Read more from guest blogger & local parenting support group founder Dina Maktabi.
I love these electronics workshops! This is the second time we’ve had one to replace Code Club over a half term and the kids just love them. They usually have an understanding of how the various pieces of kit work and can’t wait to get hands-on while the parents love it and generally have no idea how the things work!
Today the kids were able to learn how to play a tune on bananas (!), race cars round a race track on the floor controlling them with iPads, 3-D print rings to take away (4 minutes printing time) and, the one that produced most squeals from the boys as well as the girls, experiencing Virtual Reality. They could choose between swimming with dolphins, being in a shark cage, a roller coaster ride and several others but they were the most popular. I also saw a Raspberry pi and one attendee playing Tetris with a post-it note instead of a smart phone.
We were lucky enough to have a DigiLab session at four of our libraries over half term so around 45 – 50 kids would have benefitted from them and I was also able to drum up some more joiners for our regular Code Club.
If these sessions do nothing more than enthuse the kids and stimulate their curiosity then I’m satisfied it’s a job well done. I hope they’ll have learned and experienced new things that will sow a seed for later in life, whether that’s in their secondary school or beyond.
It was half-term last week and we made the most of it!
With an exciting program to keep our youngest patrons entertained, there was something for everyone and much fun to be had.
Take a look at what we got up to!
The second book in my Booker Prize Reading Challenge is The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This book is set in ‘Dickens’, a farmland area just outside of Los Angeles. A man is recalling his childhood of growing up under a very peculiar father who carries out experiments on him and the wonderfully colourful people that he knows.
The only problem is that he is going to embark on something which is so profoundly against popular culture and society that he is not just going to be a sellout but the ridicule and laughing stock of America.
I cannot give away too much about this book but it is at times hysterically funny – I’ve had quite a few laugh out loud moments on the tube home. It leads me to think that Beatty could have had a career as a stand-up comic and his political monologues are very prescient, almost Doug Stanhope. The characters are really well drawn, also very very funny but people who you could sympathise with, especially the main character. The problem with this book (in my opinion) is that it doesn’t quite grab your attention the whole way through.
I think it is a very original piece of work and it’s probably the funniest book that I have read.
A considerably older woman (Eileen) is looking back on her life to when she was a 24 year old. Living in ‘X-ville’ with her drunken and disturbed father and without a Mum she has a very restricted life of a job she really can’t stand, people who she doesn’t really want to work with. The odd crush on the security guard keeps her going. That is until a new colleague, Rebecca turns up and breathes new life into her. Their friendship leads to an even darker place and Eileen has some radical decisions to make.
This is a deeply unsettling book but it was so compelling that I could not put it down. The microcosm of Eileen’s young life is fascinating and her inner world is fuelled by awkwardness, self-loathing and flights of fantasy. You cannot help but cringe in parts, but that’s down to Moshfegh’s brilliant writing. I am not going to spoil the ending but it is seismic. Think of works by Patricia Highsmith and Donna Tartt and you are getting close.
So thus far it is my favourite on the shortlist as it feels like a complete novel – it is chilling, diabolical and her descriptions of the landscape make you feel as if you are living inside it. Brilliant.
It is 1991 in Canada and a young girl and her mother who are originally from China welcome into their home a family friend who has just fled Tiananmen Square and martial brutality of the army. The young woman begins to relate a series of stories to the young girl and a bond is formed almost instantly between them. The book takes us back to before the Cultural Revolution where two sisters carve out their own lives and families who later come to diverge and interplay on one another. As the rule of Mao Zedong and his dominance deepens across China it has varying consequences for all they are and who they love.
This is a grandly epic novel and it feels as if its written by someone who has spent years on it – it deserves to have been shortlisted. Each character in the story is perfectly drawn and the way that it starts out as a series of stories begin to coalesce into the history of a family. One reviewer mentioned that they were ordinary but as 3 of the main characters are superlative musicians and composers I would disagree!
There are 2 criticisms that I would level at it. Firstly, the later scenes in Tiananmen Square are very rushed and it did not feel as authentically written or matter as much as the earlier histories which the family occupied. Secondly, at nearly 500 pages it was not a large book but it could have had 50 pages edited out of it.
Overall, it’s a very affecting piece of work and is a powerful reminder about how one person’s or governments blind control can turn us into different people in order to survive. But what will survival actually turn out to be and what remains for those who have been left behind?
In our last ’50 books that make great films’ post, we round out the list with the final 10 selections. A huge thank you to the staff members that participated in this series – it wouldn’t have been possible without you, and I hope it’s been as fun to follow as it was to organise!
Visit our previous posts to see the other 40 titles. As usual, let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Naxos Music Library (NML) is now available for RBKC library members!
With an unparalleled depth of classical music content, extensive background information, and improved search facilities that remain simple and effective, NML is a pleasure to use regardless of your prior music and/or technical knowledge.
And we’re back!
In our penultimate post, we explore another 10 book adaptations – as chosen by your library staff. Visit our previous posts to see the what books/films have already made the list and let us know what you think in the comment section below!
I am back with another installment in our ’50 books that make great films’ series! We’re making great progress, and we are officially halfway through the list! If you haven’t already, check out our first two posts (Part 1 | Part 2) and see how many of the films listed you’ve seen and enjoyed. As usual, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Last week, we introduced you to 10 titles from our 50 favourite book adaptations. This week, we are back with another 10 for your enjoyment! Remember to let us know what your favourites in the comment section below.