SGS Library Blog - March 2023

SGS Library Blog - March 2023

This term has been filled with lots of fun in the library with clubs, new books, themed days and World Book Day celebrations to name but a few.  In this month’s blog, we have a superb interview with author Dominic Sandbrook, written by one of our Year 10 Blog Buddies, telling us all about how he became an historian and his passion behind his book writing.  With the Easter holidays approaching we hope you will enjoy some reading. Please share your book reviews with others on the Reading Cloud or email them to  


We have so many brillant books in the library for you to read, take one home today or logon to SORA you’ll find all the Carnegies Shortlisted books and much more.  Here are this month’s blog picks: Promise Boys by Nick Brooks; When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari; The Blackthorn Branch by Elen Caldecott; Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Bk2 of Shadowhunters) by Cassandra Clare; Wonder Book by Jeff Vandermeer (880); Becoming Muhammad Ali a Novel by James Patterson & Kwame Alexander.


Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing
Shortlist Announced

An all-female author shortlist has been announced for the prestigious Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing 2023.  Seven books have been selected for the Shortlist: The Light in Everything by Katya Balen; When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari; Medusa by Jessie Burton; The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch; Needle by Patrice Lawrence; I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys; The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros.  We have all of the Shortlist titles available in our Library for you to read, in addition, you can find them on SORA too.  Click find out more


Easter Holiday Reads

Hop into the Easter break with some egg-tastic reads!  There are plenty of books to grab in our library or on SORA.  We always think reading and chocolate easter eggs go very, very well together, so don’t delay and start hunting for your Easter reading!  Here are some recommended books for KS3: Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe; The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng; The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.
Click here for the full list


The Soul Hunters by Chris Bradford

A book review by Aman C (9G)

Where to start? The Soul Hunters is an amazing book by Chris Bradford, who is a famous for his two popular series: Young Samurai and Bodyguard among many others. This book is about a teenage girl who is thrown into the adventure of her life (or should I say ‘lives’) in which she fights against a great evil who wants to extinguish “The Light of Humanity”. Alongside the main protagonist there is also her Guardian angel, who plays on his life multiple times just to make sure that nothing happens to her.

The book has many twists and turns as well as an overall suspense, which left me thinking that I would never have figured that out myself without reading the book. There are many thrilling scenes that left my imagination in overdrive, as well as many emotional moments. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who loves fantasy and a deviation from the normal way of things. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series: The Soul Prophecy.


Bestselling Fantasy Books of All Time

If you love fantasy novels and are looking for some great inspiration on what to read, then Book Riot has this comprehensive list you must feast your eyes on: bestselling-fantasy-books

We have a well-stocked school library of many of the suggested books on the list and box sets of the series.  Experience the unreality with this book selection: Black Leopard Red Wolf by James Marlon; The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett; Babel by RF Kuang (KS4 upwards); The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin; Gunslinger by Stephen King (KS4 upwards); The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.


Mr Karlsson Reviews
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
by Joan Aiken

During lockdown, I re-read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase with my daughter.  It’s a modern classic set in a pseudo-Victorian world in which wolves roam the English countryside!   Much like the train scene from Harry Potter, we're taken on a journey away from from the busyness of London into a cold, isolated countryside - a place where villains can secretly assembly and develop dastardly plans. 

So why should you read it?  For me, this novel features lots of intriguing characters as well as some quintessential crime settings.  The protagonists (two cousins) are quite different to each other - one is loud and outgoing, whilst the other is quiet and thoughtful.  Although they are only children, they are catapulted into a world of danger and must draw on all of their resourcefulness to survive and outwit the evil criminals who threaten their family. 

The book is available on the SORA App or you can pick up a copy in the school library.


50 Best YA Book Podcasts
to Follow in 2023

Podcasts are a great way to keep up-to-date with the book world.  Here are 50 of the best YA Book Podcasts to follow.  Simply click on ‘play,’ underneath the Podcast logo, to listen to each one’s selection and enjoy!
Please note that these are aimed at YA, they are not suitable for a younger audience.  Always read the information available to make sure you know what you are listening to.


National Pet Month

With 62% of households owning pets in the UK alone, is it any wonder that when it comes to having furry friends in our lives we just can’t resist! Developing bonds with our pets brings us companionship but also comes with the responsibility to care for them.  National Pet Month runs from 1 April - 1 May 2023 and aims to celebrate, together with raising awareness of, pet ownership

We have lots of books featuring pet heroes, we have selected a few very worthy contenders:  Simon vs The Homo Sapiens by Becky Albertalli; Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford; While the Storm Rages by Phil Earle.
For more epic pet books check this out:


Comic Club Launch ‘The Biscuit’ Comic

Year 8 Comic Club have been very busy this term, coming together to design their Comic Book, entitled The Biscuit (possibility influenced by biscuits brain food on offer at the club).  They have worked hard to produce some excellent comic strips, click to read The Biscuit here


Graphic Novel and Manga Books

Our Graphic Novels and Manga collection in our Library keeps on growing!  Here are our latest additions to be added, you will find them under Section 741.

Yu Gi Oh (vol 1) by Kazuki Takahashi; Dragon Ball (vol 1) by Akira Toriyama; Alex Rider Stormbreaker; Point Blanc; Skeleton Key; Eagle Strike; Ark Angel; Scorpia.


Interview with Dominic Sandbrook

On Friday the 3rd March, to celebrate World Book Day, the writer and historian Dominic Sandbrook, visited Sutton Grammar School. Known for his history books (largely on mid-20th century Britain) and his “Adventures in Time” historical fiction series, in addition to his podcast “The Rest is History” with Tom Holland, I was given the opportunity to interview him on his career as a historian.

I began the interview by asking him about his experiences as a lecturer at the University of Sheffield. He described the working environment as “quite tough” and even tougher today due to the increase in student numbers at universities, advising those who want to be academics to work hard and be diligent. I raised the potential problem for aspiring academics that, eventually, new ideas in historiography could be exhausted and further research become pointless. Sandbrook felt that this is impossible, emphasising that historiography “never stops” and that, even if another historian has done it before, “you haven’t”: everyone’s view of history, he asserted, is different and unique.

Dominic Sandbrook was trained as an American historian and wrote his PhD thesis on Eugen McCarthy, the US politician. This he adapted into a book, “Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism”, that examines his life in the context of liberalism in the United States. Whilst not the most famous of his works, the biography reached the attention of McCarthy himself, who described it as “almost libellous”. Indeed, Dr. Sandbrook told me that McCarthy’s father promised him three uses of a swear word in his life. He used his first on Lyndon B. Johnson and the second on Richard Nixon, and considered using it on Dominic Sandbrook himself before electing he could not be bothered to “waste it” on him.

However, American history is not the field Dominic Sandbrook has written most of his works on, instead largely focusing on Britain in the ‘60s and ‘70s – a period he termed “the day before yesterday”. This reflected the neglect that he felt this period had been treated with: to him, the public treated 1945 as an “endpoint” to British history, thus did not talk about later decades (as historians). Instead, it became a “weird and ancient” period, in spite of its recent nature. He thus combined the rigours of American historiography (he described American historians as “thorough” and prone to pick every part of their history apart, on account of there being “so little of it”) with a cultural viewpoint, assimilating popular culture into his history.

Sandbrook’s emphasis on cultural history results from his belief that the population at large is a historical actor, and – whilst some historians would lack interest in their beliefs – were one of the more important actors. He claimed it was impossible to understand a period like the 60’s without understanding, for example, the Beatles, or the 30’s without an understanding of Steinbeck. More importantly, he emphasises the importance of narrative in history, claiming that a rigorous understanding of the events as they actually happened was necessary to understand decision making and the general frame of mind at the time. Whilst stressing the historical agency of the individual, he equally emphasised that, ultimately, the longue durée (the term coined by the Annalist historian, Fernand Braudel, that emphasises long-term historical changes over a history of events) is more important than the agency of individuals. There are, he described, different “strata of importance”: short-term events matter, but the longue durée ultimately matters more.

He, however, had little respect for what he termed “moralistic history”: history that attempts to apply contemporary moral values to the past. Sandbrook described such works as “judgemental”, even “condescending” to the point of being “smug”. Historical figures and society are things he felt should not be judged and criticised, but instead analysed impartially.

Dominic’s visit was thought-provoking, educational and a valuable contribution to the history of Sutton Grammar.

Interviewed and written by Alexander H (10W), Year 10 Blog Buddy


The Oscars 2023

The anticipated Oscar nominations 2023 have been released and we are always keen to see which books have been adapted for movies!  All Quiet on the Western Front scooped four academy awards (Oscars).  The book by the same name, written by Erich Maria Remarque, we highly recommend for KS4/5 and is available in our School Library. Discover and read the synopsis for this famous anti-war book: In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the 'glorious war'. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young 'unknown soldier' experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches.
Publisher: Penguin Vintage Publishing 03/10/2019
ISBN: 9780099532811

The well-loved, bestselling children’s book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, won an award for the Best Short (Animated) film.

Author of War and Peace (KS4), Leo Tolstoy, had his thought provoking book: The Death of Ivan Llyich (KS4) adapted into a film entitled ‘Living’ which also made the list of nominations. 


KS3 Library Easter Competition

Join in the Easter Fun with the Library Easter Quiz Competition.  Hop into the Library between Wednesday 29 – Friday 31 March 2023. Get egg-guessing of the missing book in the series, quiz entry form to be completed in the Library (no Computer or Chrome book help).  Hand forms to Mrs Taylor, Mrs Payne or Ms Lo before the end of term.  Winners will be drawn out of a hat on the last day of term.  Remember to be in with a chance of winning Easter eggs, you need to take part NOW!


Thomas Jefferson Day
13 April 2023

Thomas Jefferson was born 13th April 1743, he was American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect and philosopher.  Jefferson was a spokesman for democracy and an American Founding Father.  He was principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and became the third President of the United States (1801–1809).  His considerable breadth of intellect and compassion for human rights lead to incremental movements which gave rise to the American Revolution, transforming American independence and the United States Constitution.  Pictured above is Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, with American presidents from the left to right: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.


For KS3 Fun facts on Thomas Jefferson check out the link below

In our library we have a well-stocked collection of American Politics books (see section 321).  Author of Liberty and Coercian, Gary Gerstle, has an excellent podcast worth listening to if you have an Audible account and are taking politics A-Level.  Always ask the bill payer before downloading the Audible App.

Check out these American History and Politics non-fiction books: Liberty and Coercion by Gary Gerstle; The Presidents by Stephen Graubard; The Presidents 250 Years of American Political Leadership by Iain Dale; The Price of Politics by Bob Woodward; American Politics and Society by David Blackwell.

To learn more about Thomas Jefferson and his impact on American Politics, visit


Calling All Budding Poets!
Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2023

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2023 Award is now open.  Currently in its 25th year, the award is one of the biggest and most esteemed awards for young poets aged 11-17.

The competition, which is run by The Poetry Society with the support of the Foyle Foundation, calls individual poets and schools worldwide to write a poem on any theme and length. This year’s judges are poets Jonathan Edwards and Jane Yeh.  All entries are free and the deadline for submission is 31 July 2023For more information click:


New After School Club

Have you got what it takes to solve crimes?  Then come to our new after school club, “Whodunnit,” a Murder Mystery Club starting on Monday 17th April 2023 for six weeks, in the Library.  Email: to register your interest or just come along on the day.



Happy Easter from All of the Library Staff.