Thursday, May 24, 2007

Trends in Teen Literature

I was sifting through a pile of papers and came across an article published in Seattle Post dated 8 March 07 on the top trends in teen literature. The observations are definitely point on and they include the proliferation of racy chick lit, more cross-over title such as Tamar by Mal Peet, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Aside from this there is the cross-over of adult authors writing for teens such as Isabel Allende and the continual fascination with fantasy brought on by none other than the Harry Potter success. Books for teens are also longer than they used to be before also another pattern followed from the Harry Potter books. And of course the rise of graphic novels and their increasing presence in the teenager's world.
So what impact does this have on the reader? Well I think it spells a boon for the teen reader who now has a wider variety of materials to browse from and also an industry that has begun to take note of the teenager reader and placed considerable time and funds to cater to their growing needs. Given that the average teenager has a greater spending power, publishers are surely going out of their way to attract this section of the population which was previously forgotten. Good news for all teenagers I bet.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Currently I'm reading Twilight, the Young Adult novel by Stephanie Meyer. It is an easy read but oh so fascinating and enthralling as well. A young girl falls in love with a vampire. You'd think this was a boring topic, so Buffy the Vampire Slayer kind of love but it is done well and with finesse as well. I find that the author has taken pains to craft the story poignantly and as I haven't finished reading the novel yet, I cannot say what the outcome is but this title has received good reviews as far as I have known which compelled me to read it in the first place and also because my colleague happened to have a review copy at hand. I would encourage anyone to give it a go cause is it largely about forbidden love.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bologna Ragazzi Award Exhibition

When I was at the Bologna Childrens' Book Fair recently, I took the opportunity to visit the Bologna Ragazzi Award Exhibition.

40 years of the history of international children’s publishing were on display at the exhibition. It gathered the 150 prize-winning books and more than 500 titles that received special mentions by the Bologna’s Children’s Book Fair from 1966 till 2007. At the end of the exhibition, the books would be made available at Sala Borsa Ragazzi Library.

The exhibition was held at the Archiginnasio Piazza Galvani. The building was built in 1563 and was the University of Bologna until 1803. Today it is an important town library where invaluable manuscripts, antique drawings, prints and photographs are preserved. Here also housed the historical 17th century Teatro Anatomico (Anatomy Theatre) where famous ancient doctors such as Galen and Hippocrates studied the body, learnt about dissection and performed operations.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bologna Children's Book Fair 2007

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the most important international event dedicated to the children’s publishing and multimedia industry.In its 44th edition, the Fair offers more than 20,000 square meters of exhibition space that spread across 7 pavilions.

It was an eye-opener visiting the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Many foreign language books were represented at the fair. It is interesting to see the Italian version of Harry Potter with a totally different illustration on the book cover ! I must say that I do like it better as it looks more like a children's book.

The Book Fair also featured an illustrators' exhibition that is the largest and most prestigious international display of the most innovative trends in children’s illustration. Out of 2,653 entries from 58 countries, 85 illustrators were selected by an influential panel of judges to showcase their talent, publish in the Annual which is a reference tool that publishers use year-round and be part of the travelling shows organised by Japan Board on Books for Young People (JBBY). Within the exhibtion area, there were Illustrators Cafes where illustrators introduce themselves to professionals looking for new talent. The panel of judges also use the cafes to share and discuss the reasons behind their selection.

Here's where you can see some photos of the illustrations taken by me :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

First experience and thots

I had my first experience of sitting behind a readers' advisary counter to serve our customers this afternoon. Customer service is really a very different experience from office work. When you are facing the public, you must be at your very best! You must be perceived to be fair and know the operations at finger tips. In addition, you must also be able to understand the needs of your customers; especially when they are not able to articulate what they really need help on!

Thanks to Norlizah, my colleague-cum-experienced librarian, for showing me the ropes the whole afternoon. Her gentle and patient manner definitely had a calming effect on me. I was able to stay calm, observe her in action and even attend to two customers.

What really caught my attention today was teenagers do not mind hanging out at the children section of the library! In fact, quite a number of secondary school students were occupying the kiddie chairs and tables. This is contrary to booksellers' report about teens not wanting to be seen at the children books section at the bookstores. The only reason i can think of is that Singapore teens do not have enough space to hang out together after school.

This brings to mind what Patrick Jones said about library services to teenagers when he was in Singapore recently. One important element is to provide them with their own space. Hope that when it is time to upgrade the existing libraries, we can look into re-designing and creating these spaces for them to form learning communities.

What do you think? Do you have other reason(s) on why the secondary school students are at the children section instead of the AYP section? Is this an issue or opportunity for us?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

If you are like me, not very savvy about graphic novels and finding it difficult to understand them, take heart! We are normal. Unlike comic strip, graphic novel is longer and reader needs to divide his time between reading the text and looking at the pictures. Both activities are essential for the understanding of the story and the effect is totally different from reading plain text. Experts advise new reader or reader with difficulty like me to start with black and white as the colours tends to further distract us from the story.

It used to be comics were for kids' reading pleasure. Now, most comics are for teens and adults. It used to be comics were referring to comic strips (3 to 4 panels) found in our newspapers telling a joke. Comic books were longer versions of about max 20 pages such as Superman, Batman or even Lao Fu Zi (Chinese character) that I grew up with. Now, we see comic books in the form of collected comics such as Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes or Peanuts.

Graphic novel is a type of comic book with a storyline similar to those of novels. Japanese print graphic novels have gained an identity of its own. They are known as Manga and are very popular not just in Japan. In our library, we have a large collection of graphic novels for teens and adults. In terms of graphic novels for pre-teens ( J - 8 to 12 years old ), publishers of children books are responding very quickly to the trend.

Graphic Novels for Younger Reader (J)

Existing titles :
Jeff Smith's Bone Series
Baby-sitters Club and Queen Bee by Graphix
Matthew and Jennifer Holm's Babymouse Series
Asterix Series by Goscinny
The Adventures of Tintin Series by Herge

Coming titles :
Avalon High and Warriors by TokyoPop
Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest by Candlewick Press

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Found out that many of my friends who are parents do not know anything about children e-books. My first exposure to e-books is Tumblebooks via NLB's eResources. I was not very impressed at that point in time as it requires much effort to register and login. By the time I was at the first book, I have decided to check it out another time which I never did. : (

When I next encounter Tumblebooks, I was at NYPL children's site. I had a great time clicking on some of the books : ) !! Here's the link :-

If you have come across any other great sites for children e-books, do let me know. Would like more people to enjoy them.