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Sidcot School
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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys-review
Salt to the Sea is about a group of teenage refugees in WW2 in 1945 who meet on the road whilst they are getting away from the Soviet advance. They tell the story through each character narrating each chapter. The characters are Joana, a Lithuanian nurse, Florian, a Prussian, Emilia, a polish girl and each have their own secrets. Once you get into the book it is very exciting and fast paced, and you learn each person?s terrible stories. I really liked how each character narrated each chapter from their perspective so that the reader could understand how they felt in the same situation but that they felt different depending on where they had come from. Overall, I enjoyed this book because it was exciting and kept you on edge but it was also a historically interesting read. I recommend it for my school library for all ages and boy and girls. By Ruby
Posted on: 13 Jun 2018

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Salt to the Sea is based on the worst disaster in maritime history, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in January 1945, during World War 2. The German military ship was sunk by a Soviet Navy submarine, with an estimated loss of about 9,400 people. Joana, Florian, Emilia and Alfred are four young people from four different European nations ravaged by the Second World War. The story follows each character?s journey towards their only hope for survival, the Wilhelm Gustloff. This book will tell us how each character?s life has been shaped by tragedy and betrayal. They meet at a road full of refuges and fight their way through every danger that lies ahead of them. It?s possible they could survive or die. In my opinion, I like the way Septeys has told the story in four different perspectives because it makes the book more compelling and interesting. Therefore, this gives us an insight into four different ways of seeing the world. Although these four narrative voices have the potential to become confusing, the author is successful in delineating each character. This makes us feel very attached and sympathetic towards them. Even the secondary characters are so unique that you care for them as much as the main ones. I would definitely recommend this book because it?s historically accurate, well-paced, and the characters are closely drawn and consistently believable.
Posted on: 11 May 2018

Beyond The Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
After reading Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, I was expecting to read a similar book when I chose Beyond The Bright Sea. However, I was impressed and even though this book was a little immature for my personal liking, I was captivated by this book and read it in two days, because I couldn't put it down. I became involved in a world where young Crow, living on a tiny island of Cuttyhunk with her 'father' Osh, discovered one night that all she wants in the world is to find out where she came from. After being told by Osh for years that she was washed up on the sands in a small skiff , she sees a fire on another island called Penikese and this sparks questions as she wants to know, who put her on a skiff? and why? This novel is a quick enjoyable and action packed book, with adventure and mystery around every corner, making it a fabulous read. The characters in this book are, to be honest, very simple but with a lot of internal disagreements and issues of their own. Osh is a middle aged man, who is big and protects Crow from everything, as he is her guardian and he will never let anything happen to her. Miss Maggie, is a lady on Cuttyhunk, who becomes connected with Crow, as she wants what's best for her. She is not bothered by the facts that everyone on the island apart form her and Osh, think that Crow is a leper and she will do everything that she can to make sure that Crow blossoms into a young intelligent girl, who does what she can to help the World. After reading Wolk's previous novel, I was expecting a nice story with a simple ending, however, I was pleasantly surprised with the slight twist at the end, as it might not shock you, but definitely makes you smile to yourself. There were all kinds of emotions in the novel, as there were moments where you felt scared for the characters, sorry for the characters and obviously happy and excited for the characters, but the main point is that you connect with the characters, as Wolk describes them as very likable characters who you are rooting for the whole way through. I personally thought that this book was more mature than her first, but still slightly too immature for people of a year nine age, so I would recommend it for maybe a year eight student of an average reading age, as this could definitely be of interest to them. By Mia
Posted on: 07 May 2018

Release by P.Ness
Release by P.Ness Release is a new novel by Patrick Ness, capturing the chaotic life of an older teen boy, who is finally discovering himself as a person. Adam came out as gay a while back, but his parents never accepted it and tried to convince him that he?s not, since they?re such strong Catholics and do not believe in this. Adam?s perfect brother Marty returns to their family home, bringing some shocking news, which sends Adam and his parents spiralling out of control. But when Adam is sexually harassed at work and is accused of bringing it upon himself by his father, quiet shy Adam is no longer quiet and shy as he discovers the true him and finally finds his release. This novel has multiple chapters, but each one contains (about) three sections of Adams? point of view, broken up by the tale of a dead girl and a fawn, who has recently died in Adam?s hometown. I didn?t really like the other subplot going on, as I found it pretty boring, to be honest and often it went on for a little bit too long. I can see why Ness included this added touch, but I personally wish he hadn?t have included it, as every time it got to this section I sort of skim read it, because after reading the first few of these, I decided that it was not something that I was personally interested in. There were, however, some very strong characters in the book. Linus was the boy that Adam is currently dating and he is described so perfectly and I could picture exactly what he looked like in my head, which was really nice, as I felt involved in the book. Adam's best friends Angela seemed like the sort of character who is just a very relatable person, as she seems like the sort of person that everyone knows and she gets around a lot. Ness also describes two girls who Adam work with, who seem to be stereotypical girls, who whisper about people and giggle uncontrollably, which Ness again portrayed very well, as I felt like I knew exactly what and who they were like. Overall, Ness clearly has a talented for writing novels and his character description is exceptional and very impressive. I hope to find some more of his books in the future, as I liked his style of writing. Unfortnately, I just found the plot and the characters in this book a little boring, because they didn't really hook me and this book took me a couple of weeks to read, because I kept getting bored. By Mia
Posted on: 07 May 2018

THE BONE SPARROW by Zana Fraillon-Review
The Bone Sparrow is about life inside a refugee detention camp in Australia. It is a fictional story, but the events are based on true accounts. The author (Zana Fraillon) documents the extraordinary and tragic account of living in a refugee detention camp based on the experiences of a ten-year-old Rohingya refugee boy called Subhi. It talks about the food they eat, the conditions they live in (including sanitation) and the abuse they get from the security guards, nicknamed Jackets. Subhi lives in a large tent with his sick mother, his feisty sister, his best friend and companion Eli, and over 70 other Rohingya refugees. The detention camp, more like a prison, is the only place that Subhi has ever called home. Perhaps because of the hardship inside the camp, Subhi has his own ways to escape it all. He uses his amazing imagination; for example, he dreams up the night sea with its creatures to visualise what it must be like to swim in the ocean. Except for the kindness of one of the Jackets, a man named Harvey, it is only Subhi?s ability to control his mind and dream up anything that has allow him to survive without getting into trouble. But this is until he befriends a girl his own age, who comes from the outside. The girl?s name is Jimmie. When they meet, Subhi notices that her clothes have more holes than his. Jimmie is unsettled. Her father works long shifts away from home and she has an irresponsible brother charged to care for her. She rarely makes it to school so can barely read, but instead she likes to explore. She once ignored a danger sign about crocodiles in the water. So it is not surprising that when she comes across the fence surrounding the detention camp, she decides to find a way in. Subhi and Jimmie?s friendship is a welcome distraction to both children as they struggle to cope with their different lives. Jimmie wears a string around her neck, bearing a sparrow carved out of bone to bring her good luck, while Subhi believes that sparrows are bad luck. Jimmie carries a book that she can barely read. It bears memories and stories from her mother. This book is the bond that binds them together. Their relationship is abruptly interrupted when violence breaks out in the camp and Jimmie becomes ill. In another twist of fate, Subhi temporarily escapes from the detention camp to help Jimmie. For the first time, he finds himself on the outside and considers freedom. But he cannot bear to leave his mother, sister and best friend, so - having helped Jimmie - he returns to the camp. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time to witness the murder of his best friend Eli, killed by one of the Jackets. Shockingly, Harvey the only Jacket that Subhi and Eli trusted, stands by and does nothing, which leaves Subhi heartbroken. The story ends when Subhi is reunited with his mother, who has now recovered. But not before he has to deal with a dilemma about Eli?s death. When Amnesty International interview him about what he saw, it is not an easy decision. The official account states that Eli was a troublemaker who was responsible for the riots that resulted in the violence, and then accidentally fell from a roof. For Subhi, telling the truth will put Harvey in serious trouble, but it will also protect his best friend?s legacy. The Bone Sparrow is a topical book because of the huge number of refugees in the world at the moment. Australia is known to be one of the toughest countries immigration and it was disturbing to learn how refugees are treated there. It was a clever technique to use a young boy who had never lived outside the camp as the narrator, as it removed the need to describe any previous life that he might have had, and allowed the narrative to focus only on the grim conditions inside the camp. On the other hand, Subhi?s relationship with Jimmie showed that anyone can run into problems and have a tough life, whether or not they are unfortunate enough to be a refugee. The book has made me want to learn more about how refugees are treated in the world, and whether there is any hope to improve their situation.
Posted on: 24 Apr 2018

)ne by Sarah Crossan
One is about conjoined twins called Grace and Tipe who are 16. They live with their mom, dad, gran and younger sister Dragon. Grace and Tipe have been home schooled all their lives but a huge cut back means that Grace and Tipe have to start public school and face the fear of standing out when all they want to do is fit in. They make friends with other unique characters and try to tackle there complicated life. There life only gets more complicated from here on out with more threatening news on the way. With them getting on a tighter budget Tipe and Grace decide to do the one thing they swore that they would never do to help out with the unbearable struggle on the way the twins get extremely ill and have to decide whether to make a life altering decision where they might not make it or not where they will go together. What will they do? Erin
Posted on: 24 Apr 2018

Wolf Hollow by Freya
Wolf Hollow is a small sleepy town in Pennsylvania. The story follows Anabelle, a quiet young girl who befriends the towns out cast, Toby. When Betty enters Annabelle's life it is turned upside down. Betty is a cruel and manipulative girl, determined Annabelle's life a misery. Things take a turn for the worse when Toby, a reclusive war veteran becomes the focus of her attacks, suddenly Betty disappears and all blame is placed on Toby, Annabelle is quick to jump to Toby's defence and attempts to try and prove his innocence. Overall I think that the book was well written however there where a few points of disinterest where the plot seemed to drag on and not move forward. I felt that the book was about how childish actions can quickly turn into something truly awful, it also seems to express the emotions of those scared by the war and the conflict of religious beliefs and greed. I think that the characters where all well written and they all had a sense of purpose that aided the story. I though that the book was good although I don't think I would read it again as I found it bit dull in places.
Posted on: 22 Apr 2018

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk review.
Wolf Hollow is an eerie dramatic novel following the life of twelve year old Annabelle, a young quiet girl who lives in a large farmhouse with her family in a lightly populated hollow. Annabelle makes friends with a mysterious man called Toby and he is accused of blinding Annabelle's best friend Ruth, but with the school bully threatening her family and her best friend moving away, Annabelle's life is changed and not necessarily for the best. I personally really liked the protagonist Annabelle, as she was very relatable and I could see how her mind worked and what her decisions were influenced by. She was shy and timid and her occasional bold actions were inspiring and very thought provoking, as I could relate to her on a mental and physical level. I really liked the fact that Annabelle reacted in the same way that I too would and she made the same decisions that I would, it was as if I was Annabelle. The other characters in the book were too very interesting and they all had their own touches that made them unique. For example Ruth was only in the beginning part of the novel, yet still managed to teach Annabelle some very important lessons like self- belief and kindness. A character I particularly liked was Toby, as he started off as a random man who Annabelle mentioned and then he started to become more prominent and even though he didn't always sound good, he had the right incentive. Towards the end Toby disguises himself as someone else, because he is being hunted down, Annabelle helps him to do so and becomes very interested in his take on the war and how the experience affected him. Very near the end of the novel, Toby takes it upon himself to do something very heroic and he saves someone's life who hasn't been particularly nice to him and I think that teaches a very important lesson to the reader about doing the right thing whenever you can, no matter who it's for. There are many morals in Wolf Hollow and I think that it really is a book about bringing children up the right way and doing what's right at all times, even if it's not the easiest thing to do at that moment in time. All in all, I really enjoyed this book, as it was a nice quick read with some horribly graphic parts that made you want to look away, but somehow managing to keep you reading. I would definitely recommend this novel, however to a younger audience, as I felt that parts of it were a little immature and certain parts weren't described in enough detail. I would recommend this to school children aged: 10 and above. By Mia
Posted on: 21 Apr 2018

The Bone Sparrow Review
The Bone Sparrow is a novel created to highlight the mistreatment of refugees around the world. The story is set in an Australian camp, where refugees are treated like prisoners. Zana Fraillon uses brutal descriptive language to bring the jail-like centre to life, depicting the abuse suffered at the hands of the Jackets, the camp guards, the appalling living conditions and the cruel separation of families within the camp. The story is narrated from two perspectives: that of Subhi, a refugee living in the camp, and that of Jimmie, an ordinary girl who lives nearby. A combination of thought tracking and cross cutting is used to great effect, showing how the main events of the story affect different people. The novel perfectly encapsulates a friendship between two people who appear to be vastly different, but are actually very similar. Subhi has never set foot outside of the camp, and desperately wants to be free. Zana Fraillon?s description of his escape is both uplifting and bitter. Above all the novel brings to light how badly treated refugees are by the very people who claim to be helping them. While the novel is not a true story in the sense that all the events in the book actually happened, it is a true story in the sense that it is a reality for thousands of people. Never has this book been more relevant than right now. While the novel is a work of fiction, it is also an incredibly powerful political statement. There are currently 22.5 million refugees in the world, almost three times the population of London. They are being resettled at a rate of 189,000 per year. There are 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world, people who have fled their homelands to avoid being killed. Modern, developed countries should be doing everything in their power to help, not lock up refugees like criminals. EU law allows refugees to be forcibly detained, essentially locked up for 18 months without a conviction. In Australia, no refugee who arrives by boat is allowed to be resettled, ever. In the USA, refugees are detained for months, often years while their refugee status is reviewed. They are jailed together with criminals, and treated like them. If a refugee in America commits even a minor offence, they can receive a longer sentences than those convicted of murder. Everyone knows of the refugee crisis, but the human rights abuse of refugees at the hands of those who are meant to be helping is rarely reported. In Australia, is is a criminal offence to disclose the mistreatment of refugees in detention. This book has helped to bring one of the greatest scandals of this era to our attention, and for that, it deserves not only a Carnegie award, but also the recognition of the world of literature. The most powerful works of literature are those that force us to realise uncomfortable truths about our own society, and this novel certainly does just that. By Linus
Posted on: 19 Apr 2018

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys review
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is a novel based on four German refugees in WW2 fleeing from the Red Army, all with secrets to hide. The four protagonists from different backgrounds and circumstances, paths collide on the way, as they pin their hopes of survival on the ship Wilhelm Gustloff. On this journey they unite and slowly begin to trust each other on their trek to safety. Just as freedom is within their grasp a tragedy befalls the four protagonists. A tragedy that has gone forgotten in history today, despite the thousands of people who all battled for their lives and lost. A gripping and heart-breaking novel. The protagonists were Florian; a dark and secretive young man not in the army, initially traveling alone and a deadly mission to complete. Joana; a young nurse, caring and gentle, willing to help those in need. Emilia; a polish girl around 15 years old, persecuted by the Russians and the Germans, alone in the world. And Alfred; a loyal Nazis, sexist and racist, works on the Wilhelm Gustloff. Personally I believe that Ruta made a good choice with these four protagonists as we here views from different sides of the story, those who hate Hitler, those who condoned him and those who just don't care. The character's secrets create a sense of intrigue around them, as they are all slow to trust one another this means that their secrets are revealed gradually throughout the book. My personal favourite was Emilia as she was kind, loving, brave and strong. She continued through all the hardships that life had thrown at her and still remained selfless and trusting. However all the character's had great qualities except perhaps Alfred, and were credible and human. I also found the characters relatable despite never having been in a situation anywhere near the one they were placed in. As the novel is written in 1st person you are able to understand their innermost thoughts and feelings, allowing you to feel a stronger connection with them. I loved this book and it is probably one of my favourites now. The hardships the protagonists have to face, and the gripping storyline all make for an amazing read. I liked the 1st person style of writing and how closely we followed the characters, as I feel that it makes them easier to understand and sympathise with. I also liked the genre of the book, slightly tragic with hints of romance and friendship. The fact that it was written from the German refugees' point of view and not the classic English, just made it all the more interesting and unique. My favourite part of the book was probably the shy romance between Florian and Joana and my least favourite was having to listen to Alfred's point of view. Alfred slowly began to annoy me increasingly more as I read the novel but it was still interesting to hear a Nazi's point of view. If I could change something I would probably change the ending, but I understand why it was written the way it was, otherwise it wouldn?t have had a strong enough impact. Therefore I would definitely recommend this book, especially to those who like books of war, tragedy or bravery in the face of despair. By Sophia C.
Posted on: 18 Apr 2018