Author Archives


Magical Thinking

Unseen Text: Gryphon by Charles Baxter Literary Genre: Prose Fiction Guiding Question: Comment on the interactions between the teacher and the children, and what these interactions imply about life and learning. The purpose of Language A: Literature Paper 1 is for you to write a Guided Literary Analysis […]

Prose Study: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi is a survival story, religious parable, and coming-of-age tale rolled into one. Pi Patel is a curious teenager with a lifelong love for both animals and religion. In fact, he is intensely religious and practices the faiths of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity with equal zeal. When Pi is about 16 years old, his father decides to relocate his family to Canada to escape the increasingly fraught political situation of India in the 1970s. While transporting themselves and what remains of their Pondicherry Zoo on a cargo ship to Canada, the ship sinks in a storm. Brutally, Pi is instantly orphaned… and lost at sea alongside a crippled zebra, a hungry hyena, a gentle orangutan – and a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

Unseen Text: The Bat by Ruth Pitter Literary Genre: Poetry Guiding Question: Comment on the development of the speaker’s attitude towards the bat. You might recognise Ruth Pitter from your IGCSE studies; she wrote the poem Stormcock in Elder, about how an encounter with a little bird taught […]

Non-Fiction Study: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home is a graphic novel recounting the story of Alison Bechdel coming out as a lesbian. Told in non-chronological flashbacks to her childhood in Beech Creek, the story works through her difficult childhood relationship with her father, Bruce, and her gradual discovery that he, too, harboured secrets from Bechdel, her mother and siblings.

Non-Fiction Prose Study: Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

The timeline of Nothing to Envy charts the lead-up to the devastating North Korean famine (euphemistically called The Arduous March in the DPRK), a period of mass starvation that lasted from 1994 – 1999 in which between 2 and 3.5 million North Koreans lost their lives. As money and jobs dried up in the years before the famine, people started to fear the worst. Even the government regime, so reluctant to accept anything might be wrong in their workers’ paradise, instigated a propaganda campaign exhorting people to eat less food. Not that the people had much choice. By the mid-1990s, the countryside was stripped bare and mothers resorted to making soups out of grass, and porridge out of tree bark, rice husk and sawdust.

Literary Compare and Contrast

Whichever Language A course you have elected to study, in this section you’ll learn how to prepare in advance for your Paper 2, techniques for approaching different questions, how to plan on the day, and how to structure and write a brilliant compare and contrast essay. You’ll find sample essays that have been written using the texts from your course which you can read and discuss, and you’ll be encouraged to prepare in the best way possible: write your own model responses to sample open questions.

Culture Mashing

The internet is full of fascinating mash-ups, remixes, parodies and fan-fictions that are not only clever and inventive, but meticulously created. However high the quality, though, they do raise important ethical questions about art and appropriation.

Poetry Study: Charlotte Mew

On a modest London street in Bloomsbury in 1913 called Devonshire Street stood a tiny independent bookshop by the name of The Poetry Bookshop. It’s proprietor was Harold Munro, and he ran this friendly neighbourhood store until 1926. As well as selling books of poetry, Harold also published – and it’s thanks to him that Charlotte Mew, a sometimes shy-and-silent young woman from Bloomsbury, found her audience. Invited to the shop by Harold’s assistant Alida Klemantaski, while Mew had never sought fame, she agreed to the publication of The Farmer’s Bride in 1916.

Prose Study: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

The story of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress opens as the narrator (who remains unnamed) and his best friend Luo arrive at the Phoenix of the Sky village in the Chinese province of Sichuan near the border with Tibet. The year is 1971 and Mao Zedong, Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, is conducting a policy of ‘re-education’ whereby young men of middle-class families are sent to the countryside to learn from poor peasants how to be model citizens. The two boys are tasked with menial and back-breaking work, such as coal mining and carrying buckets of faeces up the mountain to fertilize the rice fields.

Children Playing

Unseen Text: Children Playing Text Type: Satirical Cartoon Guiding Question: Analyse the methods used by the writer of this text to convey a message. According to the IB Subject Guide for Language and Literature, of the two texts presented to you in your Paper 1 examination, one will […]