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Sweyne Park School
Rayleigh, Essex

First Carnegie meeting this year!
We have just finished shadowing and voting for the Essex Book Award, and enjoyed meeting five of the six short-listed authors at the Award Ceremony last week. So now we can turn our attention to the Carnegie books. Unfortunately, not all of them have turned up this year - we are still missing copies of three titles. However, we took a look at the books we have and discussed the covers and blurbs. There seem to be a few issues covered, but hopefully the books will prove enjoyable reads. Maisie has already read Wolf Hollow, and loved it; even if it did make her cry! Florrie had read Bone Sparrow, and Molly had started reading this the other day. Which will be our favourite this year?
Posted on: 23 Mar 2017

We have a winner!
Well, for the first time in a long time, our group has agreed with the judges' choice! One was a clear favourite among us. They loved the emotional rollercoaster the book gave us, and enjoyed the way it was cleverly written in verse. Falon was happy that Lie We Tell Ourselves also won an award, as that was her favourite. There Will Be Lies was the group's second favourite book. Third place was mixed between Ghosts of Heaven & Five Children on the Western Front. We finished off our Carnegie celebrations with a quiz. Well done to Group A who got 28/30 questions correct! They certainly know their Carnegie books this year! Carnegie magazines, generated from the website, were handed out as keepsakes. We all agreed how much we enjoyed shadowing this year. Looking forward to next year! :))
Posted on: 23 Jun 2016

Nearly judgment time!
Lots of last minute reviews added to the website this morning, as it's next week the winner is announced! It's interesting to see how the group are changing their minds on which is their favourite the more books they read. Molly is now enjoying The Rest of Us Just Live Here, although she didn't like it at the beginning and she's very nearly finished. Today's discussion suggests that One is still our favourite, but There Will Be Lies has jumped right up to second place and might even challenge One to be our top choice! Next Thursday's meeting we will decide on our definitive winner. Will it be the same as the actual winner?
Posted on: 16 Jun 2016

Birthday fun!
Today, we had a short discussion about the books we are still reading and we turned them into "football" reviews for the Euro 2016 goal display in the library. A few of us added reviews to the Carnegie website. It would appear that One, is still our group favourite. Then, because today is my birthday, we took a break and played a silly game of Book Consequences which resulted in some amusing, and surprisingly violent outcomes! Only a couple of weeks until we discover which book is the Carnegie winner! Time to get reading book clubbers! :)
Posted on: 09 Jun 2016

Reviews and discussions
Today, we dedicated some time for pupils to get their reviews posted, whilst the rest of us enjoyed some discussion around the books. Our group's favourite is clearly "One", although Falon is loving "Lies We Tell Ourselves" We talked about some of the issues featured in the short-listed books and other books that we have enjoyed reading at the time, and those that have stayed with us. What makes a good book? Is it one that we enjoy reading and race through? Or is a good book one that makes us think, long after we've finished reading it? Happy half term to everyone - I'm hoping that my birthday Book Club when we return, will have lots of reviews posted! :)
Posted on: 26 May 2016

Lies We Tell Ourselves
Only a couple have finished reading this book, but we decided to go ahead and watch the author video from the Carnegie website. Afterwards, we had a discussion about it all, particularly the issues facing Sarah, and indeed Linda. Although our group are young in years, they are showing remarkable maturity. Also, they have been reading, but only Ella has submitted a review independently. (Looks like we'll have to devote time this Thursday to review writing!)
Posted on: 24 May 2016

Reading, Watching & Reviewing!
Today, we focused on getting some of our reviews online and making sure everyone has a Carnegie book to read. Those who haven't finished reading a book yet, spent some time exploring the Carnegie website and some voted in our group page's poll. We then managed to squeeze in a video to watch - this time Frances Hardinge talking about The Lie Tree. Only Gemma has read this book, so it was interesting to see the group's reaction to the video. They all seemed interested and both Sam & Angus nabbed the last two copies to take home! They also agreed hearing the authors speak really made the books come to life and encouraged them to read. I'm really looking forward to having some great discussions about the books when more people have had a chance to read them!
Posted on: 12 May 2016

Reading and watching!
We've been busy reading the titles, but not busy writing reviews! We agreed to dedicate some time next week to getting our reviews online. Today, we looked at the Carnegie website, our shadowing page and how to post a review. We then all watched a couple of the videos. We watched Sarah Crossan talk about "One" as this is the book that has been read by the majority of us. Isabella said it re-enforced the book to her, while Ella is even keener to start reading it! Sam found it interesting that she started writing after a student challenged her own advice of making dreams happen. We then watched Marcus Sedgwick talk about Ghosts of Heaven, which we all found entertaining. hearing the confusion over this book does not seem to have put them off at all, but rather challenged them! Who will be the first to submit a review?
Posted on: 05 May 2016

Ready to read!
This year, we have a really strong group of pupils in Book Club. We have enjoyed shadowing the Essex Book Awards and are ready to tackle the Carnegie award now! We have looked at the short-listed books and straight away noticed there seems to be a common theme of "lies" through many of them - and that's just in the titles! Some of these books may be challenging for our young readers, but they're keen to give it a go. Watch this space!
Posted on: 21 Apr 2016

Posted on: 18 Mar 2014

Busy reading.....
Well, it's been a while since this blog was updated! We've had the Year 10 Poland trip (AMAZING!), the Essex Book Award presentation to meet Hayley Long and the Jacqueline Wilson webcast. It's all go in the Reading Group! So a good catch up is in order this morning. We think we can predict easily this year, which will be our group favourite - Wonder. The Weight Of Water is proving really popular too, I suspect this will be our runner up. You love the way it's written in verse, which makes it easy to read, but still tackling weighty issues. Maggot Moon is getting mixed reviews. Some really don't understand it, others like the orginality of it. A Boy and a Bear in a Boat is a talking point. Verdict? It's about a boy, a bear and they're in a boat! The group is finding this simple book frustrating! Code Name Verity - no one has managed to finish so far. This is a shame because the latter part of the book makes everything fall into place and it's such a gripping read! Into Darkness? Again, very dark, plenty of swearing and violence that is putting our readers off. They're struggling to get into this book with it's double narrative across time, peppered with voodoo magic, customs, spirits and slang. I've not finished this one yet, but it's picked up pace and I'm curious to see how it will end.
Posted on: 14 May 2013

We're up and away!
Today we had our first group meeting discussion since taking out the books to read over Easter. A brief, but lively discussion followed by some review updates. Midwinterblood is a firm favourite with some of our group, who voted for it to win the Essex Book Award , but everyone who has read Wonder so far, is raving about it. Emily H is struggling with Code Name Verity, but is going to stick with it, because overall, it's a fantastic read. Maggot Moon is receiving favourable comments so far. Concensus so far on A Greyhound for a Girl, seems to be it's good, but not a winner. No-one's finished In Darkness yet. I'm on the Yr 10 History trip to Poland next week, so we won't be meeting for a fortnight. See you on 30th April!
Posted on: 16 Apr 2013

We have our winner!
Today we chose our Group Favourite. A few of us had some reviews to update and then we gathered round to discuss our favourite books again. We were happy that A Monster Calls won as we'd all enjoyed that book, and in fact, would have been happy if any of our Top 3/4 choices had won. So, it was vote time. And the votes were equally split between A Monster Calls, My Name is Mina and Between Shades of Grey, with one vote left. Poor Morgan had the deciding vote and was finding it extremely hard to choose! In the end he opted for Between Shades of Grey - our group's official favourite. It goes to show the quality of the short-listed books this year that we've ALL had so much difficulty in choosing just one favourite! Definitely the best shadowing year, for some time. Looking forward to next year! Well done to all our Carnegie shadowers, with particular thanks to our newbies, Sophie, Lydia & Eloise who have read so many of the books in a really short time.
Posted on: 26 Jun 2012

Carnegie Fun with Dave Cryer!
Last Wednesday we travelled the short journey to The Deanes School, where we had a fabulous day with their pupils, Librarian and the wonderful Dave Cryer. Everyone got involved, even when we mixed them up to work with "strangers" and some innotative drama pieces were performed. It was great to see like-minded pupils working together and discussing the books. Towards the end, we got together for a joint vote. Our collaborative Top 3 was Between Shades of Grey, A Monster Calls & My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. Our winner on the day was Between Shades of Grey. A massive thank you to Dave, to Deanes for hosting and for all the pupils who embraced the activities with such enthusiasm. It really was a superb day!
Posted on: 18 Jun 2012

We have our Top 3!
Well done to all our members who have been reading and reviewing over the last few weeks - especially to our new Year 7 recruits Lydia, Eloise & Sophie. Well today we had to make a decision, we need to vote for our group favourite - or at least agree on our Top 3! We discussed each title and why we thought it should or shouldn't be included in our Top 3. First to be dismissed was Everybody Jam (despite it being Amy's favourite), followed by Midnight Zoo & Trash. There was some debate over My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and Small Change for Stuart, but in the end our TOP 3 are....... A Monster Calls, My Name is Mina and Between Shades of Gray. Tomorrow, we're off to Deanes School for a day packed full of fun Carnegie activities with Dave Cryer. We'll also be having a vote, so it'll be interesting to see if our groups are on the same wavelength!
Posted on: 12 Jun 2012

Thinking about choosing our Top 3
A jam packed session this morning, and welcome to new member, Leah, who has taken out Trash. Our group are reading their way through the shortlist and posting their reviews online. It's going to be really tough to agree on a favourite - so my challenge to them over half term is to choose their personal TOP 3. Our session on Tues 12th June (after half term) will throw out five titles to decide on our group Top 3 and then hopefully our favourite. The very next day we're off to Deanes School for a whole day of Carnegie activities with Dave Cryer! We can't wait! Will SPS pupils and Deanes like the same books?
Posted on: 29 May 2012

Welcoming new members
Eloise, Sophie & Lydia have joined us this morning and eager to get shadowing straight away! Well done girls - Lydia opted to read Midnight Zoo first, while the others are reading Trash. Be great to hear your thoughts next week. Some of us updated reviews and changed books this morning, but today saw us revisit the Essex Book Awards as we're off to the Winners Ceremony on Monday afternoon. We're coming up with questions to ask author, Kenneth Oppel, about his winning book Half Brother. It's all go in the Reading Group!
Posted on: 22 May 2012

We're still reading.....
Our Year 7 & 8 Shadowers are reading their way through all this year's shortlist and we've had some great discussions. I love the fact that they don't all agree - they all have their different opinions and are not afraid to say why! This is what makes Reading Groups so good! My name Is Mina is shooting up the Sweyne Park chart, with everyone enjoying it so far. Despite lacking an actual plot/storyline, it's simplicity, diary format and quirkiness of Mina's character is appealing. It's getting closer to the time where we will have to vote for our group favourite. At this stage, it probably be easier to say which ones won't make our Top 3 (at the moment I predict Everybody Jam, Trash, Midnight Zoo to be the rejected titles from our group.) But, they're still reading - watch this space!
Posted on: 21 May 2012

Just the Year 7's today, and some interesting discussions about the books. It's great because they've all got a different favourite so far, so we can have some really good discussions and differences of opinions! We seem to be enjoying the books overall, and a quick poll suggests that A Monster Calls will probably win, although very few of the group have read this yet. We;re reading our way through the shortlist and posting reviews online, and I have to say - what a fantastic shadowing group we have this year! Well done to you all!
Posted on: 08 May 2012

What do you think so far?
We've just had our book club meeting with more reviews posted and some discussions about the books we've read so far. A Monster Calls is a big hit with those who've read it - even though some of us have sobbed at the end! My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is also a firm favourite with those who have read this story - Emily loved it and Jade is gripped so far. Alisha enjoyed Everybody Jam, but Elizabeth isn't so sure. Between Shades of Gray was enjoyed by James and Emily, although the graphic descriptions of violence did put Emily off. Trash was overall enjoyed, but Morgan and Amy really didn't like it much at all. So far, only Amy has read The Midnight Zoo - need more to read this so we can discuss the ending! Jasmine loved the simplicity of Small Change for Stuart - a real children's magical adventure quest. I think Elizabeth will enjoy this too - probably the only book which doesn;t deal with death! (Danielle will probably hate it - the darker, violent, and sadder the better for her!!) Emily H enjoyed My Name Is Mina, as did Amy - although there wasn't much of a storyline to it. We're also looking forward to a day of Carnegie activities with Dave Cryer, at The Deanes School, on the day before the offical winner is announced! Watch this space - which will be our group favourite?
Posted on: 01 May 2012

We've begun!
We have started reading and posting reviews. A mixed reaction to this year's shortlist - again quite a few cover the death of a loved one in one way or other, which has put our shadowers off a little bit! Oh, for some escapsim and great reads - wonder if Small Change for Stuart will rate higher with out lot? Watch this space!
Posted on: 26 Apr 2012

We're struggling with the books this year!
Our members are finding this year's shortlist really hard going. Our favourite without a doubt is Prisoner of the Inquisition, with White Crow coming in second. Many of our Year 7 pupils are finding the plots of books like The Bride's Farewell too complicated. It's a shame but our group discussions are on books we've loved and want to share like Yankee Girl by Mary Ann Rodman, Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nichols, Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie, Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher just to name a few.
Posted on: 07 Jun 2011

We're just getting started
A bit slow to start this year, with Year 10's out on Work Experience, but the books are now all out. Which will be our favourite?
Posted on: 09 May 2011

We're still reading......
Some discussion today over the short-listed books. So far there are three in the running, as far as our group is concerned. These are Rowan the Strange, The vanishing of Katharina Linden and Revolver. The group doesn't seem very impressed so far with any of the other titles read. ("Average" seems to be the verdict!)
Posted on: 24 May 2010

The books are in!
Much discussion over the short-listed books. We're very glad that Julie Hearn's Rowan the Strange is included and we're reserving judgement on a couple of the other titles....(!!) Let the reading commence........
Posted on: 13 May 2010

Posted on: 12 May 2009