Dream On by Bali Rai - Barrington Stoke Book 35

Dream On by Bali Rai has a lot of elements that indicate it is going to be a bit of a cliched 'multi-cultural' story, but this turns out to be completely wrong. Baljit's family run an Indian take away, but it's a fish and chip shop. There is family tension, but there are no arranged marriages. They suffer racism, but authority figures step in to deal with it. And these themes aren't even the heart of the story.
Dream On is all about Baljit's attempts to be a top-flight footballer, and as he says "I never see even one Indian playing the football". A brilliant turn-of-phrase, and the book is full of them. I learnt a few Indian slang words myself ("Chadd deh" means "leave it"!). As a result the dialogue is really sharp, and the relationships between mates, school staff and family members highly believable. Baljit's Dad uses"innit", but this doesn't stop the youngsters taking the mickey.

The endearing characters mean the football trials are nail-biting affairs, they are really well described. However, the story could end any way, and it wouldn't matter because it is the personalities Bali Rai has created that matter most.

[The publishers, Barrington Stoke, produce a pack of resources to accompany Dream On, which look like they are worth checking out.]


Kelham Island Museum Volunteer Reading Mentors Meeting

Today (19/10/10) we had a super meeting for Volunteer Reading Mentors in Sheffield and Rotherham at Kelham Island Museum guests of the Sheffield Industrial Museum Trust .

It was the normal opportunity to meet other Reading Mentors, collect resources and have a cup of tea. But the main attraction was an introduction by Kirsten Timms, Education Officer of Sheffield Industrial Museum Trust about the 'Changing Face of Work in Sheffield' Pods.

The pods are fantastic packages of information, archives, resources and articles from the museum's collection. They wonderfully contrast aspects of work in Sheffield over the last 200 years. They are available for schools to use and explore, especially when combined with visits to the museum.

For our Reading Mentors they introduced a new angle on reading activities (and some old favourites), and perhaps more importantly reminded us of the living history of South Yorkshire's industry, and the passion it can inspire.

The aim of the meeting was to explore the possibility of Reading Matters volunteers accompanying the pods when the go to schools, to help the staff and pupils get the most out of them and support their use with a programme of reading sessions. If you would like to take part in such a scheme, please do get in touch.

Reading Leaders at Seven Hills Special School

Just a quick post, last week I trained a bunch of new Reading Leaders from Seven Hills Special School. I said that I would be writing to say how awful it had been and how I never want to work with them again! In fact I'll be back in a couple of weeks, to present the previous Reading Leaders with their certificates from the Open College Network.

I am second on the bill to the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, just like I was at the Summer Reading Challenge Celebration.

I hope to catch-up with the new Reading Leaders too, they were a great bunch and I am sure they are going to do a great job with their reading partners. It was interesting working with children from the 'special' school. They had all the same questions and ideas as anyone else. And they read exactly the same sort of things; Facebook, Sports Pages, Tracey Beaker etc. In fact they were a lot more enthusiastic than some of the ultra-cool older Reading Leaders from mainstream schools.


Turnaround by Alison Prince - Barrington Stoke Book 34

I am not sure Barrington Stoke are still publishing Turnaround by Alison Prince, which is a shame because it's a very short touching read.

At face-value Kerry has a lovely life helping out her parents B&B. She organises the 'turnarounds' of visitors. But, behind the scenes, family life is very traumatic. This is made worse because no one wants to face up to it. Tellingly, breakfasts are eaten in silence.

Paul comes to stay and Kerry develops a new relationship. In the end, with Paul's help Kerry must face up to the problems in her life; alcoholism and depression.

It is heavy subject matter, but handled very well. The characters are very believable. I like Kelly's Gran, she's a Beach Boys fan! The first two thirds of the book let you get to know these sympathetic characters, so when the drama arrives in the final third you really feel for them.

Things do not end perfectly, but necessary corrections are made, as Kerry says "the turnaround always seem to take ages".


Booked Up at Newfield and Crookes in the Library

Last Friday (1/10/10) , I visited my friend Louise at Newfield School. As well as giving me some top tips for future reading (Something Wickedly Weird by Chris Mould, Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson and Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley amongst others) she also reminded me about the fantastic Booked Up programme.

Booked Up is organised by the Book Trust and delivered through schools. It allows Year 7 pupils to choose a free book from a specially selected list. The whole project is mainly promoted by school librarians like Louise, but the website is well worth a look. The list of books is always great, their are some nice pages and ideas for parents and carers and interactive tools, games and competitions for participating young people.

After my Newfield visit I was off to Sheffield Town Hall for a little celebration event for the young volunteers I had trained as part of the Summer Reading Challenge. I'll give a bit more info and some images when I get them through. Safe-to-say it was a splendid evening the volunteers were all quietly brilliant and I met the Lord Mayor too. The volunteers all got free tickets to The Crookes gig that was happening in the Library that evening. I heard the band on 6Music the next day - a very literary bunch they sounded too. I didn't go to the gig, but I did get a flyer!

Gigs in libraries - I love it!