Author Visit – Stimpson Avenue Academy

In these uncertain times, it was great to still be able to work with some amazing writers today. More able writers from four different schools gathered together at Stimpson Avenue Academy and we had a great day writing our own “choose-your-own-adventure” stories.

I love many things about running workshops on this theme, not least the way it encourages children to think hard about story structure and how to develop characters through their decisions, but I particularly enjoy looking at the visual “shape” of each story. They are all so unique and varied in their form and I think it’s really important for children to see this to see how the ebb and flow of a narrative can impact a reader.

All of the ideas were brilliant and the children were so enthusiastic and engaged with the process. Thanks to you all!

I’d also like to thank Mrs Higgs for organising the day and for the staff who supported me throughout.

Would your children benefit from an author-led writing workshop?
Would your staff enjoy CPD on delivering and creating their own creative content?
Get in touch via my school page.

Author Visit – All Saints, Lessingham

I can’t think of many better ways to spend World Book Day than in the company of wonderful children and their enthusiastic teachers. I was lucky to spend it this year at All Saints in Lessingham, working with children from Year 3 to Year 11.

We had some lovely conversations on the writing process, their love of reading, or even the barriers they find when they try to read and what has turned them off it in the past. We played through the Monstacademy book, The Magic Knight, and I ran quick workshops on how to create believable characters from the world around us.

I had a lovely day, thank you. And a big thank you to Mrs Martin for organising it and for everybody else for making me feel welcome.

Would your children benefit from an author-led writing workshop?
Would your staff enjoy CPD on delivering and creating their own creative content?
Get in touch via my school page.

Author Visit – Countesthorpe Leysland Community College

I had a great day today working with Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 children at Countesthorpe Leysland Community College. We talked about everything from how a book goes from an idea to publication, to how much an author earns and what careers are out there involving writing.

All of the children were fantastic and opened up with some of the blockers they find when trying to read. An inspirational group.

Thank you to Mrs Challinor for getting the ball rolling and Mrs McKenzie for organising the day and Mrs Orton for helping make sure we all knew where everything was. Every school needs a librarian!

“An excellent day was had by all! Motivational in promoting a love for reading and that all have the potential to be writers. Thank you!”

Would your children benefit from an author-led writing workshop?
Would your staff enjoy CPD on delivering and creating their own creative content?
Get in touch via my school page.

Author Visit – Martinshaw Primary School

What a brilliant day today! I got to work with some amazing children from Martinshaw Primary School from EYFS up to Year 6. We investigated how a “choose-your-own-adventure” style story can help us think about the plot and the decisions we make as an author. Over the day, we wrote a collaborative CYOA story with the children guiding us all the way. We ended up with a brilliant story about a pirate dragon who went on a fruitless treasure hunt. You can play through the story below.

Thanks to all of the children and Mr Green for organising the day.

“The children thoroughly enjoyed the sessions which were fun, creative and engaging. The assemblies were a great way to raise the profile of reading and boost reading enjoyment. An excellent day which was very fun and enjoyable. The pupils really enjoyed the workshops as they were a really creative way for them to write their own stories and work as a team.”

If you’d like to play the amazing CYOA that the children of Martinshaw created, have a go below. I’ve added some words around the ideas, but the structure, decisions and imaginative ideas were entirely the work of the awesome children.

Would your children benefit from an author-led writing workshop?
Would your staff enjoy CPD on delivering and creating their own creative content?
Get in touch via my school page.

Carpool Readeoke

We all love reading. Encouraging reading for pleasure and a passion for reading in children is pretty much why most authors get into the game.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a great time recording a couple of videos with the awesome Phil Page of the DSAT academy. Phil shares a passion for reading and has worked tirelessly to grab, cajole and encourage tons of amazing authors and teachers into getting through their fears and to share their love of reading on camera.

It’s all in the name of encouraging children to read, and boy has it been successful. Each author has read some of their own work whilst the teachers have chosen their favourite books. Schools around the county have joined in and loads of children have taken it upon themselves to add to the project.

You can see my videos embedded below (and my daughter’s attempt on my YouTube channel), but check out the whole lot here (especially Halil Tamgumus – it will change the way you see the Gruffalo!).

Watch my reading of The Halloween Parade – I apologise for my awkwardness!
You thought that was awkward, my post-poetry discussion takes it to new levels!

Author visit – Birchwood Grove Primary School

On Thursday, I spent a brilliant day at Birchwood Grove Primary School in Burgess Hill. I had the fortune of working with all of the children from Year 1 through to Year 6 and they are definitely awash with brilliant ideas and enthusiasm for reading and writing.

Thank you to everyone there for making me feel welcome, and especially to Mrs Batchelor whose organisation made the day such a success!

Update: I’ve just received a brilliant poem from a Year 1 child inspired by the visit. I absolutely love getting this kind of thing, it makes the whole thing so worthwhile. Thank you to the amazing child who wrote it!

Would your children benefit from an author-led writing workshop?
Would your staff enjoy CPD on delivering and creating their own creative content?
Get in touch via my school page.

A Choose Your Own Adventure Sample

Whenever I speak to people about The Magic Knight, I nearly always have to explain what a choose-your-own-adventure book is and how it works. When I was growing up, there were loads of these around, particularly the exceptional Fighting Fantasy series by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

To help people who aren’t sure how it works, I’ve uploaded the first few sections of The Magic Knight in a playable format. Hopefully, this will give people a chance to see how it works before they buy.

If you fancy having a go, head to the Magic Knight free sample page now.

Researching information for a new book

One of the best things about writing a new book is the opportunity to research and learn new things. I’m currently working on an entirely new project that will sit outside of the Monstacademy and Shadowland Chronicle series’. In fact, this is the first book I’ve written that is based entirely in reality and our own world.

The basic story will be set around an evacuee during the Second World War and his adventures with a few new friends, including a German Jewish boy sent over in the Kindertransport. I always loved teaching about the war and have a good grasp of the details I’d need, but you can always learn more. So, I visited the amazing National Holocaust Centre just outside of Nottingham.

I knew they had an exhibit all about the Kindertransport, and it proved to be such a worthwhile visit. Even if I wasn’t researching the book, it would have been a life-changing visit. It’s hard to choose appropriate adjectives to describe a display of such a horrific period of time, so I’ll leave it by advising everybody to visit at least once. It will change you.

I also need to say a huge thank you to the staff, particularly Dan, who was eternally patient and helpful with my many questions and requests, and who found me a few minutes with two inspiration survivors. Thank you to both of them who gave up their time to answer my questions.

Get Ready For Mummy Madness

Not only does October 1st mark the start of World Dyslexia Awareness Week, it’s also the release date for the latest instalment in the Monstacademy series. Trixie Grimble and all of your favourites are back once again only, this time, their trouble is ancient!

Better still, to celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week, you can grab 15% off any of the Monstacademy books at the Green Monkey Press etsy shop for the entire week! Grab a signed copy now!