October 29

‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card

It’s not hard to see why Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is a classic science fiction/dystopian novel. Complete with plays within plays, it keeps the reader second guessing games played by characters on other characters. It’s a fantastic read for gaming boys particularly. For me, the battle scenes were just a little drawn out – otherwise I’d give it 5 stars.
A must for sci-fi lovers, this novel has stood the test of time and has not aged one little bit!  4 1/2 stars Mrs O.


July 20

Oliver Phommavanh visits Aquinas

Guest author Oliver Phommavanh visited Aquinas College on Tuesday 24 July 2012. A stand up comedian and teacher, Oliver writes funny books for Middle School students. His books Thai-riffic, Con-nerd and Punchlines are available in the Aquinas College Library.

On Tuesday, Oliver shared a non-Thai pizza lunch with about 30 students, then he told some of his literary adventures to Year 8 students in two sessions before meeting Gold Coast teacher-librarians and English teachers for a Thai dinner.

Students learned some Thai language, that not all Thai people like Thai food, the boys learned that they wear the Thai flag on their socks everyday, that it’s OK to be different and even a little bit random! Oliver talked about being a stand up comedian on the Footy Show, being a writer, how he first got published and even about which parts of his books are based on his life.

A big thank you to Oliver for making Aquinas his only stop on the Gold Coast. We’re really looking forward to reading his next two books!


July 10

Paul Griffin visits Aquinas

In July 2012, U.S. author Paul Griffin visited Aquinas College. Now the winner of many awards for his writing, Paul wrote 24 books over 20 years before being published! In the meantime, he gathered life experience as a builder’s labourer, a cook and even a dish washer/kitchen hand beside Vin Diesel. In an absolutely inspirational talk, Paul told our students that it was at times hard going, sleeping rough in buildings he was working on and facing challenges in self belief. His best job, he said, besides training dogs, has been being a teacher, working with teens in trouble, or in prison, trying to prevent violence and the spread of AIDS/HIV.  He told students to set goals for themselves; have something to aim for that will see them through the tough times. Paul’s books are very authentic because his depth of real life experience provides a lot of source material for his writing. We’d like to thank Text Publishing for bringing Paul from New York to Aquinas! Thank you SO MUCH! It was huge!

Paul sent this message to Aquinas students after his visit:

“Thank you all for letting me hang out with you. You’re remarkable, each of you, and my dream is to see your dreams come true. When you finish up your years at Aquinas, you’re going to confront not problems but challenges. On your journey to living out your dreams, people are going to try to knock you down. This much is certain. To pretend otherwise is unwise. Keep your eyes, ears and most of all your heart open, and don’t get down. Get up. Pick yourself up and ask yourself if you still feel your dream in your heart. If you do, then you must go forward and pursue that which makes you happiest. You can do it. You will do it. The scene that I read you from Stay With Me is an example of letting your passions get away from you; letting somebody knock you off your path. Feeling passionate is a gift, but channeling that passion to your purpose is the greatest gift. Every day, do something to bring yourselves a step closer to your dreams. Even ten minutes a day put toward your dream will, after even just a few months, add up, and you will find yourself closer to your goal. I’m keeping the Aquinas crew in my heart, and I’m wishing you peace and light. Your friend, Paul Griffin”

Here’s a clip about one of his novels, ‘Stay With Me’:

Read more about Paul Griffin on his website, and borrow ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘Ten Mile River’ from our Library – F GRI.

Here’s another clip of Paul Griffin visiting a school in the US:

June 15

The importance of reading

A new report from Canada reports that children are enjoying reading less. With reading closely linked to academic success and social adjustment, this is a worrying trend. The researchers say that the results are due to changes in two key factors which promote reading enjoyment: parents are reading to children less, and the number of teacher-librarians is declining. Read more in their short report entitled ‘Reading for Joy’.

June 8

Child trafficking

Every year, worldwide, an estimated 1.2 million children are “trafficked” into prostitution, domestic slavery or other exploitative labour.

The victims come from developing and industrialised countries. They are transported internally and across borders. But all are destined for ruthless exploitation.


There are several novels in our Library about this topic. Here are two:
F HAW Mountain Wolf by Rosanne Hawke

F MCC Sold by Patricia McCormick

February 15

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Brian Selznick has written two awesome books which combine pictures and words to tell the story. Here’s a clip from the movie of ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’, made from the book by the same name. Both ‘…Hugo Cabret’ and ‘Wonderstruck’ are available in the Aquinas College Library. Read more about these books on one of Brian Selznick’s websites:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret or Wonderstruck.

Hugo is a troublesome boy who steals, works by fixing clocks and quits school all from a young age. Hugo’s father was working on a machine called the automaton when he was little. His father was killed in a freak fire accident when he was locked inside a museum whilst fixing the automaton after closing time. Hugo was then sent off to live with his uncle at the Paris train station. He then had to leave school and begin to work as a time keeper for the clocks. He was still very passionate about the autonom and wanted to finish his father’s dream, so he attempted to fix it when he wasn’t working. However, an obstacle occurred when he required a key to make the machine function. He stumbled across a girl named Isabelle and found that she wore a heart shaped key that fitted the automaton’s lock.

I would defiantly recommend this book for anyone that likes adventure and mystery. Hugo is a very loveable character and it is easy to understand  and feel sympathetic for him and his story. The story is very interesting and can surprise even the more older audiences. I would give this book a 9 out of 10.

John J., Year 8


The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a story based on a young boy who lives in Paris who finds a mysterious drawing that changes his life forever. Hugo’s uncle is in charge of the station’s clocks; soon after his uncle disappears Hugo takes over maintaining the clocks, hoping his uncle won’t be missed so that he can repair an artefact cherished by Hugo and his father. This artefact is what changes Hugo’s life.

An automaton is discovered among the dusty museum that was burnt down by a fire. It is a mechanical man that delivers messages. Hugo is certain that he can fix the automaton with his father’s notebook full of mysterious things. By doing this, Hugo decided to steal toys from the toy booth until he gets caught by the shopkeeper and soon finds himself working there. He finds a notebook that has many oddly familiar drawings, magic, unlikely friends and a giant cinema.

I really enjoy this book because it is a very mysterious book and it contains a lot of unknown drawings. You can learn a lot of things by this book by not stealing from other people because there will be consequences in future.

I would recommend it to both males and females, ages mostly 13+ to read, as they would understand it more. It may seem like a large book but it is worth reading. It is a mysterious book full of magic and unknown drawings.
By Monet J, Year 8.


The Invention of HUGO CABRET

 “From his perch behind the clock, Hugo could see everything. He rubbed his fingers nervously against the small notebook in his pocket and told himself to be patient. The old man in the toy booth was arguing with the girl. She was about Hugo’s age, and he often saw her go into the booth with a book under her arm and disappear behind the counter. “

Orphan, Clock Keeper, And Thief!!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret (author Brian Selznick) is a awesome book. Personally it’s one of the best books I’ve read. This book is more suited for the ages 13 and up and it’s a pretty easy read that opens up your imagination. The book is set in Paris in a local train station. Hugo lives in the walls of this station and his only way to survive is by secret and stealing, but when Hugo’s world gets turned up side down and his life and most prized possession are all put in jeopardy, together he and his new best friend Isabelle work with each other to solve a mystery about Hugo’s father and Isabelle’s Godfather (the toy booth man).

If I had to put this book into a certain category, it would be mystery (or wonder). This book makes you want to read it. It pulls you in and keeps you stuck there. If you have read “Wonderstruck” (also written by Brian Selznick) you are sure to like this book. The book is filled with amazing drawings, but don’t be fooled by the amount of them because this is not a picture book. Without reading the writing there is no adventure and with no adventure there is no dream and amazing dreams come out of this book.

Grace, Year 8

December 1

Aquinas College Book Club

Do you like reading and sharing what you read with others?
Do you want to have first choice in Library Books?
Do you want go on literary excursions?
Would you like to meet famous authors first hand?

If so, why not join our Book Club! Follow the link below to find out how to join.
This club is for current Aquinas College students only!

Aquinas College Library Book Club

Aquinas College Library Bookclub 2 members

A place to discuss books we are reading together, books we have read from the library, and books we…

Books we’ve read

View this group on Goodreads »


November 11

November Competition: Book Spine Poetry

All I Ever Wanted:



A Kiss in Every Wave.

Find Me A River

Falling Under,

Into White Silence.

First Light.


What better way to mesh a love of books with poetry?

Try to create your own towering poem using titles around you.  You can be as literal or as abstract as you like.

What will you win? There are two chances to win in this competition – firstly:

At Aquinas, you’ll win a $25 voucher for 1st prize; 2nd and 3rd place will also win prizes.

Send a photo of your poem by email to: marjo@aquinas.qld.edu.au


National Book Spine Poetry Competition

You might also like to use the same poem to enter a national competition to win:

  • four young adult titles (we’ll negotiate which genres you prefer)
  • an ‘Inside a dog’ USB pen
  • an ‘Inside a dog’-tag

You have until November 30th 2011.

What is book spine poetry?

Instead of explaining, just take a look.

You have until November 30th 2011 to enter your book spine poem. You must post a copy of your entry beneath the book spine poetry blog post (remember to resize to 500 px first) or tag the photo with the Inside a dog Facebook page.  You can also email your entry for our team to post in both locations on youthlit@slv.vic.au . Please type ‘Book Spine Poem’ in the subject line.

The Centre for Youth Literature team will judge.

Get creative!

Source URL: http://www.insideadog.com.au/blog/november-competition-book-spine-poetry

November 11

What are QR codes?

Maybe you have been seeing a few of these codes around in magazines, websites or billboards.

QR (Quick Response) codes are similar to bar codes that can be scanned by ipods, iphones and smartphones. They contain images, links to websites or text messages. As more and more people use smartphones, QR codes have become the easy way to link to internet content while out and about.

For example this code in the library, links to the OPAC, or Library Search. Students can use their mobile device to find books and DVDs.

You will need to download a free QR code scanner app from App Store or Marketplace. Open your app then, just like taking a photo, hold the screen over the QR code, and you will be taken to the image, message or webpage connected to the code.

Try making your own QR code!  Google or Kaywa both have generators that you can use.

October 13

Richard Newsome talks about writing…

Writing is easy. Ideas are hard.
For me, the act of writing is really just describing. I get a notion in my head of how a scene is going to play out, sort of like having a video playing in a loop on the back on my eyeballs. Then I just describe what I see. Person A runs from here to there; they say this thing to person B; person B reacts really badly; A and B argue; some issue is resolved.
The really difficult part is coming up with the ideas in the first place. I was once asked how I managed to cram so many different ideas into a book. I wasn’t consciously aware that I had, but I guess I like to know how things work and why people do the bizarre things they do. So when it comes to writing a book, I need to have an explanation for every character’s motivation. Someone can’t be bad just for the sake of being bad. There must be a reason underlying that badness. So I like to explore what that reason might be. That leads to more rounded characters but also to a more satisfying story. And it helps generate ideas along the way.
Most books are based on one very simple idea, which the author then teases out and explores in depth. Take Harry Potter. It’s a story of good versus evil, of vengeance and of choices. Harry could easily have gone across to the ‘dark side’ very early on in the first book. But he didn’t. Why is that? JK Rowling then spent the next six and a half books exploring that question, and some amazing ideas were generated in the process.
So if you’re writing your own stories, start with a simple set-up. Say, computer geek is selected to play on the football team. Think of the back-story for all the characters who are likely to inhabit that tale. Think why each character acts the way they do. Then mix it up and have some fun.
Best of luck!
Richard Newsome
Check out Richard Newsome’s books here. His trilogy –  The Billionaire’s Curse, The Emerald Casket & The Mask of Destiny – is available for loan from the Aquinas Library. It’s a rollicking adventure story that’s lots of fun! Mrs O.
September 6

Maggie Stiefvater visits Australia

Maggie Stiefvater, one of our most popular authors, is visiting Australia at the moment. She is in Brisbane for the Brisbane Writers’ Festival. Maggie is writing a ‘Live Journal’ about her visit, which you can access here. Her visit coincides with the release of the third book in the ‘Shiver’ series: ‘Forever’, available in our Library now. Reserve it here.

Part of Stiefvater’s site deals with how to write a novel. Her fabulous writing tips can be found on this page:     http://m-stiefvater.livejournal.com/tag/how%20i%20write Mrs O.

April 28

How to write a book review

Write a Review

A book review is like any other piece of writing. It has a beginning, a middle and an ending. Grab attention, give your opinion (don’t just tell the story), finish off the review with a recommendation. A blog entry for Aquinas Reads is really a short review which aims to draw in readers – to entice them to read the book! Not sure what to say? Here’s my advice:

How to write an online Book Review (for our blog):

  • Get the reader’s attention in the first line with a catchy intro, such as a short quote.
  • Give the title of the book and the author’s name near the beginning of the review.
  • Give a brief outline of the story, the setting and the main characters without giving too much away.
  • Explain why you liked it so much.
  • To whom would you recommend this story?
  • Sign the review with your FIRST NAME ONLY and Year level.
That’s the short version. The Scholastic website will help you write a much better review. It says to keep these tips in mind:

Be honest: Give your review personality and remember that kids want to know what you REALLY think.

Be detailed: Tell us exactly what you liked or didn’t. Was it a story you couldn’t put down? Were the characters just like people you know? What made it special?

Be accurate: Be sure to get the title, author, and character names right, plus double-check your spelling and grammar. We aren’t able to post reviews that don’t make sense or have the wrong information.

DON’T spoil it: Please don’t give away the ending! Tell readers enough about the plot to hook them, but keep them hanging so that they want to read the book.

Find out how to write a review in more detail at: http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/bookrev/index.htm

I particularly like the tips this author gives to young writers here.

Perhaps you’d like to use a scaffold to help you write a formal book review? Find one here: http://www.aquinas.qld.edu.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=124&Itemid=152

Remember that the more reviews you read, the better your reviews will be, because you understand the genre and know what to expect in a review’s content and writing style. Look on Goodreads for lots of great reviews.

March 9


Screen shot 2011-03-09 at 2.27.27 PMGoodreads.com is free to join, visually attractive, simple to use and almost without any commercial intervention!
This website is especially useful for readers and for reading promotion.

Its uses include:

* Logging the books you read, rating and reviewing them
* Keeping track of books you want to read
* Checking what your friends are reading
* Reading others’ recommendations and reviews
* Finding out more about an author
* Linking to an author’s website or blog
* Finding other works by the same author
* Sourcing books in the same genre – in lists
* Joining online discussions about a book

Why not take a look! It’s an easy way to become more involved in reading.

February 15

Online Bibliography Maker

Having problems getting your bibliography sorted? Get help from one of the sites below. Here are the steps to make your bibliography:

1. Go to the site.
2. Choose the type of reference.
3. Write in the details of their reference into the generator.
4. The generator will give the completed reference.
5. Copy and paste the reference into a Word document.
6. Arrange your references in alphabetical order by first entry to make your bibliography.
7. Add the title ‘Bibliography’.
8. Check your work. Great work! You’re finished!



August 23

Aquinas students cross Story Bridge

Story Bridge climb studentsGovernor General David Metzenthen and MarjAquinas students climbed the Story Bridge on Friday. At the invitation of The Children’s Book Council of Australia, they joined authors and Readers’ Cup teams on a Story Bridge Adventure climb to celebrate the beginning of Book Week 2010, themed ‘across the story bridge’. Teacher Paul Hand, who accompanied them, said that the view was spectacular. Our students then attended the Book of the Year Announcement, where winning authors were congratulated by Her Excellency, the Governor General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC. Marj Kirkland, Aquinas College’s teacher librarian and National President of the CBCA (pictured here with Ms Bryce and winning author David Metzenthen), said, “Reading builds bridges. It helps us to understand others, fires our imagination and improves literacy.”

August 3


I have just seen the coolest site! It’s called 12words and can be found at http://12words.com.au

If you are aged 15 – 25 and live in Australia, you could win a writing mentorship or a laptop, simply by writing 12 words! How cool is that! Now’s your chance! You might think that writing a novel is hard…sometimes writing something concisely is just as difficult!

Ernest Hemingway once wrote: “For sale; Baby shoes; Never used.” Those six words put together conjure up vivid scenarios. What can you say in 12 words? If you think you’d like to improve your writing, this is your chance! Try your luck! Mrs O.