Author visit by Manjeet Mann and responses to ‘The Crossing’

‘The Crossing’ by Manjeet Mann

Our Y9 and Y10s had a reading challenge for the Easter holidays which they enthusiastically accepted. Every student was given a copy of Manjeet Mann’s second YA verse novel ‘The Crossing’. This powerful, engrossing novel is quick to read but deeply moving and relevant to our times.

Both year groups had discussions of the book with their tutors during tutorial periods and I discussed the book with the 3rd and 4th Form boys from the Raglan House. They found it a very emotional read and a number of them particularly liked the style finding the way the two narrative voices of Nat and Sammy overlap made them feel the connection between the two more strongly. For less keen readers, who may not pick up a book as a leisure activity, this style of book was appreciated – they enjoyed the speed with which they turned the pages and the lack of detailed description helped them focus on the plot and experience of the characters.

Here are a couple of short reviews by our students:

The Crossing’ by Manjeet Mann has enlightened me on the subject of death, something which is scarcely talked about. It has a heart-breaking narrative and the poems assist in creating this effect. The way in which Manjeet makes every word powerful is amazing, and every action impacts the characters and their future.


Miles wrote a reading response poster unprompted by his English teachers as the book had a big impact on him.

My blurb:

A troubled life with dreams of swimming the channel and a refugee wishing for a bright future, by chance they meet and form a strong bond.

Will a bright future be possible?

Will the channel be swum successfully?

The book came with a sense of inspiration and happiness at hopeful times, for example when Sammy reached Calais. However, sadness was also a key theme in the book, when Sammy lost his life and Natalie was mourning the death of her mother. The story does not remind me of any previous books, as the ending of death is not common. Because the book was so unique I found it thrilling.

One of our students enjoyed ‘Run, Rebel’ and ‘The Crossing’ so much that currently she is only reading verse novels and has worked her way through our whole collection. She is particularly keen on the verse novels of Sarah Crossan (a previous visiting author who enthused our students about reading). For more recommendations of verse novels have a look at the library padlet on verse novels.

Verse Novels – why I like them by Grace (Y9)

  • They are written in poem-like verses making them different from other fiction novels.
  • It always surprises me that the author is able to express/write such a deep and meaningful story in so few phrases.
  • (Despite being in short verses.) The reader is still able to understand/picture every scenario fully.
  • The word choices are very specific, which gets the point the author is trying to prove very efficiently.
  • They’re just a quick read.
  • They are very easy to understand.
  • You can expand your thinking because it’s different.
  • It’s always good to try new things.


‘Run, Rebel’ by Manjeet Mann – Virtual Author Talk

We’re really excited to see ‘Run, Rebel’ has been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Book Award Longlists announced on 18th February 2021.

Big congratulations to Manjeet Mann!



I am restless, my feet need to fly.

Amber is trapped – by her father’s rules, by his expectations, by her own fears.

Now she’s ready to fight – for her mother,  for her sister, for herself.

Freedom always comes at a price.

Over the Christmas holiday the whole of our 3rd form and a group of 4th Form Scholars were given a book to read. ‘Run, Rebel’ by Manjeet Mann was chosen and we followed up the reading with a virtual author talk by Manjeet on 14th January 2021. Manjeet spoke about her life, her writing inspiration and her future writing plans and this was followed by a Q&A from me (Head Librarian Lucy Atherton) and 4th former Amelie. After this we opened up the questions to all students and staff attending. There were many interesting questions and insightful comments about the book.

We hadn’t realised how autobiographical Manjeet’s first YA novel was and this gave the story even more impact. Manjeet’s best bit of advice to aspiring writers was just get something down on paper. Her technique is to start with a ‘vomit draft’ all the writing comes pouring out and much editing happens later. She didn’t read or write much as a child and teenager but had a passion for acting and plays and became an actress and playwright before turning to writing novels too. We are eagerly anticipating Manjeet’s second YA verse novel The Crossing out in June 2021.

As an additional follow-up Ms Sagers from the English Department ran a ‘How to write a book review’ session for the 4th form group. Here are some of their responses to the book:

‘Let’s start a revolution’

Run, rebel is a captivating verse novel that explores fear, family and freedom.

This young adult novel follows a teenage girl consumed by her father’s trauma as well as her own insecurities. Her only escape is running and her two best friends. Will she ever be able to break free from this maze of abuse and find freedom? But at what cost would freedom come?

Manjeet Mann’s thrilling, inciting and engaging novel promises to draw you in with its unique writing technique encouraging a fast paced read which links to the constant fear which Amber is forced to endure.

Although this is targeted at a young adult audience this novel can be enjoyed by a wide audience as it addresses contemporary issues which will emotionally touch every reader because of its harsh reality.

Not only does the verse structure provide a thrilling read but also the constant variation of fonts and layout allows us to delve into her unpredictable and disturbing life.

This emotionally charged novel ensures a riveting read.

Run, Rebel review

By Roni, Elia, Saskia and Emily

‘I realise I’ve only ever been half breathing’.  Manjeet Mann’s portrayal of an underprivileged, underappreciated young woman investigates the themes of empowerment over oppression, and resilience, is perfectly summed up by this quote. Amber Rai’s story explores the very notion of freedom, as she struggles to battle the traditions and ill-treatment, confining her to a ‘normal’ life. Mann’s utilisation of verse contributes to the raw human emotions shown throughout her various battles, and emotionally ties the reader to the character throughout the whole novel.

Amber Rai: teenage girl, track runner, abuse survivor, fighting for her mother, her sister and herself. This eye-opening masterpiece is an essential read for everyone aged 12 and higher, particularly if you have previously enjoyed reading books such as ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas or ‘I Am Thunder’ by Muhammad Khan. Each word is equally as breath-taking as the next, drawing the reader in immediately from page one with Manjeet Mann’s inimitable style of writing. Mann portrays characters in such a vivid and compelling manner that while one is reading, they are able to become the character, intertwined in their thoughts and emotions. Throughout the story you will only get more and more immersed and absorbed in the enchanting words of Mann and even by the end of the first chapter, I assure you, you will be on the edge of your seat.

Throughout the novel I felt conflicted between characters and found myself empathising with many questionable actions that I didn’t think I would but I believe that is the unique quality of Manjeet’s writing. Her ability to portray so many emotions through structural verse allowed the reader to interpret their own individual synopsis from the story and more importantly decide the personal impact of each character. Having the readership of young adults, amongst other age groups, is so crucial. This book is massively insightful and relevant as we progress into our future and implements the importance of cultural awareness, even through one personal story. The storyline resonated so powerfully with me due to the escapism of exercise which I think is so decisive in Amber’s character and easily connectable globally.

“Run, Rebel”book review

Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann includes many intriguing & common themes including domestic abuse, freedom, women’s rights, friendship, family, and sport.

This book is mainly directed towards young adults/ teenagers: people who can relate to the protagonist in terms of age or experience.

Amber, an Indian girl in the UK, feels trapped by her community’s rules. She and her mother escape domestic violence, while Amber also must navigate the troubles of love, friendship and teenage school life.

Mann’s writing is unique in its brilliant utilization of verse. Similarly, its varied structure and punctuation adds a layer of interest to the various motifs- in particular Mann’s description of running uses bold vocabulary and purposeful spacing to drive the protagonist Amber’s sense of salvation within sport.

The book uses the anatomy of revolution to introduce stages/chapters in the book, it also comes from an interesting perspective. Mann brings together traditional Indian culture with running and liberation. The characters situations are put in direct contrast with one another in this book – Amber’s life compared to the lives of her friends.

“How we fought, how we survived, how we rebelled.” (pg. 477) This short quotation shows a progression throughout the book in many ways from Amber’s view, it sums up the tone of the book – an active, strong approach towards difficult circumstances she faced.

I believe that this book is an interesting insight into the life of young people in Indian culture, as well as the everyday misogyny many women experience. I would recommend it to people who like poetry, verse novels and teen drama.

 Candida,  Amelie, Sunay and Liza 


Key themes – female empowerment

Target audience – our age, people who can’t relate so they can find out about other cultures

Style – In verse, different perspectives

Unique – varies in structure, speech in different fonts, illiterate parents

Summary – Amber likes to run, however her parents have her life arranged for her and she cannot follow her dreams. Gets fed up and decides to rebel. Because she stood up for herself she managed to change her future and her Mum’s to one that she chose.

I am rebel

I question it

Aspects of the book still happens and older generations are still traditional

Some people can’t speak for themselves (abusive relationships etc.)

Interesting, emotional to find out some people live in fear and pain.

Banned Books Week 22nd – 28th September 2019

This week was Banned Books Week‘A nationwide campaign for radical readers and rebellious writers of all ages to celebrate the freedom to read.’  

It is also marked in the USA with this year’s theme Censorship leaves us in the dark – Keep the Light On’  Here is a list of the Top Ten most challenged books in the USA in 2018

We had an eye-catching display to raise awareness about censorship and highlight the many highly regarded books which have been banned at some time or in some location over time. Students and staff were curious to read about the reasons particular books had been banned.

We also subscribe to the magazine ‘Index on Censorship’ in the Library.

Read more about the books which have been banned on the links below:

21st Century Banned or Challenged YA Books

50 Challenged Books

From Extreme Reading to Extreme Writing this summer!

This year we are having a change from the past 3 summers of the Extreme Reading Photo Competition. The English Department are challenging you to an Extreme Writing Competition – can you write 300 words about an extreme or unusual place and send in a photo of you in that location?

extreme writing

More information here

Happy reading and writing this summer holiday!

We look forward to reading your extreme writing and always like to hear your reading recommendations and book reviews.

Twelve Words of Winter – Competition results and a Flash Fiction Challenge

Twelve Words of Winter

Thank you all for your imaginative, humorous, poetic  and sometimes sad entries to the ‘Twelve Words of Winter’ competition.  We had over 110 entries which kept us entertained throughout the day as your snippets arrived in our inbox. The idea was to write a 12 word story on the theme of winter.  Dr Joanna Seldon judged the competition (entries were anonymous) and she was very impressed with the quality of entries.

And the winners are…

3rd Form: ‘An old man travels through Winter, hoping to reach the other side.’ Ravi Parmar 9HI

4th Form: ‘The dead trees clench for revival.  Snow falls but there’s no survival.’ Kelsey Johnson 10C

5th Form: ‘Snow fell.  I saw her battle against Spring.  Her sacrifice brought Christmas.’ David Kim 11M

Lower 6th: ‘The pale cheeks of the land were turned white by winter’s breath.’ Harry Bentley 12T

Upper 6th: “Mum, for Christmas can I have -?”


“But mum?”


“Fine… dad?” Charlie Penny 13Hn

The overall pupil winner was Charlie Penny (U6)

This was the only entry to tell a story using dialogue, and I thought it was ambitious, brilliantly effective and very humorous.

The staff winners were:‘Winter has months to go before the milk flower of the snow.’ Dinah Ford

Two left feet on dance floor.  Strictly voted out in round four.’ Jim Dewes

The winner of the family category: ‘Serve the cake and chocolate log: Christmas turkey is in the dog.’ Marion Ogilvie (Grandmother of Jack Moore, 13Bn)

The Eagle House winner was:  ‘Santa accidentally put elves in the washing machine; they shrunk…a lot…’ Asya Janmohamed, Y7

74 schools entered the national competition. The winner was a student at Ashton on Mersey School with the following story:

‘The wind howled, the fire danced, the snowman stood, the children waited.’

Flash Fiction Competition – 50 Word Stories

If you still feel like writing very short stories why not try the Scottish Book Trust’s ‘Flash Fiction’ competition? Can you write a 50 word story set at a birthday party? Entries must be submitted by January 20th 2014 so time to get writing!


12 Words of Winter Competition

Can you write a story in just 12 words?library snow

This year we’re taking part in the ’12 Words of Winter’ competition, which challenges people to write a story on the theme of winter in 12 words. The story doesn’t have to rhyme.

Last year’s winning story was:

‘Mr Snowman needed a cuddle, the sun agreed… now he’s a puddle.’


Think you can do better? Then email the library with your entry by midday on Thursday 5th December. There will be prizes for the best entries and the best overall pupil entry will then be entered into the national competition to compete against the winners from other schools across the country.

Here is a sample of our entries:

  A Thriller 

Winter killed autumn; autumn killed summer; summer killed spring; spring killed winter.’


‘Skating, dark surrounds, ice slicker than blades can stick. Snowflakes melt crimson.’

‘On snow covered earth, bullets fly, men fall, the war, began ending.’

‘Someone meddled with Santa’s minced pies, he fell asleep and later died’

Remember it doesn’t have to rhyme!