Category Archives: Year 9

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

New Releases — Jimmy Coates: Blackout by Joe Craig

Joe Craig Blackout

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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

Theatre You Should See: The Amen Corner by James Baldwin at The National

Marianne Jean Baptiste and Eric Kofi Abefra in The Amen Corner by Jamed Baldwin (taken from

Marianne Jean Baptiste and Eric Kofi Abefra in The Amen Corner by Jamed Baldwin (taken from

James Baldwin is one of the most important American writers of the 2oth century. His novels and essays express eloquently the difficulty of a black person in America in the 1950s and his play, The Amen Corner , currently on at The National Theatre is a visually and musically stunning exploration of that experience. It is a beautiful and inspiring fusion of gospel, comedy and tragedy that pits suffering and grief against faith and community. We would wholeheartedly recommend it as a thoroughly enjoyable night of theatre. See The Telegraph’s review here.

Year 9s who enjoyed the unit of study on ‘The Black Experience’ will find the play especially illuminating. It will be on at The National until 14 August and is a testament to the high calibre of theatre that lay at your doorstep. If you can’t book, go and wait for returns, a surprisingly rewarding experience if you’ve never done it.

Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!

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Filed under American Writing, Plays, Theatre, Uncategorized, Year 9

Theatre Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

Robert Sean Leonard as Atticus Finch in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in Regent's Park

Robert Sean Leonard as Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in Regent’s Park

Nominated students from years 7 to 10 recently attended Open Air Theatre’s production of To Kill A Mockingbird, adapted from the novel by Harper Lee. Students had a great time and really enjoyed the production, as is evident from Francesca Davis and Imaan Mirza’s insightful reviews below.

Review of To Kill A Mockingbird by Francesca Davis, Year 9

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is set in Alabama during a time when poverty and racism is in everyday life. It tells us about a small innocent girl Scout’s journey of growing up when her dad, a lawyer, has to defend a black man accused of something he didn’t do. This makes her and her brother more mature and experienced in what for them would have to get used to. Along with narrations of the novel, written by Harper Lee, the play uses props and everyone has characters which makes the play come alive.

In my opinion, the play is very good as it explains the horrors and difficulty people went through at that time in America through young, innocent children. Even though what they experienced would be scary for most children, they were intrigued to see what happened and were not scared by the fact that racism was running their society and were proud of who their Dad was and what he was doing to do the right thing and help save the people who were prosecuted for no reason. I like it because it makes the audience feel more sympathy for what they experience as imagining it in the eyes of the children who probably did not really understand what was going on, must have been very daunting for them and probably quite scary.

To Kill a Mockingbird in Regent's Park (taken from

To Kill a Mockingbird in Regent’s Park (taken from

I thought what really helped make the play more believable was the way that the characters played their parts. Their American accents sounded so real and you could really understand what they were feeling as a result of both their facial expressions and their body language. For example ‘Atticus’ (Scout’s dad), he went through probably the toughest time in the duration of the play and I could really sympathise and understand what he was feeling because he made it clear what was bothering him and what was not. At the beginning he came across as really stubborn and not the type of man that you would really have a good conversation with but as the play progressed, his image changed as he started to come across as a much more loving dad and caring person who would try his best and do whatever he could for his clients in court. This created many turning points in the performance.

Overall, I think the play ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was an exciting and interesting performance as you never quite knew what was going to happen and how all of the problems would unfold. It kept the whole audience in suspense and was enjoyable to watch.

Review of To Kill A Mockingbird by Imaan Mirza, year 10

An unsullied performance of the African-American brawl.

Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression in 1930s Alabama, a young girl swings elatedly on a tyre hanging from an oak tree. Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has long dominated a pride of place in modern American and English Literature, spanning over generations of young and old, as it continues to captivate the loss of innocence and the brisk ascent of immoral corruption. The only sin that Jean Louise Finch, a young girl of 8 in this classic novel, has heard her father Atticus reviles was to kill a Mockingbird; they only sing wonderful songs that please our ears. Despite the sun aflame, all eyes lingered on the stage of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Intrigued spectators in their hundreds tightly gripped the edge of their seats, as the actors of the prestigious production rose swiftly from within the stands, declaiming the novel in their respective roles.

As the performers took to the stage, a subtle bellow was heard from beyond the scene, a harmonic tune plucked blissfully from a wistful ukulele. Emerging from the bushes that surrounded him, a young man sings effortlessly on his yellow harmonica, breathing life into the streets of Maycomb County depicted across the black platform drawn in white chalk. Timothy Sheader’s adaptation of the renowned ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is timeless, presenting an eerie yet highly powerful performance through the eyes of Scout Finch, her older brother Jem, and their eccentric young friend Dill. As they explore the streets of Maycomb County, Dill becomes increasingly fascinated with the evolving speculation of a man who goes by the name of Boo. I closely observe a kaleidoscope of vivacity of the pragmatic Miss Maudi, the elderly yet impudent Mrs Dubose, and the nearby church, as Leonard successfully taps into a conflict-ridden society consumed by racial segregation and deceit.

Atticus and Scout (taken from

Atticus and Scout (taken from

The novel illustrates the warmth and humour of joyful children, despite the fact that the play predominantly centres upon the issues of rape and racial injustice. The narrator’s father, portrayed through the resilient lawyer Atticus Finch, has served as the moral protagonist for several readers today, as he firmly elucidates his deprecation not only in the courtroom, but also to his children. In this narrative, Atticus defends a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused for the rape of a young white girl, Mayella Ewell. The staged performance of this theatrical trail scene is inconceivable, as Mayella is quick to reproach the innocent young black man, who in tears, struggles to attest his innocence against the common view of the African-Americans in the Deep South.

Through courage and compassion, eight year old Scout Finch breathes life into a neighbourhood immersed in utter turmoil, blinded by the primitive hostility between the black and white civilisations in 1930s America. As she resides on the verge of adulthood, Sheader depicts the true foundation upon which humanity is built, and articulates the themes of intolerance and benevolence as it naturally emanates from the performers on stage. Timothy Sheader charismatically portrays the way in which Lee’s novel is woven into our own lives as it were a piece of fabric, and evidently imparts the way in which the adult themes of sexual exploitation and racial prejudice are so closely bonded with the naivety of childhood bliss. Don’t miss this universal tale, narrated in the open air.

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Filed under American Writing, Plays, Reviews, Theatre, Uncategorized, Year 10, Year 9