Three Little Story Book Pigs are My Bag

Last week was a very exciting one in my household. My brother and his wife and children were visiting from Thailand. My little niece, Lana (6) and nephew, Jak (7) were born in Thailand and this was their very first visit to England.

All week I got to do the fun stuff that my boys - now fully-fledged teenagers - used to love but no longer want to do - go to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs, draw pictures, play board games, make cakes, read picture books and visit the farm to feed the animals. One of the highlights was meeting these three delightful piglets - so gorgeous with their candy-pink ears and snouts and curly-wurly tails - just like story-book pictures.

Not by the hairs on our chinny-chin-chins!

We came straight home and read The Three Little Pigs. Then we read one my all-time favourites - The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig by Eugene  Trivazas, illustrated by the brilliant Helen Oxenbury. It's a great example of taking a familiar story and turning it upside down to make a new one.

It was a super-busy week so I took a holiday from writing. But I did slip out of the house for two events.

The first was a visit to St Mary's Junior School in Cambridge.

Prompted by the The Mystery of the Cursed Ruby we talked about cursed objects and talismans and then about all kinds of magical objects in books and films (some of our favourites were Dorothy's red slipppers, the mirror of Erised in Harry Potter and the bedknob in Bedknobs and Broomsticks). We had great fun inventing new magical objects with their own special powers. There were some fabulous suggestions, including an air freshener, which would make you young and happy and beautiful when you breathed in its scent, ice skating boots that turn anything to ice as you skate over it, and drums that hypnotise anyone who plays them. We then made up stories about the objects; where did we find them, how did they get their magic in the first place, and always my favourite part, what could possibly go wrong?

(pictures coming soon!)

Thank you to all the girls (and the staff) for your enthusiam and creativity. I really enjoyed my visit.

The second event was Ramsey Ram Jam Book Festival at Ramsey Junior School. What a lovely surprise to find a display about The Mystery of the Whistling Caves on the wall of the Y5 classroom where my talk was taking place - complete with lists of the possible suspects. The teacher, Mrs Bridgeman very kindly told me that she had been reading the book out in class and that the children had gasped out loud when Vicky White was arrested! So, a big hello to all of you in Mrs Bridgeman's class and I hope that you will enjoy the rest of the book - and a few more gasp-moments along the way!

At the end of the talk we made up some "mixed-up" stories, picking the children's characters, settings, goals and obstancles at random and putting them together. I always love this game, but this time featured what must have been the most dramatic "read-out" moment ever; as one of the delighful volunteers pulled out a piece of paper and read, "On the cliffs, the Evil James Bond . . . " a mighty roll of thunder and flash of lightning tore through what had been a damply sunny afternoon only two minutes earlier. Everyone was very impressed with the power of story-telling!

Saturday was also the Books are My Bag "Author in Every Bookshop" day. Books are My Bag is a nationwide campaign to support and celebrate bookshops.

Although I couldn't actually be in a book shop (because I was in Ramsey Junior School and my powers of teleportation are disappointingly poor) I was able to do my bit - because my favourite  book shop, Heffers in Cambridge, were at the  festival to sell books, so I was able to set up a photograph with a Books Are My Bag bag, alongside a Heffers bag - all with the help of two fabulous young readers.

Oliver and Davis had been in my talk and had come along to buy some books. They kindly agreed to pose in the picture with me (they really had just purchased the copy of The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost  too - honest!)

Posing with books, bags and boys

Books are definitely my Bag. I love books (espeically ones about bid bad pigs and magic air fresheners and Evil James Bonds . . .) and I love book shops.