Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Lolly Luck by Ellie Daines BLOG TOUR: Forgetting my Lines - One of the Worst Moments of my Life

In Lolly Luck, the main character Lolly wins the part of Pollyanna in her primary school play. On the night of the play everything goes to plan and Lolly delivers a superb performance. If only the same had happened to me for my school play. Like Lolly I too was in my last year at primary school and our summer play was going to be a musical production of Pinocchio. We certainly had a lot to live up to after the previous Year 6’s excellent production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
I didn’t actually do any acting for my audition – I just needed to sing ‘London’s Burning’ twice. I actually was only supposed to sing it the once but as I didn’t quite nail a couple of the notes, my teacher Mrs Tunbridge requested that I sing the song again. Still, I did manage to get the part that I wanted which was Geppetto’s wife, not that I ever remember Geppetto having a wife, but this was Mrs Tunbridge’s spin on Pinocchio and an interesting spin it was. The play came with its very own Bruce Forsyth impersonator-narrator who during the play would shimmy on at random moments saying Brucie catchphrases like ‘Didn’t he do well’ and ‘Nice to see you, to see you, nice’ and at one point shouted ‘Shut that door’ even though there was no door on the stage to actually shut. However I later learnt that this particular catchphrase didn’t even belong to Bruce Forsyth, it belonged to a presenter called Larry Grayson but again this was Mrs Tunbridge’s version of Pinocchio, which even had Pinocchio doing a couple of lame rap songs, lyrics written by Mrs Tunbridge who I doubt had any rap music in her collection of albums at home. Nevertheless, the parents found the whole thing hilarious. For me, however, the play turned out to be one of the scariest moments of my young life. Even though I’d been in several nativity plays from the age of five, up until this point I’d never really had any lines to say.
In those nativity plays I’d either played a sheep (so it was mainly just bah-ing I had to do) or a silent angel in Gabriel’s angelic posse. But this time I had a major part with lots of lines. For weeks I’d practiced and during the rehearsals I was perfect, I didn’t forget any of my lines at all. So I guess when it came to the big night itself, seeing all those faces in the audience, the huge lights above my head and the expectation in Mrs Tunbridge’s face made everything just fall to pieces. My stage fright was so bad that I could barely remember my own name let alone my lines. And thus I had no choice but to experience the dreaded whisper or should I say the dreaded hushed angry bark from Mrs Tunbridge as she sought to guide me through each and every line from behind the stage. It was so embarrassing especially as I even struggled to correctly repeat what Mrs Tunbridge was saying. And hearing the scattered laughter from around the room as I messed up only made everything feel ten times worse. At least I got a lovely hug afterwards from my gran who insisted that my acting was really good. But even though there was a time when I longed to one day become an actress; I swiftly changed my mind after my unfortunate Year 6 play – and I haven’t been seen on a stage since.

My top five favourite actresses:
  • Meryl Streep
  • Angela Bassett
  • Judi Dench
  • RenĂ©e Zellweger
  • Julia Roberts
Thanks Ellie! You can read my review of Lolly Luck HERE.
Thursday, 12 January 2012

Chocolate S.O.S by Sue Limb BLOG TOUR: Why Funny Books are Good for You!

The Mile Long Bookshelf is delighted that today we have Sue Limb here with a guest post on 'Why Funny Books are Good for You!'

Here’s a challenge for you.

Imagine two sisters: Lauren likes to go down the gym for a workout. Her sister Chloe prefers curling up on the sofa with a funny book. Which of them is doing the healthy thing? The answer may surprise you.
Obviously Lauren’s doing a healthy thing: we all need exercise. But Chloe is doing a healthy thing too. Reading a funny book can actually improve your health.

Laughing lowers your blood pressure and helps your heart. It smooths away stress, and the effects last for 45 minutes after your giggling fit. Comedy even boosts your immune system and antibodies so you can resist infections and bugs more easily, plus it triggers endorphins which give you a real feelgood buzz and can relieve pain.

I’ve always thought of endorphins as a bit like microscopic dolphins, leaping and plunging through my bloodstream and playfully tossing beachballs about. Ah! Bless!

Apart from the medical benefits, comedy can help you to triumph over the awful things in life. We’ve all experienced skin-creeping embarrassment and attacks of terror.

I was babysitting once, heard a strange sound, freaked out and locked myself in the bathroom. Then I had to climb out of the window and run next door for help. The strange noise turned out to be the central heating. At the time I was terrified and embarrassed, and had a wardrobe malfunction because I ripped my dress climbing out of the window – but afterwards it made a great story and my friends all seemed to find it highly amusing.

Comedy does spring from difficulties and we love to read about somebody going through some kind of dire torment, for example falling off their high heels at a posh wedding, having a coughing fit in the High Street or walking into a lamp post. When we laugh at their dilemma, in a way we’re recognising the trials of being human and exorcising demons of shame and anxiety we can all identify with.

That’s why comedy is better for you than vampires and horror – it’s actually life-enhancing, both medically and psychologically. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m a comedy writer!

Thank you, Sue! :)

Chocolate S.O.S is Sue Limb's latest Fred and Jess book - and I'm quoted in it! :D
Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian

Title: Goodnight Mr Tom
Author: Michelle Magorian
Published by: Puffin
Publication date: 1981
Pages: 304
Genres: Children's/Young Adult/Adult/War
Format: Paperback
Source: School.

The gruff and surly Mr Thomas Oakley is less than pleased when he is landed with a scrawny little city boy as a guest, but because it is compulsory that each villager takes in an evacuee he reluctantly agrees.

It soon becomes obvious to Mister Tom that young Willie Beech is hiding something, and as the pair begin to form an unlikely bond and Willie grows in stature and in confidence he begins to forget the past.

But when he has to return to war-torn London to face his mother again he retreats into his shy and awkward ways once more.

My English homework is to write a book review on Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian so I thought I might as well post it here too.

Willie Beech is a scruffy, quiet, abused boy who is evacuated to Little Weirwold in the second world war. He is given to a grumpy old man called Mr Oakley - or as Willie calls him, 'Mr Tom' - who is less than pleased to be lumbered with the child. Soon though, an incredible bond grows between them and Willie comes out of his shell.

This is a heartwarming story, although it uses very old-fashioned vocabulary and it's really slow to get into. I found that sometimes the descriptions of people/objects/places were too long and too detailed so I got bored quite easily. Also the dialogue in this book is written in the accent of where Mr Tom lives which I struggled with.

On to the characters. Tom Oakley seemed grumpy, horrible and annoying at the start of the novel - I thought he was a bit rude. As I read on, I started to like him because he started being nicer to William and he got more cheerful. It is like he changes into a new person throughout the story - Tom asks a neighbour if she would be kind enough to knit Will a jersey as he arrived only with the clothes on his back.
"You ent gotta clothe em," she said but Mr Tom was persistent which shows his love for William.

I liked William from the start, and I had a lot of empathy for him. It was easy to visualise him from the descriptions and just by the way he acted. You find out a lot about him just from this quote: "The sores will heal. They healed before. It's the wounds inside that will take the longest to heal." His mother is extremely religious and is always going on about how Willie is a 'sin'. She has mental issues and beats Willie which I suppose explains his behaviour - timid, shy, scared of everything. 

Overall, I quite liked this book although I'm sure I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had read it at my own pace and not just a chapter being read to us each lesson. Also we missed out a few chapters because apparently 'nothing much happened in them anyway' so I can't say this is a thorough review. I give this book a rating of 3/5 and recommend it to people aged 11+ - adults will like it too.