WRITING FOR DIFFERENT PURPOSES AND AUDIENCES: MONSTER ZOO (YEAR 8)
October 2018, ZigZag Education
Thanks to the wonders of science, a new zoo has opened that houses a range of fabulous creatures and monsters from ancient mythology and folklore. What will your Year 8 students make of such a place? Suitable for all abilities, this enchanting pack inspires students to produce a wide range of texts from a diary entry of the opening day to a newspaper article on the monsters’ escape! Includes a glossary so students get to grips with the essential KS3 terminology!
WRITING FOR DIFFERENT PURPOSES AND AUDIENCES: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (YEAR 9)
October 2016, ZigZag Education
Escape from a zombie invasion while learning about different writing forms with 12 creative writing activities. Your students will love the action-packed, imaginative tasks - from creating a zombie apocalypse survival kit to planning a design brief for fortifications. Suitable for all: support with writing frames and examples, and stretch with 'challenge' and 'extension' tasks. Written in entertaining and student-friendly language, this resource will harness pupils' creative potential, culminating in a varied portfolio of work
CHARLES DICKENS, SERIAL THRILLER: THE STRUCTURE AND GENRES OF GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, is a novel, but it’s one that was originally serialised in Dickens’s own literary magazine ‘All the Year Round’. It’s a complex novel that blends various genres, creating a compelling narrative which, released as two chapters per week, Dickens hoped would revive the sales of his magazine. It did, and over a hundred years later we’re still reading it, but what is it about Great Expectations that makes it so, er, great?...
GOBLIN KINGS AND CHILDISH THINGS – REVISITING LABYRINTH AFTER 35 YEARS
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth was released in 1986 and only grossed around half of its original budget, but in the many years since it has become something of a cult classic. Popular for its puppetry, musical numbers, and a vibrant array of diverse characters, it features the late great David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King, while Jennifer Connelly launches her acting career as Sarah, navigating the labyrinth to rescue her baby brother and facing “dangers untold, and hardships unnumbered” along the way...
WILKIE COLLINS AND THE MOONSTONE LEGACY
The detective novel has long been a popular genre, but where did its popularity begin? And what defines a detective novel? The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, helps us to answer these questions...
LESS IS MORE: ‘THE DANCING PARTNER’ BY JEROME K. JEROME
Jerome is probably best known for his comic novel Three Men in a Boat, but he wrote a few ghost stories too. There’s no ghost in this one but rather a sense of the uncanny via an automaton something akin to the one in Hoffman’s superb ‘The Sandman’ or Poe’s ‘The Man That Was Used Up’. However, whereas Hoffman’s and Poe’s tales built towards their clockwork revelations, Jerome’s makes it clear quite early that the dancing partner is a manmade construction. Instead of the dancer’s mechanical identity providing the conclusion, it is the fate of poor Annette that gives us the story’s horrific finale...
WRITING AND READING WITH TED HUGHES AND BILLY COLLINS: 'THE THOUGHT-FOX' AND 'WOLF'
Ted Hughes and Billy Collins have both been Poet Laureate and both are well worth looking at when it comes to examining the writing and reading processes…
LESS IS MORE: ‘LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI’ BY JOHN KEATS
La Belle Dame sans Merci’ is a ballad, a common poetic form for telling a story because it’s easy to remember (and therefore recite) with its repetition and regular rhyme pattern, though these also add a certain aesthetic aural quality as well, of course. ‘La Belle’ is typical of a ballad in this respect, but also in making use of quatrains (four line stanzas), archaic lexis (old fashioned words to make the poem seem older and more in keeping with its courtly love aspects), and a framing device. The framing device here introduces us to an unnamed narrator who, in turn, introduces the knight character...
LESS IS MORE: 'THE OVAL PORTRAIT' BY EDGAR ALLAN POE
Poe’s ‘unity of effect’, the one he talks about in his essay ‘The Philosophy of Composition’, recommends beginning with a striking first sentence and notes how each that follows should build towards a particular mood. This is something we certainly have in ‘The Oval Portrait’...
“MORE MYSELF THAN I AM”: SEEING DOUBLE IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS
Early editions of Wuthering Heights were split into two volumes, dividing the text to reflect how the narrative spans two generations of characters, but doubles abound in Emily Brontë’s novel of love and revenge...
LESS IS MORE: ‘THE MEAT’ BY JANICE GALLOWAY
As horror fans you may have had your suspicions about the meat from the outset, but look at the delivery. Look, in particular, at how the meat is described. There are some wonderfully evocative adjectives, giving us a physical description of the meat that revolts us. By the time we come to the meat it is nine days old, “the edges congested” and it has “turned brown in the air”, providing a sense of disgust that is to permeate the entire story...
LESS IS MORE: ‘WATER’ BY MAURA MCHUGH
This is the story I’m going to dive into for ‘Less is More’ this month, and by ‘less is more’ I’m not just talking about story length; I’m also talking about the subtlety with which McHugh makes some strong social comment.
The focus of the story is Mark’s mother. She apparently drowns herself in the river that flows past their house, but note that it’s only through Mark we learn this. It’s Mark who “figured out what happened”, a conclusion he reaches when she “sloshes back into the room”. Combined with McHugh’s description of the mother it’s a sensible conclusion (especially with that “curl of fern”) but this is a story that can be read in a different way – as is true of so many of the good ones, in my opinion...
IN COLD BLOOD: TRUMAN CAPOTE’S “NON-FICTION NOVEL”
According to its blurb, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is “a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative”. Based on a real crime, the text is “an experiment in journalistic writing” according to Capote who notes that the text is based on his own observations, official records, and interviews, stressing “more often than not numerous interviews conducted over a considerable period of time” (indeed, the book took him four years to write). The range of interviews make for a book that is something of a tapestry of narratives in an effort to give as full and accurate account as possible. However, as with any interview, there’s bound to be some bias, be it the interviewer’s or the interviewee’s, and there are ‘gaps’ between the threads, which is perhaps where Capote the journalist gives way to Capote the fiction writer...
LESS IS MORE: 'A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS' BY M.R. JAMES
Montague Rhodes James has long been a part of our Christmas tradition. Each year he would entertain the young men of King’s College with a ghost story he’d written for the festive season, a practice which has since spread from Cambridge so that this Christmas all of us could enjoy Mark Gatiss’s version of James’s tale, ‘The Tractate Middoth’ on BBC2. Of all James’s stories, though, ‘A Warning to the Curious’ is perhaps my favourite...
LESS IS MORE: SHORT HORROR
“Like some kind of particularly tenacious vampire the short story refuses to die,” says Neil Gaiman and I, for one, am glad. Of all the ways in which we can tell a story, and of all its different shapes and sizes, the short story is my absolute favourite. It’s also, I think, one of the most effective ways to tell a story, especially when it comes to horror and the supernatural. Sure, there are some great horror novels out there, and they allow for a broader approach when it comes to themes and different perspectives, but thinking about my favourite novels I’ve realised they tend to be the shorter ones...
SOUNDS POETIC: LISTENING TO HOW POETRY WORKS
Many people will read a poem without listening to it. Often they might pick out a clever metaphor or two, explore the themes, even identify a few biographical details that add to their understanding, but to really appreciate a poem fully you need to read it aloud – or use the internet to find someone else doing so...
THE ADVERTISEMENT OF THE MAN: CONSUMERISM AND THE CORRUPTION OF THE AMERICAN DREAM IN THE GREAT GATSBY
We learn very early in Fitzgerald’s novel that Jay Gatsby has a very distinctive smile, a smile that “concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour… believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey”. It presents Gatsby as both salesman and product, and his smile his advertisement. His appeal is in making those around him feel appealing, and making the customer feel valued was a sure way of persuading them to value, and therefore buy, the product advertised – something Fitzgerald, with his own background in advertising, would have understood. And the product, in this instance, is Gatsby himself. Even the novel’s title is a strikingly alliterative modified-noun, The Great Gatsby advertising the man long before we meet him...
A GIRL CALLED ALICE: EXPLORING KEY CHARACTERS IN ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
Written in 1865 for young Alice Liddell, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has remained a popular text for children and adults alike. Some of this is due to its absurdity, surreal encounters rich with symbolism, but much of its appeal comes from the characters Carroll brings so vibrantly to life, not least of all Alice.
A young child herself, Alice is someone the intended reader can relate to - but she’s far more complex than that. In fact, she’s so complex that she confuses herself; “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” Very philosophical for a children’s book. It’s easy to like Alice, with a free indirect style ensuring we feel much the same as she does throughout her adventures. She may be hasty in crawling so eagerly into the rabbit hole, but we go with her willingly enough...
A CASE OF NARRATIVE: EXPLORING THE APPEAL OF DETECTIVE FICTION
We’ve had a fascination with detective fiction for a long time; Oedipus Rex is arguably an early example, just as the story of Susanna and the Elders in the Book of Daniel is an early courtroom drama. But it is Edgar Allan Poe who is often credited as creating the first detective. ‘Murders of the Rue Morgue’ introduces C. Auguste Dupin who goes on to appear in ‘Marie Roget’ and ‘The Purloined Letter’. In Britain he evolves into Sherlock Holmes, a character whose name is now synonymous with detective. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle acknowledges the debt with Watson telling Holmes “You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin” in A Study in Scarlet. Agatha Christie developed the genre in favouring the novel form and creating Poirot and Marple whilst back in America, where the genre began, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler were writing ‘hardboiled’ detective fiction. There have been post-modern explorations, such as Jorge Luis Borges’s ‘Death and the Compass’, and a recent fascination with the villain or anti-hero with Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter spurring a deluge of imitation serial killer fiction in his wake. Illustrating that the genre is as popular as ever, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy was in the charts for months. But why do we like these stories?...
CORMAC MCCARTHY’S THE ROAD – AN ASHEN JOURNEY
The Road is a story about a father and son’s journey as they travel across a devastated America. It is a journey fraught with dangers, one of the biggest being other survivors. Indeed, the ordeals people will endure or put others through in order to survive is very much at the heart of McCarthy’s novel...
THE LADY IS A VAMP: FEAR, DESIRE, AND FEMALE SEXUALITY IN DRACULA
Bram Stoker’s Dracula has not been out of print since it was published in 1897 and it has resurrected itself in such forms as Nosferatu, Joss Whedon’s hit television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and the teen sensation Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. There have been countless (often Count-less) versions and imitations in between, but what’s the secret behind Dracula’s immortality?...
FORBIDDEN FRUITS: SEXUAL LESSONS AND RELIGIOUS IMAGERY IN ROSSETTI'S ‘GOBLIN MARKET’
Christina Rossetti was a religiously devout woman, so it is perhaps unsurprising that her poetry reflects something of her beliefs. What might be surprising is that one of her most famous poems, ‘Goblin Market’, has been published both as children’s literature and in Playboy. But how was it able to appeal to such diverse audiences?...
IMAGINATION, ISOLATION AND INNOCENCE: THE ROMANTIC IN FRANKENSTEIN
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is well known to have been born of a ghost-story competition between friends, these friends including none other than Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and Dr John ‘The Vampyre’ Polidori. It is recognised as a key gothic text and acknowledged as one of the earliest examples of science fiction, but like a lot of early nineteenth-century fiction it is also very much concerned with late Romantic interests and ideas...
A WICKED PACK OF CARDS: CULTURAL ALLUSIONS AND INTERTEXTUALITY IN ‘THE WASTE LAND’
Eliot once wrote that all literature had a simultaneous existence no matter where or when it was originally composed. He argued that no poet had his complete meaning alone and that ‘his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets’. He wrote this in his essay ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ and his poem, ‘The Waste Land’, illustrates this idea. An artistic patchwork that unites the traditions, myths, and beliefs of the East and West with its multitude of cultural allusions and various intertextual references, Eliot had to provide additional notes for some of his poem because it was so rich with literary and anthropological references. It’s a typical modernist poem in being such a collage, but it’s amazing just how much ‘The Waste Land’ depends on the work of other writers, and an understanding of other cultures, to make much sense at all...