Saturday, 30 April 2011

Monsters of Men

This book is about a world, called New World, who are in the middle of a war, between the Spackle and the people of New World. Todd Hewitt and Viola Eade must try to stop the war and get world peace before it's all too late!

The main characters in this book are Todd, Viola and the Mayor. Todd Hewitt is a calm and clever person and always looks out for Viola, his best friend. She is also confident and brave. Together, they have many skills which are needed to bring peace to New World. The Mayor is also smart, but uses it for bad, and his visions of New World are of him leading the people. He will do whatever he can to make this happen.

This book was fast-paced and kept my concentration all of the time that I was reading it. Patrick Ness wrote the book from many different characters’ points of view, so it always left you on a cliff-hanger before moving on to talk about something else. This keeps you reading past the next section, to where the previous bit picks up again. This also gave you an insight as to what the Spackle were planning against the Mayor and it made you will Todd to figure it out. Patrick Ness also wrote in lots of detail and this gives you a clear picture of what the scene, or battlefield, looks like.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and it made me keep reading, right to the very end. I loved the ending as it then made you think up ideas of what would happen next. I would recommend this book to anyone. It’s a really great book!

Year 8

Friday, 29 April 2011

White Crow - Marcus Sedgwick

Rebecca’s dad has taken her to a small village to escape the media, the press, the attention for what he has done. Once a thriving town in medieval times, it has been devoured by the sea, and only a tiny triangle of buildings exist. But buildings are not all that the sea devoured. It devoured secrets. Deep dark secrets.

The book has a lot of basis on Heaven and Hell. Do they exist? What is it like? Is it wrong to know

“Supposing you wanted to prove something, something important. Supposing you wanted to prove, for arguments sake, that there is life after death… You might say that although you have not seen every crow in the whole world, ever crow that you have ever seen is black. Therefore, the chances are very great that all crows are black. In fact, you have decided for a fact that all crows are black. Now of course, if someone could show you a white crow, everything would be overturned in a moment.

But all crows are black.

And in the same way you conclude that no one lives after death. There is no ‘other side’. There is no white crow.

But, supposing I said I had seen a white crow? Just one. A single white crow.
What then?”

Narrated through the 1st person of Ferelith, a strange girl with a secretive, painful past who seeks the answer to those questions. Rebecca, whose sections are narrated in the 3rd person, does not. However, she is befriended by Ferelith anyway, and they follow a very different path to that taken by a priest and a French doctor, with the same question and the same destination – Winterfold Manor.

White crow is a superb book that had me hooked from very early on and it’s fast paced plot kept me entertained throughout. I found Ferelith to be a very interesting character, her intelligence mixed with her weird and slightly crazy self. She seems to be incredibly interested in finding the answers about Heaven and hell, almost haunted by it, but she is more subtle in displaying her interest.

Rebecca meanwhile, was very intriguing. Her relationship with her dad, trying to discover if she still loves him and if she can forgive him kept me reading, and the imperfection of her, her dad and all the other characters made them so believable.

Also, the quest of the priest and the Doctor was a haunting adventure, the time and effort afforded to the deed was great yet the priest shows his doubts and worries in his narrative, asking the lord whether he is correct and debating it with himself no end, however, his conclusion is always the same.

White crow is a superb book and I would recommend it every day of the week!


(Year 8)

The Bride’s Farewell- Meg Rosoff

At the beginning I read the title and didn’t think I would like it. I guessed it was about a runny away bride and to me that didn’t sound to great, so I began reading with in my mind what a disappointment it would be in my I eyes; I was wrong, I very happy that I was proved wrong.
The main character in the book is Pell. Pell is our heroine, she runs away from her soon to be husband Birdie with her mute brother Bean and her horse Jack. Soon she loses both Jack and Birdie and goes on an adventure to find them both. In the mean time she finds a poacher and continues her adventure with him. Along the way she finds out that Birdie never married her sister, and that she married an old man who would have the three younger sisters, she also finds out her mother and father were killed in the fire . The character of Pell matures from a tom boy to and independent woman, who has to change when confronted with her different situations.
Now the plot, at first I guessed most of it the run away bride part and that made me not really like it. But the way she matures from the tomboy to the mature woman made the character quite magnificent in my opinion.
The plot; at first I felt I had already ruined it for me with my guess about a runaway bride and my mind was set. But over the course of the book the plot became more thrilling, it wasn’t fast or to slow, it was nice (I know such a boring word!) but I enjoyed it. I loved the way she leaves the village on her wedding day and then travels far and wide, loosing everything she holds dear, a horse and her brother, but finding herself and those she has lost.
The way that Meg Rosoff wrote made me change my mind about the book and storyline. The way she hooked you, the way you felt for Pell when she lost everything. Compared with the writings of Breslin, I loved the way Breslin wrote but not the story line, I found that I love the way Rosoff wrote more than that of Breslin, this may have something to do with me loving the storyline also.

In conclusion I believe that The Bride’s Farewell is a lovely book and well worth the read. I loved the character Pell and her journey, the way she loses everything and then gains everything. It is a magical book that I recommend it to everyone and anyone.

Year 12

The Prisoner of the Inquisition- Theresa Breslin

The problem I had with this book is that I couldn’t get into the book. The way in which it was written was very good, the way in which it changed between Zarita and Saulo was very clear.
The main characters are Zarita and Saulo; Zarita is the magistrate’s daughter and one of the main characters. Because I couldn’t get into the story I can’t talk about her in the sense of a character. But what I can talk about is they way in which her voice is portrayed by Theresa Breslin. The voice at first is more flowing and easier to read, it has in my opinion a more poetic flow. Where as the other main character Saulo; who is the son of the beggar who was killed by the magistrate. Saulo by comparison is a harder voice more rugged. He is a more down to earth character; a character even though I couldn’t get into the book, was a character I could relate to, I could have a conversation with him.
Now I have a problem with the plot, I can’t remember it. This is because I could not get into the book; I finished the book and found myself staring at the book wondering what I just read. That sounds terrible, but I believe it is because I never liked the inquisition, the book did not appeal to me at all. I feel terrible because the way it is written is amazing.
As I have said through out the way Theresa Breslin writes is amazing. Even though I can’t remember the plot when I finished the book, I found my self marvelling at the splendid way I which she wrote. The way she changes between the two is rather like you are in an interview and you are listen to two stories that need each other and fill in the gaps.

In conclusion I am in two minds about the book I read. I loved the way it was written but I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried, get into the book.

Year 12

We're the featured blog!

Check it out, bottom right. Woohoo! Go us!

There have been some fantastic reviews posted over the last couple of days, so don't forget to leave comments and get your discussions started in time for next Wednesday's meeting. Special well dones have to go to Will for his animated trailer, and Chloe for reading and reviewing three of the six books so far! Biscuits all round!

Hope you're all enjoying your long weekend :)

P.S. We're not the featured blog anymore... some one else is. But we were there, on the fornt page, for at least a while! And we have the most reviews I've seen, so GO TEAM NINJA!

White Crow

By Marcus Sedgwick

When Rebecca swaps bustling cities for the quiet streets and countryside of Winterfold, she meets strangely psychological Ferelith and starts off a spooky chain of events. This novel follows three lives that intertwine themselves although they don’t know it at first. They each become strangely obsessed by the same questions…about death!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel as it was gripping and well written. The three main characters each share the narrative and this makes the book very interesting as you can see their personalities in each chapter. To add to this the book is set in two different eras which are centuries apart from each other. Yet, despite this the story manages to make sense (most of the time!) and the plot is deviously entrancing.

The narrative is triple as two characters (Rebecca and Ferelith) write in first person and this allows you discover more about their feelings and thoughts as well as seeing each step of their individual plans and questions. To add a sense of mystery there is a third character (who we don’t know the identity of) who also narrates the book but this time in third person. This is my favourite part as you can view the events as an onlooker and the section of narrative is not biased to one character or the other.

My favourite character in the novel was Ferelith as she was interesting yet had strangely spooky qualities. Her mind seemed somewhat twisted and she often thought outside the box or in a sense ‘differently’ to Rebecca and the other characters. However at times this book came across as too psychological as it often made you think and question what you thought was the truth.

Overall I liked reading this novel and I think that Sedgwick has written it very well showing great skill and accomplishment by creating two very different characters that are still linked in some way. I thought that the plot and structure of the book was very interesting and the book was unique as it was narrated by three different people. Despite this though, at times I found I was going round in circles when trying to decipher and discover which side of the questions I was on (it didn’t help that both characters were created with very strong opinions!). This factor didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book and I would encourage everyone to read it whether they are doing Carnegie or not!

By Jess, year 8

Monsters of Men Book Trailer

Will (Year 8) made an animated book trailer for Monsters of Men.

Wow. Just. Wow.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Bride's Farewell - Meg Rosoff

This is a story about a girl, Pell Ridley, who has run away from her home the night before her wedding so she doesnt have to live a life of hard work like her mother. It tells a story of how she survives and they people she meets and loses.

The main character is Pell Ridley a women living in a large family with lots of responsibilities. Pell is a brave character determined to get what she wants and for fill all life can offer. She is very strong mined intelligent and makes do with what she has and is very grateful for it.
There is lots of other characters along the way but wouldn't count as a main character. Like ester and her family  of travelers, the "dog man" , harris , bean and the rest of her family. All of the characters mentioned have their personalities as if each were a different person.

 I love how Meg Rosoff highlighted each person and put so many characters and people in the storyline yet left a little bit of mystery behind each character and relates to it sometimes further in the book. The book is set around the 19th century and  I like it how the book portrays life back then and how hard it was back then for families, I have learnt a lot from the book. In the end all the pieces of the puzzle slowly fit together and I like the ending.

However I thought the book could have had some more cliffhangers and big shocks in to make the storyline more exciting and adventurous. There wasn't really a romance just a few hints so I thought the author could have extended on that.

All in all I liked the book and thought it was ok but nothing that captured my imagination and was truly spectacular, though I would recommend some of her other books.

6/10 review by Chloe
Year 8  

Monsters of Men

By Patrick Ness

This is a book about a country divided in two and in the middle of a war, the two sides are the Spackle and the people. In the midst of this todd and viola are trying to get peace and end the war so they can finally be together and give the people what they want; a peaceful normal life

The main characters are Todd Viola and the Mayor, they all have their diverse different personalities. Viola and Todd are both very confident brave and stick up for what they believe in risking their life for it. Also they are both clever and where Todd is thoughtful Viola is more of a risk taker. The mayor is cunning sly and harsh even though inside parts of him know he is doing wrong consequently sometimes he can be forgiving and thoughtful.

The things I love about this book was firstly the changing narrators, I really liked this because it gave you a different perspective and let know what was going on subtly and made the storyline more interesting. Secondly I also like how Patrick Ness gave detail and emotion when writing about the battle making it easy to see how people were feeling, what was going on and drew a picture in your mind. Another thing that was great about the book was the way it was always on a cliffhanger and the author didn't just pick the average boring endings he did things you weren't expecting. The way Todd and Viola showed their feelings was very romantic and the connetion of "noise" between charactes was quirky and interesting.

The things I didn't that much was sometimes things went into lots and lots of detail and almost waffled a little, yet others may see this as a good thing. Sometimes I had to re read some sentences as they weren't clear , but this was probably because of the new vocabulary.

All in all it was a great book which I really enjoyed it gripping exciting and not like many other books I would Recommend it to anyone!

By Chloe  7.5/10
 Year 8

Out of Shadows - Jason Wallace

 This is a book set in the 1980s about a boy, robert who has moved to zimbabwe due to his fathers new job And has to get used to new a boarding school, where racism has'nt been resolved and hate is lingering between different racial groups.! Zimbabwe used to be a country run white people as they had taken over but then the black Africans took back the land that was firstly theirs and put president Robert Mugabe in power.

The main characters are Robert/Bobby , Ivan and the gang and his family. Robert was a shy character at first and unaware of who he was and what was going on around him but as they story developed Roberts personality and he became more confident more intelligent and stronger. Ivan was a strong character with not much empathy for others feelings and is quite selfish and cunning. The gang were cunning like Ivan but both had soft sides and I think they stayed with Ivan so they felt protected.

I really enjoyed this book as it gave me knew knowledge about the war and what was happening around that time, it gave me an insight of how people and how serious it was. I like how the book gave reasons on why both the whites and blacks should have power so you can understand the two different points of view, what all races were feeling and how it affected them. Also I loved how the author used certain vocabulary that made you feel connected to the characters. This book is one that after reading it can be upon your mind for a long time

Although this book is great I think it was a bit short and could have been more detailed in points with some more cliffhangers.

It's a fabulous book that really gets you attached to the storyline and you just can't put it down!

By Chloe 8/10
Year 8

The Bride's Farewell

The Bride's Farewell is a beautiful story about a girl called Pell, who runs away from home and faces the cold threats of the outside world. With her for protection was her little (sort of) brother and her very own horse. Both mean more than the world to her. On her journey she meets lots of people, some friendly some evil. You get know each character like close friend.
One of my favourite characters has to be Dogman because he secretive but that makes the little things he does all the more exciting and meaningful. At first he seems scary and mysterious, but as she Pell starts to understand his ways you realise he’s kind man with a big heart. This is proven and the end of the book, when even though Pell left him he still has the heart to accept her when she returns.
The plot was very clever, how she meets people at the start and then how they’re linked at the end. It took a while for me to get into the book, I thought it was a bit dull at the beginning. Later on in the book, however, I got attached to it and couldn’t put the book down! The idea of the book was original and was different from anything else I’ve read. I enjoyed reading something new.
Most books always have their book in 1st person but I like how this book is from anyone’s point of view (3rd person) therefore making it more interesting and getting a variety of thoughts.
I thought the writing stile was beautiful as normally I hate description chunks, however in this book they captured me. I was hung on every word. I loved the part of the book where she was friends with the baker, Eliza. The proposal from William shocked me as he treated her horrifically when she declined.
Overall, I loved this book and thought it was beautifully written. I took a while to get into, but once you are it’s an amazing book. I would defiantly recommend it.
Year 8

The Death Defying Pepper Roux

By Geraldine McCaughrean

This book was good. Not amazing enough to win the medal, but still good. It is about 14 year old Pepper Roux who has all his life been told by his Aunt that he would die on his 14th birthday. He doesn't die, so goes on a run from his death, taking on multiple personalities as he goes. He is always scared he is going to die, so any small accident he thinks was sent from the angels and saints to kill him. This gives the book an interesting perspective.
The story line can be a bit weak at points, it can be overwritten and sometimes not make complete sense. This isn't a book to be pouring over for hours, I found it was best to read it as quickly as you can. The characters are all really interesting though, most have a hidden back story you find out about. You can tell the author spent a long time creating the characters.

One of my favourite characters was Yvette Roche. She is quite quiet and mysterious when Pepper first meets her, but as the book goes on she reveals more of her lovely personality. Also, Duchess is a really interesting and fun character.

Overall I liked this book. I do not think I would reread, but it is perfect if you want a light and fun read. I give this book 6.75/10.
By Elle, Year 8

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Meeting Day!

At lunchtime we met up for only our second formal Carnegie Shadowing meeting and I'm delighted to announce that our group has grown, and that nearly everyone has finished reading at least one book already!  Well done everyone.  That means that there's a lot of reviews to write...

Several people started their review writing today and I'm really looking forward to reading them.  Don't forget the guidance page on the tabs along the top, where there are easy to follow instructions on how to write a detailed review. If you find that you can't write that much about a book, don't worry!  Just a couple of paragraphs about what you liked and what you didn't will be fine. The important thing is that as many of us as possible are reading these books, reviewing them and talking about them. As I said, there are some exciting things on the horizon.

If anyone needs help logging in or posting reviews, please let me know on my school email address (adkinsn etc) and I'll be happy to help out.  And don't forget to comment on each other's reviews!  If you've read the same book, what did you think of it?  Do you agree with what the reviewer has said?  It's ok to disagree, and not that that I would advocate fighting (ok, that's slightly untrue - book fights are totally awesome) having a discussion is to be encouraged.

Keep going, Ninja Readers!

Out Of Shadows

By Jason Wallace
This was a book about a boy who grew up in england but was moved to go to a boarding school in Africa, the war with blacks vs whites had ended to mark an era of peace, but the boys at had a different idea.
It was a gripping story and it was fast paced: Roberts life changing very quickly, the characters were believable from the commanding and cunning Ivan to the naiveness of Roberts dad.
I found the beginning tense and exciting then though the middle the pace and excitement slowed a little in the middle and sped up nearer the end.
The book is set in the 80s and at the beginning Robert faces the choice between the quieter misunderstood group with a black boy named Nelson in or go with Ivan; a loud, mean commanding and slightly evil plan.
Robert conflicts with his mind as to whether or not he made the right decision...
Over all the story was very good and at the end it leaves you questioning what happened, should he of saved the prime minister's life? Was it right to kill Ivan? Did he do Africa a favor or plunge it into darker times? Worth a read.
By Louis
Year 8

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Prisoner of the Inquisition

By Theresa Breslin

When the holy inquisition arrives in Zarita’s town in Spain, her life as the magistrate’s daughter is suddenly being watched and suspicion is lurking everywhere. Saulo is the son of a beggar and, after abandoning his sick mother and leaving her to suffer silently, he follows his father into the town and then watches helplessly as he is hanged wrongfully. Saulo escapes death and manual labour but is forced to become a slave at sea. He vows to kill the magistrate and all his family so he can avenge his father. The two main characters take separate journeys over the coming years as the inquisition kills more and more people, but, they are both young and they feel heavily the guilt and horror of the blood they have on their conscience. When they meet again amid the royal court of the king and queen, fail to recognize each other at first, but then face once more the guilt, betrayal, and horror of the past and its consequences, they both realise just how ruthless the inquisition can be.

I really liked reading this book as it tells two stories that intertwine at the beginning and the end of the novel. It follows the two main characters through their individual journeys, one far out at sea, one inland. Both Saulo and Zarita’s lives are deeply affected by the arrival of the inquisition and they seek refuge and forgiveness for the wrong doings they have committed. Breslin describes many scenes of torture, adventure, and passion throughout the book and it is really easy to visualise and imagine just how traumatic the experience would have been. This, among many other reasons, is why I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it allows you to see in your mind what, in your opinion, the characters are seeing at each point in the book. Breslin uses fantastic description, especially in Saulo’s fight scene, and it really adds to the book.

The book is narrated in alternate chapters by Saulo and Zarita (except for a few which are third person) and I think this makes the book quite unique as, nearing the final chapters, they pick up from each other and you can imagine all the scenes from both points of view when the characters are together. When narrating his part of the novel, Saulo frequently returns to the day his father was killed and expresses both his hatred for the magistrate and his daughter, and also his guilt for having left his mother to die. He describes how he is feeling often and this allows you to deduce what kind of character he is. Zarita’s chapters however are not filled with guilt as, over time, she seems to get caught up in her own life and the inquisition and she forgets, or doesn’t think about, the beggar and his son, Saulo. Because of this, out of the two main characters, my favourite is Saulo as his chapters are more heart-felt and his personality seems more ‘real’.

Overall, I think that this book was great. I think that the way Breslin has described in the dual narration each chapter is fantastic and that the characters she has created are unique and have realistic personalities. This novel is, in places, a little dark but this adds to the overall structure of the book and compels you to read on! Finally, I think that the plot of this novel is great as it twists at the end and is full of deceit. I would definitely advise everyone to read this amazing novel!

Eleanor, Year 8

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Death Defying Pepper Roux

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Imagine knowing, from the very first day of your life, that you would die on your fourteenth birthday; how would you choose to live? For the first fourteen years, Paul 'Pepper' Roux is well-mannered, obedient and faith-driven. But on his fourteenth birthday, he steals a ship and runs away from his family and his fate, unwittingly unleashing his innocent, kind and naive self out into the cruel, hard world.

This endearing story is one unlike any other I've read; rarely do you find a protagonist with such an undoubted sense of good inside him.McCaughrean's craftsmanship in creating Pepper's character is admirable - he is both wonderful and deeply flawed.

The third person narrative provides juicy, detailed description, and it is constantly dipping into Pepper's young, vivid mind, which is where the true glory of this book can be found. From atop the ship's mast-head, he envisions his dreaded 'Saint Constance sculling towards him in a rowing boat.'

Although the plot is a little far-fetched (which does, admittedly, fit with the entire nature of the novel), and the language is over-complicated at times, the characterisation in this novel, of not only Pepper, but the fabulous Duchesse, the evil Roche and the sweet Yvette, far outshines its mild blemishes. This is an absolutely exquisite novel.

By Holly, Year 12

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

C'mon reviewers!

It's fantastic that Eleanor has started us off with te formal reviews, thanks!  If you've finished a book, I'd really recommend that you get your review written as soon as possible, as you'd be amazed how quickly you forget the details.  Don't worry if you don't feel you can write something as in depth as Ellie; this is all about sharing your opinions so that the discussions can start! Remember, you can also comment on posts on this blog, either with the rps login or your own Google account.

My own reading is going well, I've decided to tackle the whole of Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy over the break, though I fell slightly behind when I was in Poland.  Never try to read those books when you've just made a trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau.  Spent two days being an emotional wreck before I did the sensible thing and read a book about fairies instead.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Out of Shadows

By Jason Wallace

Africa has finally triumphed in the battle for equality and independence, Robert Mugabe has risen to the challenge of governing and guiding a country brimming with disagreement and racism. Robert Jacklin, an English boy, is among many others starting a new life but, unlike his classmates, his is in a new country with completely new people. Although the battle has been lost and the war is over, his new found “friends” don’t want this new black government, they want their country back and they’re not prepared to wait. This cleverly narrated novel follows Robert through his last school years in 1980’s Zimbabwe, and as he finally believes he has settled in and made a new start, he realises all too late he hasn’t.

In many ways I can’t fault this book which brings to head so many issues of that era which previously I had been unaware of. This novel charts the journey that Robert makes between childhood and adulthood and alongside this follows the growing political dispute that is raging in Africa. The same passage crops up again and again in the novel-

" ‘If I stood you in front of a man, pressed the cold metal of a gun into your palm and told you to squeeze the trigger, would you do it?’

‘No sir.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Of course, sir. No ways!’

‘What if I then told you we’d gone back in time and his name was Adolf Hitler? Would you do it then? Would you?’ "

This brings about many questions and thoughts for Robert. Would he be brave enough? Would he see a reason to pull the trigger? Eventually he realises in the penultimate pages that he can never find the answer and the only question he would really need to ask himself is ‘why?’. Wallace has portrayed a completely unique character by creating Robert, as he shows two sides of his personality- confident young man, vulnerable child; violent gang member, thoughtful citizen. You never quite know which one is going to come out until the climax of the chapter.

Throughout the novel the events are narrated by Robert and therefore told in first person. I love the way Wallace has added a few elements of distinct tension and almost teases you as you read on. Every so often there is a sentence, a few words outlining Robert’s feelings for what is to come, only, he doesn’t tell you what is to come. For instance:

"Ivan must have been pleased at this point in time, it was going so well. But all that was about to change and when it did I dare say even Ivan didn’t know what had hit him"

This particular phrase drove me up the wall and had to force myself to read on quickly so I found out what all these daunting phrases meant. Some books are filled with tension and then let you down at the climax; however, Out of Shadows is strong in the plot the whole way through and doesn’t falter even at the end.

My favourite scene is the last chapter when Robert returns to his school over twenty years later which has now been closed down. He ties all his feelings and thoughts together and reminisces the words that have scarred his memory for life. Wallace describes in such a way the changes and similarities of Haven school since Robert’s last year. He uses metaphors and similes to describe his surroundings and the passage is dripping with regret and sadness. Finally, I left this book with a smile on my face as Robert meets again his friend Weekend from the school telephone exchange. His manner and way of speech can’t fail to make me smile and he was my favourite character throughout the book!

Overall, the structure and content of this book- particularly the continuous reference to past political problems and racial tensions- make this book a little complicated. But, it is quite light and you can read it easily without having to think too much about the words. It expresses the opinions and thoughts of young people living in Zimbabwe at the time and makes you question the word ‘equality’- was there ever such a thing? I loved this book as it had an interesting plot and addressed key issues. I would recommend it highly!

Eleanor, Year 8

Sunday, 10 April 2011


Thought the Easter holidays would be a great opportunity to reread the whole Chaos Walking trilogy.  Finished The Knife of Never Letting Go yesterday and feeling slightly traumatised and ready to run, fast, if I hear so much as a twig break behind me.  Now for The Ask and the Answer.

Damn these books are good.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Death Defying Pepper Roux

By Geraldine McCaughrean.


Pepper Roux’s Aunt Mireille has been told by Saint Constance that he’ll die by the time he’s fourteen and raised him to be ready for death.  When he wakes up on the morning of his fourteenth birthday though, he knows that he’s not ready to die, and sets off to stay one step ahead of the fate that he knows is his own.  This book traces his adventures as he dodges the wills of Saints and Angels, and lives each day that follows in the inevitability of his demise.  

There were many things that I adored about this book.  The narrative itself is enchanting, and Pepper is an amazing character whose story I really enjoyed.  His acceptance of death and the choices he makes raise philosophical questions.  Do we live fully if we think that we’ll still be here in a year?  What would we do differently if we knew we were to die?  The choices that Pepper makes are generous, creative and resourceful.  There’s also the question of fate.  What decides our time to live and die?  Do the saints and angels intervene in Pepper’s life in different ways?  And Duchesse is brilliant!  Would love to read his adventures too.

At times I stumbled on the style of writing and it seemed a little too wordy to flow, but this fitted with the way that Pepper has tried to compress his whole remaining life into a limited number of hours. Some of the ways that he sees the world are described superbly, such as the fact that lies taste of soap, and ‘As the word ‘dentist’ smells of disinfectant, ‘father’ was a noun that reeked to Pepper of drink and distance and disappointment.’  I think that for some readers, the lack of a glossary will be missed, as some really feel the need to understand each and every word they read, but for stronger readers it will be easy to get the gist and carry on.

The episodic structure will appeal to many but also made it quiet easy to take a break from for cups of tea and things.  The lose ends are tied together admirably at the end though.  There were several parts of this book where I laughed out loud, and not just because it was funny, but because it was delightful and sad all at the same time.  

Review by Miss A. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


We just had our first Shadowing meeting and there are 34, yes, THIRTY-FOUR Shadowers this year.  Absolutely amazing, a big thank you to all of you!

Letters will be going home to those of your without your photo consent forms so that we can feature you all on this site, and the first books have already been read, so the reviews will start to trickle in now!  Just think, by the time we finish this process, we'll have written, between us, over TWO HUNDRED reviews.  That's just... cool.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Carnegie Shadowing

Our first formal meeting will be held tomorrow at 1.30 in the library, so if you're coming along, please make sure that you have a lunch pass.  There'll be biscuits, books, review cards and chatter! It's predicted to be a huge group this year, so it might be that not everyone will leave with a book, but we'll do our best.

The Shadowing process will go something like this:

  1. Pick a book. 
  2. Take a mini-review card to use as a bookmark. 
  3. Read the book! 
  4. Write a mini-review on the card to go on the display in the library.
  5. Write a full length review for this site.  Miss A will then copy that across to our Carnegie site. 
  6. Think about what else you can do with this book!  Did it spark any thoughts for your own writing or artwork?  Is there a discussion you'd like to have about it? How about a vlog entry or a book trailer? 
Not sure how to write a good review?  Check out the Writing Guidelines page at the top.  

Monday, 4 April 2011

And so it begins...

A large batch of our new books arrived today and were rushed through cataloguing and covering so that they'd be ready for lunch time.  Most of them are now out on loan! The enthusiasm and uptake for the Shadowing group this year looks to be outstanding, I'm so looking forward to working with this group :D

A couple of those from last year have asked why we're not using our official Shadowing page.  We are still using is, and will be cross-posting reviews and videos across, but this blog enables us to do so much more.  We can post more photos, more videos, link to the author sites and blogs that we're following.  But more than that, we can do something important, the lack of which drove me* to distraction last year.  We can USE PARAGRAPHS.  Also, it seems that we can't actually get on the official site half the time.

So the books are out, the review cards are all set to go, and the sticker and bookmark pack arrived from CILIP (thank you, CILIP!) earlier today.

Though you've all been up here and collecting books already, please don't forget that our first official meeting is this Wednesday at 1.30pm.  There will be biscuits.

Oh.  Yes.

*Sure, I'm a pedant, but I used to teach English, so what were you expecting?  Srsly?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Carnegie Shortlist announced!

The news broke first on Twitter this morning (you can follow the library - @rps_library) and it's a great looking list:

Links are to the Book Depository, a fab book selling site that seems to have all of them in stock. 

We have copies of most of these in the library, though a few are out at the moment.  There are more on the way though and I'm hoping that they'll arrive in time for our first official Shadowing meeting next Wednesday lunchtime.  Read the list and the judges' comments here.

Time to get reading!