Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Here we go again...the Carnegie nominations 2014

I can't believe it is this time already, but the nominations were announced today!  I've highlighted those that I've already read:

Almond, David, Mouse Bird Snake Wolf (Walker Books)
Almond, David, The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas (Walker Books)
Barber, Elke, Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?: Explaining Sudden Death to Pre-School Children in Words They Can Understand (Elke Barber)
Beasley, Andrew, The Claws of Evil (Usborne Books)
Berry, Julie, All the Truth That's in Me (Templar)
Black, Holly, Doll Bones (Doubleday Children's Books)
Blackman, Malorie, Noble Conflict (Doubleday Children's Books) 

Bowler, Tim, Sea of Whispers (Oxford University Press)
Bradford, Chris, Bodyguard: Hostage (Puffin Books)
Brooks, Kevin, The Bunker Diary (Puffin Books) 
Bryce, Celia, Anthem for Jackson Dawes (Bloomsbury)
Campbell-Johnston, Rachel, The Child's Elephant (David Fickling Books)
Carthew, Natasha, Winter Damage (Bloomsbury)
Colfer, Eoin, The Reluctant Assassin (Puffin Books) 
Cooper, Susan, Ghost Hawk (Bodley Head Children's Books)
Cossanteli, Veronica, The Extincts (Chicken House)
Cousins, Dave, Waiting for Gonzo (Oxford University Press)
Creech, Sharon, The Great Unexpected (Andersen Press)
Crocket, S. D., One Crow Alone (Macmillan Children's Books)
Cross, Gillian, After Tomorrow (Oxford University Press)
Crossan, Sarah, Breathe (Bloomsbury) 

De Quidt, Jeremy, The Feathered Man (David Fickling Books)
Dennis, H.L., The Knights of Neustria (Hodder Children's Books)
Diamand, Emil, Ways to See a Ghost (Templar)
Dickinson, Peter, In the Palace of the Khans (Peter Dickinson Books)
Dockrill, Laura, Darcy Burdock (Corgi Children's Books)
Dowswell, Paul, Eleven Eleven (Bloomsbury)
Drewery, Kerry, A Dream of Lights (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Earle, Phil, Heroic (Puffin Books) 
Fine, Anne, Blood Family (Doubleday Children's Books)
Fisher, Catherine, The Obsidian Mirror (Hodder Children's Books)
Flood, C. J., Infinite Sky (Simon & Schuster Children's Books)
Gibbons, Alan, Raining Fire (Indigo)
Harris, Carol, Adventures of the Chickalloon: A Bird's Eye View of Earth (Pentre Publications)
Jarratt, Laura, By Any Other Name (Electric Monkey) 
Jones, Gareth P., Constable and Toop (Hot Key Books)
Jones, Rob Lloyd, Wild Boy (Walker Books)
Kessler, Liz, North of Nowhere (Orion Children's Books)
Kuehn, Stephanie, Charm and Strange (Electric Monkey)
Kurti, Richard, Monkey Wars (Walker Books)
LaFleur, Suzanne, Listening for Lucca (Puffin Books)
Lake, Nick, Hostage Three (Bloomsbury)
LaBan, Elizabeth, The Tragedy Paper (Doubleday Children's Books)
Mayhew Julie, Red Ink (Hot Key Books)
McCaughrean, Geraldine, The Positively Last Performance (Oxford University Press)
McDowell, Nigel, Tall Tales from Pitch End (Hot Key Books)
McFall, Claire, Ferryman (Templar)
McGowan, Anthony, Brock (Barrington Stoke)
McKay, Hilary, Binny For Short (Hodder Children's Books)
McNeal, Tom, Far Far Away (Jonathan Cape)
Morris, Jackie, East of the Sun, West of the Moon (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
Mulligan, Andy, The Boy With Two Heads (David Fickling Books)
Murdoch, Emily, If You Find Me (Indigo)
Mussi, Sarah, Seige (Hodder Children's Books)

Pass, Emma, ACID (Corgi Children's Books)
Pitcher, Annabelle, Ketchup Clouds (Indigo)
Pratchett, Terry, Dodger (Doubleday Children's Books)

Prue, Sally, Song Hunter (Oxford University Press)
Robinson, Jon, Nowhere (Puffin Books)
Rundell, Katherine, Rooftoppers (Faber Children's Books)
Said, S. F., Phoenix (David Fickling Books)
Sepetys, Ruta, Out of the Easy (Puffin Books)
Shearer, Alex, The Cloud Hunters (Hot Key Books)
Smale, Holly, Geek Girl (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Stead, Rebecca, Liar and Spy (Andersen Press)
Stiefvater, Maggie, The Raven Boys (Scholastic)
Stroud, Jonathan, Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase (Doubleday Children's Books)
Sutcliffe, William, The Wall (Bloomsbury)
Syson, Lydia, A World Between Us (Hot Key Books)
Torday, Piers, The Last Wild (Quercus)

Watts, Helen, One Day in Oradour (A & C Black)
Wein, Elizabeth, Rose Under Fire (Electric Monkey)
Whyman, Matt, The Savages (Hot Key Books)
Wooding, Chris, Silver (Scholastic)
Yancey, Rick, The 5th Wave (Penguin Books)

Yangsze, Choo, The Ghost Bride (Hot Key Books)

So there are 76 books here, blimey!  I've already read 32 of them, not quite half, so that's my tbr pile out of the window :-)

I haven't read any that I really didn't like, but my top 8 (with the CKG criteria in mind) so far are:
Brooks, Kevin, The Bunker Diary (Puffin Books)
Cross, Gillian, After Tomorrow (Oxford University Press)
Diamand, Emil, Ways to See a Ghost (Templar)
Dowswell, Paul, Eleven Eleven (Bloomsbury)
Shearer, Alex, The Cloud Hunters (Hot Key Books)
Stead, Rebecca, Liar and Spy (Andersen Press)
Sutcliffe, William, The Wall (Bloomsbury)
Torday, Piers, The Last Wild (Quercus)
My favourite to win so far is:

addendum: confusingly, this year for the first time they've announced all the nominations but will make a longlist from them in February from which the shortlist will be chosen...why publish the nominations then?  Who knows...now I can't decide whether to bother reading them all or not

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Image and Imagination at the YLG National Conference

Friday and Saturday of last week were the most intense days of my year!  Starting on Friday with a 4.30am alarm it was non-stop until 5.45pm on Saturday (apart from a small gap of about 7hours sleep).

Play by the Book has written a lovely blog post about all the fantastic authors, with some great pictures, so I just thought I'd write a little bit about the library-ish bits which were also fascinating, engaging and enthusing.

At the joint YLG/SLG/SLA conference in June last year I was a bit disappointed by the workshops that I went to, but I'm pleased to say this definitely wasn't the case this year.  I started with a session about ideas for shadowing the CKG awards, beyond reviewing on the shadowing site, during which I picked up some great ideas for planning really fun activities for reading groups that have (possibly a mildly tenuous) link to one of the books, an example from last year was making the kind of sandwiches the Bear in "A Boy and a Bear in a Boat" might have enjoyed.  My second was about graphic novels in the library.  There were no amazing revelations but the Peters book reviews, with notes of any potentially contentious content, were new to me so I look forward to checking them out.  Finally, I attended a session run by the lovely Emily Diamand (I only just realised it isn't 'Diamond'!) about running creative writing groups in libraries which left me really inspired to try something with pupils back at school.

The plenaries were all really interesting although I do sometimes feel that it is a case of "preaching to the converted" and that we really need to find a way to "get out of the echo chamber", but on the other hand it was these sessions that reminded me why I'm passionate about being a school librarian and getting pupils reading for pleasure, and we can use a lot of it as ammunition to defend our cause.  On Friday, Professor Teresa Cremin talked about the study she carried out on behalf of the Carnegie Trust into the CKG awards shadowing process, and gave us the executive summary, and the people behind the The Phoenix Comic gave an impassioned talk about the importance of comics in engaging and developing readers.  Saturday included Ian Dodds teaching us some visual literacy techniques (building on the fascinating history of the art of visual story telling that Professors Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles gave us on Friday) and the managing director of Barrington Stoke talking about reaching dyslexic and reluctant readers.

The more conferences I attend, and the more I veer towards the challenge of encouraging "reading for pleasure" in school, the more I enjoy the exhibition.  Reps from a variety of children's publishers are there, a number of whom I've now met on numerous occasions and who thrust books into my hands, eagerly telling me why I will love them.  A large suitcase is definitely required!

This year, as usual, I was on a book buying ban but was tempted too strongly by Marcus Sedgwick's new book "She is not Invisible" because of the fantastic detail of the number 354...

I spent the night with a friend who lives in Birmingham and then went to have a look at the new Library of Birmingham on Sunday.  It is amazing, a beautiful building and thousands of books, but for me it was an incredible disappointment because of the missed opportunity to engage teenagers.  Their books are right in the middle of the children's library, signposted simply as "fiction" with toddlers colouring at tables right next to them (I imagine it won't be long before a mother complains about her 5yr old picking up one of the "teen graphic novels").  Apparently there is a seating area for them near the music section, but there are no books there and nothing indicating that it is a teen space.

But, all in all a great weekend!

Friday, 27 September 2013

UKLA Book Awards 2014

The UKLA (UK Literacy Association) is unrelated to libraries officially but totally related to my key interest: promoting literacy and reading in schools.  They have an annual book award, with age categories, with a longlist chosen by a panel of teachers from a selection sent to them by UK publishers.  I thought it would be interesting to see how much of an overlap there is between their longlist for 12-16+yrs and the Carnegie longlist this year.  Although the winners are all announced in the summer the UKLA longlists come out a lot earlier than the CKG:

Kite Spirit by Sita Brahmachari - I hadn't heard of this until very recently so I need to seek it out
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks - love love love this book, but it is the most depressing thing I've read for a long time
Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce - my girls at school keep telling me to read this but I haven't got round to it yet
Waiting For Gonzo by Dave Cousins - better than '15 Days Without a Head', a brilliant story
After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross - the most realistic picture of the future out of all the 'dystopia' I have read, without exception
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner - just gorgeous, but obviously it has already won the Carnegie as it was actually published in August 2012...not sure how it ended up on this list!
The Disappeared by C.J. Harper - I know nothing of this book, will have to look it up

The Seeing by Diana Hendry - I read it a while ago and can't remember much so maybe it wasn't all that great
Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti - I have a copy of this and keep meaning to read it!
Hostage 3 by Nick Lake - again, I have a copy...
The Positively Last Performance by Geraldine McCaughrean - I don't like McCaughrean's books very much so I try to avoid reading them, unless they end up on the Carnegie longlist, which this inevitably will <sigh> but I'll try to keep an open mind!
Ferryman by Claire McFall - looked at the blurb, sounds intriguing, need to get hold of it
Siege by Sarah Mussi - also already on my tbr pile

Into That Forest by Louis Nowra - I did enjoy it but it felt more like a book for adults, a memoir of childhood
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher - really very good
Song Hunter by Sally Prue - I've missed this one as well
The Wall by William Sutcliffe - another on the tbr pile, but pretty close to the top!
A World Between Us by Lydia Syson - I did enjoy it, some history and great story, but I don't think it is award winning
Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams - another new one to me
Silver by Chris Wooding - loved this book, very well crafted

So, I won't challenge myself to finish them all like I do with the Carnegie, too much on my tbr pile already, but we'll wait and see how many match up in a couple of months!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Book Monopoly

I tweeted a photo of my Book Monopoly Board last week and a number of people wanted to know how it works - too much for a tweet!  So here we go:

Towards the end of last term, someone on SLN (School Librarians Network - a yahoo mailing list) mentioned a book monopoly game that they play with their pupils and I thought it sounded like a brilliant idea to try here to get pupils to try different genres.

If you google 'monopoly template' there are lots available, and it is just a case of changing the names of the streets!  I used a 'poster' template on Publisher and so printed it really big for a display in the library and brought a die in to school.  Each label has a picture of one of the traditional Monopoly pieces, but obviously I have more than 6 players!

The rules are very simple: 
Pick a book from the genre of the street you have landed on.
Before your next roll you must pass an AR* quiz on the book,
write a review or draw an illustration
Mrs Fielding chooses a book for you
Community Chest
Choose a book that another pupil recommends
Free Parking
You choose any book!
Sweet shop
instant sweet and another roll
10 points**
instant 10 points and another roll
25 points for passing ‘Go’!**

On my board I don't have 'jail', I have extra 'free parking'.  

*AR = Accelerated Reader.
** we have a House Point system so all the points go towards rewards.

Some of you will know that my school is being closed down, we only have 125 pupils left, mainly in year 11 (the rest is a small year 9) so I have opened it up to all pupils and was really surprised at how many year 11s wanted to get on there.  I now have about 60 pupils signed up so it is rather crowded along the bottom!

Anyway, that's it, simples!

Monday, 8 July 2013

CILIP Rebranding, my Two Penn'orth

Please note: this is entirely my personal opinion

I've been following the disharmony over the CILIP rebrand since all members were invited to complete a questionnaire which included ranking 6 possible names for the professional body as part of the rebranding.  I didn't like any of the names and, while I don't dispute the need for a rebrand, I question the necessity of changing the name as part of it.

The reason for changing the name seems to be simply that no one knows who CILIP is and it is difficult/boring to explain...that bothers me a lot.  There are so many societies/charities/bodies with initials that need to be explained at first.  I'm sure when the NSPCC first started asking for donations they had to constantly expand "we're the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children" - not a catchy name but encompasses exactly what they do and now everyone recognises it.  The IEEE is probably unknown to most of you but it is the professional body for my husband's line of work - 'The Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers' - but they're not considering changing it just because the layman doesn't recognise it immediately.  So it is a question of whether it is more important to be known by the wider public or to be the respected professional body that, if you look into choosing that certain career, you will discover and value.  I think in CILIP's case it is hard to separate the two ideas because of the vast range of industries or sectors that an 'information professional' might find themselves in, or that someone might drift into without realising that they're doing something that could be under the umbrella of CILIP.

The name does seem to be becoming more widely known, someone commented that the CILIP Carnegie Greenaway Awards were mentioned in the news without an explanation of what CILIP is on the assumption that people know (or don't care I suppose), so capitalise on that instead of starting from scratch.  If people who work for CILIP are constantly having to explain what it is, to rolled eyeballs and boredom, that won't change with a snazzy new name. It will still require explanation, and the second you use the word 'library' or 'librarian' or 'Information Professional' they will look just as glazed as ever. What might change it is a better strapline, smarter logo, wider outreach and publicity and a firm idea of exactly what CILIP's purpose is. It isn't a union for library staff, although it should support it's members interests, but a source of professional development, support, and understanding as well as the mouth piece for the profession.

One thing I saw on twitter, that prompted me to write something, was the statement, quoted by someone listening to speakers at the emergency general meeting, "'Librarian' is known and understood: 'information professional' could be an IT worker".  This made me laugh, because people might assume they know what a Librarian does but I think our working lives are generally pretty different to the stereotype of a librarian 'shh'ing patrons and sitting at a desk reading a book!  But that is why I think CILIP is a good name for the body, Library and Information Professionals, because we don't all work in a physical library and we're not all called Librarians.  If it is doing it's job right then less people will slowly side-step away from us at parties and might actually be interested in what we do.

So that is why I think rebranding is important - and to be fair this is probably the cheapest rebrand since the concept of 'rebranding' began - but please don't change the name.  I for one am quite happy explaining what CILIP is but would be very embarrassed to be known as one of 'The Knowledge People'.

Improving Reading, Toe by Toe

I have completely neglected the blog since March, didn't even post my excitement about the announcement that Maggot Moon, one of my favourites of last year, won the Carnegie!  But OfSTED have been and gone (we're a 'good' school and they were particularly impressed with our improvements in literacy, hooray!), the KS3 and 4 exams have ended, it is nearly time for me to give reading prizes to the pupils and so I find myself with a bit of extra time.  Just a quick post today to draw your attention to the article I wrote for Information Europe Today a few weeks ago about the reading sessions I've had with some Year 10 boys this year and the fantastic books we've used (in particular a shout out to Barrington Stoke)

Unfortunately the photo is not of my library and I do not have a big cuddly bear, although it does make me tempted to bring one in!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

CILIP Carnegie and Greenaway Shortlists announced!

Some surprises for me!

CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013 - Nominees

Sarah Crossan, The Weight of Water
Roddy Doyle, A Greyhound of a Girl
Sally Gardner, Maggot Moon
Nick Lake, In Darkness
R.J. Palacio, Wonder
Marcus Sedgwick, Midwinterblood
Dave Shelton, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat
Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity

I nominatd Boy and a Bear in a Boat so it is a nice surprise to see it up there, I thought it might be a little bit too simple.  For the same reason I'm surprised to see A Greyhound of a Girl: although I really enjoyed it it didn't seem quite enough.

The Weight of Water and Midwinterblood were both good reads but I there were other things on the list that I thought far more worthy.

The book I thought might win isn't even on the list!  I'm now torn between Maggot Moon and Code Name Verity.

But my short list was half right!  Which is your favourite?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

My Personal #CKG2013 Short List!

Ah, the announcement you've all been waiting for, which of the nearly 70 books do I think are Carnegie worthy?  It was a difficult choice, there wasn't anything that I actually disliked, although only maybe 20 of them that I thought were great.  Have a look at my previous posts for brief reviews.

Without further ado, my shortlist of 8 (never know whether it will be 6 or 8 on the real one...) is:

VIII by H.M. Castor
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
After by Morris Gleitzman
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
In Darkness by Nick Lake
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Special mention for: Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess and Dying To Know You by Aidan Chambers
I can't wait to find out if I match the judges choices although I have a feeling I might be completely out of line with them!  I try to look at the criteria but mainly go with gut instinct as to how 'good' a book is.  I'm not 100% certain of what will win.  Last year I knew it would be A Monster Calls because it was a league above everything else, this year nothing's jumping out at me (not to say they're not as good of course) but I have a feeling it may be...
 Keep your eyes peeled for the official shortlist announcement on Tuesday!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Carnegie Longlist - final update!

At last, I've finished!  See this post for my previous update.

The official shortlist is announced on Tuesday so I shall be sharing my personal shortlist at some point this weekend...but here are my feelings about the Carnegie books I've read since the end of January.  This year there hasn't been a single story that didn't have something going for it, although I think I might have been less critical this year than last year!  orange means it was alright, red means I love it:

Soldier Dog by Sam Angus - a great tale, I really felt for Stanley, but it reminded me too much of War Horse
The Traitors by Tom Becker - a rough diamond of an idea but not very well polished...
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne - cute but irritating - if he'd just held on sometimes instead of relying on people grabbing him then it would make his life much easier!
Scramasax by Kevin Crossley-Holland - I really struggle to enjoy his stories, even though some very excitng things happen his style dulls it down for me.
Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn - brilliant scene setting, I can see it as a film, but didn't grab me as much as Two Good Thieves
To Be A Cat by Matt Haig - a lovely Dahl-esque tale, with evil characters getting comeuppance, best friends and comedy moments!
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman - well written fantasy, great idea but mostly predictable
The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen - exciting story but too contrived, the plot relied a lot on coincidence or luck.
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy - I love the Skulduggery books, the humour is perfect, but I don't think it could end up on the short list.
At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin - the three voices worked well but occasionally I forgot who was 'speaking' as they weren't quite different enough.
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy - exciting adventure but a little too far fetched in places
The Treasure House by Linda Newbery - I couldn't believe the premise of the disappeared Mum (the resolution was very unsatisfying) but it was nicely told.
Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver - I thought this was great, I was worried that it would just be Wolf Brother but with a dolphin but the story was engaging and there were some moments of real suspense.
Burn Mark by Laura Powell - great idea but nothing unexpected happened and the resolution came too easily
The Flask by Nicky Singer - didn't think I'd enjoy it at all but I was actually gripped by the story, really well told!A Waste of Good Paper by Sean Taylor - pretty good but I was disappointed by the 'happy ending' because up to a point it was a quite realistic story.  Life isn't like that!

This is likely to replace something I'd thought of for my shortlist:
After by Morris Gleitzman
So beautifully written. I thought it might be less emotional than Once and Then (I didn't really like Now much), because it was about fighting back in the Resistance, but it was heart wrenching.
Keep your eyes peeled for my shortlist.  What's on your's?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - autobuy authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that I occasionally like to join in with.  Today's theme was pointed out to me by Strange Chemistry on twitter and I thought of my first 4 straight away...

1. Terry Pratchett is my fave author in the whole wide world and has been for literally half of my life.  I discovered him because there was a poster on the tube advertising the Discworld in which TP was the spitting image of my Dad!

2. I've loved Frances Hardinge since her first book, Fly By Night in 2005, and they keep getting better.  She has a wonderful way with words.

3. The Chaos Walking trilogy and then A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness are so perfect that he has to be on my staples list now.

4. I added James Dawson because I loved his first book, Hollow Pike, and am really excited by the blurb for his next, coming out this year.  He came to my school last year and my pupils (and I) loved him :-)

So those were the 4 I tweeted.  Thinking further, there are dozens of authors that I love but I am a library addict, tending to borrow and rarely buying, so I can't say that many are 'auto-buy'.  There are things I will automatically buy for my school library but I don't think I can really count them...I will drop everything and read something new by the following authors, and do own a large number of their books:

5. To my shame, I didn't mention her in my tweet, but I adore everything by Maggie Stiefvater and have managed to get all my copies signed by her at various UK events.

6. The Dustland trilogy, so far, is wonderful.  Moira Young is a lovely lady, she's visited my school twice and is really engaging, she has an amazing imagination.  I can't wait for the last book.

7. Garth Nix is another one who seems to consistently deliver brilliance, I've been reading his books for years, and at a book signing last year I snagged one of Sabriel's bells so I love him a little bit more!

8. I have proofs and signed hardbacks of the first two Department 19 books by Will Hill so have to continue for the whole series...conveniently they're really good and well worth having on the shelf...but sadly the third proof was an ebook!

9. Philip Reeve is another of my long term favourites, Mortal Engines is one of the most gripping books I've ever read, so I always keep an eye out for another prequel/sequel!

and finally...10. hmm, will have to be shared by all the newish series I've been reading and am desperate for the next one of, but won't necessarily buy for myself - Veronica Roth, Charlie Higson, Michael Grant, Michelle Paver...

The next time you hear from me will be my personal Carnegie short list - the real one is announced on 12th March and I've only 2 of the longlist left to read!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Carnegie Longlist Update

Just a brief note to update you on my progress on the CKG Carnegie longlist for 2013.  Since my last post I have read another bunch of generally good but not amazing books:

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond - a review I read reckoned this is 'David Almond's first book for adults', although it is published on a children's list in order to be eligible for Carnegie.  It is an odd book, clever story but the style (as if it is written by someone illiterate) was too offputting for me
Naked by Kevin Brooks - didn't think it was for children at all - was an adult reminiscing about teen angst rather than a teenager going through it.
Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell - a bit too matter of fact - I sometimes felt that the historical accuracy, although very interesting, rather overshadowed the story.
Buzzing! by Anneliese Emmans Dean - a collection of nice poems about insects but not special enough for Carnegie
Trouble in Toadpool by Anne Fine - just too ridiculous overall, although some parts were quite funny.

The Seeing by Diana Hendry - unsettling short story, perhaps a little too short though, I think she could have extended the suspense more.
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson - could have been written in the 1940s, the sexist attitudes certainly belong there, but a nice 'innocent' tale that is about as ridiculous as Trouble in Toadpool!
Black Arts: The Books of Pandemonium by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil - quite exciting with some good plotting and suspense-building, but overly long.
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid - some aspects were really well written but it was wholly predictable and tied up too neatly and happily at the end (sorry for the spoiler, but there is a happy ending!)
Pendragon Legacy: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts - a bit of prior knowledge of the tales of Arthur really enhances this book, a good old fashioned adventure fantasy!
A Skull in Shadows Lane by Robert Swindells - another one that could have been written in the 1940s. I couldn't get over the name 'Jinty' and found it really dull.

These three could well have been in my initial shortlist if I'd read them earlier...
Spy For The Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin - pretty exciting historical novel with fact and fiction well interwoven
The Broken Road by B.R. Collins - found it difficult to get into but the story and style was so honest and brutal in places, a very good book!
Unrest by Michelle Harrison - a clever story with an excellent twist, but not perfect - I thought some bits could have been bulked out while others could have been trimmed down.

but this one will actually kick something else off my personal shortlist...
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
took me a few pages to get into it but when I did, blimey, it is an amazing book!  Brilliant histiry, clever storytelling, totally believable characters and events.
Less than 2 months to go until the shortlist is announced and I have 17 left to read, I've been taking far too long to get through them, it is going to be a tight thing!