BOOKBLOG: R.J.Palacio

We’re All Wonders: moving with an important message. 

IMG_4004(Released: 28th March 2017)

I was very lucky to be sent this by Lauren at Puffin and I was taken completely by surprise! I didn’t even know this book existed. It was such a lovely surprise. Book post is excellent, but surprise book post is one of the best kinds. 

I know I can’t change the way I look. But maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see…

Wonder is the unforgettable story of August Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. With over 5 million copies sold, Wonder is a true modern classic, a life-changing read, and has inspired kindness and acceptance in countless readers. Now younger readers can discover the Wonder message with this gorgeous picture book, starring Auggie and his dog Daisy on an original adventure, written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio.

With spare, powerful text and richly-imagined illustrations, We’re All Wonders shows readers what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world – a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way.

We’re All Wonders taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and teachers to talk about empathy, difference and kindness with young children.”

Image result for wonderImage result for wonder

For those of you unfamiliar with Wonder it is an exceptional book which tells the tale of Auggie, a boy with an unusual face. It talks about his struggles in school and the torment that he goes through. It is exceptional. It should be read in EVERY classroom (upper
KS2/KS3 in particular). It has such an important message about how horrible people can be and how strong people can be. I read it a while ago and I was really moved by it and I am so glad that so many teachers are now embracing it and teaching it to their children. 

IMG_4005

We Are All Wonders is an exceptional complement to Wonder. It’s a wonderful story about how we are all different but we’re all special, we all matter. In the world today it is more important than ever to teach children the importance of kindness and acceptance. This book is perfect for showing children that they may be different from their friends but we all matter. That sometimes being different is good. We can’t all be the same. Differences are what make us special. Imagine a world where all the people are the same as you?!

This book is beautifully illustrated too. Such simplicity in the beautiful. Throughout the book you’re taken on the journey with Auggie with incredible imagery that will ignite, inspire and interest children of all ages. 

IMG_4008

The final page made me tear up a big… I think the message is one which needs to be taught to children all around the world.

“Look with kindness and you will always find wonder”

This book will not only be an excellent accompaniment to Wonder but it could be used as a stand alone for younger children. The message it is spreading is so necessary, so important that I can’t wait to take it into school and read it to as many classes as I can. I’m going to borrow the message from the final page and make it part of my days.

Thank you Penguin and R.J.Palacio for making an important book that I will be recommending to teachers of all ages. Picture books for everyone. 

S x

Book Happiness Project

Welcome to the 4th guest blog of the year! I am so happy to introduce you all to my lovely friend Aimee – her links will be at the bottom of the post!

Well hello dear readers of Steph’s gorgeous blog, A Little But A Lot!

I am delighted that Steph has asked me to write yet another guest post for her ever-blossoming blog, which I absolutely love. We discussed topic options and it was decided that I’d share with you all a very exciting 2017 project that I’m involved with – The Book Happiness Project.

aimee

The Book Happiness Project is a year-long project designed to spread bookish love and bring together the Book Blogging and BookTube communities. By bringing together these two communities, we’re hoping that it inspires your creative flair and inspires you to join us on our journey with this amazing project. With a total of 12 hosts; we’re aiming to bring exciting themes each month, along with some amazing challenges and readathons that you can all be a part of.

Each month has two main hosts and to kick off 2017, the theme is Happiness in New. January’s theme is hosted by Hannah over at A Cup of Wonderland and Taylor at Bookaflix Taylor – both amazing BookTubers, so please do check them out when you have time. Without these two gorgeous ladies The Book Happiness Project wouldn’t be happening, so it’s only right that they kick off the year with Happiness In New.

So what is Happiness in New all about?

Here are the beautiful Hannah and Taylor explaining what The Happiness Book Project has in store for this month:

Hannah’s video

Taylor’s video

I do hope you guys will join in with this phenomenal project as much as possible over the year by and if you want to find out more then check out my announcement blog post: My blog announcement and join in the conversations over on Twitter by using the #BookHappinessProject.

Sending much bookish happiness and love your way,

Aimee x

——————————————————————

I think this is such an incredible idea! It’s lovely to unite all of the book lovers in the world. We all love books and sharing all of this incredible creativity is wonderful. I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for the #BookHappinessProject folk! 

Thank you so much Aimee for writing this blog post!

You can find Aimee here on Twitter and here on her blog.

S x

BOOKBLOG: Mark Sperring

Beauty and the Very Beastly Beast: perfect for this week! 

IMG_3997

I LOVE BOOK POST. I love Beauty and the Beast themed book post EVEN MORE. Thank you so much to Katrina at Scholastic for this wonderful book post! It certainly put a massive smile on my face on Saturday morning!

IMG_4003

“A fun and feisty picture book retelling of a classic fairytale by bestselling author Mark Sperring. With a double dollop of bravery, Beauty leaves her darling Popsey and beloved sisters behind to live with the dreaded Beast. He has terrifying horns and even scarier table manners. but is the Beast really so very beastly, after all?”

This is such a fun and beautifully illustrated version of the classic Beauty and the Beast classic! I absolutely loved it. It made me smile all the way through. It is a slight twist on the classic Beauty and the Beast that we all know and love, but it doesn’t stray too far from the story we know so was an instant hit with me!

I love all of the colours in this book! They’re so vibrant. This is going to be the perfect book to take into school. The children will love it. My goddaughters (who are turning 6 this week, what how?!) will absolutely love it! I’m going to take it along to them this week to read to them! It would be perfect for any primary classroom – as a book to read for sheet pleasure or to look at alternate versions of stories! 

IMG_4002

Thank you so much to Scholastic for sending this to me! I can’t wait to share it with the children and see what they think of it! Check out my twitter in the next few days to see what the children have to say about it! (@eenalol)

If you want to buy this I’m sure you’ll find it in any book retailer! But online you can find it at WaterstonesScholastic and Amazon.

Coming later this week, I have a Beauty and the Beast appreciation post! I hope you’re looking forward to it too! Let me know on twitter or in the comments!

S x

Ask Miss Elliott

I really enjoy taking you guys inside my classroom and sharing my ideas in the classroom. I love it even more when I’m taken into someone else’s classroom and I see their ideas that I know that I need to magpie and try myself! Enter Mr N. He wrote a blog post titled #AskMrN in which he got his class to ask him questions to answer! I thought this was a wonderful idea, so I asked if I could magpie it and try it with my Year 4s! So here goes…

IMG_3988

On Friday morning, the children came into this in the classroom. (We usually have a picture from Once Upon a Picture or Twinkl Imagine for which they have a discussion and they write their thoughts down on a post it note!) They were a bit confused at first but I explained that they could ask me anything (within reason, nothing silly otherwise it won’t be answered) and that throughout the day they would be answered! Here are some of the questions they asked: 

IMG_3989

 

Do you like sports?

Yes! I am a massive fan of tennis and football. I like rugby too. Roger Federer is my absolute tennis idol. I think he’s incredible. Obviously, being from Newcastle, I’m a huge Newcastle fan (win or lose, I am black and white all over).

IMG_3990

 

What was your favourite subject at school?

When I was in school I always loved English and German. I was much better at German than French (which is surprising because I teach French now!) I loved studying and analysing stories (although I’m glad I just get to read books now!)

IMG_3993
What subject were you worst at? What subject were you really bad at? (I had this in a few different forms!)

PE. I have never been the fittest or most sporty person. I LIKED PE but I was NEVER good at it. My PE teachers weren’t particularly supportive either though. Except when it came to rounders… man could I hit and throw!

IMG_3994


How many brothers and sisters do you have? Do you have brothers or sisters?

I have 1 brother. He lives in Sweden! He’s 4 years older than me and one of my best friends. We were really close growing up. He always has wise words for me. I love him and I miss him every day. But we speak quite often! He is really happy in Sweden so that’s what matters!

So that’s the first installment of #AskMissElliott! I have another one coming next week! I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me on twitter (@eenalol) or leave me a comment! My kids loved doing this and they asked if we could do it again. Thanks again to Mr N (@TeachMrN on twitter and TeachMrN blog!)

S x

 

BOOKBLOG: Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks: heartbreaking, engaging and memorable.

30849412

“Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.”

I was lucky enough to be sent this by my wonderful friend Rachel and it had sat on my TBR for a while and now I am not sure why I didn’t pick it up sooner! Emily Barr had been a guest author on our #SundayYA chats (Sunday 6-7pm, come along, it’s my favourite corner of the internet!) and I sat and just watched as I hadn’t read but the more I found out about Flora the more I needed to read it!

The story is about a young lady named Flora, who has no short term memory. She has memories of when she was younger, but then she had an accident and she has no memory of anything after that. Throughout the book you get the same memories repeated and the same thing over and over. This frustrated me a lot initially but as I read it became obvious that this was necessary and that in essence that’s what Flora was going through. One day she kisses a boy and this memory becomes the one thing that she can remember and that changes her life. It means that she can remember something. What follows is an almighty journey of Flora’s own self-discovery, through love and loss

Flora remembers things by writing them down in her notebook, taking pictures of them, writing them on her arm. It’s incredible how important these notes become. Her whole life revolves around the notes she takes. The one time she loses them things unravel a bit. But the kindness of strangers helps that situation. I loved the dynamic of the strangers in this book – some who are genuinely strangers that Flora meets when she travels to weird and wonderful places, and some who are her family, friends, people she goes to school with that she just doesn’t remember. 

Flora is a character I really liked. She’s brave and ballsy. She doesn’t realise her own strength. She’s got a stubborn streak. She is so beautifully written. Flora at the end of the book made my cry. Her journey made me sob. I really liked learning about her and her life throughout the book. Her brother is a particular highlight of this story. He does things for her that made me truly fall for him – he is the quintessential big brother. I think their relationship made me think of my own brother, who really is my best friend. 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Melinda Salisbury

Hello. For those of you who are unaware I am a HUGE fan of Melinda Salisbury. To me she has yet to write a bad book. I’d like to devote a blog post to The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy and what it is I love about it so much. Hopefully you’re all of sane mind and have either read them all anyway or this post will convince you to go pick it up somewhere!

So here we go…

Let’s start with book 1: The Sin Eater’s Daughter.

“Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court. As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?”

Goddesses? Badass female character? Love? Magic? Castles? Evil queens? Love triangles? Deception? Old ritualistic ways of living? Duty? They sound like the things you like? Then TSED is right up your street.

I loved The Sin Eater’s Daughter so much. It was everything I wanted in a book. Twylla was a character I loved straight away. I was attracted to her strength. I loved the idea of a “sin eater” too – which apparently was a thing, Mel did her research. The idea of someone having powers of execution from her touch was dark, daring and devilish and was right up my street. Reading it did not disappoint. You’ll feel ALL of the emotions when you read this; it is certainly a rollercoaster of emotions. I absolutely devoured this book and had to have the second one immediately… alas I had a year to wait.

AND WHAT A WAIT IT WAS. A year later came book 2: The Sleeping Prince.

“Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more. Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep. When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help Errin, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds splits the world as she knows it apart, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom…”

So I’d waited a year and then here it was, finally. And my word. I loved it. I read it QUICKLY. This time you’re introduced to Errin. Lovely, loyal, badass Errin. Much like Twylla, Errin is a character who you will totally want to fight for. You’ll feel all her pain, you’ll want to know how to help her, you’ll want to fight all her battles with her. Silas, ah Silas, a mysterious and wonderful gentleman of this fictional world. I really liked the dynamic that Silas and Errin added. (You can see my full review of TSP here: Bookblog: Melinda Salisbury.)

AGAIN Mel made us wait a year for the next book, The Scarecrow Queen. But at YALC she released a short story based in the same world as TSED titled The King of Rats and it was delicious. Staved off some of my wait. However after reading it I WANTED MORE. (BOOK BLOG: The King of Rats)

A year later of waiting… book 3: The Scarecrow Queen arrived.

Well, in fact my amazing friend Aimee was at an event with Melinda Salisbury and managed to get her hands on a super early copy of TSQ for me, and even got it signed too. AND MY GOD I CRIED. 

“The final battle is coming… As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever… Explosive, rich and darkly addictive, this is the stunning conclusion to Mel Salisbury’s internationally best-selling trilogy that began with THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER”

I have a full review of The Scarecrow Queen coming this week but just know that it was everything I wanted from the finale of his series. I was not ready for it to be over. But this book was filled with more badass Twylla, more surprises, more fighting, more rebellion. More twists and turns. Just an utter delight, an incredibly deliciously evil way to end this. I cried when I finished it. 

img_3888

img_3886

Purely aesthetically they’re GORGEOUS. So if you’re looking for books that look good on your shelves you absolutely can not go wrong with these ones. Look at those covers though. Deliciously dark covers with ladies in bottles… I mean c’mon. Don’t you wanna know what these are all about? AND THEY’RE INCREDIBLE COLOURS. That top picture pleases me to no avail. Just yes. Shelf appeal for sure.

 

So yes. Buy them. Go on. They’re SO good.

S x

BOOKBLOG: Melinda Salisbury 2

The Scarecrow Queen: the perfect ending to a wonderful trilogy.

img_3884

“As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever …”

img_3885

The Scarecrow Queen is the hotly anticipated final book in Melinda Salisbury’s trilogy, ‘The Sin Eater’s Daughter‘. 

img_3886

This book is one of the books from my most looking forward to of 2017 and it did not disappoint. I have many feelings about this books and I am going to find it hard to write about it without spoiling either of the previous books in the series, but I will try my hardest

You’re told this story from the perspective of both Errin and Twylla – the two main (badass) characters from the two previous books and I loved that. Twylla very much came into her own in this book. She became the leader, the complete Dauen Embodied that the people wanted. With her townspeople in a sheer state of terror she has to step up to be the leader that she was always meant to be. She goes about it wrongly initially but then she is guided in the right way by some exceptional new characters. Watching Twylla’s transformation from the first book to this shows her true character – from a frightened, feared “goddess” in the first book to the true leader that she was meant to be in this. Her journey was incredible to read. Errin on the other hand is very much in someone else’s control. I hated the treatment of Errin in the book, I had so much anger towards her controller but because Errin is the character she is, she’s the fighter, the one who never gives up, such spirit, you know that she’d get there. Her family being so important to her, they are her Achilles heel, she puts up with an awful lot of torture in this book for them. For me the girls have been the stand out in these stories. The men (Merek, Aurek, Silas) have played important roles but it is incredible to watch these girls transform and stand up for what they believe in. More books need young ladies like this. 

The last few lines gave me so much joy. So much joy. But don’t skip ahead. You need to experience the whole pain, the success, the failure, the cold, the warmth to appreciate the last few lines. The plot of this is so wonderful – you see Twylla and Errin fighting for the things that mean the most to them, their people, their families, their power. There are moments of disbelief, moments of love, friendship, joy. You won’t know where you stand emotionally from one moment to the other. There is such a contrast between Twylla’s journey through TSQ and Errin’s – the juxtaposition between freedom and imprisonment was something that had me gripped from the start. From the castles, to the woods, to the camps and the towns… it’s all gripping and believable. The whole world that Melinda has written is so believable. I would love to visit.

My goodreads review does this book NO justice: “What an incredible ending to one of the most majestic, dark, daring and wicked trilogies I’ve ever read. This book gave me EVERYTHING I wanted and so much more. I admire Twylla and Errin so much – they stand up for what they believe in, unashamedly and unabashed. I loved this book. It was the perfect ending. I am so sad it’s all over though :(“

I can not wait to see what Melinda Salisbury comes up with next. If it is deliciously evil as TSED has been then I will be the first in line for it! 

S x

BOOK BLOG:

Who Let The Gods Out: Funny, moving… a joy to read!

img_3893

I recently started seeing ‘Who Let The Gods Out’ from my tweacher friends and thought I would get my hands on it and man am I glad I did! 

img_3894

“Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?”

img_3895

I love an adaptation of something historical (I recently had this revelation in my life, so if you have any recommendations to throw my way then PLEASE DO, especially if it has to do with gods of the differing people) so this totally was up my street. Elliot, the little boy in the story, meets Virgo (a constellation, from the sky obviously) and they end up going on this incredible adventure which features Greek Gods (who are out of shape totally), the Queen (who is totally awesome) and an evil neighbour. 

I really enjoyed this story. It will be perfect to share with the kids at school. It’ll sit well in our library and I have high hopes that it will be one of the books that fly off the shelf as soon as it’s back in the library. If you’re teaching the Greeks then it is a PERFECT book to read alongside your topic – there are so many shout outs to some Ancient Greek culture – with some shout outs to today#s modern culture, which the kids will absolutely adore. 

There is more to come from this series and I can not wait to read them. The next one is out in August (if my memory serves me correctly) and I am genuinely looking forward to it! 

Quick shout out to THIS on Chicken House books! 3 words to describe the books and a TRY IT lure for kids. I know kids can struggle so much choosing a book, so having this on the book will certainly help those who need it! Thanks! 

img_3896

S x

BLOG TOUR: The Scarecrow Queen

A while back I was emailed by Melinda Salisbury’s publicist and asked if I would like to be involved in the blog tour for her final book in ‘The Sin Eater’s Daughter’ trilogy and naturally I JUMPED at the chance! I was asked to put together a mood board of 6 images that encapsulate a certain character and then compare mine to Mel’s! I was given Aurek (for those of you who haven’t read The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy then you absolutely should, it is incredible!) and I was so excited to get into it!

My moodboard

mel

Mel’s moodboard

aurek

My comparison: “I think with Aurek it is important to realise he is a very dark, mysterious and troublesome character and both mood boards show that. All the pictures are dark, gloomy and, in Mel’s board certainly, very gory. I love that Mel has chosen pictures that completely and utterly describe Aurek VISUALLY and as a reader they make total sense – of course he’s handsome. His crown, which is similar on both boards, probably goes EVERYWHERE he goes. I love the harsh contrast of Mel’s golden picture vs the harsh reality of the heart pulled out and the dark, cold looking forest”

Mel’s comparison: “Steph has done a fantastic job picking images to tell Aurek’s story – I’m especially please she chose a castle, because I did too, and it’s such an important part of Aurek’s story to realise what it means to him to have a place to rule from. The other elements are wonderful too, the spooky wood, the crown, and the ornate bottle especially.”

I had such a ball doing this mood board of Aurek and his story and it was an absolute pleasure to work on a book which has meant the absolute world to me over the past few years! I am so sad to see TSED go, but I am sure it will remain one which I reread on a regular basis. If you haven’t read it then please do. It is an incredibly wicked, devilish and soul crushing trilogy but Mel’s writing is exceptional. Go on people… read it!

————————————————————————–

2016-author-photo-mel-2-1

 

 

When not working on her next novel Melinda Salisbury is busy reading and travelling, both of which are now more addictions than hobbies.  She lives by the sea, somewhere in the south of England.

The Scarecrow Queen is the highly anticipated and captivating finale in the internationally bestselling trilogy that began with The Sin Eater’s Daughter. Published by Scholastic 2 March 2017.

the-scarecrow-queen-high-res-jacket

The final battle is coming… As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever… Explosive, rich and darkly addictive, this is the stunning conclusion to Mel Salisbury’s internationally best-selling trilogy that began with THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

Available at all good book shops or online at: AmazonScholasticBook DepositoryWaterstones and Wordery.

Wanna see some of the other mood boards?! Check out the rest of the blog tour!

banner-final

S x

Routes into teaching…

A while back I started a guest blogger Wednesday session and this week it’s the turn of my wonderful friend Kathryn who’s sharing her route into teaching! I am so proud of her and can’t  wait for you guys to read her route into teaching – it is so different to my own! 

————————–

Quite some time ago, Steph shared her teaching story. It had never been in doubt that she was made to be a teacher – having seen her in the classroom, I cannot imagine any place she would fit in more. Though her route has been less conventional, her passion for teaching hasn’t ever wavered. That is where Steph and I differ. No one ever thought I was made to be a teacher and all my life’s pursuits hadn’t really been with that goal in mind – which is hard to believe now I’m doing it!

I’m going to take you back first to my own school days, in Primary specifically. I adored school; reading books, mental maths tests, writing diary entries as a WWII evacuee… My parents often tell me how much of a terror I was before school. Reportedly, I never slept and required constant attention to keep my mind occupied. They agreed that school sorted that – I had an outlet for my energies: learning.
My first real memory of maths lessons was mental maths tests with Mrs Kennedy every morning after break in Year 3. I remember wanting to rush back from break to do them, but mostly I remember that the kid next to me had the same initials as me. That meant both of us had to write our FULL NAMES on the top of the paper – horrifying (if you’re reading Kristian then you’ll remember that pain!) Not the best first impression, I’ll admit, but I have to assume my love started here. I continued to love it throughout school and I ended up taking a Level 6 paper in Year 6.
I had a brief foray into humanities in Secondary school. I love history – at 7 I bought a book detailing the history of British Kings and Queens and at 11 I did a mini project (not even as homework *geek*) on the Romans in the summer holidays. After a Summer School learning about Law, I realised that wordy subjects weren’t for me, so at 6th Form I took Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, and History. Despite my love of it, the day I dropped History to get a timetable primarily made up of Maths was one of the best days EVER. I was even helping out in Maths lessons lower down in the school because I was enjoying it so much. My A Level teachers were phenomenal, in all my courses. My maths teachers specifically had an unashamed passion for their subjects that they were even more willing to share as the topics got more complex and interlinked. They spent time sitting with me one to one, discussing methods and patterns and even recommending mathematical books. A few of my A Level class also went with our Core Maths teacher (Mr B) to a lecture at Liverpool University by Marcus du Sautoy (Mathematical celebrity alert!) – while we were chatting at his book signing after, Dr B introduced me as one of his most promising students!

My path was set to be mathematical, including studying it at University, but I hadn’t yet decided what I wanted to do after that. Cue the inspiration for my future – Dad was self-employed at the time and asked his accountant if I should consider an accounting future. He told my dad I should look into ‘the most mathematical of mathematical jobs’: Actuarial Science. We put in a lot of research, and the subject matter seemed an interesting application of my degree, with a whopping wage to boot. I applied for summer internships in 2011 which saw me in York for a few months, even extending my stay by 2 weeks because I loved it so much. This was followed up by a place on the interview day for the Graduate Scheme in October – I landed an Actuarial job by Christmas 2011.

Entering the working world is daunting for anyone I think, but it seemed even more so with a move even further from home and into a high-pressure profession with yet more exams to pass to become qualified. I wasn’t alone though – I made some fantastic friends at this job and we got through the first few months by banding very closely together. However, while everyone else started to get on their feet and into a groove, I started to feel a little at sea. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the job, but once the initial thrill of working and being paid had faded, I realised I wasn’t doing maths like I thought I would be. I was working with economics and finance more than the subject I loved – that was in the background, in a spreadsheet someone else had already made. I struggled through my first placement on the scheme, hoping that a new department would mean less economics and more maths. Sadly, it didn’t and I felt worse and worse where I was. I was dealing with figures on spreadsheets that didn’t feel real to me, and struggling to put them together with economic theory and real life.
I began volunteering for the council on their ‘Right to Read’ scheme, which saw professionals from the local area using volunteering hours provided by their employers to read with Primary School children. This became the highlight of my week – not only was I outside of the office, I was helping to ignite a passion of my own in a younger generation (I also like books, A LOT). They were wonderful kids – so smiley and happy to see me once a week, and we had some marvellous conversations about books! I toyed with the idea of teaching, even signing up to the Get Into Teaching site. I got put off by many people when I mentioned it, as I’d be giving up a ridiculously well paid and highly regarded profession… and “who knows if it will even be any better?” So I struggled on.

This is the not so nice part of my story. This is the part I don’t often talk about because talking about mental illness is a huge taboo… I have some terrible anxiety issues, and have struggled with them on and off since Secondary School. But this job took that to the next level and I became incredibly ill. I went to work on auto-pilot for a while, to an extent that the work I did at Half Year didn’t register with me at all – when I got asked to do it again at Year End I had no idea what I was doing because I literally did not remember doing it. In 2015 I began having panic attacks and my anxiety was at the highest level it had ever been – I was signed off work for 6 weeks. I was still getting the Get Into Teaching promotional material and I used this time off to get some school experience and decide if I really wanted to do it. I went to observe secondary maths teaching in the next town – as much as I loved the time with the little ones I knew I couldn’t deal with it every day – I commend those of you that do! I loved it – teachers invited me to help them out in the classroom and I felt at home. Talking about the subject I love and helping others to understand it just clicked – it was everything I was missing in the job I was in. I decided to apply for a PGCE.

My PGCE was a fantastic experience. I did a School Direct scheme, as being locked away at University again seemed too much after being in the working world for 3 years. My main placement was at a gorgeous school, with a wonderful maths department and the best mentor I could have asked for. I hope I am friends with those people forever – they helped me in so many ways, and taught me so much about being an excellent teacher in such a short space of time…. AND they introduced me to Teacher Twitter, where I have made even more wonderful friends. I can’t fault either the Red Kite Alliance or University of York for their support through the year.
I was lucky enough to get a job before Christmas on my PGCE and I am now an NQT teaching Maths at Secondary School! I can wholeheartedly say that my career change was the best decision I have ever made – it was scary in so many ways, but I am infinitely happier as a teacher than I ever was as an actuary. It’s hard to believe now that I ever did anything else, or thought that I should. I love dealing with people and I love maths. I get to be a total maths geek all day and get paid for it. It’s a match made in heaven really… But even more than that I’ve discovered a love for teaching and pedagogy. I love finding new ways to think about topics that I used to think were mundane and my colleagues are the exact same. I feel like I’m perfectly placed.
I also love the kids I work with – OK, some don’t do their homework on time and talk over me a lot, but they are such wonderful kids with sparkling personalities. They can be sassy and funny, but also generous and caring. We can be arguing about the best Avenger one minute or singing ‘The Circle Song’, then discussing world politics the next. Even though my Year 12s just make fun of my ‘glistening eyes’ as I tell them another history of maths story, I hope that I am helping them to realise the beauty of mathematics through my passion for it. The fact I get to share any of that with them is a gift. Plus, sometimes students remember that you love birthday cake and bring you a slice for a snack…