17 Oct 2013

Eddie F

What works well in a book review?
  • audience
  • type of story (e.g. funny, action, adventure)
  • where is the story set and when?
  • what happens in brief
  • what other book is it like?
  • how is it written: point of view, tension, cliffhangers, voice of narrator?
  • characters and relationship
  • main problems or dramas in the story

gone book review
Gone is the sort of book that you can't put down! [AUDIENCE] It’s aimed at teenagers and is a [TYPE] tense, scary action adventure. [WHERE] It’s set in present day California. [WHAT] Suddenly, one day, everyone over the age of fifteen disappears. In a History lesson, the fourteen year old hero, Sam’s teacher suddenly vanishes. He figures out he has only 299 hours 54 mins until he vanishes too, when he turns fifteen. Sam is very adventurous, and has a big reputation which is why he’s chosen to be leader. There’s a verbal battle and the bullies and bad kids get banished - for now. [WHAT OTHER BOOK IS IT LIKE?] It’s a super tense story which fans of The Hunger Games might enjoy.
The author, Michael Grant focusses on each of the main characters in turn: Sam, the hero, his troubled younger brother, Cane, who joins with the wrong side, and Lana, who is badly injured and later joins up with Sam. We see the story from their point of view, though it’s not first person, and sometimes Grant even comments on what’s about to happen next, like where he says things like: the goodies are about to lose. You’d think this would ruin the story, but somehow it makes it even more exciting as you’ve got to keep on reading to find out how. The story is very tense. Just as they’re about to make a huge discovery, Grant puts in a huge cliffhanger by moving on to another character.
[CHARACTERS AND RELATIONSHIPS] What’s really interesting is the relationship between Sam and his younger twin brother Cane. They are set against each other as Cane is resentful and jealous of being in his older brother’s shadow and becomes fiercer and fiercer as the series progresses. Cane wants Sam to disappear, most of the time. Though Sam is trying to save him, Cane doesn’t want anything from his brother.
[WHY THE PLOT IS SO EXCITING] At first, Lana seems vulnerable. She’s in a car with her grandad when he is taken; the car crashes, leaving her paralysed, without any doctors or help to save her. At first, her dog protects her from mutated animals, but it’s only so long before he gets injured. He’s on the point of death when she discovers her power.
Due to a catastrophic explosion at a power plant, people and animals seem to be mutating.

Homework: write a 55 word story using 5 of the words from here.

How to Set up a Good Story

Suspense - know that something is going to happen but don’t know when
tension - tense

scared of the dark > have to go into the dark
scared of spiders >

someone needs to get an object (there’s only one) > both want it, both can’t have it

conflict (two different ideas pull in opposite directions), tension, suspense, (feeling that there will be unpleasant consequences) ominous mood (dark, sinister - mysterious, unsettling feeling that something is quite wrong) , and foreboding (sense that somethign bad is going to happen).

[1] Horror
Knowing that there is - horrible torture - someone still wants to steal an ancient, sacred artefact.
[2] Action
One person wants to take over the world, but the world doesn’t want that.
[3] Two Characters
Competition, rivalry
[4] A child gets lost

One way to create tension:
1. Use semantic fields of doom, horror, fear, darkness, death and destruction.
e.g. He stopped dead.
His eyes glowed a hellish red.

2. Use pathetic fallacy. Sneak a sinister mood into the weather, even through the weather doesn’t really have a mood.
e.g. The rain lashed the ground, spitting down furious tongues of fire.

3. DON’T tell them explicitly what is going to happen, or even what has happened until right at the end.

10th November

Sunday 17th
1. Write two sentences with semi colons. Use the balanced construction. You don't need to use the mirror.
2. Read the post about colons.
3. Make a poster about how to use semi-colons and also colons for other people in your class.
Saturday 25th
4. Read the post about juxtaposition, which is HERE.
5. Write a short essay about a book you've read: what makes a good hero.

Semi Colons
+ More about Semi Colons
+ Colons

Punctuation Exercises: Cox's Academy for the Criminally Gifted

Write a story or description
-'I got this weird pet' story
-'Animals escape from the zoo' story/newspaper report
-'What animal would you have as a pet and why (you can choose anything)? explain your ideas with examples

Describe a Place you Know Well
    The first time I saw Baux’s house, I thought we’d come to the wrong place. The white front was huge, gleaming pink in the late afternoon sun, crazy with seagulls and brilliant blue air. Sea swished behind us, in a glittering haze.
    It looks like a wedding cake, freshly iced with tall, heavy front door the colour of old lead. This door opens into a long, wide, high hall dripping with crystal like diamonds raining down. The chandelier was there when they moved in and the forest of mahogany furniture, all broken springs and dusty faded velvet, twenty beds in twenty bedrooms with pink carpet, pink quilts and pink lamps that look like marshmallows.
    ‘It used to be a hotel,’ he grinned. ‘Come on.’
    We ran through the corridors screaming like banshees.

Improve Descriptions:
Notice interesting details, zoom in using interesting adjectives:
  • Colours
  • Light and shade
  • Shapes
  • Some similes – like an old mahogany forest of broken springs and dusty, faded velvet
  • Textures: smooth, shiny, glossy, dull, ruffled, feathery, blank,

For example: 
Waxy hazelnut surface, with ridges and dotted with red paint
where someone forgot to put down newspaper, and fork-dents
from hungry children.

Warm, soft, light, dark, faded, muted, brilliant, vibrant, luminous,

Some Useful Links:

Books you might like:

You can get fifteen of the James Bond books here as a set for a mere £15. My son started on Dr No and is currently chomping his way through the rest. They're less graphic than the Young Bond books but you might like to check them first to be sure that you're happy with them.

Insignia (Insignia Trilogy), S.J. Kincaid 2012 - Waterstones Children's Book Prize Teen List, also an Oxford University Press class reader

Amazon Customer Review:
'What if playing computer games could save the world... And the Government's secret weapon was you? Tom Raines is suddenly recruited into the US Army to train as a virtual reality Combatant to see if he is good enough to help fight World War Three. 

Equipped with a new computer chip in his brain, it looks like Tom might actually become somebody. But what happens when you start to question the rules? In this first book in this fast-paced trilogy, Kincaid asks significant questions concerning the use of technology and the value of human life. Perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz and Eoin Colfer.'

My son loved this book!
He likes computer games (what boy doesn't?), this is fast-paced and was chosen by Oxford University Press as a class reader for KS3 (age 11-14). There's more substance to it than Horowitz, though it's in the same line. This will hopefully lead to some to good conversations - including some about how writers create tension.