It’s the end of term!

Hear ye, hear ye! Read all about it!

Here at Berkhamsted, we have just half a day left of this term, and so, to finish, we produced a newsletter letting everyone in school know what we’ve been doing in the libraries this term.  We would like to share this with you.  How do you communicate with the rest of your schools and organisations about what you do?  It would be great to hear about what happens in other libraries…

The major event of the term has been the official opening of our School Archive Exhibition Room, which features on pages 4 and 5.  We have developed the Archive extensively over the past two to three years, with one of our librarians obtaining archivist qualifications, meaning that she is now the school’s official archivist, and the assignment of three rooms, fittingly, in the oldest part of the school to house the Exhibition Room, Archive Office and Store.  We hold fascinating material covering the life of the school since its foundation in 1541, from an original building, to seals of appointments of Headmasters, and a prefect book (annotated by Charles Henry Greene, author Graham Greene’s father, with details of old boys who died during the Great War,  he was Headmaster here during that time).  We have samples of uniform which spans the early decades of the twentieth century, for both boys and girls, copies of school magazines and much much more.  If you are an Old Berkhamstedian, perhaps you would like to make arrangements to visit one day.  Please do take a look at our website dedicated to the archive, by clicking here.

We have also housed an exhibition of students’ artwork which was undertaken to reflect what World War I meant to Berkhamsted School.  Give that our library on our Castle Campus is a Memorial Library to the memory of boys and members of all staff who served during the War, it seemed very fitting for us to display this artwork.

We also cover our subscriptions to e-resources and our celebration of World Book Day 2015, which took place on Thursday 5th March.

We hope that you enjoy taking a look!

first page lent 15

Click on the link below to read!

Lent 2015 blog ed.

Berkhamsted School Christmas Reads (4)

Mrs Koulouris, an avid reader and our school Archivist, has sent me reviews of the books which she read over the holidays.  She starts with Takashi Hiraide’s novel The Guest Cat:

“A quirky Japanese tale about a little white cat called ‘Chibi’ and the effect she has on a married couple.”  Nielsen Bookdata Online has the following to add about this story: “A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another. One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again. The Guest Cat is an exceptionally moving and beautiful novel about the nature of life and the way it feels to live it.”  It sounds enchanting!

We follow this with a review of Mark Mills’s tale, Waiting for Doggo.  Mrs Koulouris writes:

“Clara dumps boyfriend Dan, leaving Doggo, an ‘ugly mutt’ for him to look after. This story tells of the relationship between Dan and Doggo. A good little read, even if you’re not a dog lover.”  Two to contrast and compare, I feel.

Thirdly, we learn how Mrs Koulouris feels about A game with dice by Michael Arnold, which has a personal resonance for her:

“The Nazis are invading Poland and a small boy and his Mother escape through Italy to the safety of an Aunt and Uncle in Baghdad ….. so begins the story of a boy who has a friend in King Faisal II, boards at schools in Cairo and Alexandria,completes his secondary education at Berkhamsted School in the 40s/50s, changes his name and does his National Service with the British Army. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, the boy had the freedom and adventures that seldom exist now. It also had special significance for me, as he started at Berkhamsted School in the same year as my Father and I was reading about people that Dad has talked about on numerous occasions.

(There is a follow up book  – Their Manners Noted).”  A must for all Berkhamstedians…

Finally, Mrs Koulouris tells us of her special Christmas book, The Christmas Miracle by Jonathan Toomey:

“Each Christmas I set out to buy an illustrated Christmas story. This year I bought ‘Snow’ by Walter de la Mare.  One of my favourites though is ‘The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey’ which is beautifully illustrated by P.J.Lynch and I read it again for the umpteenth time at Christmas. Once I’d read that and watched my two favourite films, my Christmas had started.”  Fantastic stuff!

11th November ~ Lest we forget


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

World Book Day : celebrations in school, part 3

In  part 3, we are looking at responses from three more members of staff at Berkhamsted School and their current favourite books, together with those of their classes.

Mr Maxted’s recommendation for this year is A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen.  He says:

‘I read some excerpts from A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen to my Year 9 boys and my Year 13 group this morning. I talked to them about how Bob has helped James to turn his life around after his heroin addiction and mentioned that the sequel, The World according to Bob, has just been published. One of my students mentioned that she has seen Bob a couple of times, draped around James’ neck in Covent Garden!’  My daughters and I have also seen Bob and James in Covent Garden and I have found this story heart-warming.

If you like this story, why don’t you try Dewey the Library cat: A True Story by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter?  Vicki found Dewey as a kitten who had been put through the dropbox at the town library in Iowa where she worked, on the coldest night of the year and she tells the tale of how he became the resident library cat who made the library an even more welcoming place!

Mr Bridle went for something more in keeping with his interest in military history, being a committed member of the CCF.  He says:

‘I talked to my year 8s and 9s about a book I have got for a couple of the boys to read called Commando by Brigadier John Durnford-Slater. It is an account of his time commanding No. 3 Commando during the Second World War. I read them a couple of the stories in it, they seemed interested and 3 of them are going to read it over Easter.’   Sounds engaging for boys of any age!

Mr Baker inspired his boys’ classes to engage with each other talking about books they enjoy:

‘The point I stressed was that they should be asking each other for advice about which books to read – they were so enthusiastic about telling each other about the great books they were reading that I wanted that enthusiasm to spread within the class (particularly to those students who struggled to pick books for themselves).’

World Book Day : celebrations in school, part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our World Book Day celebrations posts.  Today we are focusing on recommendations from our Economics Department here at Berkhamsted School and not one economics- or business-related title amongst them!

They all look like fascinating books and include three great fiction reads, an autobiography, a history book and an inspirational book helping us to rethink how to be successful…  Take your pick from this list:

1.   Mr Cowie has suggested Vanished kingdoms : the history of half-forgotten Europe by Norman Davies.

This sounds like a truly fascinating book about Europe’s lost realms.  Who knows what happened to the lost Empire of Aragon or the kingdoms of Burgundy?  The author also considers which

current nations could disappear or become a distant memory in the future…  An alternative historical read for you…

2.   In the withaak’s shade by Herman Charles Bosman was Mr Pain’s choice.  This book tells the story of a farmer, Oom Schalk, who goes out to the bushveld to look for his cattle.  He decides to rest beneath the withaak tree and look out from his seated position there for his cattle.  While he is at rest, a leopard approaches, sniffs at him and then lies down and goes to sleep at his side!  When he tries to tell others about his experience later, unsurprisingly he is not believed.  I would like to read this story myself…

3.   Mr Fung shared his book of the moment with his classes and this was Bear Grylls‘s autobiography, Mud, Sweat and Tears.  Grylls tells of his early life when his father taught him to sail and love the outdoor life and how he was later inspired to take up the most strenuous of challenges that a human can put him/herself through.  He describes how an horrific accident which led to his back being broken in three places nearly paralysed him, threatening  the achievement of the most basic of  functions, let alone continuing to pursue adventures and explore the natural world…

4.   Mr Foster’s offering is Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.  A satirical indictment of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it is how one reviewer on Nielsen Bookdata Online  describes this novel.  Although I haven’t yet read the book myself, I feel that it is one that I must.  Captain Yossarian is a bombardier in the Army Air Forces whose job is to bomb enemy positions in Italy and France, he turns his mission into one of survival.

5.  Mr Medaris has recommended two titles to his students this year.  The first, Every man dies alone by Hans Fallada, is a fictional story based on the true to life experiences of a husband and his wife, who, acting alone, became part of the German Resistance by writing postcards describing the appalling activities of  the Nazi-led German Government during the Second World War.  The story tells how the couple were eventually discovered, denounced, arrested, tried and executed.  This book was one of the first anti-Nazi German novels to be published after the end of the war, the author dying not long after its completion, prior to the date of publication.  I feel that this is an important book of the mid-twentieth century, another to add to the ever-growing list of books to read…

Mr Medaris’s second choice is Geoff Colvin‘s text Talent is overrated :  What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.  This text provides an argument that talent alone is not enough to be really successful, one needs to understand the concept of deliberate practice.  Colvin maintains that if you take this route, with dedicated practice and perseverance which is honed over time, you will be following in the footsteps of world-renowned successful people such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Winston Churchill and Tiger Woods, to name but three.  Read the book to glean so much more!

vanishedkingdoms inthewithaak mudsweatandtears catch22 everyman talentisoverrated