Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Deadly 7 by Garth Jennings Gets Good and Bad Reviews

Another lively discussion took place at the Egham Library Chatterbooks meeting on Tuesday 21 June 2016. The group was divided in two halves: those who loved the book and those who never want to read it again. The feelings were rather strong from both camps.

Those who disliked the book said that the humour was bland and the plot was silly and in some places confusing. As a result some children didn't get past the first few pages. Should they have read on?

 According to those members who enjoyed the book, it certainly deserves a chance. They said it was clever of the author, Garth Jennings, to come up with a plot where an 11 year old boy accidently extracts the seven deadly sins from his soul and then uses them on a quest to find his big sister who has been abducted. They enjoyed the descriptions of the monsters and their superhero powers; and the illustrations by the author were 'brilliant'. Kirsty particularly liked the monster called 'Crush'; and for the first time ever, Finlay gave the book 51⁄2 stars (out of 5!). He praised the book because it was unusual and I called it 'quirky'.

 Is it worth trying out with your own Chatterbooks group? I would say it is! The book certainly provokes a great deal of thought and discussion. Everyone in the group enjoyed the book quiz: matching the description of the monsters with their names. They also enjoyed applying their creativity in designing their own monsters and giving them a name and description. Here are some of their monsters (don't get too spooked!)


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Mysterious, Dark, Vengeful: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

TRUTH: If you feed the Lie Tree with lies, its fruit will reveal secret truths.


 LIE: ‘My father’s ghost walks, seeking revenge on those who wronged him.’ (Faith Sunderly, The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge)
TRUTH: Faith uses the Lie Tree to spread lies around the community to force her father’s murderer into the open.

The Avengers Teen Reading group met on 7th June 2016 to discuss 'The Lie Tree' by Frances Hardinge. Everyone said that the book was different to anything they had ever read as it was set in the Victorian era with a 14 year old female protagonist who defies Victorian conventions about women's role in society. The group was able to empathise with this young girl, Faith Sunderly, who aspires to become a natural scientist when she grows up. They were all impressed with Faith's strong character, intelligence as well as her determination to find her father's killers and prove to her community that her father did not commit suicide. Most of the group members did not rate the book highly because it was slow to begin with and there were elements of the plot that was unnecessarily complicated. All of the group members enjoyed the supernatural element of the Lie Tree: the plant survived in a dark, damp environment and if you fed the tree with lies then it would produce fruits, which, when eaten would divulge truths through halucinations. One person said they found this element of the book creepy and someone else said that they would be more spooked if the book was turned into a film.
The Avengers Teen Reading Group members produced their review of 'The Lie Tree' by Frances Hardinge, which are displayed in the Young Adult section of the library. They also enjoyed making a model of the Lie Tree by using elements of the natural environment: branches, twigs and pebbles with each leaf scripted with a 'truth' or 'lie' from the book.

Egham Chatterbooks enjoys Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider: Stormbreaker

The Chatterbooks group at Egham Library were eager to share their views at their  Chatterbooks session on Tuesday 24 May 2016.  The group had a lively discussion about 'Alex Rider: Stormbreaker' by Anthony Horowitz.  Most of the group members liked the book because it was full of action and adventure and they identified with the teenage spy character, 'Alex Rider' who undergoes vigorous spy training and is given fantastic spy gadgets to help him on his mission. The book appealed to both female and male readers.  However a small number said they didn't like the book because it was unconvincing in places - how could Alex Rider survive some of the attacks against him?
The Chatterbooks group enjoyed writing their reviews about the book. These reviews are displayed on the wall in the Junior Fiction section of the library to encourage other children to read them and perhaps borrow the book and decide for themselves. Even though this book didn't appeal to some of the Chatterbook members, all of them said they enjoyed the film, 'Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker' (2006) and had read other Alex Rider novels of which there are 10 in the series, as well as a series of short stories or supplementary books.
If you're running a Chatterbooks session, I found that the book encouraged everyone to participate in the discussion with little prompting. The group was also fully engaged in drawing and writing about objects that could be turned into spy gadgets and sharing their ideas with each other.
All spies need a really good memory and the Chatterbooks group enjoyed a memory game at the end of the session, where they were given 1 minute to look at 12 objects on the table. The objects were then taken away and they then had 1 minute to list as many objects as they could remember. Well done Harry and Sophie for getting 11 out of 12 in the memory game - you're on the road to becoming first rate spies!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Avengers Teen Reading Group enjoyed the Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle

The artistic side of 'The Avengers Teen Reading Group' at Egham Library came out on Tuesday 10 May 2016. The group enjoyed discussing 'The Bubble Wrap Boy' by Phil Earle and it was encouraging to see that they were able to draw out and explore the main themes of the book: family relations, teenage bullying, disability, personal identity and confidence.
The members of the group said that they were able to identify with the central character - Charlie- a teenage boy who becomes a skateboard ace despite the disapproval of his mother and the bullies at the skate park and they used their artistic flair to create a model of Charlie - the 'Bubble Wrap Boy' - to display in the children's area of the library along with their reviews of the book. 

The group said the book showed them the importance of following your dreams and never giving up!

What did the Egham Teen Reading Group think of 'Going Solo' by Roald Dahl?

On Tuesday 12 April, the Egham Library teenage reading group, known from this meeting onwards as 'The Avengers Reading Group' came together to discuss Roald Dahl's autobiography 'Going Solo'.
In this book, Dahl shares with his readers a crucial three years of his life, when in the Autumn of 1938 at the age of 22 he sets off on a journey to Africa to work for the Shell Company and in the following year, when World War Two breaks out, he becomes a fighter pilot with the RAF travelling to the far flung outreaches of Africa, Iran, Egypt, Israel, Malta and Athens, fighting the enemy in the air whilst also struggling with difficult living conditions in primitive army camps. Dahl returned to England three years later in Autumn 1941 during which time he had no communication from his family and friends at home.
Unfortunately most of the group didn't enjoy Dahl's autobiography and had little motivation to talk about Dahl's experiences as a fighter pilot. So what put them off the book? The style of writing was a barrier - some of the group members said that the language was old fashioned and boring. Dahl's experiences weren't engaging - some of the members said they didn't want to read about Dahl in his early and mid-twenties, he was too old and they couldn't identify with him.
However, the craft activity encouraged the group to think about Dahl's exploits and it was encouraging to see how well the group was able to use the text to plot on a map Dahl's journeys and to use the animal books in the JNF part of the library to identify the wildlife of Africa that Dahl saw during his time with the Shell Company and to select some of the letters he sent to his mother during the War, which she never received. These were all put together to make an interesting display in the children area of the library.