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Desert Island Books


Welcome to ‘Desert Island Books’ ! 

When the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to abandon a member of staff or parent on a desert island.  That’s the good news ! 

The bad news is that we’re only letting them take eight books with them. 

Our latest castaway is Parent Governor Emma Sinnett .  Here are Emma’s book choices:

‘Save D.A.D!’ by Jahnna N. Malcolm – This is the first book I remember reading on my own.  I must have been about 9 years old.

‘Her Benny’ by Silas K Hocking – It was the first book I bought with my own money, I was about 10/11.  It’s a book about Liverpool so it reminds me of home and the history of our city and it was also a favourite of my grandad.  I still have it now.

‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl – This reminds me of my daughter who loves to read books – also makes me laugh.

‘1984’ by George Orwell – I enjoy the comparisons you can make between our uses of technology now and in the book.  It should be read as warning of where technology could lead us.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon – It’s a brilliant story that takes you into the mind of a teenager who has Asperger’s Syndrome.  It lets you imagine how other people see the world.

‘True Grit’ by Bear Grills – Reading about the success of other people lost in extreme conditions might keep me motivated on a desert island.

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ by J K Rowling – I would love to pick them all but this was my favourite of a brilliant series.  It was a book I couldn’t put down.

‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott – I have never read this book but it‘s next on my shelf to read.

We have castaway our Chair of Governors Gavin Butterworth.  Here are Gavin’s book choices:

‘Blindsighted’ by Karin Slaughter:  The first book I read as an adult in 2002 aged 24! Stuck in Euston Station with a 4 hour delay before smart phones. I bought a book and have not been without one since. Crime fiction set in Georgia USA, not the greatest book but the one that got me hooked on reading.

‘1984’ by George Orwell:  One of only two books I’ve read multiple times. Insightful and ahead of its time as well as being full of suspense and funny in places. A reminder of how lucky we are to live in the free society we enjoy in modern Britain.

‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell:  The other book I’ve read lots of times and by the same author. A similar message to 1984 in that communism doesn’t work and only the very few enjoy a privileged life; ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee:  A lovely book of childhood adventures told with warmth and humour despite dealing with serious issues at the same time. On my list to read again soon.

‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Johnathan Swift:  A book from my childhood. It’s hard to believe that this timeless classic was written in 1726 and is still relevant to this day.

‘Sleepy Head’ by Mark Billingham:  Mark Billingham is my favourite author and I could have picked any of his books but this was the first I read and the one that got me hooked. More crime fiction.

‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by Judith Kerr:  A really fun, simple book, beautifully illustrated. My favourite bedtime story to read.

‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ by Roald Dahl:  I remember doing a book report on this when I was a pupil in Malvern over 30 years ago. I still enjoy it just as much reading it to my kids as I did then.

We have castaway Parent Governor Matthew Wilson.  Here are Matthew’s book choices:

‘Clear and Present Danger’ by Tom Clancy: The first of Mr Clancy’s books which captured my imagination, full of intrigue into the world of international relations. I quickly read everything else he’d written and everything he wrote subsequently; a master storyteller, and in many cases foreteller of world events to come.

‘Dogger’ by Shirley Hughes: A wonderful children’s tale of loss, love and compassion! A favourite from my own childhood and a special book for our family now.

‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ by Roald Dahl: a source of inspiration in the classroom for many of the classes I’ve taught, and one of my favourite childhood books. I can still hear my Dad’s voice reading it when it’s read in class.

‘The Lord of the Rings’ by JRR Tolkein: The first “big grown up” book I read in Year 5 when Mr Everrit kick started my passion for reading.

‘Harlequin’ by Bernard Cornwell: another master storyteller whose books I find unputdownable. The first in a series which capture the savagery of The Hundred Years war with a fabulous blend of historical fiction.

‘Prisoners of Geography’: an interesting analysis of the impact that geography has had on modern Geo-politics; more engaging than it sounds!

‘Mr  Midshipman Hornblower’ by C.S. Forester: the first of The Hornblower series which captivated me as a teenager. Full of daring-do and action giving an insight into the Napeleonic wars.

‘Giraffe’s Can’t Dance’ by Giles Andreae: Gerald thinks he can’t dance, but realises that sometimes you just need to find the right tune… A beautiful picture book embodying the Growth Mindset Spirit I think is so important; a favourite in every year group regardless of age!

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’.

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