February 1st, 2021

Bookshow at Home A-Z of Artists

Bookshow at Home with Catherine Johnson

Last week, bookings opened for our first live digital festival, and we are very excited about the great line-up of artists who will be performing for us!

One of the authors taking part in our festival is Catherine Johnson and so this week’s Bookshow at Home (focusing on an artist from our A-Z beginning with the letter C) will tell you more about Catherine, her work and her marvellous book Race to the Frozen North. And there are some creative activities too.

Book of the Week: Race to the Frozen North

When orphan Matthew Henson ran away to find a new life in the big city, no one could have predicted that he would become the first man to reach the North Pole. A little luck and a lot of hard work led to a life of adventure on the high seas and in the Arctic, but back at home in America his achievements were ignored due to the colour of his skin.

Author in focus

Catherine Johnson is a screen-writer and best-selling author, born in London in 1962. Her dad was from Jamaica, and her mum was Welsh. She has written many award-winning books for young readers, and is keen to tell the untold stories of characters from history who have been forgotten.

Watch Catherine read an extract from Race to the Frozen North


Create a Chapter for a Graphic Novel

Retell the story in the style of a graphic novel. Listen to the extract several times to familiarise yourself with what is happening in the story. Make a timeline of the key events in the chapter to help you plan the images and text for each frame. Listen carefully for descriptions of the setting and use the details to draw the background scenes for each frame. Jot down any significant dialogue between characters and include these as speech bubbles.

Research Matthew Henson

There are many accessible websites which contain biographical information about Matthew Henson. Find out about his childhood, who inspired him and how he became the first African American to reach (what he and Peary believed to be) the North Pole. Think of creative ways to present the information you have found out about him. For example, you could draw a portrait of him and write the text onto the background, or you could create an illustrated timeline of the key events in his life.

Write a Book Review

If you are inspired by the extract which Catherine has read from Race to the Frozen North, why not order a copy and read the rest of the story? We would love to hear your thoughts about the book, so send us a book review and we may feature it on our website.

Tips for Writing a Book Review

A book review aims to help other readers decide whether they want to read a book or not. It should be an honest evaluation of the book which describes what it is about and gives your personal opinion. Aim to cover the content outlined below to provide your reader with the information needed to make a decision about whether the book is right for them.

Write a summary of the content of the book. Don’t write too much detail or give anything away – you don’t want to spoil it for someone who wants to read it for themselves!

Explain what you really liked about the book. Think about the style of the author - was it humorous or serious? Was it factual or descriptive? Could you relate to the characters? Did you find the story dramatic and gripping, or emotional and uplifting? Did the author use description effectively to help you visualise the characters and the setting? Did it feel like you were actually there, in the story?

Was there anything you disliked about the book? What could the author have done differently? Would you have liked to have read more or less about certain scenes and events? Did you feel that you knew the main characters well enough?

Conclude your review with your final recommendation. Is it worth reading? Who do you think will enjoy this book the most? Has it made you want to read books by the same author or books about a similar theme? To finish, you could give the book a star rating or marks out of ten.

We’d love to see your graphic novel pages and Matthew Henson research, and would love to read your book reviews. To send us your work to display in our gallery use the link below, or upload to twitter with the hashtag #BookshowAtHome.

Email us your work for our gallery

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