Archive > January 2010

Download Motocross

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Motocross By Frances RidleyThe Rising Stars Download series of books, developed in conjunction with the National Association for Special Educational Needs, is aimed at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 boys who are still having difficulties with reading. (I dare say a few girls might be interested too, but the publishers specify boys.) I chose to buy the one entitled ‘Download Motocross‘ as I was tutoring a teenage boy whose hobby was motocross and I hoped it would be the ideal book to encourage his interest in reading.

The book starts off with a twenty-six page information section giving details of the sport itself, the equipment and kit, how to get started, the different people involved and how races are organised and run. Almost every page features coloured illustrations, most of which are photographs. The layout is perhaps more similar to that of a magazine than a reading book. Text is kept to a minimum on each page and is often presented in small boxes or single lines.

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The Book of Air and Shadows

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The Book of Air and Shadows By (author) Michael GruberWilliam Shakespeare is undoubtedly one of the greatest writers the world has ever seen; a household name whose turns of phrase are so well known that many have slipped into everyday usage with us hardly even noticing. Yet for someone who produced such a magnificent body of work, had such a huge impact on the English language and whose image is recognised the world over, there is remarkably little evidence that he ever existed at all. A gravestone, a few references in legal documents and six signatures are the only remaining tangible evidence of his life – such small traces that there have even been questions asked about whether he wrote the plays and poems that bear his name at all (and plenty of theories abound about who might have written then if Will didn’t). Scholars in many countries dissect, interpret, reinterpret, argue and debate Shakespeare’s life and work, and there are huge numbers of books, journal articles, museums, conferences and websites devoted to the Bard. His work is still widely performed centuries after it was written, and the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre in London has been a huge success. In short, the Shakespeare industry seems bigger now than it ever was.

What, then, do you think a find of a genuine but previously unknown and unperformed Shakespeare manuscript would be worth?

Michael Gruber’s novel “The Book of Air and Shadows” estimate’s the value of such an object at $150 million, which would make it the most valuable portable object on Earth.

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Cityspots Zurich

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Cityspots zurichHaving planned a short trip to Zurich, I decided to see if Amazon had any guide books specifically for Zurich and found only one: Cityspots Zurich. It hadn’t yet been rated but seemed worth ordering.

The book is divided into five main sections, Introducing Zurich, Making the Most of Zurich, The City of Zurich, Out of Town and Practical Information. There is an index at the end of the guide, but maps are interspersed at appropriate places. The abundant colour photographs give a feel for the place even though some of them are quite small.

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Bescherelle Complete Guide to Conjugating 12000 French Verbs

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Bescherelle Complete Guide To Conjugating 12000 French Verbs By BescherelleConjugating verbs is probably one of the most difficult aspects of learning any foreign language. When I learned Arabic, I took classes for only three months but that was enough to give me a basic idea of verb patterns. From there I was able to continue learning the language by listening to it being spoken around me; it is relatively easy, for example, to increase your vocabulary by looking up nouns and adjectives in a dictionary.

Bescherelle is the definitive guide to conjugating French verbs in all their tenses. You might expect a guide covering twelve thousand verbs to be a huge heavy tome, but it is a small format and has just 174 pages, thus light enough to carry around with you. It is divided into three main sections: grammar of the verb, conjugation tables, and a dictionary of the spelling of verbs. Whilst it may sound like one of the most boring books ever to be published, it is a mine of information that could make you realise how much there is still to learn.

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Is it Always Right to Tell the Truth?

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The Other Side of Truth By Beverley NaidooThirteen-year old Sade and her younger brother Femi live a pleasant suburban life in Nigeria, with a nice house, a loving family and a great school nearby where they enjoy their studies. It’s certainly not the ‘deprived’ impression that we’re so often given of life in West Africa. The trouble is that their father is a man for whom Truth is the only way and as a journalist who expresses opinions that the authorities would prefer not to see, his life and that of his family is endangered. The idyllic childhood is shattered when the children’s mother is savagely killed on the doorstep of their home. The assassins make it plain that it’s the father that they are really after. A sinister phone caller tells the family that the killers don’t mind in the least if they need to kill the entire family before they get round to dispatching the father.

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Avocado Baby

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Avocado Baby (Paperback) By (author) John Burningham, Illustrated by John BurninghamMr and Mrs Hargraves, along with their son and daughter, are not the strongest specimens of the human race so they naturally hope the newest addition to the family will prove to be more robust. After the baby is born, however, Mrs Hargraves has great difficulty feeding it and finding any sort of food that it likes.

One day poor Mrs Hargraves is at her wits’ end and bursts into tears, but her son and daughter notice an avocado pear in the fruit bowl and suggest their mother feed it to their baby brother. The mystery is that nobody knows how the avocado got there, as the Hargraves certainly hadn’t bought it.

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AQA GCSE English/English Literature Students’ Book – Specification A

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AQA GCSE English/English Literature Students' BookThis English course book is for students studying for GCSE English and English Literature with the examination board AQA, specification A. The Introduction explains that it helps to ‘build the essential skills and knowledge to reach your potential in the GCSE English and English Literature exams’. There is a key for the various icons used in the book that signify spoken, reading, writing, and language activities. Students are shown that they will be able to check how good their skills are, develop and practise them, and improve them through the various activities. The speaking and listening, reading, and writing components of the course are shown in a table. There is in addition a table for the student to fill in every half term to show how confident they feel in each of the various skills. The final table in the introduction lists the skills that students will develop and practise and indicates how each skill will be assessed, whether through coursework or the final exam.

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Where the Wild Things are

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Where the Wild Things Are By Maurice Sendak, Illustrated by Maurice SendakWhere the Wild Things are‘, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, is one of the most popular picture books of the last fifty years. Having won the Caldecott Medal for the Most Distinguished Picture Book of the Year in 1964, it doesn’t seem dated at all forty-five years later and maintains its appeal to children of a wide age range.

Max, a rather small boy, dresses up in his white wolf suit and gets into so much mischief that he is sent to bed with nothing to eat.

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The Monsters of Templeton

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The Monsters of Templeton By Lauren GroffWillie Upton returns to her home town of Templeton in New York the very same day that an enormous monster is discovered dead, floating on top of Templetons lake Glimmerglass.

The death of this 50 foot monster signifies more than one shocking discovery for Willie, whose ancestors were the founders of the town.  Willie returns home after a shameful affair with her archaeology professor on a field trip becomes public knowledge and his wife finds out.  Willie also discovers that she is pregnant.  Arriving to her childhood home, Willie’s hippie turned born again Baptist mother tells Willie that she is holding a secret from her

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society By Mary Ann Shaffer, By Annie Barrows“…Then Elizabeth drew in her breath and stepped forward.  Elizabeth isn’t tall so those pistols were pointing at her eyes, but she didn’t blink.  She acted as if she didn’t see those pistols at all.  She walked up to the officer in charge and started talking.  You’ve never heard such lies. How sorry she was that we had broken curfew.  How we had been attending a meeting of the Guernsey Literary Society and the evenings discussion of ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ had been so delightful that we had all lost track of time.  Such a wonderful book – had he read it?”

Its 1946 and author Juliet Ashton has writers block.  Out of the blue, she receives a letter from a gentleman in Guernsey by the name of Dawsey Adams; he has a book that once belonged to her and he hoped that she would be able to shed some light on the author at he fascinated him so.

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Sunstroke

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Sunstroke By Jesse KellermanSynopsis – When an earthquake hits Los Angeles, Gloria Mendez checks there’s no damage to her apartment then heads off to drop in on her friend Barb before going to the office to see what damage has been done to her boss’s collection of china figurines. It sounds like an unlikely scenario, but Gloria is more than a little obsessed with her boss Carl Perreira. Carl’s out of town on a trip to Mexico, and Gloria wants to make sure that everything’s fine at the office where she helps Carl to run his joke-shop supplies empire.

The china figures are bashed, battered and broken, but the biggest worry is waiting for her on the answer machine – a series of garbled messages from Carl that indicate there’s been an accident.

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The Snow Tourist

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The Snow Tourist By Charlie EnglishIn his book “The Snow Tourist”, journalist Charlie English presents a series of separate but related travelogues looking at snow from a number of interesting perspectives. Subtitled “A Search for the World’s Purest, Deepest Snowfall” the book covers a variety of aspects such as how an American enthusiast discovered that no two snowflakes are alike, how Inuits in North America use snow in their everyday lives, and how one Austrian man developed skiing as we know it today.

As well as being a compelling piece of writing in its own right, this book is a touching (but not sentimental) work as English explains how his fascination with snow first began, describing the death of his father, a keen competitive skier, and his subsequent family skiing holidays with his mother and brother.  To assuage his guilt at leaving his own wife and children at home while he researches the severe snowstorms that have affected the eastern seaboard of the United States, English flies this family out to join him in New York, only for that city to grind to a standstill just as they are due to fly home. Charlie’s wife does not share his passion for snow!

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