The Portal, Scotch College, Melbourne, Australia

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières


From the hand that wrote Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Birds Without Wings traces a short period in Turkey’s turbulent and bloody history at the turn of the last century. Narrated by various characters, most of whom live in the fictional village of Eskibahçe, in western Turkey, we witness an improbable love story between Philothei and Ibrahim, but the tale covers far more territory than romance. We see the inevitable collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the nation’s entry into World War One, the rise of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - ‘Father of the Turkish Nation’ - dreadful and unthinkable injustice, the forced removal of ethnic groups, and the unimaginable loss and heartbreak that pursue religious and ethnic intolerance in a period of rabid Nationalism. This is a story worth reading for several reasons. The characters will become your friends, you will sympathise and suffer as they do when they are tossed about and buffeted by historical forces beyond their control. You will freeze in Turkish trenches amongst lice and the dead; watch the emergence of the Turkish nation after the torment of WW One and the War of Independence; and begin to understand the vortex of the modern world where Asia comes face to face with Europe. Almost a perfect read: 4.5 stars.

Rob Hortin ( Teacher of English )

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


If you like thrillers you will certainly enjoy Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It is a story about two people who meet, fall in love, get married and then BANG. The question is, do we really know our partner, how well do we even know ourselves and how important is trust? How important are friends and family and should we always trust our parents? Set in Brooklyn, Gone Girl is not just a story about what happens when you lose your job, relocate to take care of a dying parent or end up with little or no money. It is a story of what happens when you wake up on your 5th wedding anniversary and your beautiful wife goes missing and maybe you don’t really care anyway, except for the fact that you are the main suspect. Gone Girl is irresistible at the start and then cracks begin to appear, you begin to wonder how these things happen and what was the author thinking when this was written? The story is told by each one of the main characters, first we hear the wife’s story then we hear the husband’s, the banter goes on and on, but what is the real story and is there a real story? What is a secret and who keeps them, how many secrets do you have and why do you have them? Oh boy, all these questions will keep you going. Although I enjoyed the book I found it a little too rancid and wonder if any of this stuff really happens to people? However it is a psychological thriller so you would assume that the stories need to be about psychos and sociopaths and manipulative people who should get a life but don’t or can’t and perhaps this is why they end up so mad. Or is it really about sad souls who have not really had a good start to life and then end up this way?

Ms Emorfia Kupraiou ( Teacher-librarian )

Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy


Piano lessons by Anna Goldsworthy is an elegantly constructed and deeply evocative memoir. It tells the story of Anna’s growth from a talented 9 year old piano player to virtuoso under the expert tutelage of Mrs. Sivan. Told with great humour and emotion, I highly recommend this book, especially to those students, staff and parents with a love of music.

Ophelia Hopkins
( Teacher of Drama )

If I grow up by Todd Strasser


The Frederick Douglas Housing Project is not a pretty place to grow up. Gunshots, drug lords and gang leaders impact the lives of the young people living there every day. DeShawn is smart and wants to avoid the joining the gang bangers because he knows that they all end up dead or in jail. But as his family goes hungry and struggles to survive, it is harder for him to stay in school and keep clean. This is a grim world and there is little real choice for our protagonist. It is bleak and disturbing, yet makes compelling reading.


Mr Peter Hillman

Marked by Denis Martin

 Cully’s life in a small town on the Coramandel Peninsula, NZ should be quiet and uneventful. Then he meets Kat and his young life is transformed. Unfortunately she is aloof and not in the slightest bit interested in him to begin with. The he notices that she is being followed and her explanation leaves him unsatisfied. Quickly the scene escalates and there are bodies, action, adventure and suspense abounding. This book is a perfect foil to wean young male readers from Muchamore’s formulaic writing and open the door to a wider range of books. Martin is a NZ author with a growing reputation and the book is written in an easy style but makes compelling reading.


Mr Peter Hillman

My Swans Family by William P.

My grandmother was raised as a South Melbourne supporter. Unluckily, she was born the year after South won the 1933 premiership. South Melbourne were one of the great teams at the time but when she was a young girl that came to came to a halt. They missed the finals in 1946 after losing the infamous ‘Bloodbath Grand Final’ in 1945.

She stayed loyal to the Bloods throughout their finals drought until 1970 and again in 1977 when they finished fifth.

My father was born in 1960 and was raised as a South supporter as well, as were his two brothers born in 1962 and 1966 and twin sisters born in 1971. All die-hard Swans fans they supported South as kids and, though disappointed, followed them through their move to Sydney in 1982, 49 years after the Swans last premiership.

Then it came to the year 1996. The Swans finished top of the ladder and looked like potential premiership winners after a 63 year drought. They won the first qualifying final against Hawthorn by a goal in a thriller, but North Melbourne who finished second on the ladder won their final against Geelong easily. Two weeks later playing Essendon in a preliminary final the Swans scraped through by a single point with the help of Tony Lockett’s huge point after the siren. My father took my elder brother who had just turned two to the Grand Final between North and South. The Swans outplayed North in the first quarter and lead by 18 points at quarter-time only for North to come back and win by 43 points. My Father then walked five kilometres home crying all the way.


It all started up again in 2005. My uncle joined the board of the Swans and all of the family was still supporting them, of course. My grandmother who has given the swans craze to the family had five kids who were all married and eight grandchildren (with another five still to come!). At the end of the home and away season the Swans were fourth on the ladder and went over to Perth to play the qualifying final against West Coast. They lost in a cliff-hanger against them.


The next week they played in Sydney against Geelong. They were down by 23 points early in the fourth quarter. My mother repeatedly told me to go to bed thinking we were going to lose. I didn’t listen to a word she said and stayed up to watch the rest of the match. My mother was then proved wrong by Nick Davis coming to save us with four final-quarter goals to get us over the line by three points. Then two days after my sixth birthday we played against St Kilda in the preliminary final. There was a bet on at the time between my aunty and uncle-in- law, that uncle was the only in-law who did not agree to follow the Swans tradition and kept supporting St Kilda. My aunty was pregnant and the bet was that the winner of that final the child would barrack for. At three quarter time the Saints were up by seven points, but the Swans stormed home to win by 31 points.


We then met West Coast in the Grand Final. I sat with all of my Swans relatives at the game. It was close all game and very low-scoring, leading by just two points at three-quarter time. It came down to the last 30 seconds, Leo Barry kicked out from the back pocket straight to Dean Cox who then Kicked straight back in. I saw everyone jump up. Being only 6 I could not see over anyone. I thought all the people who had jumped up were West Coast supporters. Then I heard the siren and realised that Leo had taken the mark.


My grandmother and the rest of my family had seen us win a premiership for the first time. My whole family was ecstatic and my father was crying. I almost felt guilty that I only had to wait six years but for my Grandmother it had taken 71 years for her to see one. She was absolutely thrilled. She saw her mighty Bloods win with all of her family.


Leigh Sullivan remembers the 2010 AFL Grand Final.

Hello from Vanessa O’Neill…

I am very much looking forward to running the Playing With Shakespeare sessions for Years 11 and 12, on Friday, exploring scenes from Hamlet and Antony and Cleopatra. If you have any questions about these plays or about Shakespeare in general, I am very happy to do my best to try to answer them…

Footy report: William P tells the story of his family’s passion for the mighty Bloods

Read William P’s terrific piece about following the Swans (the premiers, yayyyy!) at

Click here to read William’s yarn

and more from Rob Hamill…

Hi there again!  I forgot to mention in the previous post that during my presentation I will briefly mention someone who is perhaps New Zealand’s most famous person: Sir Edmond Hillary.  It’s not essential but if you’d like to do a little research on him then go for it!


Also, here is the trailer to the film Brother Number One.  The full film is 100 minutes long.  In the workshop I will be showing an abbreviated version.  We will then discuss following the screening.


See you all soon!