Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Back To School


Over the last few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to visit lots of schools to talk to pupils about my books and run some writing workshops.

Back in September I dropped in to Bar Hill School in Cambridgeshire to talk to Year 3 and 4 - what great listeners they were and full of all kinds of fun questions. That afternoon I was also presenting the awards for the Circus Stars summer reading challenge at Bar Hill library.  I really can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon than handing out medals to enthusiastic readers. And they even gave me some flowers at the end too! Bar Hill library is a fantastic local library - as soon as you step inside you can tell it’s a real community focal point, buzzing with life (and the post office is in the library too, which just adds to the activity going on). Thank you very much to the lovely librarians who invited me to come along.

Next, I was at King’s College School Cambridge, again talking to a big group of lovely year 3 and 4 pupils. They were so enthusiastic about reading too, and had all kinds of ideas for new investigators for mystery novels (not just dog detectives and hamster detectives, but armadillo detectives too!).  Here is the link to their report of the visit.

Sharing the stage with 
Harvest Festival food donations
Another day I spent the morning at Great Abington Primary School, a lovely village primary school south of Cambridge. I chatted to three classes and was so impressed by their interest in books and writing. The whole school was such a welcoming environment where you could really feel the values of responsibility, respect and caring in action (the picture at the start of this blog is from that visit).

And last week I spent I whole day at Coton Primary School near Cambridge. I did workshops with years 3,4,5 and 6 on developing characters and plots. We looked at why it’s important that even the good guys have weaknesses as well as strength (reading a whole book about Mr Perfect would be sooooo boring!). The pupils came up with some great characters of their own . . . strong warriors who bump into things and are always cooking things - badly, maths whizzes who are afraid of cockroaches and parrots called Roger to name but a few . . .

And I spent a lovely hour with Year 1 and 2 pupils thinking about words with lots of descriptive POWER! I read them a passage from The Whistling Caves with some of the words missing and asked the class to come up with ideas for their own words to fill the holes. Once we had lots of suggestions, the whole class voted on which were best. I think the version of the scene that Class 2 came up with was better than the original. After all, I didn’t think of describing an old Saxon helmet as smelling of Gorgonzola!
A nice photographer even came along from
 The Cambridge News and got us all to pose!

So, thank you to all the schools who’ve invited me to visit, to all the teachers for letting me borrow your classrooms and to all the pupils for your attentiveness and enthusiasm - it’s been great meeting you all!

And a big thank you to Heffers Children’s Book Shop in Cambridge, who have been so helpful in running book stalls to sell books at the school visits - it’s great to have such support from our brilliant local book shop.

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