May 14, 2021
The next tale from the "Blackberry Blue" anthology is the amazing tale of "Emeka the Pathfinder"
What tales can you think of where people fight or threaten Kings or Queens?
Which tales involves people being turning into animals or inanimate objects?
Why do you think so many tales involve paths, mazes or trails? What are they a metaphor of?
Do you think there is any significance of The Green Man? What might YOU do with the acorns?
May 7, 2021
The story ends,
‘As for the stepfather and his son, they didn’t return to the farm but disappeared, never to be heard of again. Perhaps they tricked another innocent widow, or perhaps they got the punishment they deserved. who knows?’
What do you think happens to the father and his son?
What do you think would be the best outcome?
Should there be a redemptive ending?
Is it possible for villains to repent and become good?
Which 3 of these themes do you think are the most important in the story and why?
Punishment Honesty Greed Kindness
Rewards Bravery Family Loyalty
May 1, 2021
"The Golden Carp" is the third story in the Blackberry Blue collection of short stories by Jamila Gavin.
In this tale, our main character Chi is transported to another magical realm by the titular being. The story morphs into a parable showing how greed can breed other sins but generosity can bring good fortune.
This story is cut up into two sections and hopefully the questions doesn't give too much away to how the story goes !
Do you agree that Greed and Laziness are two of the deadliest sins?
Why do you think Jamila Gavin writes ‘… because they lead to other evils.’?
What do you think this story will be about?
How could a Golden Carp be involved in the story?
Draw a picture as to what you think Chi looks like.
How does she fit/not fit into the typical fairy tale protagonist role?
Can you think of other stores where characters are mistreated by family?
Why do you think step-parents are painted as untrustworthy characters?
April 24, 2021
Do you know any other stories which feature brothers and sisters?
Do you know other stories where animals guide and help the protagonists?
How is the setting for The Purple Lady different from a classic fairy story?
Why do you think Jamlia Gavin chose to use a more up-to-date setting?
Which are about a character seeking eternal life or remaining young forever?
Do you think it would be good to live forever? Why/why not?
Find out about the Hindu goddess, Shasti. What does she have in common with the old woman in The Purple Lady?
How important is Miskouri to the story?
What would have happened to Abu if he didn’t have Miskouri with him?
Why do you think Shasti demands an eye for helping Abu to rescue Leyla?
April 17, 2021
How do you feel about the main characters?
Do you think they are making good decisions?
How might you have dealt with these decisions?
Do you think the characters' relationships with each other has changed?
Might they change again before the end of the story?
What do you think will happen next?
Do you think this will have a happy or sad ending?
Does this tale still remind you of any fairy tales and does this help you think about where the story might go next?
April 10, 2021
"The Purple Lady" is the second story in the Blackberry Blue collection of short stories by Jamila Gavin.
In this tale, Abu is willed to find his long lost sister but has to endure physical and emotion turmoil to get to the end of his quest. He also has the dilemma of wondering who he should really trust on his journey and if those people guiding him have other ulterior motives.
This story is cut up into 3 parts, so today's questions are rather more vague as I don't want to give away too much about what is to come in the rest of the story... Enjoy !
PRE READING QUESTIONS
Have you ever lost something that was very precious to you?
Were you able to retrieve the thing that you had lost?
How did if feel (not) to get it back?
Visualise the main character and draw what you see.
Compare with the original illustration if you can.
How detailed are descriptions of people/places? Why might this be?
April 3, 2021
The next book on the reading list is "Blackberry Blue: And Other Fairy Tales" written by Jamila Gavin.
There are six amazing stories in the book and "Blackberry Blue is the first - a heart-warming story about love and kindness that follows foundling Blackberry Blue as she battles the forces of evil to save the boy she loves.
The other stories are slightly longer so will be released in parts every Saturday over the next couple of months. The comprehension questions for this book will focus on the relationships between the characters as well as the story's relationships to other well known tales.
Is the forest a safe or a threatening place in this story?
How does Jamila Gavin make you feel that?
Does this story have a message?
If so, what do you think it is?
Do you know any other tales where characters transform into animals?
What does this make you think or feel?
Do you know any fairy stories where a character has to wear a special item of clothing?
Who needs the special clothes and why are they needed?
Is it for the same reason in the different stories?
Perhaps investigate the stories/characters of Donkeyskin, Catskin, Cap of Rushes, Mossycoat and Tatterskins.
March 28, 2021
1) Start up a charity bag, even if you can only add a few things to it right now. Maybe if you start the ball rolling some other people in your household can chip in and start it too. With the weather on the change you could sort some of your seasonal clothes and and work out what you haven't worn over the last year. It might not be something you have worn but could be something someone else really needs right now. Taking time to declutter, as well as doing good for a charity, can give yourself a real boost.
2) If you've got into the habit of not doing much exercise, make today the day to make that change. There is lots of evidence from large studies that show how getting active has the power to change your mood, especially if it is regular. It doesn't have to be a triathlon - maybe a brisk walk to the shop, a run around the park, or taking the long route to and from school - just something that gets you out and about and your heart hate up
3) How well (or badly) you sleep has an effect on your health and wellbeing. So try, today, to set a time for when you go to bed this week and stick to it. Try to stay away from screens during the hour before bedtime and gradually lower the light level as you get towards bedtime. If possible check the heating is not too high in your bedroom as studies show a cooler bedroom makes for much better sleep conditions.
March 25, 2021
1) Play some music that you really love. Boogie along to it in the kitchen, ask your mum or dad to turn it up in the car or even sing along with it in the shower! Find some songs you haven't heard of for a while and it might bring back some great memories and stories !
2) Find something funny to watch. Settle down for a weekend family movie or maybe binge watch one of the many comedy shows on CBBC such as "Horrible Histories" or "The dog ate my homework". It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. It can strengthen your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress
3) Go through some old photos that remind you of a time that was special. Talk about these moments with other people who were there. Maybe you could send them a copy of the photo and see what they remember too. Revisiting past happy times has been shown to bring fresh happiness all over again and maybe influence future plans.
March 20, 2021
1) Write down three things that you are grateful for and they don't have to be big. It might be that you got some positive feedback about some work you did, enjoyed playing football with friends or that you had a really nice cup of tea! If you make a habit of this and take note of these things, it makes you appreciate the positive much more than the negative.
2) Give yourself time to smile - even if it is just to yourself and you don't really feel like it. Research shows that smiling works two ways; you can't help but smile if you feel happy, but the physical act of smiling triggers happiness hormones which can start making you feel better. And remember - if others see you smiling, they are likely to smile back too !
3) Be assertive - don't feel bad about saying NO! Things often come up that we don't want to do or just don't have the time to do. Often we worry about saying no and letting people down. We then end up taking on more and more responsibilities which eventually wear us down or not end up doing properly. Saying a polite 'no' could save a lot of time and energy for both sides further down the line.
March 14, 2021
1) Thank someone for something they've done for you - even if it wasn't that recently. Letting someone know how much you have appreciated them for something is a win-win situation - they will feel appreciated and you'll get a boost too! You never know, they might repay the favour somewhere down the line and the whole cycle will start over again !
2) Go and tidy up something in your house. If you've got time to do you whole bedroom, go ahead, but if not just go through one box, drawer, shelf or pile of miscellaneous papers and pens. Take 5 minutes to sort through it properly and work out what can be thrown away, what could be useful or maybe you can find something a friend might find useful.
3) Learn something new today! Perhaps find an article in a paper, magazine or website and study it properly, see which facts or opinions make you think. Pick up a poetry book and see if you can learn one off by heart. Maybe you could use a translation tool to find key phrases in a new language. Evidence suggests humans are at their happiest when they are learning and opening out minds to new ideas.
March 6, 2021
1) Studies show that taking time to do something kind for someone else make you happier than doing something just for yourself. Make a point of doing something good for someone else today - it doesn't need to be big! You could hold the door for someone whose hands are full, complement someone on their hairdo or, if you see someone you haven't seen for a while, say how nice it is to see them and how you've missed them !
2) Next time you walk somewhere - maybe to school, a relative/friends, to the local shops or just to appreciate the nice weather - take a different route from where you would usually go. Look around you - what do you notice. Sometimes there are sights and sounds really close to where you live that you've never noticed or appreciated just because you don't normally go that way !
3) Support causes close to your heart. You could make a monetary donation in a charity box or an adult might be able to make a donation online in your name. Maybe you could sign up to get involved in an activity they are planning to do later in the year such as a coffee morning, dressing up day or fun run. Doing things that have a sense of purpose or meaning is proven to make us happier
February 26, 2021
1) Take a moment to look through some old photos or videos you might have from special days such as Christmases, birthdays or summer holidays. Choose one that really fires up your memories and chat to someone about what you did, where you were and how it made you feel. It is thought that remembering good experiences as the emotions and felling come back to you and might make you feel more positive, or may inspire you to plan something for the future!
2) Go through one of those cluttered boxes in your house or bedroom that has your bits and pieces in it. You will find somethings that you had forgotten you had and could still come in quite useful. You may also find things that are useful - but not for you. Maybe think about someone who you could give it to in the future. Not only will this clear up the clutter but also give someone you love an unexpected gift at the end of lockdown!
3) Next time you find yourself about to say or write something negative - STOP. Can you think of a different, kinder way of saying what you were about to say? By carefully choosing how we respond to things we can bring ourselves out of a pessimistic train of thought to a more positive one. You can still be down or dislike things that are going on but changing the language and the words can make us less impulsive. Sometimes our gut reaction can be a bit too strong or even wrong.
February 18, 2021
1) Stop looking back and thinking about things that have happened. Take a moment to think of 3 things in the near future you can look forward to... Maybe it's someone's birthday and you can play what you might get them... Perhaps you'll be moving school in the summer and you can think about all the new opportunities that may arise.... Or maybe you can think about when you can next visit a loved one you haven't seen for a while.
2) Pay somebody a compliment - it could be in person, on the telephone or in a message. Maybe say thank you so someone who has helped you at school, or to a delivery driver who has brought something to your house or maybe you could just tell somebody that they look nice today. It is said that by personally making someone else happy, it can in fact make yourself happier too.
3) Think about an activity that you are good at, but maybe have not been able to partake in it over lockdown. Could you pick it back up today? Maybe you ask an adult when you might be able to do it again. Maybe you could watch some videos or TV programmes about it to get your enthusiasm up or talk about pictures or trophies you might have in the cupboard. Doing things you are good at make you happier, and can often make other people smile too !
February 8, 2021
It's a brand new book!
Charlie McGuffin has an incredible secret - he can change into all sorts of animals: a flea, a pigeon, even a rhino. Trouble is, he can’t decide when – it only happens when he gets worried. Even though every kid wants a superhero power, Charlie isn’t keen on changing into a chicken in the middle of the school play. So with the help of his three best friends, Charlie needs to find a way of dealing with his crazy new power – and fast!
On the face of it, this is just a basic funny story about superpowers but in fact its REAL power lies much deeper. It's more about how one deals with situations seemingly beyond one's control as well as looking at coping with stress, anxiety and dealing with the sickness of a loved one. It also looks at other relationships through bullying, friendship, families, working together, loyalty, and stage fright.
So, instead of questions next to each section I'm just going to ask you to make a note of some of the worries, fears and even happy moments you've had the last few days and I'll paste some quick activities you can do to keep yourself positive and keep your mind off things :)