The Irish Times ‘Must-Reads for Teenagers’

In today’s Irish Times (Saturday 26th November 2011), there is a supplement detailing books that are ‘must-reads’ for teenagers. They are not numbered or put into age categories but it is interesting to note that the first book they have mentioned is ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ by George Orwell – our College book for November.

Other books on the list include:

  • ‘The Magic Toyshop’ by Angela Carter (1967)
  • ‘The Hunger Games Trilogy’ by Suzanne Collins (2008 – 2010)
  • ‘Ghost World’ by Daniel Clowes (1997)
  • ‘The Regeneration Trilogy’ by Pat Barker (1991 – 1995)
  • ‘Sandman’ by Neil Gaiman (1989 – 1996)
  • ‘How to be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran (2011)
  • ‘Brother of the More Famous Jack’ by Barbara Trapido (1982)
  • ‘The Georgi Nicolson Series’ by Louise Rennison (1999 – 2009)
  • ‘The Morganville Vampires Series’ by Rachel Caine (2006 – )
  • ‘An Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
  • ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole’ by Sue Townsend (1982)
  • ‘Emil and the Detectives’ by Erich Kastner (1929)
  • ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusack (2005)
  • ‘A Study in Scarlet’ by Arthur Conan Doyle (1887)
  • ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens (1860 – 1861)
  • ‘Annan Water’ by Kate Thompson (2003)
  • ‘Thin Ice’ by Mikael Engstrom (2007 – 2011)
  • ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
  • ‘The Hobbit’ by JRR Tolkien (1937)
  • ‘The Twelfth Day of July’ by Joan Lingard (1970)
  • ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ by Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  • ‘Flight of the Doves’ by Walter Macken (1968)
  • ‘Under the Eye of the Clock’ by Christopher Nolan (1987)
  • ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain (1884)
  • ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by JD Salinger (1951)
  • ‘The Outsiders’ by SE Hinton (1967)
  • ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell (1945)
  • ‘Lost in Transition’ by students of Scoil Chaitríona, Glasnevin (2011)
  • ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams (1979)
  • ‘The Recruit’ by Robert Muchamore (2004)
  • ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ by Derek Landy (2007)
  • ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman (1986)


The supplement also includes tips for aspiring writers. Try to get hold of it!


Friendship in ‘Inside I’m Dancing’

Answering the following questions will provide you with a comprehensive resource on the theme of friendship in ‘Inside I’m Dancing’ by Damien O’Donnell.

  1. What is Michael’s initial reaction to Rory? What is Rory’s initial reaction to Michael?
  2. In what way are the two characters different?
  3. What do they have in common?
  4. What is the significance of the hair gel scene in our understanding of their relationship?
  5. What is the revelation that cements their relationship in the first part of the film?
  6. There are three key scenes that develop their friendshop in the first part of the film. Write a description of each one:
    • Art class
    • Physical therapy
    • Hair gel scene
  7. The collection / pub scene: what does Rory give Michael that has been absent from his life so far?
  8. Describe what happens regarding the wish for independent living. How is friendship evident here?
  9. Rory tells Siobhan to ‘be careful’ before the fancy dress party. What does he mean by this? Why does he say this?
  10. What does Michael set about doing once he hears about Michael’s impending death? Explain what this tells us about his feelings for Rory.
  11. How has the friendship changed the lives of both Michael and Rory in the course of the film?
  12. Do you think this film represents friendship satisfactorily?


Linking sentences

Words and constructions that could be used in comparative writing:


When making connections between similar aspects of texts:

  • I noticed in both X and Y that . . .
  • This situation in X is very like the part in Y where . . .
  • Joe in X reminds me of Mary in Y where he says . . .
  • Joe in X reminds me of Mary in Y because they both . . .
  • This way of thinking / behaving is typical of both X and Y.
  • When we turn to Y again we see / find . . .



When recognising differences between texts:

  • However, in Y . . .
  • . . . unlike what happens in X
  • What a contrast to X where . . .
  • X differs from Y in that . . .
  • X shows us . . . whereas Y . . .


When showing that similarities / differences need to be qualified:

  • This situation also crops up in Y, but things work out very differently . . .
  • Although X and Y deal with a similar theme, X treats it tragically while Y plays up the comedy.
  • X and Y deal with similar problems, but X’s world is very different from Y’s.
  • In both texts, you see into the hero’s mind; in X this is done through first person narrative, whereas in Y . . .
  • X and Y both deal with . . . but they offer strongly contrasting points of view.


These are pointers and suggestions only, but they should lead to useful comparisons within the modes, especially the final set.


Drama in Act 2 Scene 3 ‘Macbeth’

‘Macbeth’ – thrilling, shocking, exciting, frightening. It would be difficult to find a
play more dramatic! Murder, war, witches, hallucinations, ghosts, sleep walking  and even a touch of humour just for balance. The dramatic elements draw us in and compel us to engage with this play on many levels.


The whole play is full of these dramatic elements, but even just examining one scene will provide a wealth of examples.


Take, for example, Act 2 Scene 3 – often referred to as the Porter Scene. What makes this scene compelling and dramatic?


This scene opens to the sound effect of someone incessantly banging on the door and so we are left asking the question Who is arriving at Macbeth’s castle? Dramatic technique – suspense. The Porter trudges across the stage, slowed by the
effects of the previous night’s revelries, thus adding to the suspense.


The next element of drama to be found in this scene is humour – the only humour in an otherwise dark play. The Porter has a very particular type of humour that would have been enjoyed by a Shakespearean audience – bawdy humour. Remember that in an exam, you should follow the structure of Point, Quote, Explain. A humorous
quotation here is the Porter’s description of what alcohol ‘provokes’:

‘Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and it unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery; it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.’


The humour dissipates quickly, however, with the arrival on stage of Macbeth. Lennox highlights the drama of the fact that nature has already gone into turmoil, flux and chaos:

‘The night has been unruly: where we lay,

Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,

Lamentings heard i’ the air; strange screams of death,

And prophesying with accents terrible

Of dire combustion and confus’d events

New hatch’d to the woeful time. The obscure bird

Clamour’d the livelong night: some say the earth

Was feverous and did shake.’

This is an example of pathetic fallacy – the weather / natural world reflects events that occur in the play. How dramatic is it when ‘strange screams of death’ can be heard on the wind at night?


Perhaps the most dramatic moment comes with Macduff’s discovery of Duncan’s body. He is so appalled by this abhorrent act that he cannot even form the words to describe what he has just seen:

‘O horror! Horror! Horror! Tongue nor heart

Cannot conceive nor name thee.’

He goes on to say:

‘Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!

Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope

The Lord’s anointed temple, and stole thence

The life o’ the building!’

Here we can see how the murder of Duncan is not just a crime against man but also a crime against God. It will have catastrophic effects. The drama of this scene is enhanced when Macduff says:

‘Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight

With a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak;

See, and then speak yourselves.’


The scene continues with dramatic irony – Lady Macbeth, who only moments earlier washed the blood of Duncan from her hands, now must ‘look like the innocent flower’. Both she and Macbeth must feign shock, sorrow and moral outrage. Macbeth commits two further murders and asks:

‘who could refrain,

That had a heart to love, and in that heart

Courage to make his love known?’

The lady even goes so far as to faint! Is this for the sake of appearance or has she begun to feel regret for her actions? That is left up to the audience to decide. However, there is no ambiguity in the fact that this is yet another dramatic moment in this highly dramatic scene.


The scene ends with the dramatic exit of Malcolm and Donalbain – they furtively discuss together what their best option is and they agree that it is to run. They know that no one is to be trusted because ‘There’s daggers in men’s smiles’. There is no safety for them in Scotland.

Costa Book Awards

 The Costa Book Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular literary prizes and recognises some of the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.

It’s unique for having five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book.

The winner in each category receives £5,000, and then one of the five winning books is selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year, receiving a further £30,000, and making a total prize fund of £55,000. The Costa is the only prize which places children’s books alongside adult books in this way.

The Costa Book Awards started life in 1971 as the Whitbread Literary Awards. From 1985 they were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006, when Costa Coffee took over ownership from Whitbread.

Since 1971, the awards have rewarded a wide range of excellent books and authors across all genres.


The shortlist for each category is as follows:

Novel Award

  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • The Summer of Drowning by John Burnside
  • Pure by Andrew Miller
  • My Dear I Wanted To Tell You by Louisa Young


First Novel Award

  • City of Bohane by Kevin Barry
  • The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness
  • Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson
  • Pao by Kerry Young


Biography Award

  • Thin Paths: Journeys In and Around an Italian Mountain Village by Julia Blackburn
  • Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia – A Father and Son’s Story by Patrick and Henry Cockburn
  • All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis
  • Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin


Poetry Award

  • The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy
  • Night by David Harsent
  • Fiere by Jackie Kay
  • November by Sean O’Brien


Children’s Book Award

  • Flip by Martyn Bedford
  • The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans
  • Blood Red road by Moira Young


The winners will be announced on Wednesday 4th January 2012.


Summary of ‘Hamlet’

The following are some of the key points to note in the plot of ‘Hamlet’.

Act 1

  1. The soldiers arre convinced that the ghost they have seen is real; they are expecting it to appear again and so the audience is prepared to accept the sight of the ghost.
  2. There is a state of unrest in Denmark. There are war-like preparations, ‘post-haste and romage in the land’.
  3. Hamlet suspects foul play even before he meets the ghost.
  4. We learn of Hamlet’s courtship of Ophelia. According to Polonius, Ophelia has been ‘most free and bounteous’ with her time and, according to Ophelia, Hamlet has ‘made many tenders of his affection’.
  5. By the end of Act 1, Hamlet is already struggling between his impulse to avenge his father’s death and his reluctance ‘to set it right’.


Act 2

  1. Hamlet does not reappear until the middle of the second scene. His absence creates an impression of inactivity.
  2. We see how world-weary Hamlet has become from his description of his disposition to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
  3. Hamlet despises ‘tedious old fools’ like Polonius, just as he despises Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for their hypocrisy.
  4. Hamlet is full of anguish over his mother’s lack of grief at his father’s death.
  5. By the end of Act 2, Hamlet has thought of a plan to entrap the king and prove his guilt.


Act 3

  1. In Scene 1 we have a direct admisssion of guilt from Claudius.
  2. The perfect opportunity for Hamlet to turn his resolution into action is provide in Scene 3. Hamlet’s failure to seize the opportunity marks the turning point of the play.
  3. Hamlet strikes blindly at the figure behind the arras but in doing so he proves that he is capable of action.
  4. The killing of Polonius is to have very important consequences in the subsequent development of the plot.
  5. Although the ghost is not seen by Gertrude this does not necessarily mean that he is intended as a figment of Hamlet’s imagination. The Elizabethans accepted that a ghost could be visible to some and not to others.


Act 4

  1. There is a sense of greater speed of action in the sequence of very short scenes in Act 4.
  2. Hamlet submits to the king’s plan to send him to England so he is not yet ready for action.
  3. Hamlet’s encounter with Fortinbras is extremely important as it provides him with a new incentive for action.
  4. The lack of cause in Fortinbras’ fight emphasises the very real cause for revenge which Hamlet has.
  5. Theere is a feeling of discontent in Denmark: ‘the people muddied / Thick and unwholesome in their thought and whisper, / For good Polonius’ death’.
  6. Laertes is now in the same position as Hamlet – if he does not avenge his father’s death he is not a loyal son.
  7. The alliance of Laertes with the King is a significant element in the plot as the King can now use Laertes to kill Hamlet.


Act 5

  1. The tension of the previous act is momentarily broken as the grave-diggers indulge in jokes about their trade. Yet underlying the humour is the constant awareness of death.
  2. Ophelia’s death is part of Hamlet’s tragedy. It is the consequence of his failure to kill Claudius.
  3. Hamlet fights with skill an courage and in the end does not hesitate to do what he knows to be justified.
  4. Before he dies Hamlet settles the matter of the succession so that Denmark may flourish once more as a land of law and order.


Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

A modifier is a word or phrase that describes something.

There are two common types of modifiers in the English language:

  1. Adverbs – describing verbs
  2. Adjectives – describing nouns

Confusion can be caused when a modifier is placed too close to some other word that it does not intend to modify. The result can be humorous, but it is grammatically incorrect. Look at the following examples:


  1. A woman passed by, leading a springer spaniel in a long black dress.
  2. Hopping briskly though the vegetable garden, I saw a toad.
  3. My cousin went on and on, describing the details of her wedding in the elevator.
  4. The guide found the lion following its trail.
  5. John and Mary found the flowers hiking up the mountain.
  6. I found my missing gloves cleaning my room.
  7. Don’t try to pat the dog on the porch that is growling.
  8. The photojournalist took a photo of a demonstrator with a long lens camera.
  9. From our seats we could see the stage clearly in the balcony.
  10. The guest speaker had dedicated his book to his dog who was an archaeologist.
  11. I bought the red coat from the shop owner with the large pockets.
  12. Peering through the trees, the path was evident.
  13. The smoke alarm went off while cooking my dinner.
  14. A young woman knocked on the door wearing a suit and a hat.
  15. My mother found a parcel outside our house tied with ribbons.
  16. Covered in cream cheese, my friends will love these bagels.
  17. Reading a book, the cat crawled into my lap.
  18. The library has several books about dinosaurs in our school.
  19. We saw a herd of sheep on the way to our hotel in Wales.
  20. Dipped in cream, many people love fresh strawberries.
  21. I sent a poster to Jane rolled in a tube.
  22. While doing the dishes, a mouse ran across the floor.
  23. I gave olives to my friend that I stabbed with my fork.
  24. While typing my report, the keys jammed.
  25. While flying over the lake, the skyscrapers of Chicago appeared in the distance.

2011 LCHL Question on Theme or Issue

‘A reader’s view of a theme or issue can be either changed or reinforced through interaction with texts.’

Compare the extent to which your understanding of a theme or issue was changed or reinforced through your interaction with at least two texts on your comparative course. [70]


Marking Scheme

Areas from which comparisons might be drawn:

  • Theme/issue defined differently/similarly broadens understanding
  • The role of events/narrative voice in challenging preconceived/stereotypical ideas
  • Impact of authors’ varied approaches – serious, humorous, tragic etc.
  • Characterisation, language and imagery convey complexity of a theme
  • Visual and aural effects enhance/change/reinforce our understanding
  • Key moments offer revealing insights into a theme or issue


Paragraph 1

State the titles, authors and genres of the three texts. Remember the basics of capital letters and inverted commas.


Paragraph 2

Engage with the question. What do you understand by the question asked? Do you agree/disagree with the question? Has your view of friendship been changed or reinforced? I suggest that you state that your views on friendship have been reinforced through your interaction with these three texts. So what are your views on friendship?

  • True friendship is based on trust
  • True friendship creates mutual happiness
  • True friendship has its foundation in shared experiences
  • True friendship can withstand testing times


Paragraph 3

True friendship is based on trust

Text 1, Key Moment, Link, Text 2, Key Moment, Link, Text 3, Key Moment, General Observation and Personal Response (referring back to the question).


Paragraph 4

True friendship creates mutual happiness

Text 1, Key Moment, Link, Text 2, Key Moment, Link, Text 3, Key Moment, General Observation and Personal Response (referring back to the question).


Paragraph 5

True friendship has its foundation in shared experiences

Text 1, Key Moment, Link, Text 2, Key Moment, Link, Text 3, Key Moment, General Observation and Personal Response (referring back to the question).


Paragraph 6

True friendship can withstand testing times

Text 1, Key Moment, Link, Text 2, Key Moment, Link, Text 3, Key Moment, General Observation and Personal Response (referring back to the question).


Paragraph 7




Your links are vital. To simply throw in ‘similarly’ or ‘in contrast to’ is not enough.

Friendship as demonstrated by R&G in Act 3

Hamlet is fully aware of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s reasons for being in Elsinore and so he treats them with contempt and derision. He knows they are mere pawns of the king and so in his dealings with them he uses his ‘antic disposition’ at will. When, after staging The Murder of Gonzago, Hamlet manages to prove the Ghost’s story true,  he is quick to attack them for trying to ‘play upon me’ and ‘pluck out the heart of my mystery’. The images Hamlet uses to expose the reality of these two men is very fitting. He calls them sponges ‘that soaks up the king’s countenance, his rewards, and his authorities’.

Claudius continues to use Rosencrantz and Guildenstern further in Act 3 Scene 3 when he decides to send them to England with his nephew. Cladius’s concerns over Hamlet’s increased madness is growing and so he wants to put ‘fetters’ on it. Hamlet’s so-called friends are only too eager to comply:

‘We will haste us.’