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John o' Groats Book Festival

What a weekend it has been! The 1st John o' Groats Book Festival has been in the pipeline for a long time, and it certainly lived up to expectations.

It started with a bang on Friday. A cartographer was launching her new set of Northern Scotland maps. Sadly, I was at work during this event but I've heard great things about it from people who were there. The cartographer's name is Val Fry and the publisher is Nicolson.

The first event I could attend was on the Friday evening when the authors were introduced, including 8 fabulous local authors who each had a 10 minute slot. It was great to see one of the organisers, Ian Leith, start the evening by showing his books.

The next author was Virginia Crow, published by Crowvus, who started her talk by showing the Day's Dying Glory book trailer which had people sitting on the edge of their seats.

It was super to hear so many local authors talk about their books, and read a passage or two. The authors included:
Dorothy Stewart (…
Recent posts

"Living with Depression" Book Review

Living with Depression by Nick Weatherhogg

Blurb from Goodreads:
"It has been estimated that almost one in ten adults and teenagers in the United Kingdom are affected by some form of depressive illness. This is a ten-fold increase in the last seventy years. If this growth were to continue unchecked, then about 95 percent of the population would have depression by the year 2100. It is further believed that depression will be the number 1 health problem worldwide by the year 2030. And yet for every three sufferers, less than 5 is spent each year on research. At least a half of all sufferers never seek any form of medical or psychiatric intervention.

The origin of depression can be situational or biochemical or a combination of many different factors. People do not choose to become depressed, but they do choose how they are going to deal with it and what they will do. A range of treatments are available as standard, ranging from medication to talking therapies, but various treatments…

Teaching Tips from 'Harry Potter'

When I was at primary school, I liked Harry Potter. I wasn't really crazy about it like some of my classmates were, but I liked it. My sister and I used to act out what we thought should happen (not all the books had been released at this point) and we got parts of it startlingly correct. I've got lots of happy memories of playing in the bedroom or in the garden.

Now I'm a teacher, I am beginning to appreciate the series more and more as I see my pupils encouraged to read the books having enjoyed the films so much. We recently dressed up for World Book Day and (aside from myself - a proud Hufflepuff) there were plenty of Harrys and Hermiones.



But aside from being a great story for adults and children, the series can also give teachers some great tips. I recently sent a Harry Potter clip to a teacher friend to cheer her up, declaring that it was classic active learning!

(Active learning is one of those buzzwords that educationalists love. And it's a great teaching meth…

"Night of the Victorian Dead" Book Review

Night of the Victorian Dead by Amber Michelle Cook

"Inspired by beloved works of literature from Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, and in tribute to the delightful terror of first encountering classic undead creatures comes Night of the Victorian Dead, in which a rich collection of characters - with the endearing manners, gentility and sensibilities of that era - meet the unthinkable horror of an outbreak of the supernatural in the form of Re-risen Dead."

When I got the review request for this novel, the first thing I thought was "Oh no. I hate zombies!" It's not that I have anything against zombies (I'm sure some of them are very decent) but ever since my sister used to chase me around the room in a Hallowe'en mask pretending to be a zombie, I have been really scared of them.
I'm pleased I agreed to review this book, however. It is a really interesting mix between historical fiction and zombie novels, with some spine-chillingly yet …

"The Storyteller" Book Review

"It's just another summer holiday at the caravan park, and thirteen-year-old Jamie is feeling unloved,
unwanted and thoroughly confused.With a recovering alcoholic mother, unresponsive sister Lauren,
and aggressive father, he has little to celebrate.
But at the park's funfair, a hidden secret comes to light which will change his and Lauren's lives forever.
Reeling from this disclosure, Jamie stumbles into anever-explored area of the park. Here he meets a gypsywhose gift in storytelling might give him the insight to support his  sister when she most needs it and help the teenager makesense of his life.Or is that lives?
In this innovative first novel by Chris Trotter, The Storyteller explores the poignancy of friendship and love, and how in the

Crowvus Classics Book Review "Wuthering Heights"

Welcome to the first of the Crowvus Classics Book Reviews!
"Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte isn't just one of my favourite classic books, it is my favourite book of all time. So it is no wonder that I have chosen to start this new series of book reviews with this amazing novel.

Although it is a fabulous book, I have never seen a screen version that I liked. To me, they are all dry and lifeless in comparison. So if you've watched a version of this and thought that you wouldn't like the book, try reading it all the same.
Emily Bronte transports us to the wild, dismal yet beautiful world of the Yorkshire moors where she develops characters so 3D that it's like they are reading the book with us. I am left wondering as I reach the last page, whether this story came entirely from imagination or if, in the depths of history long forgotten, there really were Heathcliff and Cathy-like characters in Emily's dad's parish.
But for me, the most wonderful part of th…

"Children of Green Knowe" Lesson Plan

Happy Weekend, Teachers! Have a lesson plan for a suggested class novel to celebrate.
If you'd like to read a bit about the novel, click here.

"Children of Green Knowe" by Lucy Boston

The Curriculum Experience and Outcome for this lesson is:
I am developing an interest, confidence and enjoyment in using drawing and colour techniques, manually or electronically, to represent ideas in different learning situations. TCH 1-15a
Having evaluated my work, I can adapt and improve, where appropriate, through trial and error or by using feedback. TCH 1-14b / TCH 2-14b
This novel is all centred around the castle-like house Green Knowe. It is a very old house which has been added to at various times in history. Because the house and the garden are the setting for the entire story, there is a lot of description of the rooms, and the outside of the house itself. Test your class' design skills with this lesson.
Learning Intention To understand how to use information from a design brie…