Culture vulture

30th July 2004 at 01:00
With a rucksack full of books, Ann Cruickshanks is catching a cheap flight to Croatia

Holiday reading

My chief focus every summer is reading and travelling. My fiance, Rob, and I head off somewhere new and take a stack of books to share and talk about.

I've lined up A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly, Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, The Colour by Rose Tremain and The Amulet Of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. I'm re-reading A Gathering Light because it reminds me of classic American fiction, which I love with its simplicity and crafted writing.

Treats in store

I'm hoping to head to London to see the Edward Hopper retrospective (at the Tate Modern). I love the narrative sense of his pictures and often use them as starter images for creative writing with students, or for characterisation exercises. It will be great to see these pictures in the flesh. I'm looking forward to Shrek 2. We have a friend who is the epitome of Shrek, so it also has that level of amusement. I also plan to see The Best of Youth (film of Italian family saga by director Marco Tullio Giordana) because it's about a rite of passage, which interests me, and had such good reviews.

Summer projects

I'm reading contemporary children's fiction to prepare for our literacy summer school for the Year 6 students: Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo and The Blood Stone by Jamila Gavin. I'm on the look-out for something I can read aloud to students; a book we can put down and pick up. Last year, we read Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo which they loved; they were captivated by the challenges of the journey. The summer school's fun. I work with a great team and the students gain a lot of confidence.

Away from it all

This year Rob and I are heading for Croatia and the island of Brach, but we also hope to visit Dubrovnik. We go for cheap flights and sort out our accommodation when we get there. That way we can stay somewhere for longer if we like it, or move on if we don't. Having to seek out local information gives us a better sense of the place. We try something new each year - we're going to have a go at watersports.

Anne Cruickshanks, 33, teaches English at Earls high, Halesowen, an 11-16 school of around 1,200 pupils. She is an advanced skills teacher for Dudley and runs the annual summer literacy school at Earls high. She was talking to Elaine Williams. Friday magazine returns on September 3

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