Abingdon Schools Joint Carnegie Forum

Another successful Abingdon Schools Joint Carnegie Forum on Monday 17th June!

15 Larkmead School students attended this annual event; which is the culmination of all of the reading and review work that has taken place from March 2019 to June. Pupils form groups (with other students from across Seven Secondary Schools in Abingdon; Abingdon School, The Europa School, Fitzharrys School, John Mason School, Larkmead School, Our Ladys Abingdon and St Helen & St Katharine School) to discuss the 8 Shortlisted Books and work towards a joint presentation representing their favourite book from this year’s list.

This years shortlist

Meanwhile, judges from the literary world were hidden away assessing and judging the best of the book reviews that students had written since March.

Our judges this year included:

  • Nicki Thornton (Author, based in Abingdon)
  • Lee Sterrey (Author based in Banbury)
  • Chris Barker, Ex-School Librarian
  • Sarah Dennis, Mostly Books, Abingdon Store Owner
  • David Heyward (Editor, Brown’s Books)

The Event concluded with an Awards session at the end of the day.

Larkmead scooped up the following Awards from the 8 Books Read:

  • Alex Wakefield won Best Book Review Award for the book ‘Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds’

This is a hard hitting, raw story told in verse by a fifteen-year-old boy called Will. Following the death of his brother he relives the deaths of key family members and close friends. The story is told as Will travels down from his flat in the elevator with a loaded gun in his back pocket with the intention of getting revenge for his brother’s death. This is a completely different world to the one I live in and allows me to understand and respect a different culture and way of life. Most of this story takes place in just over a minute as Will descends the floors towards a moment where he will have to make his mind up about what he must do. Will he do what must be done, or is he brave enough to break the cycle?

I enjoyed this story because it questions whether or not you should follow ‘The Rules’ or advice prescribed to you, even if it means you may end up dead.

I liked the use of anagrams throughout the story; SCARE= CARES, COOL = LOCO, especially FEEL = FLEE, showing there is always more than one way to look at things.

If I was summing this book up; it would be a story of revenge, gun violence, love and whether or not there is always a choice.

This is a very quick read because of an exciting layout which might be of interest to reluctant readers who may find this appealing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is 12+ because it is an emotionally hard-hitting story that exposes the reality of gang culture and ultimately death.

  • Amy Furlonger received the Best Book Review Award for the book ‘The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson’

‘The House with Chicken Legs’ was a warm, and, despite its heavy links with folklore and fairy tales, relatable story. There was a somewhat modern touch to its fantastical world, and I’m sure most teenagers can relate to the issues Marinka has with her relationship between Baba Yaga and the House. In fact, if Baba Yaga didn’t hold parties for the Dead every night and the House wasn’t a living house with chicken legs, you might believe they were a normal family, having ordinary arguments about how far Marinka was allowed to go away from them.

As much as I loved the story’s ideas and its plot on the whole, its pitfall had to be the glossary. With all the strange, foreign words, which I will admit, did give it an extra depth, you had to keep flicking back and forth trying to find out what mysterious meaning they had. Mostly, it was just some sort of soup. Seriously.

For me, this broke the flow of being immersed in the otherwise fascinating tale.

Only one part of the plot really irritated me: as much as I understood Marinka’s struggle to do what she wanted to do, it seemed to me that she made things much worse for herself and complicated the plot more than necessary. Her repeatedly naïve actions made me want to scream at her that she was ruining everything, just by being selfishly stubborn. It has been a long time since a book has made me feel so strongly, so I would commend it for that, but was it really a good thing that the book made me so cross?!

Overall, however, I thought it was an excellent read: a perfect blend between the world of fairy tales and the real world. I was really quite disappointed when, once I’d finished the book, to look out of my window and see that yes, I was still in the same street, and no, my house wasn’t going to give me a piggyback ride on its roof as it ran off to new adventures.

  • Alex Wakefield received Highly Commended Book Review Award for the book ‘Rebound by Kwame Alexander’ 

‘Rebound’ is not just a book about basketball but appreciating family and learning to care for others. To start with Charlie doesn’t appear to love his mother and doesn’t show her any respect. Charlie spends most of his days reading comics and lying on his bed. A consequence of his actions results in him being sent off to spend time with his grandparents. During this time Charlie discovers a hidden talent for playing basketball, that he never knew about, and it allows him to appreciate life again. Sometimes having a break from what is normal can make you realise how much someone does for you and how it is important to appreciate what you have.

I found that this was a hard book to get into as it has a slow start, but I discovered that I enjoyed it more as I progressed through the storyline. It took a while to get into as there is a lot of description which helps to explain the background of the story and deepen understanding.

This novel is a great read for younger or more hesitant readers because of its exciting graphic inserts and the way in which you get drawn in by the rhythmic verse. I would recommend this book to anyone who has sadly experienced the loss of a loved one or has an interest in exploring a delicate range of emotions. This book explores many of the ruthless emotions that life throws at you. Throughout this book you are reminded of the importance of staying true to what you believe.

  • Maia Carlin won Highly Commended Book Review Award for the book ‘The Poet X by Elizabeth Agevedo’

How would you feel if you wanted to live your life like any ordinary teenager but your family and all you’ve been told to believe in begins to get in your way? Put yourself in Xiomara’s shoes.
She is surrounded by her perfect best friend and her perfect twin. But as her body smooths out into curves, she realises it’s easier to let her fists do the talking and begins to question the world telling her right from wrong.
Then she meets a boy.
An actual boy.
He listens to her.
He listens to her poems that she pours out into a leather notebook.
Xiomara begins to peel back layers of all the faultless people around her, that teach her maybe she isn’t so different. However, there is one difference between Xiomara and everyone else. She’s not scared to fight for what she believes.

This book is written in poems and I’ve never read such emotive, honest ones. Each word feels like it needs to be there, and it hits you with such force that it either makes you cry, rage or smile. You feel like you need to find out what happens to Xiomara. There’s one beautiful metaphor in the book ‘we are sifted like flour through the doors’ which I think sums up the whole book. Its saying to me that not everyone approves of change, difference – we should have no lumps – but it’s up to Xiomara to change that.

Passionate, beautiful and frank, I would definitely recommend this.

Four of our students also won Best Contributors in their presentation group:

  • Claudia Shannon for Bone Talk, Candy Gourlay
  • Kate Burr for Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds
  • Maia Carlin for The Poet X, Elizabeth Agevedo’
  • Leo Lin for The Land of Neverendings, Kate Saunders

The Abingdon Carnegie Forum voted A Skinful of Shadows, Frances Hardinge as their winner of this year’s Carnegie Medal whereas this year’s official winner was The Poet X by Elizabeth Agevedo.

There was of course Carnegie Cake too!

Well Done to all!

Please see link to the Carnegie website for further official information: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/shadowing.php