Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Author Visits: Willow Brook Primary

I'd like to say a big thank you to Anoara Mughal, Graham Clifford and all the staff and students I met at Willow Brook Primary for the wonderful welcome they gave me when I visited them on World Book Day!


There was a snowstorm raging outside, but it was great to see so many people had still come to school in their costumes!  It was a pleasure to talk to Years 6, 5, 4 and 3, and to celebrate books with them.  I heard about their favourite stories, and I told them about the ones I have written so far: Varjak Paw, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, and Phoenix


They asked me lots of great questions, and we didn't quite have enough time to answer them all, so if anyone from Willow Brook has any more questions, just leave me a comment below!  And in the meantime, I'd just like to thank you all again – and to wish you happy reading!




Thursday, 1 March 2018

World Book Day 2018

I'd like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who braved the snow to spread the love of books on World Book Day this year – and especially to everyone who dressed up as a character from one of my books, or made special artwork and displays!  I know there's been a lot of debate about World Book Day recently, but I have to say, I'm in favour of anything that builds a buzz around reading.  So here are some of the amazing pictures I've seen this year, with huge thanks to all teachers, parents, schools – and most importantly, readers!
































Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Author Visits: Filton Hill

I'd like to say a massive THANK YOU to Laura Walker and everyone I met from Filton Hill Primary, St Michael's Primary, Holy Trinity Primary, Baileys Court Primary and Charborough Road Primary for the amazing welcome they gave me when I visited them all last week!


This was a really special visit, because it brought together around 360 children from five different schools in Bristol.  Many of them had read or were reading Varjak Paw, and the level of excitement around the room was just fantastic.  Some of them could just not stop reading!


I loved talking to them about reading, writing and books, and hearing all their inspiring dreams and ambitions.  They had many brilliant questions too!  We didn't have quite enough time to answer them all, so if anyone would like to ask another question, or to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment below.


It was a total pleasure to sign books for everyone who wanted them at the end of the day; you could really feel the buzz that the visit had created around reading!  There was even a journalist from the Filton Voice covering it; here's his piece about it.  And finally – THANK YOU again to everyone who made this such a special day!




Sunday, 4 February 2018

Author Visits: Moorlands Primary

I'd like to say a very big THANK YOU to all the staff and students at Moorlands Primary for the wonderful welcome they gave me when I visited last week!  This is a school that really believes in the power of reading for pleasure.  Everywhere you go in Moorlands, you see books being celebrated and talked about; on the door of every classroom, there's an update telling you what the teacher is currently reading.  And in the classrooms, there are amazing displays about books – like this one!


So I really enjoyed talking to Years 6, 5, 4 & 3 about books and reading.  They had a very wide selection of favourite books, which shows just how deep the reading culture is at this school.  It was wonderful to hear some people say Varjak Paw was their favourite – things like that make all the hard work of writing feel worthwhile!


There were lots of excellent questions too, though we didn't have quite enough time to answer them all, so if anyone at Moorlands would like to ask another question, or to say anything about my visit or the books, just leave me a comment below!


At the end of the day, it was a pleasure to sign books for everyone who wanted one.  And it was absolutely amazing to see responses like this one afterwards on Twitter - so thanks again to Mr Lee, Mr Ruddick, Mr Biddle, Miss Eyles, and everyone else who made this such a special and memorable day!



Sunday, 28 January 2018

Author Visits: St John's C of E Primary School

I'd like to say a very big THANK YOU to Siobhan Eastwood and everyone I met at St John's C of E Primary School for the wonderful welcome they gave me when I visited them last week!


It was fantastic to meet students from St Johns and other Ipswich schools including St Mary's and Helen's, and to talk with them about reading and books.  I talked to Years 6, 5, 4 and 3, and was delighted to see that quite a few people in each year had read either Varjak Paw or Phoenix.  Quite a few of them wanted to be writers too, and they asked me some great questions about the writing process.  (For anyone who'd like more writing tips, here's a link to all the writing tips I've done on this blog!)


On school visits, I like to ask people what their favourite books are, and I'm always excited when I hear a range of different responses; it shows that people are reading a lot of books!  Here, I heard one of the widest ranges of responses I've ever come across – everything from old classics like SE Hinton's The Outsiders to recent classics like Polly Ho-Yen's The Boy In The Tower.  This shows what fantastic work the teachers are doing here.


At the end of the day, we had a bookselling and signing session organised by the excellent Pea Green Boat Books.  It was a total pleasure to sign a book for everyone who wanted one.


If there's anyone who didn't get a book on the day but would like one, Pea Green have some signed copies which you can order directly from them through this link.  And if there's anyone who'd like to ask another question, or to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave leave me a comment below!


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Author Visits: Park Hill Junior School & Kenilworth Books

Nearly four years ago, I visited Park Hill Junior School at the invitation of Sally Greenaway, who was the first teacher I ever heard from who was reading Phoenix with a class.  Last month, I had the absolute pleasure of returning to Park Hill and visiting them again, and I'd like to say a very big THANK YOU for the wonderful welcome they gave me!


I love visiting this school, because there are so many brilliant young readers and writers there.  And because they read Varjak Paw in Year 3 and Phoenix in Year 6, they know my books very well, and do fantastic work with them.  Before this visit, I received some amazing letters, like this one:



So it was a total pleasure for me to talk to Years 6, 5, 4 and 3 about writing and books, and I was thrilled to see so much enthusiasm for stories, and to hear so many inspiring dreams.  There were lots of excellent questions – more than we had time to answer, so if anyone at Park Hill would like to ask another question, or to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment below!


The brilliant Tamsin Rosewell of Kenilworth Books did the bookselling at the school, and then invited me to do a signing in the bookshop, which is one of my very favourite bookshops.  She had made the extraordinary window display that you can see above, with some of the most beautiful artwork I have ever seen!


There were also star-shaped biscuits in honour of Phoenix, and they were delicious!  It was a pleasure to meet and chat with some more of Kenilworth's young readers, and to sign books for all who wanted them!




If there's anyone out there who would like a signed copy of one of my books, but didn't get to the signing – they still have lots in stock at Kenilworth Books, and you can order them directly from the shop!  And I'd just like to say another big THANK YOU again to everyone who made this such a memorable and magical day!



Sunday, 10 December 2017

Author Visits: Westbury on Trym CE Academy

I'd like to say a very big thank you to all the brilliant staff and students I met at Westbury on Trym CE Academy when I visited them last week!


It was a pleasure to talk to Years 6, 5, 4 and 3 about writing and books.  It was clear to me that there were some brilliant young readers and writers in this school.  Quite a few of them had already read Varjak Paw or Phoenix, and there were many excellent questions, especially about the writing process – some of the best I've ever heard!


We had an outdoor signing at the end of the day, which was great fun even on a freezing December afternoon!  It was a pleasure to sign books for everyone who wanted one.


I always love hearing from readers, so if anyone at Westbury on Trim has any more questions, or would like to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment below!  And for anyone who would like any more of my writing tips, you can find them by clicking this link!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Author Visits: Perrymount Primary School

I'd like to say a big thank you to Ukachi Akalawu and everyone I met at Perrymount Primary School for the great welcome they gave me when I visited them last month!


It was a pleasure to talk to Years 6, 5 and 4 about reading and books.  I was inspired to see so many great young readers in the school, and delighted to discover that many of them had already read Varjak Paw.   I told them all about how my books were really written, and how many drafts Varjak Paw took to get right!

 
There were many questions!  We didn't quite have enough time to answer them all, so if there's anyone at Perrymount who would like to ask another question, or to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment below!


And it was a pleasure to sign books for everyone who wanted them at the end of the day.  So thanks again to everyone at Perrymount for a fantastic visit – and keep the Way alive!




Thursday, 30 November 2017

Author Visits: Pooles Park Primary School

I'd like to say a very big THANK YOU to Fiona Gunn-Stokes and all the great young readers and writers I met at Pooles Park Primary when I visited them last month!


First, I did a big assembly with Years 6, 5, 4 and 3 about reading and books. Then I did a creative writing workshop with Year 6, in which they produced some absolutely fantastic stories!  And finally, I had the pleasure of signing a book for everyone who wanted one at the end of the day.


It was hugely inspiring for me as an author to see so much enthusiasm for books in this school.  Before the assembly, I was shown the school library by two Year 6s, who pointed out all the books they'd read, and the ones they wanted to read next; and after the visit, I was very moved to receive some lovely letters.



So thanks to everyone again – and if anyone from Pooles Park would like to ask another question, or say anything about about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment below!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Author Visits: James Allen's Preparatory School

I'd like to say a very big thank you to the brilliant school librarian Rachel Hickson and to everyone I met at James Allen's Preparatory School for the wonderful welcome they gave me when I visited them last week!


It was a real pleasure to talk to Years 6, 5, 4 and 3 about reading and writing – it was inspiring to see how enthusiastic they were about their favourite books.  Quite a few of them had already read Varjak Paw for their book club, and made this fantastic display:


They had some great questions about the writing process, and I very much enjoyed answering them, and then signing books for everyone at the end.  If anyone would like some more writing advice, here's a link to a blog post I made with my top tips.  


And if anyone has any more questions that we didn't have time to answer on the day, or would like to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment below!


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Patron Of Reading: Fortismere School Years 7 & 8

For the past two years, I've been honoured to be Fortismere School's Patron Of Reading.  This is a fantastic scheme where an author develops a special relationship with a school, and visits many times to help spread the love of reading.  I was invited to do this by Fortismere's fabulous librarian Gill Ward, and you can read about all the work we've been doing here.

This month saw my final day at Fortismere.  First of all, I had lunch with a creative writing group of Year 7s and Year 8s, where we looked at the stories they'd been working on.  I was really impressed with the standard of writing – I think there are definitely some future authors here!


Then I did a creative writing workshop with a Year 8 class, in which I asked them to write stories they would want to read themselves, and worked with them through the processes of having an idea, writing a first draft, and then editing it.  They produced some fantastic work in just one hour – stories that showed real imagination and craft.


I then spent some very enjoyable time with Fortismere's Carnegie Shadowing Group.  They are part of the amazing Shadowing Scheme run by the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards.  They read all the books on the Carnegie Medal shortlist, and write reviews of them online.


We had a really fascinating, open, honest discussion about the books on this year's shortlist.  It was amazing to see there was at least one person who loved every book – and at least one person who didn't!  Things that work for one reader don't necessarily work for another.  But this year, it's fair to say that the majority of Fortismere Shadowers agreed with the judges that Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys was the outstanding book.


Finally, my last event as Fortismere Patron Of Reading was the Reading Champions evening.  The idea of Reading Champions began at the very beginning of my time at Fortismere, when I suggested that it would be great to see young readers recommending their favourite books to each other.  So all through the year, Fortismere Year 7s have been making presentations championing their favourite books, and this evening saw the very best of them competing in the final!


They made terrific cases for books including Wonder by RJ Palacio, One by Sarah Crossan, White Fang by Jack London, Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, Five Children On The Western Front by Kate Saunders, Geek Girl by Holly Smale, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and The Enemy by Charlie Higson.

It was amazing to see how passionate they were about their favourite books, and how imaginative they were in making their presentations.  For a writer, there could be nothing more inspiring to witness – so I'd like to end my final blog with a big THANK YOU to all the young readers and writers I've been working with for the past two years, to all their parents and teachers, and to their fantastic librarian for inviting me to do this work: it's been brilliant!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Author Visits: Coombe Hill Junior School

I'd like to say a very big thank you to Mark Clutterbuck and all the brilliant students and staff I met when I visited Coombe Hill Junior School last month!


It was an absolute pleasure to talk to Years 6, 5, 4 and 3 about following your dreams, and about how reading can help you achieve your ambitions.  I told them how I came to write books like Varjak Paw and Phoenix.  They told me some truly inspiring dreams and ambitions of their own, and I was delighted to find they were hugely enthusiastic readers and writers!


It was also a pleasure to sign books for everyone after the event in the wonderful school library – and then to be asked to draw a picture or write a message on the library walls!  I'm not very good at drawing, so this is what I wrote:


If anyone from Coombe Hill would like to ask any questions, or to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Author Visits: St Joseph's Catholic Primary

I'd like to say a big thank you to Angelina Brett, Tracey Churchill and everyone I met at St Joseph's Catholic Primary School for the fantastic welcome they gave me when I visited them this month!


It was an absolute pleasure to talk to Years 6, 5, 4 and 3 about reading and writing, and I was delighted to see what great young readers and writers there are at St Joseph's.  This is a school that places the very highest priority on reading.  They've even built a brand new library for the children, and asked me to open it while I was there!


Of course, I was thrilled to do this, because I believe that libraries are magical, life-changing places.  The books we discover in them can shape us and stay with us forever.  I've always hoped that my own books might have that kind of effect on readers – so I was absolutely knocked out when one of the students at St Joseph's read Phoenix after my visit, and made this amazing video about it:


So here's another big THANK YOU to her – and to everyone at St Joseph's for such an inspiring day.  And if anyone has any more questions they'd like to ask me, or would like to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment below!