Starting the day with a difference

12th November 2004 at 00:00
Year-round Assemblies By Brian Ogden and Jo Dobbs The Bible Reading Fellowship, pound;15.99

Lively Assemblies for Happy Schools By Margaret and Dennis Goldthorpe LDA, pound;15.99

If you are looking for good assemblies that are definitely Christian, contain all the ingredients for an act of worship and are based on experience rather than theory, then Year-round Assemblies is your book.

Each assembly has a Bible reference; the autumn assemblies being based on David, spring on Jesus and summer on Peter. Although the text contains some sentences that fall clumsily from the tongue - "Get up and pour olive oil on his head," said the Lord (apparently) - I particularly liked the prayers, which are spot-on.

Simon Smith provides the artwork for the few photocopiable sheets and to enhance the presentation. In his world angels are bald and cows have six teats, but I think that most people will enjoy the pictures (theologians and farmers excepted).

This collection of assemblies includes three specially written songs, which are execrable. One almost yearned for Carey Bonner. Other recommended hymns are from The Complete Come and Praise (BBC), itself a curate's egg. Will no one produce a quality school hymn book?

Mercifully, Lively Assemblies for Happy Schools, contains only one musical groan offering. The 23 idiosyncratic assemblies are certainly lively, perhaps bordering on the frantic. One is even billed by the authors as "a bit wild". Draw your own conclusions from a "you will need" equipment list that includes 25 fairy cakes, four lengths of drainpipe and a large bag of ice.

In spite of the use of trendy words ("cool", "Ollie") and modern references (Blind Date, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) these assemblies are in essence Victorian, suggestive of those morality tales that Victorian children had in their reading books. One assembly is called "Count Your Blessings", another has as its theme "Our actions speak much, much louder than our words". There is nothing wrong with this - the authors are clearly committed, lively people and one visualises them presenting their assemblies like charismatic sales gurus at a business conference - but be sure that you are able to step into their shoes before you buy.

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