Category Archives: Books

The Other Facts of Life

Yesterday was the third and final performance of our Y6 play called ‘The Other Facts of Life’.  It was based on the Morris Glietzman novel of the same name.  The script was written by Mrs Nunn.

Adam played the part of Ron, the father of Ben.  The play was about Ron’s younger son, Ben, who starts to worry about world issues such as the starving millions and the treatment of animals.  Ron does not really understand his son and tries to talk him out of being so serious.  It doesn’t help that Ben’s father is a butcher and Ben decides to become a vegetarian!

“Acting in the play was fun but it could be difficult as well.  There were many lines to remember and you had to make sure you didn’t get the lines wrong,” said Adam.

Y6 have been rehearsing since the end of the SATs tests in May.  “Wednesday evening at 6.30 was the best performance because the audience laughed at the jokes and they were not a tough crowd!”  Adam had one fo the main parts.  “We had to sign up to say whether we wanted a big part or small part and I really wanted a major part; either the role of Ben or Ron.  I was happy with the part I got.”

Adam’s wife in the play was Di, played by Becky.  “She was good at influencing the audience,” said Adam.  “She was a good singer and actor.”

Here are some photos of the Y6 play in performance.

Wiltshire International Book

At the same conference at which our Y4 pupils presented their drama about Australia Year, we received copies of the new book all about Wiltshire schools’ links with partner schools around the world.  Matthew and Sophie wrote the Holbrook contribution to this book.

This is the text they wrote for the book:

If you can’t go to Australia, get Australia to come to you!

Over the current school year, Holbrook has been focusing on Australia. This is so that everyone connected to our school can share their knowledge and find out more; parents and governors as well as pupils.

Throughout the year we have given our usual school events an Australian flavour, for instance on 11th November we remembered Australian soldiers, for our annual contribution to the dance festival we performed a dance based on Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, and our Year Four play was about Australia.

We have had many visitors to school to help, some of them real Australians. The year started with a visit from Travis, a student from Adelaide.  He taught us Aussie rules football.  Mr Clarke, a Wiltshire Adviser, visited us several times.  He told us Dreamtime stories, talked about Aboriginal Art and Australian animals. Chris Holland is a musician and artist. He taught us some basic didgeridoo skills.

We started a blog ( which a group of Y5 and Y6 pupils keep up to date with all the news of our special year.

The best thing is that we found a school in Australia also called Holbrook School.  We made contact and asked them to work with us.  Their Principal and school leaders have shared ideas with our headteacher and School Council; we have exchanged work and they have answered our questions about their country.

Australia Day (26th January) was a big day in our school.  The blog group led an assembly and we worked together to create a giant map of Australia, now on display in our hall.  We wrote a letter to the Australian High Commissioner to ask for some support and he wrote back and put us in touch with people who could help us.

We got the whole school to read the same books: ‘Diary of a Wombat’ by Jackie French for KS1; and ‘Stories from the Billabong’ by James Vance Marshall and Francis Firebrace for KS2. Waterstone’s store in Trowbridge helped us with this project. Then, we had a brilliant visit from Francis Firebrace himself, an Aborigine from the Yorta Yorta people, who showed us his artwork.  We all then had a huge art session and tried our hand at art, aboriginal style.  After school pupils had their books signed.

To sum it all up, we would say that learning about Australia is brilliant when you can learn from real Australians.

Sophie and Matthew

Deep See Readers: Garth Nix

The Deep See Readers met today to discuss our latest book.  We read ‘Shade’s Children’ by Garth Nix.  This book was chosen by Jago who read and enjoyed it.

Garth Nix is an Australian author who mostly writes fantasy books.  He was born in Melbourne and brought up in Canberra.

Our opinions on this book were mixed with some group members being big fans and others not enjoying the fantasy world of the book.  Yet, what was clear from the discussion was that everybody could remember key episodes from the book.  One reader said that Nix writes ‘vividly’ and this must be true if parts of the book stick clearly in the mind.

The fans said this was a book with pace and tension and characters, such as Gold Eye, you could empathise with.  The idea for the book is an original one and structure with ‘archive’ sections helps keep the reader on track with the complex story.


Interview with Mr Whitewick

Why did you choose the two books for The Big Read?

I went to Waterstone’s with a list of books I thought would be good.  I discussed these with the manager, Sara.  She had some ideas too.  Not all of the books on my list were easily available.  Sara used the Waterstone’s internal website to get ideas from other stores and, eventually, we came up with two books we thought would work well.

Out of the two, which one is your favourite and why?

I don’t have one.  ‘Diary of a Wombat’ is sweet and amusing and it suits KS1 but KS2 need a harder and more challenging read. I also like books with deeper meanings which the ‘Stories from the Billabong’ have.

Do you think people will read the book?

The idea was to read the books at home so that parents got involved as well.  I think that sharing books is very important.  The Big Read was designed for parents and children to read and discuss the books together.  This sort of thing really helps our pupils get better at reading. 

What are you expecting to do with people’s opinions?

The best thing to happen will be for opinions to go on the blog.  Our blog will be better if more people added comments and opinions.  

Are you excited about the schools partnership with Waterstone’s?

Yes, I’m very excited that Waterstone’s want to help us.  When I had the idea, I did not know what help they could offer.  So, I was really pleased when they gave a discount card to every family.  It was also very good to talk about the books with experts.

How did you manage to get all of the school a discount card for Waterstone’s?

It was Sara , the manager, who came up with the idea.                                                          

How well did the book sale go?

It went very well and it was very busy. We sold all the copies of ‘Stories from the Billabong’.  I think we emptied all of Britain of the last copies of the book because the publishers sent more from a warehouse in China, I think.  You can see some pictures on the blog.

How did you think of The Big Read idea?

Last year, the Deep See Readers went to see Ali Sparkes in Bath.  She was there because the festival had chosen her book, ‘Frozen in Time’ as the festival children’s book.  The idea was to get as many people as possible to read the same book.  I thought we could do the same thing as part of Australia Year and that thought led me to contact Waterstone’s to see if they would help us out. 

Thank you for your answers

Matthew and Sophie

Francis Firebrace: Kandinsky’s Views

Here are some views and opinions from Kandinsky Class on the Francis Firebrace visit:

“I really enjoyed it.  He told good stories and the painting was good.  It would have been good to have stories while we were painting.”  Madeleine

“An excellent day. I wanted longer to paint.”  Emily

“I quite liked the day.  We learned about Aboriginal art and life.  He is a good artist.” Jessica

“The boys got to be kangaroos and hunters.  It was funny.”  Edward

“It was good to choose what we could do.  His paintings gave us ideas.”  Laina

“He told us a lot about Australia that I didn’t know.” Lewis

“He had a lot of dreams in his life and he didn’t give up even though he faced challenges.”  Harry 

“He said ‘we are all the same’ but boys and girls got treated differently.”  Imran

“Telling us about the Australian animals was good.”  J’dante

“he said, ‘Am I better artist than you?’ and we all said yes but then he said he wasn’t, he just had more experience and more time to get better. That was a good thing to say.” Imran

“It was cool to meet someone who has written a book.”  Talliah

Book Signing

Francis Firebrace ended the day with a book signing.  Mrs Corr served tea and lamingtons and Francis signed copies of ‘Stories from the Billabong’.

KS1 Art with Francis Firebrace

This afternoon Francis worked with Nightingale and Ravel classes.  Here are some pictures.