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Birkenhead High School Academy
86 Devonshire Place,

Carnegie Medal 2014 - Week 1
Dear all, Welcome back from the Easter Holiday. Here is the schedule for the Carnegie Medal 2014. Winner Announcement Date: 23 June Bookalicious Bookworm Top 4 Voting Date: 16 May (Friday) Discussion 1 - 23 May Discussion 2 - 6 June Discussion 3 - 13 June Discussion 4 - 20 June - Vote for our winner Let's meet at lunch time and see you all!
Posted on: 02 May 2014


Shocking news that had us all stumped. We held our own vote and "Between Shades of Gray" - Ruta Sepetys won by a landslide; a vote for "My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece"; and "Trash". None of us saw this coming. Mrs Doran and myself had also voted for "Between Shades of Gray" and were completely turned around by the outcome of this year's competition.

We're extremely proud of the girls who took part and hope that this is the first of many more Carnegie meetings to come for this group. Their enthusiasm and attentiveness in the meetings made this year's Carnegie Shadowing experience one to remember.

Thanks girls!

Yung, J

Posted on: 18 Jun 2012

Week 6!

We talked about "The Midnight Zoo" and gathered the general feel of abandonment and loneliness that came with the struggling gypsy orphans, Andrej, Tomas and Wilma. The girls agreed that the suffering of the gypsies was heartbreaking and the story was told with great descriptive style. They were set a task over the Half Term break to write a short exerpt in the perspective of one of the zoo animals or an animal of their own creation at the zoo. Though, not the most enjoyed of the novels, the girls agreed that this was a great story that was well told and they were satisfied with the read! Winner announcement in Week 7!!

Yung, J

Posted on: 18 Jun 2012

Week 5!

Week 5 and we discussed "Between Shades of Gray" - Ruta Sepetys. We opened the meeting by watching Sepetys' 10min video on her website where she talked about the book and its historical roots. The girls really took to it and those who hadn't read it were enthusiastic to read it. Miss Yung started the group discussion with the girls who had read the novel by quizzing them about their views on the novel and its characters. At the end of the novel, the a majority of the girls had stated that they felt everything Lina felt in the novel: the pain, the suffering, the loss, the strength, and the hope. The girls, Mrs Doran, and Miss Yung also shared that they felt that so long as they had a family member with them, they would be able to survive in the Arctic Circle. Most of them agreed that their favourite characters had been Andrius and Jonas, and they thought that if they were a character in the novel, they would be Andrius or Elena. Kretsky, they also agreed, is a pivotal character, being interesting in the way that he showed them kindness even though he was the enemy. The use of italicised memories in the text gave another dimension to the story, showing the contrast between life as it had been before the war to deepen the poignancy of loss and suffering. The ending had been the favourite part for our girls as it spoke of hope and it meant that the Valkis' story was told through Lina's letters and drawings.
The school shadowing group blog on the school website has a list of questions for them to try, and several items of further reading for them to immerse themselves in the rich, hidden history that was the Baltic annexation into Soviet Russia.

We'll see you next week for "The Midnight Zoo"!

Yung, J

Posted on: 25 May 2012

Week 4!

This week, the readers of Andy Mulligan's "Trash" joined Miss Yung for a little group discussion before engaging in a book cipher customised for the pages of Trash. The seven girls that took part were fanastic and bright, each one had great fun and uncoded the cipher well in the given time to follow the clues and claim their well-deserved slice of cake, courtesy of Mrs Doran.
The girls that hadn't read the book were occupied with the writing competitions, most of them well underway with their literary compositions, producing great quality! We're very proud of you girls!
See you next week for "Between Shades of Gray"- Ruta Sepetys!

Yung, J

Posted on: 21 May 2012

Small Change for Stuart

Week 3 saw a great turn out of girls to the reading group meeting where the number of girls who had read the book, "Small Change for Stuart" engaged with Mrs Doran to discuss the novel with great enthusiasm. The girls who hadn't read the book were entertained by the bountiful number of writing competitions available this summer. Among these are the: "Wirral Festival of Firsts Poetry Competition"; "Please sir I want some more..." in celebration of the bicentenary of Dickens; "all write!"; "John Betjeman Poetry Competition"; and "Mother Tongue Other Tongue". Still working on expanding the girls' writing skills, we believe strongly in encouraging the girls to "read as writers" because "readers are writers"! :) See you next week!

Yung, J

Posted on: 21 May 2012

Poets Unite!

On the subject of "reading as writers", we're undergoing the task of getting as many writing tasks done as we can whilst shadowing the Carnegie books. We sailed through our first official meeting where we discusses "My Name is Mina", getting positive feedback and great insightful interpretations and opinions from the girls who have read the book. Other girls, who read the extracts we provided, were inspired to write. We introduced a number of writing competitions for the girls to partake in and they took to it like magic. We're very pleased by the response we've had and are looking forward to the next week's meeting where we're discussing "Small Change for Stuart". Wherever their talents lay: in poetry; in creative writing; or in blogging, we've encouraged everyone to express themselves with a few promising entries already!

All in all, a very successful week 2! Thanks for coming everyone and we'll see you next week!

Yung, J

Posted on: 03 May 2012

Story intros- My Story Begins Here. Our Top 6

A Monster Calls - Amethyst Elson

Of course I remember how it happened. How could anyone forget? The tale has been told so many times that the facts are wrong and details are blurred and sketchy. But I was there. I was there and now I'm going to tell you a story. My story. A Monster Calls.

It started not all that long ago. Two months, that's all, but it seems like years have gone by. It's as if I'm in a different life and to be honest, I'm a little relieved. They say life is what you make of it, however I know I didn't sign up for the dangerous one. Perhaps it's our choices that affect what happens to us all. My choice was to hunt and explore. In some strange way, that is choosing a dangerous path.

The unknown is so beguiling and dark and secretive. Who knows what lurks in the shadows? Not me, and I wanted to know. That's why I delved deep into Foxwood Forest and ignored the Danger signs and entered the abandoned caves. Curiosity killed the cat.

A Monster Calls- Phoebe Thomas

Fear. It's the first emotion that sets in. It's a demon of the dark, deadly tendrils of tempting words to wrap around a mortal's tounge. It enters the body through the gateway to the soul; continues its journey to capture the mind and fill in with anxiety and lies; sends an electric shock down a wanderer's spine, causing a shock so deadly it could rip a mans body.

Fear itself is more deadly than the predator. The mystique of the unknown. The feeling of baited breath on the back of your neck, as the hairs prick like needles and stand on a point. It's an emotion that can not only produce fear, but excitement. The curioisty of not knowing what lies ahead - or, in cases, what stands behind, closer than you think.

Ever closer it gets. This thing, this being, that may be man or monster. It may be an image of paranoia, a ghost of mixed emotions, never seen but always...felt. A thing that cannot be touched by hand, but with a limb more precious than an outer shell.

Between Shades of Gray- Ellie-Mai Williams

-Gray. Such a dull colour.

Gray is the colour of clouds before a storm. Gray is the clour of death. Gray is the colour of misery and sadness.

It is somewhere between white and black, between good and bad. Gray is inbetween. It isnt anywhere. It isnt anything.

Right now my world is pretty gray. My world is full of gray, empty people, living gray, shells of lives. Full of gray, sad objects of absolutley no meaning.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece- Eleanor Tooher

I was only 5 at the time. So i never understood the pain of losing a child. Sure I missed my sister, but nowere near as much as mum or dad. Bella Tricks was her full name and she was 13 when she died. She was funny and kind and well I dont really remember much of her. Its just photos and a couple teddies. The rest is gone. You see mum never really got over what happened she blames herself when we all clearly know it wasnt her falt. When she got the message of her death she threw out all of her stuff including the bed. So she sealed her pain in a barron white room.

A Monster Calls- Karen Taylor

I wish my past never happened. I can't get over what happened for a start; never mind forgetting it. The last in my family who broke the curse. Living on a farm with a dead thing. Now, I will begin my life story. . .

My name is Max. I was 14, and living a normal life intill my Mum broke the news to me. My Dad was being drawn into the dark twilight each night; because of it.

The Midnight Zoo- Xanthe Brennan

A dark night. Cresent moon. Perfect. The she wolf loped from behind the tree and sniffed the air that was clogged up with the heady scent of a Nidranian summer.

Good work you six!

-Doran, Y & Yung, J

Posted on: 27 Apr 2012

All for one, and one for all!

Thursday 26th April saw the first official meeting of the BHSA Carnegie Shadowing group in our main library, lead by: our excellent librarian, Mrs Doran; our technical expert, Mrs Hudson; and assisstant librarian, Miss Yung.

Though the lunchtime meeting was short, we accomplished many things. We'd issued membership cards with our reading and meeting schedules for all thirty girls who had attended. We also began our path to literary growth with the aim to "read as writers", beginning with the exercise to choose a novel title and front cover they liked best and then write their own opening paragraph to that book. And, having read some of these, we are very pleased by their enthusiasm and great potential to be fantastic writers. Quality stuff!

The next meeting with be held on Thursday 3rd May. We hope you're having as much fun as we are!

-Yung, J

Posted on: 27 Apr 2012

Joining the ranks. A poem from a veteran

Peeking past the haze of Annual Hibernation,
Ink bleeds from your shadow of a smile
As you stretch out your hand.
You change your mask every year,
Your plumage of pages
Spread for all to see-
A Mardi Gras in April.
Your guard of ever-changing names and faces,
Each, a story to tell,
We circle them like vultures,
Relish their perfect words,
The rich pictures that stain the mind-
A dance of flourishing diction.
Briefly, our hands will touch
Before you tug the curtain down
And the Crown of Letters falls once more
Upon the brow of the one…
Part your lips
And let your voice be heard…
Once again, your palm is offered
And the words overflow,
“Come, join the dance.”

Yung, J

Posted on: 19 Apr 2012