Culture vulture

28th November 2003 at 00:00
A modern whodunit and old-fashioned musicals hit the high notes for Sian Davies

Book of the moment

Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award) concerns a teenage maths prodigy with Asperger's syndrome who tries to solve the killing of a neighbour's poodle. I lack perseverance with reading and need to engage quickly with a book, but I found this immediately absorbing. It was a gift from a pupil and I found it gripping and insightful in the way it looked at the world based on an unfamiliar framework.

I find myself dipping again and again into The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery's fable of love and loneliness) as part of my interest in developing children's creativity. In essence, the book is about emotional intelligence and I find it refreshing compared to much of the jargon-filled educational literature.

Best film ever

I like lots of genres but my favourite has to be Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore's film about a little boy's love affair with the cinema. I love its beauty and simplicity.

Best on stage

Justifying War at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, north-west London, was totally engaging. It's a reconstruction of the Hutton Inquiry, and directed by Nick Kent. I like to support local theatres and I like thought-provoking drama, but I also love musicals. The exuberance of Chicago was a joy.

To share with pupils

I went to The Big Draw at the Natural History Museum with some friends and their children and I was so inspired by the message that we all have an innate ability to draw. I signed up for a course in using watercolours and I will definitely take pupils next year.

Treat in store

Starting piano lessons again and any jazz events, such as the London Jazz Festival. I love live music, especially modern jazz. My grandfather was a jazz pianist and, although I'm a failed musician myself - I didn't keep my practice up - I grew up with music.

Sian Davies, 42, is headteacher of the 200-pupil Malorees infants' school in the London borough of Brent, which has a strong commitment to the arts.

Pupils' work - a 12ft aluminium dragon inspired by Uccello's "George and the Dragon" - was recently shown in the National Gallery as part of the Take One Picture exhibition. Sian Davies was talking to Elaine Williams

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