The Kingsley School 2016
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
The Challenge of Carnegie
It's exam time, so I don't blame anyone for being slow with getting through the books - except many of you are whizzing through them, so well done!
I've loved hearing everyone's thoughts about the shortlist over the last month, whether it's in our reading group on Tuesday morning, or during the day in the library. I can't wait to read the next one, which I'm hoping will be The Ghosts of Heaven - I'm really intrigued about this 'confusing' 'weird' collection of stories in one book. After watching the author, Marcus Sedgwick, talk about why he wrote it, as well as feedback from his fans (and critics), I think he's rather happy with confusion. As for Five Children on the Western Front, this book has been a pleasent surprise, and I can't wait to finish reading it.
Happy reading, guys! Miss Donnelly.
Posted on: 12 May 2016
Five Children on the Western Front Miss Roche
Having just finished this novel I felt compelled to write a blog post immediately. If i'm honest this book held the least appeal for me. Unlike you crazy 21st century kids, I have a prior knowledge and experience of 'Sammy'. Although not around in 1902 the Psammead made his first appearance, I do remember being a child and watching the Five Children and It tv series in the 1990a. It lead me to wrongly believe that this book would be old fashioned and dated. I am pleased to admit that I was wrong. This is a novel that spoke to me on a deeper level than most and I truly feel that its representation of WW1 will live with me for a long time. With the passing of a century since this devastating event, it is impressive to see an author seek to keep it in our collective consciousness by finding a poignant and engaging way to tell this story to a new generation. This is definitely a story I will be recommending highly.
Posted on: 06 May 2016
Meeting Minutes 3 - Fire Colour One
Meeting minutes: Fire Colour One – what is going on with this one? I loved it; the few of you currently reading it aren’t feeling it. I did rant a bit over it during this morning’s meeting (sorry!) but as I said, for me, it was all about Iris (IRIS)! Her mother wouldn’t allow her to call her ‘mother’ from an early age, so she’s already having to deal with an identity crisis. Her best friend doesn’t own a phone and lives by his own social rules, and her estranged father’s about to die. You can see the author, Jenny Valentine, talk in depth about the book here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=16 and search for the making of the actual artwork by Yves Klein on Youtube. There’s a reading extract from the author here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=17 Why do you think she read from this bit? If you watch this after her talk about the book, it might be obvious. I am interested to hear more of your thoughts on the blog. For those of you who are reading this book and have read There Will Be Lies, can you see any connections between the main characters (Iris and Shelby), especially in terms of strength and freedom? Miss Donnelly.
Posted on: 03 May 2016
Sarah Crossan reading from One
Here is the author reading from and talking about her book, One: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php
Posted on: 29 Apr 2016
For those who couldn’t make our first meeting today, here is a recap of ideas and thoughts so far:
(1) Five Children on the Western Front – for anyone who is interested in further reading, or a prequel to Kate Saunders book, read E. Nesbit's Pemberton books. One person has read this one so far (and written a blog below). If you are reading this book at the moment, does it make you want to continue with E. Nesbit’s books?
(2) Patrick Ness on Mental Heath – As you can see from Miss Roche’s blog post below, she loves Patrick Ness, and spoke about it further in today’s meeting, touching on his topic of OCD and depression in the book. He has highlighted that depression can often seem like a harder notion to deal with than we think.
(3) The Lie Tree book covers – first book cover vs new book cover. The original cover is typical of the author’s other books: quite gothic and dark, and many of us said that’s why we were interested in the story in the first place. Miss Donnelly said she preferred the new one, possibly because it seemed more adult and happier, making her want to read it more. Does a dark cover with a vignette style make you think gothic fantasy more than baby blue and shiny text?
(4) Imagining Grace and Tippi – we spoke about the trouble with how the characters in One look – they are described as being pretty in the book, as two people up until the hip. What was so hard to imagine about them? If you read the authors notes at the end of the story, she talks about how the girls’ anatomy is based on a historical pair of twins, and there’s a really sad story in that part of her research.
(5) The Ghosts of Heaven – verse vs prose, the unusual approach to writing a book – this book wants to confuse you, doesn’t it? Set in four parts that can be read any way round. Most of us said that it would annoy us, that we need to read chronologically.
(6) Lies We Tell Ourselves – can we relate to the story? Some of us were surprised that the author, apart from using the language she did, was writing from the point of view of a black student. We questioned how could she relate to how that person feels, being white. We were divided in opinion about historical value of the book vs how much we can relate as British readers. Do you need to relate to a story or character in order to enjoy reading it?
Our next meeting will be this Tuesday 26, morning registration.
Posted on: 22 Apr 2016
WRITING BLOG POSTS TIP
A note on blog posts: it might be worth drafting your blog on a document and then copy and paste it to the website – if you leave the page for a while your post will disappear (I learnt this the hard way today!)
- Miss Donnelly
Posted on: 22 Apr 2016
There Will Be Lies by Miss Donnelly
Interesting to hear what everyone’s saying so far on this one: mostly that it’s good/ interesting, weird, ‘what’s with The Dreaming?’, lengthy, has depth... I read this one while having the flu over the Easter holidays, so I’m not sure if I was a bit more sensitive than usual while reading; I laughed, cried, felt angry and even a bit scared at times - I thought the main character, Shelby, was fantastic: a real heroin. I’m a big fan of Francine Pascal and Haruki Murakami, and I thought this book was a perfect mix of action-thriller and magical realism like theirs, Nick Lake, the author, is so creative! At times I couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t, and I think the author succeeded in putting me in Shelby’s shoes, as well as the American backdrop. I think I was more convinced by what was going on in The Dreaming than in the real world most of the time. I felt just as confused as she did throughout most of the book, in terms of trusting established and new characters (hence being scared!) and it took me ages to work out who the Crone was (anyone know?). I thought that Lies We Tell Ourselves had clear lines about right and wrong, especially in terms of human rights (discrimination race, sexuality, women’s rights), but with this story, I found myself questioning what was so wrong with the actions of some characters who had acted illegally (Shaylene), and questioned the decisions made by characters who hadn’t committed a crime, but who I couldn’t help but not like them anyway (the Watsons). We spoke, in this morning’s meeting, about likeable mothers in the books – I actually liked Shaylene a lot, she is so passionate, smart and caring, but her idea of love is certainly questionable. Who was really free in this book, if anyone? I spent the whole journey feeling sorry for Shelby, because she had no real freedom to be herself. People had controlled her, let her down, endangered her… I loved how this book challenged ideas about identity, and how the writer gave a convincing insight into living with a disability (much more successfully, and convincingly, than Sarah Crossan does with One). I was talking with someone in our group last week about Shelby's nature - without giving away the story - and the topic of competitiveness. Is she competitive, and if so, how does/ doesn't she display this? Are there any other characters who share some of her characteristics? It got me thinking about the idea of nature and nurture, and how one dominants the other when we grow up.
Posted on: 22 Apr 2016
The Rest of Us Just Live Here-Miss Roche
As many of you will know I have been a HUGE fan of Patrick Ness for many years. This novel just continues to fuel my admiration. This is a novel that seeks to show the magic that exists in the ordinary and the pride that can be gained from overcoming difficulties. I think that in a world of fiction where we are always following the ups and downs of the 'chosen one' it was refreshing to have a narrator like Mikey who was seeking to overcome his own personal demons, problems that are more likely to affect our lives than vampires and soul sucking ghouls. A brilliant read. Another well deserved nomination for my YA hero Patrick Ness.
Posted on: 19 Apr 2016
Five Children on the Western Front
I don't usually read historical fiction, but I actually really enjoyed this novel. The novel is set in the first world war with a family and an ancient sand fairy. To start with I didn' think the book would be very good, but I actually felt a real connection to the family. The book shows you how the war affects families and what it was like to have family member fighting in the war. I don't want to ruin the book for anyone so won't say too much but I would definitely recommend this novel.
Posted on: 17 Apr 2016
There Will Be Lies By Miss Roche
This novel proved to be a real page turner. I was fascinated by the dual narrative of Shelby's real and dream life. Shelby was a very engaging character as she was honest in her narration and you gain a clear sense of her conflicting feelings when her past is revealed. The setting was perfect for the supernatural elements of the story and worked well as a means of exploring a person's inner thoughts and methods of processing trauma. I would highly recommend this novel and actually didn't want it to reach a conclusion!
Posted on: 14 Apr 2016
Lies We Tell Ourselves review by Miss Donnelly
I chose to read Lies We Tell Ourselves first because, of all the Carnegie shortlist books, it was my favourite front cover. I was also interested in learning more about desegregation in 1950s American schools, as I don't normally read historical fiction. "The white people are waiting for us." was a rather chilling, dramatic opener, and I thought the first chapter was very powerful in creating a sense of danger - I felt sad that people experienced this only fifty years ago.
I enjoy reading romance stories, and this was another reason I picked this book up first. I thought it was very clever of the author, Robin Talley, to choose not only an interracial romance, but one between two teenage girls, because this is another example of how a marginalised group at the time had to behave in society, how people were ashamed and fearful of such relationships; so there are two important issues running parallel with each other.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. In fact, I couldn't put it down, which says a lot about its readability. It's very readable, especially as the chapters are split between two protagonists, both with opposite beliefs in one sense, and equal feelings in another . I found myself wanting to keep reading about the developments of each character's thoughts, because while they lie to each other, they lie to themselves as well, and subsequently, the reader.
I felt as though I learnt a lot, historically, because the background felt realistic, and afterwards it led me to read up about life in Virginian schools, and other southern states, around the time of the civil rights movement. The author's notes at the back of the book were really helpful in understanding more about the context.
I am interested to know what our reading group think about this book; has anyone read anything similar? Were you convinced by the love story side of it? Do you think gay and lesbian relationships face the same issues today? Do you think it was right for the author to use the language she did (racially offensive)?
The author gives an interesting interview here, where she discusses her reasons for writing the book, and as well as her relationship to the story: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php
Posted on: 14 Apr 2016
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