#LovetoRead Desert Island Books, Miss Fownes

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Inspired by the #LoveToRead campaign run by the BBC and BookTrust, some of the staff from Boundary Oak School share their Desert Island Books. In our second post of this series, Head of English and Pastoral Deputy Head Miss Fownes, shares with us her top Desert Island Books…

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend


At thirteen years old, Adrian Mole has more than his fair share of problems – spots, ill-health, parents threatening to divorce, rejection of his poetry and much more – all recorded with brilliant humour in his diary.

The Secret Diary Adrian Mole is a delightful and simple but highly effective story of a young boys early teenage years. It’s another one of those books that I read aged 11/12 and am now re-reading as an adult, and I’m very pleased that it had not lost any of it’s charm or wit. In fact, it has probably increased my understanding of all the irony, and the hilarity of it.

The book is written in a diary style by Adrian Mole, a thirteen year old boy who, although writes confidently, often misinterprets and does not understand the events that go on around him. The book follows him through the year of 1981 and into 1982, starting with his new year’s resolutions including “stopping squeezing my spots” and “vowing to never drink alcohol… after hearing disgusting noises from downstairs last night.” Mole is a self-described intellectual who writes unreliably about the events he goes through and his troubles as an adolescent – resulting in a light-hearted and amusing book.

Adrian’s quintessentially teenage characteristics also provide a great laugh for older readers, who understand how true it all is! It is a admirable that author Sue Townsend, could portray a teenage boy so accurately. All the characters are amusing to read about, and the way Adrian talks about them will have you belly laughing in no time.

The teenage character writes bluntly about his parents’ marital troubles and his own relationship with Pandora, a fellow Year 9 with beautiful “treacle hair”: “Pandora and I are in love! It is official! She told Claire Nelson, who told Nigel, who told me.” Adrian Mole also writes about his cringe-worthy poetry, his troubles at school, his acne problem, the Royal Wedding and his eighty-year old friend Bert, and numerous other events.

I would highly recommend this book. It is hilarious to read and is still relevant today. It is especially amusing if you are a teenager yourself, because then you will really appreciate and understand his manner and true descriptions of daily life. It is not only witty, but deeply touching, too. Great as a stress reliever, this book will provide hours of entertainment for everyone.


I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

caged-birdAngelou uses the metaphor of a bird struggling to escape its cage, as a prominent symbol throughout her series of autobiographies. Like elements within a prison narrative, the caged bird represents Angelou’s confinement resulting from racism and oppression.

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from “the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood.” Her story is told in scenes from the time when she and her brother were sent by her parents to Stamps, Arkansas..

Through a series of personal events, feelings and thoughts, Maya Angelou is able to captivate her readers with her life from her early years up to late adolescence. As readers, we are able to see how Maya grows from the insecure little girl in Arkansas to the strong woman who realises that she can trust herself and will be able to keep moving forward, which is clearly shown when she realises that she can take care of her son. She takes you with her as she describes her journey with all the pain and terror of her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis with her mother, and humiliation when a white woman refused to remember her name.

During the last chapter of the book, Maya does a great job describing the feelings of not just her adolescent thoughts, but that of any person her age.

Maya’s strong and honest writing lures us into the dark world she was forced to live in, where we are able to truly experience racism almost first-hand. Although a little slow at times, overall this book does a great job as an autobiography, I think it’s one of the best I’ve read. Great for people who want to learn more about life!

In addition to the above I would also choose the following titles as my Desert Island Books:

An Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

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