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.