Welcome to Adopt an Author 2022!

We are so excited to announce our participants for Adopt An Author 2022!  

Four Brighton & Hove Schools are each adopting a local author each for 8 weeks of correspondence.  

A class from each school will write to their adopted author and receive weekly replies, exciting tasks and insights into how their author works – its going to be so inspiring!

So without further ado, let’s welcome all of our authors and schools for Adopt An Author 2022….


Year 13s at BHASVIC will be adopting Bethan Roberts and reading her powerful novel  My Policeman, a poignant story of love and prejudice in 1950s Brighton, which is soon to be released as a major film. 

Griffin Gate

Year 4 at St John the Baptist Primary School  will be adopting award winning author Vashti Hardy and reading The Griffin Gate ,the first in a series of fantasy adventures involving a teleporting, crime fighting family !   

Bad nana

Year 3 pupils at St Nicolas School will be adopting the fabulous Sophy Henn and reading all about the antics of a very mischievous granny in Bad Nana, Older Not Wiser.

Genie & Teeny

And last but not least, Year 2 at Benfield Primary School will be adopting the multi-talented author-illustrator Steven Lenton and reading the first in his illustrated fiction series, Genie and Teeny Make a Wish  all about the adventures of lamp-less genie Grant, and his first friend, Teeny the puppy.

Over the next 8 weeks pupils will be corresponding with their adopted authors so stay tuned for weekly updates – the classes involved never fail to surprise us with their intriguing and insightful ideas and questions and we can’t wait to see what they come up with this year!  

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My Robot Friend

Tumble, the Robot Bird – Love the labelling!

As they reached the end of their correspondence and finished reading The Griffin Gate, author Vashti Hardy set Year 4 at St John the Baptist a challenge to imagine their own robot animal friend just like in the book.

Here are some of the amazingly creative drawings Year 4 did;

This one can walk on water!
This drawing shows what’s inside this rather cute robot – great bit of storage!
We wouldn’t mess with this one!
Another one to be careful of – robot Jellyfish? Terrifying!
Amazing Robot Rhino!

Vashti said:

These are AMAZING!

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Comic Creations

Year 3 at St Nicolas School have really been enjoying their correspondence with Sophy Henn and producing some very creative work. Here’s a snippet of what they’ve been up to recently, after Sophy set them a comic strip challenge;

Sophy Said:

Do you know, Bad Nana started out first of all as a comic strip! I love comic strips, I think they are a GREAT way of telling short stories using pictures and words. Maybe you could create a comic strip based on your idea as to what Bad Nana did when she was younger? I bet she got up to all sorts!

I hope to hear from you soon Year 3!

And just look at these fantastic comic strips created by Year 3! They are so colourful and full of details – we love them!

Sophy commented:

I LOVE the comic strips you have made, what GREAT sound effects! And you have used the flashes and noises to move the stories forward really, really effectively. And I LOVED seeing Mrs F-H and Liberace when they were younger. Brilliant work!

I hope that now you enjoy making comic strips as much as I do. Sometimes starting a big story can make me a bit nervous, but I find if I start with just a little comic strip it’s less nerve-wracking. And then I can build up to a big story gradually.

Great tip! Thanks Sophy. Stay tuned for more from St Nicolas Year 3!

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Amazing Animal Alliteration

Benfield Year 2 used alliteration to create amazing performing animal acts!

Based on some of the events in Genie & Teeny Make a Wish, Steven Lenton suggested that Benfield Year 2 might like to imagine what type of performing dog or animal they would enter a competition with, and they could draw or write about their ideas.

Benfield Year 2 said:

We loved seeing how you used alliteration in your writing when describing the dog acts. We’ve explored this in our literacy lessons. We had a go at creating our own acts for a show and some of us tried to use alliteration. We had lots of giggles making these up. We hope you enjoy them.

Just look at these gorgeous illustrations! the Adopt An Author team will definitely be first in line to get tickets to see the famous talented hamsters, the performing pepperoni pizzas and the acting apes!

The famous talented hamsters!
The Acting Apes!
The Prancing Poodles!
The Famous Tapping Turtle and the Famous Pepperoni Pizzas!

Steven said:

These are incredible! The pizzas really made me chuckle – so inventive, and has given me some ideas!  Definitely some future authors and illustrators in Year 2!

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A Stranger Comes to Town

BHASVIC Students hard at work!

In week 6, Bethan Roberts challenged BHASVIC students to write a piece based on the idea that ‘there are only two possible plots. One is A Stranger Comes to Town. The other is A Hero Leaves Town.’

Bethan said: ‘If you think about it, most stories are kick-started by someone facing something new, something that changes their world. In My Policeman, it’s the arrival of Patrick at Tom and Marion’s house (which you could describe as a stranger coming to town).’

The challenge for students was to use all their senses to create an environment and then imagine who was in that setting, what they were doing and what would happen if another character was introduced.

Here are two fantastic pieces of work which each create a distinct atmosphere, setting and characters with a healthy dose of tension and suspense!

This piece is by TH:

At the top of the hill the castle squatted, a monstrous stone toad silhouetted against the moon. Beneath it the moat lurked, inky and silent, waiting to swallow up anyone who dared approach the fortress uninvited.

A rustle sounded in the thicket of reeds and a screech cut through the night’s heavy silence as a crow spiralled up from the bushes, feathers glinting like an array of dark knives in the moonlight.

A sumptuous crimson cloth stretched from end to end of the long narrow table. A cough from the shadowy seat at its head immediately commanded the focus of the room’s assembly, thirty backs straightened and thirty minds snapped to attention.

A pale withered finger extended from the cloak of darkness at the end of the table and hovered a moment before jabbing with a sudden vicious force towards a sandy haired man sat at his right.

The movement was that of a viper striking its prey, and the man flinched, the blood draining from his face.

Bethan commented : I like the spookiness of this piece…. I’m intrigued by the ‘cloak of darkness’ from which the finger emerges…is this a person? Or a spirit or spectral presence of some sort?

And here’s a piece from TW

This city reeks like a goddamn oil spill. It spreads across the sky — black, sticky, tar-like, clouded by light pollution and smog — oozes thick down brick buildings and rickety stairwells, runs like long, slow fingers down greasy window-panes. It wells in the drains. Cuts through the grime. The city ascends, shadows itself, lit sick yellow-green by aching street-lamps; high-rises cut upwards like ugly grey teeth through a concrete gum. Nights here are humid, muggy, the heat pooling low and damp, cooking the streets in their filth. Reluctant days squeeze open and shut. And always, always, the rain: heavy, constant, relentless, the city locked in a perpetual state of wet rot. It sinks alleys in mud. Makes the black streets shine, like oil. Oil. 

Officer Huxley grimaces as I drop into a crouch, my long coat spilling across the cobbled sidewalk. The body is starkly white. Fresh, though — if the hot wet blood inching its way under the sole of my boot is any indicator. 

‘I’m here, I’m here— Hell, 52nd was gridlocked—‘ I jerk my head upwards and sigh through my teeth as Officer Sullivan emerges from the street, turns down the alley with an almost flourish. In typical Sullivan fashion, he is late — and, in typical Sullivan fashion, judging by the coffee cup in his right hand, he is lying. 

‘No witnesses. No leads,’ Huxley lists off, eyeing Sullivan with some kind of aversion. Huxley is aged, experienced, ever-professional, his mouth pulled down into a permanent thin grim line. Sullivan is, in the words of his own wife, an acquired taste. He’s proud. Lives every day like a goddamn movie. 

His gaze settles on the body, like he’s only just noticed it, and he recoils violently. ‘Christ!’

‘Yeah. A mob killing, you reckon, Warren?’ Huxley turns to me. 

 ‘That nice jacket must’ve cost a pretty penny.’ I stand up, running my hands down my coat. ‘Could be. There was ID in his wallet, but I don’t recognise the name from any database. It’s Angelo—‘

‘Angelo Ricci,’ chimes Sullivan, bug-eyed. He swallows, hard.

‘Yeah.’ I frown. ‘How the hell’d you know that, Sulley?’ 

Sullivan seems genuinely aghast, the colour drained from his face behind his young hands. In the light of the alley, he looks green. Sickly. ‘Christ,’ he chokes out again.

Bethan commented: This is hugely impressive work. Full of atmosphere, rich in detail, an intriguing narrative, and so stylish, too. The bit I really loved was the detail about Sullivan’s coffee making him a liar!

What amazing writing which certainly rose to the challenge set by Bethan and had us eagerly waiting to see what happens next!

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It’s a family affair

St Nicolas Year 3 are loving reading Bad Nana and are full of brilliant questions about the book and the characters – here’s a challenge from Sophy that resulted in some fabulous drawings, along with some of the pupils questions that inspired it.

Sophy said: Here’s a challenge Inspired by your questions (below), maybe you could draw Bad Nana’s family portrait, but when Bad Nana was your age. You can have her mum as I have described her, or not…does she have any brothers or sisters? Grandparents? Pets???? Or and what where they wearing? There are no right or wrong answers here, but you MUST have fun!!!!!

Bad Nana’s Family Portraits by St Nicolas Year 3

Sophy said: WOWSERS!!! What brilliant family portraits, so many excellent details, outfits, glasses, masks, pets and MUSCLES!!!! I love them and I really hope you enjoyed drawing them.

And here are the questions from Year 3 that inspired the challenge:

St Nicolas Year 3: What were Bad Nana’s parents were like?

Sophy: Well, do you know I started writing a story about Bad Nana when she was a little girl and in my story her mum was a single mum. I didn’t get around to writing about her dad so I haven’t imagined what he is like yet. When Bad Nana would have been your age it would have been about 1960 and there were lots of changes happening at that time, feminism, the civil rights movement, lots of people questioning lots of things and I like to think Bad Nana’s mum would have been among them! A strong, independent, modern thinker. And that’s why Bad Nana isn’t afraid to stand up to bossy boots and bullies and is happy being absolutely herself and not what people might expect from an older woman.

St Nicolas Year 3: Why does Bad Nana’s cat always have the same expression?

Sophy: Liberace is based on my cat Rolo, who was the most lovely, cuddly big old ginger tom, but his face was always the same…he always looked a little bit cross but also slightly surprised. So, I thought I would do the same for Liberace…and it made me giggle.

St Nicolas Year 3: Why doesn’t the main character Jeanie like her brother?

Sophy: Well, I think she does quite like him, secretly, but I Jack is quite a cheeky little brother so perhaps winds Jeanie up a bit (ANNOYING). That’s why she says what she does about him at the beginning of the book.

Such great work and brilliant questions – we can’t wait for the next instalment!

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Show me how to do like you…

Bethan set BHASVIC students a writing challenge based around developing a new skill, inspired by the epigraph to Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple (‘Show me how to do like you. Show me how to do it.’) and her character Marion in My Policeman, who experiences a turning point in her feelings for Tom when he teaches her to swim in the sea at Brighton.

Bethan wrote: Learning experiences can be very fruitful locations for fiction. I’d like you to pick a skill you don’t have but would like to develop. It could be anything: singing, baking the perfect mille-feuille, mending a motorbike, throwing a vase, snowboarding, dancing a tango, driving, building a wall…Whatever it is, it should involve some level of physical activity. Now pick your tutor. You could base them on a real person, make them up completely, or perhaps use a character who came to you previously. In your writing, I want you to make sure you include the following: 1) A specific place and time (e.g. Brighton beach, September 1957) 2) A detailed description of the activity itself, and how it feels to try it out for the first time. 3) A twist in the relationship between tutor and student. Is there love involved? Is it one-sided? Or perhaps jealousy? Or a long-standing feud? Or a difficult friendship? You may need to do some research into your skill in order to make your scene more convincing! Good Luck!

Here’s B’s fantastic response to the challenge:

Mum had promised to teach me how to run a marathon, or perhaps train for one over the next few months. Of course she had to choose this day to begin ‘phase one conditioning’ along Brighton seafront; the day that I would break the news. Initially, the idea of running for a prolonged period of time was unappealing but reminiscing on the black and white photographs of her crossing the finish line convinced me to take the challenge. Mum, more commonly known as Hattie, has always relished in her competitive streak and hoped to install that in me on June 21st, 2003. It wasn’t quite like the bouncy grass that cushioned my feet when competing in Year 6 cross country, instead the smooth concrete was resistant and hurt my ankles. Mum told me: “toughen up”, and increased the pace towards the ice cream hut, not noticing that I was trailing behind. Her muscly figure became smaller and smaller, and I began to lose sight of her amongst the gaggles of Brightoners. I was hoping to become closer to her, attending a University in my hometown however the opposite had happened. Now more than ever, she was becoming distant… nothing I’m not used to. Ever since I was young I can remember mum’s overwhelming disappointment that her athletic career was cut short, all for the sake of a child that can’t even run one kilometre without panting like an overweight asthmatic. To call her exercise obsessed would be an understatement; she spends all her money on new matching gym sets, embroidered with her initials. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t call my marathon training attire ‘workout appropriate’ – just some light brown Next leggings and an old Olly Murs t-shirt. The sun was beaming down on us and, after ten more excruciating minutes of running alongside the peaceful waves, I spotted her hazel brown hair. “Mum! Mum!”. Reluctantly, she turned her head for a moment to look at my bright red face against the clear blue sky. 

“Water?” After nodding, she watched me drink the contents of the bottle in no more than ten seconds. For a moment, I was waiting for her to crack a smile.

Instead, she muttered, “You’re unbelievable” under her breath, and carried on towards the old pier. Attempting to stick to her rhythm, I forced my legs to move, even though my knees felt weak, and I could feel blisters forming rapidly. When we arrived at the pebbles, I sat next to mum, feeling at peace now that we had finally stepped off of promenade’s hot coals. I had something to tell mum, and now seemed like the right time. We were alone, by the sea. How could she react badly in such a beautiful landscape? 

“I was thinking” I murmured 

“Speak up” said Hattie (sometimes I call her Hattie because mum is too personal) 

“I was thinking of dropping out”

“Of where?”


There was a deafening pause. Without another word, she got up and kept running. Within minutes she was lost again, amongst the strangers who meant just as little to her as her own daughter did.

Bethan commented: B, I loved your piece! I thought it had real drama and tension. The relationship between mother and daughter felt very real to me, and I think the running (away from each other) works as a very appropriate and revealing metaphor for their situation and how they are failing to communicate. Excellent work.

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Teeny Portraits!

Steven Lenton set Benfield Year 2 pupils a challenge to follow his draw-a-long video to draw a picture of Teeny the puppy and here are some of their lovely pictures:

Year 2 said: We had so much fun drawing Teeny.  We loved his bushy eyebrows.  We felt very sorry for Teeny when we realised that he was lost and had no home.  In the book we have now met an old lady who hit the man on the head with her umbrella.  We think she could be Teeny’s owner.  We are looking forward to finding out what happens next!

Steven said: Well, these Teeny drawings are PHENOMENAL!!! A huge round of ‘appaws’ for doing so well with the drawalong!

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Location, Location

Early on in their correspondence, Bethan Roberts set BHASVIC students a task all about location, and using the senses to write about it. Here’s her letter;

My Policeman is set in Brighton, which is my adopted home town, and one of the great pleasures and challenges of writing it was recreating the experience of being in the town for my reader. First, I want you to write down three things you think of when you think of your home town. If you come from somewhere that isn’t Brighton, please feel free to use that place. You can also pretend that you come from somewhere else, if you like  (New Orleans. The Gobi Desert. The Moon…). The things can be as big or small as you like, but they should be as specific as possible, and they should be based on the senses — so think about how your home town looks, smells, feels, sounds, or even tastes. You might think, for example, of the dried-blood colour of the rust that forms on the metal legs of the benches on the seafront. Or the smell of coffee and pastries and old beer on the corner of Sydney Street. Or the crunchy sound of pebbles beneath your boots.  Once you’ve got these, your challenge is to write a piece which begins with the words ‘I was home again’ and includes all three descriptions. Before you start, though, give your narrator a task. Why have they come home? Where are they headed, exactly? Who are they going to see, and why? Now set them on a journey towards their goal, through their home town. Bethan

And here are some short extracts from the fantastic pieces of work the students came up with in response:

B wrote: I was home again, and the air-conditioned airport atmosphere I became used to was now beautifully forgotten as the city air filled my lungs. Stepping through the barrier at Bristol Temple Meads Station, I moved from my prior life of travel back to my childhood; the train ticket was my pass home and once it disappeared into the slot, and I looked up, a wave of nostalgia reminded me of what I once adored. Under my feet the cobbly pavement felt like the yellow brick road and I felt a sense of familiarity, as I remembered the streets of Venice. Like a warm breeze, the light scent of coffee oozed out of the cafes as me my suitcase marched towards Park street, past the hundreds of traffic lights.

Bethan commented; B – I recognised Bristol from your lovely sense-based descriptions, and enjoyed walking the streets with your narrator. I could smell that coffee! 

M wrote: I was home again. There was a relief yet melancholy about it as Brighton wasn’t the same again. Even though it was slap bang in the middle of summer, there was no smell of beer, sweat or even barbecue smoke on the beach; something that used to be regular. Although those smells were discomforting at the least, there was also a certain comfort about them and the fact that they weren’t there made the feeling of being home so much more worse. As well as that the aroma of coffee had completely dissipated, something that used to be normal at every corner that you turn in the lanes.

Bethan commented; M – yours was a really fascinating piece: I want to know exactly what’s happened to our beloved Brighton…? I love the feeling of loss and longing that pervades this piece, and the way you evoke an eerie disappeared world.

Wonderful work BHASVIC!

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Mysterious Maps

A couple of weeks ago, Vashti Hardy wrote to Year 4 at St John’s to set them a task to create maps of their own fantasy lands:

Dear Year 4,
Hello! I hope you’re all having a fabulous week so far. As you’ll know, Grace Griffin lives in a place called Moreland which has lots of curious towns and places to explore. This week, you’re going to have fun creating your very own fantasy lands! This is your chance to include all the things that you might love and to make anything possible, so have lots of fun with your ideas. Remember to draw in a few mysterious or dangerous obstacles which might cause the wardens of your world a few problems, and think about the type of portals you’d like to create. Perhaps you are going to use gates and the old fashioned telephone boxes, like the Griffins, or perhaps you might use something else… Maybe there are different object that could work too, like a bench with a keypad where people can call for help, or perhaps there are teleporting stations, or maybe bells on posts which people ring for help. I’m sure you’ll have your own marvellous ideas! I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Have a lovely week and happy reading adventures! Vashti

Year 4 replied and shared some of their maps:

Vashti, we are loving reading Griffin Gate and always beg Mrs Carden to read the next chapter! This week we completed the task you sent of making maps for our own world and had a go at writing a little part of a story about what happened when our beacon went off and our character had to teleport to a place on our map. We have attached a few of our maps to show you. Speak to you soon, love Year 4 xx

Well done Year 4, we love how your maps are all so different!

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Terrific Teapots

Year 2 at Benfield are enjoying all the jokes in Steven Lenton’s Genie & Teeny, and they’ve been thinking about characters and settings in their literacy work. Inspired by their Teacher moving to a new house, and Grant the Genie’s teapot house, they had a go at Steven’s Teapot Design Challenge. Well done for some lovely colourful and inventive designs Year 2 – we can’ t wait to see what you get up to next!

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