Sir Harry Smith Community College
St Death...Week 2 by Olivia
Marcus Sedgwick's 'Saint Death' was a Carnegie entry that surprised many of us. With its sharp contrasts to some of his previous and more fantastical books, we didn't know what to expect. However since beginning to read it, many of us have been drawn in by the themes and plot surrounding Arturo and his life near the Mexican border. Even with research we had completed about the topic, some parts of the story were shocking to realize. Arturo describes how his mother and countless other women work in factories run by international companies who want inexpensive labour. With this in mind, for our activity this week we researched where the last item of clothing we bought was manufactured, and what working conditions were like there. We found that countless clothing brands were underpaying their workers and not providing fair working conditions.
Both the tasks and the book have fully displayed the issues faced by many cultures like that in Mexico and how they compare to Western society.
Posted on: 18 Apr 2018
Swapping books! Week 2 by Mitchell.
Today lots of people wrote reviews on the books that they had finished over the holidays and if they had already wrote a review they were reading a new book and within our group we have been doing Wed Wabbit and Rook but we were also swapping over so if someone had read Rook they will now read Wed Wabbit.
Posted on: 18 Apr 2018
Wed Wabbit...Week 1 by Annie
This week, we discussed 'Wed Wabbit' in our group. Most of the people in the group loved it, but a few of them did have something negative to say about it. One person, for instance, said that the map of Wimbleyland didn't match up with the description. Overall it was a good session and we all can't wait to discuss the next book.
Posted on: 29 Mar 2018
Beyond the Bright Sea...Week 1 by Nathan
Today we looked at this book, by Lauren Wolk, and talked about its structure and meaning. We agreed that it was slow and a little draggy in the first half of the book, but the last ten or so chapters really started to pick up the pace, and some of us really liked it ? even though the end seemed to be squashing too much information in, and could be spread out more. We also discussed the relationship between the characters and their island. The activity was to write a short creative writing piece of what Osh?s life may have been like before he moved to live on the island, and why he moved away.
Posted on: 28 Mar 2018
This session, we were looking at the book 'Railhead' by Phillip Reeve. We discussed some of the characters in this book and how Phillip Reeve portrays the trains and the K-gates. After that, our task was to create a Declaration of Motorik Rights (Motorik are the robots in 'Railhead').
Some of our ideas were:
- No one has the right to wrongly imprison you.
- You have the right to leisure and free time.
- You have the right to recharge when you get below 20%
Posted on: 06 Jun 2017
Oktober Bend Week One...by Ocean.
So today we talked about the book 'The Stars at Oktober Bend': we talked for about 10-15 minutes about what we liked and disliked about it, then we broke off and started writing poems based on Alice's poetry, that we could put up around school to make people feel happy.
Posted on: 06 Jun 2017
Final Week on 'The Smell of Other People's Houses' by Isabel.
The majority of us could all agree that overall 'The Smell of Other People's Houses' was a good book, but was it award-winning good? The answer is, unfortunately no. Not one of us said that we wanted it to win the Carnegie award. Yes, the book was good, but we could all see some clear flaws! The main thing that aggravated all of us was how neat the ending was. They all coupled up and it was just way too unrealistic and we thought it was too happy to be the ending of the book - "neat" being the perfect way to describe it. We had some brilliant discussions on all of the missed opportunities that we felt there were, for example, Ruth being pregnant. It didn't seem to faze her, it was just very much brushed over. Also the different tribes; it didn't go into depth on them which was disappointing. Furthermore, it didn't feel to some of us like it was actually set in Alaska, there wasn't anything so distinctive that made the setting obvious. It could have had the potential to win if everything wasn't underplayed, that was where it let itself down. It also wasn't as dramatic as other books and with more detail, it could have been better.
Posted on: 06 Jun 2017
Smelling Other People's Houses...by Amelia.
'The Smell of Other's People's Houses' is about Alaska and when it became part of the United States. There are four main characters: Ruth, Alyce, Dora and Hank. The book explains each of their back stories, like Ruth's is that she's a teen mum and Alyce is a ballet dancer who has to spend the summer fishing with her dad. Our group quite liked the book, but we thought it wasn't dramatic enough. Like in 'Salt to the Sea' the drama was a lot more noticeable, but in this book, when Ruth found out she was pregnant, she was just so calm about it, just saying she needed to buy bigger clothes. Most of our group didn't like the ending of 'The Smell of Other People's Houses' because we said it was too "neat". Everyone sort of had a happy ending. Also most of us changed our opinions on the nasty grandma, except me! I (and a few others) still strongly dislike her!
Posted on: 25 May 2017
Researching Alaska...by Elise.
In this week's session we got introduced to our second book, Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's 'The Smell of Other People's Houses'. We look up Alaska - where the book is set - and learnt that it was only in 1959 that Alaska became an American State. It was bought from Russia for only $7 million, much to the annoyance of Alaskans and Americans alike. Tribespeople were met with racism towards their hunting ways and this book is about four people's views ten years later. We proceeded to discuss the book's title and agreed that houses do have a smell that reflects its occupants. I look forward to discovering the angle(s) the author faces this story at and can't wait to start reading!
Posted on: 19 May 2017
Wolf Hollow: Betty's back story...by Nathan.
Today we look at the book 'Wolf Hollow'. We discussed different things about the book, including: what are the few similarities between Betty and Toby; and is lying justified. When we discussed the book, we concluded that's it's a fascinating story, but not with much description, for example, the time period it was set in wasn't described a lot.
Then we wrote a diary from Betty's perspective, with what she might have written as her background to the story. This was so that we may see that Betty may not have been as bad as Annabelle makes her out to be, so that we understand Betty's side of the story. Maybe she had reasons for her bullying and for telling her lies...
Posted on: 19 May 2017
'Salt to the Sea' Final Week, by Emily W.
I, for one, loved 'Salt to the Sea'. It was so beautifully written and I fell in love with several characters. But the ending made me cry and I wish I'd never read it.
Whilst we all knew the boat was going to sink, and that not many people survived, I find it rude that my favourite character was killed off! Now another certain character...I was incredibly happy when he died! I don't think any other character has ever made me as angry as he has! I hate him with a burning passion and fully believe he got everything he deserved.
While a few people agreed with me, others felt sorry for him. Their argument was that, while he may have stalked his beautiful Hannelore, he loved her and felt guilty about her death. He just wanted to be Hitler's perfect soldier. But he wasn't, so he just made everything up inside his head. Someone else said there are parallels between him and Hitler, both rejected in their childhood and needed a sense of power.
The Shoe Poet's death hurt everyone. That's all I can say without sobbing. The proper ending, the letter, made me happy Halinka is a swimmer; is that ironic or is it just me? In conclusion I 100% think this book could win. I love it!
Posted on: 17 May 2017
The last week of Sputnik! by Morgan.
I really enjoyed reading this ‘Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth’ with my group. As a group we discussed what things could go on Sputnik’s list and where we could take him. We came up with, bubble gum, bubble wrap, an indoor skydiving place and more. Then we drew pictures of the things. We also researched about Lakia and shared some information, we found out about her. In small groups we discussed some questions about Prez, Sputnik, aliens, the ending and the style of the book. The last question was: does this book deserve to win? People had mixed feelings about it. Because we haven’t read all of the books yet, most people aren’t sure. Overall everyone really enjoyed it and we can’t wait to read more of the books!
Posted on: 09 May 2017
Salt to the Sea...by Olivia.
Ruta Sepetys' 'Salt to the Sea' is a story of war. Many know of the tragedies of conflict that have shook the world, but Sepetys shines the light on the hidden corners of the Second World War that seem to have been forgotten. Our group found that she would not have been able to do this without her characterisation. After a great deal of discussion, we soon came to shared conclusions on certain characters in the book, Alfred in particular. His racist, sexist and frankly immature attitudes make him extremely easy to hate from afar, but if you look closer, you begin to feel sorry for him. His joy at having such power over others is a result of his bullied childhood, his ability to discriminate stems from the way he was left out as a boy. Many of us found we came close to being upset by this, until he did something else extremely infuriating and you hated him again! What was most interesting however, was the way Sepetys uses minor characters to emphasise the horrors of war, the Shoe Poet, Giant Eva, Ingrid: they all show how war can tear their lives apart. Our task was to identify a minor character, they didn't even need to have a name, and to analyse the effect of their seemingly less significant stories on the bigger picture. One such example could be Ingrid - her disability meant she was fleeing Hitler as he attempted to purify Germany, she carried on despite knowing she could be caught and killed at any moment, just like many others in her situation. It can easily be said we have all found 'Salt to the Sea' to be a sorrowful, but also moving start to the Carnegie book awards.
Posted on: 04 May 2017
Week 1: Pleading with Sputnik to save our planet! by Eric.
Today, in the 80th anniversary year of Carnegie, my group (who read ‘Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth’) tried to think of ten things that we would put on the list for Sputnik to save humanity. We had a lot of ideas including a zoo and a virtual reality headset with an explosive action game. We also thought that we could show Sputnik a confetti cannon and other confetti related items, such as confetti bomb letters. We thought of the last one because Sputnik likes causing mayhem and it is a harmless cannon, unlike the ones Sputnik would choose!
Our final list was composed of:
A magic show/ illusionist
Virtual reality headset
Sand being made into windows
A slinky on an escalator
A travellator/ treadmill- we read the manuals…
Rocks being made into salt- yes it is edible!
We hope that list will save our planet and our species. Please Sputnik!
Posted on: 26 Apr 2017
A new approach...
This year, for the first time, we have a huge group of Carnegie readers! As well as the regular Student Book Club, we also have keen readers from elsewhere in the school joining us! We have also dedicated more time to discussing the books, coming off timetable to hold the discussions and complete the activities. For most of us, this is our first ever Carnegie award and we are hoping it will introduce us to some authors we haven't heard of before, as well as challenge us to read something different. We can't wait to see what lies ahead!
Posted on: 24 Apr 2017
The end is nigh...
We are still frantically reading the shortlist in the hope of meeting the deadline. So far, opinions are divided, with votes for 'More Than This', 'Cuckoo Song' and 'Tinder'. Following closely behind, is 'Apple and Rain'. Hopefully we will be able to make our minds up before the deadline looms!
We have all, however, expressed our disappointment for both 'The Fastest Boy in the World' and 'When Mr Dog Bites', both of which we feel are decidedly below the quality we expect from a Carnegie shortlist! This week we are hoping to come to some kind of majority decision about our favourite...but then...will it win?
Posted on: 10 Jun 2015
Discussions have begun...
We are slowly making our way through the shortlist and it seems unanimous among those in the group who are Carnegie veterans, that this year's shortlist is the weakest in a while. We can't really identify a clear winner yet, and we seem to dislike more of the books than we actually enjoy! So far 'More Than This' by Patrick Ness seems to be the favourite. We are not enamoured at all by 'When Mr Dog Bites' or 'Buffalo Soldier'. 'Tinder' has really divided the crowd! We will keep ploughing on and see if our opinions improve by next week!
Posted on: 11 May 2015
So, we have a new group, we have perused the longlist, we can't wait to get started!! Hurry up shortlist...
Posted on: 09 Mar 2015
The end is near...
We have all been busy reading away and most of us have almost completed the shortlist. Emotions are certainly running high! There are definite mixed opinions about most of the books and our little group has become very divided! 'Ghost Hawk' continues to either infuriate us or delight us, 'The Bunker Diary' has thrown up far more questions than it answered, and 'The Wall' has either moved us or bored us... There is still no clear winner among us, but a sneaking suspicion tells me that 'All The Truth That's In Me' and 'The Bunker Diary' will score very highly... Watch this space!
Posted on: 18 Jun 2014
It's hotting up!
We have now had a couple more meetings and things are getting interesting! Most of us took a couple of books home with us over the Easter holidays and have some divided opinions about a lot of them! 'Blood Family' has been received with a lot of disappointment, with most of us liking the subject matter, but feeling that the ending was a bit of a cop-out. We have all enjoyed 'Liar & Spy' for its childlike imagination and witty writing. Most were surprised and touched by the twist at the end regarding Georges' mother. I think the favourite so far this year has been 'Rooftoppers', with just the right mix of an emotional tale and a gripping adventure. Although 'Ghost Hawk' has rattled a lot of our cages too... Some of us hated the shocking twist in the middle and some of us absolutely loved it! Watch this space for more lively debates in future weeks!
Posted on: 07 May 2014
Meeting Number One...
The books have arrived and we have all chosen our first read. Some of us have even finished our first Carnegie book of the year! Most of the older readers have chosen 'Blood Family' and the younger readers have gone for 'Liar & Spy'. But with a long Easter break coming up, most of us have taken extra books home as well... We're happy to have Carnegie back!
Posted on: 03 Apr 2014
We are just back at school after a relaxing Easter break and most students have finished at least one book over the holidays, which is great! 'Wonder' has emerged as a contender for the top prize, as has 'The Weight of Water'. 'Maggot Moon' has been a surprising book for most students that have tried it - a lot more serious and dark than many thought it would be. 'In Darkness' has been thoroughly abandoned and I doubt whether others will try it, which is a shame - something for the Carnegie judges to think about for next year. We have all been busy swapping our books this week, with 'Midwinterblood' being taken for the first time (which I'm sure students will be pleasantly surprised by!). Another popular choice over Easter was 'A Greyhound of a Girl' - Roddy Doyle's brilliance has shone through once again. Some busy weeks of reading ahead - no doubt the popularity of each book will change as we go on!
Posted on: 17 Apr 2013
Reviews are coming in!
Fresh from our second discussion, our first reviews are already starting to appear! 'The Boy and a Bear in a Boat' has proved very popular, with most students finding it a quick read, and very refreshing in comparison to the normal Carnegie fare! We have already had 'In Darkness' returned by one of only two students that decided to give it a go (and I can't say I blame her!). The subject matter was just too harrowing and in my opinion not appropriate for this age group. The unique format of 'The Weight of Water' has also been popular with the group, particuarly as the subject matter is actually quite serious, but is covered in a very accessible way. I am delighted with how quickly the group has devoured the books!! Almost everyone has now moved onto their second (in some cases third!!) book - 'Maggot Moon' has been taken for the first time, as has 'Wonder'. Watch this space for more feedback!
Posted on: 25 Mar 2013
So, we have had our first meeting and we have all chosen our first books! Most of the boys have gone for 'The Boy and a Bear in a Boat', while the girls are a bit of a mixed bag. Some went for 'The Weight of Water', some for 'A Greyhound of a Girl' and some for 'Code Name Verity'. Our next meeting is this week, so we can find out everyone's first impressions!
Posted on: 19 Mar 2013
Last year's winner..
Turns out we were wrong last year and 'A Monster Calls' eventually claimed the top prize. I can't help, but be a little disappointed, as were our reading group, as Patrick Ness has won so many times before and is a bit of a Carnegie veteran! Hopefully this year, some new talent will emerge...
Posted on: 13 Mar 2013
And the winner is..
Well, we've picked our winner! It was a close run thing, but 'My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece' has just pinched it, with 'Between Shades of Gray' a very close second. There was only one vote between them! Now we just need to wait and see what the official results are... I wonder if we're right!
Posted on: 14 Jun 2012
Best and Worst...
This week we have been discussing our favourite and least favourite books, with mixed results! 'Between Shades of Gray' is coming out top with a number of our group, but is being closely followed by 'My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece'. This book has really divided the group, with some of us deeply moved by the emotion and the humour in the story and others feeling that we needed to know more about Rose to really care about the implications of her death. 'Small Change for Stuart' is a surprising success! No-one has voted for it as their least favourite. Unfortunately there must always be a last place and 'My Name is Mina' and 'The Midnight Zoo' are fighting over it at the moment, languishing at the bottom. Not everyone has finished reading all of the books yet though so it could all change yet!
Posted on: 24 May 2012
What a great character!
We're all making good progress through the books now and the reviews are coming along nicely. This week's discussion centred around our favourite characters and surprisingly, it wasn't always the protagonist of the story! Lots of the group chose Raphael for his bravery and steadfastness. Lots chose Conor for his vivid imagination and coping mechanisms. Lots chose Lina for her passion and hope in horrific circumstances. But the clear winner was Jas! Despite not being at at the centre of the story, Jas' caring nature, indiviuality and determination to help bring up Jamie in the absence of his mother, has captured the minds of our group and made her our favourite of them all.
Posted on: 17 May 2012
Is a winner emerging?
Meeting Number Three and most of us are making good headway through the shortlist! Last week it looked like 'My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece' was going to be the clear winner for our group, but this week the odds have evened out a little. 'A Monster Calls' is soaring in popularity as more people finish it! Most of the meeting was spent discussing the rank outsiders, with 'My Name is Mina' and 'The Midnight Zoo' our least favourites. General consensus is that Mina is too random and wishy-washy, and 'Zoo' is trying to be too clever with its writing to keep the reader intrigued. But watch this space as winners and losers are changing all the time!
Posted on: 10 May 2012
Meeting Number Two...
We spent much of this meeting discussing a possile sequel to 'My Sister Lives on the Manetlpiece', having discovered a nice little epilogue from Jas in the back of the new edition! Some of us had read the older reprint, which didn't have the extract from Jas, but after we had read it together, it was almost unanimous that there should be another book, told from Jas' point of view. Most of the group felt Jas was a strong and important character in the book and well capable of holding her own in a sequel.
Overall, I think 'Mantelpiece' is still the frontrunner in our group's eyes, but with strong competition from 'Between Shades of Gray' and 'A Monster Calls'.
We also discussed the possibility of excluding 'Everybody Jam' from our reading list, as I feel the themes are too grown-up for some of the younger members of the group. It's not been fully decided yet, but it's looking like most of the group may not read it, which is a real shame, as it means we can't complete the shortlist. It raises the question, should such books be included in what is supposed to be a children's book award?
Posted on: 03 May 2012
The first debate...
Last night was our first real discussion since beginning the award scheme this year! The clear favourite at the moment is 'My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece', but we have a feeling this could all change as more of the books get read... Mixed reviews for 'My Name is Mina', most thinking it's just a little bit too random! 'Trash' is definitely closing in on 'Mantelpiece' for the top spot! Those who have read it rate it very highly. But a surprising outsider has been 'Small Change for Stuart' with most glad of its existence for a little light relief amid all of the 'serious' books!
Still a long way to go yet though...!
Posted on: 26 Apr 2012
It has arrived! A couple of our guesses were correct, but a lot of surprises on this year's shortlist! Exciting to see so many new authors represented. Easter reading sorted!
Posted on: 27 Mar 2012
We have a brand new group for Carnegie this year and are waiting patiently(!) for the shortlist. This will be my first Carnegie so I'm excited to see which books myself and my group will be reading. Only a few more days! We can't wait to get started!
Posted on: 21 Mar 2012
It's over. Done. We've discussed. We've argued. We've voted.
It took some time to reach our final three, let alone the top book. But, not wanting to make the other books feel left out we conducted our own little poll...
Villain: Ivan and Mayor Prentiss
Setting: Out of Shadows
Cover design: Monsters of Men
Narrative voice: Out of Shadows
Surprising: Out of Shadows
Disappointing: The Bride's Farewell
Thought-provoking: White Crow
Thanks for what's been an, overall, great shortlist Carnegie.
Posted on: 22 Jun 2011
Our first proper meeting for the 2011 Carnegie and some interesting opinions shared. It seems there's a universal dislike for The Bride's Farewell. Front-runners appear to be White Crow and Out of Shadows, with Monsters of Men holding its popularity, more so, naturally, with those more familiar with the rest of the trilogy.
Looks like the debates will be good this year...
Posted on: 10 May 2011
I can't say our little group weren't more than a little disappointed when the winner was announced - The Graveyard Book probably being our least favourite of the shortlisted titles. Though those reviewing found some great things in it for all The Ask and the Answer and Revolver drew by far the greatest praise from all.
I think we can say that all those shortlisted were superb works and a pleasure to read!
Posted on: 29 Jun 2010
It looks like The Ask And The Answer is pushing its way to first place in our groups eyes...Brilliant story and characters. Though The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is coming up close. Some great debates are going to be had about the titles this year.
Posted on: 24 May 2010
Three books down...
The books have arrived and The Ask and The Answer, The Graveyard Book and The Vanishing of Katharina Linden have all been devoured. Very impressed with both 'The Ask...' and 'The Vanishing of Katharina Linden.' The later chilling and spellbindingly macabre!
Posted on: 14 May 2010
It's all just beginning...
So, one book down - The Ask and The Answer - but when will the rest get here? Passing the time with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for now...
...hurry up books.
Posted on: 05 May 2010
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