Tony Thompson visits MHS

Reading Assembly

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A celebration of reading and writing was a focus of last Junior Assembly. We were fortunate to have a visit from Melbourne author, Tony Thompson who shared his own journey to the dream job of being an author. No doubt many of our boys would have felt inspired by Tony’s evident love of literature and passion for writing. During Assembly Tony presented Reading Awards to the following students for sustained and balanced reading, across a range of genres and including some very interesting and challenging reads.

Patrick Phung, 9C                                                       Xavier Kelly 9F
Nikhil Chalisgaonkar, 9F                                             Sean Wong 9G
John Li, 9J                                                                   Noel Augustine 9K
Callum Wigg, 9L

Kevin Kim 10A                                                           Vaibhav Malhotra, 10A
Sam Loh, 10J                                                             Nick Wang 10K
Mahen Pathirana, 10L

Writing workshop

Many of our keen writers signed up for a double period workshop with Tony focussing on the challenging aspect of interacting characters with settings. In a series of carefully constructed writing activities students produced some very engaging and intricate story lines. Equally impressive was their delight and generosity in sharing unedited first drafts with the group and with us:

Activity 1: Creating a setting

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The man sat in the corner of the room looking towards the opposite wall. The room itself was silent, save for the shallow breathing of the man and the occasional rasping of chairs as he adjusted positions. The sun never slanted through the narrow grill in the top left corner, never tried. A dark puddle had formed a few feet away from the man, flies lazily buzzing above it; not even the flies would pay any attention to him. And yet the man kept looking, transfixed, towards the opposite end of the room. The ‘End’, they called it, the name of the man’s predicament. He himself had no home; it was easier to forget that way. Leo Year 9

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The room was of an explicit design, unlike anything I have ever seen before. A pristine chandelier hung low from the ceiling, while the walls were lined up with old furniture filled with cobwebs and a layer of fine dust on top of them. In the epi-centre of the room, an out-of-place object drew my attention. It was a workspace and a bed fused together. I touched the angular and odd shapes that made up most of this fusion, and a shock was instantly sent up my spine. This bed, no, this weird piece of furniture, looked like some high-tech death machine had been sent through time and space to this room. This room was an uncomprehendable blend of old and new. No, “out-of-worldly” would be a better, more accurate word to describe the room, and I was not sure if I liked it or not. I sat down quite cautiously on the bed. The blanket looked just like a regular one, except it felt like liquid in the form of a solid, giving a rather strange feeling. Fused to it beside the bed… Bryan, Year 10

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The room is quiet, with air of silent watching. The vivid colours of the painting sharply contrast with the dull colours of the walls behind them. The couches in the middle of the room are littered with whiney travellers and children who seem like they’ve been looking at the same thing for hours. The paintings look so real, like if you turned around they would pull a face at you… Noah, Year 9

Activity 2: Introducing a character

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The valley was bathed in darkness. It was too late to start a fire; the trees blocking out all the starlight. The travellers were becoming restless; they’d been warned by the occupants of the previous village of strange disappearances in nearby forests. First it was a small child, then a group of men. Now, with darkness playing tricks in their ears and eyes, slowly the travellers began to disintegrate. One ran off. Two collapsed. Only one remained standing, rooted to the spot. And that was just the beginning. It was too late to start a fire.   Leo, Yr 9

He was falling. The wind whistled as the clouds flew further and further away. The snow had faded into stone, melting into thunderous yet glorious falls. There was an air of freshness that eased his mind. The bright sun shone dimmer down here. His eyes closed as he fell into the soft hands of his giant father. Daniel, Year 9

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From a distance the primary school, unlike any other, looked like a fortress dwarfing all other buildings within close proximity. I strolled casually towards it, and the school soon pulled me as …, into the circle of buildings it dominated. I stood before the rusty gate which towered exactly one metre over me, and stared at it. I was expecting something to happen based on my experience, but it only stared back at me plainly, as if it was not acknowledging my presence at all. Hesitantly I touched the lock to open it and… Bryan, Year 10

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One had never been in this museum before, but had been in museums all around the world. He was used to the atmosphere that these places had. He quietly observed a painting by one of his favourite artists, Claude Monet. The use of colour and space and lighting that was always found in Monet’s artwork was astonishing. One looked around the room at some of the other paintings, then back at the painting in front of him. Something was different about it this time, not something he had not noticed, but as if the painting had moved by itself… Noah, Year 9

Activity 3: Streetscape description

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My street is a rather quiet one, which is strange considering I live in the bustling suburb of Glen Waverley, a popular destination and hub to which many immigrants from all over the world introduce their cultures and ways. In the court four giant houses dominate the rest, occupied by billionaire tycoons who spend every day salivating over the flow of the money river. Bryan, Year 10

The Melbourne skyline looked the same as it always had; big cranes, bigger buildings. The sunrise was immense with the hot air balloons coming up in front of it. Flinders Street Station was packed with the endless stream of people wanting to touch off their mykis. The boats of the Yarra coming in with the rich people and their exclusive parties. And there was Felix, no one noticed Felix. Not until he fell out of the sky… Noah, Year 9

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Thanks to Miss Morton for the photographs

 

Slam Poetry is alive and well at MHS

Last month Year 9 English classes gathered in Memorial Hall to support and barrack for their class teams in an entertaining competition for the opportunity to perform in the Melbourne Writers’ Festival Out Loud Poetry Slam Competition.

Dynamic duo, Alex Shang and Jian Lam of 9F gave a stirring performance of The Black Dog and were chosen to represent Melbourne High. Two weeks later semi-finals were held in the State Library with teams from 14 Victorian schools.
Competition was hot and only five teams could be selected for the MWF finals.
Slam poet and organiser of the contest, Emilie Zoe Baker remarked that this was the best prepared MHS team ever.

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Special thanks to 9F English teacher, Mrs Hamilton and Performance Coach, Ms Brownhill and congratulations to all Year 9 English teachers for creating such a fun and lively competition across the year level.

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9F students enjoyed their class reward – yesterday’s visit to the Out Loud Finals at Deakin Edge in Federation Square

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Literature Alive comes to MHS

A big thankyou to Stonnington Library for giving our students a chance to workshop with the fabulous Kirsty Murray during their Literature Alive Festival.

“The workshop was an awesome experience, Kirsty Murray taught me so many different, new ways to write that I had never considered before. I had a great time and I am sure that everyone else did as well. The workshop has definitely helped me see new ways to create stories and make them more interesting.” Monty

Loosen up with free writing – don’t let the pen escape the paper

“Kirsty got everyone engaged and in a creative mind-set” Andre

Eye to Eye – close observation is needed for a fresh perspective

Various interpretations

Now for the story…

“It was great to get tips on how to be published from an experienced author” Andre

And sharing…

Luke – a new literary prodigy?

Keen to find a publisher?

Our special thanks to Chelsea Hughes and Lily Merry from Stonnington Library

 

Visit to the Melbourne Writers Festival

Here Comes the Future

When I learnt we were going to the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, I was pleased as punch, pardon the expression. I’d always wanted to learn more about the process of writing and publishing books, and a festival which deals with issues such as these is a festival I always love to go to.

We met near Deakin Edge, in Federation Square, and, at 10:00, entered the ACMI “The Cube”, for “Here Comes The Future,” a Q & A session with Ambelin Kwaymullina about her debut novel, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf.

Ambelin, daughter of Indigenous writer and artist Sally Morgan, spoke in depth about the creative process involved in her work. She explained that the original title of the book was proposed by her brother Blaze, and that her family as a whole played a major part in her writing, reviewing her drafts and proposing new ideas. For example, Sally, her mother, always enjoyed scenes with speaking animals, and would encourage her to add in more.
Ambelin admitted that some of her characters were based on herself, and that some were based on people she knew well. She described in detail how she based the ecological system of the book on the ecological system of Australia, to retain an environment that makes logical sense while still maintaining the uniqueness of an unknown future.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf – Summary

“The Reckoning destroyed civilisation. Rising from the ashes, some people have developed unique abilities, and society is scared of them. Guided by the ancient spirits of the land, Ashala Wolf will do anything to keep them safe.
When Ashala is captured, she realises she has been betrayed by someone she trusted. When her interrogator starts digging in her memories for information, she doubts she can protect her people forever. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?” Goodreads

Hooked on Classics

Our next session was a discussion of retelling; The adaptation of a classical story into a modern one by a different author, featuring Alison Croggon, author of Black Spring, a retelling of Wuthering Heights  by Emily Bronte, alongside Cassandra Golds, author of Pureheart, a modern reimagining of the tale of King Arthur.

Alison and Cassandra discussed the ideas behind adaptations of classics: What defines a classic? What distinguishes adaptations from fan fiction?
They also discussed the creative process of their respective novels.

Alison wrote her story a few years after reading Wuthering Heights: the main ideas were still fresh in her mind, but apart from snippets of dialogue, she had no memory of the text. In contrast, Cassandra was inspired by a picture of the grail maiden, who tended to the Holy Grail, and wrote the book while actively reading and rereading texts of the original legend.

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Pureheart – Summary

“Gal and Deirdre have forgotten something, something really, really important.
When her grandmother dies, Deirdre is left alone in a crumbling block of flats. Looking out the window one misty night, she sees a boy who seems familiar.  Together, he and Deirde must discover the secret of the old building, before it collapses and the secret is lost forever . . .”
Goodreads

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Black Spring – Summary

“In a savage land sustained by wizardry and ruled by vendetta, Lina is the enchanting but wilful daughter of a village lord. She and her childhood companion, Damek, have grown up privileged and spoiled, and they’re devoted to each other to the point of obsession. But Lina’s violet eyes betray her for a witch, and witches are not tolerated in a brutally patriarchal society. Her rank protects her from persecution, but it cannot protect her from tragedy and heartbreak.|
An innocent visitor stands witness to the devastation that ensues as destructive longing unleashes Lina’s wrath, and with it her forbidden power. Whether drawn by the romantic, the magical, or the gothic, readers will be irresistibly compelled by the passion of this tragic tale.”
Afantasticallibrarian.com

Stamp of a Vamp

The third session for the day was with Justine Larbalestier, author of Team Human, and Myke Bartlett, author of Fire in the Sea. These two authors held a captivating discussion about the natural and the supernatural, and one point drawing the comparison between a vampire in bed and a human sized ham sandwich, and coming to the conclusion that the legendary Minotaur is a rather sad creature.
Justine admitted that she was a fan of “The Vampire Diaries,” but refused to name her favourite male lead, claiming that they were “rather whiny and annoying.”|We all laughed along as the two authors explained their respective stories, with a lot of humour and good cheer.

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Team Human – Summary

“Mel is horrified when Francis Duvarney, arrogant, gorgeous, and undead, starts at her high school. Mel’s best friend, Cathy, immediately falls for the vampire. Cathy is determined to be with him forever, even if having him turn her could inadvertently make her a zombie.
And Mel is equally determined to prove to her BFF that Francis is no good, braving the city’s vampire district and kissing a cute boy raised by vampires as she searches evidence in this touching and comic novel.”
richincolour.com

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Fire in the Sea – Summary

“Sadie is sixteen and bored with life in Perth. It’s summer, and lazing on the beach in the stifling heat with her cousins and Tom is a drag. Then something comes out of the sea.
Dark menacing forms attack an old man, leaving him dead and Sadie wracking her brains to understand what she saw. Then there’s a mysterious inheritance, a strange young man called Jake and a horned beast trampling the back yard.”
Sadie finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient conflict that is nearing its final battle, a showdown that threatens to engulf Perth and all those she loves in a furious tsunami.”
textpublishing.com.au

How to Make a Book

Our final session for the day, “How to Make a Book,” featured Melissa Keil, author of Life in Outer Space, and Tony Palmer, a cover artist who has collaborated with authors such as Morris Gleitzman and Sonya Hartnett. It was hosted by Lachlan Carter, creator of “100 Story Building,” a social enterprise for young aspiring authors.
Melissa Keil told us about her decision to write a story, and her eventual publication. She entertained us, detailing emotional breakdowns and long arguments with her editor, line by line analyses of the story, and the eventual decision to merge the six original starting chapters into the current four.

Tony Palmer spoke about his creative process: He showed us how he makes a cover, starting from a small sketch, which travels through the hands of most every person working with the book, until it ends up as a fully-fledged cover. Tony admitted that he had a habit of producing mass covers, with slight variations, and presented examples of his extensive portfolio.

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Life in Outer Space – Summary

“Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls.
Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.
Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies … but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong ones.”
Goodreads.com

Looking Back

Overall, I had a good time, and I believe everyone else did as well.
The authors were engaging and interesting, providing enlightening opinions about both weighty and trivial topics, cracking jokes and sharing their lives with us.

I believe several “thank you”s are in order:
Thank you Ambelin, thank you Alison, thank you Cassandra, thank you Justine, thank you Myke, thank you Melissa, thank you Tony, and thank you Lachlan. Thank you for coming to the Writers’ festival, sacrificing your free time to teach us more about books.

Thank you also to the library, especially Miss Buckland, for providing us with the opportunity to experience this veritable hothouse of learning.

And above all, thank you, dearest reader, for suffering through my obtuse words.

Ido Kleifeld, signing out.

Stonnington Literary Festival atMHS

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Adolfo           Kevin              Sammy J.          Kat                 John

                                               [Untitled] our writers, readers and stories

On Friday a group of literary-minded MHS students gathered to celebrate an afternoon event in
the inaugural Stonnington Literary Festival. Chelsea and the team at Stonnington Library had
put together a lively and diverse panel to share insights into their lives and careers across the writing industry.

        Adolpho Aranjuez, poet, short story writer and editor and chairperson
        Kat Muscat, 21 year-old editor of Voiceworks
        John Richards, comedian and filmmaker (of Outland fame)
        Kevin Burgemeestre, author/illustrator
        Sammy J., local comedian, writer and singer

Our budding writers were fascinated and appreciated the candid insights and, often very humorous, stories.

Great reads from the Book Club team

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Our Cyber Book Club boys came up with these recommendations after a lively discussion in our last meeting

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk reviewed  by Eric, Year 11

Described by many as a ‘man’s novel’, Fight Club explores the ideas of nonconforming to the societal rules which are placed on every individual from the moment they are born. Following the plight of the unnamed protagonist as he struggles against incessant insomnia, our protagonist meets the enigmatic Tyler Durden, who quickly establishes a ‘fight club’ in which people who are office workers and dentists by day end up beating the crap out of each other at night. The actions of the fight club eventually culminates into normal men taking action against our consumerist, superficial culture, and the book ultimately causes us to challenge the Western idea of success equating to money and wealth.
Read this book? Do it!

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s CrusadeAuthor, by Kurt Vonnegut reviewed by Leon, Year 11

Summary: Billy Pilgrim, reluctant soldier, time traveller extraordinaire, animal in a Tralfamadorian zoo. He’s also a little insane, but that’s really beside the point. Welcome to the amazing and otherworldly adventures of the strangest of characters, all set against the backdrop of a thousand burning souls.
Opinion: Slaughterhouse Five is a silently gripping book, the literary equivalent of a silent movie. Impressive and effective, if at times a slight tenacity is required to turn the page, the book is perhaps the most successful anti-war protest book I have ever read.

Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield reviewed by Chamaka, Year 10

A book that explores the spiritual side of people, this book uncovers the philosophy of how humans will change their culture and become more aware of their spiritual field being one with nature and all other humans. This is the journey of one man seeking how humans can unlock the spiritual world by discovering the secrets of an ancient manuscript the prophesizes this cultural change.
This book in my opinion is based upon a very interesting idea and takes another perspective on human culture.
I give this book a 4 out of five and highly recommend reading this book.

Dreamrider by Barry Jonsberg reviewed anonymously

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Barry Jonsberg’s ‘Dreamrider’ is one of the most compelling, gripping, and outright weirdest books I’ve ever enjoyed reading. It focusses on teens and discusses on bullying and mental health, but it’s plot and characters are nothing short of interesting. It’s set in your typical high school environment in the Australian suburbia where a very obese Year 10 social outcast named Michael Terny is found to hold very special powers that can affect people in such ways that it can change their lives forever.
As far as a teen novel can get, ‘Dreamrider’ has a very surprisingly confronting and mature plot that even adults can enjoy.
‘So what have you got to say for yourself, fat boy?’

Premier’s Reading Challenge at MHS


At Junior Assembly last week we were fortunate to have Michael Pryor, an ambassador for the 2011 Premier’s Reading Challenge, present the “George Georgiou Reading Cup” to 9K and make special reading awards to some of our students.
Overall, 249 Year 9 students completed the challenge representing 81% of the cohort – a fantastic result.

It was exciting to see our students enjoying a range of high-quality writing including Australian & international Young Adult literature. Choices ranged from literary classics such as Homer, Dickens, Hemingway, and Erich Maria Remarque through to modern classics by Hosseini, Toltz, Martel, and Hartnett. We noticed an increased interest in biographies, and non-fiction reading. Graphic novels have also been more popular this year, especially the socially illuminating books by Shaun Tan, Marjorie Satrane & Art Spiegelman.

Book prizes were awarded to  Stephen, Terrence and  Zhengyu for reading across a wide range of genres. Austin had an interesting selection of graphic novels. Jean-Marc tackled some challenging non-fiction. Yunxu is our Shakespeare enthusiast, and Leo read the most Michael Prior books. Congratulations to all readers and we hope you will consider entering the Challenge again next year.