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ABC International School
Binh Hung,

A lemon cake and an apple cake later ...
So, another year whistles softly by and two more cakes are devoured. Chocolates have been handed around, certificates have been distributed and the winners have been announced. More Than This topped the Fiesta en la Biblioteca poll but we were equally happy to see it given a very good run by When Mr Dog Bites and Buffalo Soldier. Honourable showings by Cuckoo Song and The Fastest Boy in the World and The Middle of Nowhere. Thanks to Mr Alastair, Mr Lee, Ms Mandy and Ms Libby for all their help and astute and often flippant observations; to Tanya, Geraldine, Brian, Frances and Elizabeth for negotiating the rigours of Vietnamese technology and taking time out to talk to us - you were all brilliant, we loved you and you were all very kind indeed; and to our beautiful, enthusiastic and fantastic reading group who have been simply wonderful this year and over the past two years as well. I love you all immensely and I will miss you all hugely. You're all stars and you inspire me massively. You're all why I love being a school librarian and you all give me the utmost faith in the future. I'm off to listen to the Miracle Legion. You're welcome to join me if you wish!
Posted on: 23 Jun 2015

The finale to end all finales ... the final cake eating session will ensue forthwith
Comrades, it is that time of year again where everyone finds out who won the Carnegie Medal in a few hours time and we have to wait another 12 or so hours to find out ourselves. So, no looking at the website for the next few hours. Instead, we shall celebrate the winner tomorrow lunchtime in the salubrious environment that is the library. We shall fine dine on lemon cake and apple cake, sing sea shanties, drink copious amounts of sarsaparilla, and generally have a lovely time. It will of course be the monsoon season so it will be just like the quintessential English summer. See you all there. Looking forward to it. Immensely.
Posted on: 22 Jun 2015

A soundtrack to When Mr Dog Bites ...
Brian Conaghan firmly believes in music soundtracks to fit his characters and his books and we discussed this at length with him during our tremendous skype interview. Now I could have drawn up loads of songs that I felt would fit his book perfectly, but in the end I came down to these three: Growing Up - Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band Heirloom - Witness Can't Hardly Wait - The Replacements Some of this is because they were part of the soundtrack to my adolescent years and were songs that made sense to me at the time ... and for me they also fit Dylan, Amir and Michelle perfectly. Enjoy!
Posted on: 10 Jun 2015

A soundtrack to Buffalo Soldier
In an on-going quest to find the perfect soundtrack to each of the shortlisted books we've come up with a splendid one for Buffalo Soldier. It's got twang, it's got heart and there's some belting guitars in there too: 1) Cheyenne - The Del-Lords 2) Trail of Tears - Guadalcanal Diary 3) Indian Reservation - Paul Revere and the Raiders Enjoy!
Posted on: 09 Jun 2015

Frances Hardinge - mime artist and keyboard wizard extraordinaire
A huge thanks to Frances Hardinge for her brilliant skype session last Friday and for weathering all sorts of technical glitches that were thrown at her. As well as being a genius of an author she proved adept at mime and speed typing, two talents all too-rare in today's world. Not only that, her favourite cake is lemon drizzle cake which went down expectionally well with our group. Almost as well, in fact, as the cake we all ate after the interview. Thank you Frances - the pupils loved you! Indeed Vietnam loved you!
Posted on: 08 Jun 2015

Skype heaven with Brian Conaghan and Tanya Landman .. and a sparkling review by Jessie
Wow! You miss the blog for four days and heaps upon heaps of things happen, and heaps upon heaps of cake is eaten. Last Friday we had a splendid chat with Brian Conaghan, who is a lovely and very funny guy. He was extremely interesting and answered our interrogative questions honestly and beautifully. We had no option but to let him out on bail, pending further enquiries. Yesterday Tanya Landman was in the dock and handled the questioning beautifully. She was an absolute star. Her discussions on research and her passion for the American West and the differences between myth and reality were fascinating. We released her without further questioning but her dog, Sammy, was let off with a caution and three penalty points on her driving licence. On Friday, Frances Hardinge takes to the stand for the self-proclaimed Vietnamese Inquisition and we're really looking forward to saying hello. Lastly, chocolate is winging it's way to Jessie who has written a beautiful review of Cuckoo Song. I think she liked it! ... though she looked a bit distraught when she handed the book back. She ran away rather quickly when I wanted to show her my favourite doll.
Posted on: 02 Jun 2015

Geraldine McCaughrean, Gia Bao, a glorious book review and a new poll
It sounds like a splendid plot to me. Don't forget we're skyping Geraldine McCaughrean this afternoon and I can't wait. She's going to be brilliant! Thank you Gia Bao for another wonderful book review - chocolate on it's way to you imminently if it doesn't melt in the heat outside. And please register your votes on our new poll. After the shambles of the general election a couple of weeks ago use your vote wisely and choose your answer shrewdly.
Posted on: 27 May 2015

Thank you Elizabeth Laird!
A massive thank you to Elizabeth Laird for taking time out yesterday to show us around her beautiful study and skype us in the far flung outpost of Ho Chi Minh City. Thank you so much for answering all our questions and for looking after us via the Internet. It was a real joy to chat with you. Our lemon cake was wolfed down in record time. We're looking forward to Geraldine McCaughrean tomorrow, Brian Conaghan on Friday and Tanya Landman and Frances Hardinge next week. How excited are we?
Posted on: 26 May 2015

Apple and Rain - a splendid review from Tu Oanh
A splendid review from Tu Oanh. Thank you so much ... you're such a star! Best of all, the review arrived on my desk beautifully handwritten on a sheet of school paper that had possibly been previously used as wrapping for chips, a kebab or possibly just Pho Bo. Whatever, it was a brilliant example of recycling ... well done Tu Oanh, you make me very happy!
Posted on: 22 May 2015

Elizabeth Laird - The Fastest Lady In The World ... and some year 7 stars!
We're so, so, so excited because next week our mammoth skype sessions begin. And who better to kick off with than the Fastest Lady In The World herself ... our thanks to Elizabeth Laird for getting up early next Monday to have a chat with us. Thereafter, massive thanks are also in order to Geraldine McCaughrean, Brian Conaghan, Tanya Landman and Frances Hardinge who are all waking up at odd hours to speak to the group. You're all very beautiful people and the group are super-excited! Talking of being super-excited ... well done to Linh, Quynh and Akiko for three lovely book reviews that are now live on our bit of the site. You're all fantastic and you make me a very happy librarian, and a very happy human being in general. Keep the reviews coming and see you on Monday!
Posted on: 21 May 2015

Ju Hee - a book reviewer of beauty and eloquence
A massive shout-out to the magnificent Ju Hee for a truly splendid book review of Tinder. Thank you Ju Hee. You have made my day, and I feel you will make numerous other people's days today as well. There's lots of 'days' in that sentence but you get my drift. That's three (count 'em) book reviews from the group now. It's like the number 119 bus to Croydon. None for days then three at once. Move over Boris Johnson, the Ho Chi Minh branch of the Shadowing the Carnegie Medal are flying over to take the reins of the GLA. Hurrah!
Posted on: 14 May 2015

Quynh Anh is a star! ... and other useful pieces of information
Hurrah! Quynh Anh is undoubtedly a star because she has, in one foul swoop, doubled the number of book reviews written by our book group on our bit of the website. Thank you Quynh Anh - it's a terrific review and we love you! And from a book that has more than a hint of romance in it ... for Quynh Anh to love it is praise indeed! As for the other information ... well I hope exams are going well everyone. In light of this we will wait until next week for a meeting. Then, all hell will break loose as we have copious amounts of skyping to do. I'm very, very excited. Let's hope Vietnam has fixed their Internet problems by then. Maybe the use of a three pin plug would help. Those two pin things are rubbish!
Posted on: 13 May 2015

Gia Bao is brilliant! ... and other news!
Welcome back from your holidays comrades and I hope you all had a lovely time ... despite the need for revision. First up a huge, massive, and delirious thank you to Gia Bao for her lovely book review of The Middle of Nowhere. Gia Bao you have made this librarian so so happy! More reviews from everyone please. I hope you all managed to get some reading done in between the revision so we'll have a meeting next week to plot our strategy for the next few meetings. Cake will obviously be forthcoming. Come and say hi in the library sometime everyone and let me know what you think of the books. Naturally I love you all and it goes without saying that you're all beautiful.
Posted on: 07 May 2015

Happy holidays ... so take one of the shortlisted books with you ... please!
Hello comrades, it's close to holiday time again so we've one more meeting today ... perfect timing as it's Book Week and Ms Emma will be in the library and up to all sorts of shenanigans, to which you are all invited. Lemon cake is, naturally, on offer. Also, we've got a few exciting announcements and things to give out to help you with your reading ... and don't forget to take a book and read it! Or two, or three ... Have a fine time wherever you're going, enjoy the Independence Day celebrations and enjoy your reading. I love you all. Obviously!
Posted on: 16 Apr 2015

Happy Book Week! And the next meeting will be ...
Happy Book Week everyone! So, whilst everyone else has been at home for two weeks celebrating Easter, indulging in chocolate and reading shortlisted books we've been in school doing what pupils and teacher and librarians normally do ... reading, indulging in chocolate and doing a little bit of teaching if we can find the time. Fear not however because our holidays beckon at the end of the week so we can do all those fun things in slightly more exotic locations ... such as coffee shops, tea shops, cake shops and just about any other shop that sells stuff we like. So, we can just squeeze a meeting in THIS THURSDAY in the library. Be prepared to let us know your views and thoughts on the shortlisted books, I'll bring cake and we'll celebrate our Boom Week in style. See y'all there. Oh, and I have loved Buffalo Soldier! That is some read!
Posted on: 13 Apr 2015

A personal soundtrack to The Middle of Nowhere
So, the idea is to nominate three songs that fit perfectly (or as near as possible) to the shortlisted stories. I've just finished the superb The Middle of Nowhere and thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. It's beautifully shambolic and chaotic and it is brilliant how Geraldine McCaughrean can make such a wide open landscape feel so claustrophobic. It is just a very special book. In celebrating the book here are my three songs to accompany it: 1) Wide Open Road - The Triffids ... The Triffids came (come?) from Perth, WA and every one of their albums is a work of genius. Their songs revel in the Australian landscape and this song epitomises the vast expanses that make up the Outback. Beautiful! 2) In the Middle of Nowhere - The Endrick Brothers ... mainly because of the title, naturally, but the lap steel, the guitars and the aching vocals fit perfectly with the atmosphere of the song. 3) Bye Bye Pride - The Go Betweens ... I seldom understand the lyrics of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan but they are still brilliant songwriters, and this song of lost love seems to me to fit well within the world of Comity and her struggles to hold everything together as it inevitably falls apart. Oh, and there's a fantastic oboe in it too, and the oboe should certainly be celebrated more in the pantheon of rock 'n' roll. Enjoy!
Posted on: 09 Apr 2015

There's a lot of reading ... but even more eating going down
Lovely meeting today one and all. Glad you're starting to enjoy the books. Mr Alastair and myself desperately want to hear your views so don't be shy ... be vocal. We know you can be ... you can voice your opinions both beautifully and eloquently. We've heard you. So, next meeting, in between mouthfuls of cake and biscuits let us hear your views. There's no right or wrong. We just want to hear you all. We love you all. Massively. You know that!
Posted on: 02 Apr 2015

Meetings, meetings, meetings ...
I know, I know, I know ... it's just like being at work. Meetings, meetings, meetings, and no time to actually read. However, as our meetings inevitably involve eating delicious things it seems the more meetings we have the better. So, with this in mind ... let's meet on Thursday lunchtime in the library and have some heated debates about some of the books ... between mouthfuls of cake obviously. See you all then.
Posted on: 31 Mar 2015

What a fine meeting yesterday ...
Well done everyone for a delightful and fulfilling meeting yesterday lunchtime. There was some lovely discussions about the longlisted books and Mr Alastair and myself really enjoyed hearing your insights into some of the titles. The cake seemed popular too which is always pleasing. Remember the next meeting is next Wednesday when we will reveal the shortlist, talk about what you all want to do for the next few weeks, and eat some more cake. It goes without saying that we love you all.
Posted on: 10 Mar 2015

Happy World Book Day ... and welcome back comrades!
Welcome back everyone and Happy World Book Day to everyone out there in the wild blue yonder. I hope you all had beautiful holidays and celebrated the new year with gusto, good food, adventurous trips and lots of red envelopes. We will have a group meeting tomorrow (Friday) lunchtime so I'll see y'all in the library then. Cakes or food of some description and concoction will be provided naturally. In return get ready to discuss the longlisted books you have read. And I am very excited to say that Mr Alastair has been shopping over the holidays and brought us some more books. That surely deserves cake and biscuits. See you all tomorrow.
Posted on: 05 Mar 2015

Chuc Mung Nam Moi ... and happy reading!
The Fiesta en la Biblioteca Reading Group just wanted to wish each and every Shadowing the Carnegie Medal follower, reader, blogger, judge, teacher, librarian and cake eater "Chuc Mung Nam Moi" and hope that the new year brings you everything you wish for. It's the year of the goat this year coming, which is my year so I'm doubly excited. To the ABC posse, Mr Alastair and I wish you a very happy holiday and hope you enjoy reading the books we've manged to get so far from the long list. Anyone out there who can ship a couple of copies of each of the long listed books to Ho Chi Minh City as soon as possible - well we'd we thrilled, delighted and hugely in debt to you. Until then we w ill have to wait until the Easter holidays and whoever is going home can ship a few back in their suitcase. That's a long wait but there you go. We've got cake to keep us company. Have a beautiful holiday. We love you all.
Posted on: 13 Feb 2015

Hurrah ... for the Riff Raff ... and for the re-commencing of the Reading Group!
The longlist of books for the Carnegie Medal is announced today so it seems fitting that we should gather together the hoards (all 13 of them) and re-convene the Fiesta en La Biblioteca Reading Group for another year of reading, eating, debating, eating, discussing, eating and probably some more eating too. First meeting is tomorrow (because of stupid things like time difference - why all time can't be measured from HCMC I will never know) so meet in the library at 12.55. Follow the scent of lemon cake and the sounds of quality guitar-led powerpop music and you'll find us. Let's hope for an exciting collection of books which we can really get stuck into, and we'll see where the long and winding road leads us ...
Posted on: 10 Feb 2015

We're all winners ... apart from Ms Mandy
Well, comrades. That was a lovely end to proceedings and The Bunker Diary was a worthy winner. That's the first time in 12 years of Shadowing that a group has chosen the same winner as the judges. It was certainly a popular choice with everyone except Ms Mandy (sorry Ms Mandy) and was easily the most talked about book too. Very honourable mentions to Roof Toppers which came 2nd and The Wall which came 3rd! And also to the lovely Katherine Rundell, The equally lovely Julie Berry, and the equally, equally lovely Rebecca Stead for chatting to us. You were all great - and we particularly loved Julie's bicycle blouse in the videos! Well done to the group who were on fiire this year and for being so forthright and passionate in your views. It was brilliant. So, same time next year then?
Posted on: 25 Jun 2014

Vote comrades! Destiny is in your hands!
Hello all, a few of the group still haven't exercised their democratic right to vote for their favourite book so please come and see me for a voting form - without your vote the result will be meaningless! And tomorrow (Tuesday) we have our final meeting of the year so please come along at lunchtime, indulge in some apple cake, and find out who's won what!
Posted on: 23 Jun 2014

Book reviews or no book reviews ... that is the question ...
There was a very interesting question on the website about whether pupils use the Book Reviews section of the website or not. In my old school (the lovely Stanchester Academy) the group used to love writing reviews and adding them to the website. Here in Vietnam the group don't seem as keen. I was worried about this, at first, as I think it's a really good part of the site and it's lovely to read other reviews from other schools etc. But, having been prompted by by the question, I have become less worried. This is mainly because the discussions we have during our regular meetings are so enlightening and intense and uplifting that I mhave realised that this is clearly the way the group love to express their views and opinions. Their passion for the books this year has left me in no doubt of their views and this makes me just as happy and thrilled as any book review. Well done - I love you all!
Posted on: 18 Jun 2014

Use your vote! Let freedom ring!
Ah, there's a Chuck Prophet lyric in there somewehere ... it's a corker of an album but, more importantly, it signals that time of year when we need to vote for our favourite book on the shortlist. I think you'll agree that from the (highly constructive) arguments we've had over the last few weeks, it will be a very interesting vote and the winner is by no means a foregone conclusion ... so it's essential that you USE YOUR VOTE! We're voting on Friday next week so meet in the library at lunchtime for cake, questions, and the secret ballot. As ever, we'll be away with the fairies when the actual Carnegie winner is announced on Monday so we'll meet on Tuesday 24th at lunch to find out both our winner and the actual victor. No peeping on the website beforehand! Or there's no cake! See you all on Friday!
Posted on: 13 Jun 2014

Skyping with the stars - part III
Well done today comrades for another very fine skyping session and what better way to tie up our annual chats with the stars than with a lovely and enlightening talk by Julie Berry. Wasn't she the bees knees? She was absolutely charming and beautiful! Great questions from all of you and many thanks, Julie, for answering them in between coughing fits. And well done also for showing such enthusiasm for cakes, chocolate and all things sweet. Indeed, thanks to Julie, Rbecca and Katherine for their skyping this year - you have made our Shadowing experience one to savour. You're all stars and honoury members of the Fiesta en la Biblioteca Reading Group forthwith!
Posted on: 10 Jun 2014

The loveliness of Katherine Rundell and Rebecca Stead
Well, comrades ... what a splendid few days we've had. Banana cake and lemon cake and two wonderful skype sessions with Katherine and Rebecca. Despite the hi-tech gremlins that attempted to sabotage both events things finally went swimmingly and we had a brilliant couple of hours of questions and interrogation and, I think you'll agree, that they were both really beautiful. Thank you Katherine and Rebecca - you were both stars! And we look forward, with anticipation, to our last skype with Julie Berry on Tuesday ... and to more cake. And, for the record, Katherine's favourite cake is banana and Rebeca's is cheesecake. They are now fully installed as honourary members of the ABCIS Reading Group and Cake-Eater's Club.
Posted on: 05 Jun 2014

Super-duper sub Ju Hee has joined the group!
Hello comrades. A quick remnder that we're meeting today at 12.45 in the library. We're borrowing a brilliant idea from Mrs Clifford-Smith and the equally brilliant Plashet School Carnegie group and building our very own Lucas log cabins today. Alas, chocolate fingers are hard to come by, very sticky in this heat, and might just mean I'll be bankrupt by the end of the day such are their over-inflated cost in HCMC ... so we've substituted them with chocolate wafer fingers and we'll see if that works. Photographic evidence will be forthcoming. And, just as importantly, we welcome Ju Hee to our illustrious group of readers, chatterboxes and cake eaters. She is a fine addition to the team who has proved her enthusiasm in all three of the afore-mentioned disciplines and is a legend in her own right. We love her!
Posted on: 28 May 2014

It's been a long time comin' but I think a change is gonna come ...
Welcome comrades. Blimey, it has been a long time too. But a change is most definitely coming. Sorry for being missing in action, but we're back now. The East Sea may be in turmoil, Michael Gove may have done unspeakable damage to the future reading expectations of our youth, and some long haired Meatloaf look-a-like may have time-warped us back to 1978 by winning American Idol 13 (surely one Meatloaf is more than enough on planet Earth) but exams are over, you've all no doubt passed with flying colours and we can get on with the serious issue of reading all the shortlisted books. And eating cake. I thought I'd made up my mind about my favourite book but, just like the no. 152 bus, along comes another one to throw a spanner in the works. There's probably some mixed metaphors there. Anyway, I have just finished Ghost Hawk and loved it! After having watched 12 Years A Slave the same weekend I do seriously question my own sanity and how man can do such inhumane things to his fellow man. But it is also a very thought provoking read and one that makes one think very hard about the choices one makes and the consequences that follow. The Wall is also a very powerful, and often sublime, book that I thought was utterly brilliant! The book threw up similar feelings in me to Ghost Hawk. Anyway, the next two weeks are jammed chock-a-block with exciting events. We have a meeting tomorrow lunchtime in the library ... cake is naturally provided ... and we have three (count'em) skype sessions with Rebecca Stead, Julie Berry and Katherine Rundell. I've even got you out of lessons for two of them to fit in with US time delays ... so we'll be indulging in cake at 8.30am. A fine start to any day. See you at the meeting tomorrow. And write me some book reviews!!!!!! Mine look very lonely on the website. Obviously, I love you all.
Posted on: 27 May 2014

Happy Easter!
It's Good Friday and we're still in school! There's a lack of hot cross buns, a lack of chocolate and a lack of any other confectionary for that matter. However, my Buddha on the shelf at home still seems pretty content. Anyway, I hope you're all enjoying the books you chose last week. Remember to hand them back as soon as you've finished them so we can circulate them quickly and you get to read as many as possible. Also, write some book reviews for me and the Carnegie world at large. I'll add them to the website as soon as we return from being Up-country. We've had a lovely Book Week this week; the wardrobe I made for dressing up day will be chopped up and used for kindling and I shall go back in the closet (so to speak). Have a beautiful couple of weeks off; enjoy some pleasurable reading and we will meet on the first week back to discuss what's been going on. Cake included. I promise.
Posted on: 18 Apr 2014

The books have arrived!
Dear comrades, Right, the books have finally arrived and you can get your hands on them on Monday. We shall have a short meeting at 12.55pm during Monday lunchtime, to distribute the books. We also need to take a couple of photos to put on our bit of the Carnegie website so please come! I have ordered two copies of each shortlisted book so thats 16 books in all. I know my two times tables. At least up to 8 x 2 anyway. For everyone to read as many as we can we need to make sure the books are in continuous circulation, so when youve finished a book please bring it straight back and give it to me (not the library helpers) and Ill keep the books separate just for you lot. I obviously dont want to disrupt your revision for exams but hopefully a bit of light and pleasurable reading will be helpful to you too. If you have time to write a short book review that would be absolutely brilliant either add it to the website yourself instructions are in the booklet or give it to me as a Word document or handwritten and I will sort the rest out. Im really pleased to say that Katherine Rundell, Julie Berry and Rebecca Stead have all agreed to skype with you all, and Anne Fine and Susan Cooper would love to have a chat by email with you. This is brilliant news so please let me know when the best times would be for you to do this. After school is best for the British authors but I will check what times are best if they are in the States. Also, let me know what days are best. Mondays or Fridays would be best for me as I have ECAs on the other three days but we can work other things out if necessary. If anyone wants to write on our bit of the BLOG let me know and Ill give you the password. Lastly, make sure you have a listen to the videos of the authors on the website as they are always really good and are really interesting. And lastly, lastly, enjoy the books theyll all be ace in some way or another, whether you like them or not And lastly, lastly, lastly, I love you all and you make me very, very happy! Mr Jonathan
Posted on: 11 Apr 2014

Katherine Rundell is a star ... and other snippets of information from Vietnam
A big shout out and whooop! to Katherine Rundell who has agreed to skype with us. We already know she's going to be ace and we're very excited. Thank you Katherine in advance. The group are already pedalling hard to generate enough electricity to make sure that we've enough power for twenty minutes or so of chat. Elsewhere, there are rumours flying about that some books have actually arrived. Whoever has been spreading these sensationalist, tabloid style titbits of gossip ... you may be right ... I'm off to see Ms Sara this afternoon and I'll confirm or deny the rumours at a hastily arranged press conference scheduled for 6.00pm. It will take place at the Yellow Chairs Cafe, as all good press conferences should. And lastly, well done to everyone who helped out and attended the International Family Day on Saturday. It was a glorious morning of fun and frolics ... well done to Ms Tory for winning the cake by guessing the correct weight. And to the person who suggested it weighed 18kg ... I know I'm not the best cook in the world but I think I deserved a little more credit than that. It actually weighed 2.320kg and, I hope, tasted quite good too. Anyone who wants to try some ... there's another one being cut tomorrow after school at our MUN club. Come and indulge. Katherine Rundell, Julie Berry, Susan Cooper and Anne Fine are particularly welcome and we love you all!
Posted on: 07 Apr 2014

Anne Fine ... and the latest football scores ...
As promised, here's the latest football scores ... in a gloriously mediocre game of what can only very loosely be described as football, HCMC brushed aside the efforts of Can Tho and recorded their first victory of the season, a mighty 3-1 win. I bought a football shirt for the princely sum of 100,000VND, bought a ticket for 20,000VND and was allowed to sit with the other football-shirt attired fans on the chewing gum strewn, hard concrete terraces. The pre-requisites for supporting HCMC are the lack of at least one front tooth, smoking 80 fags durings the match, copious amounts of spitting, karaoke, the ability to wave a flag furiously, and the ability to withstand vast amounts of photos from camera phones because you're the only Western bloke there. All in all, a hugely entertaining afternoon watching 11 very unfit blokes hoof the ball from one end of the park to the other in a very 1980s Wimbledon style of play and scoring three rather scrappy goals. The next home game is in 3 weeks time and I'll report back then. Oh, and the lovely and wonderful Anne Fine has agreed to an email chat with us which we're all very excited about. Thank you Anne. You're a legend ... in the best sense of the word! The books are still not here but we're ever hopeful. The Customs men have promised to write a couple of reviews when they've read the books, which should be interesting ...
Posted on: 02 Apr 2014

The loveliness of authors ...
There are lots of lovely people in the world. We all know that. HCMC's football supporters this weekend were lovely; as is Rachael Palmer who is a book enthusiast from deepest, darkest Somerset and who campaigns tirelessly for Amnesty International and writes a very good blog; as indeed are the whole of my old Amnesty group from Stanchester school; the lady and bloke up the road from us who serve us bread rolls are equally lovely; so is my school cleaner; and the three women who clean our apartment; and our star security guards; my barber is a lovely guy; and of course the ABCIS reading group are also very, very beautiful. And just as lovely are the shortlisted authors Julie Berry, Katherine Rundell and Susan Cooper who have all agreed to converse with us in the near future, either by skype or by email. We're so pleased that you are all willing to take time to speak to us and you make us very, very happy indeed. You are all just really lovely! Oh, and we are very, very excited as well!
Posted on: 31 Mar 2014

A delayed reaction ... as is often the case in Ho Chi Minh City
Well, we're (sort of) off and running. Running to where is anyone's guess. We're waiting for the shortlisted books to arrive in Vietnam ... thanks Sue, Sara, Joe and Kirsty who have promised to deliver them as soon as possible. The group are itching to get stuck into them and are completely wired. Either that or the coffee they all drank this morning is a little stronger than we anticipated. Anyway, the shortlist has met with approval, although the prevalence for kidnapping seems a little disturbing. We'll be in touch again soon when the books arrive! Until then, come and visit us for all the latest HCMC Football Club scores .... and other things besides.
Posted on: 26 Mar 2014

The Friday Finale!
So, NO LOOKING AT THE WEBSITE OR ANYWHERE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER TO FIND OUT THE WINNER! We will celebrate who won this year's Carnegie Medal with a Friday cake and Coke Fest ... I know it's two days late but the result doesn't surface ubtil midday GMT and you'll all be tucked up in bed by then, or watching The Apprentice Asia, or The Voice, or Beauty and the Geek Australia. Oh, I've accidently divulged my viewing habits ... anyway, and on Thursday you're all very busy so Friday it is ... see you all then!
Posted on: 17 Jun 2013

Skyping with Elizabeth Wein
A very big thank you to Elizabeth Wein for taking time out to skype us on Thursday. She was brilliant, wasn't she? Lovely questions from you lot and some great answers from Elizabeth. Fine cake (sorry Elizabeth) and just a wonderful afternoon. Did I ever tell you that I love you lot? You make me very happy indeed!
Posted on: 17 Jun 2013

We all loved the Dave Shelton skype, didn't we?
Well done on another spectacular meeting yesterday and a big thank you to Dave Shelton for our global chat. Lovely questions from you lot, and fine answers from Dave. Sorry Dave that you could only look at the cranberry and orange cake, but we all ate a piece for you and can vouch that it too was spectacular. So, all in all, a resoundingly successful 30 minutes of entertainment, with fine cameo appearances from Dave's cat and dog, as well as his tea cup. Next week it's Elizabeth Wein so don't tune away from that dial. Keep reading, keep enjoying the books, and I'll attempt to keep baking. I love you all. Massively.
Posted on: 07 Jun 2013

Just like London buses (the no. 53 in particular) ...
Just like our beloved no. 53 bus, you wait hours for one and then two come along together. So, it happens with book reviews ... after Chou Chou's marvellous effort on Friday, Hien Duc has submitted 2 reviews and they are both wonderful. Thank you Hien Duc. You're an absolute star! Everyone else read the reviews and see if you agree with Chou Chou and Hien Duc. Happy days indeed!
Posted on: 03 Jun 2013

So, basically, it all comes down to sniffing the books ...
I apologise for being so remiss of late and not updating the blog. And, in between exams, we've been joyfully busy too! First up, a big, big thank you to Sally Gardner for skyping with us last Tuesday. She was absolutely beautiful and, even though we couldn't see her (but she could see us), we all had a lovely chat and it was a real joy to find out a bit more about Maggot Moon, her writing, her favourite food, and her dasch-hound. All in all a top afternoon with a lemon cake thrown in to the mix (figuratively, not literally). Well done, too, for all your questions - excellent! Second up, well done on another lovely lunchtime meeting. I love talking with you about books! Basically, a good book comes down to whether it smells nice. I'm seriously encouraged by the amount of you who love sniffing books! Also, I may be, possibly, a little disturbed! Well done on all your thoughts about the shortlisted books. It's wonderful to hear all your views and opinions and listen to you debate with each other about why you like or dislike certain books. Thirdly, thank you Chou Chou for your fantastic book review. Everyone read it ... it's beautiful! Lastly, don't forget next Thursday when we'll be skyping with Dave Shelton. More cake and more informative chat! Well done all of you!
Posted on: 31 May 2013

The lemon drizzle cake furore!
I've just noticed that the current poll that we're running looks somewhat like there's been some dubious voting going on. The lemon drizzle cake has been voted for 220 times! A recount has been demanded by the banana cake and Bara Brith factions who suspect a bit of foul play. We're looking into it ... it seems only right that we should test a sample of each type of cake this weekend and see whether the lemon drizzle count has been tampered with or whether it really is the best cake. I know I said in the last blog that my idea of a good weekend is reading Dave Shelton's book, but I think I should clarify this by adding that this should be done whilst eating vast amounts of cake. Stop by soon to see whether the the poll results are ratified, or the slate wiped clean.
Posted on: 17 May 2013

What a marvellously entertaining meeting this lunchtime ...
Ah, good people ... I thoroughly enjoyed our meeting this lunchtime. Well done to all of you for your efforts. You're all beautiful and you make me very, very happy. Good luck with all your exams next week - you'll all do brilliantly! I'm going home to spend a few hours reading A Boy and a Bear in a Boat ... and finishing Twilight Robbery (by Frances Hardinge). My idea of a very lovely weekend. Oh, and Saigon Heat play their last game of the season on Sunday so I am looking forward to another humiliating defeat.
Posted on: 17 May 2013

The books are here ... well some of them are anyway
Welcome back ... well, (some of) the books have arrived and have been distributed to the group of avid readers and they're busy devouring their contents along with hu tieu chay (noodles to you and me), rice, pho, and other delicious Vietnamese dishes. Hien Duc has already finished Wonder and a book review is forthcoming. Linda has almost finished Maggot Moon and is raving about it ... and the year 11s (Giulia, Bao Tran and Kate) have thrown caution to the wind, forgot all about their IGCSEs,and sunk their collective teeth into Midwinterblood and In Darkness. Some books are still somewhere else ... who knows where ... but rest assured they will reach Vietnamese soil soon(ish). Maybe they're just jetlagged. Who knows? Skype sessions have been confirmed with Sally Gardner, Elizabeth Wein and Dave Shelton and we'll report back on their success in the near future. In the meantime ... it's back to the noodles ... and God they don't hold back on the chillis do they?
Posted on: 10 May 2013

It's been a long time comin' ... but I know a change is gonna come ...
Afternoon comrades ... well, it's been a long time since we last blogged and that might have something to do with the fact that we've all been on holiday. I've spent five days exploring the Mekong Delta, discovering out-of-the-way coconut groves, mellowly sauntering down the backroads and bywaters of Ben Tre and Tra Vinh, finding floating markets, eating hu tieu chay, and finding the best-ever-ever irridescent radio relay tower I've seen in my life. And, in the words of the mighty Sam Cooke, a change is most definitely gonna come because I finished Midwinterblood and absolutely loved it ... so that's about to hit the top of the group barometer for the next week of so. The kids are back in school on monday and I hope we shall have books to distribute ... I'm very excited. You should be too. Everybody. And, and, and ... it's been thundering and lightning for two days running now so, surely, the wet season beckons.
Posted on: 02 May 2013

I Wonder ...
I've just finished Wonder this morning, along with my Cornflakes and milk, and the milk became quite watery, and the Cornflakes very soggy, towards the end. I knew it would be a bit of a weepie but it still caught me a bit unawares. I (quite) enjoyed the book but it was a bit too syrup and pancakes for me. I was much more convinced by The Weight of Water. But reading and Cornflakes do go together quite well. I'll try Greyhound of a Girl with vegetarian Pho soup at the weekend and I'll let you know how I get on.
Posted on: 09 Apr 2013

The MUN club are still alive, I'm not in jail, and (all things considered) things are going very well indeed ...
Well, a bit later than promised ... the Red Velvet cake was pretty good really. No one died, no one cried off ill and the cops didn't come to take me away. So, in all, a roaring success and a cake I will be baking again. With photographic evidence. Oh, the reading group? Well, I collected a bunch of hoodlums together last week and 14 pupils have agreed that they will Shadow the Carnegie Medal ... when the books arrive. They are a beautiful bunch of kids and they will introduce themselves forthwith, photographically or otherwise. They're very excited about it all ... possibly something to do with cakes and biscuits ... but they're eager to read as well. I've finished In Darkness (a fantastic book!!!), finished The Weight of Water (I loved it!) and am now three quarters of the way through Wonder ... hmmm .... it's another difficult one for me ... anyway, reviews with be up on the site soon and I can't wait for the books to FINALLY arrive so we can have some fun. Any reviews by the Customs officials who have enjoyed the books will also be posted when I get them translated. It's 40 degrees on the school playground here - perfect for reading in the shade, which is more than can be said for the UK I believe. Sorry!
Posted on: 08 Apr 2013

Right, I've calmed down ... I also made a Red Velvet cake this weekend ...
Sorry about all that ... T.D., in my MUN club wanted me to make a Red Velvet cake for the meeting on Tuesday. I'd never heard of a Red Velvet cake but, after a little research (my dream librarian research assignment ... researching cakes!) I have made one and it looks ... well ... red. It looks tasty too and I will report back on Tuesday after the pupils have tested it. If you don't hear from me you'll know it was a culinary disaster and I've been locked up on charges of poisoning a Minor. Whoever said a librarian's job is not dangerous?
Posted on: 01 Apr 2013

What do you mean - In Darkness is not suitable for teenagers?
Well, a successful weekend's reading. I managed to finish Code Name Verity, with very mixed feelings. I think I should have enjoyed it more than I did. I really tried, honest. It had some great bits in it - it was gruesome, painful, heartstopping and poignant ... but could probably have been half the length it is. I'm now reading In Darkness and I'm really excited by it. My Kindle says I'm 70% through it and it really is a spellbinding and raw read. It is undoubtedly brutal, it is undoubtedly full of foul language and it is undoubtedly a very uncomfortable read but that is exactly why it is a brilliant book for teenagers. It does really frustrate me when I read reviews in the Reviews section, suggesting that this book is not suitable for teenagers. Teenagers need to be confronted with the sorts of issues that this book addresses and I'm really pleased that the judges have chosen it as a shortlisted book. Be prepared for a bumpy ride!
Posted on: 01 Apr 2013

Short but sweet ...
My favourite book review so far ... Fiona from Boclair Academy has an excellent review of Code Name Verity ... well worth reading!
Posted on: 29 Mar 2013

It's all getting very confusing ...
I know, I know ... most things in life are more than a little confusing to me ... it a wonder I've got this far. But Code Name: Verity is becoming very, very confusing indeed. I can't work out who's spying on who, who's spying for who, who is a single agent, who is a double agent, who is a triple agent, or who is a quadruple agent even ... I'm even beginning to think one of the chickens is involved ...
Posted on: 29 Mar 2013

... and in case you thought this wasn't a Reading Blog ...
I think I'd better add that I'm 44% through Code Name Verity (I know this because it doesn't give me page numbers on my Kindle, it gives me percentages). And, once you hone in to the rather odd style of writing, it continues to be rather gripping ... sinister even. I'll let you know when I hit 50%.
Posted on: 26 Mar 2013

Block voting in the "cake" poll
Three votes ... a resounding 100% success on the cake front ... some people might argue that the vote is being rigged and that an independent panel of observers might need to be brought in to check the voting procedures. Well, we here at ABCIS have nothing to hide ... let anyone come here and check that all is above board ... I repeat, we have nothing to hide ... just let them know that their personal lemon drizzle cake is under their chair. Not that we're in any way bribing them, obviously.
Posted on: 26 Mar 2013

I'm ploughing a lonely furrow here ... or I would if there was some land to plough ...
The joys of the Vietnamese postal system means that the shortlisted books won't hit these hallowed shores until about May!! So, in the words of Nick Lowe you're invited to a Party of One for the time being. However, rest assured, other people, far younger and better looking than myself will miraculously appear from the ether in the forthcoming weeks and regale you with tales of book enjoyment and cake eating. Meanwhile, here on my lonesome I've managed to read Maggot Moon and loved it! He's a great hero is Standish and the love scene with Hector near the end is very, very touching indeed. I'm now on to Code Name: Verity and I'm slowly getting drawn in to the plot. I'm rather excited by it all actually. And the reason I can read these things and no one else can is that I've downloaded them to my Kindle. Sorry all you Kindle-phobes out there but it makes sense in Vietnam, which is about the only thing that does ... I shall report imminently on my progress ... bet you can't wait ... oh, you can. Then so be it.
Posted on: 25 Mar 2013