Stephen Sewell (Animal Kingdom) podcast

Another interesting podcast from the Radio National BookShow. This is a discussion with writer Stephen Sewell. 

Stephen Sewell is best known as a prolific Australian playwright and screenwriter. He has recently had a novel published by Pan Macmillan. It is based on the film, of the same name, Animal Kingdom directed by David Michod. Stephen Sewell briefly touches on his entry into the playwriting field and then goes on to discuss the reasons for his change of  writing direction and why he decided to write this novel. It is an interesting discussion about the setting and the characters and how he recognised them and the approach to writing about them. 

It’s unusual in the Australian scene for a novel to follow the film but not unknown elsewhere, particularly in the US. Stephen Sewell’s Animal Kingdom is the story of revenge in a criminal family, the Codys, and it’s told through the character of 17-year-old Jay Cody, appalled by the family violence but inevitably affected by it and finally trapped by it. Stephen Sewell’s second novel, Babylon, is due out later this year.

Many boys at our school watched the movie as well as being fans of the Underbelly Tv series. There has been a lot of discussion and criticism about the glamourization of criminals and the underworld they live in. Stephen Sewell, who has often portrayed a grittier side of life, is articulate and thoughtful in his discourse.


Young Sherlock Holmes – coming soon

In the beginning there was Arthur Conan Doyle and his original detective and the many reprints that followed.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle

If you have read this blog before you will know that I have been involved in presenting the crime fiction genre to our year 8 students. Sherlock Holmes is one of the major authors I talk about when we are looking at the history and development of the crime novel.

The popularity of the Sherlock Holmes stories continues still. There are other authors who are also fans and have tried their hand at writing stories that involve this great literary character. Some of the stories, by other authors, involving Sherlock Holmes include  Caleb Carr and Laurie R. King and her Mary Russell Holmes stories.


There have also been many screen adaptations, including Young Sherlock Holmes. This was followed by Anthony Read’s  Baker Street Boys(books that our boys have started to enjoy  and a tv series that we haven’t seen) and Enola (Enola Holmes being the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft Holmes and the protagonist of a series by Nancy Springer).

Guardian article reports that the publisher Macmillan has revealed they will release a series of adventures about a young Sherlock Holmes The tales of teenage detective hope to imitate success of Charlie Higson’s bestselling Young Bond series. These books have been very popular with our students, along with other young spies series, examples of some are the  Alex Rider series(Stormbreaker), Cherub series, The Boy Soldier series (McNab) and Alpha Force series (Ryan)

The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has authorised a series of books detailing the life of the teenage Sherlock Holmes, which will see the budding detective falling in love for the first time, learning the deductive skills that serve him so well in his adult life, and making the acquaintance of a certain Dr Watson.


Starting at age 14 and tracing Holmes’s life at school and then at university, the books will be written by author Andrew Lane – a self-confessed “super-fan” who has a collection of over 100 Holmes-related books – kicking off with a case referenced but never explained by Conan Doyle, The Colossal Schemes of Baron Maupertius. This will see Holmes, who is sent to stay with relatives in Surrey after his soldier father is unexpectedly posted to India, uncovering a series of murders.

The series, to be published by Macmillan Children’s Booksfrom spring 2010, will end with Holmes meeting Watson in the laboratories at St Barts Hospital in London.

So they have decided, if it’s good enough (successful) for Young Bond then why not Sherlock Holmes?

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Crime fiction

crime-fictionI have been enjoying talking to the students about crime fiction. Many of our staff are avid fans and we have a very good collection in our library. Instead of the whole year level studying the one class novel, the boys may choose any crime novel that interests them. This has meant that there is a lot of choice and this is not easy for some (too much choice).

Many of course say they don’t read  or don’t know much about crime but many of them also watch crime shows on television. When I have discussed the some basic stereotypical formulae that crime fiction follows, and the boys compare these to the tv crime shows, they begin to understand.

Some of the teachers are also going to have the boys create a book trailer for their crime novels, intead of a written piece/book review. This follows on from the work that a small group of students did last year. The crime novel is an ideal book for a book trailer. The assessment rubric  is ready for them and we can show the students examples of some of last year’s work as well as some of the more “professional” ones.

Some of the student videos: I am having trouble loading this on tonight

On TeacherTube: Nemesis Video and Cherub (the General) trailer

 I also want to show some classic trailers from the world of film. I was looking up the old b&w trailers from Hitchcock’s films (still some of the best examples of suspense) and came across the clip below.

The Airplane scene (WOW Version) [World of Warcraft]

and the true one

Many of the boys watch/know about the World of Warcraft and Scrubs so it appeals.