Monthly Archives: April 2020

Mrs Knipe – Notes from a Small Island

Reading for pleasure can also be about re-reading books that you enjoyed in the past. Mrs Knipe has been doing just that while she has been staying at home. In the picture she is holding two books. Notes from a Small Island is by an author called Bill Bryson and is a humorous travel book written by Bill about his travels around the UK. Bill is an American but lived in the UK for twenty years and this book is filled with his travels and the conversations he had with people he met along the way. Mrs Knipe read this book while she was travelling over twenty years ago and she is enjoying it again now. The other book is one that she found on her bookcase while having a tidy – it is a Paddington bear book that she got when she was 7 years old and it filled her with happy memories – she got the book as a prize for having very neat handwriting!! She loved Paddington bear at the time and had a toy bear like him as well. What books do you like to read again and again?

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Mrs Knipe

Miss Knapman – Pig Heart Boy

I became more gripped the more I read this book, especially after the main character’s operation. Not only are you joining him in his fight to survive but the book also brings up some thought provoking issues along the way.

With an unexpected event towards the end, I was quite moved by this story.

Miss Knapman

P.s. The pig in the picture is from a kit that Mrs Calbreath gave me to make for the Kestrels.

Mrs Parton – The Shakespeare Stories

‘The Shakespeare Stories’ written by Andrew Matthews and illustrated by Tony Ross.

The only Shakespeare story I knew before reading these books was Romeo and Juliet- and that was because I studied it for my GCSE’S when I was 16!!!!! So I thought I’d read the children’s versions.

Although many of the short 16 versions end tragically there were a few which ended happily 🙂 My favourite was The Tempest. I’m so glad I read these books it’s given me a brief incite to the wonderful tales that were told and acted out such a long time ago!

I would recommend these books perhaps to year 5 and 6.

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Mrs Parton

Part 8: The Only Girl in School

The door was everything you would expect from a secret entrance. Every box had been ticked, from the moss-covered wooden slats blending into the grassy hill surrounding their narrow frame, to the oversized rusty key poking out invitingly beneath a bronze doorknob. Wildflowers lent their thin but crowded stems to the camouflage, their feathery heads blending into a rage of colour. As the friends approached the entrance, the air seemed to still and the noise of the activity behind them faded to a whisper. Frankie found herself on her tiptoes, and could not remember when she had stopped running towards the hillside. Spike was not so cautious, as if stepping into some magical land beyond the unknown was just an everyday walk in the park. He practically galloped towards the door, tail swishing and eyes fixed on the prize. Just for a moment, there was less talking and more panting as his tongue moved eagerly up and down in anticipation of a delightful treat.

“Stop being so dog, Spike!” Frankie urged, “Now’s not the time! We need clear heads and some kind of plan of action, we can’t just …”
“Open it! Open it” I want to see inside, I want to know where it takes us! Please, Frankie, pleeease!”
Frankie sighed a grown-up sigh, as she wondered how to calm her over-excited puppy. “Okay, okay…just let me think for a minute.”
But Spike was in no mood to wait, and he began to jump in and out of the flowery doormat, sending the display into a flurry of waves. “I don’t want us to run out of time Frankie – we have to go now or all of this could be gone!”

While Frankie wondered how on earth the dog knew so much about the fragile future of this strange land, Spike wasted no time in attempting to nudge the key with his nose as it rattled uselessly in its housing. “You didn’t give me fingers and thumbs Frankie! I need you to help!”

“I didn’t give you a stubborn personality either Spike, but yet here we are!” Despite herself, Frankie knew that it was only a matter of time (apparently a very short space of time) before she would have to give in to his pleadings and turn the key to reveal what lay behind the mysterious door. “Right, stand back you little pest – get off the flowers, you’re crushing them! Right back – further…that’s it.”

Frankie took a deep breath and held it in as she turned the key, both hands supporting each other to muscle through the ancient mechanism. With a grinding sound, the bolt finally yielded and Frankie felt the wooden door give slightly and lean heavily against her arm. “You’ve done it Frankie!” cried Spike, his tail in a helicopter spin. Frankie turned the doorknob as quietly as she could, so not to disturb anything or anyone lurking behind, waiting to either greet or eat her. The door opened outwards with a predictable creak, flattening the few flowers which had survived Spike’s excitement, and coming to rest against the hill. Frankie and Spike looked at each other, and then together leant forward and peered into the thick darkness inside. “Well, it’s now or never Frankie. Let’s see where this takes us.” Although his voice was quietly confident, Spike’s face betrayed his nervousness, and Frankie wondered whether a cricket was busying itself in the long grass or she was picking up the sound of the dog’s chattering teeth. Shaking her head to dismiss this slightly odd thought, she replied, “Not a problem Spike. You go first!”

Tentatively, Spike went through the door with Frankie quickly following him in support. The ground beneath their feet was solid – normal, real-life ground unlike the spongy surface they had crossed to get this far. As for the walls, well, they could have been made of chocolate as far as Frankie was concerned because nothing, near or far, was visible, and even as she raised her hands in front of her eyes, she could not make out a finger or thumb. The air all around them was still and cool and the colour of tar, through and through. Just as Frankie thought to herself that surely the daylight behind them would shed some of its brightness through the passageway, the thought lost all meaning as she heard the sound of the door behind them eerily creak to a firm close. “Spike!” she shouted, and at once wanted to cry and laugh at the frightening but truly ridiculous position the friends now found themselves in. Quickly wading back through the blackness, Frankie pushed at the door and when it failed to move a millimetre, reached down for where a doorknob should have been. Nothing. Panicking now, her hands swept along the height and length of the door, finding nothing but coarse dry wood. “Ouch!” she cried, drawing her hand back, her tears welling as she felt the sharp bite of a rogue splinter. “We’re trapped Spike! SPIKE! Spike? Where are you?”

“Over here,” came the pitiful reply from a dog who sounded like he was really regretting his curiosity and bravado, and wishing he could disappear back to the security beneath Frankie’s painted rainbow. “Where is here? It’s all here! I can’t see a thing!” As Frankie found her emotions move from fear to pure and simple anger at Spike’s reckless behaviour which had led them to this underground nightmare, she also found that her sight was becoming accustomed to the darkness. She could now just about make out the dog’s small round shape as he sat forlornly against the passageway wall (very definitely not made of chocolate), with his head bowed, and his tail firmly planted on the ground. Her emotions swung to pity and sorrow for her friend who had never displayed anything other than enthusiasm for anything and everything since their adventure had begun. “I’m sorry Spike. I didn’t mean to shout. It’s just, well, all of this is quite scary, you know? We’re going to have to scream for help unless we can find another way out.”

“Oh I know there’s a way out Frankie,” came the confident reply, “it’s all just a matter of waiting patiently.

“For what exactly, Spike? The Fire Brigade? The Woodcutter? The Fairy Godmother to wave her magic wand?” Frankie’s considerable crossness had returned, and at that very moment she could have happily painted over the dog in thick white gloopy paint. But then, in the moment after that very moment, thoughts of erasing her creation or any other random thoughts that were about to cross her mind evaporated into the darkness. And then darkness gave way to something which was at once beautiful and utterly, completely terrifying…

Part 7: The Only Girl in School

With the music still ringing in her ears, Frankie turned her head to pick up a second tune, and then another. Anthems of year six leavers faded into Mother’s Day songs and then into the thumping beats of rainforest compositions and the familiar rhythms of countless nursery rhymes. The orchestration was a bit off to be fair, but there was something quite beautiful about the wall of sound, and Frankie felt herself floating on a wave of emotion.

“It’s like years of school music all blending into one!” she exclaimed, turning to Spike who was by now nodding vigorously, either in agreement or getting himself lost in the changing rhythms. Either way, the little dog’s beaming grin told Frankie everything she needed to know. “You knew this would happen, didn’t you Spike?”
“This is your school Frankie. You may be the only girl in it at the moment, but heart of the school beats with everything that’s ever happened – good and bad, and I don’t just mean some of those dodgy notes! Whoaaa…just look over there!”

At that moment, Frankie realised that her senses had been so filled with the sounds of the school that she had, just for a second, neglected the sights. In the time it had taken her to pick up the words of every traditional song she could recall from her days as a water – splashing ankle – biter, the field had come alive with memories that extended well beyond her infant days. “Is that a snowman? In this weather?”

The snowman wasn’t alone in being out of place. His round body, made up of seemingly endless layers of chunky cotton wool, couldn’t entirely blot out the equally rounded forms of pillar box red Santa Claus figures, and triangular angels, their halos shedding glitter with every heavenly step. An assortment of creatures followed them – some less seasonal than others – a garishly striped tiger here, an impossibly elongated snake there, and what appeared to be the Easter Bunny, his ears ridiculously long, throwing brightly coloured eggs from a wicker basket. There were giraffes and elephants, sometimes in pairs and peering over the decks of gigantic arks, sometimes alone and aloof, quietly grazing on the lushness of the field. People, large and small, some stick -figured and some made up of the first shapes Frankie ever remembered learning about, roamed and ran, skipped and danced, filling the space with movement and the air with chatter. And along the furrows of the land and the twisting curves of the hills drove a fleet of small vehicles – cardboard fire engines and wooden cars, and trains linked from carriage to carriage by strands of wool, wire and ribbon.

“Fancy something to eat, Frankie? You haven’t had a thing all day.” The question brought Frankie out of a more than slightly bewildered trance and back into the real world. Real world indeed – it was a talking dog who was now expressing his hunger and concern for his friend. “Plenty out there to pick from!” Frankie looked in the direction of Spike’s cocked head towards a picnic blanket, spread across a patch of daisies and bluebells, and protected from blowing away by a seated and smiling tiger and a gigantic caterpillar, who looked a trifle peckish, Frankie thought.
“Mine’s the swirly lollipop and watermelon!” cried Spike as he bolted forward and swiped his lunch before the tiger had a chance to blink. Bending forward, and emboldened by her friend’s cheek, Frankie picked up a huge slice of chocolate cake, and discarding the cherry off the top towards the general direction of the caterpillar, she hungrily devoured every crumb. It tasted almost as good as it looked and although there was a faint papery texture about it, Frankie was famished and unfussy, and began to look for another delicious snack. Meanwhile Spike was tucking into an enormous peach and asked Frankie to join him, but it wasn’t quite what she was looking for and she continued to scour the rest of the blanket. Her wide eyes took in plates of ham, green eggs (“Green? Ugh!), deep bowls of pumpkin soup, bread and jam, bananas in some kind of blue and white striped jackets, hot buttered toast and what appeared to be vast quantities of ginger beer.

In the end, Frankie opted for a smaller sized peach, plum and a pear, one of each, and as she nibbled away, Spike appeared by her side, licking his lips and looking slightly plumper than five minutes ago. “You’ve not seen the best yet Frankie. Come on – follow me!” By this time, Frankie was beginning to tire of her playmate’s exuberance, preferring, just for a moment, to quietly digest her meal and digest the array of sights, sounds and even the smells that surrounded them both. But there was no squashing Spike’s enthusiasm and despite herself, Frankie was once again drawn into his imagination. Just as she thought that seemed the wrong way round – after all, she had drawn him with her imagination, her wandering mind was interrupted once again by his excited cries: “Aha! Just as I thought, and just where I thought!”

Although Frankie’s feet had become accustomed to the soft texture of the ground, she still needed to watch each step and Spike’s rushing ahead, tail frantically spinning, began to try her patience and test her balance. “Hold on! I’m all over the place here! What’s all the rush about?”
“We’re running out of time Frankie! Don’t you see? If we don’t through here in the next few minutes, it’ll be gone!”
Frankie looked blankly at Spike, wondering what “it” was and why time was so crucial. She had almost forgotten her teachers and whether they had noticed that she was spending rather too long sorting her picture out. That was such a yesterday event that it was practically last month. No, her issue was that there was so much to see in this rainbow canopied world that she didn’t want to go anywhere, either quickly or eventually.

But then…

Her eyes rested on what Spike was looking at, and thoughts of waddling snowmen and grinning tigers left her thoughts. “Well okay then my funny little friend – let’s go!”

To be continued…

Miss Williams – Various books

I have thoroughly enjoyed my holiday reading and have read quite a few books since my last post! I must admit I put The Explorer to one side as I had so many other books I wanted to start. I will return to it though!

I know Year 5 have read Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird so my first recommendation is for A House Without Walls. It took me a while to get into but it’s a truly gripping story which I couldn’t put down. In fact, I read it over two afternoons! It is about a family of refugees who discover that it isn’t walls which make a home. I won’t put spoilers in but if you enjoyed Oranges it is definitely worth a read.

The next book I read was The Girl who could speak Bear following Mrs Parton’s recommendation. I really enjoyed The House with Chicken Legs also by Sophie Anderson and this was another worthwhile, enjoyable read. I loved how the story all came together right at the very end!

I’m now reading The House of One Hundred Clocks by A M Howell, which is quite different to the other books I’ve read recently but I’m enjoying the adventure of it! I felt very sorry for the main character at the start as her whole life was turned upside down but I’m now into her adventures and love her courage. It’s a really good mystery story and I recommend it for year five or six.

The final book I’ve read was The Dog who lost his Bark by Eoin Colfer. This is a really heart-warming story which is perfect for anyone who loves dogs! Some of the story is told from the dog’s point of view and some of it from a boy’s point of view. The illustrations are beautiful and I think this would be good for animal-lovers in Year 3 or 4.

I’m off to read the final few chapters of the House of One Hundred Clocks and then I’m going back to The Explorer. Sometimes perseverance is needed with reading! Whatever you are reading, I hope you are enjoying it.

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Miss Williams

Part 6: The Only Girl in School

The sky was as Frankie would expect, and the wisp of cloud had drifted to meet fellow wisps and score a large white scratch mark across the blue. But the rainbows (yes, plural!) arched magnificently over each other, each one seeming determined to dominate the landscape. There were watercolours, blending into each other, and bigger, bolder patterns painted thickly against the sky. Some of them looked close enough to touch, and others almost ghostly in their transparency. At the end of some were large, gaudy flowers and at others, splashes of yellows and oranges. “Gold?” thought Frankie, remembering the legends of these wonderful feats of nature. Nothing, just nothing, would surprise her any more.

However wondrous the faraway sights were, they just could not hold Frankie’s attention a second longer, for there was so much to take in right in front of her. The field itself was a sea of greens – olives and limes, and every shade of a lush meadow on a sunny day. Where only yesterday, or even minutes ago, it had been quite flat (though never as flat as required for those hotly contested football matches), it was now a rollercoaster ride of dips and hills, curving this way and that in a dizzying display. Frankie recalled that only last week, Mr Evans had given the grass its first cut of springtime, but now she saw velvety blades sticking up from the ground at every angle imaginable, interrupting patches of daisies, bluebells and buttercups.
“Your mouth’s wide open again, Frankie…thought you ought to know.” It was Spike. Her small friend, with his inflated coat and comical eyes, was in front of Frankie now, his tail thumping up and down, giving away his sheer joy. “Come on, there are so many folk I want you to meet!”

“Folk? I can’t see anyone, just hills and valleys and an awful lot of flowers and rainbows. You must have bumped your head with all that spinning business Spike!”
“No, they are definitely there, maybe just hidden in the valleys or behind the hills. Plus, they mightn’t be awake yet – I took a while! Come on, what are you waiting for? Let’s explore while there’s time!”

All Frankie could think to do was shrug her shoulders, but her feet followed Spike’s as they carefully navigated the hollows and peaks, treading softly and watching every step as if treading on broken glass. In truth, this felt nothing like glass or even grass. Frankie had the same feeling she had when walking on a warm sandy beach, and she longed to cast off her trainers and let her toes feel the soft squishiness of the ground. A cautiousness unfamiliar to her usual nature took over and she dropped this thought as quickly as she had contemplated it; for all she knew, the earth would start to spin again or even try to swallow her whole. Lockdown had been grim up to this point, but there were limits to her need to relieve the boredom, and disappearing forever into an imaginary land was one of them.

As they gradually made their way across the new landscape, sometimes going in circles as demanded by the curves and waves of the land, Frankie felt confident enough to look up, suspecting that even if she missed her footing, the gentle ground would embrace her like the floor of a deflating bouncy castle. Tall stems, uneven in thickness and boasting every colour, shape and size of flower emerged at every turn, and Frankie quickly decided that not one of them resembled anything she had ever seen growing in her garden. “That’ll be the reception and nursery lot if you ask me,” came Spike’s observation, as if he had actually read her mind. Yes! He had put his finger (or spindly paw) on it! These quirky plants which she could have bent down and picked from their roots were nothing more than three dimensional paintings! A closer look confirmed that the clusters of seeds in the centre of so many of the flower heads were tiny scrunched balls of coloured tissue paper, some of them uncurling and some barely attached, revealing gaps covered in shiny blobs of dried glue. “I’ve seen these before!” she cried as Spike nodded in a very “I-told-you-so” manner, “I think I even painted one when I was ‘Tiny Frankie!’

“Are you getting it yet Frankie?” said Spike with a grin he couldn’t resist, spreading over his puffed up face. But Frankie had no time to answer, because the exchange between the friends was suddenly interrupted by the sound of unexpected and yet very familiar music. “Is that what I think it is?” she asked her made – up talking dog, rather pointlessly when she thought about it later. If Spike could have scratched his head or shrugged his shoulders, Frankie felt certain he would have done both. Instead, he replied. “I’m not bad at French, and just love reading, but I’m beginning to realise that music is not a strong point. I can just never remember the words you see, and I can’t hold a note to save my life!” But before Spike had finished his touchingly honest evaluation of his talents, it came to Frankie in a flash of memory. “Yes, I think I’m right. That, unless I am very much mistaken is “Caulifowers Fluffy!”