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Keith Gray was born and brought up in Grimsby and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a writer. When he received 0% for his accountancy exams he decided to pursue his dream. He has since gone on to win the Angus Book Award and the silver medal in the Smarties Prize. He has twice been shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teen Prize and the Scottish Arts Council Book Award. Rave reviews about his writing have appeared in every broadsheet. Keith was a judge for the Blue Peter Book Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Bookstrust Teen Prize and reviews regularly for the Guardian. Keith is now a full-time writer living in Edinburgh.
Brilliantly written, each of the stories in this thought-provoking and surprisingly entertaining collection asks what happens next? Award winning authors including Malorie Blackman, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Philip Ardagh and Keith Gray explore, what is death? How does it make us feel? And speculates on what do those who have died feel? Never mawkish although at times sad, this collection will set your mind into overdrive as you consider life after death.
The Julia Eccleshare comment: Top teenage authors tell a range of touching and thought provoking stories about both the real and the much-fantasised about moment of first sexual experiences. Funny, sad, crude, lyrical, Anne Fine, Patrick Ness, Bali Rai, Melvin Burgess, Jenny Valentine and Keith Gray himself are among the authors each of whose stories tell some of the picture of this all important moment. From Charlie Sheppard, the Editor at Andersen Press: "We felt the time was right for books to create a thinking space for teens. Somewhere they could turn to figure out what virginity means to them with the help of writers they respect and trust. And we felt the best medium for this was the short story—so often overlooked by publishers but so loved by teenagers who have other distractions in their lives."Finally, Andersen has created a blog to encourage people to write about their own experiences or just funny stories at http://losingitstories.com/.
Shortlisted for the prestigious Teenage Book of the Year Award 2009. Shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Children’s Book Award. Costa Book Awards 2008 Judges' comment: "A life-affirming journey by three teenage boys told with sensitivity, compassion and, above all, humour." A novel that so cleverly, almost miraculously you might say, blends friendship with devastating loss whilst at the same time is filled with humour and warmth that in turn means you cannot fail to be completely drawn in to what is undoubtedly one of the must-reads of the year. Fellow author, Jill Murphy, has to our mind hit the nail on the head when she says: ‘Right from the title Ostrich Boys inhabits the teenage emotional landscape with unerring precision and great sensitivity... It's beautifully plotted... I'm in awe at the intelligence behind the structure, with little pieces of the puzzle slotting into place at just the right moment. I can't think of a word that was wasted’. A word from Keith Gray: "It’s incredibly rewarding to see a book that’s so personal in so many ways affect an audience like Ostrich Boys has done. I was 18 in 1990 when I attempted suicide. I’m now 36, 18 + 18, and it’s this year more than any other that’s got me thinking about my feelings back then: who I would have left behind, what’s changed and what I would have missed out on. Ostrich Boys is a positive novel about those good things that may be waiting just out of sight around the corner. Being shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards is obvious proof. Who’d have guessed? Certainly not me 18 years ago." A word from Keith Gray's editor: “I am so thrilled that this book has been shortlisted for such a prestigious prize. Working with Keith on this incredible journey has been a privilege and an honour. What he's achieved is a novel that is moving, funny, entertaining and complex. But ultimately this book demonstrates the power of the written word - the power to heal lives, the power to change lives and sometimes the power to save them.” Other titles shortlisted for the prestigious 2008 Costa Children's Book Award (formerly the Whitbread Award) are The Carbon Diaries, Just Henry and Broken Soup. The winner of the award will be announced on Tuesday 6th January.
In 1699 William Milmullen took his six pupils to the lakeside but only he returned after a creature rose up from the water and devoured the six boys right before his eyes. The whole town was shocked and terrified by the tragedy. Many were now too frightened to go out on the lake to fish, and the town's economy was under threat. William Milmullen recovered from the shock of what he'd seen. He named the creature 'The Mourn', and declared himself 'Mourner'. He took upon himself the responsibility to appease the creature by feeding livestock into the lake and vowed his family would forever be responsible for the safety of the town, and that every Milmullen son would take the mantle of Mourner at the age of 16. This novel is set in the present day, and nobody believes in monsters anymore. These days the town is somewhat embarrassed about its monster stories and to many the Milmullen family is a bit of a joke. The family, however, have held onto their duty, believing that if they forsake the creature it will rise from the lake again. Tim Milmullen turns 16 in a week's time. On his birthday he will become the 13th Mourner. But Tim doesn't know if he wants the role. For one thing all the kids at school tease him, calling his father crazy, saying Old William back in 1699 killed the schoolboys himself and made up the story. And Tim's biggest problem is that he doesn't know if he believes in the legend or not. How can he dedicate his whole life to something he has never seen?
Four stories. Four people. Four lives. All brought together and changed forever by this one book. This is an astonishingly original story which stays with the reader long after the last page. Barrington Stoke specialises in books for reluctant, struggling and dyslexic readers.
Jason has had enough of his parents' arguments. He's running away to stay with his brother in Liverpool. On the train journey he meets a 'runner' called Jam, who lives on the monster Intercity trains and stations. His carefree and adventurous life sounds so exciting that Jason begins to think he might join Jam. Then Jason discovers Jam's secret.
Derwent Drive was known as the Speed Creep. A continual chain of Dashes into Blind. We'd all heard the story about the Creeper who dropped Blind into a garden, only to discover he was standing in a dog pound. It was also the longest creep; twenty-five houses all in a row, no bends, no kinks. And no Creeper had ever done the lot. But Jamie and I reckoned we could do it. Jamie was the best Creeper around. He was the best Buddie you could have. And he was mine. Ever heard about 'creeping' before? Probably not. Nobody really talks about it. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It does. Creeping over back fences all the way down a street without getting caught; without being hurt. It happens more than you might think. It's probably happening somewhere tonight.
Brook High is a great grey concrete ants' nest of a school. John Malarkey is the new kid, thrown in at the deep end of Year 11. He's the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Through what at first appears to be a random meeting, he helps a girl called Mary Chase out of a tricky situation, but is subsequently accused of stealing report cards to sell to students so they can write their own bogus reports. He quickly realises it was all a set-up, and that he's been used to take the fall. The teacher who accuses him of the crime gives him one day to prove his innocence. Malarkey tries to track down Mary Chase, but it's difficult in such a huge place. He does, however, discover strange goings-on beneath the surface of the normal school day. The more questions he asks the deeper he becomes involved in the corrupt under-belly of the school. He's also noticed the peculiar fact that so many kids at Brook wear Adidas trainers - black with the three white stripes. He realises that these are the badge of membership worn by those involved in the school's 'mafia'. He discovers that the name of the organisation's leader is Freddie Cloth, and Mary Chase turns out to be Cloth's girlfriend. Malarkey is soon noticed for asking so many questions, and receives warnings and then threats to back down. But, with time quickly running out for him, he still has to prove his innocence. And the only way to do this is to get to Freddie Cloth.
'Hundreds of people want to be in a band. They all get guitars and they all play gigs and they all write songs, and they still never make it.' There's a big difference between being a rock star and a pop idol - Will and Danny know which they'd prefer to be. They form the group Happy and it seems they are on the way to realising their ambitions. But when Happy's first gig is cut short by a fire at the venue, Will struggles to cope with his bitter disappointment and retreats into his private world, rejecting everyone around him. His girlfriend, Beth turns to Danny for comfort and their friendship soon becomes something more. With nothing left for him at home, Will leaves for London to stay with his session-musician father and to follow his dream.
'I know a place you can go'. It's a secret place hidden among the run-down buildings of the derelict dockyards. A community of young people have gathered in an old warehouse to get away from a world they don't fit in to. Through separate but interweaving narratives Warehouse tells the stories of three of the community's members. There's Robbie who is running away from his violent older brother, Frank, and needs some space to realise that the beatings are not his fault. Amy, who's supposed to be travelling in Europe but has had her rucksack stolen and is too proud to ask her smothering family for help. And then there's Lem, an ex-drug-addict and founder of the Warehouse community, whose perceived role as leader by the other young people is too much for him to cope with.