BOOK REVIEWS

  • BOOK REVIEWS

More entertaining and inspiring titles for you and your students…

One

(Sarah Crossan, Bloomsbury, £10.99)

Like any siblings, Tippi and Grace have a complex relationship, with love, need, friendship, resentment and frustration all influencing the way their lives intertwine. However, these 16-year-old girls aren’t just any sisters; they are conjoined twins, sharing a body from the belly down. It has always been their normal, and they have learnt to adapt and compromise in order to grow in the same space. But now, first love is about to complicate things – and the separation surgery they have always resisted is starting to look inevitable. Written entirely in free verse, this is a profoundly moving, beautifully constructed novel from a natural poet with an astonishing ability to inhabit her characters absolutely sharing a selection of the chapters could inspire any English class to produce startling, original creative writing of their own

Teacher Geek

(Rachel Jones, Crown House, £16.99)

Rachel Jones is one of those teachers who always has an idea; and moreover, will never be afraid to try it out in the classroom, even if it’s radically different from anything that students will have seen – or she has done – before. She loves technology and thrives on creativity, and knows that her students do, too; gimickry for its own sake has no place in her practice, and whilst she’s happy to take risks and experiment, only innovations that are demonstrably effective will make their way into her daily teaching toolbox. Here, Jones opens that toolbox and invites any interested fellow professional to have a delve and find something interesting. “Life is too short for worksheets” she declares; and whilst not every suggestion she makes will appeal to all teachers, the underlying message is one with which few educators would disagree. .

Of Teaching, Learning and Sherbet Lemons</h3><h5>(Nina Jackson, Independent Thinking Press, £16.99)

Why sherbet lemons? Well it’s pretty simple, really – what makes a sherbet lemon so special is the fizz in the middle. You can’t see it from the outside, and it can often take quite a lot of dedication to get to it… but it’s there, and that combination of a solid exterior and zingy centre is what creates an exceptional eating experience. Nina Jackson knows that great teaching needs both structure and sparkle, and this is the basis of every snippet of sound advice she shares in this vibrant, warm and wise work. In each chapter she addresses real queries and dilemmas from actual teachers, offering not only strategies to solve them, but an acute, non-patronising understanding of how the situation may have developed in the first place.

Boy in the Tower

(Polly Ho-Yen, Random House, £5.99)

This extraordinary, haunting work tells the tale of Ade, a young boy who lives a rather ordinary life in a tower block apartment with his mother – until the plants arrive, and the buildings start to fall down… This is a dystopian adventure with enormous heart; utterly captivating from start to finish, featuring a vivid and memorable cast of characters.

Teaching for Character

(Andrew Hammond, John Catt, £10)

Everyone is talking about ‘character education’ at the moment – not least Nicky Morgan, who wants to “cement our position as a global leader” in teaching “grit and resilience”. Of course, the idea that schools should be supporting young people to grow and develop as robust, confident and creative individuals as well as gain qualifications is not a new one for teachers. This slim but significant book is as much a recognition and celebration of what is already happening in many UK classrooms every day as it is a collection of ideas and suggestions for enhancing this aspect of any educator’s practice. Hammond challenges some assumptions; shares some stories; and – with elegance and humour – reminds and reassures his readers that what they have always believed to be important for educational professionals, really is.

Noughts & Crosses

(ad. Ian Edginton/John Aggs, Doubleday, £12.99)

Noughts and Crosses, published nearly 15 years ago, remains one of Malorie Blackman’s most powerful and thought-provoking novels for teenagers. It’s also one of those rare titles that’s as popular with teachers as it is with students, exploring as it does a whole range of issues including racism, domestic violence, mental illness, teenage pregnancy and gang culture in the context of a gripping, action packed thriller with a moving message at its heart about how love can break barriers to reach across any divide. Now the original has been brilliantly adapted into a graphic novel, with compelling and dynamic artwork. Fans will enjoy the subtle perspective shifts of this thoughtful interpretation; and hopefully, the format will enable a new and wider readership to engage with the story, too.

Meet The Author

Colin Stobart is one of the authors of Collins GCSE Maths Teacher Guides for the 2015 AQA and Edexcel specifications, he is also a head of maths and has contributed a number of articles to the Collins Freedom to Teach Blog www.freedomtoteach.collins.co.uk

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