Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to write an alternative book review

Book review model of Regeneration by Pat Barker

What I liked

I like the fact that it explored a different aspect of the First World War to other books that I have read, and what happened to some of the soldiers who suffered from shell shock. Although the book mentions, quite vividly, the reasons why the soldiers were in the hospital, shocking stories of terrible things that had happened to them, it didn’t dwell on the fighting. I also liked the fact that real people and fiction were interwoven and Pat Barker obviously did a lot of research to write the book. The exploration of Siegfried Sassoon’s protest about the war and how they ‘dealt’ with him was very interesting.


What I did not like

There wasn’t anything in particular that I didn’t like about the actual book but didn’t like some of the attitudes of the army hierarchy towards the soldiers in the hospital and their “return to the front”. But that was how it was at the time, a time with very different attitudes to ours today. It must have been difficult to decide who is genuinely suffering but I also empathise with those who just wanted to escape the horrors of the war.


What surprised me

Near the end of the book William Rivers, the psychiatrist, visits another hospital and witnesses the medical treatment given to a mute patient. In comparison to Rivers’ treatment of his patients it seemed barbaric, virtually torture. I was surprised that this sort of treatment occurred, but it was interesting to see the different approaches of the two doctors.


What I learned

The different ways post-traumatic stress disorder manifests itself in the people suffering from it. Although I was aware of shell shock and some of the effects on the people with it, the book really brought home to me just how terrible and devastating it can be and how difficult it was to treat the soldiers with it. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to confirm a soldier’s recovery knowing they would be sent back to the front. All too often we think about the men who were killed but not so much about the terrible and often long lasting effects the war had on those who fought.


What I wished would have happened

For something nice to happen in the life of the main character William Rivers. He was so busy with his patients he didn’t seem to have much time for a life of his own and consequently had health issues of his own.

School Libraries Group National Conference

Read All About It!

The Impact of Reading on Learning


Sat, 23rd Apr 2016 – 9:45am to Sun, 24th Apr 2016 – 4:15pm

The School Libraries Group bi-annual conference.

Confirmed speakers so far include:

  • David Didau: “What if everything you know about education was wrong”
  • Karen Blakeman: Google Searching
  • Maria Nikolajeva, University of Cambridge: “Reading for Learning. Cognitive Approaches to Children’s Literature”

Seminars include:

  • Darren Flynn: Learning Commons, Dixons Allerton Academy;
  • CILIP Revalidation
  • Darryl Toerien on Independent Learners

For more information or to book, visit the following CILIP page:


What better way for a sociable bookworm to spend an afternoon?


The welcoming surroundings of the Grafton’s upper room were the perfect setting for the second SLG Café Littéraire. Authors, Librarians and Publishers shared enthusiasms and information over tea, coffee and some excellent cake.

The event was attended by 16 authors and a handful of publishers from Pea Green Boat Books and Usborne: Michele Simonsen – Sarah Sky –  Keren David –  Hilary Freeman  – Chitra Soundar – Larisa Villar Hauser –  Annette Smith –  Faye Bird  – Margaret Bateson-Hill  – Peter Bunzl  – Sally Kindberg  – Bridget Marzo –  Bybreen Samuels  – Jo Franklin 

From picture novel illustrators to YA writers, from well-established and loved names to first-time novelists, conversations quickly turned to the challenges of Children’s and YA literature that we are all facing.

Amongst all these discussions, some topics stood out for relevance and scope of interest across all reading ages: for example, illustration and visual literacy – how important it is to avoid the misconception that comics are a genre and not a separate medium of telling stories; a complex reading process is necessary to decipher them, such as inferring meaning, and linking text and picture. We spoke of the kind of stories we loved as children, and whether the same stories and styles of telling are still popular. Can books help our children to face the challenges of ubiquitous social media, or relieve the pressures that our very sexualised society can create? If writers want to engage with young people, is swearing necessary? One author found that putting ‘blast’ in a book for teenagers to avoid censure from their parents, just made her look out-of-touch and irrelevant.

Here are some interesting articles on these subjects:

Why teens in books can’t swear by James/Juno Dawson:

YA Books That Will Make You Swear Off Social Media Forever

“Clean Reads” List –  interesting booklist for the guidance given regarding “inappropriate” content. Food for thought.

Visual literacy: to comics or not to comics? Promoting literacy using comics

Learning To Read From Comics: Comics As Gateways To Literacy 

It was enormous fun – with serious intent – we were there to share and learn, and everyone had experience, insight or information to contribute.

In fact, our pleasant afternoon at the Grafton was almost exactly like the definition of ‘un Café Littéraire’ found in Wikipedia: a place to meet in order to talk about literature, exchange ideas, listen to book excerpts and take part in intellectual plays, all whilst enjoying coffee or another drink.* Although we did not include readings, I think that would be an excellent addition to the event, and if anyone is up for acting in an intellectual play – please let us know!

*Not that I use Wikipedia as a matter of course, but in some cases it is really rather good!

* [Un café littéraire est un lieu de réunion où l’on parle de littérature, échange des idées, écoute des extraits de livres lus par des comédiens, assiste à des spectacles érudits tout en dégustant un café, ou autre boisson.]

Penny Swan

[Librarian – The Grey Coat Hospital School ; Hon. Secretary CILIP SLG London & SE]

Café Littéraire – Saturday 23rd January 2016 – The Grafton Arms NW5

My Library By Right Petition

CILIP has posted a petition regarding the major cuts occurring in public libraries. This may not be our main sector, but it certainly affects us and the children under our remit as school librarians! Please join CILIP in signing this petition which asks the local authorities to be proactice and prevent the devastation which is caused by severely reducing public library services.

Café Littéraire – Saturday 27th June

Join us in networking with fellow librarians, authors, and illustrators at our upcoming event –  Café Littéraire!

Dating back to 17th Century Paris the Café Littéraire has always been a venue for the  discussion of  literature, the lively exchange of ideas and the enjoyment of light refreshments!Tea & Tattle Teapot

Join us at Tea and Tattle tea room 41, Great Russell Street (opposite the British Museum) on Saturday 27th June, any time between 1-5pm for classic afternoon tea and conversation in the company of some great children’s authors:   Paul Crooks  (Ancestors / A Tree without Roots) Sufiya Ahmed (Secrets of the Henna Girl / Zahra’s Great Debate), Patricia Elliott (The Devil in the Corner / Pimpernelles), Lindsey Barraclough (Long Lankin / The Mark of Cain) plus Amanda Lillywhite (illustrator).  After tea take some time to visit Arthur Probsthain, the Oriental & African Bookseller, which shares the same site, and browse their collection of books, music, film, gifts and their exquisite gallery of art.Tea and Tattle-002-16.07.10-1 (2)

Special prices of only £5 for CILIP members and £10 for non-members mean that numbers are limited so please do book in advance.

Contact Christine Belsham
phone: 0208 677 8400.