S2 Book Talks


[warning]S2 Book Talk September 2013[/warning]

S2 Book Talks


September 13


The Checkmate Trilogy

Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools… Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger…



 Tell Me No Lies

An explosive psychological thriller that never disappoints and leaves the reader with the uncomfortable and overwhelming impression that there are some problems that can never be completely resolved, but may perhaps become more bearable as time moves on. It is also proof, if proof were needed, that the award-winning Malorie Blackman is a literary force to be reckoned with.


Malorie Blackman  books are available from your school library

[error]S2 Book Talks – April 2013[/error]

We will be looking at a variety of books from which S2 pupils can pick and choose for their personal reading.


I buy one pig a month. I can’t afford any more. I’ve no idea whether this is enough, but it keeps the Beast alive. He’s grown so big. I’m going crazy with worry someone will discover him.”

Stephen is a boy with a dangerous secret. And Stephen has other problems. A mother he never sees, and a father he wishes were dead. His foster family are scared – he’s not a boy who plays by the rules. But his extraordinary struggle to free himself of his Beast makes him a hero you will never forget.

Books by Kevin Brooks

Kevin Brooks has written five enormously successful young adult novels: MARTYN PIG, LUCAS, KISSING THE RAIN, CANDY, and THE ROAD OF THE DEAD.
Meet Martyn Pig. His name may be bad, but his life is worse. Martyn’s life is miserable, and it always has been. His mother is gone. His father hates him. But at least things can’t get any worse. Or so he thought. When his father dies in a sudden accident, Martyn realizes that for the first time in his life, he has a choice. Sure, he could report what happened – and move in with his horrible Aunty Jean. Or he could get rid of the body and move on with the rest of his life. So Martyn comes up with a foolproof plan to hide the body. Hey, what could go wrong?


Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of town toward Berwick Waters. Later that day, only two of them came back. . . . Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago, though it’s still hard for her to believe it. She’ll never be able to forget, even though she’s trying to lead a normal life–she has a job, friends, and a boyfriend whom she adores. But Alice’s past is dangerous, and violent, and sad . . . and it’s about to rip her new life apart.

The Undead by Kirsty McKay

zombie bus A kick-ass teen-action-zombie fest. Fast, furious, freaky, funny and seriously sick. Oh, and did I mention it kicks ass?” – Chalie Higson, award-winning author of The Enemy and The Dead.  It was just another school trip… When their ski-coach pulls up at a cafe, and everyone else gets off, new girl Bobby and rebel Smitty stay behind. They hardly know each other but that changes when through the falling snow, the see the others coming back. Something has happened to them. Something bad…Soon only a pair of double doors stand between those on the bus and their ex-friends the Undead outside. Time to get a life. Terrifyingly accomplished and blackly funny.

We will be reading and discussing from lots of books!

blame my brain

Nicola Morgan asks: Ever feel that you’re always being blamed and criticised? New scientific research points to real biological reasons why teenagers are the way they are – the mood swings, the hibernating, the wild risk-taking. So, next time you’re told off for not getting out of bed before lunch, have this book to hand and explain clearly that it’s not you who is to blame – but your brain.


‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ is the first line of this timeless, witty and enchanting novel about growing up. Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and impoverished family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. A favourite book of JK Rowling

John Green

john green

John Green is a bestselling author who has received numerous awards.  He is also the co-creator (with his brother, Hank) of the popular video blog Brotherhood 2.0, which has been watched more than 30 million times by Nerdfighter fans all over the globe.   John Green is a hugely popular writer of young adult fiction and a YouTube vlogger and educator.


We will also be looking at


All happening in your library during April





[error] S2 BOOK TALKS  – FEBRUARY/MARCH 2013 [/error]


We will be reading from and discussing the following books:

Nicola Morgan

nicola 3
Nicola Morgan is an award-winning author for teenagers, with successful titles such as Deathwatch, Wasted, Blame My Brain and Sleepwalking. She prefers to forget that she also used to write Thomas the Tank Engine Books…   All her books are very different – historical, thrillers, or unusual stories that make you think. Check out her website to find one that you might like:  http://www.nicolamorgan.com

When she’s not writing, she loves speaking in schools, and at festivals and conferences in the UK and Europe.
She also enjoys messing around on Twitter or her blogs. Nicola blogs for writers at www.nicolamorgan.com/category/heartsong-blog/   and has set up a special blog about her latest book, Wasted – you can join the activities and contribute in lots of ways at www.talkaboutwasted.blogspot.com

Nicola says:

nicola2I write, blog, talk. I give advice about publishing. I’ve won some awards. I publish ebooks, enjoy social media, love public-speaking, eat chocolate and buy shoes when I can afford to. I am often crabbit, but never with you. Please explore my website!

Remember, Nicola’s books are available to borrow from EA Library

Keith Gray

keithIn his earliest years, Grimsby-born Keith Gray turned from reluctant reader to passionate reader – then straight on to being a dedicated writer.

He published Creepers, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, when he was only 24 and since then has penned a number of critically-acclaimed novels which have won, or been shortlisted for, awards all over the world.

This mighty list of accolades includes the Carnegie Medal, the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Scottish Book Trust Awards and the Smarties Book Prize.

Keith is a regular reviewer for the Scotsman newspaper and in 2008 became the first ever ‘Virtual Writer in Residence’ for the Scottish Book Trust. More recently he edited two groundbreaking anthologies for teenagers – Losing It and Next. His novel Ostrich Boys has been adapted for the stage and will embark on a UK tour in 2013. Keith lives in Edinburgh with his partner, their daughter and a parrot called Bellamy.  


Borrow a Keith Gray title from EA Library – there are lots to choose from!



[error]S2 Book Talks – January 2013[/error]

otnBooks by Morris Gleitzman
The Real Life Stories

We are marking Holocaust Memorial Day in our S2 Book Talks in January.  Imagine waking up to find that the neighbours you have known all your life and even sat next to at school, now walk past you without stopping, now forbid their children from playing with yours, now spit at you and even attack you. Imagine having nowhere to turn, that the walls are closing in and that there is no escape. Imagine that you have done nothing wrong, yet you are to be punished nonetheless and no one will stand by you.


On Holocaust Memorial Day – 27 January 2013, we will remember and discover more about those who were forced to live through these experiences – communities which were destroyed in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Every year on 27 January, the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD).  The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is a charity which works to raise awareness of HMD. You can find out more about what they do on their website. www.hmd.org.uk

Our books are by Morris Gleitzman

onceOnce came from my imagination.  From 1939 until 1945 the world was at war, and the leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler, tried to destroy the Jewish people in Europe. His followers, the Nazis, and those who supported them, murdered six million Jews including one and a half million children. They also killed a lot of other people, many of whom offered shelter to the Jews. We call this time of killing the Holocaust.

My grandfather was a Jew from Krakow in Poland. He left there long before that time, but his extended family didn’t and most of them perished.

Ten years ago I read a book about Janusz Korczak, a Polish Jewish doctor and children’s author who devoted his life to caring for young people. Over many years he helped run an orphanage for two hundred Jewish children. In 1942, when the Nazis murdered these orphans, Janusz Korczak was offered his freedom but chose to die with the children rather than abandon them.  Janusz Korczak became my hero. His story sowed a seed in my imagination.

On the way to writing Once I read many real life stories – diaries, letters, notes and memories of people who were young at the time of the Holocaust. Most of these young people died, but their stories survived, and you can read some of them in lots of books.

Then also came from my imagination, but like Once was inspired by a period of history that was all too real.

As with Once, I couldn’t have written this story without first reading many books about the Holocaust. Books full of the voices of the real people who lived and struggled and loved and died and, just a few of them, survived in that terrible time. I also read about the generosity and bravery of the people who risked their lives to shelter others, often children who were not members of their family or faith, and by doing so saved them.

nowNow – The real life stories in the books mentioned above were also an important background to this third part of the trilogy.

As were the real life stories of the people and communities caught up in the terrible bushfires that swept through parts of Victoria, Australia in February 2009. Many of those stories were recorded in the extensive media coverage of that time, and many others live on in the following books:
Black Saturday edited by John McGourty
A Future In Flames by Danielle Clode
Worst Of Days by Karen Kissane
Inferno by Roger Franklin

An extract:

oncesingle orphan  in the mountains and I shouldn’t have been and I almost caused a riot.

It was because of the carrot.  You know how when a nun serves you very hot soup from a big metal pot and she makes you lean in close so she doesn’t drip and the steam from the pot makes your glasses go all misty and you can’t wipe them because you’re holding your dinner bowl and the fog doesn’t clear even when you pray to God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Pope and Adolf Hitler?  
That’s happening to me.
Somehow I find my way towards my table. I use my ears for navigation.
Dodie who always sits next to me is a loud slurper because of his crooked teeth.

I hold my bowl above my head so other kids can’t pinch my soup while I’m fogged up and I use Dodie’s slurping noises to guide me in.
I feel for the edge of the table and put my bowl down and wipe my glasses.
That’s when I see the carrot.
It’s floating in my soup, huge among the flecks of cabbage and the tiny blobs of pork fat and the few lonely lentils and the bits of grey plaster from the kitchen ceiling.
A whole carrot.
I can’t believe it. Three years and eight months I’ve been in this orphanage and I haven’t had a whole carrot in my dinner bowl once. Neither has anyone else. Even the nuns don’t get whole carrots, and they get bigger servings than us kids because they need the extra energy for being holy.
We can’t grow vegetables up here in the mountains. Not even if we pray a lot. It’s because of the frosts. So if a whole carrot turns up in this place, first it gets admired, then it gets chopped into enough pieces so that sixty-two kids, eleven nuns and one priest can all have a bit.
I stare at the carrot.
At this moment I’m probably the only kid in Poland with a whole carrot in his dinner bowl. For a few seconds I think it’s a miracle. Except it can’t be because miracles only happened in ancient times and this is 1942.
Then I realise what the carrot means and I have to sit down quick before my legs give way.
I can’t believe it.
At last. Thank you God, Jesus, Mary, the Pope and Adolf Hitler, I’ve waited so long for this.
It’s a sign.
This carrot is a sign from Mum and Dad. They’ve sent my favourite vegetable to let me know their problems are finally over. To let me know that after three long years and eight long months things are finally improving for Jewish booksellers. To let me know they’re coming to take me home.
Dizzy with excitement, I stick my fingers into the soup and grab the carrot.
Luckily the other kids are concentrating on their own dinners, spooning their soup up hungrily and peering into their bowls in case there’s a speck of meat there, or a speck of rat poo.
I have to move fast.
If the others see my carrot there’ll be a jealousy riot.
This is an orphanage. Everyone here is meant to have dead parents. If the other kids find out mine aren’t dead, they’ll get really upset and the nuns here could be in trouble with the Catholic head office in Warsaw for breaking the rules.
‘Felix Saint Stanislaus.’
I almost drop the carrot. It’s Mother Minka’s voice, booming at me from the high table.
Everyone looks up.
‘Don’t fiddle with your food, Felix,’ says Mother Minka. ‘If you’ve found an insect in your bowl, just eat it and be grateful.’
The other kids are all staring at me. Some are grinning. Others are frowning and wondering what’s going on. I try not to look like a kid who’s just slipped a carrot into his pocket. I’m so happy I don’t care that my fingers are stinging from the hot soup.
Mum and Dad are coming at last.
They must be down in the village. They must have sent the carrot up here with Father Ludwik to surprise me.
When everyone has gone back to eating, I give Mother Minka a grateful smile. It was good of her to make a joke to draw attention away from my carrot.
There were two reasons Mum and Dad chose this orphanage, because it was the closest and because of Mother Minka’s goodness. When they were bringing me here, they told me how in all the years Mother Minka was a customer of their bookshop, back before things got difficult for Jewish booksellers, she never once criticised a single book.
Mother Minka doesn’t see my smile, she’s too busy glaring at the Saint Kazimierz table, so I give Sister Elwira a grateful smile too. Sister Elwira doesn’t notice either because she’s too busy serving the last few kids and being sympathetic to a girl who’s crying about the amount of ceiling plaster in her soup.
They’re so kind, these nuns. I’ll miss them when Mum and Dad take me home and I stop being Catholic and go back to being Jewish.
‘Don’t you want that?’ says a voice next to me.
Dodie is staring at my bowl. His is empty. He’s sucking his teeth and I can see he’s hoping my soup is up for grabs.
Over his shoulder, Marek and Telek are sneering.
‘Grow up, Dodek,’ says Marek, but in his eyes there’s a flicker of hope that he might get some too.
Part of me wants to give my soup to Dodie because his mum and dad died of sickness when he was three. But these are hard times and food is scarce and even when your tummy’s stuffed with joy you still have to force it down.
I force it down.
Dodie grins. He knew I’d want it. The idea that I wouldn’t is so crazy it makes us both chuckle.
Then I stop. I’ll have to say goodbye to everyone here soon. That makes me feel sad. And when the other kids see Mum and Dad are alive, they’ll know I haven’t been truthful with them. That makes me feel even sadder.
I tell myself not to be silly. It’s not like they’re my friends, not really. You can’t have friends when you’re leading a secret life. With friends you might get too relaxed and blurt stuff out and then they’ll know you’ve just been telling them a story.
But Dodie feels like my friend.
While I finish my soup I try to think of a good thing I can do for him. Something to show him I’m glad I know him. Something to make his life here a bit better after I’ve gone, after I’m back in my own home with my own books and my own mum and dad.

I know exactly what I can do for Dodie.


[warning]S2 Book Talk December[/warning]

Gillian Cross

Gillian Cross is NOT scary – even though she invented The Demon Headmaster!   Gillian has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. She wrote her first story when she was six, and even when she wasn’t writing she was entertaining her friends on the way home from school by telling them a long serial that whiled away the Underground journey.   Books the S2 pupils will be discussing in their book talks:  

 Calling A Dead Man

A tense thriller set against a frozen background of Siberia. Two girls set out to uncover the mystery surrounding the apparent death of John Cox. Finding his mobile, they begin a deadly dangerous mission to find their missing friend.



When Ashley climbs up and graffiti tags a wall in the middle of the night, she has no idea how serious the consequences will be. Someone sees her, someone dangerous. Now Ashley is being watched …and followed. Then the notes arriving, becoming progressively more sinister. When the threats turn deadly, Ashley realises she can’t confront the stalker alone and seeks the help of local gang leader Eddie Beale. But Eddie’s help doesn’t come for free-he expects something in return. Ashley has to decide how far she’s willing to go-and what she’s prepared to risk to unmask her stalker.


Where I Belong

A nail biting and fascinating story that’ll make readers think hard about how the lives of individuals connect and the wide ranging impacts they can have.  Told in the voices of three teenagers who become inextricably intertwined when Khadija, a Somali girl, is spotted by a fashion designer who determines that her ‘look’ will be the next big thing. The ludicrous wealth of the UK fashion world is dexterously set against the extreme poverty and danger of life in Somalia as the two worlds touch and collide.


 Gillian Cross

Gillian first got published in 1974 when two books were accepted in one year – and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She’s written over 40 books and won the Carnegie Medal and the Smarties Prize. Her best-known books are the stories about The Demon Headmaster who can control his school with his strange, hypnotic eyes.

Gillian writes in a small, cold, dark room behind her kitchen. It used to be a larder and it has no view so she cannot be distracted. Gillian can write with both her hands, and with her right foot – but not all at once!

When Gillian isn’t writing she loves playing the piano and orienteering (she once came first in a competition because everyone else had given up!) Gillian has four children who she lets read her books, but only when they are finished. Her favourite book as a child was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Her favourites among her own books are Wolf and The Great Elephant Chase.


Gillian Cross.


[warning]S2 Book Talk November[/warning]

World War 1  – The Great War –   1914 –1918

John Malcolm goes ‘over the top’

This morning he was clearly fixed in time and space, with a deep sense of identity and purpose. He stood with the absolute firmness of spirit that comes with certitude of resolve, his heart singing with confidence…

 …The whistles for his battalion blew, and laden with his full pack, John Malcolm clambered along the trench line and out through the path marked in their own wire. He struggled to his feet, gripped his rifle firmly with both hands, and walked steadily into the rising sun. (‘Remembrance’ by Theresa Breslin)

Nursing the wounded

There were so many of them, and they kept coming. Men from all different regiments. “Do you think these are the worst? she whispered as they struggled to cut soiled bandages from one man. The soldier opened his eyes. “No darlin’, he said in a broad Yorkshire accent. ‘The worst lie where they fall. Some have been lying where they fell in 1914.’’ (‘Remembrance’ by Theresa Breslin)



They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old :
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon