Monthly Archives: April 2016

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

That quote is by American writer Toni Morrison – great words!

This is a fitting quote for Stanford Juniors’ next task set by their adopted author, Ross Montgomery …

By now you’ve invented an alien, and used similes and evocative language to describe different parts of it. 
Read either pp. 29-32 (Perijee turning into a person) or pp. 68-70 (Perijee appearing in front of Caitlin’s parents) – depending on how far you’ve got in the book! In these short extracts, we see Perijee changing and the effect it has on people. Try and spot some examples of similes and descriptive language I’ve used.
YOUR next step is to pretend you’ve written a whole book about your alien. You’re going to write the scene where your alien first appears!
1. You don’t need to write a whole story – just one short scene. A few paragraphs should be enough. You don’t need to come up with a whole backstory, or an explanation where this alien has come from.
2. In the scene, your narrator is going to discover your alien. You can write it in first person – e.g. “I gasped in shock” – or third person if you prefer – e.g “Daisy gasped in shock”. The choice is yours!
3. Start by imagining a good place for your alien to be discovered – it should depend on how you want the scene to “feel”. If you want the scene to be scary, a good place would be a barren forest in the middle of the night – perhaps your narrator is trying to find his/her way home through the fog with a flashlight when they stumble across the alien. If you want the scene to be awe-inspiring, maybe the narrator could go exploring an old abandoned cave and find it there. 
The options are endless: it could be in a foul stinking sewer, the narrator’s bedroom, a dusty old shed at the bottom of a garden… think about what works for your alien, and what you would enjoy writing!
4. First of all, take a sentence or two to describe the setting. This is a good way to build up a sense of how the reader should feel when they’re reading – scared, amazed, confused…
EXAMPLE 1: I crept through the dark, dismal corridor, my heart pounding with terror in my chest.
EXAMPLE 2: Jeremy walked mesmerised through the sunlit trees, towards the glade where the haunting music was playing…
5. When your narrator sees the alien, take a few sentences to describe the alien. This bit should be easy – you’ve already done the hard work! Look at the sentences you came up for your alien and choose the ones you think are most effective. You don’t need all of them – three or four should be enough. 
Make sure you choose a good mix so we get a “picture” in our head – it would be a pity if all three descriptions were about your alien’s feet, for example!
Feel free to alter or improve your descriptions if you think they could be better – you may have come up with some new ideas over the last few weeks!
6. Last of all, make it clear how the narrator feels after seeing the alien. Are they terrified? Amazed? Disgusted? Delighted? Does the alien know it’s been seen – do they talk to each other? The choice is yours!
I look forward to seeing your ideas! Remember, these passages don’t need to be long – it’s better to write something short and punchy than something long and boring!
Have fun and speak soon,
Well as we know, Stanford Juniors are a very creative lot and have approached Ross’ idea from a different angle – before they begin writing their first scene, the class have created a storyboard to help them plan their first draft. How organised!

Ross seemed impressed by this initiative and responded:

Hello Year 6s,

I loved your work this week! I wasn’t expecting to see comic strip storyboards, but it really helped show off and structure your ideas (and drawing skills!) When I write, I usually have to plan out every chapter in detail before I get started – it can be really tough but is vital if you want to make sure your writing’s going to be the best it can be. I particularly liked Suzi-Anne’s terrifying alien getting annoyed at being called ugly, and Ruby’s duplicating aliens being shoved in the wardrobe!
Speak soon,

Saying hello to Carden Primary

On Monday, we went to visit Carden Primary during their Adopt an Author session in the afternoon. Being inspired by Marcia’s book ‘Les Miserables’, the girls were writing about the differences between poverty in post revolutionary France and modern day England. It is a tough one, but the girls wrote some fantastic sentences and seemed to be working really hard to create a well written piece of work.

Here are some photos to show off the session!


Marcia received some of the finished pieces and they are so well written, really insightful and well planned. Here are just a few that we enjoyed reading…

And Marcia is so thrilled to have read them!

Dear Girls,

     I have just been reading your work on comparing life in 19th century France with life in England today.  I found them really interesting and informative. Thank you so much for writing them!  I felt that many of you had really been touched by the plight of the characters in Victor Hugo’s book and had felt emotionally involved with their plight.
    I wondered if you found the illustrations helped you to empathise with the characters?
    I also wondered which of the characters you liked best?
   Those of you who have read Oliver Twist, or watched the film, will know that the English author, Charles Dickens, also wrote about poverty before England had a welfare state.  We are, as you all said, very lucky now and it is good to have a wonderful author like Victor Hugo documenting life in his time, as it does remind us to be grateful!  Or, as Nina said, reminds us not to return to19th Century France in a time machine!
   One of you mentioned in your writing that you have now finished reading the book – well done all of you!
   What did you think of the ending?  It made me cry!  I wonder if you noticed the picture above the fireplace in the last picture?  Had you seen it somewhere else in the book?
All the best and really well done!  I am so looking forward to your next project and to starting a new book with you,
Onto the next book, ‘Lizzy Bennet’s Diary‘ !

We hiked all the way up to Woodingdean to say HI!

Woodingdean Primary school very kindly invited us to sit in their classroom and listen to them read their author’s book ‘Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans!’, so we packed our bags and hiked up the giant hill in Brighton and see them, we took some pics of them too!

They look so engrossed! Some of the class read out loud and you should have heard the accents! They brought Julius to life!

Thankyou for the invite Woodingdean, I am sure we will meet again, keep reading!


We’re talking about Peer Pressure, are you?

Patcham Juniors have been discussing a pretty important topic this week. They have been talking about peer pressure. Peer pressure is influence on a peer group, observers, or an individual that encourages others to change their way of thinking, their values, or behaviours to follow or copy those of the influencing group or individual. Sometimes, this means a peer group might want you to do or say something that you feel uncomfortable doing and it makes you think what is the right thing to do. Have you ever encountered this problem?

Class 3NS found a really good way of approaching the subject, by making use of all the nice weather (not today mind!) by doing a drama class outside and using role play to see what they would do! How cool is that?!


Similies are like a neverending glistening canyon of words and letters…

In their last task, Stanford Juniors created and described their own alien using similes. You can see them here.

Well Ross was mega impressed with the creativity of his class that he’s just cranked the task up a notch…

Have a look at the similies you came up with for the last challenge.

Today I’d like you to improve them by adding verbs for example:

His eyes were as dark as coal.

You could say ‘His eyes glimmered like coal’


‘His eyes nestled in his head like lumps of coal’


‘His eyes were crushed tight like a handful of coal’

Well those clever people at Stanford Juniors proved themselves to be not just great artists, but brilliant writers too! Take a look at their new similes below…

Let us know which is your favourite one, ours is “His eyes shimmered like a gold coin searching through the darkness of a pocket”…WOW! Well done everyone!


A visit to Patcham Juniors…

Patcham Juniors very kindly invited us to sit and listen to them read and today, we went travelled to their school to visit the class and to take a few pictures for you to see too. They were very well behaved and so welcoming too! I liked that the reading corner had soft squidgy cushions to sit on and quietly read ‘Hero’ and how some of the class were actively showing us all what the word ‘paced’ meant. I think there might be some actors in the class!

Best of all, was seeing some of you make the most of the glorious, warm sunshine and read a chapter outside! We were so jealous, we had to join in too.

So thankyou Patcham Juniors and we will see you again very soon!



Where does a fish keep its money? In a riverbank!

Woodingdean have sent off their drawings of animals to Gary and they are pretty wonderful, have a peek below!

Dear Gary

We have all sorts of pets in our class. Some of us have cats, some have dogs. There are also fish, chinchillas, gerbils, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, chickens and tortoises. Finley doesn’t have any pets but he wishes he had a pet koala, Anya would like some chickens, Teddy would like a bear (his name IS Teddy).

We really enjoyed drawing the animals and have learnt a lot about drawing cartoons. Rabbits were particularly popular to draw as its Easter. We have attached some of the best drawings for you to look at.
We can’t wait to meet you!

Easter is over, tummies are full of chocolate and everyone is rested, so we are back to Julius Zebra! Gary has decided to ramp up these fab illustrations to the next level, read on and find out what the next task is:

Hello everybody!

I hope you had a fun Easter break!

Thank you for your BRILLIANT (as always) drawings! You have crazy pets!!!

This week, I’d like you to draw your pets as GLADIATORS! I’ve attached two sheets to help you. There are helmets, weapons, shin pads, all sorts of things! Also, have a flick through the book to see if there’s any other types of armour or weapons you’d like to dress your pet up in.

Anyway, good luck dressing up your pets and I can’t wait to see the results!



Talented artists at Carden…

Carden Primary School have well and truly blown their adopted author Marcia away with their drawings of character from ‘Les Mis’. Marcia says “What lovely pieces of work, which really show not only the children’s artistic talent, but their engagement in the emotional side of the story.  Thank you for sending them to me.” Take a look below…

Our favourite has to be this one. It must have taken ages to fit all writing around the drawing. That Javert is a complicated character, no wonder you had so many questions! Great work!



Gladiators and Interior Designers

Last week, Patcham Juniors took descriptions from their book ‘Hero’ by their adopted author Sarah Lean and designed the main character, Leo’s bedroom! Well, needless to say, Sarah was pretty impressed. She said:

Thank you for showing me some of your work. Yes, Leo would have gladiator posters and glow in the dark stars in his bedroom and you have summed him up really well. Bertie is right that Leo is fairly shy, and as Laura wrote, he doesn’t like football. Leo does like to learn as Lilly mentioned, and he has a BIG imagination which he exercises all the time, which is what Grace so perfectly wrote.

The drawings were lovely, with great details from Dayna and I especially liked Nicole’s gladiator duvet cover. Oliver’s picture had a super 3D sense with the way he drew the furniture – are you a budding artist? I was very interested that Alfie said gladiators were like knights (you will find out why at the end of the book) and also that Herbie mentioned Leo might look like someone at school!

My favourite comment was from Sid – yes, daydreaming is just like writing stories. It’s why I love my job. I can daydream while I’m walking with my dogs and think about stories, and the more I exercise my imagination, the bigger it seems to get!

Well done everyone.

Sarah next task is an interesting one. Its inspired by the idea of peer pressure.

When I’m thinking about a character and their story I also think about who is going to be reading the book and the kinds of things that go on in their lives. So, this week I wondered if you’d like to have a discussion about Peer Pressure… (based around Chapters 5 and 6 of HERO)

To be a gladiator, Leo would have to carry a sword and defeat the gladiator of old. But actually Leo wants to be the kind of person that he thinks a gladiator is. Leo says, “I wanted other people to think I was brave, strong and worthwhile.” (p68)

What kind of person is Leo trying to be?

How could someone become brave, strong and worthwhile?

What kind of person would you like to be? (Calm, patient, loving, bold, courageous…)

As you may have read, Leo thinks he has to impress other people by doing the things that they do.

Warren says to Leo, “Thing is, some of us still aren’t sure you’ve got what it takes to hang out with us. You’re going to have to prove yourself first.” And then Warren tells Leo to push a mobility scooter into the pond. (p66)

Does Leo become a gladiator by pushing the scooter into the pond?

Do you think he is being brave, strong and worthwhile by doing this? If not, what kind of person is he being?

Why do you think Leo sinks the scooter even though it doesn’t feel right?

What would you have said to Warren if he had asked you to sink the scooter?

Maybe you could write a few lines about the kind of person you would like to be or, if you were Leo, what you would say to Warren.