Nitya Mehta, Year 7

I have been reading: The Famous Five Get Into Trouble

The book starts getting really exciting when Dick gets kidnaped. But why did they kidnap him? The kidnappers left a very big clue, “Richard! We will kill you!” How will Julian, George (Georgian), Anne and Timmy be able to rescue Dick without getting themselves into trouble?

My favourite character was Dick because he showed he wasn’t scared but he was feeling really scared from the inside.

The characters felt real, especially the dog because he protected the other four how real dogs do.

The book left me guessing because I could not work out why they kidnaped Dick until the very end of the book.

My favourite part of the book was when the Famous Five met Richard.

The book kept me there and forced me to turn the pages over.

I would recommend this book to teenage readers and adults. This book is suitable for fans of mystery books.

There are lots of Famous Five books. All of them are adventurous. There are 21 Famous Five books altogether written by Enid Blyton.

Josh Way, Year 7

I am reading: Middle School Get Me Out of Here, by James Patterson

This book is based on a kid called Rage who moved to the big city after an accident involving his mum. After that he just tries to make it through the school year.

I really like Rage because he is witty and will always launch himself into trouble. My favourite part was when Rage dropped water balloons onto some bully’s head.

I didn’t really dislike anything about the book as it was so gripping.

If you are the type of reader who enjoys funny books, then this is for you!

I rate this book a 4.5/5

Mrs Reading, English teacher and Teaching and Learning Lead

I have just read: The Optician of Lampedusa, by Emma Jane Kirby

This is based on the true story of migrants drowning in the sea of the island of Lampedusa, and an Optician and his friends’ desperate effort to save as many as they can. Emma Jane Kirby, a renowned journalist, interviewed the Optician and wrote a poignant and raw narrative of the events before, during and after with vivid clarity.

I don’t normally read journalistic reports but found this form of literary non fiction gave a powerful voice to the migrants. The description from the eyes of the Optician of 360 people (mostly women and children) drowning hopelessly at sea, was incredibly powerful. When he managed – with his friends – to save 46 desperate people, we sense his frustration and anguish at not managing to rescue more.

Whilst I felt that the characterisation of the main character and his wife could be developed at times, I found this one of the most powerful – and indeed, important – stories, I have ever read. Once you read this book, you will never react to the endless stories of helpless migrants in the same way again.

I rate this book a 4/5.

Miss Andrews, Teacher of Art

I have just read: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Based in Jackson, Mississippi during 1962, the book sheds light on the different relations between white and black people of that time and the struggles of being independent women. Kathryn Stockett alternates between three narrators – the maids Aibileen and Minny (who are known as ‘the help’) and an idealistic white journalist called Skeeter who together create a book of interviews exposing the brutal prejudice of the housewives.

The book tells the bitter reality of racial division in a brave, humorous and emotional way. It is both deeply saddening and euphoric but depicts a reality which, unfortunately, was not so far in the past. The first-person narration allowed me to feel in touch and empathise deeply with the characters and I felt I was going through the journey with them, experiencing both highs and lows.

Despite the book exploring very poignant issues, some of the character and plot developments seemed unrealistic and at points the author seems to romanticise and soften what really would have happened during this time. The idea of writing a novel from the perspective of ‘the help’ had great potential but I feel the lack of authenticity and honesty let it down in places.

I would rate this book 3/5.

Hayden Dexter, Year 7

I have read Ronaldo, Ultimate Football Heroes

This book is very interesting because it is about Cristiano Ronaldo’s life as a child all the way through to 2019. It talks about his clubs that he played for and his career. I enjoyed the book because I like learning about famous footballers’ lives. There’s not a lot of characters but out of the few mine is Ronaldo because I like how he was cheeky and loved football as a kid. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking about how he because the person he is today when he grew up in a poor society. The story kept me turning the pages, I read it every night!

Miss Simmonds, Teacher of English

I have just read: Palincashire; Tales of Romania by Mark Ormsby

I bought this book in Romania when I travelled there to help me understand the culture and people. It appealed to me as it was a simple anthology of stories about Romania; easily digested on short bus trips or long train trips, allowed some insight to the language and contextualised the towns and cities I visited. It has a large amount of stories about nature and animals, which I view as typical of Romania, some basic historical and political references and many funny tales about the idiosyncrasies of the country and its folklore.

Although the tales could easily be read individually, reading from front to back allowed for deeper characterisation and story development with some of the authors regular characters. Each story was well rounded and they varied in size, so occasionally if I only had a spare 5 minutes I could digest a smaller story and other times I would read one of the larger ones. I enjoyed the humour in the stories and I related to the collision of culture presented. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was how simple the language was and occasionally the amount of dialogue was unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the story.

I’d recommend it to those who don’t always have a lot of time to read, teenagers to adults and those who have either a connection to Romania or an interest in travel and culture.

I would give this 7/10

Dr C Mullins, Teacher of Science

Recently, I have read: Enduring Love – Ian McEwan

Most gripping start of a book I’ve experienced in a long time, bringing to mind all the cliches of ‘page-turner’, ‘couldn’t put it down’, etc. It even holds your attention away from a sunny beach scenery whilst on holiday.

The scientific wording detaches you from the action somewhat and feels at odds to the highly emotive situations they are describing but, somewhat confusingly, as a scientist, this made me feel comfortable at the same time.

He was excellent at drawing out the negative traits of the protagonist but concurrently allowing you to empathise – as well as any Russian novelist I’ve read.

Overall, a gripping yet thoughtful read.

Ms A Connolly, Teacher of MFL

The book that I would like to talk about is called “You will not have my hatred” by Antoine Leiris. Antoine Leiris lost his wife in the terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015 and this book is the story of his grief and of bringing up their baby son alone in the aftermath of the event.

I have smiled many times reading this story as he portrays very candidly his personal journey through the mundanity of everyday life but the poetic and so emotional way in which he describes his pain and his longing for his loved one have also brought many tears to my eyes.

It makes difficult reading at times and is not for the faint hearted but it is a defiant but quietly understated message to terrorism and extremism symbolised through the simple existence of the little boy and I believe that the book is open to a large audience from a wide variety of backgrounds.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did and I would give it 9/10!!!.

Miss Sauer, Teacher of English

I have just read: Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

This was a fascinating exploration of the gap and overlap between illness/disability and identity. I don’t usually read non-fiction in books, preferring instead to listen through podcasts, but this was well worth the ride! Andrew Solomon considers the relationship between parents and their children, theorising that many well-intentioned parents see keeping their children safe as making sure their children are like them. Starting with his dyslexic childhood and later his coming out as gay, he questions the benefits and costs of seeing a child’s differences as illness rather than identity. I found it fascinating to read the wealth of case studies he collects through 500 interviews, from deafness to transgenderism, from dwarfism to autism, and to consider a powerful question of what we should seek to ‘fix’ in our children and what we should embrace and celebrate instead. I learnt a lot about the experiences of children from many marginalised groups and the parents that love them; I was left wondering if we truly do see the value in difference. I would really recommend this to anyone who is interested in voices that are not often amplified and experiences that are complicated. A nuanced and informative read with lots of food for thought!

Miss Mawson, Teacher of Maths

I have just read: Heroes, by Stephen Fry

This book is a modern re-telling of some of the famous Greek myths and legends, such as The Minotaur, Icarus who flew too close to the Sun, Pegasus, the slaying of Medusa, the twelve labours of Hercules, Oedipus and the issues he had with his mother, and Jason and the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. A lot of the stories involve someone failing to pay their respect to one of the gods, who get their revenge! Zeus is king of the Gods and is always making his sister/wife Hera jealous by cheating on her with all sorts of creatures – but Hera is crafty and has a quick temper; she always gets her own back.

I found it really interesting because not only were the stories exciting and funny, but I was also able to learn a lot about Ancient Greece, and how they have shaped our culture and language today. For example, a lot of words we use today are named after ancient kings, heroes and Gods (planets, creatures, places etc.).

The book blurs fact and fiction in an unusual way. Some of the places, characters and events have historical evidence, and some things that happen are clearly totally fictional, but it’s never clear exactly where that line lies. It’s up to you as the reader to decide what you want to believe!

The book is the second in a series. The first book is called “Mythos”, which explores the age of the Titans, and the birth of the Gods. It shows how humans were brought to life and tells how the god Prometheus made the dangerous mistake of giving the humans fire and allowing them to build lives of their own. Zeus punished him for this! This second book, Heroes, explores the Golden Age when

Gods and men lived alongside each other. It is hinted that Stephen Fry may write a third book telling the story of Helen of Troy and the Trojan War, but I will have to wait and see!