Don’t miss the new e-books on the VLebooks platform. Visit the e-Library on SharePoint and use the VLebooks link to read any of the books through your browser or download books to your smartphone or iPad. Ask the Library staff if you need help setting this up. Be prepared for half-term and stock up with e-books. There’s something for everyone ranging from a number of the Carnegie Shortlisted books to Science non-fiction and books for teachers. You can browse the stock using ‘Library Lists’ to search by category.
The Carnegie Book Award Shortlist 2016 has been announced and our Y9 shadowing group members have collected their first books to read over the Easter holidays. It’s a fantastic shortlist this year including ‘The Lie Tree’ by Frances Hardinge; Costa Book of the Year 2015 and much praised and recommended by both librarians here. I thought ‘One’ was amazing and Sarah Crossan’s trademark style of writing in blank verse works well with the subject matter. Tipi and Grace are conjoined teenage twins and each chapter conveys a poetic snapshot of their life.
Having multiple copies of the shortlisted books enables a large group of students to read the books simultaneously and provokes heated discussions about the merits and drawbacks of all of them. After the award process is over they become useful sets of contemporary fiction which can be read by tutor groups.
The 8 shortlisted books are:
One by Sarah Crossan
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
Y9 enjoyed a continuation of the celebrations of books and reading the day after World Book Day with a morning of author talks. We were excited to welcome one of own authors – Virginia Macgregor, twice published author and English teacher here at Wellington. Virginia talked about the inspiration for her novels and read an excerpt from “The astonishing return of Norah Wells”. The students were full of questions and a number of them felt inspired to continue with their own creative writing projects including writing their own novels.
After break we welcomed award-winning young adult author Marcus Sedgwick to the theatre. Y9 were all given a copy of ‘Revolver’ by Marcus to read over the summer before their arrival at Wellington. His books have proved popular with a large number of our students, in particular ‘My Swordhand is singing’ and many of the students have read his Carnegie-shortlisted novel ‘Midwinterblood’. He opened his talk with a debate about the pros and cons of being a writer. He talked about his interest in coincidence and how it became a major theme in ‘She is not invisible’. How many hidden references to the number 354 can you find in the book?
The strong message that came across from both authors was that writing is something they love and can’t do without. They urged the young people to do something they really enjoy with their lives and then it doesn’t feel like work!
World Book Day 3rd March
Next week is a celebratory time for books and reading. Thursday 3rd March is World Book Day and to demonstrate our commitment to reading across the whole school we are running a D.E.A.R. – Drop Everything and Read event. Where possible we are hoping that all staff, including non-teaching staff, and students will stop what they are doing and read a book for sheer enjoyment at the start of lesson 3 on Thursday. So this will be 20 minutes of engrossed silence from 11.15am! All staff and students are welcome to come to the Library at break to stock up on refreshments and choose books or magazines to read. It is wonderful to see people of all ages enjoying reading and provides an opportunity to share favourites and make reading recommendations. For exam sets, teachers may provide subject specific articles or chapters of books for the whole group to read and discuss afterwards – an opportunity for students to be inspired and challenged in a more curriculum-related way. We have The New Scientist Archive Online as well as The Economist, New York Times, History Today, Philosophy Now and Cambridge Companions Online to name but a selection of our electronic resources which enable whole classes to read the same material simultaneously.
Parents, why not talk to your children about what they are reading at the moment and share your favourites with them? If you are looking for suggestions for Y9 –Y11 the Carnegie Book Award longlist has just been announced and includes some impressive contemporary fiction (many of which we have in the Library)
On Friday 4th March the Y9 are in for a literary treat. They are hearing two author talks in the theatre. Wellington English teacher, Virginia Macgregor has recently had her second novel published – The astonishing return of Norah Wells and will be talking to the students about her inspiration for her books and her writing process. Award-winning young adult novelist, Marcus Sedgwick will also be joining us and discussing his books and writing. Y9 read his novel ‘Revolver’ in the summer prior to arriving at Wellington. There will be plenty of opportunity for the students to ask questions.
Ms Dahlke writes:
Congratulations to Frances Hardinge for winning the Costa Book of the Year award for her young adult novel, The Lie Tree. Despite the award being established in 1971, this is only the second time a book for young people has won it. I’m not surprised that it won the overall award, I read it over the summer holidays and have been recommending it to people (of all ages) ever since.
The book is set in Victorian times and begins with Faith, a teenage girl, and her family arriving on an island in order to escape the scandal that engulfed them in London. What was the scandal? And why is her natural scientist father so reluctant to talk about it? Faith is determined to find out.
This book has an original and tightly structured plot, which keeps the suspense going until the very end. Faith – stubborn and spiky, but with a sense of honour that wins out in the end – is a great character. It’s an entertaining read that will also raise questions about the nature of truth and lies.
I would agree that this is a unique and fascinating novel, appealing to all ages. More information is available in an interesting article from Telegraph books
Helen Smith, the librarian at Eckington School has kindly shared her library Christmas Reading Times with us again this year. This is a marvellous publication listing all the Christmas TV based on books. She also reminds us not to miss the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures at 8pm on BBC 4 on Monday 28th, Tuesday 29th and Wednesday 30th December. This year the theme is survival in space and the lectures are presented by Kevin Fong.
Don’t miss the Royal Institution’s space themed online Advent Calendar – A Place called Space – it includes animations, infographics and archive footage of early space exploration missions. It’s already proving popular with Physics teachers and I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of December brings us.
On the subject of advent calendars have a look at the Book Trust advent calendar 2015 for 24 favourite children’s books. For Maths challenges try the NRICH advent calendar There’s a primary one here for younger children.
For a truly testing brainteaser this Christmas holiday try the GCHQ Christmas puzzle This has been entertaining and infuriating many of our teachers and students over the past few days.
For news junkies you can test your knowledge of the year’s key stories with The Day’s News Mega Quiz
The Y9s have been encouraged to read the same book as the rest of their tutor group and come back and discuss it in January. Here is the list of suggested reads they chose from – 3rd form Christmas books 2015
We’ve had a wonderful start to this academic year in terms of seeing a great deal of the new Y9s in the Library. Not only have they been joining us for research sessions during their geography lessons (getting to grips with the wealth of online resources on the e-Library) but they are also coming to us for ‘book chat’ tutorials – sharing their likes and dislikes and recommending books to their peers. This year each tutor group will have a discussion with one of the librarians – starting off with a Kahoot to quiz what they remember about ‘Revolver’ by Marcus Sedgwick (the book they were all given to read over the summer) and another to hear about their responses to it.
Each Y9 class is having a one hour session in the Library every fortnight providing the opportunity to choose books freely, bring books or e-readers from home, recommend books for new stock and where multiple copies exist read the same book as friends so that they can discuss it afterwards. We are particularly encouraging the pupils to try different types of books and are currently developing our collection of graphic novels – both in size and range. We now have our first Manga and comic books and graphic novels on topics in history such as Palestine by Joe Sacco and Barefoot Gen: a cartoon story of Hiroshima. Author Sarah Crossan did an excellent presentation on verse novels at a librarians’ conference and we have a small collection of free verse novels – an unusual form but surprisingly compelling as well as generally quick to read.
It has been incredibly encouraging to see how enthusiastically the new students have shared their favourite books and at the same time how honest others have been about not being ‘readers’. We have a hugely supportive staff who share their reading recommendations through posters on their classroom doors, the loan of books and chatting to students. Here is a blog post by an American school librarian that I wholeheartedly agree with: Learning to read alone is not enough. Your students need a reading champion.
Let’s hope we can keep this reading momentum as they progress up the school!
Here are some of the Y9 student suggestions (many more to come!)
Y9 Orange Book Recommendations
The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz (this was the first official new Sherlock Holmes mystery)
Before I Die – Jenny Downham
Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge
My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
The secrets we keep – Jonathan Harvey
An island of our own – Sally Nicholls
The London Eye mystery – Siobhan Dowd
Cherub series by Robert Muchamore
We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
The Leopard – Jo Nesbo (and any of his crime novels!)
It’s kind of a funny story – Ned Vizzini
We all looked up – Tommy Wallach (the story of an asteroid on a potential collision course with Earth as told from the alternating viewpoints of four high school students.)
Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom (on the Wellbeing Top Ten Reads list)
Mum, can you lend me twenty quid? – Elizabeth Burton-Phillips (subtitled: What drugs did to my family)
Archangel – Robert Harris
An officer and a spy – Robert Harris
Y9 Picton – recommended reads:
Noughts and Crosses series – Malorie Blackman
My swordhand is singing – Marcus Sedgwick
Midwinter Blood – Marcus Sedgwick
Paper Towns – John Green
Alex Rider series
Holes – Louis Sachar
Journey’s End – R.C. Sherriff
Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time – Mark Haddon
Pig-heart Boy – Malorie Blackman
Tell me no lies – Malorie Blackman
Any and all of John Green’s books
‘If you haven’t read the whole of the Harry Potter series you haven’t lived’ Lucas
See more pupil book reviews here
We had a wonderful variety of entries to this year’s Extreme Reading Photo Competition. They ranged from exotic locations to extremely creative ideas of places to read, mirroring the contents of the books. We are very grateful to Mrs Henderson for judging this year’s competition. Congratulations to all our winners and everyone who took part.
Our overall winner, Beatrice (Y9) wins a kobo e-reader.
2nd Georgia and Tom, Y10 (reading ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ by Mark Haddon whilst shark cage diving)
Joint 3rd Ramarni, Y9 (reading ‘Revolver’ by Marcus Sedgwick in an egg) and Frank, Y11 on Hadrian’s Wall.
Finn, Y9 (flying through the air with ‘Revolver’ by Marcus Sedgwick)
Thomas, Y10 (reading an enormous book in Barcelona)
Have a look at the full display of photos in Back Quad.
Why not try one of the books our staff and pupils read this summer from the list below?
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens (Beatrice Y9)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (Georgia and Tom Y10)
Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Ben, Eagle House)
Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh (Mr McGarey, Chemistry)
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (many new Y9’s!)
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Ms Atherton, Library)
Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher (Zara, Y10)
Caesar by Allan Massie (Mr Atherton, Maths)
Trinity by Conn Iggulden (2nd book in his trilogy about the War of the Roses, Dr Hood, Chemistry)
Rubicon by Tom Holland (Louisa, Y10)
Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healey (Ms Wright, Library)
The Bees by Laline Paull (Dominic, Y11)
Dr Hood (Chemistry) is clearly enjoying her summer. She has been doing some extreme walking in Slovenia in the Julian Alps.
One walk took us to a place called Tromeja in Slovenian or Drilandereck in German, meaning Three Borders. It is the place where three countries meet: Slovenia, Austria and Italy. We took the path from the village of Ratece in the valley bottom (at about 840m altitude) to the top of Pec mountain (1510m), a climb of around 670 meters. The last section of the path had 30 hairpin bends on it, so the walk involved quite extreme effort from me! That’s why I decided to get this photo taken at the boundary point. The views at the top were amazing. The background in the photo is Austria.
The books I read on holiday in Slovenia were the first two of Conn Iggulden’s trilogy about the War of the Roses, “Stormbird” and “Trinity” – great stuff, full of blood and guts, but I’m still not sure I understand all the complicated relationships between the houses of York, Lancaster and Neville after reading them!
Mr Bickford-Smith has been getting to know the friendly wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. He has, very fittingly, been reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez alongside two sea-lion pups on Isla Isabela.