Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Interview with Michael Scott

My interview with Michael Scott

By Rory Hawkins

On the 9th of May, Charters school was lucky enough to welcome fantasy author Michael Scott, only a week after being visited by another author, Michael Grant. Mr Scott visited to promote his 106th book and the last in a six book long series: The Enchantress, which, as he stated in his presentation to the year 8s, took him a year to write. I was lucky enough to be asked on the school’s behalf to interview Mr Scott, or, as I was allowed to call him, Michael.

   I found Michael to be a very agreeable person, I enjoyed talking to him and he answered the questions the Book Club and I concocted with both enthusiasm and detail. I got the sense that he enjoyed the interview as much as I did.

    When I asked why he became a writer, Michael answered: “I’m a writer because I’m a reader. I believe you can only really be a good writer if you’re a reader. I remember picking up a book, reading and thinking: ‘Wait- I can write better rubbish than this’.” I nodded to this; if you’re someone who’s into creative writing you’ll come across this at one point or another. Michael went on to say this was when you were ready yourself to write. “But,” Michael continued, “you’ve also got think if there’s space for you, what makes your writing different.” When I continued the question to: ‘Why did you decide to write for young adults?’ Michael answered eagerly; “They’re a very interesting audience and, in my opinion, this is the golden age for YA writing; when you’ve written a book, it’s pure story for teenagers. An adult will come up to you and say your book was rubbish. A teenager will come up to you and point out all the bits they liked, from chapter three or four and so on. But that’s also one of the hardest parts. With this genre you have to create your own logic and you need to keep to that or-”

   “Or they’ll point that out and scrutinise you for that,” I said.


   “Have you actually based any characters on people you know?” I asked.

   “No,” Michael replied bluntly, “my golden rule in writing is to not base characters on people you know, not just because you may point out a not too endearing thing about them. People look for themselves in book characters, most people want to find something that they share with a character. In fact, the only characters I made up in the Flamel series are the twins themselves. As you already know, I brought together mythological figures from all across the world. I simply gave them personalities from how they were portrayed in their myths.”

   After what Michael had said about not basing characters on people, I hardly thought that we wouldn’t be straying from the questions I had written down previous; ‘Which character do you think you are most like?’ was next. Michael agreed with me on this. After quickly concluding that he was like none, we went on to the topic of which he proffered.

   “Most people would think that Nicholas Flamel was my favourite. Really? No. I like my villains: Dr Dee and Machiavelli especially. Dee, actually, used to the hero, in a few of my other books.”

   “But in the Enchantress, things change for Dee.”

   “Of course; I had flip with the Enchantress, circumstances change for Dee and, in the end really, he becomes good.”

   I got Michael to reveal some of his writing ‘top-tips’ when I asked the next question: “Did you always know how the series would end?”

   “Yes,” Michael began, “I wrote the ending first. It’s like setting yourself a target; you want to get from here... to there. The fact that there are six books is only because when I wrote the whole series out in note form I saw six synopses which let me divide it into six books.”

   “So you wrote all of the books out in note form beforehand?” I asked.

   “Not completely, I left some room for the characters to surprise me. The Flamel series was very interesting to write, one of my best and favourite series, I have to say.”

   For anything I had missed asking Michael, the year 8s certainly picked up in the Q and A part of Michael’s presentation. He told them that ‘At the heart of every legend there is a grain of truth’ and ‘As you collect stories across the world you find similarities’ among other things. When asked why he was a fantasy author, Michael replied: “Fantasy is the best genre. You can do anything you like; you can make your own world with your set of rules.”

   “Which do you prefer: reading or writing?” asked one pupil.

   “I spend as much time reading as I do writing. And I have to say, writing is the best job in the world. Being a writer lets me travel all around the world. I often ask my publisher if I can sell a book in, let’s say, Australia, or promote it or something, just so I can go there.”

   Michael went on to say that in terms of publishing one’s work, this was the golden age for young people, websites like Wattpad allowing publishers to snap up up-and-coming young authors.  His tips to year8s wanting to go into a career involving creative writing were ‘Never put out second rate work’ and ‘Try and set yourself a writing goal; I aim to write four A4 pages a day, much to my editor’s delight.’

   One cheeky year8 couldn’t hold back the question of: “Do you like vampires?” (clearly meaning the stereotypical cliché of modern-day bloodsuckers becoming charismatic yet moody models).

   “Well actually I have one vampire as a main character, Scathach. In Flamel, I went back to original vampires. You see, original vampires drained energy, which later was confused with blood, and some didn’t even look remotely like people. One,” Michael said with a wry smile, “is literally a floating skull with fangs and a spinal cord trailing behind it,” much to the girl’s displeasure.

   When asked about the book ‘The Enchantress’ itself, Michael said: ‘If you’re not surprised by the ending there’s something wrong with you.’

If you’ve already read the Flamel series, then you’ve got the joy and annoyance to look forward to ‘The Alchemyst’ movie in 2014. As Michael told me, with a budget of $120m, parts are being filmed in the same CGI studios as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit.’ And if that’s not enough for you, the first book in ‘The Earthlords’ trilogy is to be launched next year with the aptly named title of: ‘The Earthlords Rising.’ Michael told me of its simpler to follow storyline; “One main backdrop and all major characters introduced in the first book.”

   But if you haven’t already completed ‘The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel’ then you’ve got some catching up to do.
I would like to express thanks on the behalf of all the Year 8s and staff at Charters School who really enjoyed Michael's talk.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

When Laura Dockrill visited Charters School

Back in April we were very fortunate to have a visit from Laura Dockrill. Laura came in to talk to the Year 7s and the event was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone, pupils and staff alike. Laura is coming back to Charters for our Wonder of Words Young People's Literary Festival in July and we can't wait to see her again. Two of our Year 7 pupils decided to write something about Laura's visit for book blog:

Laura Dockrill
Visits Charters School!
That day was Exciting, because when she first came in I thought it would be like the first writer visit, silent and boring. But then she started talking in this AMAZING, CRAZIEE voice that made me feel like she was saying “WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A FUNN TIME!” so, she went on and said she liked this boy in 7T, (but I don’t remember his name) and EVERYONE started laughing! Afterwards, we asked her a LOT of questions… to do with her favourite stuff (I asked her what she loves to watch on TV and she said Tom and Jerry! I WATCH THAT TOO!) And when she found out I was a twin she flipped and said that she LOVED twins. But we weren’t the only twins there! There was Emily and Maisie. After 20 questions or MORE, she read us an extract of her book in which one of Darcy’s friends (in her new book) love this girl in her class but the girl has not time for him and Darcy tells a story about an octopus loving a girl from the outside… and later pops out on a poor granny trying to sunbathe
Then later on, it was almost time for her to LEAVEL. Nobody wanted her to leave… and her book sounded so interesting and I had NO money
 … Sickening. Just sickening. And everyone who bought money was jumping up and down and I felt small! But something else happened- I was chosen for my face to be in the newspaper with ME standing next to Laura! SQUEEE! So, the photo was taken and my sister came up to me. I was so full of energy and she asked if I was alright. I then opened my mouth and said, “Did you know? I want to be a WRITER.”

By Marie-Louise Lawson, Year 7. 

In April Charters was very lucky to have an author come into our school. Her name was Laura Dockrill and she talked to all the year sevens about her life as an author, her childhood and about her new book called Darcy Burdock. Some of the things that Laura talked to us about were about why she wanted to become an author. She said that she would think about a main part for a story and just write it down.

What I personally like about the visit was that she did not just talk about her stories but about her as a child and about how she is now and why she has blue highlights and wears dresses that look like a peacock (long story).
The main part of the visit was when she talked about her brand new book Darcy Burdock and I really like it because in the story the girl Darcy talks about the stories that she makes up herself so the way I look at it is another name for Darcy Burdock is Laura Dockrill because Laura loves to share her stories to other people so I think she has written the book about her but changing the name.

I enjoyed Laura Dockrill's visit because I really liked how she talked about her as well because I felt I knew her and I only had 1 hour so I think for the year groups to come I definitely think they should have a chance to see  a author like we did and enjoyed just like me .

By Kiera Fahey, Year 7

Our thanks go to Laura and to Random House Children's Publishing for arranging the visit.

Monday, 17 June 2013

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

“A Greyhound of a Girl” was written by Roddy Doyle. The book is set in the Republic of Ireland in mostly the present day, and sometimes breaks from the main storyline to explain key events from the main characters lives in separate chapters. The novel starts with Mary, the main character saying goodbye to he best friend Ava, who is moving out of the area with her family. Mary’s mother is called Scarlett.  Her father is mentioned only a little and she also has two brothers. Mary is greatly saddened by the moving of her friend. Soon afterwards she meets a woman named Tansey, whom she introduces to her mother. Scarlett recognises Tansey to be her grandmother making her Mary’s great-grandmother. Tansey reveals to Scarlett and Mary that she has retuned as a ghost because her daughter Emer (Scarlett’s mother and Mary’s grandmother) is about to die and she wishes to comfort her in her last moments. Later the reader finds out, in a chapter set in the 1920s, that Tansey died of the flu when her child Emer was very young. In the end of the story Mary and Scarlett reveal the existence of Tansey to Emer and the four main characters journey to the old family farm. Each of the characters remember what the farm looked like as each of them recall it.

I did not enjoy reading “A Greyhound of a Girl”. I thought the book was very slow moving, dull and wasn’t interesting at all. Nothing interesting ever happened in the plot and I found the character of Mary hard to identify with as she does not share anything in common with me. If there was something I enjoyed about the book it was the idea of a ghost, however I think that the ghost should have come back to solve something interesting, such as an ancient family mystery, and not to comfort a dying daughter. I also found the fact that the time periods jumped around difficult to follow.

Review written by Angel Thomas, Year 8.

Friday, 14 June 2013

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

This book is about a girl-Mary-whose Grandma-Emer- is dying and is in hospital. But Mary has met a ghost who is her great grandmother-Tansy- who has a very important message for Emer. Each chapter is from the perspective of four generations of women: a teenager, her mother, her grandmother and her great grandmother. I love the mix of seriousness and comedy that the author beautifully mixes into this book. From the first paragraph I loved Mary and her character. You visit different points in the history of the family including the time Tansy (the great grandmother) dies. The author writes about not only Tansy’s death from her own point of view but also from her daughter’s point of view. I really like this style of writing as it is a natural way of writing that make you feel like you know all the characters like a friend. 

I would recommend this book for girls rather than boys and recommend it for 13 and above. After reading the book I do feel that it was quite slow and if you are more into action books then this is not the kind of book for you. This book is based a lot around the theme of life and death and is slightly fantasy in terms of coming back from the dead but very real in the sense that death is a thing that can happen to anyone.

Review written by Archie White, Year 9.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

“The Weight of Water” was written by Sarah Crossan. The book is about a young polish girl called Kasienka who, with her mother, emigrates from Gdansk in Poland to Coventry in England. Kasienka and her mother have come to England to find Tata , Kasienka’s father, who has left the family after an argument to come to England. Kasienka attends school where she becomes the rival of a girl named Clair. Kasienka and her mother spend their evenings searching for Tata. Kasienka manages to locate her father who is living a comfortable life, compared to her, and who has taken another wife with a young child. Kasienka receives the offer of living with her father, however she turns it down. Kasienka neglects to tell her mother about her father’s new life, knowing that it will break her mother’s heart, but she finds out anyway. Kasienka’s mother refuses to look at her and becomes very sad. Kasienka, who is a strong swimmer, secures her place on the school team in an important competition. Kasienka’s mother refuses to let her compete so Kasienka sneaks to the competition whilst her mother is asleep. At the competition Kasienka’s father is in the crowd. Kasienka manages to win the competition and confront Clair ,who is also competing.

The novel is written as a series of poems which I liked as they gave the novel an unusual and interesting structure, because novels are not normally written as poems. The use of the form of poetry gives the story a life of its own and shows the character of Kasienka through words and gives a reader an insight into her thoughts. The story itself would probably be quite short if it were not written in a poetic structure. It was also enjoyable that the book was easy to read as it took me an evening to finish it. I liked the character of Kasienka’s mother, who was determined to find her husband, who in the end had a child with another woman. I liked the determination and bravery of both Kasienka and her mother who come to a foreign country, not knowing much of the language, to find a person who could be anywhere.

Review written by Angel Thomas, Year 8.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Wonder of Words Young People's Literary Festival 2013

On Saturday 13 July Charters School will be holding its very own young people's literary festival. Read on to find out more about the event, the authors who will be appearing and how you can get tickets. Alternatively, you can download the festival programme by clicking here. The programme also contains a handy ticket order form for you to use.

Last summer we held a summer fair at Charters School to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and also the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was a great success and so we decided we wanted to continue to hold an annual summer fair, with all the great stalls, games, live music and food that people have come to expect from a Charters School summer event,  but with a slight difference. That difference is WOW!

For our very first Wonder of Words Young People's Literary Festival we have managed to provide a brilliant line-up of author events, featuring some of the hottest authors currently writing for children and young adults. We are very excited to be hosting Laura Dockrill, Holly Smale, Will Hill, Rob Lloyd Jones and Conrad Mason and we believe we have a programme which has a little something for everyone.



Laura Dockrill

Laura visited Charters in April and we are delighted to be welcoming her back to wow the audience with her wild and colourful imagination. Laura's debut book for children, Darcy Burdock, has received countless rave reviews, with The Guardian saying: "Move over, Jacqueline Wilson. Darcy Burdock could just be the new Tracy Beaker." Darcy Burdock is a hilarious and fun book, with a main character who will be loved by boys, girls and adults. This event is suitable for children aged 7+.


Holly Smale

Don't miss your chance to meet Holly Smale, author of Geek Girl, the best selling Young Adult debut of 2013. Although Geek Girl has been aimed at the 11+ market, girls as young as 7 and as old as 18 are finding it to be hugely enjoyable read. Clumsy, a bit geeky and somewhat shy, Holly spent the majority of her teenage years hiding in the changing room toilets. She was unexpectedly spotted by a top London modelling agency at the age of fifteen and spent the following two years falling over on catwalks, going bright red and breaking things she couldn't afford to replace.


Will Hill, Conrad Mason and Rob Lloyd Jones

 We are delighted to welcome three very talented writers for our final event of the day. Covering horror, fantasy and mystery this panel event is suitable for all ages from 10 upwards. Will Hill is the author of the extremely popular and critically acclaimed Department 19 series, which features a secret government agency who are dedicated to protecting the public from the vampire menace. Conrad Mason's hugely entertaining and magical Tales of Fayt fantasy books have been described as being perfect for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean or the works of Terry Pratchett. Rob Lloyd Jones is the author of Wild Boy, a fast-paced adventure mystery story set in Victorian London, whose main character lives in a freak show.


There is no charge for entry to the Summer Fair, but we are making a small charge for each of the author events. Tickets for each author event are only £2 for adults and £1 for under 18s. All children under the age of 11 must be accompanied by a ticket buying adult.

Tickets can be purchased by post by sending a cheque for the correct amount made payable to Charters School. Please ensure you state clearly the event(s) you wish to purchase tickets for. You tickets will be posted to you for a charge of 60p or free of charge if you include a stamped addressed envelope with your booking. Otherwise your tickets will be held at the school for collection on the day of the festival.

All cheques should be sent to:

WOW Festival, Charters School, Charters Road, Sunningdale, Berkshire. SL5 9QY

Books and Signings

Waterstones will be selling books after each event and there will be an opportunity to meet each author and get your books signed. Unfortunately we will not have credit card facilities on the day and we will only be accepting cash or cheques for book purchases. You are welcome to bring books you already own for signing.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email or call the school on 01344 624826

The Summer Fair

As mentioned above, the summer fair part of the day is completely free to enter, and there will be plenty going on for all of the family to keep you occupied between the author events, including:

Hog Roast
Indian food stall
Tea and cakes

Silent auction

Bouncy castle
Sumo suits
Games, games and more games

Second hand book stall
Jewellery stall
All kinds of other stalls (info to come)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen is a true story about the author’s life on the streets and how it completely changed after he befriended a stray cat which he named Bob. James thought a pet was the last thing he needed as a homeless recovering heroin addict however he loved cats and wanted to help the injured stray. The cat then began following him everywhere. The book explains their loyalty and friendship and tells the reader of their adventures together. James Bowen intends to show the audience the reality of life on the streets, the importance of friendship and how finding Bob transformed both of their lives. He shows the reader that most people can pass a man in the street without giving him a second glance but as they pass a man with a cat in the street they will suddenly show much more interest and attention. He also uses the book as an opportunity to thank the people who helped him to get where he is now.
This is a feel good and inspirational story, and is written by the man who experienced it all first hand. The explanations of James’ and Bob’s adventures are unimaginable so you have to keep reminding yourself that it all really happened. The cat is so intelligent and loyal and if anyone doesn’t believe that it is a true story they can search Bob on YouTube.
People of all ages and walks of life would enjoy this book, but especially animal lovers.
Review written by Catherine Porter, Year 10.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Metawars - Fight For The Future by Jeff Norton

Metawars: Fight for the Future is a story about a boy named Jonah Delacroix who lives in a dystopian future where, due to immense technological advances, he can not only spend his time in the real world, but in a virtual one too!  Although Jonah finds the virtual world better than real life, it is not perfect, with two opposing sides, the Guardians and the Millennials, fighting over control of it.  Jonah has never doubted his allegiance in this war, having suffered extreme loss because of it.  But one day, in the basement of the family shop, he makes a surprising discovery, which forces him to reconsider his ideas and become involved in the huge conflict.
I thought the concept of having a virtual world considered far superior to reality was a very clever idea, as many people are already addicted to technology today.  The elements of economic collapse and climate change make this a realistic interpretation of how the world could be in many years to come.  Another concept I liked was “uploading,” in effect a form of suicide- your being and memories are uploaded onto the virtual world, where they stay forever.  Norton uses dramatic irony well throughout the book, giving the reader an idea of how both sides are progressing.
Although this book did have an excellent setting, I didn’t find it as exciting as I’d hoped, since it took a lot of the book to get to the climax.  I would have liked more scenes in which the two protagonists took control of their situations, because those were the scenes which I enjoyed the most.  I would also have liked to find out more about the two protagonists, in order to be able to relate with them more.
I would give this book 3/5.  

Review written by Caroline Carter, Year 10.   Thank you to Jeff Norton for sending us a copy to read.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

“Romeo and Juliet meets Twilight by way of the Godfather” is how the Guardian describes the first book in the Arcadia Trilogy by the best-selling and award-winning German author, Kai Meyer, whose other works include the Wave Runners Trilogy.

Though from the beginning of the book, including the blurb, themes aimed at teenage girls were presented, I still saw it as appealing to both genders, the “Romeo and Juliet” of the novel’s romance not taking an integral role in the plot line, yet nevertheless dipping in and out of the storyline to complicate matters and to generally wreak emotional havoc. The part that I saw to appeal to boys more was how Meyer wove in the Mafia families of Sicily, a few flecks of doubtful mysteriousness and the occasional dollop of casual violence in gang fights between the main character’s families.

Some may liken this book to Twilight  spouting that it’s the same except they’ve all got supernatural powers (spoiler alert! though if you’re smart enough you’ll guess by the blurb). Whilst it can be compared to Romeo and Juliet slightly and only because of the main character’s situation, Arcadia Awakens can only be compared to the wrist-slitting read of Twilight by what Stephanie Meyer should have done, lessening the theme of romance for the sake of a better book, Kai Meyer (no relation) being arguably the better Meyer.

The book follows main character teenager Rosa Alcantara as she escapes her life in New York to stay with family in Sicily. However, little does she know as she stumbles into the sinister Mafia underworld that the Alcantara clan has surrounded itself in, rivalries and corruption running deep in the clan’s relationships with one another. And as she arrives she encounters mysterious stranger Alessandro, soon to become enemy as he is about to become capo of the Carnevare clan, though bitter and hateful uncle, Cesare, stands in the way of his inheritance. And at the heart of it all sits the ancient myths and legends of the once-mighty island empire of Arcadia, its people cursed by the old gods themselves to walk as both man and beast.

Review written by Rory Hawkins, Year 10.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Creative Writing: Last and First by Rory Hawkins

This blog is not just a celebration of reading, but also somewhere we can showcase some of the creative writing that is produced at Charters School. This piece is by Rory Hawkins in Year 10, a member of the school's Creative Writing group.

If you find it easier to read as a PDF then you can download it to your computer by clicking here.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Charters School Year of Reading - Logo Reveal

Just before school broke up for Christmas we launched a competition, asking pupils in Key Stage 3 to design a logo that we could use thoughout the year. We had a huge number of entries, and it took us some time to decide on a winner and two runners-up.

The winning designs were produced by Esta Shrewsbury in Year 8:

Winner: Esta Shrewsbury, Year 8.

We loved Esta's imaginative ideas, and were wowed by the quality of her drawing skills. However, we needed to simplify the ideas a little and so they were scanned in, and elements of each of them combined to form this final design:

Final Year of Reading logo (based on designs by Esta Shrewsbury, Year 8).

Mention has to go to Naomi Edwards in Year 8 for her wonderful 3D "Explore The World of Books" design which was given second place, and Jack Prince, also in Year 8, for his simple but effective "A world of words at your fingertips" design.

Second place: Naomi Edwards, Year 8.

Third place: Jack Prince, Year 8.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

*** Warning: review contains spoilers.

The author of “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was born in 1859 in Edinburgh. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attended Edinburgh University to study medicine and established a practice in Southsea. Conan Doyle’s occupation as a doctor had an influence in the creation of the character Dr Watson. The first novel containing the character Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr Watson was “A Study in Scarlet” which was published in 1886. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was interested in spiritualism up until his death in 1930.

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” was first published in 1902 and is set at the end of the Victorian era. At the start of the novel Dr James Mortimer, who lives on Dartmoor, arrives at 221 Baker Street (the house of Sherlock Holmes) to request the help of the legendary detective in solving the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville. Dr Mortimer informs Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson about an old legend which tells of a giant supernatural hound that is said to plague the Baskerville family. Sherlock Holmes dismisses the idea that Sir Charles was killed by a giant hound. Dr Mortimer goes on to tell the two that the heir to Sir Charles Baskerville’s estate Sir Henry is to arrive in England soon. Sherlock Holmes entrusts Dr Watson to see that the new Sir Henry Baskerville does not suffer the same mysterious death his uncle did.

Dr Watson accompanies Sir Henry to Baskerville Hall on Dartmoor and examines the spot in the gardens where Sir Charles died. There he finds a footprint of a large animal and concludes that Sir Charles died from a heart attack whilst being pursued by this large animal. Dr Watson also learns that a dangerous convict who has recently escaped from prison is roaming free on the moor. One evening Sir Henry Baskerville and Dr Watson hear a noise in the house and follow a light in one of the corridors. They find the servant Barrymore and his wife with a candle. Dr Watson forces the pair to tell him what they are doing. Barrymore’s wife tells Dr Watson that the escaped prisoner on the moor is in fact her brother and that they have been supplying him with food. Dr Watson and Sir Henry Baskerville pursue the prisoner over the moor, however they fail to apprehend him. The next morning, before he is asked to leave, the servant Barrymore tells Dr Watson that he knows of a second man who lives on the moor.

Thinking that this second man might be connected to the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, Watson scours the moor in search of him. Dr Watson finds a stone hut where he thinks the mysterious second man has been living. Watson is about to leave the hut when he hears a person outside. Watson sees the owner of the hut standing outside, it turns out to be Sherlock Holmes who has followed Dr Watson and Sir Henry Baskerville since the start of the case. Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes are about to return to Baskerville Hall when they hear the call of a hound and a painful scream. Holmes and Watson find the dead body of the escaped prisoner and see a strange glow in the distance.

Sensing that the life of Sir Henry Baskerville is in danger Holmes decides to lay a trap to see if a giant hound really does exist, and if so who controls it. Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes pretend to return to London whilst sir Henry Baskerville has dinner with another resident of the moor named Stapleton. Holmes and Watson lie in wait outside Stapleton’s house and observe him feeding a large animal kept in an out house. When Sir Henry comes out of Stapleton’s house a large hound pursues him. Sherlock Holmes fires on the hound killing it and then chases the hound’s master Stapleton into a mire where the villain dies.

The novel was enjoyable to read and there were no points at which the story was not interesting. The best part of the book was the eccentric character of Sherlock Holmes who is able to easily solve a complicated case. Another highlight of the novel is the character of Dr Watson whose medical knowledge is an asset to Sherlock Holmes when solving any case. Another enjoyable part of the novel was the use of an animal as a murder weapon which makes this book different from others in the crime genre. Also the idea of Sherlock Holmes being a consulting detective, and not working for the police or anybody else is a great idea. This book is probably the most famous in the Sherlock Holmes series and should be read by anybody who enjoys the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Review written by Angel Thomas, Year 8

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose

The book follows a company of paratroopers through their experiences in Europe during World War II, from their basic training to their drop into Normandy on D-Day through the end of the war. The author follows a few of these men with particular care, and his telling of their personal war stories adds a human element to the historical accounts.

What makes Band of Brothers such a remarkable book is that the stories are true. Men really fought with this sort of bravery. They really endured these harsh, unbearable conditions. These men from all over the United States were largely ordinary; fishermen and farmers and all sorts of jobs, but they fought with extraordinary courage.

Stephen Ambrose spent years gathering all of the information for this book. He got to know many of the men he wrote about, and heard these stories from their own lips. This shows dedication and truth of the stories and enforces that it is true.

Ambrose writes directly; his language isn’t too flowery, which is appropriate, considering the horror of war. He matter-of-factly describes the grim realities of war and, in doing so, echoes the matter-of-factness that many veterans show when they describe their experiences in the trenches. They don’t see that they’ve done anything particularly heroic. They simply fought hard because it was the right thing to do.

Review written by Jack Cullen, Year 8.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Shopaholic Ties The Knot by Sophie Kinsella

During the Christmas holidays, I read “Shopaholic Ties The Knot” by best-selling author Sophie Kinsella whilst on vacation. The book includes an amusing story portraying genres such as comedy, romance and femininity.

“Shopaholic Ties The Knot” is actually the third book in its series, and there are six sensational books in total, all of which I began reading after “Shopaholic Ties The Knot”.

At first, I obviously didn’t comprehend the background story of the book because I had not read the previous two books (Confessions Of A Shopaholic and The Secret Dream world Of A Shopaholic) because at the time I didn’t realise the book was part of a sequel. However, as I began to read on, I became familiar with the concept of the story, the settings, the plot, and of course the characters and thoroughly enjoyed reading it for a number of different reasons, especially due to the fact that the story was narrated by just one character, the main character: Becky Bloomwood. This makes the story easier to follow and understand, and prevents the reader getting mixed up by who is narrating during which chapter.

The story follows the life of Becky Bloomwood, a beautiful young city girl, who has a powerful passion for just one thing: shopping! Hence the name, “Shopaholic Ties The Knot” the storyline obviously involves the main character getting married, and I loved reading about Becky’s various shopping encounters, including shopping for her wedding cake, choosing a venue, and of course, her wedding dress. Kinsella’s story was very entertaining, and I honestly did not read through one chapter without bursting out laughing, I sincerely find it hilarious the lengths that some people go to for a pair of high heels!

Witty and comical style books aren't usually what I go for when choosing a book, as I prefer mystery themed books and action filled adventure stories however as said before I thoroughly enjoyed “Shopaholic Ties The Knot” and cannot wait for more books in the sequel to come out.

Review written by Persia-Lili Moharerr, Year 10.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Chemical Elements Poetry Anthology - Simon Mayo Visit

Last term we were very fortunate to host writer and Radio 2 presenter Simon Mayo, who came to the school to talk to the Year 7s about his book Itch. In preparation for the visit a group of sixteen Year 7 pupils spent some time taking part in a science and an English workshop.

In the first workshop the pupils were introduced to the periodic table and shown experiments with a number of different elements. They then completed their own experiments, discussed the reactions taking place and recorded their results.

A week later the group took part in a second workshop where they recapped the experiments and thought about how to describe the elements and the reactions that took place by using interesting comparisons. Following this they each wrote a poem about one of the elements from the periodic table. These were bound together as an anthology and presented to Simon when he visited. We thought you might like to read them as well.

You can download it by clicking here, or read it below. We hope you enjoy reading our work.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Back Home by Michelle Magorian

After five happy years in America, Rusty must return to England: the place she used to call home.

But it doesn't fell like home. Rusty's mother is like a stranger, her little brother doesn't know her and why does the food taste so bad? Rusty just can't get used to the rigid rules and rationing and her strict new boarding school.

Lonely and homesick, Rusty makes friends with Lance, another returned evacuee, and her indomitable spirit leads her into a dramatic and devastating rebellion. . .

Rusty has just been evacuated to America. The war has ended and she is now heading back home, England. She finds herself in a run-down house in Devon where her mother and brother were evacuated in the war, but on her return, they are whisked back to their house in London to meet her grandmother. Her mother does not understand the freedom and fun she had in America so is constantly telling her off for being immature. Her grandmother and brother hate her and her war veteran father wants her to be more lady like. When she moves to an all girls private school, her only friend is Lance, a boy from the local boy’s school. They meet up at night and one day find a bombed house in the woods. They decorate the house together, but Rusty fears Lance is growing further and further away from her. So, she decides to run away… back to Devon.

This book was amazing and I really empathised with Rusty. I learned how lucky the Americans were in the Second World War with no rationing, luxury clothing, sweets, paints and many other items. Some parts of the book made me cringe but others made me smile. I loved how her brother’s reaction to Rusty constantly changed throughout the book and the strict, old-fashioned ways of their grandmother.

This would be a recommended read to anyone about my age.

Review written by Isabella Somerville, Year 7.

Welcome To Our Book Blog

Welcome to the Charters School Book Blog and thank you for stopping by. 2013 is our Year of Reading and we hope to use this blog to post reviews of some of the books that we read. We may also post reports and photos of some the events that we hope will take place during the year.