Finding text books for the upper school English classroom is not an easy task – few offer a complete course of study which can be followed progressively to build an understanding of a text area. Reading Stories is one in a line of texts from Chalkface press which fills such a need.
The book provides an anthology of short stories suitable for mid and upper level high school and into college or university study. The questions and exercises which accompany the stories endeavor to build an understanding of the ways texts are written to invite the construction of meaning.
The stories offered include “The Good Corn”, by H. E. Bates, Ray Bradbury’s “The Whole Town’s Sleeping” and “A Jury of Her Peers”, by Susan Glaspell. With two stories studied in each of five chapters, students are exposed to a range of styles and structures.
The text attempts to guide students to an awareness of the ways expectations can influence the reading of a story, how and why these readings can differ from a writer’s intentions, how cultural and social assumptions can affect the reading and writing of stories, and more.
Reading Stories, by Bronwyn Mellor, Marnie O’Neill and Annette Patterson
Chalkface Press has a reputation of publishing quality texts for the Literature Studies classroom. Investigating Texts by Bronwyn Mellor and Annette Patterson upholds this reputation.
The book’s premise is that readers read in different ways on different occasions and therefore the text itself can be produced as a different ‘object’ on different occasions.
To help students understand this premise, the book presents concepts in a cumulative way – with each of the four chapters building on the concepts explored in the preceding chapters.
Each chapter includes a range of short stories and other texts with exercises and commentary. Activities allow for individual, class and group explorations of the text at hand, while the commentaries consolidate the concepts explored.
The selection of short stories is outstanding – from traditional folk tales to modern short shorts – and sure to appeal both to teachers and students.
Investigating Texts is suitable for thirteen to eighteen year old students.
Investigating Texts, by Bronwyn Mellor and Annette Patterson
Chalface Press, 1996.
Elizabeth Clarry is not a real teenager. She has a Teletubbies quilt cover and doesn’t own any makeup. Worse still, she has never been drunk, and her best friend has totally vanished. The best thing for her to do would be to climb into the refrigerator and disappear.
But Elizabeth doesn’t disappear. Instead, the reader of Feeling Sorry for Celia follows her path through the struggles of finding and losing her best friend, developing new friendships and figuring out her father.
Elizabeth and her friends Celia and Christina encounter many of the problems of adolescence – first love, sex, conformity and family dynamics. Author Jaclyn Moriarty manages to balance the seriousness of these subjects with just the right measure of humour and whimsy to make the book both entertaining and educational.
Feeling Sorry for Celia is certain to appeal to 13 to 16 year olds and is as suitable for class reading lists as it is for private reading/. The only drawback for class study purposes is that its innovative letter format would be a little difficult for oral reading sessions.
This format, however, is part of the appeal of the book, with the story told through letters, notes and postcards exchanged between Elizabeth and the other characters, with delightful epistles from such fictitious sources as the Manager of the Society for people Who are Definitely Going to Fail High School.
Feeling Sorry For Celia is truly an outstanding piece of adolescent fiction.
Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty
Pan Macmillan, 2000
There are numerous English text books on the market – especially if you want basic comprehension, grammar or spelling activities. There is, however, a lack of textbooks for upper school literature studies. Fortunately, Australian publisher Chalkface Press has redressed this need. Studying Literature, by Brian Moon, is just one of their excellent literature texts.
Studying Literature would make an excellent introductory course for literature studies students. It combines a superb range of literary texts with thought provoking activities and considered explanation.
The book is divided into three units. In the first, What Is Literature? , students are guided through readings and exercises looking at definitions of literature. The objective of this part of the book is to help students reach an understanding that ‘literature; is a subjective term – literature, Moon concludes, “is about writing, reading and making judgements according to certain beliefs and practices” (p 27).
The second unit, Reading ‘Literary’ Texts looks at the ways that readers construct meanings from text and how dominant values and beliefs can effect the reading of a text. Moon guides students towards an understanding that, rather than existing in the text, meaning is constructed through the reading of a text.
The third and final unit, Reading in Terms of Gender, examines literary texts from women’s perspective. The unit examines how women are portrayed in selected examples and guides women towards an understanding of the role literature has played in reinforcing stereotypes. The unit concludes by discussing other groups which are stereotyped in literary texts and examining examples of writing in which feminist writers attempt to challenge dominant readings of gender.
Moon’s choice of stories and poems in Studying Literature provides an excellent complement to the understanding he endeavors to guide students towards. This is an outstanding resource for students and teachers of literature.
Studying Literature, by Brian Moon
Chalkface Press 1990. Available internationally. For a full list of suppliers, please see www.chalkface.net.au.
More than just a record of the battles in which Australia and Australians have been involved, The Encycopaedia of Australia’s Battles, provides an intresting insight into Australia’s history as a whole.
As well as detailing the many battles Australians have joined on war fields overseas, the book details the many battles fought on Australian soil in the two hundred years since white settlement. These include battles fought between European settlers and Aboriginals resisting colonization and battles such as those on the goldfields, including the Eureka Stockade.
The book includes chronological entries of over 300 battles in which Australians or Australian troops have been involved – at sea, in the air and on the ground. Each entry provides the date and location, the main units and commanders involved and an account of the course of the battle. ENtries are illustrated with maps, drawings and photographs.
The author, historian Chris Coulthard-Clark is an expert in Australian defence history. A graduate of Duntroon and the Australian Defence Force Academy, he has worked as a government policy analyst, historical consultant and a research editor.
The Encyclopaedia of Australia’s Battles is an outstanding resource for historians, writers, teachers, and anyone with an interest in Australian history.
The Encyclopaedia of Australia’s Battles, by Chris Coulthard-Clark
Allen & Unwin, 2001
How do chimpanzees show they are frightened? What’s the difference between a chimpanzee and Tarzan? Why did a chimp go to space in a rocket?
Author/llustrator David Kennett provides the answers to these questions and more, in a format accessible to newly independent readers.
With simple yet informative text and a range of illustration forms, Chimpanzee is suitable for students in the early years of primary school, although it would also be appropriate for much older students with reading diffulcties.
Solos give newly independent readers a reading experience which bridges the gap beteen picture books and chapter books, with short paragraphs and an abundance of illustrations. There are 32 fiction titles and 14 non-fiction titles in the series, and Chimpanzee is one of six Solo Wildlife titles.
Chimpanzee is suitable both for classroom use and for home reading, as well as school and public libraries.
Chimpanzee, written and illustrated by David Kennett
A Solo Wildlife book, from Omnibus Books, an imprint of Scholastic Australia, 2002
How does a killer whale find its way in the dark? How can killer whales be told apart? What causes killer whales to swim onto land?
In this new title from Omnibus/Scholastic, David Kennett gives youngsters the answers to these questions and many more.
Combining clear illustrations and diagrams with simple texts, Kennett provdes a wealth of information in a manner accessible to children in the early years of primary school.
Interesting facts and figures are complemented by a variety of diagramatic representations including maps, comparisons and close-up views.
Solos give newly independent readers a reading experience which bridges the gap between picture books and chapter books, with short paragraphs and an abundance of illustrations. There are 32 fiction titles and 14 non-fiction titles in the series, and Killer Whale is one of six Solo Wildlife titles.
Killer Whale is suitable both for classroom use and for home reading, as well as school and public libraries.
Killer Whale, written and illustrated by David Kennett
A Solo Wildlife book, from Omnibus Books, an imprint of Scholastic Australia, 2002
When Tim Bowden recounts a journey, he writes much more than a simple travel diary. Instead, he fills his work with diversions into history, geographical information, character sketches and more.
In his latest book, Penelope Bungles to Broome, Tim and wife Ros journey from their home in Sydney across the country to Broome, exploring the Kimberley, Pilbara and Mid-west regions.
Bowden recounts in great detail their journey in their trusty four wheel drive, known affectionately as Penelope and their camper trailer, The Manor. They also explore the coastline on the boat The Coral Princess. Along the way readers are aquainted with some of the wonders the West has to offer, as well as many of the highs and lows of travelling the district. Bowden’s enthusiasm and detailed knowledge and research show through, so that there is plenty to learn even for those who have already experienced the region.
Penelope Bungles to Broome is a treat for lovers of Bowden’s work and those interested in travelling our fair country.
Penelope Bungles to Broome, by Tim Bowden
Allen & Unwin, 2002
Residents of the new millenium are expected more and more to be able to balance work, family and social life, often leaving little time to focus on physical and mental health. When a problem does arise we want to be able to pop a pill or take a potion and expect instant relief.
In the short term, this might work, but Matt Church offers a more long-term solution. In High Life, he focuses on ways to feel good every day of the year. Drawing on scientific research, Church explains in easily accessible language how our body chemistry works and how it comes to be out of balance. He goes on to offer practical, straightforward ways to rebalance and maintain a healthy chemistry.
Readers are shown how to map their current chemical balance profile and how to understand the results, before being given page after page of practical techniques to improve wellbeing. There are no magic potions or miracle cures here, but there are manageable and effective ways to increase energy and well being.
Matt Church is one of Australia’s leading conference speakers and a recognised specialist on productivity and burnout. You can learn more about him by visit by visiting His website.
With much regularly written about Australian films and the Australian film industry by journalists and critics, it is refreshing to have an entire book given over to the subject from the perspective of the film-makers themselves. Third Take presents a collection of articles by and interviews with Australian film-makers, exploring the place of Australian film in today’s globalised society.
Contributors include those working in the industry in Australia as well as those who have chosen to work the United States. An entire section is devoted to the classic film Newsfront (elsewhere reviewed on this site), a film which iteself looks at the birth of the Australian film industry.
Contributors to Third Take include Peter Weir (director of Gallipoli, The Truman Show and Green Card, among many others), John Seale (cinematographer on such films as Dead Poet’s Scoiety, Lorenzo’s Oil and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and actor Bill Hunter (Newsfront, Gallipoli and An Indecent Obsession.
Editors Raffaele Caputo and Geoff Burton are both well-acquainted with the Australian film industry, with Caputo a writer on film for over fifteen years and Burton working continuously in the film industry for thirty three years.
Third Take is an enlightening volume for those with a passion for Australian film.
Third Take: Australian Film-Makers Talk, Raffaele Caputo & Geoff Burton (eds)
Allen & Unwin, 2002