Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guys and Dolls

 The recent excellent production of Guys and Dolls, this year's College Musical, is here reviewed by Fifth Former Courtney McKee:

Walking into the BSR, all that greeted the audience was a silhouette of a city skyline on a plain white sheet. The empty stage seemed to yearn for colour, for the hustle and bustle of New York streets. Where was the noise, the chaos, the yellow cabs? This was Guys and Dolls, right? However, the simplicity of the stage did not foreshadow what was to unfold. The set, it soon became clear, was mere respite from the vibrancy of the costumes, music, and of course actors.

Guys and Dolls has delighted audiences since its premiere on Broadway in 1950, and SCC Drama’s production was no exception. Under the skilful stage direction of Ronan Swift and Tristan Clarke, a handsome collection of put-together, well-dressed, shirt-tucked-in boarding school students were transformed into a ragtag band of petty innercity criminals. Fedoras and Brooklyn accents abounded. The actors pulled off 1940s gangsters well, led by Harry Oke-Osanyintula and Alex Russell as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Benny Southstreet respectively. Playing off each other’s energy, the pair elevated each scene with their vigour and near Broadway-esque musicality.

It seemed to be the songs, directed by musical producer Geraldine Malone Brady, which really captured the audience’s heart. Tunes like ‘Sue Me’ and ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat’ echoed through St Columba’s halls for days. A particular favourite was ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’, a duet between the gambler Sky Masterson, played by Max Hillery, and Mission Leader Sarah Brown, played by Robyn Brady. It wasn’t only the romance of the scene, which would’ve made the strongest of men go ‘aww’, it was also the execution of the notes and compatibility of their voices that really struck. It sounded beautiful, with just a touch of rawness that added to the sentiment of the scene.

Far from the nervous uncertainty of blossoming love was the fourteen year-old engagement of Nathan Detroit, played by MJ McCullough, and Miss Adelaide, played by Ciana Taylor. They were the picture of domestic discord. The ‘reluctant boyfriend trying to appease his eager girlfriend without actually doing what she wants’ thing was down pat. Shrill, nasal, and yet endearing, Ciana Taylor’s portrayal of the eccentrically desperate Miss Adelaide earned her the deserved spot of standout performer of the production.

It doesn’t matter how it’s dressed up. It could be a white sheet or an entire replica of 42nd Street. However one chooses to do it, Guys and Dolls is good pure entertainment. Witty dialogue, droll characterization, and Big Jule from Chicago (James O’Connor) never fail. The right amount of opportune one-liners and dance numbers makes any play enjoyable, it’s a straight fact. Since 1950, Guys and Dolls has been a great way to spend a Saturday night and it sure is now.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Claire Keegan on writing

Saturday, November 21, 2015

TY Book recommendations: Hesse & Dicker

Pia Zulauf recommends Hermann Hesses's Siddhartha:

"Hermann Hesse represents in the legend of Siddhartha a man, who frees himself from family and social conventions, but also rejects any dogma and finds its own way. This leads away from his scholarly father through a long time of searching and getting lost and ends up in nature - at a river as the symbol of permanence and change. The book is a plea against slavery and adaptation. Siddhartha was really impressive for me and gave me a lot of stuff to think about. I would recommend it to anybody who is interested in the sipiritual topic of self discovery."

Ivan Moffitt recommends Joel Dicker's The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair:

"This book is a thoroughly enjoyable read. With over a thousand pages some may be quite skeptical to start with but I managed to read it in three days, just to give you an idea of its quality. It is about a journalist who decides to investigate his life-long friend's murder case because he believes him when he says he's innocent. He ends up caught in the whirlpool of the Somerset murder case. The story follows three or four intertwined smaller stories that seem to have no connection but end up with complete relevance to each other with so many twists."

Monday, November 09, 2015

Digital Platform for Contemporary Irish Writing

An article in the Irish Times on Saturday highlights an excellent new website and resource for students, the Digital Platform for Contemporary Irish Writing from the School of English at UCD. Margaret Kelleher, Chair of Anglo-Irish literature and Drama at UCD, explains: 

"As our team members write on our blog, this is a “platform” and not simply a website or a resource, because we intend it to act as a springboard for interested parties – writers, publishers, academics and readers – to discuss how the richness and diversity of contemporary Irish writing can best be made known at home and abroad"

So worth checking out are the pages on two of the texts we are studying for the Leaving Certificate comparative module:

and much more.

Articles of the Week

This is an ongoing listing of links to the Articles of the Week used with our Leaving Certificate pupils, from September 2013 onwards.

The idea came from the American teacher and writer Kelly Gallagher, and it fits very well into the Leaving course, getting pupils used to reading interesting articles and thus helping them in both the comprehension and composition sections of their Paper 1, as well as expanding their knowledge base and vocabulary and providing interesting topics for discussion.

Click here for Gallagher's current articles, and read more about the theory behind the scheme in his excellent book Readicide: how schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Pupils have to mark up the articles with annotations before class discussion.

  1. November 2015: 'How psychopaths can save your life' by Kevin Dutton, The Observer [psychology].
  2. November 2015: '10 benefits of reading: why you should read every day' by Lana Winter-Hebert, [reading, entertainment, education].
  3. October 2015: 'How much can you really learn while you're asleep?' by Jordan Gaines Lewis, The Guardian, October 6th 2015 [neuroscience, learning, adolescence].
  4. September 2015: 'Fifth of secondary school pupils wake almost every night to use social media' by Sally Weale, The Guardian, September 15th 2015 [social media, learning, teenagers].
  5. September 2015: 'How Mum's dementia changed our relationship' by Jenny Downham, The Guardian, September 5th 2015 [dementia, family, parenting].
  6. September 2015: Why your memory sucks: the science of remembering in the internet age', by Lindsay Kolowich,, August 19th 2015 [memory, neurology, internet].
  7. September 2015: 'Syrian boy deserves better than moment of voyeurism' by Breda O'Brien, The Irish Times, September 5th 2015 [regugees, media, slavery].
  8. May 2015: 'Our Mockingbirds' by Fintan O'Mahony,, May 16th 2015 [marriage, equality, teaching].
  9. February 2015: 'Secrets of the teenage brain' by Katie Forster, The Guardian, January 25th 2015 [teenagers, neurology, parenting].
  10. January 2015: 'Does competitive sport in school do more harm than good?' by Matthew Jenkin, The Guardian, January 29th 2015 [sport, school, health].
  11. January 2015: 'Where are the "Je suis Nigeria" banners?' by Patrick Cockburn, Independent, January 18th 2015 [terrorism, Nigeria, censorship].
  12. January 2015: 'Dorchester Grill: restaurant review' by Jay Rayner, Guardian, December 28th 2014 [food, luxury, taste].
  13. January 2015: 'Sugar Season. It's Everywhere, and Addictive' by James J. DiNicolantonio and Sean C. Lucan,  New York Times, December 22nd 2014 [diet, nutrition, health].
  14. November 2014: 'Caring for my mother' by Alex Andreou, The Guardian, November 28th [dementia, old age, parents]. 
  15.  October 2014: 'The kids aren't all right' by David McWilliams,, October 23th 2014 [Ireland, recession, emigration]. 
  16. October 2014: 'Curiosity prepares the brain for better learning' by Daisy Yuhas, Scientific American, October 2nd 2014 [brain, learning, neuroscience]. 
  17. September 2014: 'Students protest 'slut shaming' high school dress codes with mass walkouts' by Rory Carroll, The Guardian, September 24th September 2014 [school, uniforms, sexism, personal choice].  
  18.  September 2014: 'Can Reading Make You Smarter?' by Dan Hurley, The Guardian, January 23rd 2014 [reading, intelligence, education].
  19.  September 2014: 'Why ISIL is worse than al-Qaeda'  by Bobby Ghosh, Quartz, August 10th 2014 [current affairs, politics, terrorism].
  20.  May 2014: 'Do Our Kids Get Off Too Easily?' by Alfie Kohn, New York Times, May 3rd 2015 [education, psychology, childhood]. 
  21. May 2014: 'Missing Nigerian schoolgirls: Boko Harem claims responsibility for kidnapping' by Monica Mark, The Guardian, May 6th 2014 [Nigeria, Islam].
  22.  March 2014: 'Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?' by Ben Carter, BBC News Magazine, March 1st 2014 [education, skill, learning, talent].
  23.  February 2014: The Disunited Kingdom by Kathleen Jamie, New York Times, February 23rd 2014 [Scotland, democracy, politics].
  24.  February 2014: A giraffe has been killed - why the fuss? by Mary Warnock, The Guardian, February 10th 2014 [ethics, animals].
  25.  January 2014: The Roma - review of I Met Lucky People by Yaron Matras, by Sukhdev Sandhu, The Guardian, January 29th 2014 [Roma, prejudice, society]. 
  26. January 2014: 'We're a nation of mass dog murderers' by Aaron McKenna, The, January 18th 2014 [animals, society].
  27. January 2014: 'How Language Seems to Shape One's View of the World' by Alan Yu, NPR, January 2nd 2014 [language, bilingualism, brain].
  28. December 2013: 'Why European women are still smoking like chimneys' by Carmel Lobello, The Week, December 6th 2013 [health, marketing].
  29. December 2013: 'How Music Makes Us Feel Better' by Maria Konnikova, New Yorker, September 26th 2013 [music, brain].
  30. November 2013: 'How Do Spies Bug Phones?' in The Economist, October 31st 2013 [spying, internet, privacy]. 
  31. October 2013: 'A Tiny Pronoun Says a Lot About You' by Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal, October 7th 2013 [language, psychology, status].
  32. October 2013: 'Best. Column. Ever.' by Shane Hegarty, Irish Times, October 4th 2013 [sport, language, journalism].
  33. October 2013: 'Westgate mall attacks: urban areas are the battleground of the 21st century' by David Kilcullen, The Guardian, September 27th 2013 [terrorism, conflict, cities].
  34. September 2013: 'Synesthesia Sells' by Laura Spinney, Slate, from the New Scientist, September 22nd 2013 [science, marketing, commerce].
  35. September 2013 : '12 things we know about how the brain works' by Shane Parrish, The Week, August 26th 2013 [science, learning, studying].
  36. September : 'Never be lost for words' by Richard Fitzpatrick, The Irish Times, September 13th 2013 [sport, language, rhetoric, motivation].

Saturday, November 07, 2015

TY Books: Green, Picoult

Sasha Cole recommends Looking for Alaska by John Green, which she has read for her Extended Essay:

"Looking for Alaska is about a teenage boy named Miles who moves to a boarding school in Alabama. He soon falls for Alaska, one of his best friends who is mysterious and has a unfortunate past. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because I think it showed what young people can get up to, how they pull pranks on each other, and relationships in a boarding school. I found I could relate to some of the characters in this book especially since I have been in a boarding school since I was 11. I would recommend this book because the characters are interesting as they all have different sides to each of them. I couldn't put this book down, it made me laugh and there was always something happening."

And Kate Bewley recommends My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult:

"I would recommend this book because it is not like my other book that I am doing, It has a twist to it. It is about a girl called Sarah  who sues her parents for the rights of her own body because she donates her organs to her sick sister Kate, but one of the twists is that  Kate asks her to because she feels bad.  And the book is about how the parents deal with being sued. I think that it is such a great book because it is very different to all the other cancer books. I would definitely recommend it."

Monday, November 02, 2015

TY books: Winman, Christie

This morning we resumed term, and Transition Year have two weeks of intense writing ahead of them for their Extended Essays. Here are two more short recommendtions based on their reading.

Sofiya Finageeva has read When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman:
"I was really impressed with this book. The author wanted to show us different sides of love, and  the different ways to express it. It shows us that friendship, family relationships, having a pet - they are all kinds of love, and we have to work on them, to make these relationships stronger. It tells us about what the friendship can be, and, in my opinion, should be. The girl's story in the book was funny, sweet and sometimes really sad. It tells us about her attempts to overcome difficulties. I was crying a few times while I was reading this book. It is a beautiful book and there are lots of things to think about. I would recommend this book".

Eva Perez Sanchez read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie:
"Do you like detective, crime, and mystery novels? Then you should read this novel. Also, if your first language is not English, like me, then this is also a good book for you.

The book is set in England, in the early nineteen hundreds, most of the time in a train. From the moment you start to read it, you can appreciate a mysterious atmosphere, with a couple of strange glances between characters. The novel tells of an adventure with Hercule Poirot as the main character, during a trip to England by train, where he found a very strange death, with a lot of suspects with very strong alibis, and it seems that anyone could have committed the crime.

I really recommend this book because I think it is one of the best books I have ever read, and you can get into the story as if you were there. All the characters, alibis, unexpected problems, make you see what is happening. I really like the end, because you would never imagine how it would turn out. And also, the brilliance of Agatha Christie to write this kind of novels and the intelligence of Poirot just make you love this book."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

King Lear 5: I ii - Excellent foppery

The fifth moment in a series on King Lear via ShowMe, looking at Edmund's response to his father's belief that people are behaving badly due to planetary movements:

TY Books: Zusak, Ellis

Two more recommendations from TY pupils preparing for their Extended Essays:

Henry Carroll has read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak:
"I thought this book was brilliant, I really enjoyed the way the narrator could see what Liesel was thinking as well as what was actually happening: there is a lot of debate over whether the book is narrated by death itself, which I only heard about after reading the book, and this revitalised my interst in the book. My favourite scene from the book is when Liesel takes a book from a Nazi burning. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would strongly recommend it."

Saffron Perceval comments on American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis:
"If anyone has the idea to read this book I'd recommend re-thinking that idea. It's not that the book is written badly, in fact it's just the opposite. The style is very plain in the sense it's blunt. I think there should be an age limit of only sixteen year olds and up for who can read this book. In the rating I answered quite enjoyable but this doesn't quite fit the reading experience. Nor do any of the other options available. I think the terms harsh, controlled, careful apply and bleak. American Psycho I think can only be described as a black comedy about a world we all see but never admit to be there."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

House Speech Competition

Another review of the recent TY House Speech Competition, this time from a different angle, by Alex Lawrence:

The lead-up to who would get picked  for the House Speeches was a tense situation to say the least. Everyone in Stackallan was convinced that they would be cruelly chosen to stand up in front of the whole school, petrified, and speak on some random topic of their choice. The days slipped by and before we all knew it we were trudging up to the BSR, like convicted men taking their last walk to the gallows. The whole affair went by pretty quickly and the only bit I really remember was when Mr Jameson went to call the names for Stack, I was praying to anyone who was listening that I wouldn’t be chosen: it felt a lot like The Hunger Games come to think of it.
Felix Mertes was the first to be called, then Wenzel Manegold and finally...Gabriel. The relief I felt when he said Gabriel’s name was as if I had just been plucked from the jaws of death. During the lead-up to the practices and the real thing, we were required to help out with those writing their speeches. In the English classes we would listen to what they had got so far and then offer pointers and help with it. The biggest hassle for some seemed to be which subject to base their speech on and not the actual writing which in my opinion was mostly very fluent, witty and clever.
Most of the speakers did eventually find a topic they thought would be good to speak on, even though they may have had to change their ideas: for example, Henry went through football to Irish accents before he landed on human trafficking. The speakers for Stack were a pretty mixed bunch when it came to nerves. Felix was very stressed and was constantly going over his speech and timing himself and so on, Wenzel seemed perfectly calm and I didn’t see him practising furiously before a practice once and Gabe acted as if there was no difference and didn’t even talk about it. The night of the speeches came very quickly but talking to some of those who were speaking although they were all terrified, had a good speech ready to go.
I was very impressed right away with the first speech by Sasha Cole on Bad Habits, and was struck by how clearly all the speakers spoke and how witty some of the speeches were, like Richard Dennis with his speech on Silly Laws or Iman talking about indoor plumbing, which as one might expect brought about a fair bit of laughter. There was a huge spectrum of speeches, ranging from some very funny speeches like Iman’s, to some very serious topics like Felix Mertes and Wenzel’s speeches on the Refugee Crisis in Syria. The whole night was very enjoyable and I was also very proud when Felix and Wenzel came first and second overall and Stack also was the winning house, though this wasn’t too much of a surprise as they were both very good with their  delivery and had some very strong points in their speeches - especially Wenzel who made it personal when he talked about two refugees his family had taken in. 

I thought that the House Speeches was a great event and thought that it benefitted those who spoke greatly as it forced them out of their comfort zones and into the unknown.                                

Friday, October 16, 2015

Louise O'Neill visit

As part of Bullying Awareness Week 2015, the writer Louise O'Neill yesterday read and talked to Sixth and Fifth Formers. Her first book was Only Ever Yours, but most discussion was on her latest, the powerful Asking for It, particularly around issues of sexual asssault, sexual consent and social media.

Louise read an extract from the novel, in which the central character, Emma, is devastated in the aftermath of a terrible event. She then talked about how the long-term effects of bullying (even for a five year-old), and how the impact can be long-lasting. She said both researching and writing Asking for It had finally left her almost mentally exhausted, and how it is only now that she feels ready to write again. She answered many questions from the pupils in a highly articulate, persuasive and often amusing manner. 

The animation below about consent was mentioned, and is worth looking at.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

'Hamlet' via NTLive

Tonight, all Fifth Form go to the NTLive showing of Hamlet, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, at the cinema in Dundrum. Here is the official trailer.

King Lear 4: I i - Unruly waywardness

The fourth moment from analysed via ShowMe comes from the very end of the first scene.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

TY Books: Ness, Hinton

Two more Extended Essay book recommendations.

Sebastian Fitzgibbon recommends Patrick Ness's More Than This:

"This book blew me away. For me, the problem with a lot of books is that after the first few pages, the lack of intrigue stops. Not all books do this, but many have in my experience. Patrick Ness writes such an incredibly laid out story that literally every few pages something happens. It opens up with the main character committing suicide by drowning himself in violent seas. Then it goes to him waking up: he can't move, he can't see, he can't see and he can't see. Slowly but surely he regains all his abilities and begins to walk around, completely and utterly, alone. Not a single soul in sight. Where is he, was my first question, Hell? Heaven? Limbo? A new planet or another universe? Is he just dreaming and did he really die? You don't even know if those questions will be answered for you. By the end of the book I desperately hoped for a sequel while at the same time was worried the book would be ruined as a result. This was my experience when reading this book. In conclusion I would give it 10/10 and highly recommend to people to read it."

And Emily Torkington has read S.E. Hinton's classic, The Outsiders:

"The Outsiders is a book that is set in America in the 1960's. It is about two rival gangs called the socs and the greasers. It follows a fourteen year old boy called Ponyboy Curtis, his brothers and fellow gang members, and tells the story of some of their struggles and life events. 

I thought that this was a very good book, and it really kept me hooked until the end of the novel. I liked that this was based on real gangs in America, and that made the story even more interesting and realistic, along with the fact that the author wrote this book when she was 15, and had spent time with both these groups. I would highly recommend this book to people."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

King Lear 3: I i - See better

The third revision ShowMe from King Lear also looks at a moment in Act I scene i, one which introduces a key trope in the play.

TY House Speech Competition

Here is an account of the recent TY House Speech Competition, organised by the Department, by Nyla Jamieson:

After just over a week of getting ready, the ten speakers who had been chosen had to give their speeches in front of the school. 

Nathalie Verwijs was the presenter of the evening. She started the event off by welcoming us all and introducing the judges, Mr McCarthy, Mr. Duffy and last year’s house speeches winner, Ella Ejase-Tobrise. She then went on to introduce the first speaker, Sasha Cole.

Sasha was speaking for Iona House about bad habits. This, I feel was a relevant topic. I thought she did very well taking into account how difficult it must have been to be the first speaker. She started her speech with examples of bad habits like biting your nails, gambling and saying the word “like” repeatedly in a sentence. I thought that this was a good opening as I personally can relate to the latter of the three. She then went on to talk about a story which gave the moral that the longer you have a bad habit the more difficult it is to get rid of it. Sasha then gave some helpful advice on how to get rid of bad habits by replacing them with better ones. She left us with the question “how are you going to break your bad habits?” This in my opinion was a strong ending as it left us with something to think about. 

Nathalie came back on to introduce the next speaker, Richard Dennis. He was speaking about stupid laws. He made it personal to his audience by giving a Columba's rule of not being allowed to swim outside of the school as an example. He proceeded to give us many humorous examples like how prostetution is legal in Sweden but hiring a prostetute is not. He added more humour still by telling us that the penalty for jumping off a building is death and followed it with the comment “Who'd have thought it?”

The tone was then changed as Felix Mertes who was speaking for Stackallan on the refugee crisis, came on. He told us the story of a  father and son who were refugees who were tripped up by a camerawoman and while they went on to become football stars she lost her job. He stressed how these happy stories are few and far between as only 2% of the refugees reach Europe and even then are rarely allowed to stay. He went on to the example of his home country, Germany making the speech more personal. He acknowledged that “cultures will clash and there will be difficulties” but he urged us to take in the refugees. He seemed to have a strong opinion, spoke clearly and knew the facts. This made his speech believable. 

Saffron Perceval then talked about short people problems. She gave a funny speech about the issues of being cute, friends holding things over your head, shelves and getting lost. 

Felix Alyn Morgan then gave a very dynamic speech about Wales. His topics varied from stereotypes to rugby. His pride was evident when he told us of the 26 times that Wales have won the Six Nations. He then involved the audience by giving a lesson in Welsh and following that he talked about the famous Welsh singer, Tom Jones, before bursting into song. He sung a part of Jones’s song “It's not unusual to be loved by anyone.”

Iman Samimi then spoke about toilets. He managed to make his speech very amusing while making it factual. An example of a fact I learnt from his speech is that modern plumbing dates back to 6000 B.C.

Nathalie then introduced Kitty Morris who gave  one of my favourite speeches of the night. She spoke about being the unloved child. In my opinion she started the speech off very well with the line of importance in her family which ended up with her not only being ranked lower than all of her family members but also behind her dogs and the hockey sticks. She proceeded to give many examples of how unloved she is which were put in such a way that they were really funny. 

Wenzel Manegold was the only person who actually volunteered to do a speech. He represented Stackallan and for the second time in the evening we heard about refugees. He did, however, manage to make his speech different to his housemate Felix’s. He told us a personal story of two refugees that he knows, Sami and Ali. He told of how Ali was an orphan. He was tortured in  Libya and so he tried to move to Italy but the boat sank meaning he ended up in Austria. From there he managed to make his way to Germany. Wenzel highlighted the importance of integrating the refugees. He left us with a question to ponder on: “ What do you do for the refugees?”

From Hollypark we had Sasha Sharykina who spoke about fears. She listed her fears and then advised us on overcoming our fears. She spoke about the first man in space and told us of how he faced his fears. She encouraged us to do the same and left us with the inspirational quote “ it's okay to have fears but something that's not okay is to let those fears control you.”

Nathalie then introduced the final speaker Henry Carroll. He gave his speech on human trafficking. From him we received the shocking fact that a slave is only worth €72 on average which is just more than a game of Fifa 16. He involved the audience twice in his speech requesting a show of hands. I thought that Henry was another very good speaker. 

The judges then decided on the winners with first place going to Wenzel from Stackallan, second place going to Felix Mertes and third place going to Henry. 

Overall I think it was an enjoyable and interesting evening and all the speakers did a very commendable job. Congratulations to the winner Wenzel Manegold.

Monday, October 12, 2015

TY Recommendations 2: 'The Curious Incident'

Alex Lawrence is reading Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for his Extended Essay, and writes:

"The book is very intricate and shows a lot about a mental condition from the perspective of the one who is affected, which in itself I think is a unique theme and extremely interesting. The book follows the adventure of a fifteen year old boy, called Christopher Boone, as he tries to find out who killed a neighbour's dog and in turn discovers a lot about his family, the situation of his parents and himself. We are not told specifically Christopher's condition but the book refers to Asperger's syndrome, high-functioning autism and savant syndrome. The book shows what it is like to be a outsider, and in particular of one with these conditions and shows how they might see the world. For these reasons I would highly recommend the book to others looking for a interesting and eye opening read."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

TY Book Recommendation: 'After'

Over the next couple of weeks we will, as usual at this time of the year, be posting brief recommendations of books that TY pupils have read/are reading for their Extended Essays (which will be written after half-term). The first is Morris Gleitzman's After, recommended by Felix Mertes:

After is about a young Jewish boy named Felix who is trying to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland. On his way he meets generous and friendly people, but also cruel and dangerous ones.

I liked the book because I am very interested in World War II. It is written in the slightly naive perspective of a 10 year old. He therefore interprets events in a childish manner, which is very interesting to see.

The story is also very good, full of tension, drama and unexpected events. The story is also very realistic, and likely to have happened. I like that as the book doesn't exaggerate and gives a good view if what things were like back then.

I would recommend this book for people over 13, as some tragic and sad incidents occur. You also need to have a background knowledge to fully understand the book.

But in the end I would highly recommend this book and give it a 9/10.