Wednesday, 21 November 2018

School Visit Round-up

I've had some lovely school visits this term, including a return visit to the fantastic Park Hall Junior Academy in Walsall, where I spent a lovely day talking about Ancient Egypt and creating new long-lost artefacts with Y5. Thank you to everyone for making me so welcome, and especially to Ms Ragdale for organising the visit.


I've also been back to the wonderful Litcham School where I'm lucky enough to be Author in Residence. In the morning, several groups of Y2, Y3 and Y4 students from some of the surrounding primary schools came in for a combined creative workshop.  We invented supervehicles with animal powers and made up stories about them. In the afternoon it was back to Ancient Egypt with the fantastic Golden Eagles class - venturing into the tomb of Phraraoh Smenkhkare. As always a special thank you to librarian extraordinaire Cathy Berry for organising it all and looking after me.

Here are just a few of the amazing animal supervehicles we invented.

Beatrice's Bee Bike won the prize book
The Meg-Lab

The Super Snail Car
The Octodragon



Wednesday, 3 October 2018

October 4th is National Poetry Day . . .

Which makes it the perfect day to share some brilliant poems by students at Litcham School in Norfolk
Thinking about home

I'm not a poet, but I love poetry, so I was delighted to be asked to spend a day creating poems with a Y7/8 group at Litcham - where I've been lucky enough to be Author in Residence for the last two years.

I had lots of discussions with the wonderful Litcham librarian, Cathy Berry, about the content of the workshop. We wanted to tie in with the theme of homelessness that the students had been focusing on. Around the same time I saw an announcement for the Betjeman Poetry Prize - a national competition for young people, with the theme of PLACE. There's no place like home, I thought . . . and we went from there.

Friday, 31 August 2018

The Writer's Map

I love maps - faded old maps, shiny new maps, everyday street maps, maps of extraordinary expeditions, maps of imaginary worlds in the pages of books . . . 


So, I was very excited to be asked to contribute an essay to a fantastic and beautiful new book, The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands. It's edited by Huw Lewis-Jones, and it includes pieces by the most incredible line-up of authors - some you might just recognize! I can hardly believe that my name is casually hanging out in such an illustrious list!

Monday, 28 May 2018

If you like Adventure Island you'll love . . .

The other day I had some fantastic book post (the best kind of post!) when the lovely people at Laurence King publishers sent me a copy of a brilliant new book they've just bought out.
Thank you for the brilliant adventure kit too - I'll try to stop Emily pinching it all!

They thought Adventure Island readers might like to hear about Hoakes Island.

I'm pretty sure they're right!

If you enjoy Adventure Island (and/or Secrets of the Tombs) it's a safe bet that you are a big fan of mysteries. I'm guessing you really like maps, and brilliant illustrations and working out clues.  Like me, you probably love animals too.

Well, Hoakes Island has ALL THESE THINGS!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Phantom Lights is Back!

If you have tried to buy The Mystery of the Phantom Lights lately you might have noticed it seemed to have gone to ground. One reader e-mailed to tell me that it was only available second hand on Amazon for about £50! She had read all of the other 13 in the Adventure Island series and was dying to read the last installment.

The problem was a bit of a technical hitch with reprinting new copies (and thank you to every one who bought all the first print run!) but it has all been sorted out now, and shiny new copies are in the shops and on-line. It maybe that a similar delay will happen with one of two of the other titles - if so, don't worry, they will be back.

In the mean time, don't forget you can always go and borrow a copy from your local library (if they don't have a copy, you can ask and they can order it for you.)

I was in my local bookshop, Heffers, in Cambridge to collect some books for a school visit and spotted lots of new reprinted copies of The Phantom Lights along with the rest of the series - and with our lovely bookshelf neighbours, James Nicols' The Apprentice Witch and A Witch Alone (if  you haven't read them, you must - they are fantastic!) and an author you may just have heard of called Michael Morpurgo . . .


Thursday, 25 January 2018

Pineapple Inspiration at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Museums are great places for inspiration and for research, and I'm lucky to have some great ones in my home town of Cambridge. One of my favourites is the Fitzwilliam Museum. Two regal stone lions guard the building. There is a story that they come alive at midnight and drink from 'Hobson's conduit' - the gulley that runs along the edge of the street nearby. This story was the seed of the idea that became The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost. You can see the two lions on the front cover, posing on the steps of Pendragon Manor.

Another of my stories was inspired by an object in the Fitzwilliam Museum. High over a doorway there hangs a rather dark portrait by Theodorus Netscher. It's not a portrait of a king or a queen or a girl in a pearl earring or a boy with a dog. This is a prize pineapple - perhaps the first one ever grown in England.

School Visit News


Thank you to all the lovely schools that made me so welcome last term.

October was a month of secondary schools, and got off to a great start with a return visit to fantastic Litcham School in Norfolk. Thank you to superstar librarian, Cathy Berry, for organising it all and looking after me as always. I'm honoured to be Litcham's Author in Residence for a second year - thanks to the generous support of Swaffham Rotary Club.  We have lots of exciting things planned for 2018.Watch this space!

Lots of students squeezed into the lovely library at Dereham Neatherd High School
Not far away in Norfolk, I made my first visit to Dereham Neatherd High School. It was a lovely action-packed day with an author talk, book signing and workshops with enthusiastic, creative Y7, 8 and 9 students. Special thanks to fantastic librarian, Lorraine Gill for making everything run like clockwork.  I could tell your library is the heart of the school!