Just another WordPress.com weblog

Welcome to part two of our posts about our celebrations for World Book Day 2014.  We took our lead from the World Book Day 2014 website  and decided to create our own ‘Writes of Passage’ noticeboard.  We had a banner made for each of our school libraries and placed them close to, or at the top of, a noticeboard.  We then invited as many people as possible to complete blank postcards with details of books which had meant a lot to them as they were reading them.  We had a terrific response!  Many were colourful and some contained entire illustrations.  Many congratulations and thanks to all who participated!

We were delighted that so many people participated – we received 322 cards and the majority of books shared were shared by only one person, and amongst them, there were only a few adults represented, thus providing an overwhelming impression that our children are reading and reading so diversely!  The children also voted outstandingly in favour of print editions over electronic versions of books.  Hooray!  Our top ten books, (including series) are as follows:

1.     The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

2.    The Fault in Our Stars John Green

3.     To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

4.     Harry Potter series J K Rowling

5.     The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

6.     The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time Mark Haddon

7.     The Book Thief Markus Zusak

8.     The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared Jonas Jonasson

9.     The Inheritance Cycle Christopher Paolini

10.   The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky

Interesting that our top four also rank in the top four on the World Book Day 2014 list!

One week has already passed since we celebrated World Book Day in school and we thought we would share with our readers the books which our great teachers have discussed with their students in class on the day.  We followed the Drop Everything And Read initiative, whereby the teacher talked to their classes about a favourite book, or one which means a lot to them, and then this was followed a conversation about reading in general.  Here are some of the responses:

Mr Cowie, head of our Economics Department, recommended Leviathan – The Rise of Britain as a World Power by David Scott.  He says:

“How did an insignificant, rain-swept set of islands in the North Atlantic become the greatest power first in Europe and then in the world? Splendid stuff – proper history!”

leviathan

Mme Shipton wrote to say:

“I read a passage from Le Petit Prince [by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry] in French. Some girls were also keen to read out loud and invited to do so.  It was an enjoyable experience”.

le petit prince

In co-curricular club at lunch-time, historian Mr Bridle talked to his pupils about John Donne’s poem No Man is an Island :

“We were talking about why human rights abuses overseas should matter to us”.

john donne

English teacher, Mrs Tomlin, had an interesting idea:

“I read an extract from The Book Thief  [by Markus Zusak] to my classes and they had to guess whose perspective it was written from. Once they looked at the clues, many pupils guessed that it was Death. This has created intrigue as to how it can be made into a film. Some pupils even debated whether we were supposed to feel sympathy for Death!”

book thiefInspiring reads there, I think…  Our next entry will tell of our other library exploits during the day.

The_Rosie_Project_jktFollowing on from my last blog post, we have now had a book group meeting where we discussed Graeme Simsion’s novel, The Rosie Project.  We all enjoyed it so much, and could easily identify with the characters, recognising traits of Dr Don Tillman in all of us (some more than others!).  One member of the group even professed to be Don!  Some amongst us had been to meet the author at Chorleywood Library on Thursday 13th February and were treated to a very entertaining evening. Graeme Simsion talked about how he had come to write the book (originally conceived as a screenplay for a film), where he drew his inspiration from and how he has indeed, just turned the novel into a screenplay. He has also completed a sequel.  Both the film and second novel will be eagerly awaited by us!  The novel made us laugh out loud, as we did when we heard him speak.

At the back of the book, there are some cocktail recipes which Don memorises for a reunion of the medics who were contemporaries of Rosie’s mother, which look quite fun to try.  You should also take the test to see whether you are compatible with Don and would make a good wife for this Professor who likes to live his life according to schedules and regimes!  If you are male, you could view this as a test to see whether you are Don!  Why not look at the website for the book and see which character you are most like?  Click here to find out.  Four of us tried the Wife Project quiz and one of us was very nearly a good match…

We also discussed Damian Barr’s book, Maggie and me. This memoir is an account of Damian’s difficult and poverty-stricken upbringing in suburban Glasgow close to the Ravenscraig Steelworks during the era of the Thatcher government.  The views of our reading group were quite varied: ‘I didn’t like the content, but found it compelling and couldn’t put it down’; ‘It was very interesting, if uncomfortable, reading’; ‘I enjoyed it.  It is very different from the books which we usually read.  It was not as dark as it could have been, Damian kept it fairly jovial considering what he was going through’.  Definitely one for the ‘to-read’ shelf…

maggie and me

Two of our members also found the time to read Capital Punishment by Robert Wilson:

Beautiful Alyshia D’Cruz has grown up in London and Mumbai wanting for nothing. But one night she takes the wrong cab home. Charles Boxer, expert in high-stakes kidnap resolution, teams up with his ex-partner, investigative cop Mercy Danquah, who’s battling with their rebellious teenage daughter. Alyshia’s father hires Boxer, who knows all about the tycoon’s colourful career, which has made him plenty of enemies. But despite the vast D’Cruz fortune, the kidnappers don’t want cash, instead favouring a cruel and lethal game…To save Alyshia, Boxer must dodge religious fanatics, Indian mobsters and London’s homegrown crimelords. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT is a journey to the dark side of people and places that lie just out of view, waiting for the moment to tear a life apart.   Neilsen Bookdata Online.

Our members really enjoyed it and found it good to read a book from the crime genre.  One said: ‘I have also finished Capital Punishment which I loved also. Enjoyed reading an English crime novel for a change. Loved that it was based in London so I could actually visualise where they were! Liked the characters’.  The other commented that it was a good thriller and kept him turning the pages.  It’s certainly on my pile to read next.

capital punishmentHappy reading!

 

 

Happy New Year to all our Readers!  We very much hope that you enjoyed the Christmas break and were able to relax a little, we needed to after a very hectic end to last term!

Our Reading Group is starting this year with Graeme Simsion’s highly acclaimed book, The Rosie Project. We haven’t had our meeting to discuss the book yet, but I’m already receiving feedback and everyone I’ve spoken with, loved it and couldn’t put it down!  It’s certainly a great book for cheering up our wet and dark January days.  I finished this book today and can concur with the opinions of my colleagues and I felt the need to share it with you!

Professor Don Tillman is a professor of genetics at a university in Melbourne who, as he approaches the age of forty, decides that he would like to be married.  He establishes the Wife Project which is overseen by his best friend Gene (professor of psychology, formerly genetics, at the same university) and Gene’s wife, Claudia, also a psychologist.  Don displays aspects of Aspergers Syndrome, living his life by following a set of strict rules and timings and his Wife Project questionnaire is tailored to find exactly the perfect wife who would share his interests and values.  Fate intervenes and throws Rosie in his path.  Rosie is a young woman so completely different from what Don expects, could she be the one to turn his head in the end?  Rosie is searching for her real father and has come to see Don to seek his help, this being his field of expertise… She knows nothing of the Wife Project.  Don tells his tale in his own inimitable style and gets into some incredible scrapes at work and in pursuit of Rosie’s father.

Graeme Simsion talked about his debut novel in an interview with Mark Lawson on his BBC Radio4 programme Front Row : ‘I am not a psychologist, I didn’t go and read lots of books on Aspergers… People say how much research did you do into Aspergers and I say thirty years in Information Technology!’  I would heartily recommend this book to lighten the winter blues and, for all women out there who think they might match up to Don’s requirements, why not complete the questionnaire in the back of the book? You may be surprised by the results!  You can also enjoy some of the cocktails he learnt to make on his journey to find love.

The_Rosie_Project_jkt

Reading about reading…

20131125-210208.jpg

Usually, in a book blog, we write about books which we have read, but today I wanted to write about books that I would like to read and which are already on my to-read pile…

The first of these is a book written by Philip Davis, Professor of Psychological Sciences at Liverpool University.  His book Reading and the Reader discusses how literary reading can influence our emotions and the way we see the world.  I first came across Professor Davis whilst watching a television programme on BBC1 a few years ago, when he was talking about the impact that reading classic literature has on the human brain with particular mention of the words used by William Shakespeare in his plays.  I remember how he was enthusiastic about the use of the word ‘godded’ and how its emphasis was far greater than more common usage of the English language at the time.  I next read his work whilst reading for my master’s dissertation about bibliotherapy and his involvement with The Reader Organisation, established by his wife, Dr Jane Davis, which has inspired me greatly in the years since writing for my MA in 2010.  I am keen to begin reading Professor Davis’s book…

Next on my list is Belinda Jack’s volume, The Woman Reader.  I am intrigued to discover more about the history of women’s reading and whether women’s reading habits really do differ from those attributed to men.  I would like to know how the reading experience differs between genders and whether it actually is different…  Following the reading of this book, it would be interesting to conduct a little research of my own amongst colleagues and students!

Finally, this has also been on my reading list for a little while; Book was there : reading in electronic times by Andrew Piper, a teacher of German and European Literature at McGill University.  In this book, he discusses how the act of reading is changing, and how new reading technologies are altering our relationship with reading.  I actually have in my possession a physical version of this book, so shall report back as soon as I have read it, and tell you exactly how we need to proceed with our reading in the future!

800px-Kollebloemen_-_Red_poppies

I do apologise for the lack of posts lately, we started this academic year in September without a key member of staff who has moved on to another school library, further north.  We have missed her here, personally and professionally, but as a result we have been further stretched than we usually are.  I am happy to say that we have now appointed a new member of our team which will allow me to come back to the blog more frequently.

I am writing on Armistice Day, 11th November, when we remember all those who have fought and died during the World Wars and conflicts since.  Our Library on our Castle Campus is a permanent memorial to those who attended Berkhamsted School prior to World War I, both in the the capacity of student and members of staff, but yesterday we also remembered those from Berkhamsted School who gave their lives in the Second World War, and subsequent conflicts, in a Remembrance service in our School Chapel.

WWI board    WWII board

Within the library, we are are commemorating by thinking about war poetry and books, both fiction and non-fiction as can be seen in our pictures below:

display 1 wwI Books on war display 2 wwI

Amongst our new books, we have three which are notable for their storytelling of the tales of war.  The first two, Eleven eleven by Paul Dowswell and Soldier dog by Sam Angus relate to the first World War.  Dowswell’s novel tells of the closing moments of the war, where a young man who, a few months previously, had still been at school, is going to face the most terrifying ordeal of his life, fighting for survival in a forest whilst searching for German combatants.  Angus’s tale is that of a young lad who is a dog handler.  It is his job to use the dog to carry messages between the trenches, crossing no-man’s land which will save countless lives.  Stanley soon learns, as the fighting escalates and he experiences the true horror of war, that the loyalty of his dog is the only thing he can rely on.  Soldier dog has been included on this year’s Booktrust‘s Bookbuzz list for Year 7 pupils and a good number of our pupils chose it as their book to keep.

One day in Oradour by Helen Watts is our third new arrival and it is a fictionalised account of the horrific events which took place in Oradour-sur-Glane on Saturday 10th June 1944.  The novel tells the story of Alfred Fournier, whose family had already fled their home town in northern France with the advancement of Nazi soldiers, and how he abides by a plan agreed with his parents and sisters to meet outside the town of Oradour should the soldiers arrive there.  Showing great determination, intelligence and strength of will, Alfred survives the atrocities visited on his town against all odds.

Why not tell us about your favourite exciting war stories?  Perhaps we can get a good discussion started…

eleveneleven soldier dog onedayinoradour

Library newsletters….

About eighteen months ago, I wrote about how we keep the rest of our school updated with library news and what we’ve done and achieved (please click here to view)…  Well, we still like to keep our colleagues and pupils in touch and produce a fresh copy at the end of each term.  For the last two terms, we have been trying out a new layout when casting our news to everyone at school, and we are happy with the results!  Please see our latest version below:

Summer 2013_Page_1

We used issuu software (to be found on issuu.com ) which is free to use and turns your publications into an interactive resource, more akin to the physical article of a print publication but with the advantage of using no ink or paper and can be easily manipulated to display a larger font, should this be necessary.  To turn a page, simply click on the arrows appearing either side of the document on screen, so easy!  You need to set up an account and then download your publication in a PDF format for free:  issuu does the hard work.

We were aware of issuu a little while ago, but were looking for the right opportunity to use it when it suddenly occurred to us that we could utilise the software to get our message across in a completely new and much more exciting way than by simply sending out a pdf document which is non-interactive and that you scroll down to look at.

This software programme has also been used by the organisers behind a new and fascinating magazine produced entirely by Sixth Formers and students in Year 11 at our school,  Ink.   Ink has already won  awards for Best Design and Layout, Best Overall Editorial Content and Best Feature Article, with Highly Commended for Best Original Artwork and Photography in the Shine School Media Awards:  and this is after the publication of only two issues!

INK_online_ad

Whilst we don’t aspire to compete with this expertly produced magazine, we trust that you will enjoy both on their own merits.  Whereas the former is merely a snippet of what we get up to in the libraries, the latter is engendering some serious journalistic talent!  But who knows what we will get up to next?!

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013

For the past few weeks, our reading group has been participating in the first readers’ project connected with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.   we have enjoyed reading two novels in translation from their original language into English:  Trieste by Daša Drndic and Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas.  Some amongst us had read translated fiction previously in the form of classic literature such as novels by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Zola but it had been a while… We wanted to read modern fiction written by current authors and expand our reading horizons, so we applied to join in the project running alongside the consideration of books in the running for this prize.   The project culminated in our attending a superb Readers’ Day with the other participating groups.

Some of us found it an enriching experience and gained a lot from reading these books (Trieste was voted the prizewinner amongst reading groups on the Readers’ Day), but some of us struggled with the translations of the books themselves – it seemed as though there was a good story to tell but meanings and nuances could often get lost in the transition into English.

Trieste tells the tale of an elderly woman whose son was taken from her during World War II because his father was a Nazi soldier, and how she waits all her life for him to return to her, certain that he will do so.  This story is interspersed with names of those who  perished at the hands of the Nazis and facts about the history of the First World War  and events leading up to the Second.

Dublinesque  is about a publisher at the end of his career having a life crisis but the story is rambling and disjointed. It did not engage me as a reader and felt more about the author dropping in numerous literary quotations and references to music. It also centred a great deal around James Joyce’s Ulysses, and, never having read that, the various plots and subplots around a trip to Ireland rather passed me by.  Not my kind of a book. Sue, a member of our group…

trieste dublinesque

On Saturday 18th May, we visited the Free Word Centre in London to share our interest and ideas with other reading groups, writers, translators and the fantastic organisers of the day.  The programme of events was great.  We listened to a super young Turkish writer talking about how she writes in English but works very closely with her translator when translating into her mother tongue, she doesn’t translate her own books!   We watched interviews with authors and translators about their work, heard a fascinating presentation from journalist Ann Morgan who took a year to read a book from every country in the world (read her blog here) and watched a translation duel!  this consisted of two translators of the Spanish language translating the beginning of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.  We had a wonderful day and all enjoyed it so much!  We should like to thank The Reading Agency, Booktrust, English PEN and the British Centre for Literary Translation for this opportunity.  Needless to say, one of our next books to read will be the official winner of the prize, which was announced on Monday evening:  The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker.

The Detour

Our School Principal has just read and enjoyed the book Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler.  It sounds like a fascinating read.  Mr Steed says:  “Its central thesis is that new technologies are going to solve many of the world’s resource problems over the coming ten to twenty years, bringing about a world of future abundance.”   For a more in-depth review, visit  Mr Steed’s blog, please click here.   You can also visit the authors’ website by clicking here

abundance

It is so good to have a book published which is optimistic and expresses the notion of a brighter world ahead…

We had a small but very good gathering on Tuesday 30th April in our Common Room.

We discussed two books:  The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson and Patrick Hennessey’s The Junior Officers’ Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars.

Some of us had read both books and the rest of us, just one.  Those who had read The Ice Cream Girls, had, on the whole, enjoyed it and thought of it as a bit of a page-turner.  It was an easy read, despite the difficult subject matter: two girls were accused of killing a young teacher who had coerced them into having sexual relationships with him during a period of a year, when they were fifteen and sixteen years old.  Due to his persuasive nature, they believed that he was truly in love with them and complied with his demands, even when he became violent.  The book begins some seventeen years later when one of the girls has served a prison sentence for his murder and the other has been able to create a new successful life for herself (although the memories of her past and the reappearance of the other girl are destined to bring it all up again).  It’s well-written and moves at a fast pace but we did find the ending somewhat disappointing.  Read it and see if you agree!  You may have seen the recent dramatisation on ITV – read, watch, then compare!   I listened to a very interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 yesterday which featured a case of two women in very similar circumstances whereby they explain how they were indeed drawn in in this way by a favourite teacher (click here to learn more), the showing of the ITV drama is very timely.

ice-cream-girls dorothy koomson

 

The Junior Officers’ Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars saw Patrick Hennessey mature from a precocious Berkhamsted schoolboy to a gung-ho army officer through to a reflective young man who has seen war.  It is interesting to read of his schooldays and recognise characters in his book, mostly unnamed, which is probably a good thing!  It follows his time at Sandhurst and then onto war.  Patrick has subsequently written Kandak: Fighting with Afghans about his time in Afghanistan spent forging bonds and friendships with local soldiers.  He has visited our school twice in the last three years to speak to our Year 12 students as part of their tutorial programme and been well-received both times.  He has now left the army and is a writer and Human Rights lawyer based in London.

Poster "The camp library is yours - Read ...

Poster “The camp library is yours – Read to win the war. You will find popular books for fighting men in the recreational buildings and at other points in this camp. Free. No red tape. Open every day. Good reading will help you advance. Library War Service, American Library Association.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 500 other followers

%d bloggers like this: