Monthly Archives: April 2018

The End! (well, not quite…)

After such gripping middle sections of Team Carden’s stories it was of course only right that the next task would be story ENDINGS

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The end of your story!


You did such brilliant work on the ‘middle of the story’ task I set you last time. I found myself completely gripped by the cliffhangers and new characters you introduced! Huge congratulations to you all!

This week, we’re looking to create a truly spectacular ending to your FANTASTIC stories. A good ending can be full of dramatic, heart stopping action that’s really fun to write!


Firstly, I would like you all to spend a few minutes reading through your beginnings and middles, so you can remember where your story was up to before Easter, because I expect that seems like a long time ago Now!

PS: I hope you all had lots of chocolate!
Before you begin writing:

Here are the three things I want you to include in your endings:

1: The Outcome – Take a moment to decide what’s going to happen in your ending:

Here are some things to think about:

a: Remind yourself what your baddie’s goal was:

  • World domination?
  • Taking over your school?
  • Taking control of a magical object?
  • Or something else?

b: Decide now whether your baddie is going to succeed in their ‘goal’ at the end (climax) of your story?

c: Is your baddie going to turn good at the end?

d: Is someone, or something, going to try to stop your baddie?

e: Does your baddie have a weakness?

Is this weakness going to stop your baddie in the climax?

2: Include a dramatic action scene:

I really want you to have a go at writing a thrilling action scene.

My top tip here for writing action, is to slow the timings right down. It is tempting to write action quickly because there is so much going on. But by slowing things right down it can make the action even more dramatic and satisfying to read.

For example, in The Amber Pendant’s finale. Funnel is in big trouble and getting covered in dark magical goo.

Rather than writing, ‘Funnel got blanketed in loads of dark magical goo.’

I slowed the action right down, and instead wrote:

‘The thick, treacle-like mass licked about his feet. Funnel sniggered as it rose up, forming coils that curled up around him like a serpent. His smile dropped. The gunge wound higher up his body, roll upon roll until it reached his head. Funnel’s mouth opened to scream,

It covered him.


Out of these two options, I think the slower, more detailed passage is more dramatic. What do you think?

3:The Conclusion:

After the climax, and all that brilliant action, I’d like a line or a paragraph that ties up all the loose ends. I want to know how the remaining character(s) feel after their adventure? Are they happy? Sad? Cross?

What does the future look like?

Or, you could end it with a twist, maybe there is more to come…

The Task:


Spend 30 minutes, concluding your brilliant stories. Just a reminder, I am looking for these three things in your endings:

Outcome: I want to see who comes out on top and how.

Action: I would like you to include an action scene – where you slow things right down and use lots of description.


I want a final line or paragraph, that calmly explains what the future looks like following the adventure? How have things changed? Are things better or worse than they were before the story began?

And what emotions are your characters now feeling? are they excited? Relieved? Cross? Scared? Or, maybe, Proud? Putting this emotion in, should help the ending feel satisfying to the reader.


My word, I SIMPLY cannot wait to read your endings!!


Team Carden endings are fantastic – they’ve all worked so hard! Do have a look and prepare to be gripped!

HUGE WELL DONE CARDEN – wonderful writing and you all deserve a massive pat on the back! Imogen was totally blown away by the fantastic work you produced!

Team Carden Primary’s Task Five Feedback:

What exciting, nail biting endings you all created…

There were some simply fantastic moments in this last task, full of fabulous descriptions, tension and cliffhangers. Some of my favourite parts were: the Brighton and Hove Albion themed flying saucer (– this really made me laugh! Brilliant!) Snaky Sasha’s Snake House. A history changing stone circle. A yellow goo grenade. SWAT teams jumping out of helicopters – just to mention but a few! What a talented bunch you are Team Carden! I simply cannot wait to see your finished books now…

😊 😊 😊



Here is some individual feedback:

Wow! What a dramatic ending! I absolutely loved the power the amulet had over Dead Beatrice – how it froze her and made her see the error of her ways. A truly great ending!

I still want to know more about what ‘the strange stuff’ coming out of the ground is? Perhaps you can describe this a touch more when you write it out in full? I only ask because you write descriptions so well – and I REALLY want to know! Great work!

Oo, the Bob story! I am always happy to catch up with him!

Ah, bless Bob for realizing that he didn’t really want to hurt anyone, and instead going off to save Alex. I thought this was a really great twist at the end. Well done!

But, I still really want to know who exactly the person is who captured Alex? Can you expand on this a little more when you write it out in full maybe?

The part of your ending I was the most impressed with was that fantastic last line, when the mayor congratulates Alex and Bob for being so brave and gives them the role of Protectors of the City. This was a really neat way to end your story and left me feeling completely satisfied. You did exactly what I asked for from the ending, by tying up all the loose ends. You totally nailed it! Huge congratulations!

Wow! Back to this brilliant Crown Jewels heist story! And what a super opening – ‘stomping to a locked black door, covered in silky spiderwebs.’ I can really visualize this – great writing!

And, I also adored how you described the veins in Diamond’s wrist bulging because her hand was being held so tightly. This kind of detailed description really makes the reader engage with your brilliant storytelling. Extraordinarily great writing skills!

Another part I’d like to mention, is your description of Diamond’s attempted escape, and how she ‘chopped’ on the handcuffs – I could really see and hear this happening.

I think Diamond is a fantastic character. I love how prepared she is at the end with that parachute too. She really is a super villain isn’t she! Amazing work!


I love the part you play in this story, with that ring, heading back from ASDA! Hehe! (You always put in a shop or two, don’t you? Which is great! It makes the world you have created feel everyday – but it’s not – it’s actually ‘magic’ in the everyday. Very clever.)

Wow, we all know that feeling when you sense someone is following you but aren’t quite sure if you are imagining it or not. It’s a very spooky feeling isn’t it? And, in your story, it is made worse because someone IS following you – and that person is… BOB… THE MASS SERIAL KILLER! YIKES! Yikes, and triple YIKES!

I was super relieved when you produced that AMAZING yellow goo grenade to overcome him. PHEW! I was seriously happy to see Bob taken down by all that sticky, yellow slime. A fabulous ending. Ace work!

What an exciting scene you have created; you and your mum jumping from building to building, trying to escape, but everything is crumbling away. Exciting stuff indeed!

I really want to know what is going to happen next? I hope you and your mum get away!! (I’m biting my nails!)

What a lovely description you use of Sinthea Star, ‘squealing like a banshee on the loose.’ Brilliant. (I always really enjoy your descriptions, you are a fabulous writer!)

The tension you build in your writing is simply amazing! I loved how you slowed the action right down (just as I asked) – spine tingling stuff!

And, then… the creature was… her DAD! Fabulous!

Just an idea, how about tinkering with the ending and having her dad being after the orb at the very end? See what you think – it could be very dramatic? Maybe, it could even teleport them back to Mars or something?

I really love your ideas and writing style. FABULOUS!

I love your use of speech in your story. This line in particular: “No need to worry? NO NEED TO WORRY?” Using those capitals worked brilliantly!

I really want to know if, or how, Sir Quentin (the Gecko!) is involved? Because I love him as a character!

I also loved, ‘667 Dark Avenue.’ What a great atmospheric choice of place name!

I thought Violet finding the necklace was brilliant too! A great ending – I wonder what’s going to happen next?

I always really enjoy your writing style, I find it very engaging! Excellent!


Aw, no – those poor children locked in the basement, never to be seen again! Yikes!

I loved how you left Tiggy Tiger in serious trouble, with all that thick water rising up her body! Tense stuff indeed. Well done – I really want to know what happens next! Fabulously exciting.

Goodness me, Stealer Sam (and his mouse!) are in serious trouble. Water! Stealer Sam’s worst nightmare, is swirling up his body! Whaaaah! – and… HE CAN’T SWIM!!

Thank goodness for that piece of foam floating past that saves him. Phewee!

You created great tension in your ending. Well done! Fabulous!

What a great and dramatic ending you have created! What with that SWAT team swooping down in their helicopter, and them all piling in to help with that police dog! What a fabulous scene!

I know I shouldn’t, but I feel a bit sorry for Marv!! I really want to know what happened next, that’s for sure! BRILLIANT WORK!

I loved how you had Mal bash her head when she was trying to break into the house, and that the sound of it woke Zoe up – a great idea!

But, goodness me! What a gory ending! One that was full of tension. (I felt very sorry for poor Zoe though!)

I thought the pacing at the end of your story was great. Very dramatic and scary (I won’t be able to sleep tonight though!) YIKES!

I love how Deigo started to glow – making him super powerful, meaning he could defeat the monsters! Ace! And, also Diego saying, “Now it’s just you and me Deathsythe.” Super dramatic – I was totally hooked!

I find your writing very visual, which is a real skill to have. I love how Deathsythe creates a bubble, trapping them both inside and using it to draw away Diego’s powers. Yikes!

What a super brilliant cliffhanger, having Deathsythe’s spirit wanting to find a new host! And, so the adventures continue… Nail biting stuff indeed. FABULOUS!

Right. Mystery Mark – I so LOVE him. It was brilliant how you took me straight back into the action, with Mystery Mark replacing the ‘moss covered’ stone to complete the circle!!

  1. MY. WORD… The power of the completed circle is powerful enough to change history! YES!! (– no wonder Mystery Mark is smirking!)

WOW! Didn’t Harry do well overcoming Mystery Mark like that? But… YIKES! The stone circle is still generating history changing power! What an incredible cliffhanger!

AMAZING! What a truly terrific cliffhanger. High five! LOVE IT!

What a great chase scene you created at the end! And well done getting Deadly Dan’s weakness in there too – his fear of dogs! Brilliant! And great use of speech in your story too!

Yikes! But the rubber on the end of the magic pen has GONE! DuhduhDAHHHH! Well done you! ACE.

Wowsas! You start off bang into the action with this piece! Great! But I feel super worried for Jake! He’s been really badly hurt, and the Red Knight is still after him. Really tense stuff!

But then, in a mega twist, Jake finds himself in prison. At this point I felt relieved he was ok, but, just like Jake, confused too…

Then, in a final twist, the prison guard tells him that the Red Knight wants to see him! YIKES! Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

You have created a really imaginative and tense ending, full to the brim with twists and turns. BRILLIANT!

I thought the rival football teams shaking hands at the end of the match was ace, very sportsmanly indeed! But then, in a twist, all hell lets loose back in the changing room, doesn’t it?! There were punches flying everywhere! Yikes! Very dramatic and scary. I was ducking for cover reading it – and super glad not to be in those changing rooms, that’s for sure!

I loved the twist you put in at the end – how despite drawing the match, Bullys FC won on goal difference! I bet they were chuffed!

I think you have delivered a really well thought out story. Well done you!

Slime falling from the sky is ace! – how wonderful! And then, to top it all, a UFO arrives! But, not just any UFO… a blue and white one, with a Brighton and Hove Albion badge on it!! Hahaha! I was reading this chanting, “GO SEAGULLS!” BRILLIANT! This addition is not only totally bonkers, but also absolutely in keeping with your football themed story. TREMENDOUS!

Question: Does this mean that Billie Buster is in league with the Albion supporting aliens then?

Billy Buster is ace! But, do we ever find out who that man was he was fighting with? You may want to slip this detail in when you write it out in full maybe?

(By the way, I must tell you, your UFO arriving is one of my favourite moments from Team Carden’s work. FANTASTIC!)

So, we arrive back in your story at the battle, and, OH NO! Those demons are zapping dirt at Tragic – which is his weakness. I can really imagine Tragic dodging all those blasts of dirt! Very dramatic writing. Excellent!

A quick question: Are the demons on the Guardians side? – I wasn’t sure?

Thank goodness Tragic is overcome – as it really was very touch and go wasn’t it?! You created a perfect dramatic ending. Well done you!

I straight away loved how Miss Bee had become a real bee! A brilliant idea.

Thank goodness that clock got smashed to pieces! PHEW! What an excellent ending! 😊 But, Miss Bee must be super cross now! I bet her stinger is itching to get its own back!

Well done you, a great story!

FANTASTIC work yet again TEAM CARDEN! Your writing is always full of drama and surprises!

I cannot wait to meet you all and see your finished books! 😊😊😊


And nor can we!!!

Team AAA

Interesting illustrations!

Back in the UK and Alex wasted no time in setting Gecko and Iguana an interesting illustration task!

Dear Gecko and Iguana!

I had a great time in Shanghai. It was very smoggy – and incredibly busy – but it’s always fun. I was running lots of school events based on Pigsticks and Harold. I learned that in the Chinese versions of the books the two characters are called Hololo and Harolo. Can you guess which name is for which character?
I thought this week we should do something concerning illustration.
When I plan out my books I make a blank dummy book out of folded A4 paper, with the same number of pages as one of the Pigsticks books. I then try and create a new story to fit the number of pages. Sometimes the pictures tell the story, sometimes the words, and sometimes they are both required to tell the full story. It’s not an exact science, but all four books do follow a very similar rhythm.
So here’s the challenge.
I’ve written the beginning of a brand new Pigsticks story for you to work with. What I would like you to do is try and illustrate this scene. The story is called Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Sports Day. Perhaps you could read it in class, and then try and draw a picture that enhances the words. Maybe you could draw Harold exercising? Or Pigsticks looking determined to succeed? Or even both?
Make sure you colour it in. You could even pick a selection of the words I’ve written, and write them alongside your artwork to show what it is you’ve illustrated?
I can’t wait to see how you get along.
I hope the sun is shining with you,


And it’s very clear that the class completely get the importance of illustration and produced some amazing creations!

Dear Alex, Pigstsicks, and Harold,

The weather is amazing here and some of us even managed to complete our challenge outside in the sun! We’re glad you had such a fun time in Shanghai! We have put our heads together and think that Hololo is Pigsticks and Harolo is Harold – are we right?

Thank-you for our illustration task! We now know how important they are in a book as they really enhance the writing while making it exciting and fun!

We hope you love our creations as much as we loved making them!



We absolutely love them!

Until next time,
Team AAA x

Benfield’s Comic Creations!

You may remember, before Alex set off for his Shanghai adventure with his trusty pals Pigsticks and Harold, he set Gecko and Iguana class a challenge to create their very own comic strip…..

Hi Alex,

Hope you had (are having) an amazing time in China. Gecko class had great fun creating our very own Pigsticks and Harold comic strips today! Here are some of our creations for you to enjoy!

The classes are really looking forward to tackling your next challenge this Friday and they will be sending you one of their full emails once completed.



(Gecko class student teacher)


What fun colourful comics and such a delicious looking cake, poor Pigsticks!


Dear Gecko and Iguana!

What a treat to see so many wonderful comics. I hope you enjoyed creating them. The art work is so amazing!

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Gecko and Iguana next time!

Team AAA

Carden’s Middle Mysteries

Team Carden have been busy flexing their creativity with Imogen’s latest challenge… the all important MIDDLE of the story. Let’s see what they’ve been up to!

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The middle of your story!


This week, we’re looking at how to structure your story and how to tackle that tricky middle section… You did such brilliant work on your ‘Create a believable baddie’ task, you had me gasping, giggling and wanting to read more!

So, for this task, you can use your baddie work as ‘the beginning’ of your stories. I want you to carry on from there, building the characters you’ve already thought up into a fantastic story. The next step towards that is writing the action-packed middle!

First, a bit about story structure:

As I’m sure you know, story structures are usually separated into (at least) three parts. I’ve broken these down below first, looking at how your story will develop at each stage:

The Beginning:

This is where we meet our main character, (in this case our baddie,) and introduce their main goal – what they want to achieve. (You will be using your AMAZING baddies work for your beginning.)

The Middle:

This is where our baddie comes up against problem(s) in trying to achieve their goal. And sometimes, a few things go their way too. (Which is todays task!)

The End (The Climax)

This is where, despite the odds, the baddie overcomes all problems and succeeds in achieving their main goal. Or…if you like twists, or want to set-up future stories, where the baddie is defeated. (PS: The Ending is next week’s task!)

A bit more about the middle:

The middle section of your story needs to be full of excitement, as your baddies try to move forward to achieve their goals.

In the middle of your story, your baddie could come up against a problem, which, by the end, they can either overcome, or, if things don’t go quite to plan, can defeat them.

The middle is all about building towards the climax, and you should have the outcome of the ultimate ending of the story in your mind as you are writing the middle.

The middle should set the stage for your action-packed ending which you will be creating next week, so see if you can end this middle section on a cliffhanger.

The Task:

Firstly, spend ten minutes answering these six questions:

Q 1: Think back to your Baddie work in Task 2. Remind yourself what your baddie’s goal was:

  • World domination?
  • Taking over your school?
  • Taking control of a magical object?
  • Or something else?

Q 2: Decide now whether your baddie is going to succeed in their ‘goal’ at the end (climax) of your story (which you will be writing next week)?

  • If the answer is ‘YES’, then your middle part could build up to see your baddie weakened, to set things up as though they won’t be able to succeed at the climax of the story. (Then you can unexpectedly turn things around in the ending next week!)
  • If the answer is ‘NO’ and they are going to be ultimately overcome at the end of the whole story, then the middle part could end with them in a point of power – where they seem unstoppable. (And again, setting things up to unexpectedly change in the climax next week.)

Q 3: Is your baddie going to turn good at the end?

  • If the answer is ‘YES’ then the middle could see them become utterly bad and unstoppable. (You can turn it around in the climax next week.)

Q 4: Is someone, or something, going to try to stop your baddie?

  • Do they come up against another character(s) who is trying to stop them?
  • How does this other character(s) try to stop your baddie?

Q 5: Thinking back to your week 1 task, is there a magical object that your baddie is after?

  • If there is, remember to include it in this middle part of your story too.
  • Do they get the magical object? Or is it taken from them?

Q 6: Does your baddie have a weakness?

  • If this weakness is ultimately going to stop your baddie in the climax next week, then it would be good to set up the idea of it in this middle part.


Spend a couple of minutes deciding what is going to happen overall, and perhaps discussing with a partner.


Spend 30 minutes, using the questions you answered above, to Write the middle of your story!

And remember, if you can, leave the middle part of the story on a cliffhanger ready for the climatic ‘Ending’ you will be creating next week…

I cannot wait to read your ‘middles’!


Team Carden sure got writing some magnificent middles….

WOW! We are hooked on these middles what fantastic work! Imogen was SO IMPRESSED and had some fantastic feedback for everyone…


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You all did so BRILLIANTLY creating your middles…

Writing the middle part of stories is very tricky, but Team Carden totally delivered!

Writing the middle part of stories is often difficult, sometimes they are called ‘the soggy middles,’ because it is when the pace of stories can slump. Keeping the middles full of excitement, intrigue and mystery really helps to keep the reader hooked, ready for ‘the end’ of your story. And, OH MY WORD, you ALL really delivered on this! I was literally on the edge of my seat with your wonderful characters, twists and cliffhangers – desperate to know what was going to happen next! A sure fired sign that you all mopped up with this task. What I was most impressed with this week was the use of cliffhangers, which really kept the tension building. Excellent.

I could not be any more pleased. Massive pats on the backs all round TEAM CARDEN!


Here is some individual feedback:

I love how you have Dead Beatrice closing her eyes to locate the amulet she is after! And, ‘the fury in her eyes,’ you describe when she pinpoints it! Excellent description. You really did manage to get a lot in to your middle and even managed to end it on a cliffhanger! I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what she had spotted in that restricted building – and desperate to find out what suddenly sprung out of the ground! Exciting stuff indeed! Can’t wait to read the end of this fantastic story! Well done!

Gosh, it was so brilliant to return and find out how Bob is getting on – the last we heard of him he was stuck in that vat of chemicals! Goodness me – he has changed, how amazingly strong he is now! Wonderful! I loved your introduction of Alex and his special gloves. Someone MUST stop Bob! My only hope is that Bob and his special gloves can do it! YIKES! Hugely looking forward to reading the end of this dramatic story. Excellent cliffhanger and amazing story telling.

Oo, I loved Diamond’s reaction when she spotted the Crown Jewels, ‘she didn’t blink for three minutes, her eyes widened.’ This pause and description really makes the reader know how much she wants these jewels. Fabulous!

Your story telling is brilliant too. I really enjoyed the lasers protecting the jewels and the child-sized ‘mysterious’ shadow ‘swooping’ in. I am totally hooked!

Can she save the day? I need to know!!

Perhaps next week, in the ending you could expand on her stopping Diamond as the finale? How she does it, and the guards entering? What do you think? – Maybe it could also involve Diamond’s weakness… MUSTARD! I can’t wait to find out!

I love how you have Bob hanging out in New Look! But then… WOAH! Bob the Bush has gone completely mad! His bush disguise is a great camouflage isn’t it? Great creative writing and thinking. A massive thumbs up!

Oo, I love how the world outside has changed so much. The jets ‘zooming’ past and towers falling down. You have really upped the steaks and your descriptions create atmosphere and tension. I loved how the crystals ‘duplicated’ (excellent word 😊) and became a portal – such dramatic stuff! And what a fabulously exciting entrance for The Black Knight. Goodness me, I can’t wait to find out what happened in the end. A great middle! Excellent!

I loved your descriptions this week; ‘stumbling blindly,’ and ‘dazed by the indescribable beauty of the orb.” Beautiful writing! I also loved the heavy iron gates at the orphanage… But, then, Sinthea Star gets caught by something slimy grabbing her arm! YIKES! What a totally BRILLIANT cliffhanger to end the middle of your story. So impressed with all this and excited to discover what happens next!

What a lovely set up to the middle part of your story – and a fabulous cliffhanger at the end of your very first paragraph… ‘todays adventure could ruin her life…’ I am instantly hooked. I have noticed throughout these tasks, that you are really brilliant at these intriguing openings! Fabulous.

Oo, I love your new character, ‘Sir Quentin the Geko!’ and how part of Snaky Sasha’s ‘evil face,’ is to put on false eyelashes! Ha!

Your use of speech really added to your story too, especially Snaky Sasha’s trademark “Sssss’s!”

I really enjoyed your build up using sound affects at the end, as someone unknown enters the house. Sensational – you have set up for ‘the end’ of your story perfectly. Fantastic!

I loved how you moved this story on. Tiggy Tiger was trying to be so nice to everyone – but someone has uncovered her BIG secret! A great cliffhanger and sets us up nicely for the climax next week – I can’t wait to read how this all ends! Huge congratulations!

You did so brilliantly this week! I loved your idea of Stealer Sam being afraid of water – a really great weakness! And then, just when he gets back the pen he is after… OH NO! more water!! Great. You did exactly what I asked of you. You created a fantastic cliffhanger and kept the pace moving – truly FABULOUS work! So creative. I wonder if his pet mouse Bubbles will appear in the ending. Either way, I am very excited to find out what happens next!

This is a GREAT middle! Congratulations! It is full of action and tension that left me on the edge of my seat! I want to know if Jack’s dad is going to be alright? Is he going to be able to contain Marv until the SWAT team get there? YIKES! – I am really hoping he can! A great cliffhanger – leaving me full of excitement to discover the ending next week! Excellent!

Great idea getting Mal to try to get the enchanted bracelet in this middle section of your story. I am also a big fan of disguises, so loved the dressing up as an old lady bit. Brilliant! Plus, I adored your description of her, ‘croaky dry voice,’ – perfect! Oo – but Mal really does mean business, doesn’t she? I am really worried for cheerful Zoey now – I do hope she can come through it all safely. Yikes! I can’t wait for the final instalment. Brilliant!

Wow! I love how your middle goes straight into the action! Brilliant. Deigo only just managed to overcome those monsters, didn’t he? And Deathsythe was seriously cross. Perfect.

This battle is fantastic, and best of all, you have totally set up the story for the dramatic ending. MORE MONSTERS! Great! Love this!

Oh, it’s such a pleasure to return to see how Mysterious Mark is getting on! I absolutely adored your historical setting, to me it adds SO much atmosphere! From the horse-drawn carriage, to the stormy weather, to the horses galloping along that red brick track with the stolen Sarsen Stone. I was completely captivated. Totally brilliant!

Then, I find Mysterious Mark heading to Stanmer Park to find the standing stones – TO COMPLETE THE CIRCLE! I felt totally breathless about this idea. It is SO FANTASTIC! I want to know what will happen when that last stone is put in place?!

(‘Rocky Clump,’ is this a real place at Stanmer? Wonderful. I have visited a Rocky Clump in Hollingbury, but I didn’t realise there was another one?! (perhaps we can chat about this when we all gettogether at The Dome?)

And, your ending of ‘the middle,’ gave me chills … someone else is there in the darkness. I can’t express how brilliant I find your ideas, writing and tension-building. Blown away! FANTABULOUS!

I LOVE your magic pen – I really want one! I also thought the addition of a magic rubber on the pen’s end was a great idea, so you have the ability to erase anything that you need to. Fabulous.

Your amazing cliffhanger totally took me by surprise… it’s DEADLY DAN!! Yikes! I am so looking forward to the ending! EXCELLENT.

What a brilliant start to your middle, this line is fabulous: ‘…the Red Knight was coming for the sword, but little did he know his nemesis was round the corner, lurking in the shadows…’ This sets the scene perfectly and is jam-packed with tension. Huge congratulations! I really am super impressed with your work. I also loved the heavy breathing you put in, and how the lights went out leaving everything so pitch black that Jake couldn’t even see the walls! So atmospheric and tense – I was biting my nails! What a cliffhanger!

I love how your middle is based around this super important football match between arch rivals ‘Bullies FC,’ and ‘Police FC.’ So brilliant – what great team names! You excellently set out just how important this match was to both teams, and also did a fabulous job of keeping the tension building by keeping the reader clear on the scores. Fabulous stuff!

I LOVED that the weakness potion had been purchased on EBAY – this made me chuckle! Brilliant!

I thought your story telling this week was spot on – and I can not wait to hear what happens in the end! EXCELLENT WORK!

I loved the imagery of Billy Buster putting on that black coat to go looking for the magic football – I could really picture it in my mind. A great detail, that really drew me in to the story. I LOVED the stranger snatching the ball before Billie could get to it – I really want to know who he is! And you managed to leave the middle part of your story on a great cliffhanger – Billy rugby tackling the stranger to the floor. You nailed this task. A fabulous ending to your middle that sets your story up perfectly for the ending. Great stuff. Huge congratulations!

What a fantastically visual opening to your middle. “Tragic is flying, he decides to do a loop the loop as he lands back in the forest.” BRILLIANT – I can totally see this in my mind.

I love your description of the “creepy, dark forest,” too, where he can hear all those strange noises! And then, just before he gets hold of the trophy itself, a “huge beast,” is waiting! Yikes! – and I absolutely loved the creatures “beady eyes,” watching him.

I think it was a great idea to end your middle on a battle scene. It has left me literally desperate to find out what happens next. Totally awesome work.

 That’s it from me. Your middles were FANTASTIC! I can’t wait to find out how your fantastic stories conclude!



And after the middle must come the END….. we can’t wait for the next instalment! Stay tuned…

Team AAA

The Long Horned Snig Beetle, Rheracross Beetle and all the brilliant beetles!

The Stanford Beetle Brigade’s brilliant adopted author M. G Leonard got in touch with the team this week and shared a photograph of herself with her pets, and yep of course her awesome pets are beetles!


The brigade had lots of brilliant beetle questions  for M.G Leonard and a few of their own Battle of the Beetle theories….!

Dear Maya,

We hope you are doing well? We’ve been enjoying the story very much so far. We just got to the bit where Lucrecia cutter visited the cousins. We have a suspicion that Baxter is Darkus’ dad. We think this because beetles don’t usually like the rain and his dad took an umbrella with him even on non-rainy days. We also have another two theories, one being that Lucrecia cutter turned Darkus’ dad into a beetle. The other theory is that Bartholemew created a mixture\potion that turns you into a beetle.

Jay would like to know what your favourite beetle is between a rhinoceros beetle and a long horn beetle.

Clara wants to know where you got the idea to use a rhinoceros beetle.

Spike wants to know what the best part of the book is in your opinion.

Yours sincerely, Spike Bird and the Stanford beetle brigade.




They also shared some amazing pictures of their very own beetle creations! I wonder if we could keep any as pets…?

M. G. Leonard had some fantastic feedback and answers to class questions, but will she reveal any clues to the their story suspicions?!

Dear Spike Bird and the Stanford Beetle Brigade,

I’m so glad you are enjoying the story. You may like to know that the characters of Humphrey and Pickering were inspired by one of my favourite books of all time, The Twits by Roald Dahl. I think they are very funny and I hope you do too.

 I’m afraid I can’t help you with your suspicions and theories because I don’t want to accidentally give away the ending, but I delight in hearing what you think may be going on.

  • My favourite beetle is the Australian Rainbow Stag, because I keep them as pets. And you always love your pet better than any other type of creatures, but between a rhinoceros beetle and a long horn, I would always chose a rhinoceros beetle. They are awesome.
  • I chose a rhinoceros beetle because they are the strongest creature on the planet, but even though the look deadly, they can’t really hurt you and they are vegetarians who love bananas and hide during the day. I loved the idea that something that looked scary was actually friendly, which is one of the themes of my books.
  • The best part of the book is a battle that happens at the end, and I don’t want to spoil it by giving anything away, but needless to say, it’s beetles versus bad guys. It was great fun to write.

Thank-you so much for the pictures of beetles you have created. They are awesome. I loved the name of the Long Horned Snig Beetle, and Karmen, Flowerroseno is ADORABLE! The Rheracross beetle reminded me of a crazy pokemon, and Ramer the glow wing beetle is so cool he should have a book all to himself. I couldn’t see the name of the brightly coloured beetle but it was fantastic. I’m really impressed by all your hard work.

Until next time Standford Beetle Brigade!

Team AAA




Fishy goings on at Carden Primary

Hmmmmm….there’s something fishy about Carden’s third task this week… on to see what Imogen set her team…

rose muddle.jpg

Solve your own local mystery!

As you know, I like to use elements of local history in my creative writing, but I also like to call them local mysteries… For today’s task, I have found a Local Mystery that needs your help to solve.

The Case of the Missing Lumpfish

Some aspects of this mystery are true, and others are made up. I want your investigation into this episode to be full of imagination and clue solving – and to be as creative and inventive as you like!

Our mystery is set in the Brighton Aquarium. Hopefully many of you have been lucky enough to visit this incredible place already. It was built in the Victorian age by the same architect who designed Brighton’s West Pier, (which features in The Amber Pendant,) and to this day, it’s still full of all the old-fashioned tanks that were used when it opened. I love the aquarium – I think its brimming with atmosphere, and a great place to set our mystery!

When the Brighton Aquarium was opened in 1872, many exotic species of sea life were acquired from across the globe – they even had a dolphin at one point. However, not all of them were suitable to be kept in captivity, and many of them sadly died. But people were so fascinated by these creatures of the deep that they would travel from far and wide to see these animals for themselves.

But in May 1873 something very strange happened: A number of fish started to go missing… And, weirder still, the room they were going missing from was always locked and sealed. No one could work out who could have stolen them – or how they could have got the missing creatures in or out.

MakingThe Case of the Missing Lumpfish a locked room mystery…

(By the way, ‘A Locked Room Mystery,” is a crime committed that is really hard to work out how the criminal got in, as the doors were locked, or how they could do it without being detected.)

Now, some of you may already know who was responsible (as this event really did happen!) but I want you to keep the answer to yourselves. This task isn’t really about getting it right, it’s about inventing the most interesting motives. I want you to think up the details behind this mystery: who or what stole the fish, and why they might have taken them…

As I mentioned before, not all my facts are a hundred percent true. Just like my books, I take something from local history and use it as inspiration for my stories, and I’d like you to do the same.

Your task today is to:

Solve the Case of the Missing Lumpfish…

The Victims

The Lumpfish of Brighton Aquarium:

“Lumpsuckers or lumpfish are mostly small marine fish. They are found in the cold waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific oceans.” (Wikipedia)

I’ve drawn you a picture of a lumpfish! They look a bit like this.

(For the purpose of our mystery, Team Carden, the particular variety of Lumpfish stolen from the Aquarium are extremely rare and valuable…)

The Crime Scene

A locked room inside the Brighton Aquarium.

All the entrances to the aquarium were locked each night and the fish counted. But, each and every night, a number of these lumpfish kept disappearing. The only clue was a trail of water across the floor that trickled into the drain. (The drain led to an underground sewer system, leading to the sea. But is big enough for someone, or something to crawl through.)

The Task:

For this task, you are the detective in charge of the investigation.

Step One: Choose a suspect

I need you, firstly, to work out who or what stole these fish. I have put together a list of suspects who might be behind our crime.

The Suspects:

Milly Mayforth: twelve-year-old child genius and animal rights activist. She had recently been moved on from outside the Aquarium holding a handmade sign reading, ‘Sea Creatures belong in the Sea, not in tanks!”

Mr Brown:Local Fish and Chips Restaurant Owner. Who had a passion for frying up more exotic varieties of sea life.

Miss Lucile Lovegood:International collector of unusual and rare sea creatures. Who had recently been turned down on her offer to buy some of the Aquariums Lumpfish for her private collection.

Billie Buster:Chief tank cleaner and local gangster. He had the keys to the room.

Or, perhaps, it was one of the creatures contained in the tanks surrounding the Lumpfish:

The Lobster

The Octopus

The Large Sea Turtle

Or, anyone or anything else you can think of! I don’t mind if you introduce a Sewer Monster or something! Anything you like!

Step Two:

Now you have your suspect(s), you need to work out what their motive might have been. What did they want the lumpfish for – and why?

Step Three:

How did your suspect(s) carry out the crime? And what did they want the fish for? Consider the evidence again: the room was locked, and all of the fish counted each night. How did your suspect(s) get in? Were they helped by anyone? What is the significance of the water on the floor?

(If you have time, write your detective deductions out in a paragraph summarizing how you worked it out!)


I can’t wait to hear how you go about solving this local mystery. Who you put in the frame, why they did it and how!


WHALE obviously Team Carden really took the oppor-TUNA-ty and to show of their BRILL-iant detective GILLS. (sorry) Have a looks at their fantastic work here and why not have a go at seeing if you can solve the FISHtery yourselves!


So how did you all get on? I have to say us at AAA HQ were flummoxed!

Fortunately Imogen didn’t leave us with the mystery unsolved…. read on if you want to find out what happened….

The True Suspect of the 1873 Case of the Missing Lumpfish was… (Open envelope…)

Answer: The Octopus! (All the other suspects were made up!)

Octopuses are highly intelligent and clever creatures. The one they have in the aquarium nowadays is given Lego blocks and a rocking horse to play with to keep him entertained!

Octopuses can breathe and move out of water for short periods of time and they have the ability to camouflage themselves into their environment – their very own cloak of invisibility. They can also crawl through tiny spaces and squirt out ink – a super villain indeed!

(They also happen to be one of my favourite creatures.)

The octopus in question was a new resident in the room at the aquarium. Each night, under cloak of darkness, he would slip free from his tank and dine on the delicious lumpfish. But by morning, before daybreak, he’d have slunk back inside to his tank looking totally innocent. No one suspected him at all – or realised he could survive out of water and leave his tank. It was only when a worker at the aquarium turned up earlier than usual and caught the octopus red handed inside the lumpfish’s tank that the mystery was finally solved!

So, the water trail in the room was him crawling around.

The suspect’s motive: because he was hungry. And the reason the octopus snuck back each night was because octopuses are nocturnal, so their natural behaviour is to hunt by night, returning to their lairs during the hours of daylight to sleep! So, after all that, the octopus was just behaving normally…

Case solved! I bet your versions of this event are even crazier, and I can’t wait to hear them.

If you are interested in finding out more about the real event, you can find an account here:

What an amazing task – the Carden really loved this one! We can’t wait for the next instalment!

Team AAA