Friday Key Chain @alidevnz

Friday Key Chain is a new feature on our blog where we introduce you to some of our most active twitter followers. We love people who want to get involved and we figured that this would be a great way for everyone to get to know each other a bit better!

Key Chain Pic 1aTell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a School Librarian working in a co-ed independent school in Auckland, New Zealand. I look after Kindergarten to Year 6. Even though my Library career had formerly been mainly in the corporate world I have immersed myself fully in the world of KidLit – having exchanged investment banking for education.  I’m passionate about turning around struggling and reluctant readers, I love engaging with kids about books they love and want to share. I am 50 (which constantly surprises me because inside I still feel like the 23 year old I once was) and I am convinced I have the reading taste of a ten year old, but this means the 10-year-olds I look after trust my book recommendations. Children’s literature has never been more exciting with so many styles and genres to explore, therefore my theory is that there has to be a book that every child will fall in love with – even if they think they aren’t readers!

What is your favorite book shop?
I love Timeout Books in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden. It is really small, but the children’s section at the back is in a small cave like space, that is cozy and welcoming – if only they provided an armchair I know I could curl up in there and read as if the rest of the world didn’t exist outside. As well as maintaining a great selection of current and backlist titles they always have books I haven’t seen before. I have found some great sophisticated picture books there that I have used instead of the usual non-fiction. I’m torn between the feel and smell of an independent bookshop and the ease of buying instantly downloadable ebooks.


What is your favorite book published by Hot Key books?

This is a hard one because every single book I have bought from Hot Key has been a winner with my students. CONSTABLE & TOOP by Gareth P. Evans is an absolute fave, Gareth wrote other books THE CONSIDINE CURSE and the THORNTHWAITE INHERITANCE, both beloved by my students and fabulous for reluctant readers… CONSTABLE & TOOP is just as good – it hasn’t sat on my library shelf in all the time since I bought it – it is always out or on hold. SHRUNK! and THE TROUBLE WITH MUMMIES, both by Fleur Hitchock – Fleur is a really funny author and kids really love the stories. Then there was THE SPIN by Rebecca Lisle – another awesome book – a really fresh and original tale and a great change from all the dragon books out there. Every child I have recommended these to has loved them. I am delighted that Hot Key has made their eBooks available to libraries through Overdrive, as this gives children exposure to great authors and titles.

What is your favourite childhood book?
I AM ROSEMARIE by Marietta D. Moskin, published around 1972. This is the story of a young Jewish girl who happily grows up in the Netherlands only to have her life change dramatically when the Nazis invade her country in 1940. Rosemarie tells us of her journey and life in the concentration camps. One of the best stories for younger readers on the holocaust I have read. I cannot count how many times I must have re read this book in my lifetime.

Tell us about your favourite bookmark.
I don’t have one! I use whatever is to hand as a bookmark. It’s usually a card or drawing made for me by one of my daughters. I always use something to mark my place because I get upset if I see books placed face down or if readers turn down the corners! I love the electronic bookmark you get inside an ebook.

What is one of your bad reading habits?
I tend to read way too long and late into the evening. My day isn’t complete without an hour or two of reading before I go to sleep. Unfortunately, being able to read on an iPad (and therefore not disturb my husband with a light) has meant I can get away with reading for much later than I should. When I am very tired I have been known to nod off with the iPad on my chest. If I ever can’t sleep I turn it on again or listen to an audio book – this tends to send me to sleep especially if the narrator has a lovely voice!

If you could swap lives with any book character, who would you choose and why?
Permanent Rose from THE CASSON FAMILY by Hillary Mckay.  I love reading about this family and the thoroughly creative, albeit, chaotic ambiance of their home. I love Rose’s resilience and determined nature as well as her unique individuality.

What type of book would you like to read more of in the future?
I love stories that feel original and fresh. Rather than hearing about stories that are lauded as the next HARRY POTTER meets HUNGER GAMES meets PERCY JACKSON, or ‘funnier than DIARY OF A WIMPY KID’, I want to read new stories, and stories that leave me thinking about them long after I have closed the covers.

Wonder cover

How do you organise your bookshelves?

Rather haphazardly! I used to be very organized with my home library mimicking an orderly school library with strict author or genre arrangement. Now my ‘to be read’ pile is so huge and out of control – it is like the monster that ate New York!

What is one book you would like to recommend to everyone?
That is like asking me which one of my two children I love the best! There isn’t a one book fits all IMO. Probably the only book I recommend that every child, parent and teacher should read or have read to them, is WONDER by R.J. Palacio This story a powerful anti bullying weapon for promoting the ideas of kindness and empathy.

Thanks to Alison for taking part in the Key Chain! You can follow Alison on twitter @alidevnz.