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Author Visit to Archway

     Amongst the backdrop of a trailer to the film adaptation of his 2008 novel, The Knife That Killed Me, Archway students were lucky enough to meet award-winning author Anthony McGowan on Thursday 25th April when he visited the school and gave a talk to some year 9 and 10 students.

It can be a challenge to engage digital-age teens in books and reading, but Anthony soon had their attention with his anecdotes about his grim, sometimes violent 1970s Leeds education and how this had influenced his writing – with his lively retellings of school misdeeds and some of his less-than-civilised adventures with friends – every student was hooked.

     His topical 2008 novel The Knife That Killed Me, made into a film in 2014, is a sadly relevant theme today and Anthony gave a powerful reading from the book that had students gripped. A fictional story based on knife crime, gang culture and the pressures these force upon the shoulders of vulnerable youths, Anthony brought the characters to life through his energetic and passionate performance. Students were shocked at the gory storyline and fretted when the protagonist became threatened. Without hesitation, the students erupted into applause following his reading – a sure sign of both their enjoyment and interest.

     When faced with the choice of a workshop or even more personal stories from Anthony, the vote was unanimous – more of Anthony please! The students were thrilled and engaged with his relaxed, contemporary attitude.

     After the event, we asked for feedback on the sessions – here’s a snippet!

‘Inspiring readers and writers alike.’

‘Best thing ever! Very useful for me as an aspiring author.’

‘Loved the stories and learning how Anthony became an author.’

‘I am so happy that this happened. It was really interesting. And now I’m thinking about writing more.’


Preparation for Cheltenham Literature Festival

     This year celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the publication of George Orwell’s cult novel 1984  - dystopia being the theme for October’s Cheltenham Literature Festival schools ‘Battle of the Books’ competition.

     Never mind Big Brother, I have loved dystopian novels ever since studying The Handmaid’s Tale for A-level English (back in the day) and am thoroughly excited by this year’s theme. Surely The Hunger Games has to be one of the most powerful, dark and exciting examples of dystopia going, and has inspired many conversations regarding today’s world, but also new books such as Naomi Alderman’s The Power have also caught my attention.

     Unlike previous years, we are challenging the students by targeting three areas of literacy: reading; writing and speaking. In teams, the students have to provide a visual, creative poster along with a book review of their chosen dystopian book, a 1,000-word essay, along with a two-minute presentation to perform. These will then be judged by staff along with votes from years 7, 8 and 9 who will visit the projects during a ‘showcase’ week in the library.

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