Desert Island Books
Welcome to ‘Desert Island Books’ !
When the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to abandon a member of staff on a desert island. That’s the good news !
The bad news is that we’re only letting them take eight books with them.
We’ve decided to banish Year Three teacher Mr.Hadwin to Malvern’s distant colony. Below, Mr.Hadwin explains why he’d take these books:
‘Lord of the Rings’ by JRR Tolkien: The only novel that I have read three times or more.
‘The Collins Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe’: The best field guide – but be sure to get the second edition that includes all of the newly invented gulls.
‘Day of the Triffids’ by John Wyndham: Well written and far sighted. Far better than any film or TV version.
‘Jaguar’ by Dr Alan Rabinowitz: Dr Alan is like a combination of Indiana Jones and David Attenborough in a boys’ own adventure in the jungles of Belize. The first edition of this book is a far better read because the later editions have some of the adventures toned down.
Terry Pratchett’s ‘Disc World’ novels: Very, very funny. Ignore the first few in the series when he was just getting into his stride – and the last few when he was past his best. And ignore the awful cover illustrations. Just read the middle 30 or 40 books. Great characters poking fun at the modern world.
‘A Walk in the Big Woods’ by Bill Bryson: Bill and his friend go for a stroll down the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. Bill is a wonderfully witty entertaining writer. He writes the sort of books that make you want to nudge the person next to you and say, “Just read this bit !”
‘Christine’ by Stephen King: Surely a demonically possessed car sounds like a naff idea ? But not when Stephen King is at the wheel. King’s characters are complex; his heroes are flawed and they move ever so slowly – whilst the bad guys appear to race on so much faster.
‘Schindler’s List’ by Thomas Keneally: Not an easy book to pick up, but once begun it is impossible to put down. Books about history do not come any better than this.
We are abandoning Miss Fraser on Malvern’s distant overseas territory. She is allowed to take a mere eight books to the desert island. Here they are, together with a sentence or two from Miss Fraser:
‘Frenchman’s Creek’ by Daphne Du Maurier: Pirates, French men, adventure and romance – what’s not to love !
‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness: A heart-touching story that made me cry more than any other book. With fantastic illustrations of the wild and unusual monster.
‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ by Alan Garner: The book that hooked me and really began my adventures in reading. I struggled with reading until a teacher at primary school started reading this book. I couldn’t wait to finish reading it to my mum – and my dad took me to the place where it is set. Reading for pleasure changed my life !
‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen: Austen’s last book. A story about second chances – and never giving up hope.
‘A Gathering Light’ by Jennifer Donnelly: A beautifully written murder mystery which won the Carnegie Medal in 2003.
‘A Swift Pure Cry’ by Siobhan Dowd: A life-affirming story with dramatic and beautiful writing – dealing sensitively with a tough subject.
‘Augustus and his Smile’ by Catherine Rayner: A book by my current favourite illustrator. Augustus the tiger is sad. In this book, we join Augustus on his quest to find his smile.
‘What I Was’ by Meg Rosoff: Or ‘How I Live Now’ or ‘The Bride’s Farewell’ – all great.
Our ‘castaway’ this time is dinner lady Mrs Sims. Here are her eight Desert Island Books – together with some thoughts:
‘Longman Modern English Dictionary’: I just love this book – it’s packed with information: history, maps, important people. Mine is so well-used, it’s held together with duct tape !
‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’ by Fannie Flagg: This made me laugh and laugh – a richly comic and poignant story. Wonderful !
‘Never Surrender’ by Michael Dobbs: This is the second of four books about Winston Churchill (my hero) and covers 1939 to 1945.
‘The Lord’s Day’ by Michael Dobbs: The opening of parliament is hijacked by terrorists – everyone is held hostage, including the Queen.
‘Remembrance Day’ by Henry Porter: His first book – and a real page turner.
‘Caught in the Light’ by Robert Goddard: I sat up most of the night reading this. It’s all about revenge and it’s really cleverly done.
‘The Future Homemakers of America’ by Laurie Graham: This is about the wives of American service men stationed in the UK in 1952. Very funny and sad – and a wonderful book.
‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame: A beautifully written enchanting story – funny, sad and timeless. Has as much to teach adults as children.
Our first ‘castaway’ is Year Five teacher Mrs. Davies. Here are her eight Desert Island Books – together with a sentence about each:
‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zuzak – My favourite book of all – wow ! A book that made my cry throughout the last few chapters. I passed it on to my daughter and watched her do the same !
‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini – A fabulous story that opened my eyes to the plight of Afghan women.
‘The Worst Kids in the World’ by Barbara Robinson – Funny ! Great characters with huge personalities.
‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett – A spur of the moment buy that turned out to be a book that I couldn’t put down ! A roller coaster of emotions – from laughter to tears.
‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee – I read the novel and the play for GCSE – and knew every fine detail of the book.
‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’ – from Grimm’s Fairy Tales – My favourite story as a small child. I would read it, or have it read to me, every day.
‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ by Alan Garner – I read this in my first half term at secondary school. Loved it.
‘Peepo’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg – Both of my children loved this ! It’s a family favourite. They would both join in, finding things in the pictures and shouting ‘Peepo !’ when we reached the word in the story.
Mrs. Davies tells us that if she had to save just one of the books from the crashing waves, it would be Markus Zuzak’s ‘The Book Thief’.