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Images and diary entries combine to tell the stories of two girls, Ella and Mary. Ella's story is told through pictures as she moves into a house next door to the dark, foreboding Thornhill, a deserted house which used to be a children's home. Mary's story is told through the diary she kept whilst a resident in Thornhill. Bullied relentlessly by another child, Mary becomes increasingly isolated and withdrawn, keeping to her room and taking comfort in her hobby of making puppets.


The two stories alternate and overlap until the story reaches its powerful conclusion. A relatively quick read, 'Thornhill' is compelling and creative. The illustrations are incredible- full of emotion and tension, telling their story as brilliantly as the pages of the diary.


Bullying and neglect are central to this story. As the children's home is closing, the staff are reduces and those who remain fail to see the torment Mary is going through, judging her to be odd and reclusive. The motivations of the bully are also considered - self-loathing and insecurity leading her to lash out at someone vulnerable, who doesn't fight back. The failure of those in a position of responsibility to care and protect is uncomfortable reading. Ella is also unhappy; her mother is not with her and her father- the reader is not told why- and we see Ella left at home whilst her father is working, lonely and miserable. 


Haunting images and words combine perfectly meaning 'Thornhill' does not take long to read, but it is a story which lingers with you once finished.

Thornhill    Pam Smy

David Fickling Books     ISBN: 978-1910200612

Egmont Reading for Pleasure Awards 2018


Yesterday, I went to The Open University in Camden to attend their Research Symposium: Reading for Pleasure: what next? As part of this day, the Egmont Reading for Pleasure Awards were to be presented by Michael Rosen.


Having caught the 6.20am train, I had plenty of time to catch up on some reading. 'Thornhill' is a fantastic read, told through journal entries and pages of illustrations.It is an incredible story- one which we will be reviewing very soon.


Read number two was the next in the wonderful 'Secret Diary of...' series by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Jamie Littler. Full of fun facts and information, these books are extremely entertaining! I'm sure the man siting next to me was trying to read it over my shoulder whilst pretending to work! This is another title we will review soon.


My final read for the journey to London was this - 'Lifters' by Dave Eggers. This was a very enjoyable read- another for the to-be-read pile!


I finished my books just as the train arrived at Paddington station where I took a moment to visit my favourite bear! I then made my way to Camden and to the offices of The Open University, arriving just in time for tea and pastries. Fortified by my nine-thirties, I was ready for a morning of research and discussion about reading.


Chris Routh from the FCBG was there and I realised one of the speakers was someone I had gone to school with- it's a small world!



And was time for the awards. Mendip Green had entered in the whole school category and were awarded Highly Commended. The only drawback was having to have my photo taken! It would have been lovely to have the whole staff there to receive our certificate!


The day continued with lots of thoughtful discussions, including a panel of speakers who spoke about the reading projects they are involved in and the impact these are having. I made copious notes which I plan to share with everyone at a staff meeting soon!


All too soon the conference was over, so I made my way to Piccadilly and Hatchards Booksellers, a beautiful 'Brilliant Bookshop' where I purchased some new reading material for the journey home!


It was a wonderful day! Lots of food for thought and focusing on reading- what more could anyone want?!