in fancy dress) doing in the lending library?
It all started a few years back. We got the Dalek (and his less celebrated cyberman sidekick) to promote the Edinburgh Science Festival. We liked the Dalek so much we decided to keep him, and started dressing him up in literary-themed costumes. Like the Doctor, the Dalek has gone through one or two ‘regenerations’ – because like the rest of us he can get a bit deflated from time to time.
What reaction have you had to the Dalek?
The Dalek is definitely a cult hero. We’ve had lots of people getting their photo taken with the Dalek, and thanks to the power of Facebook he’s built up an international following.
Where do the ideas for his costumes come from?
Staff, visitors, anyone. Usually he’s dressed up as a literary character (Dickens seems to be a recurring favourite) but sometimes we’ll do something related to current affairs (like with the Jubilee Dalek). Finding the right props can be difficult but we are starting to build up quite an extensive wardrobe.
What was your favourite Dalek get-up?
The Dalek with the Dragon Tattoo. We don’t actually have a picture of this incarnation – so if anyone out there has we’d love to see it. Another personal favourite was Dalek of Green Gables.
Which literary character would you like to see the Dalek dressed up as? Leave a comment below.
Book Week Scotland is nearly here. It’s like a mini book festival – but it’s free! How’s this for a line-up?
Kirsty Gunn (The big music)
Lin Anderson (Torch, Final cut, Picture her dead, Easy kill…)
Tony Black (Long time dead, Murder Mile, Gutted, Paying for it…)
Karen Campbell (This is where I am, Shadowplay, The twilight time, After the fire…)
Chris Dolan (An anarchist’s story: the life of Ethel MacDonald, Redlegs)
Lesley Riddoch (Blossom: a journey beyond independence)
James Robertson (The Professor of Truth, The Testament of Gideon Mack, And the land lay still, The Fanatic)
Tracey S Rosenberg (The girl in the bunker)
If you’re very lucky and extremely quick you can still grab a free place to see the authors listed above in libraries throughout Edinburgh. Just click on the author’s names for venues, times, and booking information.
And visit the Book Week Scotland site to see what else is happening throughout the country. Take a look too, at this selection of reading ideas from our friends at Publishing Scotland – look out for their pop-up bookshop in Central Library from 25 to 30 November
As part of the rather wonderful Book Week Scotland programme we’ve got something sure to interest all you writers out there.
“How to get published” will feature a panel of expert editors, authors and publishers, courtesy of our friends at Publishing Scotland.
After a general discussion there will be a question and answer session so you can pick our panel’s brains further.
It all takes place from 2pm on Saturday 30th November. Book online for this one while you can.
Now in its third year, Previously…, the festival of Scottish History, just gets bigger and better. Here are four ways you can get involved:
1. Share your memories of Corstorphine
Corstorphine residents past and present are invited to the library at 6.30pm on Wednesday 20th November, for an illustrated talk on the history of the village followed by your opportunity to share a Corstorphine memory or anecdote. If you’ve got something you’d like to share contact Corstorphine Library in advance so we can make sure there’s time to fit everyone in.
2. Celebrate one of Edinburgh’s most famous sons
Mark Robert Louis Stevenson Day on 13 November with walks, talks and afternoon tea.
3. Join The Big Book Club
Join the biggest Book Club ever as we discuss ‘The Glorious Thing’ by Christine Orr. Set in Edinburgh in 1916, this funny, sometimes tragic, beautifully written novel centres on a group of young people trying to find their place in society. Orr examines the changing role of women, politics and religion against the backdrop of the First World War. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for your free copy of the book in advance of the event and book online to reserve places for your book group.
Our Town Stories brings the hidden stories from Edinburgh’s past to life with some amazing photographs. Find out about the country’s oldest fire brigade and read the story of the nine-year-old suffragette.
There are well over 200 other events to choose from – visit the Previously… site for details
Karen Campbell is coming to Corstorphine Library to talk about This is where I am. The novel tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a Glasweigan widow and a Somali asylum seeker.
“Bold, gritty and fearless” The Sunday Times
“an unexpectedly humourous affair… Generous spirited, big hearted depiction of life behind the statistics” Daily Mail
A graduate of Glasgow University’s renowned Creative Writing Masters Degree, Karen drew on her experiences in the police force for her first novel The Twilight Time. Other novels (After the fire, Shadowplay, Proof of life), awards, and critical acclaim soon followed.
We know Karen has a loyal and enthusiastic readership among library members, so act fast to claim your place at our Book Week Scotland event on 27th November by emailing email@example.com – or call 0131 529 5506.
Check our events calendar for other Book Week Scotland events including visits from James Robertson, Lesley Riddoch and Lin Anderson.
A creative writing group especially for teenagers is starting up at Blackhall Library.
Learn about the skills you need to create a story, find out what kind of writer you are and take the opportunity to display your completed story in the library for others to read.
We’re not going to tell you how good a book Kirsty Gunn’s ”The Big Music” is. We’ll leave that to the pros.
“One of the finest novels of the past decade“. That’s the verdict of the Times Literary Supplement.
The Independent goes further. “I cannot think of a more entirely original, enchanting and enchanted book. The result is a masterpiece.“
What we will tell you, and we’re delighted to do so, is that Kirsty will be joining us for a special Book Week Scotland event at Central Library on the evening of Thursday 28th November.
Reserve your ticket right now to see a rising literary star in action. Free. As ever.
“Beyond Words” is the theme of this year’s Dyslexia Awareness Week, taking place from 4th – 11th November 2013.
In association with Dyslexia Scotland, we’ll be hosting a packed programme of talks, activities and screenings featuring a member of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games team, a prizewinning author and a former Eastenders star.. plus many more special guests.
View the complete programme for full details.
Dyslexia Awareness Week is just one example of how Edinburgh Libraries support readers of all ages and abilities. You can learn more about our work with less confident readers, care home residents, non-English speakers and other groups on our web site.
When 12-year-old Helga Goebbels walks into Hitler’s underground shelter, she expects to emerge as the most important girl in the victorious German empire. Bewildered by the lack of celebrations, Helga defies her father’s orders to stop asking questions. Horrified to discover how many lies she’s been told, she plans to escape from Berlin.
“The Girl in the Bunker” by Tracey S. Rosenberg is a troubling examination of the Goebbels family. As books like this one, Chocolate Cake with Hitler by Emma Craigie and Magda by Meike Ziervogel demonstrate, this is a topic that has long fascinated authors and readers alike.
So we’re really looking forward to a special Book Week Scotland event at Leith Library on Monday 25th November when Tracey S. Rosenberg will join us to read from and talk about her work. Better still, the event is free of charge so all you have to do is call 0131 529 5517 or email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you can to ensure a place at the event.
Look out for more information about other Book Week Scotland events, and keep up to date with library happenings on our Events Page.
When he wasn’t painting George III, pamphleteering, being shipwrecked or exchanging witticisms with Dr Johnson and Voltaire, Allan Ramsay found the time to both formulate a native Scottish style of painting and develop a new style of ‘natural’ portraiture that would influence artists such as Gainborough, Reynolds and Henry Raeburn. This explains why he is such an important figure in the history of Scottish art.
Visit the Fine Art Library to find out more about the man, his work and his legacy.
Over the last few years Edinburgh Libraries have played host to a number of great author events under the banner of Edinburgh Reads. We caught up with Edinburgh Reads supremo Annie Bell to find out more:
Could you describe Edinburgh Reads?
Put simply Edinburgh Reads is our brand name for author events in Edinburgh Libraries. They take place in Central Library and in community libraries across the city. We attract well-known authors and debut writers. Our events have been well attended with crowds of up to 150 on some occasions.
What would someone expect from an Edinburgh Reads event?
It’s a great way to meet like-minded people, to get together as a group and listen to great authors read and talk about their work. People can ask their own questions and it’s a very sociable occasion too giving people a chance to enjoy a glass of wine and generally share their love of books and reading. It also has a great impact on the library in terms of getting more people through the door and as a way to remind people of the important role libraries play in their community.
Does Edinburgh Reads have an online presence?
We have filmed most of our events and also have an in-house photographer to take photos and the resulting media can be accessed through our social media channels. We’ve built up an amazing collection of authors that have visited over the last few years. As well as providing a great archive it also helps us reach a much wider audience. Who knew someone from Venezuela would be interested in our videos?
What have been the highlights so far?
There’s been so many highlights. It’s the best part of my job, I love hosting these events, meeting authors and hearing what they have to say. Particular favourites have been Jane Harris who was here recently, she wrote Gillespie and I which is a favourite among our book-groups. She was a marvellous speaker. She’d studied drama previously so she was able to put on different voices as she read and really brought her novels alive. She was funny, lively and great at answering the audiences questions.
Another author who was excellent was John Cairney. We had him last year as part of our Previously history festival. John talked about the life of Robert Louis Stevenson and he had the audience in the palm of his hand. They were spellbound.
Which author, alive or dead, would you most like to invite to an Edinburgh Reads event and why?
I’d love to get Hilary Mantell. She wrote Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies both of which were awarded The Man Booker Prize. She’s a marvellous writer and does fantastic research. She’s quite hard to get hold of as well so that’s another reason. I think it’d create quite a stir among our reading community in Edinburgh.
Up coming events include Christopher Brookmyre (tonight!) and then again at South Queensferry on Mon Nov 11th. Then we have Donald Smith and Kirsty Gunn in November with Edinburgh’s Makar Ron Butlin following in December. Damien Barr, Andrew O’Hagan and Val McDiarmid are due to appear in the new year.
Tickets and a list of forthcoming events in libraries are available by visiting our Eventbrite page. Videos from previous events can be viewed on our You Tube channel.
As Emma’s mum says in the article, it’s great to see that the book is making a real difference to lots of people’s lives. Well done Emma!