Category Archives: Questions

A Last Letter to Patrice Lawrence

For their final letter to Patrice, 9EF seem to be getting rather impatient to meet her at long last:

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Its so lovely that the class is heading to the library to try and find some of the books that Patrice recommended last week. It sounds as though their weekly emails back and forth with Patrice might have inspired a lot more reading!

Not long until 9EF and Patrice meet for the first time. We’re so excited to introduce them.

Team AAA xx

 

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Inspirations, Ideas & Authenticity!

Letter-writing continues between Year Nine at Cardinal Newman, and their adopted author Patrice Lawrence. Patrice’s book “Orange Boy” is keeping the class busy! Its interesting to hear which bits of the novel seem to fire up the most heated discussion, as the weeks go by:

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Patrice wrote back with this missive:

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There was so much in Patrice’s letter! It was interesting to hear that she builds greater authenticity for her characters by reading non-fiction, and that the idea for Marlon having drugs planted on him came from talking to friends who work in different professions.

We’re looking forward to next week already….where we hope to be finding out all about 9EF’s reasons for reading! Characters? Plots? Genre? What is the first thing about a book that grabs their attention and makes them want to keep turning pages?

Team AAA xx

 

Questions Answered!

This week, Jennifer sent Jaguar class a lovely long letter, answering all of their questions from their last message!

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QUESTION ONE: How did you come up with this brilliant idea for the story?

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QUESTION TWO: Who inspired you to become an author?

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QUESTION THREE: What was your first book? How many have you written?

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QUESTION FOUR: Why did you become an author?

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QUESTION FIVE: Who is your favourite author?

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QUESTION SIX: What was your favourite book as a child?

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It’s so interesting to find out more about Jennifer, and all about why she became an author. What are your favourite books? Are there certain characters and stories that inspire you to write?

Team AAA xx

 

 

Dear Diary…

Last week, Jennifer set Jaguar class the task of writing diary entries. They were asked to think about the first chapter of Jennifer’s book “Alex Sparrow  & The Really Big Stink”, but to imagine the events from Jess’ perspective. Here are just some of their thoughtful responses:

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We really enjoyed hearing the voice of Jess- and some of the creative ways the class thought to express it! The use of CAPITAL LETTERS, colour and illustrations were just some of the clever ideas the class found.

Jaguar class also sent Jennifer a new letter this week, posing some questions about her work and her career as a writer:

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Jennifer wrote back congratulating the class on their work. She thought that the Jaguars “have got Jess’ character brilliantly, and totally captured her! Such wonderful work- thank you for sharing them with me!” She also set the class a new challenge!  Next week, they will be coming up with some of their own PALS affirmations.

We can’t wait to see what the Jaguars will invent this time!

Team AAA xx

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Pigsticks Pictures!

This week, Gecko class rose to Alex’s challenge. They posted some of their brilliant illustrations to him, along with a few more well-chosen questions! They’ve been roaring through Alex’s book “Pigsticks and Harold & The Incredible Journey”; they’re on page 25 of the book already!

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Here is a small sample of some of the wonderful work they sent to Alex to have a look at:

 

 

One of the class also made their own version of the “How To Draw Pigsticks” sheet that Alex sent last week… let us know if you use this to draw your own Pigsticks!

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Alex replied answering all of their questions, as well as setting a special new challenge for next week:

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If you would like to have a go at drawing Harold the hamster, you can have a look at Alex’s special instructions here!

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I wonder what other kinds of snacks Harold might end up sampling in this drawing challenge!

Can’t wait to see how you get on, Gecko class!

Team AAA xx

 

 

Cardinal Newman meets ORANGE BOY!

Our first ever secondary school to take part in Adopt an Author is Cardinal Newman Secondary School- and they are adopting Patrice Lawrence along with her book “Orange Boy”.

9EF got things started with this lovely letter, with lots of different questions for Patrice about her characters, and the story so far.

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Here’s Patrice’s answers- written on World Book Day. They’re full of detail, we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

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We’re really interested in how this conversation has already started getting to the root of how Patrice started writing her book….and about some of her research behind it. ‘Hypothalamus’- what a great new word! I wonder if we can all try and casually use it in a sentence this week…

Can’t wait to see how your letters unfold!

Team AAA

Top writing tips & Tropical fruits with Mile Oak!

In week 3 of Adopt an Author we’re treated to a little insight into what 6L thought of Ross’ deleted scene! Ross revealed something pretty exciting too….

“…you are not ‘one of the few children to have read this draft’. You are the ONLY children to have read this draft! In fact – apart from me and my editor – you’re the only people on Earth to have read it. How weird is that?”

 

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Here are few of examples of what they felt about the unpublished scene…

“I like the version we are reading because it’s not as depressing and it shows how she really feels. It’s sweet how Frank comforts her. The first draft – this is too depressing. No offense but I don’t like this version because it’s not as exciting and is too sad to start off a story. It wasn’t my taste and on your new version it is sad but happy as well because Frank comforts her, but in this draft all it’s trying to prove is she has no friends and no one cares about her.” (Freya S)

“In the final version I like the descriptions you’ve used – smacked, stamped, slapped, lip biting, smirking. I think maybe you should have included the draft as it is not as sad as I thought. In a way it was funny that she stacked tons of food on her plate.” (Oscar)

“It’s a bit too long. I think I prefer the actual one that’s been published because we feel more sympathy for Caitlin because she’s sobbing and Frank doesn’t know what to do. The first draft was really sad.” (Bradley)

“I liked what you did in both but personally I liked the one with Frank because Frank had no idea what to do and you have to imagine what’s happened at school.” (Lauren)

“I liked the first few sentences of the first draft but I’m glad you left the rest out. I think it was too sad and Frank being awkward was funny. I like the descriptions in the final version and how she threw the pineapple. Also when you said ‘clouds of jellyfish lapping against the side of the boat like bubble bath.” (Amelia)

6L came across a picture they were certain Ross would appreciate! Unsure of the pineapple reference?! You’ll just have to pick up Perijee and Me!

 

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Dear 6L,
I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed reading my deleted scene!
Thank you so much for your feedback on it. It’s reassuring to see that while some of you liked the scene, most people found it unnecessary and a bit sad, which is exactly why my editor told me to get rid of it! There’s an important lesson there: when you write, you need to SHOW something and not TELL it. That means rather than say “Jim was sad”, you show the reader that Jim is sad by things he says, how he acts etc. So for me, when I wanted to make it clear that Caitlin is lonely and isolated, I didn’t need to TELL the reader by giving them a whole scene that shows what she’s like around other children – instead, I can SHOW them all that in one little scene with Frank. I let the reader see what Caitlin’s like just by the way she talks and the way she describes things. It’s a tricky skill to get used to, but it makes your writing much better!
Thank you so much for your picture of a pineapple! I think it sums up Caitlin’s approach to life perfectly – who wouldn’t want to be a pineapple?
(Fascinating pineapple fact 1: pineapples don’t grow on trees – they grow as a plant that can only have one pineapple at a time! In fact they look a bit like thistles. Check it out:
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Fascinating pineapple fact 2: people in the 1600s and 1700s used to get their portraits painted holding pineapples to show how wealthy they were as pineapples cost so much to grow and ship over. Here’s King Charles II with one:
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I think currently, pineapple facts might be our favourite kind of facts!

6L posed some more brilliant questions to Ross – he’s got some very interesting and useful answers below:

10) Where do you get some imaginative ideas for your book? (Mothakin)
To be honest, ideas tend to spring at me out of nowhere – I’ve asked other authors the same thing and they all agree! It’s very rare that I get the most important ideas first, e.g. the plot, the characters – it’ll be one little moment in the book that grabs my interest. I’ll think, “That’s odd – I wonder what happens in the book to make that scene happen?” and I’ll end up building a book around it.
A good tip: I’ve spent the last few years carrying a little notebook around with me wherever I go. The second I get an idea – usually it’s on a train or a bus – I scribble it down so I don’t forget it. SPACE TORTOISE started this way – so did my next novel, MAX & THE MILLIONS, which is out next March, and so did my next book – a book of short horror stories set at Christmas called CHRISTMAS DINNER OF SOULS!

11) Have you experienced a storm like in the books? (Caitlin)

I am absolutely, utterly petrified of the sea, so thankfully I’ve never been on the ocean when a storm has hit! In fact I’ve only been on a boat a few times – it’s OK if it’s a big boat like a ferry as you tend to not feel the waves as much, but when you’re on a small boat even small waves are utterly terrifying! 

12) What inspired you to write a sci-fi type book? (Kayleigh and Charlie J)

I’m not sure – I always say that I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, but one of my friends (who is a BIG sci-fi fan) says that I am and I just don’t realise it!
I got the idea for PERIJEE & ME when I was walking through a park near where I teach, feeling worried because my publisher wanted me to come up with some new ideas. I saw a man lying on the ground: he was a typical London businessman, just like all the others in the park – pinstripe suit, black shoes, briefcase – but he was lying straight as a plank and flat on his face! It looked like he’d been dropped from a great height and was trying to copy everything around him in this very strange way – which got me onto thinking about him as an alien who wanted to be like a human, but didn’t know how to do it. I immediately started thinking about a girl discovering a shape-shifting alien and began making my idea – after I’d checked the businessman was OK, of course! 
I think when I came up with the idea, I didn’t want to do a sci-fi book – I just found the idea interesting. Of course, when you finish reading PERIJEE & ME, you may find there are a few unexpected surprises…
13) What is your favourite book genre? (Evelyn)

I tend to read lots of different genres – for me, it’s not so much the style of the book as the person writing it! As long as the writer catches my attention, then I don’t care if it’s a book about the history of trumpets or a novel about love. For example, I’ve never really liked Fantasy books, but I’ve always LOVED Terry Pratchett – you may know him as the writer of TRUCKERS, DIGGERS and WINGS, but he also wrote over 40 books about a place called the Discworld which were my favourite books when I was younger. They’re hilarious and beautiful and unbelievably clever!

14) What is your favourite book ever? (Alfie)

Oooooh, this is such a hard question! I don’t know if I could choose a single one – there are a handful of books that I absolutely love and recommend to everyone. For you guys, I would definitely recommend a book called HOLES by Louis Sachar. I don’t know another children’s book like it – if I could write anything as good as this I’d be a very happy man! Read the blurb and see what you think: http://www.louissachar.com/holes.html

15) Do you know anyone with Dyslexia? William

Lots! When I was at secondary school about fifteen years ago, people were beginning to realise that dyslexia was a lot more common that everyone had thought – lots of my friends were being diagnosed and up until then they’d had no idea why they had always struggled to read and write at the same speed as everyone else. There was a big change in how people talked about it – my friends finally realised they weren’t “stupid” or “slow”, they just needed a few tricks and tools to help them get their work done.
As a teacher, I work with a lot of children who have dyslexia too – one of the nicest things I’ve seen change since I was a child is that it’s no longer seen as a child having a “problem”, which is what it used to be like. Now the children I teach are aware that they need a little more help and take charge of it themselves – asking if they can sit closer to the board, sounding out words and using spellcheck on the computer to help them out etc. The only problem is when children like Caitlin are undiagnosed and have no help in place to let them do the best they can, which seems hugely unfair. There are many famous and highly successful people who are dyslexic, including Albert Einstein – here’s a small list of just a few! http://www.dyslexiaonline.com/basics/famous_dyslexics.html
 
Ross
Until next time Mile Oak, when we’ll see 6L’s super storyboards that they’ve all been working so hard on!
Team AAA x

What did you want to be when you grown up?

Phew! It has been all go at AAA HQ, which is why we are adding lots of content to the blog at one time. We are not the only ones though, there has been a flurry of busy-ness too at Stanford Juniors as they have been doing their SATs exams (eek!), but they still had time to send some interesting questions to their author, Ross Montgomery’s way…

Hi Ross,

We have three questions for you this week:

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Do you create books for adults?

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Ross, being a teacher when he isn’t writing,completely understood and in fact, had lots of good luck vibes to send in Stanford Juniors’ way and a very good life lesson at the end:

Hi Year 6s,

 
I hear you’re busy working on your SATs exams this week – good luck!! In the meantime, here are the answers to the questions you sent me:
 
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Being a writer is strange, because you don’t get many opportunities to talk to people who read your books – most of the time you’re by yourself writing them! That’s why hearing from readers is such a treat – I’ve had a few letters sent to me via my publisher, and a few emails through my website, and once I even got a Christmas card!! 
Most of the time they’re just taking the time to say that they liked my books, which is wonderful to hear – although once I got an email from an angry mum who didn’t like my books AT ALL and wanted to make sure I knew about it!

If I could give you guys a tip, it would be to write to your favourite authors – look in the front of their books for their publisher’s address and just send it through them! It does get to them eventually, and there’s a good chance they’ll write back. When I was 10 I even had a correspondence with Terry Deary – of Horrible Histories fame!

Do you create books for adults?

People often ask me if I could write a book for adults, and I’m not sure I could. One of the things I like about writing for children is that there are restrictions in what you can and can’t do – you can’t get TOO scary or TOO rude, though you can certainly try to push it! I like those kind of boundaries – they really help me focus an idea so it doesn’t end up becoming overly ambitious.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Funnily enough, I wanted to be a writer! I just loved the idea of creating stories to entertain and, if possible, transport people. I changed my mind a few times – I wanted to be a cartoonist at first (my mum told me I wasn’t allowed as it didn’t make any money!) and when I was a teenager I wanted to make films, but I always came back to the idea of writing.
If any of you have a passion that you’d love to spend your life following, then start now – whether it’s writing or building or playing netball, you’ll build up a love and understanding of it that will carry you through the rest of your life.
 
Speak soon!
 
Ross
Year 6 will be meeting Ross on Tuesday! This is what he looks like if you don’t know…
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How exciting for them!

Gladiators and Interior Designers

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

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

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

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

Well done everyone.

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

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

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

What kind of person is Leo trying to be?

How could someone become brave, strong and worthwhile?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Archie’s War – Snappy comments from Mile Oak!

 So Mile Oak have finished their first (of two) books- “Archie’s War” by Marcia Williams. They emailed Marcia before half term to tell her what they thought along with some fantastic illustrated book reviews!
“This book is amazing, it is definitely one of my favourite books.” – Amy
“We love the victory day page. It’s colourful, bright and just amazing!”-  Jess and Sophia
“Georgie is the cutest dog ever and it’s the best book…Can’t wait to meet you.” – Hermione
“I’m sad that the book is over because it was brilliant.” – Jess
“I’m quite sad that the books is over because we won’t be able to write questions about it anymore.” – Josh
“I’m looking forward to the second book because I’ve enjoyed the first one.” – Maggie
“Your book has inspired me to do cartoons in my scrap book.” – Sophia S
“The book was so excellent I wish there were more chapters.” – Owen
“The book was very good and I really enjoyed it” – Moad
“You were very generous to give us permission to read the books and I am so excited to start the new book.” – Antonia
And below are the fantastic book reviews by Owen, Sophia S, Ethan, Antonia and Connor, lets wait and see what they think of the next book after Easter!
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