Phew-Just been through the mill at 'Catching Fire' this afternoon; I've read them all but still found it totally gripping. I do like a film that does justice to the book and think this one really does. Went to see it with avid reader (recently) of trilogy. In fact this is one of the few books I've recommended that hasn't been spurned!! (well I can understand it really so am endeavouring to not say anything at all from now on.....I will just leave them lying around subtly instead :-))
If you haven't read the trilogy DO. I think I found it more sinister as a parent even the 1st one alone. The idea is an appalling one. Interestingly it reminds me of the way stories have ancient themes and re occur throughout time: the legend of St. George and the dragon with its maidens being sacrificed or sacrifices to the Minotaur in Greek myths and legends. The Capitol and all it stands for are particularly pertinent in our celeb obsessed day and age. There are chilling themes in this book but there is hope too. I think the film, despite having to miss out on the details that build an even clearer picture when reading, conveys that well. Certainly got the thumbs up from us even though I am now having to watch "Strictly" to calm my nerves.
GO SEE IT but also READ IT....you can do both whichever way round you want but it will be worth it. 11+ I feel-there are some scary bits in it and the themes explored are, I think, too unsettling for younger.
As you know STORYSHACK is about STORIES and releasing our imagination for EVERYONE. So lest you think that story telling is just for children come and hear the fabulous Hugh Lupton tell some stories at a lovely pub in Snape on 11th. What better way to spend an evening on a chilly, wintery night? This is marking the start of TALES FROM THE KEY; The Golden Key will be hosting storytelling sessions for adults throughout this winter. How jolly exciting AND even betterer...it's all across the road!!
Please have a look athttp://www.hughlupton.com
Of course Hugh is also a wonderful storyteller to have in your schools FOR EVERYONE and is highly recommended by anybody lucky enough to have a visit.
We all deserve to escape into our imagination, into the world of books....
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/10468670/Michael-Morpurgo-Bring-back-story-time-in-every-school.html THERE ISN'T A LOT MORE TO ADD. IT WORKS, WE SHOULD ALL DO IT WITHOUT MURMURING ABOUT TIME. WE OWE IT TO OUR CHILDREN TO READ THEM STORIES. IT SHOULD BE PART OF THEIR CHILDHOOD. IT IS NOT FLUFFY, FRIPPERY OR ANY OTHER NONSENSE BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAVE A DIRECT LINK TO TESTING. FOR SOME CHILDREN THIS IS THE ONLY EVER TIME THEY WILL EVER HAVE THIS IN THEIR LIVES. IMAGINE THAT, IF YOU WILL, A CHILD WHO HAS NEVER BEEN READ TO......
IT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN ON OUR WATCH. DON'T PUT IT OFF, FIND A BOOK (LOOK AT RECOMMENDATIONS, E MAIL ME FOR IDEAS BUT PLEASE DO IT) AND DELIGHT YOUR CHILDREN OR IF YOU ALREADY DO CARRY ON AS YOU ARE!! PS of course there is a wealth of data out there suggesting that those children who develop a love of reading achieve more highly too. For this one you don't even need a lesson plan; see Miss. Smith's timely tweet up above :-) Thank you Michael Morpurgo et al for saying this. An interesting read through the comments after the online Telegraph piece. Some stating categorically that this already happens in schools across the land. I'm not sure about that one :-( I fear that the time and NC content issue has eroded this wonderful, relaxing, joyful moment in our primary schools. When I've been visiting schools it has been heartening to hear many of them say they do read to their class. However, there are still a surprising amount who are not; that wonderful feeling of being engaged with a story with no pressure, no strings attached in terms of being corrected-just getting lost in imagination is not yet embedded in all our children. I remember being read to a lot in my primary school. I'm very old so it was top infants (that's Yr 2 to you young whippersnappers) when I heard 'The Magic Faraway Tree'. In Top Juniors (Year 6 to the same folk) we had a reading corner; taking it in turns to 'sit soft' and by the teacher who sat there too. Her name was Mrs. Quick and she read 'Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH' to us. Many times wanting the story to carry on, many times reading a story and the class wanting it to be carried on-a groan even when it's the end of the day if we've come to a cliff hanger (Or re named cling holder thanks to Grace)-it's one of the BEST bits of being a teacher, it really, really is AND Headteacher actually. If you have just come to the end of the blog would you mind awfully adding your favourites: do you remember being read to in school and, if so, what books made an impact? I'm sure you're much better than me collecting fantastic titles for class books. As they used to say on 'We are the champions' "AWAY Y' GO....."
I've been meaning to put this extract from the Matilda programme in for some time now. Sitting in the Cambridge Theatre in half term reading Dennis Kelly's piece I wanted to shout YES when I'd finished. It's a GREAT, GREAT piece about WHY we should have stories. The character of Matilda (which of course anyone who's reading this blog has probably read and if you haven't try it) finds her way, gains strength, escapes her awful parents and follows her dreams through books. Dennis Kelly wrote the book for the musical. Tim Minchin wrote the music and lyrics. Without further ado here's what he says-it's powerful stuff.
'.....so in our version Matilda she is in love not just with books but with stories in
general. It seems a stupid thing to say (I'm going to do it anyway) but stories are the reason novels exist. Stories in one form or another are at the heart of films, TV programmes, plays, jokes, songs, books, musicals and, of course, telling stories. our Matilda was going to the source. She loved stories. Our imaginary worlds arrived almost as soon as we can speak, probably before. You can look at any child who's gaining their first words, even when they only have sounds that make no sense and a desire to communicate, and you can see their imaginations fizzing away. It is clear that stories are a vital part of what it is to be our species. I don't know if there's been any reserarch into chimps telling stories, but eve if they do, I bet they're not as good at it as us we've been at it for 35, 000 years. We often think that when we grow up our imaginations fail, but that's not true. They're still a vibrant, necessary part of being alive: we can't turn them off. But like all powerful forces they can be used for good or bad, so what sometimes happens is that they got cobwebbed, they get rusty and dull, used for imagining power or wealth or how terrible we are and how much everyone hates us, which is not really what they were made for. We still love stories, but we stop believing we can tell them. This isn't true. We do it everyday. We just sometimes forget to make it as fun as it can be.
There are two types of grown-ups in Matilida - the ones who love stories and the ones who don't. Mr and Mrs Wormwood and the Trunchball hate stories. They are irritated by them and threatened by them - they think they are a waste of time and energy - and as characters they are generally mean, irritating and sometimes quite stupid. Mrs Phelps and Miss Honey, on the other hand, love stories: Mrs Phelps so much that she think they are real, Miss Honey so much that the first time we see her she is in a library. As characters they are kind, generous, alive and loving. I don't think this is an inaccurate pictures of grown-ups in general, to be honest. Denying stories is denying the most human part of being a human. Without stories we're just eating machines with shoes. It goes without saying that all the kids in Matilda love stories.
And it goes without saying that Storyshack believes there would also be two types of grown ups. I'm sure, if you're reading this, I know which one you are!
One of my very favourites-the 'Dark Materials' trilogy. I first read Northern Lights when I was teaching as DHT in Essex so a long time ago now. I loved it so much. I can remember where I was reading it too. Isn't that often the way when a book makes a special leap into your life. I was travelling up to see a lovely bestest friend of mine in Newcastle. We then had to find a bookshop so I could immediately purchase 'The Subtle knife' for the return journey back to London. I can remember it clearly because I literally got off the train and we went into town to find a copy but the bookshop didn't have one in stock. They said they would be getting copies in and so we went back a few days later to retrieve it. The idea of being on a roundabout in Oxford and cutting into another world has really stuck with me; this is the power of a powerful book. Just like the moment when Charlie opens the chocolate bar in a particular way to see if it reveals the golden ticket ...I think of that when getting to the foil around a chocolate bar. I'm sure you have many many more.
I then had to wait for 'The Amber spyglass' as it wasn't even out yet but well worth the wait. I tried to savour every moment before I finished it as I knew there was no more.
If you've seen the film 'The Golden Compass' I'd still recommend reading the Northern Lights to take you into the trilogy. I found Mrs. Coulter, particularly , to be much more sinisterly written than Nicole Kidman could play her and there is, as always, much more details and character building in the book itself. Having written this I'm now going to look through the shelves and re read on my own recommendation! It really is worth it. (probably from 11+)
We talked about Harry Patch, the 'Last fighting Tommy' many times over the years during assemblies. As an enthusiastic teacher and historian I do believe we are obliged to tell our children about Flanders fields and WW1 so that they can tell their children and children's children. It seems right and proper to talk about the sacrifices Harry and his fellow soldiers made - in our primary and secondary schools and to continue to do so. He lived until he was 111 and still strived to remind us of the events he was a part of but now it's up to us to do so for our children.
There are many excellent books and stories for primary school age children which are perfect as a way of encouraging children to find out more and explore the past-good and bad. I've talked about a favourite 'My secret war diary by Flossie Albright' by Marcia Williams before. I've spotted it in many of the schools I've been lucky enough to visit on my travels AND many more story stalwarts such as 'When Hitler stole pink rabbit' by Judith Kerr and 'Adolphus Tips' by Michael Morpurgo.
So I just wanted to share Michael Foreman's latest book with you too. It is based on a true story AND Michael Foreman was bought up just up the road in Pakefield. In fact 'War boy' is a beautifully illustrated memoir of his boyhood there during war time-if you are in a Suffolk school this one is a must for you. 'War Game' is another true, heart warming tale again beautifully illustrated book about the Christmas truce when German and British soldiers came out of their respective trenches to meet in no man's land for a football match.
But back to his new book 'THE AMAZING TALE OF ALI PASHA':'On 6th May 1915, Henry Friston, a 21-year-old seaman, rejoined his battleship after ten days in Hell. Hell was just 180 metres long and seven metres wide and was otherwise known only as 'X Beach', Gallipoli. Henry, ferrying the wounded from the battlefield, had not eaten or slept for three days. Then, somehow, in the midst of the bombardments, he met an unlikely companion - a tortoise.'
I'm looking forward to reading it. I haven't had a chance yet as you might know if you've been reading my other blog entries-bit of a book back log but that's never a bad thing! However, I know Ipswich Children's book group were lucky enough to have him speak about ALI PASHA last month and it sounds rather good. I also think his illustrations really are beautiful and always, always admire them. I'm sure you will too -see below:
Thank you to Ange and Alice for this next one. They are 'keen bean' trainee teachers at the Faculty of Ed and have worked really hard on building up a series of lessons based around the Michael Foreman illustrated 'Little ships' by Louise Borden. Again, I've used this for WW2 themes particularly because it's pertinent to our local coast; I do think we need to give our children a sense of where they live. Some of the ships that made this courageous journey still sail today. If you don't know this one take a look.....you'll be inspired.
One of the many privileges of visiting schools is meeting new people and talking about books. I go in with my Storyshack selection and we peruse those. As the lovely books are all laid out for teachers to look at there is book chat. It's lovely....people start recommending and getting enthused. So this was recommended to me when I was at West Row Primary on Monday. I love the idea already; set in London, a stone dragon is inadvertently touched leading to the re awakening of a dormant power and thrilling adventure.
What an impressive array from WEST ROW children AND also a wonderful baby book ready for a new arrival within a West Row family (to be put to use imminently I hear) and a map cover for a secret diary. There were lots of those and Im glad-I think more of us should keep diaries, not only is it therapy it's always interesting reading them back again!
PS to Storyshack imagineers from West Row-if you can't see your amazing book here it's going up on the 'STORYSHACK IN SCHOOLS' pages tomorrow. Hopefully you're not reading this now as it's half past 11 so you might actually come across those pics TODAY! I'm off to read some more of Jennifer Saunder's 'BONKERS' which is based, early on, on HER DIARIES.
Fantastic pumpkin carving at Sticky Steph pumpkin extraordinaire lady and her talented team. Lots of lovely cats, witches and castles being carved.
Then lots of little witches around Snape this evening looking very jolly. All reminded me of one of our very favourites in this house: The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy. Really sweet, gentle and funny. A jolly good read.
Between pumpkin carving and witchy excitement we took in Michael Rosen's 'Centrally Heated knickers' at the Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.
Wonderful mini orchestra too and all rather marvellous...catch it if you can....