Culture vulture

Jayne Truran likes to be in America, OK by me in America

Best book ever

I read as much as I can in order to recommend books to pupils and staff, and I belong to several book groups. But for myself my favourite book is Silk by Alessandro Baricco (Vintage), a translation from Italian and a beautifully told love story about a man from France who goes to Japan to buy silk eggs and has a love affair with a concubine. I've read it many times. It's a short, wonderful book.

Best film ever

I love musicals and West Side Story (1961) is my favourite: so clever, so perfectly put together. I'd hate it if anyone ever made another version of this film, because it couldn't be bettered. Every time I hear "America" I have this wild desire to be there.

Best inspiration

I've been to two amazing shows in the past few weeks. "Embankment"

(pictured), Rachel Whiteread's installation at Tate Modern (untilApril 2) made me think of Switzerland and mountains; walking through all those white boxes made me feel as if I was in an avalanche. Coram Boy at the National Theatre, based on Jamila Gavin's novel, was one of those plays you come out of and want to talk about all the way home. The singing was fabulous, but some of the scenes were also explicit and hard-hitting.

Best resource

Children's picture books. I'm always buying them because they are great for the art department and stimulating for everybody, not just for reluctant readers. Picture books are vastly underrated in secondary schools. I'm also a great fan of Whitaker's Almanack and refer to it constantly. I love having all those disparate facts in one book.

Treat in store

An evening at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. I've just received an email which sets out the summer programme and on a grotty day in winter it's lovely to think of sitting out on a summer's evening watching a play with a nice glass of something. I try to get there every year.

Jayne Truran is librarian at Francis Combe school, Watford, and treasurer (about to become vice-chair) of the Federation of Children's Book Groups.

Coram Boy returns to the National Theatre in November. See teaching resources at

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