I love meeting young readers at my school visits!
Recommended age groups for my books are as follows:
- Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep and Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog – Nursery or Reception (or early in Year 1)
- Henry Haynes and The Great Escape – age 6-8, so Year 1 or 2
- The Secret Lake – reading age 8-10 years, but enjoyed by younger and older! I normally present to Years 3 and 4, but sometimes also to Year 2.
- Eeek! The Runaway Alien – reading age 7-10 yrs, therefore suitable for Years 2 and 3.
- Walter Brown and the Magician’s Hat – 7-9+ years (Yrs 2-4)
Depending on class sizes and how many year groups I am seeing I can present to one or more classes together – or to several year groups in the hall.
In addition to or as an alternative to the format outlined below, I can also, by arrangement, tailor workshop activities that tie in with the curriculum for use during or after my visit. For Years 5 and 6 I can also offer a more general talk on writing and publishing in the digital age, showing ‘how books get made’.
For Eeek!, The Secret Lake and/or Walter Brown and the Magician’s Hat I talk about the inspiration for the book, then do a reading for 15 minutes, then take questions about the story and about being an author in general. I then show the children my book websites and author blog as well as slides and videos showing how I work with my illustrator in Bosnia – the ‘before and after’ illustrations go down very well! With the older groups I also have slides showing how I worked with my editor on Walter Brown and the Magician’s Hat. The session normally lasts 45 -50 mins.
For Henry Haynes and The Great Escape I ask the children about visiting the library – and we talk about how librarians can help you find good books. We also talk about how much fun children’s writers can have making magic things happen – including children falling into books! I then read an excerpt from the book, alongside slides of the illustrations. I then take questions. The session lasts around 35 minutes.
For Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep and/or Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog attention spans are clearly shorter, so the whole session normally only lasts about half an hour. I open by asking the children about local foxes they have seen – we then move on to play a few simple rhyming games as a lead-in to the story. I have a fun presentation that includes all of the colour illustrations from each book to accompany the story as I read, as well as live footage of a beautiful fox that fell asleep in an author friend’s garden and of a hedgehog running up the side of my parents’ garden. (Both are a huge hit with the children!) With Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep, there is lots of ‘favourite food’ discussion and the children help with counting the time as the story progresses with the chime of the church clock. With Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog, the children love learning about what hedgehogs and foxes eat in the wild, where hedgehogs hibernate, and how we can help them hunt or hibernate by creating hedgehog highways and making safe places in our gardens.
I supply advance order slips around a week and a half before my visit then bring in books pre-signed for the children . This method saves time for everyone on the day, and minimises disappointment due to forgotten money! It also helps me plan required book numbers. (The order slip instructions are set up to minimise office administration beyond compiling a list of names!) I also bring in extras on the day for the inevitable last-minute or forgotten orders.
Reluctant readers love Eeek!
Eeek! The Runaway Alien has been singled out as being a great book for boys and reluctant readers– and is included on the LoveReading4KidsUK website’s Reluctant Readers’ list, curated by Julia Eccleshare of The Guardian and The Literacy Trust.
A number of teachers have contacted me to say they have used Eeek! very successfully in class for Year 3 Literacy or for Book Clubs.
Previous schools visits
- Mordiford Primary, Herefordshire (whole of school)
- St Mary’s C of E Primary, Fownhope, Herefordshire (whole of school)
- Tower House School, East Sheen, London (Reception to Y5)
- Brandlehow Primary, Putney (Two visits over two days: Years 1-4)
2018 World Book Day week and either side Feb/March – various
- Redcliffe School, Chelsea (whole of school)
- Thomson House School, East Sheen (whole of school)
- Penworthham Primary School, Streatham (Nursery and Reception)
- Orchard House School, Chiswick (Years 3-6)
- St Mary’s and St Peter’s Primary, Teddington (whole of school)
- Saint Christina’s Catholic School, St John’s Wood (whole of school)
- Willesborough Infants School, Ashford, Kent (whole of school)
- Willesborough Junior School, Ashford, Kent (whole of school)
World Book Day week Feb/March – various
- Newton Prep, Battersea – early Feb (Years 2 & 3)
- Ashton House, Iselworth – mid Feb (whole of school)
- Martin Primary, East Finchley (WBD week celebrations – whole of school)
- Christ Church Primary, Brondesbury (WBD week celebrations – whole of school)
- East Sheen Primary, East Sheen (WBD week celebrations – whole of school)
- St Mary Magdalen’s, Mortlake (WBD week celebrations – Yrs 1-4)
- Rokeby School, Kingston (WBD week celebrations – Yrs 1-4)
- Sheen Mount, East Sheen (World Book Day – whole school)
- Latymer Prep School, Hammersmith (Years 3 & 4)
- St Anthony’s Prep -Islington (Years 3 & 4 – Walter Brown book launch)
- St Osmond’s, Barnes (whole school) – November 10th/11th
- The Old Vicarage, Richmond (whole school)
- Lowther School, Barnes (whole school) – World Book Day
- Sheen Mount, East Sheen (whole school – poetry recital judge)
- St Elizabeth’s Primary, Richmond (whole school – World Book day week)
- Barnes Primary (Reception – Year 3 – World Book Day week)
- King’s House School, Richmond (Reception – Year 3)
- Norland Place School, Notting Hill (whole school)
- The Study Prep, Wimbledon (Reception – Year 3)
- Milverton Primary, Leamington Spa (Reception – Year 4)
- St Anthony’s School, Hampstead (Reception – Year 6)
- East Sheen Primary, SW14 (whole school – World Book Day)
- St Joseph’s, Hanwell Middlesex (Yrs 2,3, & 4)
- Graceland Nursery School, SW13
- Kew College (whole school)
- Holy Cross, Kingston-upon-Thames (Yrs 3 & 4)
- Tower House, East Sheen, SW14 (Reception/Year 1)
- Welwyn St Mary’s, Herts (whole school)
- Holy Cross, Kingston-upon-Thames (Reception /Yr 1)
- St Gabriel’s Primary, Westminster (Yrs 4/5)
- The Harrodian, SW13
- Colet Court, SW13
- The Lowther School, SW13
- Tower House School, SW14
Please do get in touch if you’d like to book a visit. I’m currently arranging bookings for the summer term of 2018 and for the 2018/19 academic year. And, don’t forget, with the World Cup coming around again this summer Eeek! is a perfect choice for both keen and reluctant boys and girls aged 7-10 who love soccer!
Here are two wonderful pieces of writing from pupils in Year 5 and Year 6 at Redcliffe School, Chelsea in March 2018, following my creative writing workshop based around The Secret Lake. Their task was to write an account of the discovery of the time tunnel from Stella’s point of view, also practising ‘show don’t tell’.
Here’s a lovely post from The Study Prep in Wimbledon following my visit there in the summer term back in 2014 🙂
And here’s an interview with the librarian of St Elizabeth’s Primary, Richmond, about Eeek! The Runaway Alien after I was invited there on World Book Day a a few years ago. Eeek! is still a firm favourite (closely behind The Secret Lake) at my school visits!