Room 13 By Robert Swindells

What a brilliant book Room 13 is!

This book is particularly suited for upper school primary because of the suspense and frightening content!

There is no room thirteen in the creepy Crow’s Nest hotel, where Fliss and her friends are staying on a school trip. Or is there?

Fliss, the main character in the book, awakes in a startle the night before her class’s trip to Whitby after an awful nightmare. She lay in her bed damp, trembling with fear. Fortunately that was just a dream and could never be real… or could it? As her class embark on their residential trip all does not seem well. Many elements of her dream keep appearing before her now in the daylight. Her friend Lisa complained that she couldn’t control her feet, just like Fliss in her dream! The same whispers from her dream can be heard when she enters the house – “The gate of fate”, “The keep of sleep” and “The room of doom”. Yet with no Room 13 it couldn’t be the very same, could it? But that at the stroke of midnight something changes! Something appears on the door of the linen cupboard on the corridor right next to room 12. Strange things are also happening to Ellie-May Sunderland, very strange things…

This brilliant suspense page turner has it all for older primary children and brings with it a huge range of literacy activities that you could use with your class. It is also brilliant for engaging reluctant readers with each chapter leaving you wanting to know what happens next. It is also a fantastic class read book as with the appropriate voice tone it can put emphasis on the suspense in the story.

Literacy activity options:

  • Suspense writing – Use ideas and themes from the book to discuss the feature of suspense and how the writer uses language and punctuation to show this.
  • Continuing the story – Get to a point in the book and then allow the children to continue writing how they think the story is going to go. Encouraging them to build the suspense.
  • Hot seating – Many of the characters in the book from Fliss to Ellie-May Sunderland or Old Sal could be used to give the children a greater understanding of how the character may be feeling and could help them to write about the story.
  • Conscience Alley – Asking the children to convince Fliss whether she should go into room 13 or not allows them to recognise how she may be feeling about the prospect of entering the room.
  • Diary writing – Writing as Fliss can get the children empathising with her feelings and thinking about how she might have written a diary at different points in the story.
  • Debate/persuasive writing – You could also use the idea of not knowing what is living in room 13 at the beginning of the book to encourage the children to persuade others what they believe could be in there.

This is a brilliant book and one that I certainly enjoyed reading and has sparked me into wanting to read other suspense-filled, thriller novels.

By Sam Deery

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