Thursday, 28 February 2019

Derby is passionate about reading!

This week I've been in Derby, working with Village Primary and St Joseph's Primary. Georgina Houghton at Village and Angelina Brett at St Joseph's are both passionate about fostering a love of reading for pleasure and that really shows!

It was my first visit to Village Primary. I was made to feel very welcome and thoroughly enjoyed working with the large KS2 and KS1 audiences. They were impeccably behaved, joining in really well to help bring my books to life and asking some great questions. It was lovely to chat with lots of the children at the book signing the next day, which took place in Village's fantastic library space. It's a large open area in the heart of the school, with brilliant, fun displays and unique furniture (see the photos below). Ms Houghton and her team have clearly put a lot of effort and heart into it, which was wonderful to see. I hope this is the first of many visits to Village Primary!

On the wonderful hand-covered 'book' chairs at Village 

The fab KS2 library at St Joseph's
It was my third visit to St Joseph's. I've always loved visiting this welcoming school, but this time was special. I don't think I've ever presented to a more engaged audience. KS2 and KS1 seemed to be hanging on my every word and it was like riding a high-energy wave of enthusiasm and warmth. The acting of the children who came up to help me was superb. I loved every second of it! The book signing the next day was brilliantly organised and took place in the awesome new KS2 library on the playground (pictured below); the KS1 library is a giant wooden castle. I couldn't think of two more perfect spaces for encouraging a love of reading.

I'm feeling very lucky and inspired to have visited two passionate schools with amazing library spaces! Thank you again!

A lovely letter from St Joseph's. The story was dramatic and full of tension!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

The Adventure Continues!

For various reasons I haven’t done any school visits for the last 7 months. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to get back into it than by visiting two of my favourite schools: Denton West End and St Michael’s Bamford!

It was my 5th visit to Denton West End. (I first went there 9 years ago, very early in my author career.) I always know the visit will be expertly organised by Mrs Garlick, and that I will receive a friendly welcome from her and the other staff. The children are always keen to engage with my presentations in a respectful and enthusiastic way. The visit this time was no exception and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the large KS2 and KS1 audiences. They joined in superbly to bring my stories to life. And will I ever forget the three-headed story about Bob and the chicken with a toilet seat stuck on its head?! The next day, I had great fun chatting with lots of children at the book signing; it was successful enough that, although we started at 1.30, I was still signing books at 4.30!

Voting taking place at Denton West End

This was only my 3rd visit to St Michael’s, but I have known the headteacher, Mrs Barratt, just as long as Mrs Garlick – Mrs Barratt first invited me to her old school, Castleton, 9 years ago. Now she makes me feel very welcome at St Michael’s. Mrs Barratt has fostered such a lovely environment at St Michael’s. During my visit this week, the staff and children were all, without exception, so polite and friendly. I couldn’t have been better looked after and my presentations with KS2 and KS1 were a complete joy. The children’s enthusiasm was infectious and created a really warm buzz and those who came up to help me were brilliant actors! At the book signing the following day, every child who bought a book said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in a completely natural way – amazing! 

Outside St Michael's after a great morning book signing!

A big thank you to Mrs Garlick and Mrs Barratt for continuing to embrace my author visits and books. I’m already looking forward to my 6th visit to Denton West End and 4th visit to St Michael’s!