“My life is dreary, he cometh not” she said

Mariana in the moated grange  (Image from artmagik.com)
Mariana in the moated grange (Image from artmagik.com)

I’m not going to lie, sometimes English Literature can be depressing.  We might consider certain texts classics and ‘must reads’ but the fact remains that some of the most famous and important texts of our time are in fact filled with sorrow.

Trying to make these texts interesting to a bunch of teenagers can become tricky, especially when a large portion of the class are not native English speakers.  Keeping things relevant, exciting and engaging is often the bane of a teachers life, but it’s also a highlight when we find something that does inspire creativity.

Two texts I’m using at the moment are The Lady of Shalott and Mariana. It wasn’t until we were discussing them that I realised just how depressing these ballads are. Both women are shrouded in melancholy and one of them dies; they are completely hopeless. Not exactly the poster women for feminism and independence!

So, how do you make these woeful texts interesting to teenagers and, in particular boys?

Both ballads offer an insight in to these women, we never really know who they are pining after, only that a man is at the root of their sadness.  We never know who Mariana is waiting for and why he never makes it. So, I decided it was time to find out…

The task for my class was to write a story from his perspective that would offer some reason for his delay, the additional challenge was to somehow include information from the Lady of Shalott too. It could be a reference to Sir Lancelot, Camelot or the lady herself.

A collection of notes
A pile of stories

The stories were an excellent read and the class offered up some rather interesting reasons for Mariana sitting and waiting- “my life is dreary/ He cometh not”

  • The man suffered memory loss;
  • He was imprisoned;
  • He became obsessed with the Lady of Shalott and forgot Mariana;
  • It was a game of hide and seek that went very, very wrong;
  • A modified memory from Merlin….

As usual I joined in the activity and got a little carried away with my idea. It involves a bluebird, miscommunication and a letter delivered to the wrong address…



Found them! Where all the books have been and where they’re going

This is the last installment of my thoughts on books, ebooks and the impact it may have on society.

It all started after a trip to my favourite bookshop, discovering that it was now more of a café than a bookshop and that the bookshop aspect was a tablet fixed to the wall for all your browsing needs.  It got me thinking about the book and how we use technology. As a result I ended up buying what I’m calling, A Book About Books. The real title being:

A book about books
A book about books

It turns out to be an interesting read, taking a look at the historical impact the book has had throughout the ages.  It looks at the religious aspect, the need to record our daily lives, the controversy surrounding the printed word and the first printing press and the virtual book. To be honest, I don’t think the book is going anywhere…

Book About Books 1

Book about books 2

Book about books 3

Book about books 4

If the book has managed to survive burnings and bans I’m hopeful the book will be able to survive technology. There is, in my opinion, room for both the e-book and the print book. But, only time will tell…

@allbooklovers where have all the #books gone?

I’ll be honest, I’d never really given much active thought to the history of the book. Books are something that I’m constantly surrounded by, maybe I’ve been taking advantage of the privilege. We all know that man has recorded facts and stories for thousands of years from cave paintings to chiseled markings on stone to long diaries and bestsellers. It’s nothing new that we like to record what we do and how we do it.

Cave painting (http://www.faculty.umb.edu)
Cave painting (http://www.faculty.umb.edu)
Twittering and tweeting
Twittering and tweeting

We just have to take a look at all the social networking sites to see our need for recording our every day lives. We all need to share everything from the mundane to the life changing experiences. I recently wrote about the impact ebooks are having on our bookstores, and I do think it’s a tragedy that this is occurring. But, it’s essential to consider why it’s happening.  Not everyone gets to have a book published, granted, not everyone wants to have a book published and when we spend time looking at the content of specific social network we can see that it’s not exactly works of genius being posted, but we all have this innate need to record/ share what we’re doing.

I should point out that I’m becoming a social media junkie a little more every day. I have account in many sites and actively participate in recording my everyday history and rambles. It does have it’s merits. We’re a society built on instant gratification, and social networking checks all the boxes.  It’s also a reason why ebooks are doing so well. We click ‘buy’ from  our armchair and the book miraculously appears. Instant gratification.

Since writing my post about my disappointing visit to what used to be my favourite bookshop I have thought a lot about books. As a child, I was extremely lucky, I had so many books. We had bookcases and bookcases filled with various stories, facts etc. And, I wonder what it will look like now but maybe more so in a few years for children. Will they have the privilege of seeing and having access to huge bookcases or shelves overflowing with journeys, tales and experiences? Or will they have a small tablet within easy reach? Will the mystery and magic of the story be lost?

The Story of Rockin’ Gardener

It’s summer and I’m home. Home is a funny word. Being a TCK, I consider many places to be my home, so to clarify I’m in Perth (Western Australia). It’s where I have boxes of stuff, lots of boxes filled with many a forgotten object. Today I made a start going through the boxes, I knew it would be fun and that I would find hidden treasures- books from my childhood, old photos, trinkets and letters and I did find all of those. It has been an afternoon of meandering down memory lane.

So far the most exciting find has been my very first published book! I still can’t believe that I kept it (so, thank you mum for making me keep it and telling me it was really, really good!)

When I was eight years old I wrote a book as part of a school project and the teacher made them into little books, using those plastic spines that slip over pages.

The cover of my very first book.
The cover of my very first book.
The blurb....complete with typos!
The blurb….complete with typos!

You’ll also notice that this was typed on a computer, but judging by the print out…it was an old one! And, the blurb, at times sounds slightly creepy…but who cares! I was eight and I remember absolutely loving this project.

All in all there are seven chapters to this potentially prize-winning book, although it might need some minor alterations first…

Chapter One: Rockin Gardener's Beginning
Chapter One: Rockin Gardener’s Beginning
Chapter 3: Rockin Escapes!
Chapter 3: Rockin Escapes!
Still my favourite illustration from my book.
Still my favourite illustration from my book.

and, not forgetting the all important  last page about the author, or authoress…

About the Author
About me.

Reading this info page makes me laugh. I hate math, always have, so not sure why I said that I like it! This is also not my third book, but I feel there may be a story in “The Fruit Bird”.   What is clear from this is that my literary journey began a lot earlier than I had thought, and it’s funny that I still feel a sense of pride when I flick through this piece of work. I guess some things never change.

Now, I wonder what other treasures I’ll find tomorrow?

A simple play on words

A beautiful, visual play on words.
A beautiful, visual play on words.

It’s that time of year when the senior students have finished their highschool education and they’re about to leave and take on the world. It’s always an emotional time, especially when you’ve taught them for a several years.

It’s also that time when, as a teacher, we realise that they did appreciate everything we did, even if we didn’t think they were listening!

This is a card I was given yesterday by one of my senior students. An art student, who decided to create a card for me instead of buying one. I think it’s fantastic, and of course, I love the play on words.

‘Whipple-scrumptious Words’

I’ve always been a fan of Roald Dahl. I remember as a young girl, watching the BFG (one of my favourites) and reading Matilda, the Twits, the Witches… I think we even had the audio books and in the summer when we were stuck in traffic my parents would put it on- must have kept me quiet!

So, when it came time to fill out an order for book club, I couldn’t resist. Along with buying the latest edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook I also bought, something which might be deemed far more important:

Whipple-scrumptious words

Inside the box

I believe there simply aren’t enough words in the English language, so I’ve decided to create my own set of words. Obviously, to do this I needed a blank canvas. So, I walked to the shops this afternoon to get said canvas, this is what I bought:

The blank canvas
The blank canvas or glotters glorium

I must admit it looked very sad and, well blank, but it didn’t take me long to open up the box of words and litter them all over the canvas…

So many words!
Too much?

ARGH! So many words! The possibilities are endless! Too many words can be intimidating, so I took them all down and put them in a tin. Then read my little book I got with the words.

Some sound advice/ some splendiferous twinkler

Then I got creative….It’s going to take some time to create the many possible words but I got started and here are a few of my creations so far…

A couple of nonsensical sentences

This is going to be so much fun!