The Champions of Reading at Victoria School in Wrexham have set up their very own Shadowing Group for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards. They are going to read two of the KS2-level books – The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge – and have regular meetings to talk about them, assisted by chocolate chip cookies. I can’t wait to find out what they think of them. (The books, that is – not the cookies.)
Wonderful World Book Day at the fantastic Victoria School in Wrexham where enthusiasm reigns supreme. The kids took part in a literary Mastermind and I was amazed at their in-depth knowledge of their chosen authors. This was silly of me really, since I should know by now that when the kids at Victoria School set out to do something they do it 1000%. Brilliant.
Much respectful bowing among the Champions of Reading after a photograph and a whole letter of encouragement from His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, aka Prince William! Everybody is so excited about this and I hugely appreciate his taking the time out of a very busy schedule to lend his support.
The very lovely Julia Donaldson has sent a fab photo of herself supporting the Champions of Reading AND a whole bunch of stickers of her wonderful characters – thank you so much!
Great excitement for the Champions of Reading: a signed photo especially for them, from the brilliant DAVID WALLIAMS! A huge thank you to David for taking the time out of your incredibly full schedule to support the great efforts these kids are making. You are a star in more ways than one.
St Chad’s Primary School in Hanmer has joined the Champions of Reading project too, so there are now over 300 children taking part. Not bad for the first month!
Wow! October saw the launch of my new project: Champions of Reading, in Victoria Primary School, Wrexham. Champions of Reading is all about helping kids to love books by maximising their enjoyment of the books they read for pleasure. So they get four Reading Rights – which they all thought sounded great! In return they had to make one promise: to try really hard to find books they liked. Judging by all the emails I’ve had from them since, they’ve found loads already!
May 2015 – Victoria School in Wrexham
Victoria School in Wrexham was where my assistant Yoda nearly got fired. Yoda is only supposed to help me explain one small part of how I wrote Tales of Trouble but at Victoria School the full attention of 200 kids went to his head and he refused to stop telling us all to obey the force. Finally I had to ask a teacher to take him to a classroom far, far away. When it was time to go home the teacher had already left so the kids launched a whole-school Yoda-hunt. At long last a quiet person heard a muffled voice from inside a drawer, complaining, ‘Dark it is. Upside down am I.’
Victoria School is also where I was introduced by four kids reading out reviews they’d written about my books. Luckily they all gave me five stars – phew. A huge, space-age, out-of-this-world, hyper-drive thank you to Alfie, Nicole, Connor and Raya and everyone at big, bright and buzzing Victoria School.
April 2015 – St Chad’s Primary School
I had a really special afternoon at St Chad’s Primary School in the beautiful mere-side village of Hanmer. They were celebrating their own Book Week and my fellow author Dunkle Deed and I were invited to judge a book-cover competition, which was almost impossible as all the entries were brilliant! Congratulations to winners Lucy Dulson and Caitlin Spence.
Later I was treated to a guided tour by the Head Boy and Head Girl. My favourite bits were the First World War trench they’re digging (with the help of some energetic dads) and the mud kitchen. I was wondering why the mud kitchen looked so familiar until I realised it looked exactly like my own kitchen looks when my teenage sons are in charge of cooking.
Thank you very much to everyone at Hanmer School for looking after me so beautifully and for buying so many books.
March 2015 – Brilliant Book Day
WORLD BOOK DAY – Another brilliant celebration of reading with my very old friends at Borras Park Junior School in Wrexham and with brand new friends at Newtown Primary School in Shropshire. Both schools were stuffed with super-cheerful kids in fantastic costumes who bought loads of books, so a Big Thank You to organisers Anders at Newtown and Karen – aka Princess Fiona – at Borras (has the green face-paint scrubbed off yet?)
February 2015 – Rave Aliens Reviews
Another great surprise in the post today: Class P3P at the Edinburgh Academy have all written reviews of Undercover Aliens and everyone gave it 5 STARS! Apparently it’s smashing, hilarious and brilliant – thank you, P3P! You had two very favourite scenes: the bit where Skipjack suspects he might be in love and looks in vain for a pink blob on Ringo’s hostility detector, and the show-down with Zolborg Naphax (and the alarming straw…). And you all want a wingboard! (Me too – let’s hope someone invents one soon.)
December 2014 – Congratulations Sean and Georgia
What a brilliant collection of stories the kids at Ysgol Trefnant have written after my first Story-writing Workshop as their Author in Residence. The winners were Sean and Georgia and, as promised, there are two signed copies of Undercover Aliens winging through the post – in time for the holidays.
November 2014 – Champion Charlie
Congratulations to Charlie Smith from Bristol who raised £150 for Children in Need by getting his friends and family to sponsor him for an OLI AND SKIPJACK MARATHON! Champion Charlie read ALL SIX Tales of Trouble in one weekend!
September 2014 – Author in Residence
I’ve had the huge honour of being asked by Ysgol Trefnant in Denbigh to be their Author in Residence for the next academic year and our first Story-writing Workshop took place yesterday. The kids worked really hard on producing some fantastic outlines and I can’t wait to read the finished stories – Well done everyone in Years 3 – 6 at Ysgol Trefnant.
June 2014 – Sardinian Special
I’ve had a parcel all the way from the beautiful Italian island of Sardinia – Oli and Skipjack’s Tales of Trouble are published in Italy by Salani and I was lucky enough to be invited to the Sardinian capital Cagliari in 2012 to take part in the incredible Tuttestorie children’s book festival. Now one of the schools I met there has sent me lots of pictures by the kids of The Mum Shop, or Il Negozio della Mamma as it’s called in Italian, including this brilliant picture of Oli and M44 in the tank, by Andrea and Francesco. A very happy reminder of the warmest, sunniest book festival.
April 2014 – Prestatyn Library
What a brilliant place the brand new Prestatyn Library is. Had a great day here with kids from Ysgol Hiraddug and Ysgol Melyn. To everyone there, and to Denbighshire County Council for their rare vision and their belief in books, Diolch!
March 2014 – World Book Day
The highlight of my school-visiting calendar is always WBD at the buzzing Borras Park Junior School in Wrexham. This time was fun as always – roll on next year! The next day – WBD+1 – I visited Moreton First near Oswestry in Shropshire, another long-standing supporter of Oli and Skipjack’s Tales of Trouble. Thank you Moreton First for inviting me again (and for buying lots of books!).
February 2014 – Surprises from Scotland
I’ve had lovely letters from two Scottish schools: P3 at Edinburgh Academy Junior School sent a book of montages of Oli and Skipjack images and a photo of their classroom door which they’d decorated like the cover of Undercover Aliens – brilliant! P4/5 at Pulteneytown Academy sent LOTS of great questions and their own pictures of different Oli and Skipjack scenes. Thank you!
September 2013 – Hello Hamburg
I’ve just returned from three brilliant days in Hamburg, courtesy of my wonderful German publisher Carlsen Verlag and the Harbourfront Literature Festival. Carlsen have so far published two Oli and Skipjack books, The Mum Shop and Gnomes are Forever. Vielen Dank, Deutschland!