Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Summer Reading Challenge!

Image from

Image from

What do do with your summer after a week at home and the temptation to scream aloud, ‘I’m boooooored!’? Why not escape to a new world, a new country in a different part of the world, a different time period? Why not live the life of a spy, a rebel, a prince, or a Harvard symbologist? Where can you do all these things? Those of you who’ve been paying attention will know the answer already. Books, of course!

The Summer Reading Challenge takes place every year here in the UK across the country and allows you to chart your progress with reading and foster great habits that will sustain you over a lifetime of great reading. All you have to do is go to your local library, register, and read six books of your choice. Every two books that you read, you go back, talk to someone at the library about the books you’ve read and take out two more, receiving cool, free stuff as you go along and with a bigger prize and celebrations around the country at the end of the summer.

If it sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry. Librarians and Reading Challenge volunteers are ready to help you choose books that appeal to your interests and to your reading ability that you will enjoy and find inspiring. And if you are a confident reader, love books and are between 11-24, you can volunteer to help with the Summer Reading Challenge.

Go on. Grab a book. Enjoy it.

Happy holidays and happy reading.


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Filed under Competitions, English, Key Stage 3, Year 7, Year 8, Year 9

Confronting the Bard: Shakespeare Rap by Suzanna Lawrence

All the World's a Stage

All the World’s a Stage

We explore the work of William Shakespeare in a number of ways: passionately, enthusiastically, uninterested, at times kicking and screaming. But whatever we say about the work of what many consider to be the greatest playwright in the English language, we know that his work endures and inspires and has done so for hundreds of years, providing us with great food for thought. Here is a perceptive and poetic piece about the great man and his works by Suzanna Lawrence in year 8.

Shakespeare Rap

Got my gangster gear all here
Let’s go

Oh! Hey, what do we have here
Poems, plays and sonnets
Although the gore might make you vomit
It’s gonna be worth it in the end I promise
Okay, let’s start here with Othello
Cause I will not let him go alone
I will be there through thick and thin
Even when he accuses me of cheating on him

Moving on
To a Midsummer Night’s Dream
Because the forests will still gleam
When the spell is broken
Everyone is causing mischief
Trying to find love for you
But of course we all know
That the course of true love never did run smooth

Bringing Hamlet now
Poison and madness
“The lady doth protest too much”
Guilty consciences
Unhealthy deviance
A testosterone-filled, poisonous, mischievous
All the characters are leaving us
Another story with a dead end

Now we move on to
The Merchant of Venice
“All that glitters is not gold”
A pound of flesh
For a lady’s love
Pick a box, take a chance
Religion can save you from what you aren’t

The Tempest
Happiness, light
Not much fire or spite
Love at first sight and
It ends all bright
Not exactly a moving storyline
But his record is great
So just give Shakespeare a break

Never gonna be my favourite writer
Never gonna like all of his plays
Never gonna be his number one fan but
He changed English for the better-so
Let’s just learn to appreciate what we got

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Filed under Key Stage 3, Plays, Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Theatre, Uncategorized, Year 8

Retrospective: The British Museum, Autumn 2012

British Museum

The British Museum

We’ve made a concerted effort to get out of the classroom more often this year and see some of the amazing cultural sites on offer so close to us here in Fairlop. Not only do these excursions help you learn about new things, but by getting out of school, you expand your mind and break down the mental barriers that hold in your intellectual creativity and the time and evironment allow you to reflect and see the world, which is exactly what happened when Mr Mukherjee took a group of GCSE students to the British Museum in the autumn term. Here, he reflects on the experience.


Another museum, another exhibition, another trip into London. Look, there’s a piece of old jewellery, and an old book in a glass case, and there’s a big block of wood cut from the trunk of an old tree. But at least I’m not in school!!

And yet, look closer. Start to read the information.

The jewellery – that’s not a necklace, it is a circular glass box in which has been placed the eyeball of one of the conspirators involved in the Gunpowder Plot to kill/replace King James I. When he was captured and found guilty, via extreme torture, he was hanged, drawn and quartered. (Look it up, it is a horrible way to go!) During the disembowelling, his eyeball was taken illegally and placed into the glass box.

The block of wood – this was actually cut from an old tree that existed in Shakespeare’s time and it bears the carved initials of two young people who wanted to celebrate their love for each other forever. That would be over 400 years old!

The book – this was smuggled into Robben Island, disguised as a Hindu text. It was actually the Complete Works of Shakespeare and it was passed around the inmates of the prison for a number of years; the prisoners being enemies of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Look even closer, and you can see the passage highlighted in the text that Nelson Mandela chose as his favourite piece – it comes from Julius Caesar:

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

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New Releases: There Was A Country by Chinua Achebe

there was a country achebe

(Image taken from

There Was A Country, by Chinua Achebe, comes out in paperback this week, two months after the influential Nigerian author died in Boston. If you’ve never read Achebe, his work is well worth checking out. His best known work is called Things Fall Apart, considered by many to be the ‘archetypal modern African novel’, the book deals not only with the themes of alienation and a cultural conflict, but also with the universal theme of trying to find a feeling and a place of belonging in one’s environment. Unlike Things Fall Apart, There Was A Country is a non-fiction book, an autobiographical account of the Nigerian civil war from Achebe’s perspective. He writes with power and conviction and would be well worth reading. Enjoy!

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Filed under A Level, African Writing, Non-fiction, Novels, Uncategorized, Year 12, Year 13

New Releases — Jimmy Coates: Blackout by Joe Craig

Joe Craig Blackout

image taken from

If you’ve not heard of the Jimmy Coates series by Joe Craig, I suggest you take a trip to the library and ask Mrs. Venuto to kindly point you in the direction of Jimmy Coates: Killer, the first in this award-winning series of books about a teenage boy who finds out that he has been genetically engineered by the government to be the perfect killing machine.

Popular with many a reader here at King Solomon, each one of these spy/action thrillers is a gripping story from start to finish. So it is with great delight that I read a few weeks ago that the seventh and what is rumoured to be the penultimate instalment was published on the 6 June and that the author, Joe Craig, was doing readings and signings in local bookshops in East London.

Not only is Mr Craig a gifted storyteller, but he is also very generous with his time, as we all know having hosted him at this school four years ago. Through diligent efforts, Mrs. Venuto arranged that the author come and chat to groups from key stage 3 and 4 about his novels, writing, and the process of storytelling. You can read more about his visit to KS here and you can see a trailer for Blackout here.

A new book coming out is a great event. Don’t just sit there! Go and read! Enjoy!

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Filed under British Writing, Fiction, Key Stage 3, Novels, Year 7, Year 8, Year 9

Telling Your Story… Outstanding Writing

‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.’ Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials and The Sally Lockhart Mysteries

Here in the English Department at King Solomon High School, we subscribe wholly to Pullman’s words about stories. They’re important. They can have a profound effect on people. They can move worlds.

This is why it’s so important to recognise the creative writing talent blossoming in our students. Below is a video made by our Head of English, Mr Mukherjee, for year 8 prize day this year, showcasing some of the fantastic work done by our students. Have a look and leave a comment. It is pretty astounding.

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July 1, 2013 · 2:26 pm