Category Archives: Carden

Adopt an Author Parties 2017!

Did anyone say party?!!!! That’s right, we’re at the end of the brilliant 2017 Adopt An Author. St Luke’s, Goldstone, Mile Oak and Carden have all read, written, illustrated and taken care of their adopted author’s superbly, so it is now time to celebrate this fantastic project coming to an end for this year and what better way than for classes to meet their authors in person!

First up Ali Sparkes took us back in time to her childhood and on the road to becoming an author in the 1970s….

Goldstone’s Year 3 met their adopted author Guy Bass AND his character STITCH HEAD at The Brighton Dome, where they ate yummy Pizza Face Pizza…

Excitement levels were high when Mile Oak met their Perijee and Me author Ross Montgomery – was pineapple on the menu…?

And for 2017’s last Adopt an Author party, Carden chatted Ninja films and Egyptian tombs with Rob Lloyd Jones!

The 2017 Adopt an Author project has been a wonderful success, it has been an absolute joy to see the incredible work all the children have produced and to hear how confidence has grown amongst many readers. We’ve been blown away by the stories written, character descriptions, cover art and illustrations to name just a few tasks and delighted to see the relationships with classes and authors blossom! What a fun project! Can we do it again next year?!!!

A huge thank you to all the teachers, assistants, authors and of course the children who took part. It’s been brilliant!

Team AAA x

Beginning, Middle, THE END…!

…Well not quite the end of our 2017 Adopt An Author project for Carden but over the past couple of weeks Year 6 have been focussing on their STORY ENDINGS….

So, for the next challenge, I wonder if you could write a paragraph telling me how your story ends! It doesn’t have to be very detailed at all, just enough to make you think about it and have an idea of where the story would be going once you got going.

Look forward to reading them!

Rob

Carden, as ever had great fun with the challenge – we’ve picked a few of our favourite’s to share with you…

 

Thanks so much for all of these great story endings – I really enjoyed reading them all. You all seem to be using your imaginations to their full, and it sounds like you’re enjoying the stories you’re telling – which is the most important thing by far. If you enjoy your own story, then others will too, and it’s much easier to write as well.

Your endings were all exciting and full of twists. I did think though that some of them didn’t quite feel like ENDINGS to stories. A story end should bring your character’s journey to a finish – your character should finally achieve his or her goal. Once that has been done, then you can throw in a big twist or ‘cliff-hanger.’ To make readers want to carry on to the next book.

But my advice is DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE NEXT BOOK. Just tell the story you want to tell as if it is the ONLY book. Finish the story fully and then worry about what might occur next in your main character’s life. As an example: If your hero is a tough but lonely detective who is trying to catch a criminal – for instance – but the end of the story that character should have caught the criminal and become less lonely by making new friends. THAT is the ending – a satisfying and happy one for your character. BUT then you can reveal that the criminal he caught is just one of many criminals from a huge gang of genius thieves. So we know there will be lots more adventures to come. The cliffhanger there is good because we have already had the happy ending before.

The other important thing about an ending is that your main character should have been changed by the adventure. So they began as lonely and ended up with friends, or they started the story as mean and ended up being kind. IT can be very a very simple change, but there should definitely be one.

They were all great fun to read, so thank you!

Full of enthusiasm for such great work, Rob set the next challenge…..

I think it would be good to work on this more in the next task. So, could you all write for me in just one or two sentences how your main character changes in your story? Don’t write a chapter or paragraph from your story – just a sentence from you to me saying ‘My character changes because (and then give the reason)’

This should be a change in your character’s personality – not in the action. So they go from being nice to mean, or good to evil maybe? Looking forward to hearing your answers!

Now, normally we might make you wait for the next instalment to find out what brilliant work Carden have created, but we’re feeling especially generous this week, so…. HOT OFF THE PRESS! Here’s head teacher Helen who sent Rob their work…

We finished the book this morning too so I suspect there might be a spike in sales (to the tune of 21) of Wild Boy 2 this evening.

imgres.jpg

 

We’re nearing the end of our Adopt An Author journey for 2017, and it looks as though these wonderful characters that Carden have created have been on a pretty fantastic journey themselves – we think all the authors have too!

We’ll see you next time at the party, when Year 6 meet Rob!

Until then,

AAA x

BIG STORY START MOMENT!

Welcome back after the break! Was the Easter bunny kind? Did we all eat a teeny tiny bit too much chocolate?! We hope you’re looking forward to the summer term -we’re all very excited to hear what our adoptees have been up to! So let’s head over to Carden to find out….

A few weeks ago adopted author Rob Llyod Jones asked Year 6 to think about their characters normal life and then to think of a THING that could happen that would thrust their character into a story!

It’s safe to say Year 6 fully embraced this task! We’ve picked a few of our favourites to share with you and Rob had some great feedback too.

Hello all,

Again I really enjoyed reading about all the events that start your exciting stories. I really liked how many of you described your character’s ‘normal life’ before the event that throws him or her OUT of their normal lives and INTO the adventure. Many of you begin by saying your character is living that ‘normal life’ and then use words like these: ‘But then…’, ‘But one day…’ ‘or Then suddenly…’ That’s perfect! Most stories go exactly like this:

Once upon a time there was a (CHARACTER)
Every day he/she (NORMAL LIFE)
Until one day (BIG STORY START MOMENT)
Because of that (THE REST OF THE STORY!)

FEEDBACK:

Aurittri
Great Aurittri! I can’t think of many better story starts than a bullied schoolgirl discovering a secret dragon! What happens next, I wonder?

Hailey
I enjoyed reading about Loliea, Hailey – and liked that you used the words ‘Just then’ in your paragraph. That’s what all stories are about : things happening.

Tayla
Puggi is a fun character Taylor! I think you’ve got a GREAT story starting moment here, as Puggi meets a puggicorn and swaps identities! Perfect!

Connor
PERFECT Connor! Stevie Wellard is a fun character, and you’ve given him a really clear and interesting ‘story start moment’ when he finds a portal in the loo!

Max
I like that you begin by describing ‘Thats what he did everyday’, Max. That’s how stories begin, then they tell us what happened to change all of that – and you have your character being hit by a car! That’s great, now the story has REALLY got going!

Humayra:
Kate is a fun character, Humayra –with the power to control the weather! Is the big event that gets the story going that she loses this power? That is an interesting twist on a usual superhero story! A superhero becomes normal, rather than someone normal becomes a superhero.

Carden you clever lot! The THINGS that happened to your characters have really captured Rob’s and Team AAA’s imaginations! Coming up Rob has a brilliant task for you guys, so until next time….!

Team AAA x

 

Cool Characters at Carden!

Carden have been chatting all about character these past couple of weeks and in response to Rob’s last task have come up with some very interesting beings of their own – some we’d even like to meet IRL! Here’s a few examples of their brilliant work below:

Hello all

I loved reading your character descriptions. All of them were brilliantly described.

Bradley, Tayla, Darcey, Tommy, Max, Ella, Junior, Nillab,
All of your characters were so much fun to read, so thank you for telling me about them! It seemed that you had fun writing abut them too, because you told me a lot of great detail. You told me how your characters looked and Some of you added interesting background stories too, which is great. It would be good though to know a bit more about how your characters behave now. Characters should always be ACTING – that’s what teaches us about them, rather than how they look or dress. Have a think about how your characters act – are they kind, caring, or evil? Can you give me examples of them being so?

Aunittri
I love that you describe Violence Violet as ‘Nice and Brutal’ ! That is a very interesting way to describe someone – can you think why she is like that? And how does she show these two sides of herself?

Tarian
The Noose is cock and childish – that’s a nice bit of character description. Can you think of examples of how the character shows this?

Carol
Siera Everett is a cool character name! I love that you told me about how she took in the orphan boy – is shows the kind side of her character by the way she acts – which is perfect writing.

Humayra
I like the background details about Katie – and that you say she is Nosy and naughty! Can you think of ways she shows this about herself?

Aldric
I loved this Aldric! DJ sounds really interesting. You’ve created world and characters full of possible stories, with loads of good detail.

Ollie Wow – Dagon sounds really interesting! Why is he so evil though? You tell me how he became the god of the undead, but I’d like to know more about his feelings.

Phoebe
This is a great character description, Phoebe. You tell me a lot about who Sophie is, rather than what he looks like – which is perfect. She sounds like someone who would be a lot of fun to write a story about.

Hailey
This is such a lovely, simply idea for a character, Hailey – with loads of good background. I’d like to know a bit more abut who Loliea is NOW though. Think about her daily routines and hopes and fears…

Michael
Jonny Gibson sounds like a really interesting character, Michael. I like that he ‘hates children’ – but can you tell me why? You describe him well, telling me about who he is rather than what he looks like, which is great.

Lilia
Ziggie sounds like a very interesting character Lilia, and you describe her really
well. You say she is mischievous – but can you give me any examples of when and how?

Connor W
Its great that you chose to write a made u story about a real person, Connow – and a really interesting one too. There’s good background detail here = but can you tell me more about how Paul Pogba thinks and feels?

 

Rob thought that these characters were so great that they should take them further….

Now that you have thought up such great characters, lets do something with them. Most stories begin with a character living their normal life (some people call this the ‘status quo’). That normal life doesn’t have to be a USUAL life to you and me – but just one that for them in their world is normal. So Wild Boy’s normal life at the start is to live on a freak show and fight with Augustus Finch and spy on people using his detective skills. Then SOMETHING HAPPENS to thrusts the character from their normal life and into an adventure. In Wild Boy that SOMETHING is when he defends Sir Oswald and so he has to run away. So then he has to steal money to survive, which ends up with him stealing the mysterious letter – and after that the story takes off. I would like you to think of your character’s normal life that you have all described, and then think what THING could happen to them that would thrust them into a story, and maybe a little more in a paragraph about what that story might be.

Good luck!

Rob

 

We can’t wait to see what Ziggie, DJ, Siera Everett, Violence Violet et al have been up to! Nice work Carden!

Team AAA x

Amazing aliens, a giant rainbow unicorn & cool characters!

Wow, week 2 of AAA and our classes are impressing us and their adopted authors with their creativity!

Ali emailed class 5p at St Lukes’ to share her enthusiasm for her fictitious or fact?! challenge!

Your FACTS all look completely believable. I don’t doubt that Naomie has walked in a jungle, that John has a cat called Mango, that Natty does not not have a pet, that Sami knows how to ride a bike, that Ivy sticks her tongue out when drawing, that Brendan bellyflopped and it didn’t hurt and that Jake has six fingers on his left hand.

I believe ALL of this. The stories were fantastic too.

Naomie, the Ferrari showing up just in the nick of time was excellent. How do you think this happened? Was it complete chance or did Sam have a secret fairy godmother?

John, the miniature alien was inspired. But hey – you went for the old tried and trusted ‘Ooooh – it was ALL a dreeeeeam’ line. COP OUT!

Natty – another alien (you can’t go wrong with aliens) – and THREE GOLD STARS for mentioning a fox called Dax. 😉

Sami – the whole iPhone thing was very believable. Is Sam really going to get a fake plastic one. Can you get such a thing? If not he may have to make one.. out of papier mache or clay or chewed up Haribos…

Brendan. Hmmmm. Vomit. Blood filled eyes. Friends dropping dead. I’m a little concerned. Are your mates edging away from you right now? They should be…

Jake – I love the tension and build up of the demonic thing under the cloth. I’m not sure where the big fat fib comes in but – hey – A trail of sparkly death! What a great line!

My favourite has to be the tomato ketchup beast, though! The kids are thrown backwards, crashing into chairs and tables, knocking over lamps and computers…. tomato ketchup being squirted everywhere. BRILLIANT description, Ivy!

This is all VERY promising.

Breakdancing, bad hair, a giant rainbow unicorn, a soggy phone and a blob fish that goes WOOF are just a few of the themes from the next task Ali set – 5p we LOVE your imaginations!


Miss Liddle from Mile Oak shared the children’s thoughts on Perijee and Me’s first chapter and the mixed reviews about the first draft!

The children said that they prefer how the first chapter is like a flashback to when Caitlin first met Perijee and then it goes back in time to fill in the gaps. They also liked how it ended on a cliff hanger.

  1. Your first draft starts as many other stories do, whereas this one is more unique.
  2. They thought your first draft gave too much away too quickly. In the book we’re reading, you drip-feed us information about Caitlin and her life/family.There were mixed reviews about whether the children would’ve enjoyed the chapter about Caitlin’s school life. Some preferred that you had left that out and that we know that Caitlin is upset due to her actions e.g. smashing the pineapple and crying to Frank. A few children would’ve liked to have known a little about her school life and the children’s reactions to her bringing in a pineapple.It was funny what you said about Caitlin getting annoyed about her name being spelt incorrectly, as we have a Caitlin in our class and she feels the same way.

Ross is delighted that 6L enjoyed his first draft and made a great point – “I hope you can see that even authors start off a little rubbish before they improve!” Thanks for sharing Ross!

From writing to illustration – what a talented bunch! Just look at these amazing aliens!

6L you blew Ross away with these kooky creations and stunning similes!!!

I can’t tell you what a delight it was to open my inbox and find your alien drawings! There were so many different and (let’s be honest, bizarre) varieties of aliens – everything from cute and cuddly to outright disgusting. I loved your use of descriptive similes as well – you’ve clearly been hard at work on your SATS! It’s very hard for me to choose a favourite from so many great drawings but here are some similes I thought were excellent:

  • Nayeema: “swirled patterns as strange as surprises”. LOVE that recurring Sssss sound you make!
  • Evelyn: “heart as sad as the lonely sea at night” Wow! It almost made me feel sorry for the alien despite the fact it’s chopping off someone’s head…
  • Caitlin: “kind as a shy doe” There are lots of “i” sounds in this that make it sound wonderful!
  • Bradley: “horns as pointed as the summit of a mountain” Love this! You could have said “top of a mountain”, but summit sounds so much better (and pointier!)

Next up Ross answered some intriguing questions….

Was Perijee responsible for the storm? (Ellie)
This would be giving everything away! I’m afraid you’ll just have to read on to find out… 

Is the island based on a real place? (Jack)
Good question! I didn’t set out to base it on any place, but I was thinking of remote islands off the coast of Scotland when I started writing it. In fact, in the first draft I used actual place names and the story took place in Scotland! In the end I thought it worked better if it was just a nameless country very much like ours…

The kind of island I was thinking off was a place like the Outer Hebrides – I’ve always wanted to go and finally got to visit last summer! You have to get a boat from another island to get to them – they’re miles away from anything and such a strange, magical place. The water is absolutely freezing – if you look off the coast in one direction the nearest land is the Arctic – but its sky blue, and the island is FILLED with sea lions and crabs and dolphins and thousands of sea birds.

How long have you written books for? (Bilal)

I’ve always written stories because I love doing it – and not just books either! I used to love making comic strips and writing film scripts – in fact, I feel like I learned just as much from comics and films about how to make stories. Of course, you can’t write stories if you don’t read a lot, and I did that too.

I started writing a proper book when I was 17, so 13 years ago now – I did it with my sister and we spent 4 years writing a children’s book together! Then the moment we finished it we realised it wasn’t very good. I decided to have another go at another book on my own, and wrote ALEX, THE DOG AND THE UNOPENABLE DOOR. It took me two years to write it, then another two years to edit it after I got signed to my publisher… so that’s a good eight years of writing until I finally saw my book on a bookshelf! It’s all worth it though – the only way to get good at something is to practise it, and writing stories is the best practise you can have to be a writer.

Do you believe in aliens? (Fin)

I have no idea! But I believe that in the scope of the enormous, vast universe, there must have at some point been another species living on another planet. Perhaps they died out millions of years ago. Perhaps, if we’re lucky, they’re still alive. But whether or not we’ll ever be lucky enough to talk to each other is another matter…

Where do you get some imaginative ideas for your book? (Mothakin)

I wish I knew! An idea tends to jump at you when you least expect it – if you’re like me, you have to scribble it down before you forget it. I have a whole notebook I carry with me where I put down my ideas – then, when I need to come up with a new idea for a book, I look through and see what captures my attention. It might just be a tiny detail, but then I’ll build on it until it becomes an idea and then a character and then a book…
To give an example: I was walking though Charing Cross station when I saw a man selling small toy boats. they were made of tin, and powered by a little candle – like this! 
Image result for toy boat candle
I thought “Imagine if a mouse had to ride that across the sea!” I wrote it down, then when I revisited it I turned it into a story about a mouse who carries a candle across the ocean because he wants to take it to the stars. I gave it to my editor, we changed loads of things – including the main character – and now it’s coming out next year as a picture book! It’ll be called SPACE TORTOISE and the illustrations are by David Litchfield, who did the front cover for PERIJEE & ME. I’ve attached a sneak peek of one of the pages!
It sounds as though 6L and Miss Liddle are really enjoying Ross’ book!

We need to slow down reading Perijee and Me as we want to read it everyday!


From Carden to China (what an exotic bunch!) – which is where author Rob Lloyd Jones currently is and he’s got some feedback and cool insights into character!

I really enjoyed reading your answers, and especially how many of you told me not just about the lot of your favourite stories, but also how your favourite stories make you feel. Good stories are full of different feelings – anger, excitement, sadness, happiness, relief and lots more. Authors use those feelings to draw the readers into the story, and make have empathy for the main characters.  Once a reader feels for the characters, they want to follow them through all their adventures and will be totally gripped by the story.

A lot of you also talked about your favourite character in those stories, which is great! Character is SO important – as we’ll learn form the next exercise.

I’ve written some comments on your thoughts for each of you below.  And I thought I’d give you another little task.  Now that you know how books can make you feel, and how authors use feelings to make you like their characters, I want to think a bit more about the actual characters.  So think of your favourite character in any story – and describe that character in a few sentences. You can write what they look like, but it’s more important to describe what sort of person they are. It doesn’t have to be the hero in a story – it could be a villain, or just a small character in a book that you particularly remember.

Bradley and Leah:
You both liked the BFG – great choice! Leah said Sophie was brave and Bradley that he liked the characters. That’s great! Characters ate very important!

Evan and Connor:
I love the Walking Dead too! You both likes certain characters, which are the reason these stories are so popular- not because of the zombies, but because you love the characters fighting the zombies.

Tayla:
You said Harely Quinn makes you think about your own life – that’s brilliant! It means you were really involved in the story.

Ollie:
I liked that you said Star Wars left you on the edge of your seat. Good stories always leave you wanting more like that.

Darcey:
You liked Miss Root in the Demon Dentist. I agree, she’s great! Well written villains can sometimes make stories really special.

Ella:
I LOVE the Ruby Redford books!! Mystery books are great because they keep you guessing, and wanting to know more.

Humayra:
I’ve not read Has anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins, but it sounds great. You said you love it because it has lots of action – but I bet what you really love is the character in the middle of all that action?  

Junior:
I haven’t read the Gone books, but they sound really good. You said you love the cliffhangers – which is great. The writer has managed to grip you, to make you read more.

Max:
I love the Gone in 60 Seconds too!  You said you like it because it’s full of action, but I wonder if that is more that you like the characters in the action? If the characters were not unique, or interesting, then would the action be enough to make you love the story?

Amritti:
Life of Pi is wonderful! I was interested that you said you feel emotional about the characters. The best authors will draw you in like that – to draw the reader into the story, and make them feel the same emotions as the main character.

Pheobe:
Harry Potter stories are brilliant. You said your favourite art is about Hermione – so I’m guessing she is your favourite character? You could maybe write more about her in the next task?

Connor:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a great choice. You said you feel on the edge of your seat. The author wanted you to feel that way, so you would keep reading and be gripped.

Tommy:
The Cat in the Hat sounds like fun! You said it has funny characters, so its great that you were thinking about the characters – which are what makes a story great.  

Tawain:
I’ve never read Young Sherlock Holmes, but I love the older books. I like that you said you feel the main character questions everything. Sherlock Homes has been very popular for a long time, for the same reasons that you loved it so much – because the author makes you intrigued, and want to read on.

Nillab:
You like Sofia Sofa in Worlds Worst Children because she is ‘unique’. That’s brilliant! The best stories all have unique characters, who you want to find out more about.

Lilia:
I adore the Percy Jackson books. They are packed with so much fun and crazy action – but I was interested that what you spoke about Annabeth, and how she feels. All that detail and fun action wouldn’t be very interesting unless you cared about the characters, which you do.

Carol:
I’ve never read Shadow, but it sounds great. You said it makes you think more about your own life, which is very interesting.  Authors try to make you feel that way, so you get drawn into the story more.


Off to Goldstone now where Guy had set a challenge for Year 3 to create their own pieces inspired by the action scenes in Stitch Head…

Here’s some great examples!

Raef
“He’s in the dungeon…he’s smashing the great door down!” mumbled Stitch Head nervously to himself. Right at the end of the dungeon, he could see a small bar silhouette pounding at the crooked door. Stitch Head silently crept towards the disturbing creature.

The strong, long door was splintering, the padlocks were rattling, and there was no time to think. He had to act now. With his body quivering with fear, Stitch Head silently crept towards the sinister creature.

He swiftly launched himself on the creature’s head with the magic potion securely in his pocket. With arms and legs wrapped firmly around its head, Stitch Head desperately hurled the potion into its disgusting, drooling mouth.

Kobe
“It’s in the courtyard…it’s trying to clamber over the great wall.”  Stitch Head snivelled to himself. In the far corner Stitch Head saw the creature falling down the mossy wall. It was frantically pulling itself up again. Stitch Head silently crept into the gloomy courtyard..

The creature was almost at the top of the wall, the time to act was now. Any second, it would escape. Stitch Head bolted through doors and clambered up the wall using the deep holes left in the stone wall and grabbed onto its shaggy hair. He climbed up his tree-trunk legs, over his mighty back and onto his huge head.

Taluka 

Taluka.jpg

Sonny
“It’s in the entrance hall…It’s trying to find it’s way out of the castle.” shivered Stitch Head cautiously to himself. At the end of the corridor, he could see a creature shaped silhouette crashing around frantically. Stitch Head quietly tip-toed to the shadows of the entrance hall.

It had almost broken down the wall, bricks and rubble were flying everywhere! Any moment now, it would smash the wall and be free. Stitch Head raced like a bolt of lightning, up to the beast and clambered up the wall, finally onto the beast’s shoulder.

 

 

Reports from Goldstone is that word is spreading about how great AAA is….!

Still having lots of giggles at the Creature and the children are loving the book. Other year groups are now asking who ‘this Stitch Head is’

Brilliant work from everyone! See you next week!

Chapter 1 – The First Week!

The first week of Adopt an Author has been brilliant, classes have received emails from their authors and are getting to know each other well. They’ve exchanged some fantastic tasks and we’re blown away by the amazing work they’ve completed!

St Luke’s said ‘hi’ to their adopted author Ali Sparkes!

Dear Class 5P

I can’t help thinking of you like this…

I know there are 31 of you and you are perfectly normal children. Well… mostly normal children. You’re not 31 small, round, shiny metal discs. But I still keep seeing a whole class of 5ps, sitting eerily at tables, glinting… maybe the naughty ones at the back flipping themselves to heads or tails every so often…

So you should probably send me a photo of you all, if you can, so I can actually picture you rather than 5p coins. After all, I am your author. You have all just ADOPTED me. I should know what you look like. Here’s what I look like today…

This is me in my POD. POD stands for Place Of Dreams and it’s my little space up the garden where I write my books. The fox is called Dax. Some of you may know why. Here’s what the POD looks like from the outside today:

Daffodils are my favourite flowers so I love this view of the POD in March.

I’m really looking forward to meeting you all after the Easter holidays. At the moment, at the start of March, I’ve got an epic amount of school visits and festivals and launches and whatnot to do. I’m doing launch events for my brand new book – Thunderstruck.

You can check out the trailer for it on www.alisparkes.com.   Then, when March is over, I stop all the driving around the country and get back to the POD to concentrate on a book I’ve got to finish by the end of April.

In the meantime…

Here are three facts about me. But one of them is made up. Can you guess which is the made up one?

1. I can play two recorders simultaneously – one in each nostril.

2. I was once the sequin-clad assistant to a juggling unicyclist.

3. I have webbed toes.

You can have a vote to decide which is made up (I’ll tell you in my next email). Then I’d like each of you to write down three ‘facts’ about yourself and then challenge the class to guess which is the made up one. MAKE SURE your teacher, Paul, does this too.

When you’ve done that, you’ll be nice and warmed up, so you can write the rest of THIS story…

THE BIG FAT FIB

Sam should never have said it. It was a big fat fib and everyone knew it.

‘Go on then!’ said Emma. ‘Show us!’

‘Yeah!’ said Callum. ‘Prove it!’

Sam looked down at the thing on the desk and felt hot and sweaty. Oh no… what now?

What is the thing on the desk? What does Sam have to do with it? What will happen next? I want to KNOW!!!

So have fun with this and share your stories. They don’t have to be very long. Paul can send me the top five to read. I’m already agog to know what you’ll dream up…

Anyway, I’m off travelling again. This week I’m going to Maidenhead, Shaftesbury, Bristol, Chichester and Great Dunmow in Essex. Hope I don’t lose my voice…

See you soon, 5p! 😊

And to help differentiate 5p from 31 shiny silver coins – here’s what they really look like!

st lukes 5p.JPG

The class created some brilliant BIG FAT FIBS! All of course in the name of creative writing! Check some of them out and see if you can spot any fabrications…


And now, over to Goldstone, who welcomed their author Guy Bass with some super questions!

Hi Guy,

Well the Stitch Head fever has started. The children love it!

stitch head 2.jpeg

This week we are reading the prologue and finding out all about Fulburt. We are looking closely at how you infer about the character by the way he speaks and acts.

Later in the week we are reading chapter 1 and designing our own monsters as if we are Professor Erasmus.

But before we even looked at the book, the children wanted to find out a bit more about you. Wow, have they got a lot of questions for you!

Here goes…

And here’s Guy with some excellent insight into writing and his love of fried doughy confectionary!

Hello! It’s seventeen different kids how lovely to hear from you. I love getting emails. The sugary coating, the jam in the middle– No wait, that’s doughnuts. I love doughnuts. The electronic format, the words written in a particular order– No wait, that’s emails. Where was I…?

Oh yes! Thanks for your email! I especially like it because it’s written to me. I’m sure you’d like to know a bit about me. Well, I’m taller than my mum and I have all my own teeth. But enough about me. It’s time to answer your questions! About me.

What would be your top 5 tips on writing a successful book?

  1. Read! Good writers are good readers.
  2. Write! As in, as much as you can – flex your mighty mind muscles and they’ll get stronger.
  3. Rewrite! Chances are you won’t get your book right first time round. Be ready to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until you think you might go bonkers from all of the rewriting.
  4. Tell stories that excite you. If you’re passionate about the belly button fluff of elephants, that passion will come across in the book. Similarly, if you couldn’t care less about robot dinosaurs, you really shouldn’t be writing about them.
  5. Believe. Doubt in your own ability is all part of any creative endeavour, but if you think you have a great idea, believe in it and see it through to the end. You owe it to your idea.

Where do you write your stories?

Anywhere! On trains, in hotels, on the toilet … but usually in my study at home.

What inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved telling stories. As a child I spent my evenings and weekends and holidays making up characters and then putting them in all sorts of scrapes and situations. I’d write stories, draw comics or act our different scenarios with my brother. It usually involved play-fighting. A lot of play-fighting.

I also love eggs and cheese, but that’s a different story. It’s called Eggs and Cheese and Why I Love Them.

When did you start to write about Stitch Head? Once you have the main character, is it easier to write a series of books?

I started writing the book pretty soon after I’d come up with Stitch Head. It was a tricky start though – I wrote a good chunk of the story but Stitch Head’s character just wasn’t right so I had to go back and start again. Once I’d sorted out Stitch Head, the other characters started to fall into place. The Creature was deliberately very different to Stitch Head – it’s loud and carefree and could get Stitch Head into trouble without meaning to. On the other hand, Arabella (who doesn’t appear all that much in book one) was so much fun to write I made her a major character in subsequent books. It’s definitely easier to write more stories once you really ‘know’ the characters … easier, but never easy!

Where did the idea of Stitch Head come from?

I started out with the idea of a mad professor who made monsters in the grand tradition of Dr Frankenstein. But what if Frankenstein made his first monster what he was just a boy, out of leftovers from his dad’s own mad experiments. I did a little sketch in my notebook and the story unfolded from there.

At what age did you start writing books?

My early 30s. Before that I wrote plays. And, very occasionally, shopping lists.

What is your favourite book that you or someone else has written?

My favourite children’s book of ever all time ever in the world ever is George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. If you get me talking about it, I WILL NOT STOP.

How many books have you written in total?

I’m hoping to finish writing book 29 next week…

Which was your first book to be published?

Gormy Ruckles, Monster Boy. When I was growing up, my mum used to say “I’ve got the Gormy Ruckles” when she wasn’t feeling well. I always thought it would be a good name for a monster. Thanks Mum!

gormy ruckles.jpeg

Which book did you spend the most time on and why?

Gormy took ages (despite being quite short) ’cause it was my first book! I’m not sure which took the longest but the toughest to write was The Mighty Frog, which was the last in a trilogy. Tying up all the loose ends was a right pain in the plot!

Which book did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Possibly Secret Santa: Agent of X.M.A.S. ’cause it really fed my love of puns. Or the Atomic! books… or Dinkin Dings and the Frightening Things … oThe Legend of Frog. Definitely one of those. Or one of the others. These questions are hard…

Is there a particular time of day when you prefer to write?

I’m not bad in the morning but I write best in the evenings, from around 6pm. It’s frustratingly anti-social but then, so am I 🙂

What is the scariest book you have written?

Probably Stitch Head: The Ghost of Grotteskew, because GHOSTS.

How long does it take to write and then publish a book?

How long is a piece of string? Well, in this case the piece of string is about 3 months long. That’s about how long it takes me, give or take a month either side. But I’m not writing solidly for 3 months! Right now, for example, I’m writing this email. And later I’m going to eat an apple.

How many times do you, or the publisher, edit the original story?

How long is a piece of– No wait, that was the last question. So, I rewrite a LOT before I deliver a first draft. Then it’s usually one or two more drafts before it’s more or less sort of ready. I think I’m getting better at delivering stronger first drafts but you’d have to ask my editor! My dream is to one day write the perfect, air-tight first draft. But. That. Will. Never, Happen.

When did you start writing for pleasure?

As soon as I could pick up a crayon!

Did you get on well at school?

School? Never heard of it. Is it some sort of new dance craze?

Was there a particular author or person who inspired you to write?

Too many to mention! But Roald Dahl and anyone writing comic books in the 1980s spring to mind.

Your books are published into different languages, do you speak any of the other languages?

Uh … Un petit peu français peut-être – mais c’est tout. Désolé!

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The humbling thought that an idea that occurs to me – possibly on the toilet – might one day become an actual book that someone else might actually want to read! Possibly on the toilet.

Do you have ideas for your next book?

Yes! Most of them are 100% brilliant, except the one about the cupboard that dreams of going on an adventure … but then doesn’t. That one needs some work.

Will you use any of our ideas in your next book?

Are they all brilliant? They’re all 100% brilliant, right? In which case yes, but only if I can take all the credit and horde all the riches and eat all the eggs and cheese myself.

Do you like reading your own books?

Well, by the time a book goes to print I’ve read, re-read, checked and combed its hair so many times that I’m not usually in the mood to read it again. Plus there are a lot of books out there that I haven’t read and didn’t write! But I do enjoy reading my books aloud at school events and festivals.

Why did you start to write children’s stories?

The voices in my head told me too. Also, as my wife will tell you and my toy collection proves, I’m still about 8 years old in my head, so it was a comfy fit…

Phew! I’m off for a long lie-down. But not in the swimming pool, this time. That was a bad idea. Not as bad as the cupboard who dreams of going on an adventure … but then doesn’t. But still pretty bad.

E-speak to you soon, Year 3! And have yourselves a DINGLE DANGLE!

(That’ll make sense when you get further through the book…)

Cheers,

Guy


Heading over to Mile Oak now – here’s class 6L with their book Perijee and Me by Ross Montgomery.

Mile Oak 6L.JPG

Dear Miss Liddle and 6L,

Well here it is – my first proper email to your class! I think I’ll start by answering some of your questions!

Did you base Perijee on anyone or anything and how did you come up with the name? (Lauren and Amelia)

As far as I know, Perijee isn’t based on anyone or anything I know – I know that sounds like an odd answer, but sometimes it takes me ages to work out that I’ve based a character on something! For example, it took me a while to realise the character of Frank was based on a friend of mine called Rael who sadly passed away before the book was finished – if you look at the front of the book you’ll see I’ve dedicated it to him. Fun fact: in the first draft of PERIJEE & ME, the alien wasn’t called Perijee – he was called Parsec! However my editor told me that was rubbish and that everyone in the sales meeting had laughed at it, so I had to change it. Boooooo! A parsec is a measurement of distance in space – how far light can travel in 3.25 years. This is roughly 19 million-MILLION miles! (That’s 12 zeroes!)Why did you choose a pineapple? (Lauren)

Because it is the best fruit. Obviously. This is a lie – in the first draft of PERIJEE & ME, the opening scene started with a drawing Caitlin had made of her family and her describing it. I’ve actually found the scene and attached it to this email – have a look and see if you can notice any differences between the first draft and the finished book! There was also a whole deleted scene in the first draft which showed Caitlin having a horrible time at her end of term party. I wanted to show how she stood out from the other children and didn’t fit in – so while everyone else bought crisps and sandwiches, Caitlin brought a pineapple but nothing to cut it with. My editor said the scene was too sad and I should cut it out.

What inspired you to write Perijee and me, a book about friendship? (Nayeema)

This is a very good question! I think when I started writing it, I didn’t realise I was making a book about friendship – I thought I was writing about a lonely girl who wanted to look after something. However, the more I worked on the book, the more I realised that the book should show how important friendship is – how you can make a connection between you and someone else, no matter how different they may seem. This happens a lot with writing a book – you start out thinking it’s about one thing, but then it changes into something else. Just like Perijee! The original inspiration for PERIJEE & ME is a very strange story – but that’s a tale for another time…

What made you think of the name Caitlin and not something else? Is she based on someone you know? (Brooke)

Caitlin is based primarily on a girl I used to teach. I won’t say her name as that wouldn’t be fair! She was a very sunny and kind and enthusiastic, but she struggled at school and you could see how hard she found it. I was very touched by the fact that even when she found learning difficult, she never gave up – and she always fought to stay positive even when it must have been very sad for her. She was an inspiration! Fun fact: in the first draft of PERIJEE & ME, there was a whole scene where Caitlin explains how much she hates her name because no one ever spells it right. She’s made to write her name on the board but spells it wrong, gets flustered, tries to sound it out and confuses herself – then when the teacher shouts at her she writes I HAIT SPELING on the board and throws the teacher’s sandwich out the window.

What made you think of the name Perijee? (Louis)

After my editor told me to change the name from Parsec, I had to look at a lot of different options – I wanted a name that Caitlin would have taken from her astrobiologist father, so I got researching and started looking up astrophysics terms – here’s a good selection!

http://www.atnf.csiro.au/outreach/education/senior/astrophysics/astrophysics_glossary.html

I looked up the names of stars, names of constellations, names of NASA space missions and astronauts, names of animals who have been sent into space… I must have looked at hundreds until I found the right one! Other possible options were:

  • Quark!
  • Gordo!
  • Vol!
  • Tarf!
  • Kappa!
  • Marfik!
  • Praxidike!

As you can see, they were all rubbish. I eventually came across “perigee” – this is the word for when the moon gets closest to earth in its orbit. This happens once a month – the point where it’s farthest away is called the “apogee”. If it happens to be a full moon during a perigee, we get a “supermoon”! It normally gets mentioned in the news because it means the moon looks massive and beautiful, like this:

Image result for supermoon

Fun fact: The next supermoon is apparently due on May 25th, 2017 – look out for it! However the biggest supermoon of the whole CENTURY will be on December 6th, 2052. I will be 65 years old when this happens – feel free to message me on my floating millionaire’s astropad on the tenth moon of Jupiter.

I hope you found those answers helpful. One of the things you might have noticed is how many times I mentioned something was different in my first draft – this is going to be an important theme in my correspondence with you! I completely rewrote PERIJEE & ME about ten times before I was happy with it – and the same will be true of every single book you know and love. Rewriting and editing is invaluable to writing – no one ever, EVER gets it right on their first try. You can always go back and make it better!

With that in mind, Ross set about giving 6L their first task…

I want you to focus on the very first chapter – a nice short one! Have a go re-reading it as a class if that helps. I wrote this chapter to create a little bit of a mystery, and make the reader want to find out more about Perijee. You might have found it a bit of a shock when it suddenly said he grew fingers, for example!

In order to help the reader visualise Perijee, I used two SIMILES to describe him – can you find them? Why do you think I compared Perijee to these things? What do you think is the point of using similes?

(I’ve written what I think the answer is at the bottom of this email – you might disagree!)

Then, I’d like you to use similes to describe different parts of it – its eyes, its teeth, its hair, its nails, its skin, its arms…

REMEMBER: if your alien is scary, then you should compare it to things that are scary!

GOOD EXAMPLE: The alien’s eyes were as red as erupting volcanoes.

BAD EXAMPLE: The alien’s eyes were as red as nice tasty tomatoes.

Let me know how you get on – I’m looking forward to seeing some beautiful pieces of descriptive writing!

Have a lovely rest of the week and speak soon,

Ross

Secret answer:
I think similes are often used because they put an image in your head. No one knows what a shape-shifting alien looks like, but pretty much everyone knows what a candle looks like. So if I describe Perijee as “like a candle in a jar”, the first thing in your head is a glowing candle – as a writer, this is how you can make a reader see what’s in your own imagination!

Here are some great examples of simple similes:
Mr Gum: “Mr Gum was a fierce old man with a red beard and two bloodshot eyes that stared out at you like an octopus curled up in a bad cave.”

Harry Potter: “An old man was standing before them, his wide pale eyes shining like moons through the gloom of the shop.”

And here’s a more advanced example of how similes, metaphors and personification can be used to turn something you probably haven’t seen before – a school burning down! – into something you can imagine just by cleverly placing images in your head:

Cider With Rosie: “Then the schoolhouse chimney caught on fire. A fountain of sparks shot high into the night, writhing and sweeping on the wind, falling and dancing along the road. The chimney hissed like a firework, great rockets of flame came gushing forth.. yellow jets of smoke belched from cracks in the chimney.”

Ross left the class with a genius task for next week – to come up with their very own alien! We look forward to hearing about 6L’s awesome other worldly creatures!


And now popping over to see what Carden’s been up to – ah, I see Rob Lloyd Jones posed some interesting questions to Year 6!

Favourite stories – describe your favourite story, and tell me why
Favourite character – Tell me about your favourite character in any story
Story starts – how stories begin, and how yours now can
Scene settings – how to describe a place, with a task to do so
Villains – tell me about your antagonist
Story endings – how good stories end, how does your story finish
Themes and messages – after all of this, what was your story really about? Does it matter if you have a theme?

Some brilliant recommendations. Right we’re off to the library with a list of books to borrow as recommended by Carden’s Year 6 – they all sound fantastic!


We can’t wait to check in next week and find out what our authors and classes have been up to!

Romance blossoming in Lizzy Bennet’s world

The girls at Carden Primary have been reading Marcia Williams’ next book (yes, they get TWO!)

The story is inspired by a book called Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen which was written in 1813 (ages ago!) Marcia’s book is written from Lizzy Bennet’s point of view. When Lizzy Bennet’s father gives her a diary, she fancies she will use it to write a novel, as her real life is exceedingly dull. Then the handsome Mr. Bingley moves to nearby Netherfield Park, and suddenly life is every bit as thrilling as a novel would be. Who will he dance with at the Meryton ball? Who is his haughty friend? Will Lizzy ever receive a marriage proposal?

Marcia set the girls a writing task:

Dear Year 6,

I have been rereading Lizzy Bennet’s Diary up to the same page as you, and it strikes me how very difficult Lizzy is to please.  How will she ever find a husband with such high standards?!
I wondered if you could each write a description of the man you would have Lizzy fall for, if you were the author instead of Jane Austen.  Just close your eyes and imagine him walking into the room and Lizzy falling in love!
1.  How does he enter the room, does he stride, shuffle or even trip?  Maybe he is shy and just pokes his head around the door?  Is he dark or fair?  Think about his clothes, his hairstyle, his shoes?  Maybe, he has a scar or a moustache?
2.  Is he clever?  Cold or warm hearted.  Friendly or shy?  Funny or severe?  How does his personality differ from Lizzy’s?
3.  Is he rich and aristocratic or does he come from a modest background? Is he a soldier?  What if any occupation does he have?
4.  What are his likes and dislikes?
5.  What are his strengths and weaknesses?  Maybe he eats too much chocolate – has dozens of dogs – or falls asleep at the table!  Only you know!
These are some of the things you might like to think about when you are writing about him.
I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!
Good luck,
Marcia
And the girls did a great job, they wrote very descriptive pieces detailing the moment the two meet. How romantic! These are two of our faves…

Well done girls and we hope you are looking forward to meeting your author Marcia Williams TOMORROW! So exciting!

Team AAA x

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!

**Update**

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,
Marcia
Onto the next book, ‘Lizzy Bennet’s Diary‘ !

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!

SCAN-1194-5