Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sharks in the Library

The Grade 5 students were treated to a fun and informative talk by Greg Nowell, one of the founders of Sharklab, an organisation whose aim is to research and aid in the preservation of sharks.

Sharks are splendid sea creatures that are very often misunderstood. The excessive, and more often than not, misinformed exposure they get in the media, portrays them as killing machines intent on decimating the human species. Unfortunately a lot of people buy into this.

The truth is that human beings are the real predators and sharks suffer as a consequence. Irresponsible fishing and downright cruel practices (such as finning) are decimating the number of sharks in the sea at an alarming rate. The gradual disappearance of sharks also has a negative effect on the marine ecosystem.

Mr Nowell brought with him several specimens to show the Grade 5s. To their delight, samples included sharks' teeth, jaws and eggs.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Of Spies and Dogs...

Andrew Cope, the well-known author behind the Spy Dog series of books, visited San Anton School to have a talk and a chat with the Grade 6s.

The students were really excited at the prospect of meeting Mr Cope. Most of them were already familiar with the exploits of L.A.R.A. (short for Licensed Assault and Rescue Animal), the titular Spy Dog. Lara is the first ever canine secret agent and it turns out that she's really good at it. She is endlessly resourceful, exceptionally trained and always on the lookout for wrongs that need to be righted.

Mr Cope revealed that the inspiration behind Lara was his own dog. One evening, whilst watching a James Bond film, his eye fell upon the sleeping pooch. The overwhelming contrast between the intrepid MI6 agent and the indolent dog proved to be a sort of an epiphany: "What if my dog's behaviour is just a front? What if she's really a spy? What if, unbeknownst to me, she spends her time chasing villains and saving the world?" And it was thus that Spy Dog was born.

However, even though Mr Cope enjoys writing, he is the first to admit that writing involves a lot of elbow grease and commitment. Some books may be easy to read but they're most definitely not that easy to write. One needs to manage his/her time effectively, establish a routine, and stick to it. Before long, the work will start piling up nicely; all the sacrifices would have been worth it.

The students were also treated to some inside information. Besides Spy Dog, Mr Cope writes a spin-off about Spy Pups and in the not-so-distant future there is also going to be a Spy Cat! How will the resourcefulness of a dog compare to the cunning of a cat? Well, that is certainly something to look out for.

The Grade 6s enjoyed Mr Cope's visit immensely. They were excited and enthusiastic before meeting him, even more so after. Now, back to accessing those Spy Dog books...

Mr Andrew Cope's visit was an initiative of Audio Visual Ltd.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Am I the Mirror

Once there was a girl called Elena. She loved animals. After school, she played for some time and then went to sleep.

Elena had a good night's sleep and woke up with a smile on her face. She washed her face and looked in the mirror. A sudden thought struck her. What if she was in the mirror? What if she was the mirror? What if she was the other Elena in another dimension?

She went to school. She kept thinking about her idea all day long but didn't tell anyone about it. As soon as she arrived home she ran to the mirror. She thought about making a portal to the mirror world.

Elena switched on the computer and looked up information about portal machines. Suddenly her mother came into the room and asked her whether she had finished her homework. Elena lied: she said she was nearly done. Her mother left and the girl went back to looking up information. She spent all night on the computer.

The following morning Elena was extremely tired. All of a sudden it dawned on her that she hadn't done her homework! She quickly put on her uniform, ran to the van and scribbled something quickly on the way to school. She managed just in time!

It was a long hard day at school but once she got home, Elena forgot all about her tiredness and sprinted to the mirror. She cleaned it. It was sparkling clean. She turned the mirror over and saw a key hole. Remembering she had a key like that, she ran out of the room to fetch it. Amazingly, the old key fit perfectly. She touched the mirror with a finger, and pushed. Her hand went straight through. She found herself in the other world, with the other Elena! It was incredible!

Now, never a day goes by that the two girls don't meet. Elena and her mirror-image meet every single day and share stories about their different worlds.

Elena Bajada
Winner of the Short Story Competition
World Book Week 2012

The Boy who hated Books

Jack hated reading. His mother always bought him books but he would prefer playing on his Playstation and Nintendo rather than read. The books remained untouched, stacked in a neat row on his shelf. They were all in order, starting from fiction and ending with non-fiction.

One day Jack looked at his book shelf. He counted the books: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. "Eight?" Jack said. "Last time I checked I had eleven books. What happened to the rest?" Jack spoke to his parents but they hadn't touched them. Jack was puzzled! Who took his books?

Jack decided to hide under his bed at night to see who was taking his books. He waited and waited but nothing happened for a very long time. Suddenly he heard his window open and an enormous wrinkled hand came in. The hand took a book and went back out of the window. Jack was petrified!

The following night Jack did the same thing again. Once more, the hand appeared and it took another book. This time, Jack attacked the hand. It was all smelly, green and full of warts! Then he noticed that it belonged to a giant. The giant was about thirty feet tall and reached the clouds!

The giant didn't notice little Jack. He looked like a tiny mosquito. The giant flew over the house tops as fast as a jet plane, with Jack still attached to his hand! He flew over Malta and crossed over to Gozo. The giant landed in abandoned green fields and made his way to a huge cave. The entrance of the cave was blocked by a big stone. The giant moved the stone over and joined other giants inside. Everywhere was covered with enormous plants. "This must be giant land in Gozo!" Jack thought.

The giant made his way to another cave, called 'Pringles 55'. It was full of books. Jack's books! He was furious! He wanted to jump in and take them but knew that it wouldn't be a good idea.

The giant settled down to read while Jack hid under the table. The giant was laughing and laughing. Jack couldn't understand what was so funny. "It must be something that he is reading," he thought.

All of a sudden the giant banged his hand on the table, so hard that he broke it in half. Jack scampered away like an athlete! The giant said: "Fe fi fo fum, I smell a Maltese 'un!" Then the giant saw Jack and ran after him. Jack ran as fast as he could but the giant was too fast. He caught him and hung him in mid-air.

The giant spoke to Jack. He didn't speak fluent English but Jack understood him. The giant claimed that he was a kind giant and that he didn't eat people. Jack asked him about the books and the giant told him that he started taking them when he saw that Jack wasn't reading them at all. The giant loved to read.

That night Jack read his first book. He spent all night with the giant and enjoyed it immensely! From that day on, the giant picked up Jack from his house and took him to his cave, where they spent many happy hours reading awesome books.

Andre' Theuma
Winner of the Short Story Competition
World Book Week 2012

A Weekend in the Wild

Last weekend we went to a place called 'Lake Monty'. I didn't want to go but my father, who is a Scout Leader, wanted me to share this adventure with him. Then, seeing how my father and I were going, the rest of the family joined in.

Our cabin wasn't very big but it was perfect for just two days. As soon as we arrived to 'Lake Monty', I went to have a look around. There were about fifty children my age. My father gathered everyone and took us for a hike. My mother wasn't very pleased because he left her to do all the unpacking herself!

I was enjoying the hike but then I got lost. I didn't panic because although 'Lake Monty' was full of trees and mountains, it wasn't very big. Still, I walked for about an hour but I couldn't find my father or any of the other scouts.

Suddenly I heard a noise. I stopped behind a tree and peered. I never dreamt I would ever see something like that. There was a queue of skunks, squirrels, badgers and other small animals, holding food in their paws. They were giving it to their leader. It was a skinny dog and he didn't look strong but the animals were scared of him.

The dog smelled something and I knew it was me. He ran towards me, jumped and got me!

I was scared and shouted "NO!"

To my surprise, the dog replied "Okay."

We had a conversation and he told me that they collected food for a fierce bear who thought that he was a King. I asked where the bear lived. The dog told me that he lived on top of a mountain, in a cave. He also said that when everyone was asleep, the bear went for a swim in the lake. As we were talking, I was already making up a plan in my head. I was lucky that my father brought with him a big net to catch fish.

I followed a bright star that took me to the camp. At night we made a bonfire and told scary stories to each other. The next morning I woke up at 05:00am and started working on my plan. I placed the net at the bottom of the lake, then I waited patiently. I was camouflaged in the grass.

I was just in time: the bear was walking towards the lake. The water was as cold as ice. The bear fell right in my trap and so I plucked some courage and jumped in the lake. I got hold of the net and pulled it to shore, with the bear in it. I was shivering like a skeleton. I sprinted to my cabin and called my father. I told him what the dog had said to me and my father believed me immediately. He called the police and they took the bear to the zoo. The dog thanked me.

I felt sad when we had to leave.However I was glad that I had gone camping with my family. It was much better than staying home playing on the Playstation. I love being a scout. It's such an honour!

Alec Sladden
Winner of the Short Story Competition
World Book Week 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Il-Kelba Tiegħi

Għandi kelba sewda faħma,
Tgħidx kemm tifraħ meta nqum,
Meta nasal mill-iskola wara l-bieb tistenna tkun.

Meta nkun indoqq il-kitarra,
Mill-ewwel taraha ġejja fil-kamra,
Fi żmien is-sajf l-hena tagħha toqgħod tixxemmex fuq il-bejt.

Meta jkun daqt ħa jidlam, hi tkun preparata għall-mixja,
Għalhekk jiena dejjem magħha, għax jien mingħajrha ma jien xejn.

Chanelle Formosa
Winner of the Poetry Competition
World Book Week 2012

Seasonal Flowers

A flower blue and white,
Only grown for your delight,
To see the rays of the sun shining bright.

Direct your gaze,
Take a look at the garden like a maze,
Amazing to see all those beautiful things,
During Winter, Summer, Autumn and Spring.

A pansy, sunflower and a blossom that is blue,
You have to water your plants, that is a duty you have to do;
Some flowers grow in December,
while others grow on my birthday, which is in September.

I like writing poems about flowers,
They seem to have magical powers;
In lunch time I look out of the window,
To see the flowers in the pot;
When I arrive home,
I find a soft toy in the form of a flower in my sister's cot.

Michaela Aquilina
Winner of the Poetry Competition
World Book Week 2012

A True Friend

There are many things
True friends do for each other,
Like being happy to listen to your worries,
One after another.

Friendship is communication,
The process is two-way,
You must speak and you must listen,
To whatever your friends might say.

A friend is not self-centered,
She thinks of others before herself,
Sticks up for them when wrongly accused,
Empathises with her friends.

Friendship is forgiving,
As in not reminding them of their mistakes;
Seeing the good in one another,
That's what friendship takes.
Helping a friend,
When it would be easier not to,
Supporting them when they have a problem,
Or if there's a difficult time they're going through.

Friendship is patience,
Respect is part of it too,
So be a good friend,
And friendship will come back to you!

Lara Mohnani
Winner of the Poetry Competition
World Book Week 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happiness is in the Air

It was a normal day at school. The Headmistress, Ms. Battleaxe, introduced a new girl to the class. Her name was Jolly Jenna. She had blonde hair, blue eyes, freckles and rosy cheeks. As soon as Henry saw her, he became a different person. From HORRID to HAPPY, just by looking at her.

He was in love!

He was lucky there was an empty place next to him. Jenna sat down and looked around. During play time, they played together. After school, they walked home together. Horrid Henry phoned Jolly Jenna up and they agreed to meet.

When Horrid Henry's brother Perfect Peter met Jolly Jenna, he did not like her. He did not like her hair and her freckles. Jolly Jenna brought her younger sister Angry Alison to Henry's house. Luckily, Peter thought that Alison was just PERFECT. The two brothers and sisters had a great time together and they all agreed to meet every week, and that's what they did.

The four friends lived a very happy life.

John Azzopardi
Winner of the Horrid Henry Story Competition
World Book Week 2012

Horrid Henry goes to Chinatown

"Yippeeee!!!" screamed Perfect Peter.

"Aarrrrrgghhh!!!" shouted Horrid Henry as he fell out of bed with fright.

The sun had barely risen and the room was still rather dark inside. Then he remembered. Today Mum and Dad were taking them on a trip to Chinatown to see the Chinese New Year celebrations. It was a special trip because Perfect Peter got "Yet another of his star reports from school," Dad had said.

"Blah blah," thought Henry to himself. "I could get a special report too... if I wanted," he mumbled.

"Up you go lazy bones!" exclaimed Mum. "It's time to get ready to go... brush your teeth... wash your face... and run the bath."

"Yeah but Peter gets into the bath first," said Henry with a naughty grin on his face as he started filling the bath with super cold water.

"I don't mind, Mum," said Peter as he jumped into the bath.

"Yikes!" he shrieked. "The water is freezing!"

"Heeeennnrrryyyyy!!! You're in big trouble now!!" Mum said.

Meanwhile Dad was loading the car with luggage and getting all set up to go. "Get in you two," said Dad. "And don't forget your seatbelts."

Off they went. It was a 2-hour drive to Chinatown. "Are we there yet?" moaned Henry every 5 minutes of the way. But before they knew it they started seeing fireworks shooting up over the Palatial Pagodas.

"We're here," said Mum. "Be careful now and don't get lost."

As Henry walked towards the entrance he met his friend Cheeky Chang. "Can I have some food please?" said Horrid Henry.

"Yes, ok," replied Cheeky Chang. "Let me go and get some for you." He came back with a handful of food. Henry was so hungry that he put the food in his mouth all at once.

"Mmmm. What was that?" asked Horrid Henry.

"Gooey octopus eyeballs," replied Cheeky Chang.

"YUCK!!" said Horrid Henry.

"Hurry! Hurry!" shouted Cheeky Chang. "The Dragon Parade is starting!" They both ran to watch. However, Horrid Henry was up to no good, again. He sneaked under the dragon, took out a box of fireworks from his pocket and lit them up.


Suddenly the dragon shot up into the sky as Henry laughed and laughed!

Mum and Dad were so furious that Horrid Henry had ruined The Dragon Parade that they decided to take him home before he could cause any more trouble. As they drove off home Henry could see Chinese lanterns floating up in the air behind them. Oh how he would have loved to be there.

Maybe next year...

Carla Depasquale
Winner of the Horrid Henry Story Competition
World Book Week 2012

Horrid Henry's Tadpole Surprise

It was a lovely Spring morning and Henry and his classmates were on a school outing at Chadwick Lakes. The teacher was showing the children all the frogs and tadpoles in the streams. They were tired and so they stopped for a picnic.

The teacher gave each child a sandwich and a bottle of water. Henry noticed that Kate was busy talking to her friends and quickly slipped three tadpoles inside her bottle. Then, he sneaked away.

Luckily Kate's friend Anna had seen Henry. So Anna quickly swapped Kate's bottle with Henry's while he was telling his friends what he had done. The girls had a big laugh as they watched Henry gulp down his water. They had an even bigger one when they told Henry what he had just drunk and he turned green!

Serves Horrid Henry right!

Carla Mifsud
Winner of the Horrid Henry Story Competition
World Book Week 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

World Book Week 2012

A number of guest speakers visited San Anton School to celebrate World Book Week, a five-day long book bonanza that has become a staple in the school's calendar.

The week kicked off with Rita Antoinette Borġ, an award-winning author who is always a hit with the young students. Ms Borġ introduced the Grade 4s to her colourful puppet parrot that hails from Australia, which in turn sparked off a lively discussion about different animals endemic to different continents. Immediately afterwards, Fuxa made her appearance. The hero of Ms Borġ's book is an enterprising hedgehog who decides to cross a very busy street, giving everyone a huge fright. Thankfully, everything turns out for the best, and Fuxa and her friends put an end to the adventure by indulging in a scrumptious picnic.

Professor Joe Friġġieri certainly needs no introduction. He is one of the leading scholars and authors on the island, and who currently has two of his poems included in the Matsec syllabus. He was kind enough to visit the school and talk to the Grade 11 students about his poetry and the rest of his impressive oevre, which includes short stories, plays, academic essays, research and and even song lyrics. It was a stimulating talk, peppered with a lot of Professor Friġġieri's erudite anecdotes about characters and events that influenced his work and piqued his intellectual curiosity.

Clare Azzopardi is unarguably one of the most loved children's authors. Her series of books featuring the meanders of sweet Jake Cassar, and the two books about the nefarious machinations of the notorious Saver DeMolizz, have helped not a little to encourage children to read. Ms Azzopardi visited the school to talk to the students about the second instalment in the DeMolizz saga, U llum jispiċċa l-każ tal-aħwa DeMolizz, which was launched late last year during the Malta National Book Fair. A lot of the Grade 8s were excited about the talk because they had already read the first book and were really curious about the second volume.

Trevor Żahra visited the Grade 9s who are currently using one of his books as a reader. Fuklar Qadim u Bnadar Imċarrta is a class text and the students were really looking forward to meeting the author of one of their favourite books. Mr Żahra delivered an engrossing presentation on Fuklar, replete with intriguing anecdotes and several words for thought about aspects of the book that might well pass under the radar on a first reading. The session ended with an animated Q & A session that spilled over to creative writing, how one can harness the imagination and book publishing in general.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Hunger Games

The film adaptation of Suzanne Collins's bestselling book The Hunger Games is out in the cinemas. At last!

This was certainly one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year. It is based on the first instalment of an enormously successful, award-winning trilogy that sold over 26 million books. The people involved in the film are top notch. Just think: the director is Gary Ross, the man who helmed Seabiscuit, the classic film about an amazing race horse. Also, the main actor is Jennifer Lawrence, one of the most promising newcomers who, at the age of 20, received an Oscar nomination, thus becoming the second youngest ever to be nominated for Best Actress. As if this wasn't impressive enough, the rest of the cast includes such stalwarts as Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz.

The film tells the story of Katniss Everdeen (played by Ms Lawrence) who lives in the coal mining region known as District 12. She is selected by a 'lottery' to take part in the annual Hunger Games, a fight between members of the different regions in which only one person remains alive. What is meant to be a straightforward brutal contest, takes an unexpected turn when Katniss refuses to give in to this horrendous spectacle. She prizes friendship, loyalty and human respect above everything else, therefore defying the organisers' expectations.

The trilogy, made up of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, is available from the green section in the library. The film is rated 12+.

Click HERE for the book's website.
Click HERE for the film's website.