Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Past 2011, 6

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I wake, my eyes still dim from sleep. The first thing I see is my breath rising slowly from my mouth. I pull my covers up a little higher. It is freezing. I can see frost on the window glistening, small shapes from the sunlight streaming in. 

I see slight flakes of snow falling from the sky like the sugar you put on cakes. I feel a ping of delight move quickly through my whole body. I smile. It's Christmas.

I sit up and feel the cold hit me properly once the warmth and safety of the sheets have fallen off my body, no longer protecting me from the harsh winter cold. I step out of bed and begin to smile. I think about what the day has to offer - cheer, merriment, a fantastic Christmas turkey stuffed to the brim, gravy sliding off it, a platter of roast potatoes. My mouth begins to water.  Then I think of the most obvious thing that comes to any child's thoughts at this time: presents! I feel excitement gorw as I think about tearing into the delicately wrapped boxes of pure joy. I say out loud to myself "This is going to be a good day." 

One of the most memorable Christmases of my life was in 2004. I was at the coast in Kenya with friends for the holiday. Our house was right on the beach; the sound of waves crashing at night was deafening. Christmas Day itself was relatively normal. I don't remember any details from it.

It was the day after, Boxing Day, that was incredibly eventful. We were all sitting around the breakfast table when my Mum's friend got a text. It was from his friend in Sri Lanka. It read: There is a 200-ft tsunami coming yr way at 300 ks per hour. Get to high ground. This should have scattered us in panic, but I think the surreal nature of it caused us to stay sitting, and start a conversation on the topic "If you had to choose three things to pick up and run with from the tsunami, what would they be?" There were plenty of silly answers, including my brother's: "I'd take a fridge that is always full of food. And my stocking." 

Eventually, one of the adults brought us back to reality by saying, "I think we's better get a move on, then." We did, and grabbed more sensible items such as passports and money. We got into three cars and drove up to the hills, telling everyone we passed to get their families and do the same. 

We got to the top of a ridge and sat there for about half an hour with binoculars aimed at the seashore, trying to spy the incoming tidal wave. For some mad reason, then we decided we didn't want to miss it, and proceeded to drive right back down to our house. This was certainly not the most intelligent thing to do, and could have earned us all Darwin Awards.

We waited until the end of the day in expectation, but the wave never came. Later, it turned out that the tsunami had actually hit us during our pre-breakfast swim, but the reef out at sea had prevented it from making any impact. 

I support you could say we were just incredibly lucky.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Past 2011, 5

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My memory of Christmas is when my younger cousin, Aidan, said that he wanted to leave a mince pie and a glasis boy was tws of milk out for Santa Claus. Bear in mind that this boy was twelve. Twleve. I giggled nervously and hoped that he was just joking. I turned around to see him looking at me inquisitively, wondering why I was laughing. I said to him sceptically, "Aid, you do know Santa's not real, yeah?"

At that moment, Aidan's face drained of all colour, his eyes filled with tears and his shoulders slumped forward as though he was carrying a heavy schoolbag, and he ran out of the room crying so hard. He sounded as though he was in real pain. The guilt I felt may have been the worst feeling I've had in my life.

The drawing room. The place where it all happens, the room that has that Christmas smell,'t
the room that is Christmas.

I can't describe that smell. That foresty smell you get from the tree. The smell of burning logs, the smell of crisp paper. And the strong smell of my Granny's Chanel perfume.

The sound of the crackling sparks on the fire. The sound of my grandparents talking to Mum about something she has no interest in. The sound of my Dad hysterically laughing about something, having had a few too many glasses of wine. The sound of my brother blabbering on about the latest rugby match, and the sound of my sisters gossiping about celebrities. The sound of paper being torn in desperation to see what surprises await them. The sound of my dogs playing with each other and their claws scraping on the carpet.

This is Christmas to me.

Old toys you once craved
Now lie still in the attic,
White dolls, grinning faces,
Matte with dust.
Boxes of lights
Green, white, now left for nothing,
Not used since times past.

Get them out if you must
And hang them downstairs
So the neighbours will think that
This year, you'll pretend that
This Christmas
You'll care.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Past 2011, 4

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Many thanks to @irasocol for this contribution:-

I'll never forget when I learned that Santa Claus wasn't real. I was in the fourth grade eating lunch when a classmate stated quite emphatically that there was no such thing as Santa. He wasn't real. It was just a man dressed in a Santa's suit. I wasn't especially fond of this red-haired girl, so using my indignant fourth-grade voice, I spouted back that she was wrong because last year Santa walked by our house on Christmas morning. She continued to insist that it was someone dressed in a Santa costume When I demanded to know who put our presents under the tree, she promptly informed me that our parents did.

As I walked home from school, I thought about what she told me and knew I could find the truth about Santa from my mother. I knew that she would definitely agree with me. However,  after listening to her answer, I realized  that Christmas would never be the same for me. It lost a little bit of magic and the hardest part was I had to pretend he was real because I had two younger brothers!
I'm just glad the magic lasted until the fourth grade.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Past 2011, 3

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I remember the snowfall. Particularly the depth, and wondering if it was possible for anything to keep growing underneath the frosty white blanket. The last Christmas to be spent with her. I remember the fire blazing and the early darkness of winter days. I remember her house on top of a hill, and the heart of it spilling onto the frosty lake a few metres below.

She reminds me of more winters and Christmas and memories, and how carols and lights and the beautiful season always ignite your soul.

The night before Christmas in the year 2002. I woke up in the middle of the night. Finding it hard to sleep because of the excitements about presents. Since I was up I went to check the tree to see if there were any presents. But there were none. So I went to my parents' bedroom. As I opened the door I could hear paper crumpling and people talking. I opened the door and there I saw my parents wrapping presens. We stood standing for seconds.

And I just left.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Past 2011, 2

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Last Christmas I didn't have 'Christmas'... We were snowed in for a week and a half leading up to the day, so my Dad was unable to get the turkey. My brother and I robbed a tree from a nearby plantation, and not a single present was exchanged. And spaghetti bolognese followed by icecream replaced Christmas dinner. And although we missed out usual Christmas traditions, like going to church and then on to my grandparents' house, the day still felt special. Just in a different way.

Glimmering, twinkling, rocking, candles set the centrepiece like little stars. Eggs, little obscure moons, sit sprinked with sweet herbs. Green, ugly, peeling sprouts lie like monsters within the shimmering bowl. Hot, steaming, brown gravy is at the top of the table, its smell intense, rich, warm and loving. The vegetables lies upon their magnificent platter, an array of wonderful colours - oranges, reds, yellows, browns. All warming, all rich.

The most fantastic, colossal beast of a bird sits stuffed, golden brown, crisp, juicy, wonderful. It lies on its golden platter, lemons where its head would have been. Succulent rivers of juice ooze from its flesh. Oh, what a magnificent feast this is!

It's not always been pleasant: the bitter and touch Geordie weather and people saw to that. I remember our car got broken into in the town centre while my mother did the Christmas shopping with me in tow. It was snowing at the time, so it was unlikely we could drive with smashed windows, and being the 24th of December it was even more unlikely that we could find anyone to fix them. However, your luck doesn't stay sour for ever, and we managed to find a mechanic, and we were on our way.

I think back now and realise why the smash and grab must have taken place. My mother had left a wrapped brown parcel in the footwell of the passenger seat. The area we were parked in wasn't the nicest either, so when this man saw a brown parcel in a type of car normally used by drug dealers, his heart must have leapt. I only wish I could have seen his face when he opened the parcel to find knitted baby clothes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Past 2011 1

Last Friday we had our third Everybody Writes day on the theme 'Christmas Past': every pupil in the school wrote for 10/15 minutes on this theme, mostly anonymously. Over the next week we'll be posting some of these. They could be by anyone from VI formers to Primary.

Click here if you'd like to join in...

There are certain smells I can only associate with Christmas, just as there are a few emotions that are only shown at Christmas. That happens at my house every year when I kiss my granny's cheek and take her coat. This particular smell fills in the house, and everywhere you go you know Granny's here.

We turn on the Christmas tree lights and the candles, and we're all ready to begin. The fireplace is lit and all of us sit around it. I love to observe my family. I look at them and all I can see are smiles and laughs. All the rest that seems to be present throughout the rest of the year is forgotten on Christmas Day, and I wonder why don't we all make this effort for the rest of the days of the year?

Our Christmas tree is always massive. It reaches the ceiling in our hall. It isn't colour-coded or anything like that, but instead is full of things we have collected through the years. We have the star made out of uncooked pasta that my sister made when she was in primary school, the bauble that my brother got for his christening with his name on it, and loads of different-coloured tinsel and lights.

To be honest it looks like a bit of a shambles, but that is why I love it. My favourite thing is what goes on top: when my parents had no money, my Dad made a Santa  out of a can, with red fabric for his clothes and cotton wool for his beard with two eyes drawn in black marker. The reason I like it so much is because of the way my parents look at each other every year when it is taken out of the decorations box.

The room filled with laughing children and gossiping adults. The black sooty fireshield guarding the crackling fire going up the chimney. The carpet beside burnt with black stains from floating ashes. The large Christmas tree taking up one end of the room with an angel on top with its head touching the ceiling. The fairy lights wrapped around the tree glowing and shining on the hanging decorations. Beneath the tree are all of the gifts - wrapped in polka dots, stripes, with Santas or in plain colours, each tied neatly with a ribbon and a bow. Outside the decorated windows is the snowman that was built by the neighbourhood kids earlier today. But he is slowly shrinking due to the sunlight's warmth, his carrot-nose falling off, bending down beside his raisin mouth. The dogs in the kitchen glare up at the freshly-cooked and seasoned turkey sitting on the counter-top. Even from the hallway, you can smell the Yorkshire pudding, swimming with gravy and peas.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Christmas Past 2011

In December 2008 and 2009 we had an 'Everybody Writes' day, when all the pupils - and many of the staff - took 15 minutes in class to write a short piece on the topic 'Christmas Past'. Most were done anonymously, which seemed to liberate many writers in expressing all sorts of feelings about the theme. The best of these were then posted on this blog. Last year we took a rest, but are repeating the exercise across the whole school on this coming Friday.

This year, 2011, we are inviting visitors to SCC English to join in. Just spend between 5 and 15 minutes writing your memory, a poem, your wish, a fantasy, anything you like on 'Christmas Past' and we'll blog the most interesting/vivid/funny/moving responses. Now click here - enjoy!

'The Comedy of Errors' review

Konstantin Behr & Robin Fitzpatrick
Shannen Keogan reviews the recent Shakespeare Society production of The Comedy of Errors:-

On a dark wet evening on Saturday 19th of November, in Saint Columba’s College, there really was no better place to be than sitting in the buzzing Big Schoolroom listening to the classic tunes of the 70’s and dancing in our seats whilst we all anticipated this year’s Senior Play, The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare.

If we didn’t think the blaring 70s beats were good enough, suddenly we were graced with the presence of the one and only keyboard extraordinaire Lingfan Gao, looking as some would say “Elton John-esque” in what really was the sparkliest jacket of gold and silver sequins that I have ever seen. When the lights dimmed and the sweet and sombre sound of Lingfan’s keyboard began to play the mellifluous tones of Catie McGonagle's voiceover introduced the story.
The story itself is a complex one and I thought that Patrick Tice who played Egeon did an excellent job of trying to explain the utterly chaotic plot in the first scene of the play. He informed the ruler of Ephesus (Kezia Wright) of how he and his wife had a pair of twin babies both called Antipholus who were separated on a sea journey in a storm. In the storm Egeon is separated from his wife and one of his sons. If that wasn’t confusing enough, on the exact same day another set of twins had been born to a local poor woman who Egeon bought to grow up as servants of his twins. These servant twins were both called Dromio. So the story begins with Antipholus of Syracuse (Zach Stephenson) and his loyal servant Dromio (William Maire) setting off to find their long-lost brother.

Now, a Shakespearean comedy really just wouldn’t be a comedy if it didn’t have a crazy over-dramatic and completely confused woman in it and this was Adriana who was played fantastically by Opeline Kellett. She, along with her sister Luciana (Bella Purcell) are baffled by the peculiar actions of her husband Antipholous (Robin Fitzpatrick) and their slave Dromio (Hamish Law). But the most confused characters of all were definitely the Antipholus twins (Robin and Zach) and the Dromio twins (Hamish and William). These four have to be commended on what really were flawless performances on their parts.

Not only was the acting of an incredibly high standard this year but so were the stage production and costumes. With the use of some new modern technology, a beautiful tower clock, very colourful garments (organised by Ms. Hennessey) and great music, the comedy sense of the play had without doubt been fulfilled in a most professional manner. And with some hilarious acting from the local police officer (Konstantin Behr) the local courtesan (Rachel Rogers) and many more, I never ceased to stop giggling throughout the performance. All of this of course was due to the 19 performers who put months of hard work and effort into preparing their roles under the direction and guidance of Mr. Girdham and Mr. Swift, who have yet again left us with another exceptional drama production, and for this they must all be congratulated.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Edublog Awards 2011

The shortlists for this year's Edublog Awards are now out, and we'd be delighted for votes in the categories Best Use for Audio/Video/Podcast and Best Individual Tweeter. Just click on the badges to the right by Tuesday 13th December.

Do also please support our Art colleagues at SCC Art in the Best Class Blog category.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

'The Comedy of Errors' at the National

The new National Theatre production of The Comedy of Errors has just opened in London, featuring Lenny Henry as Antipholus of Syracuse. Since we've only just finished our own production, it's particularly interesting to read the reviews which have started coming in, and indeed we hope to see it via National Live on March 1st. Click on the publications' names below to see the full review.
  • Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail calls it 'sublime' and 'wall to wall joy'.
  • Michael Billington in the Guardian found it 'slightly strenuous fun' until the final Act when it achieved 'a magical simplicity that induces a sense of awe and wonder.'
  • Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph wrote that it was a 'savvy fast-moving modern-dress production - set in a recession-ravaged city of crumbling buildings, lippy prostitutes, mad shrinks, sinister heavies and a wandering street band who sing British pop hits in Romanian.'
  • In the Independent, Paul Taylor wrote that Lenny Henry is 'part of a fine ensemble that work hard to animate an over-cluttered concept and eventually drive the proceedings to a pleasing crescendo of comic mayhem.'
  • Sam Marlowe in The Arts Desk, echoing Michael Billington, felt that 'the final scene, with its unravelling and reunions, has real emotional heft. This is comedy with bite, all the better for the touch of the maniacal that tinges its laughter'.
  • Cordelia Lynn in The Harker called the evening 'a breath of fresh air' adding 'when the lights went down on the first act I didn’t want it to end, and that’s not something that happens every Shakespeare.
  • Rachel Cooke on BBC Radio 4's Front Row went with low expectations, but 'Blow me down ... this is the certainly the best-directed performance of this I've ever seen, it's really funny, teeming with life.' The actors 'made the language live'.
  • Susannah Clapp in the Observer felt that "The invention is tremendous but too reliant on gizmos, business and big mechanisms."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Memory Chalet

The historian Tony Judt died last year of motor neurone disorder, aged 62. Author of the great history of post-1945 Europe, Postwar, the last years of his life saw a dramatic flowering of his writing for the general public, including two books now available in paperback - his impassioned polemic defending the role of the state in modern culture, Ill Fares the Land, and the more personal The Memory Chalet, a collection of autobiographical essays.

More personal, but certainly not completely: for Judt, nothing could be entirely personal. An essay like 'The Green Line Bus', which starts as a nostalgic piece on travelling to school as a boy in London, ends, contemplating the new changed bus system: "Like so much else in Britain today, the Green Line buses merely denote, like a crumbling boundary stone, overgrown and neglected, a past whose purposes and shared experiences are all but lost in Heritage Britain." This shares the ferocious anger of Ill Fares the Land, but it comes from an angle not available to us in any other book by Judt. As he states at the start, he did not intend these pieces for publication, instead "writing them for my own satisfaction". We can be thankful he did, because they give us rare access to a mind working under the terrible conditions of his devastating and terminal disease.

He addresses this disorder directly at several points in the book, most powerfully in the essay 'Night', in which he describes ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), and its combination of lack of pain and no loss of sensation, and drily observes: "in contrast to almost every other serious or deadly disease, one is thus left free to contemplate at leisure and in minimal discomfort the catastrophic progress of one's own deterioration."  What he is left to do at night is "to scroll through my life, my thoughts, my fantasies, my memories, mis-memories, and the like until I have chanced upon events, people, or narratives that I can employ to divert my mind from the body in which it is encased." The scrolling takes us through old Citroen cars, 'bedders' at Cambridge, a cross-Channel ferry, kibbutzes and railway systems (the essay on trains, 'Mimetic Desire', is particularly good - not the only essay about travel by someone who could no longer move at all).

The result is, ironically, a pleasure, and far from depressing. A softer book than Ill Fares the Land (especially in his fondness for Switzerland, which provides the title), it is also deeply moving, with no sense of self-pity and much mordant humour. As Judt's body closed down, his mind seemed to become ever more alert and brilliant, and it is a privilege to be allowed to spend time with it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Attendance app

No 14 in a series of reviews of iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad apps useful for English literature and language learning and teaching.

This one is of course useful for all subjects. A basic common need for teaching is taking a roll in class. Attendance is an impressive and reliable one, which works fully on the iPad as well as iPhone. You can import data via CSV, but it really doesn't take very long to enter your classes manually. Once they are set up, it's very easy to take a roll (defaulting everyone as present), and there's good back-up via Dropbox, as well as plenty other functions which some teachers won't need. Recommended.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Edublog Awards 2011

It's Edublog Awards time again, and here are our nominations:-

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Comedy of Errors starts

Last night the preview, tonight the first performance and tomorrow the second: the Shakespeare Society's production of The Comedy of Errors is ready. Set in the 1970s, it features some wonderfully horrendous fashion, classic disco hits, and a Desperate Housewives-style narrator. It's Shakespeare, but not quite as he knew his own play. Above, an Animoto collage from the dress rehearsal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Act V of 'Hamlet'

For VI formers currently revising Act V of Hamlet for their exams, it's worth listening to an episode from the great American radio programme 'This American Life'. 'Act V' traces, for six months, the inmates of a high-security prison in Missouri as they rehearse and then perform the play.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Comedy of Errors poster

Above, the publicity poster for next week's Shakespeare Society production of The Comedy of Errors. Artist: Henry Roe. (click for a closer view)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Comedy of Errors

This day next week will see the dress rehearsal of The Comedy of Errors, this year's Senior Play, and the first production by the Shakespeare Society since Twelfth Night in 2006 (pictured, Alex Henk, Max Shirley and Max Sanderson as Sir Toby Belch, Feste and Sir Andrew Aguecheek).

Rehearsals continue deep into the evening in the BSR, accompanied to the strains of music from the 1970s. Twelfth Night was set on the French Riviera in the 1920s, but yes - The Comedy of Errors sees us in the musically and sartorially scary era of the Bee Gees and 'Disco Inferno' (below).

The preview is on Thursday 17th, the first performance on Friday 18th, and the final one on Saturday 19th November, all at 7pm in the BSR. Below, the cast -

Solina, ruler of Ephesus : Kezia Wright
Egeon, merchant of Syracuse : Patrick Tice
Antipholus, a merchant of Syracuse : Zach Stephenson                                 
Antipholus, a merchant of Ephesus : Robin Fitzpatrick
Dromio of Syracuse, a servant : William Maire                                       
Dromio of Ephesus, a servant : Hamish Law                                         
Balthasar, a merchant of Ephesus : Eamonn McKee
Angela, a goldsmith : Jasmine Blenkins O’Callaghan
A merchant, friend to Antipholus of Syracuse: Leonhard Dihlmann                            
Another merchant : Seyive Hotonu
Doctor Pinch, a schoolmaster-conjurer : Richard Matuschka
Emilia, an Abbess : Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi
Adriana, wife of Antipholus of Ephesus : Opeline Kellett                                
Luciana, her sister : Bella Purcell                                 
Luce, a kitchen maid : Katie Cogan
Courtesan :  Rachel Rogers
Officer : Konstantin Behr
Servant : Lingfan Gao
Voiceovers : Catie McGonagle
Keyboard and Compositions: Lingfan Gao 
Lighting: Georg v Blomberg
Clock: Paul Girdham
Egeon's presentation : Humphrey Jones 
iPad drawings: Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi and Alexis Hardenberg
Poster : Henry Roe 
Stage Assistants: Alexis v Hardberg, Johanna v d Marwitz, Marie v Brauchitsch
Prompters: Niamh Faulkner, Shannen Keogan
Make-up: Kate Smith, Oyinda Onabanjo, Bronwyn Mallon
Dance: Kate Smith
Costumes: Karen Hennessey, Elaine Healy, Patti Byrne
Directors: Ronan Swift and Julian Girdham

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Harker

A shout-out for a fine new venture by Old Columban Sophie Haslett, editor of a stylish new online arts magazine The Harker (and a former contributor to this blog).

In the words of the site:
The Harker is an online arts magazine that promotes and encourages young arts writers – whether they are aspiring journalists or just people who write well and love the arts. Rather than putting all your work up on an individual blog – or fighting tooth and nail to get one small piece submitted on a larger publication – we want to have as many young writers as possible regularly contributing to The Harker so that we can all publicize and support each other. We publish reviews, features and interviews on film, music, theatre, art, books and tv.We want the pieces to be written as entertainingly as possible – above all we want to encourage great writing.

It's certainly a promising start. Here is Sophie's own review of the TV hit Downton Abbey, "a series littered with specks of true heartache in between mounds of clunky dialogue and farcical stereotypes."

Monday, November 07, 2011

TY Book Recommendation 10

Today IV form started on the final phase of their Extended Essay projects, which are due in tomorrow week. Siobhan Brady has read Kathryn Stockett's The Help (now successfully translated into a film, pictured), and recommends it:-

This book has a different angle on racism in 20th century America because it is written through the eyes of negro maids. Most books written about racism at this time in America would be written through the eyes of the white people. This book really captured me because there are many twists and turns in it and it's not a very predictable story. I would highly recommend this book as it is a great read and I really enjoyed it. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

TY Book Recommendation 9

Today we go on our half-term break, returning on Monday 7th November. After this we'll have plenty of news of the Shakespeare Society production of The Comedy of Errors on November 18th, 19th and 20th. 

Transition Year pupils will also be writing their Extended Essays after half-term, some of which will feature on this site in the future.  Alex Owens recommends Jupiter Williams by S.I .Martin.

The book is set in the early eighteen hundreds while the campaign for slave trade is gathering momentum. The story begins at Clapham Acadamy for wealthy blacks living in the London area. The story revolves around the lives of two brothers attending Clapham; however when Jupiter the oldest of the two finds out that his younger brother Robert has been kidnapped by highway men, he escapes from the Acadamy in search for him .

I would recommend this book becasue of how the author really showed the treatment towards blacks in detail and the harsh reality of life for them in the eighteen hundreds. You learn a bit of history along with being involved in a series of events throughout.
 And Marcia Kettern recommends The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks:

This is one of the best books I've ever read. You really can lose yourself in it. It's a sad, dramatic and romantic story about family, first loves, second chances and the moments in life that lead you back home. The whole story is written in a very serious way and the end is very sad. I enjoyed reading this book, because the story is very realistic and describes wonderful and also sad moments in life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TY Book Recommendation 8

Sofia Bergareche has read Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon for her Transition Year Extended Essay, and comments:-

I find this book really good because I think the book involves the reader. The author describes things so perfectly that you are able to feel and live what the characters do. I think this book is entertaining, intriguing and also moving. Even if I didn't understand some details I still think that it is a very good story. I can assure you that anybody who starts reading this book won't be able to stop until the end.

Monday, October 24, 2011

TY Book Recommendation 8

Molly Buckingham has read How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff for her Extended Essay, and writes:

This was actually the second time I read this book and I found it to be even more enjoyable the second time round. It was so gripping and I found it hard to put the book down! I would recommend this book to anyone who is my age or older.

and Alex Bisgood has read The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart:

I found this book very good. It is set in the Far East during WWII. It is an autobiography about a soldier who is captured and is made to work on the Death Railway, which claimed the lives of more than a hundred thousand prisoners.

It is shockingly vivid and shows what man, under an all-powerful ruler, can do to another man. In my opinion, what the Japanease did to their POW's is worse then what happened in the German concentration camps, and yet the German goverment has paid damages towards people and families while the Japanease goverment has denied that this has never happened and that they looked after their POWs as set down by the Geneva Convention.   

Friday, October 21, 2011

TY Book Recommendation 7

Clara Thiemann has read John Boyle's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas for her Extended Essay. It's always a popular choice. She writes:

I really loved this book. It was amazing to read since it really made you feel with the characters. At some points it was hard for me to keep on reading because I was starting to cry quite often. The book is very emotional and explains two  childhoods that couldn't be any different! 

The book is really worth reading also for people who are not so fluent in English since it is quite easy to understand. I would definitely read this book again and will never forget what I learned from it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TY Book Recommendations 6

For her Transition Year Extended Essay, Emily Speckter has read Desert Flower, by Waris Dirie:-

I really enjoyed reading this book. The author describes in an impressive way what her life was like and how destiny, courage and wisdom led her through. I especially like the images of the details that are described as well as the emotions and the locations. That makes it real and conceivable. Maybe there could be a little bit more information of living in that country and the religion. That would have been useful for my essay.

And Jessica Scott read Kensuke's Kingdom, by Michael Morpurgo:-

This book is an account written by  of a young teenager who was living on a yacht and one night fell off and was deserted on an isolated island. Or so he thought. This book shows how chael learnt to cope in the great outdoors. It discusses his struggles but also the joy he got from being on the island and getting his own food and the adventure of it all. It's a great book because it is gripping; something keeps happening and it's realistic!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

TY Book Recommendations 5

Molly Dunne has read Christy Brown's My Left Foot for her Transition Year Extended Essay, and writes-

I found the book really enjoyable and easy to read. To be honest I have no real knowledge about cerebral palsy and this book gave a really great insight into his life. There was no sugar coating - it was all real events from his life which in my opinion is very refreshing. My only complaint is that the book didn't include very many facts and I still feel that I have the same amount of information on cerebral palsy as I did when I started reading the book.

And Melchior de Preville read Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's L'Enfant de NoĆ©, which he calls 'brilliant': 

It's a a really great book about antisemitism during the Second World War. I really enjoyed this book because the story is fantasic and a true event. There are two main characters, a father and an orphan, giving two different views of all the terrible crimes against Jewish people by the Nazis.