World Book Day (Week)

There must have been a few extra traffic jams last week as legions of intrepid children' authors zoomed around the universe sharing the joys of reading, writing and generally stuffing our brains to
bursting point with ideas in the in brilliant bookish bonanza that is World Book Day.

I spent Tuesday at the wonderful Southbank International School in Hampstead. In the morning I was with Grade 5 talking about the delights of writing about treasure -  lost, found, and fought over.

We've found the treasure!
We looked at the real hoards of Saxon treasure that inspired the story of The Mystery of the Whistling Caves and then tried writing our own jewel-encrusted descriptions, letting ourselves get carried away with an outpouring of bling-tastic words like filligree, lapis lazuli, opal and glittering.

We can't hear you, we're reading!
We talked about a lot of other stuff too, like that weird thing that happens when you are reading a good book and suddenly your ears stop working and you can't hear anything.
 (and, Southbank Grade 5 people, I've looked it up, it's a thing, it has a name, it's called inattentional deafness. I'm going to send you some information about it!).

I spent the afternoon with Grade 3. We had a lovely long chat about the kinds of books we would like to write, and all the ingredients we need for writing mysteries;  a good baddie, twists and turns, friends, just the right amount of danger - and preferably a dog too. We thought about story structure; giving our characters goals and then being really mean and throwing obstacles in their way -  and we made up a brilliant, if slightly surreal, story about the demon dentist's twin sister (it involved a double-crossing squid and the quest for the wolf crystal.)

All the pupils were so enthusiastic, creative and knowledgeable; it was a joy to spend the day with them, and I could happily have stayed on and chatted about books and writing for weeks. Thank you to brilliant Southbank librarain, Victor Louis for organising the visit, and to everyone for making me so welcome on the day.

A lovely display at Caldecote Primary School
On Thursday I didn't have so far to go.  I enjoyed a brilliant - and delightfully noisy - World Book Day at the lovely Caldecote Primary School. The children were all dressed up in amazing book character costumes. There was a Mary Poppins who suited her outfit down to the ground, a very sinister Joker, an excellent Minecraft creeper, Cats in Hats, Alices in Wonderland and a prize-winning Saucepan Man, not to mention Harry Potters, princesses, witches and footballers. Hence the noise; the clang of saucepans and the rustle of princess dresses can get quite loud in a boomy school hall - especially when combined with the buzz of excited voices talking about books!
It was great fun to see the teachers join in too. They had all dressed up as  bears from books and performed a quite spectacular dance around the hall to the  soundtrack of Bear Necessities.

I worked with the whole school in the course of the day. We looked at shmoooshing ideas together to come up with new ones - for example, supercars based on animals - just like in The Mystery of the Black Salamander. The Camouflage Chameleon, the Golden Unicorn, The Poisoner (scorpion and bat car) The Red Dragon, The Ocptopus Car, The Flying Tiger were just some of the great inventions.

We just had to think of where we wanted to go in our animal-cars, who we'd take with us, and, most importantly of all, what could possibly go wrong, and we were all well on the the way to thinking up a brilliant story. What a talented bunch of creative and enthusiastic children they were!

Just a few days later I was thrilled to receive a bulging envelope of lovely thank you letters from Y3's Orange Class. Here are some of my favourite quotes about the day:
It has inspired me and my friends to write
It inspired me to like books more and make them 
We learned a lot about authors and how you write and think
I loved designing my amazing Tiger Car and spending time with you.
You taught me stuff I did not know, like the Cheddar cheese that was the most popular food stolen in England
I can't resist sharing a few of those letters to show off the beautiful artwork and great car designs. Aren't they amazing!

Thank you to everyone at Caldecote Primary School for making me so welcome and espeically to Gillian Davison for organising it all and looking after me on the day.

And we can't finish talking about World Book Day without seeing  readers dressed up as Adventure Island characters! Here is Imogen, who makes an absolutely fabulous Emily Wild. I love the details - the binnoculous, investigation kit, notebook and S.I.T. badge - and of course, an adorable Drift! Well done, Imogen, you look fabulous!

Now, where are Scott and Jack? We've got some suspects to investigate!
And here is Jed, dressed up as Jack (with his little sister as a very sweet Angelina Ballerina). Well done, Jed! Jack would definitely approve of that t-shirt - did you see his advice on his blog post about how to dress up as him? I'll send him this picture - he'll be thrilled.
Awesome costume, if I say so myself - Jack
World Book Day is over for another year.  This week I feel just how I imagine Santa Claus must feel on Boxing Day. But, of course, reading and writing are for ever, not just one day of the year!
Which reminds me, it's time to get back to work. I have a book to write . . .

And don't forget that the World Book Day website is there all year round and is always worth exploring for great writing tips, author news, fun stuff and brilliant competitions. And that reminds me of something else . . . I've got a competition to judge . . . more on that coming very soon!