Friday, 27 February 2015

World Book Day

Hooray, it'll soon be World Book Day - one of the my favourite days of the year. If you are still trying to decide who to dress up as, Jack has some ideas on his blog for dressing up as an Adventure Island character
You could add a plate of suspicious chocolate cakes if you are dressing up as Jack

I'll be spending the day at Caldecote Primary School near Cambridge. I'm looking forward to seeing all the costumes and am busy planning what I will wear already. Can you guess which character I'm planning to be? Watch this space for pictures soon.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

January School Visits Part Three

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Years 4, 5 and 6 joined us for an assembly. Photo from school website.
Towards the end of January I was on the road again - this time to Walton-le-Dale Primary School, near Preston.
I spent an amazing and rewarding day working with two classes of utterly fantastic Y3 children.  Loris Class and Kakapo class (great names, by the way!) worked on coming up with new mysteries for Jack, Scott, Emily and Drift, multi-tasking by planning the story at the same time as solving clues themselves.

Both classes had been reading an Adventure Island book in class, and learning all about writing mysteries, so they were already expert authors. We made sure that we worked out the crime in advance, gave the characters obstacles to overcome, and included lots of cliff-hangers. Every group - including the Map Mashers, the Pendragon Plotters and the Code Breakers contributed to plotting the stories.

January School Visits Part Four

Pendragon Manor - a spooky setting with a haunted room
As January was drawing to a close, I set off again, this time to Alexander McLeod School in Abbey Wood, South East London.

I led three "dangerous writing" workshops, one with each of the Y3 classes.  We talked about peril in adventure stories and warmed up by asking "what could possibly go wrong?" Then we focussed on creating spooky scenes like abandoned schools and dark forests, zooming in on details to bring our readers right into the story. The children in all the classes came up with some brilliant ideas. I hope nobody was too frightened by all the spine-chilling
sights and sounds we came up with.

January School Visits Part Two

Say cheese! Photo from school website
I had an amazing day at Kensington Community Primary School, Liverpool last year and was thrilled to be invited back to work with their two Y3 classes again. This has to be one of my all-time favourite schools; there is such a warm and friendly atmosphere, and an obvious enjoyment in learning together.

I spent the morning with 3M and the afternoon with 3H, and we worked on coming up with new mystery stories for Jack, Scott, Emily and Drift. But the children weren't just planning the stories of The Mystery of the Ancient Aritfact and The Mystery of the Stolen Jewels;  they were multi-tasking by doing some clue-solving, code-breaking and map-reading along the way. They came up with lots of brilliant ideas and the stories had all sorts of twists and turns and cliff-hangers.

January School Visits Part One

If Usain Bolt had a pet? photograph from National
Norwich is not that far from Cambridge. I allowed bags and bags of time. But I almost didn't get there at all, due to massive three-way bust-up between my satnav lady, the one-way system of central Norwich and minor roadworks that closed a small but totally crucial road leading to the school.  After what seemed like weeks of driving in circles, I finally screeched into the school car park and dashed into school only a few minutes late (leaving satnav lady to have a nervous breakdown on the dashboard.)
January was a busy month for school visits. 

My first visit of the year was the Angel Road Junior School in Norwich.

There's nothing like a calm and professional start to a school visit!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Phoenix Code art competition now closed

January has been and gone and with it the deadline for entries for our The Phoenix Code art competition on the World Book Day website. I can't wait to see all the Ancient Egyptian inspired drawings and paintings and see who is going to win the chance to have their name for a character in Book Three of the Secrets of the Tombs series. Results will be announced soon!