Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Conan Doyle

Two more TY Extended Essay recommendations, both of books by Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes is really back in fashion, no doubt due to various TV series and films -
Elias Ploner recommends A Study in Scarlet:
"This is definitely one of my favourite books as it is the first Sherlock Holmes story and I love the story of Dr. Watson and Holmes meeting for the first time. I think that Holmes is probably the best or at least one of the best detectives ever imagined (alongside Simenon's Maigret) and as usual in Doyle's stories the plot is really great. All in all it is an excellent book and I hope to have as much fun reading the other books as I had reading this one".

And Igor Petrenko read The Sign of the Four:

"Do you like detective stories? If you do, you would love this book! The quality of the writing is excellent  even though at times it's pretty tough to understand the language). Holmes and Watson are very well portrayed. This is one of Conan Doyle's classics. The reader is kept in suspense throughout most of this book, which makes you want to keep on reading".

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Writing Prompts

The New York Times Learning Network has a great series of 500 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing broken down into sections such as Overcoming Adversity, Role Models and Music. You can easily download a PDF, too. 

(They also have 200 Prompts for Argumentative Writing).

Try the If Only section:
  1. What Would You Do if You Won the Lottery?
  2. What Superpower Do You Wish You Had?
  3. What Era Do You Wish You Had Lived In?
  4. Would You Want to Be a Tween or Teen Star?
  5. Would You Want to Grow Up in the Public Eye?
  6. What Kind of Robot Would You Want?
  7. What Would You Outsource if You Could?
  8. What Would You Like to Learn on Your Own?
  9. What Would You Wait in Line For?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

John Green and Cormac McCarthy

More book recommendations from the TY Extended Essay project (some of the essays themselves will be posted here later in the term).

Sophie Alexander recommends John Green's novel Looking for Alaska:-

This novel tells the story of a teenager called Miles Halter or, as he is referred throughout the novel, “Pudge”, who is tired of his lonely and predictable life. He is in search of his ‘Great Perhaps’, by which he means he is pursuing change in his life. He decides to attend a boarding school, Culver Creek for his junior year of high school.

The book is divided into two parts: ‘Before’ and ‘After’. When he arrives at Culver Creek, he meets his roommate Chip ‘The Colonel’ Martin who introduces him to the gorgeous, perplexing and emotionally confused Alaska Young.  As the story progresses, the reader is immersed in the adventures of Miles's life at Culver Creek and his growing attachment and connection to Alaska. 

The story highlights crucial elements of teenage life, such as practical jokes, bets, calamitous parties and tense meetings with the headmaster.

I found this book an interesting read as the school life in America is very different from what one would experience in Ireland or certainly here. This book fits in perfectly with my choice of ‘Love in Relationships’ for my extended essay as it demonstrates what young love and growing up really are in a remorseless and truthful light. I recommend this book to the young adult category as it was original and the themes explored relate to this age group.

Maria Herrero Tejada on Cormac McCarthy's The Road:
I personally recommend this book because the story line is brilliant, about a man and a boy walking together in a journey of danger and coldness. Not only the story line is good but it is well written as well and the English is not very difficult either - for those whose English is not their first language. I personally really enjoyed reading it and hopefully this recommendetion will get more people to read it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Two more recommendations

More recommendations by Transition Year pupils currently writing their Extended Essays.

Freddie de Montfort on Empire of Silver by Conn Iggulden:
This is one of my favourite series. The book is set in Mongolia and this book follows Ogedai Khan trying to rule the empire. The book has a good plot, interesting characters and massive battles which were not just interesting to hear about because of the fighting but also how they used stratefies. Another note thing I liked was its degree of historical accuracy (there was an author's note in the back which noted any deviations). I really enjoyed this book and somtimes found it hard to stop reading.

Henriette Pein: Philadelphia by Christopher Davis:
My book is about discrimination of gay people in the sixties. The book is about a lawyer who is fired because he has AIDS and is gay. He decided to fight against his law firm and a homophobe helped him. I read this book in one day because it really caught my attention and I enjoyed reading it. I laughed and cried and felt with the main character, and the style of writing is easy to read.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


This morning in Chapel Mr Girdham posed these questions. Most of them are from Ian Gilbert's book The Little Book of Thunks. You can also pose your own Thunks at his website here.

  • If you could take a pill that meant you would never again fail, would you?
  • If I promised you 5 million euros, would you have your sense of humour permanently removed?
  • Is it ever right to bully a bully?
  • Should you be forced to be polite?
  • If you borrow a million euros, are you a millionaire?
  • Am I the same person as I was yesterday?
  • What colour would a zebra be if you took off its stripes?
  • If you give a homeless person money, are you just encouraging them to keep begging?
  • If you lose your memory, are you still the same person?
  • Is a leaf on the tree or part of the tree?
  • Can you be racist against your own race?
  • Is it all right if swear at you in a language you don’t understand? What about if it’s a language I’ve just made up and no- one understands?
  • Can you be best friends with more than one person? If so, what’s the maximum number of best friends you can have?
  • What is more important – being right or being kind?
  • Is a broken-down car parked?
  • If I swap your pen for one exactly the same is that stealing?
  • If I ask if I can steal your pen and you say yes, is that stealing?
  • If you always got everything you wished for, would you always be happy?
  • Is something boring because of it, or because of you?
  • If you win a sports tournament, but cheat to win it, are you truly the winner?
  • Would you rather be deaf or blind?
  • If you were identified as being genetically inclined to do bad things, should you be locked up before you do them?
  • Would you prefer to be a fool or a coward?
  • Is there more past or more future?
  • If a baby grew up all alone on a desert island, would it know right from wrong?
  • If we take the school buildings to Cork, but leave all the pupils and staff here, where is the school now?
  • Is it ever possible to learn nothing?

Monday, November 10, 2014

TY Book Recommendations

Transition Year pupils are now in the final week of their Extended Essays, with the deadline next Monday. Over the coming days, we'll be posting some brief recommendations they have made of the books they chose to read and write about.

Alexandra Malone read Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson and writes: 
"I really enjoyed reading this book and I would strongly recommend it to anyone from the age of 13 on. I think that the style of writing is easy and it is a quick read. The author grips you to the story, and all you want to do is keep reading. The story is about a violent father who abuses his family to the point where they have to run away and start a completely new life. The book is gripping and extremely interesting in parts. I can't recommend it enough."

Lisa Cullen recommends Emily Bronte's classic Wuthering Heights:
"Wuthering Heights is a novel written between October 1845 and June 1846. Wuthering Heights is the name of the farmhouse where the story unfolds. The characters Catherine and Heathcliff are monstrous. They are irrational, self-absorbed, malicious and pretty much any negative quality you can think of. They destroy and act with no thought of consequence. I find it fascinating that Emily Bronte chose them to be her central characters. The emotional magnitude of this book is pretty great."

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


The 7th talk in the Patterns of Poetry series looks at cliché, examining how Shakespeare in sonnet 130 and Carol Ann Duffy in 'Valentine' subvert such language.