The busy lives our pupils lead here at Cranleigh Prep School means that over the weeks my book club attendance has wavered due to swimming galas, school productions, illness, music exams etc. but I always seem to have a stalwart group of 12 pupils attending at any one time. This is actually more manageable than having 17.
Throughout October we focused on Being Miss Nobody as Tamsin Winter was our Author of the Month. As with last year, I always begin sharing the ‘Questions and Answers’ that I set for all our authors. This year I have extended the number of questions to 10. When we get to the question ’Describe your book in three words,’ if any of the pupils have read the book it is a great idea to get them to describe the book in their three words and they LOVE it if they match one of the answers.
Some, but not all of the pupils were reading it, so I began by reading the first chapter aloud to them all. They were transfixed – it is a great opening chapter! We discussed how Tamsin uses humour to illustrate a very serious situation for our protagonist, Rosalind. I also highlighted that each chapter begins with a hashtag and we talked about how clever an idea that is to fit with the theme of the story. We talked about blogging, vlogging, bullying, mobile phones, Instagram and Twitter, and I found the pupils to be extremely open and honest as we had a pretty frank discussion. Following our sessions discussing Being Miss Nobody the boys became much more open to reading it as the colour of the cover had made them put it further down their ‘to be read’ list. At the end of our last session in October, I announced the details of Tamsin’s next book Bigger than the Universe which evoked great interest throughout the group. Check out her website for more details.
Following half term and into November we moved to Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy. Again I began with the ‘Questions and Answers’ and one of the girls was delighted to equal two of the same words as Vashti did in describing the book, namely adventurous and imaginative! I was surprised how little some of them knew about Ernest Shackleton and Sir Edmund Hillary but was delighted that they knew who Amelia Earhart was. The advert that Shackleton placed to find his crew provoked strong opinions over whether it would have encouraged them to reply or not!
Using hints from Vashti’s website we decided to get creative and make our own sky-ships. Again some but not all the book club attendees have read the book, so to inspire them I began by reading the scroll on page 83 and then jumped to read pages 101 – 105 which is full of the suspense of the twins being chased through the streets and the description of number four Archangel Street transforming into the most extraordinary flying ship, Aurora, but left it on a cliff-hanger at the top of page 105. I have sourced some brickwork and roofing design paper used for doll’s houses and we have used the same origami technique provided by Playing by the Book (thank you) to make the base and we are now in the process of joining the balloons with the sky-ship. We may see if we can add some pistons, propellers, steering wheel and perhaps a cut-out of Harriet Culpepper at the helm and Felicity Wiggins with a giant spoon in her hand?? Photos of finished products to follow in due course.
Alison Fenton, Librarian, Cranleigh Prep School