Friday, 22 January 2016

Patron of Reading

I'd heard of the Patron of Reading scheme before. Some writer friends had mentioned it and it sounded like a great idea so I had a look on their website to find out more.

A Patron of Reading (PoR), it said, is a school's special, designated children's author with whom the school forms a personal attachment  [ . . . ] to bring an exciting dimension to the school’s quest to create a buzz about books.

Where do I sign up? I thought. Buzzing about books is my all-time favourite thing. I read on.

The idea is that schools choose their own patron, rather than writers approaching schools.

That makes sense, of course. But it rather scuppered my plan of phoning up every school I knew and offering my services.

I had to wait for a school to approach me.

Maybe I've been writing mysteries too long, because there's something about the term approach that brings to mind spies in long raincoats holding top secret rendezvous in swirling fog.

Perhaps, I thought, I could sneak into schools and leave mysterious messages - PICK HELEN MOSS - chalked across the playground.

Luckily I didn't have to resort to such stealth tactics. I didn't even have to hang around in the fog. I received a lovely e-mail from a school asking if I'd like to be their patron. And it wasn't just any school.  It was - drum roll and fanfare -  North Kidlington Primary.

Ding dong! Patron of Reading calling!

Now, unless you happen to live in North Kidlington (which is near Oxford), you may not know how special it is. Well, let me tell you . . . I visited this fantastic school a couple of years ago and it rocketed straight into my Top Ten. The  literacy co-ordinator, Ann Ling, had organised everything perfectly, the staff were all friendly and welcoming, the children were engaged and enthusiastic. We had great fun making up crazy stories (the one about the school for naughty parents run by children has always stuck in my mind as a book I'd actually love to write one day!) The children also sent me their brilliant hundred-word stories after the visit.

I knew straight away this was a school I wanted to be 'personally attached' with.

So I am very proud to announce that I am now officially Patron of Reading for North Kidlington Primary School.

To start the ball rolling I set the children a competition to write about The Character From A Book I Would Most Like To Meet.

The entries were all fantastic - the children wrote about a great range of characters from Gandalf to Willy Wonka, from Scooby Doo to Horrid Henry. I had great fun picking winners in each age group. I didn't look at the names when I chose, and it just happened that I picked three boys. (sorry about that girls, it wasn't fixed. Your writing was amazing too!)  Well done to everyone who entered! You can see the winning entries below.

Wow! I've even got my own display board in reception.

I will also be sending a newsletter to the school once a month to keep the children up to date with what I am doing. We are also setting up a "Test Readers" group, which will give me feedback on some new stories that I am writing (this is going to be really useful!) and I will be visiting for the day during Book Week in March. I'm sure there will be lots more exciting activities coming soon.

Thank you to everyone at North Kidlington Primary School for inviting me to be your Patron of Reading. I am really honoured and will do my best to do a good job.

Happy Reading!

You can find out all about the Patron of Reading Scheme here.

Writing Competition

The youngest children in the school worked together to produce this lovely poster about  what they would do and how they would feel if they met The Gruffalo.

Great work, Apple Class!

Year 1/2
Runners up: Megan, Robert, Ciara, Arthur, George, Stanley, Ruby, Paige, Josh, leah, Sofia, Zaid.
Winner: Bilal Al Haj. Well done, Bilal!

Year 3/4
Runners up: Tom, Ellie, Kaaya, Kumar, Alaina, James, Isabella
Winner: Harry Thacker. Well done, Harry!

Year 5/6
Runners up: Tamzin, Sian, Suleyman, Advaith, Sara, Caitlin, Louie, Madelyn
Winner: Jake Selway. Well done, Jake!

Winners! Jake and Bilal

Winners! Jake and Harry
Bilal would like to meet Wilf the Worrier and find out how he saved the world from the evil lunatic Alan.

Harry would like to meet Horrid Henry and learn some of his tricks

Jake would like to meet Gandalf for some wizarding lessons and to find out more about his life

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Happy Christmas

I love Christmas.

We have an extra big chimney to make room for Father Christmas!

I love all the rushing around; buying presents and meeting friends and decorating the house and choosing the tree and baking mince pies and working late to finish off all the work that needs to be done before the holidays can begin. 

I love it when family arrive and we eat and drink and open presents and take the dogs for walks and play games and watch old films together.

About to tuck into Christmas dinner with my lovely Mum.

I also love these few quiet days after Christmas when time seems to stand still and take a breath until the tornado of busy-ness starts up again. This is a week for long walks, pyjamas and good books (not all at the same time!)

Storm and Maia take us for a long walk.
I hope that you have all had a wonderful Christmas, full of joy and peace and lovely surprises. But if  your Christmas has been a sad or difficult one for any reason, I wish you the strength and support you need to carry you to better times.

 Here's to 2016!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Kids' Lit Quiz

How I wish this had been around when I was a kid!

A quiz just for those of us permanently in danger of tripping over our own feet because our noses are stuck deep within a book (literally, in my case; I was very short-sighted).

I wasn't much good at sport (I was captain of the netball team in Y6, but I went to a very small primary school. We only just had enough girls to make up a team. Everyone had to be in it and someone had to be captain). I was the only kid in the whole school invited not to be in the choir. I was hopeless at ballet. But I read. I read and read and read. If someone had come along and said there's a national competition and it's all about books and who wants to be in the team, I'd have (a) thought I was dreaming and (b) jumped out of my seat waving my hand in the air before you could say Ann of Green Gables.

Monday, 2 November 2015

To kiss or not to kiss; that is the question . . .

If you have read The Phoenix Code and The Dragon Path you may be wondering where Cleo and
Ryan's next adventure will take them.

Although the third book doesn't come out until next Summer I've written the first draft and am now deep in the first round of edits, so it's about time for some sneak previews.

Secrets of the Tombs Book Three is called The Serpent King and takes place in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, mainly in the spectacular ruined Maya city of Calakmul. In this, the final installment of the series, many questions will be answered.