Category Archives: Ross Montgomery

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

6L’s final week!!!!

Eeeeeeek, it’s the final week of Adopt an Author, Mile Oak have had an amazing project and created some brilliant work, but it’s not over just yet… Ross Montgomery has been in touch for the last time before he meets them at The Dome (exciting!) to answer some of 6L’s questions!)
Dear 6L,
It’s upon us – the final week! Waaaaaaah
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I loved looking through the designs of your planets – you did so much work! Especially considering how busy you all are at the moment.
Thanks again for all your great work. Now to answer your questions!
What do you think the monster that took over Perijee looks like? Ellie
To be honest, I’m not 100% sure – it’s quite hard to visualise isn’t it? I suppose that in my head it looks like a vast bloated snake covered in long tentacles that look like hair, but I tried to avoid describing it in the book as much as possible – there’s a saying that you should only create the first half of your book, and let your reader create the rest. That means that you shouldn’t describe EVERYTHING – sometimes it’s better to leave things unsaid, and let your reader imagine the rest!
 
How did you get the name Obsidian Blade and have you ever felt that someone will come and get you at night? Freya R
I’m so glad you thought about the name Obsidian Blade! Obsidian is a rock that is incredibly dark and incredibly sharp – in fact it’s so sharp that it can cut BETWEEN the cells in your body!! Aztec priests used to use Obsidian knives in their sacrifices – and without giving too much away, that gives you a bit of a clue as to what’s coming up later…
As for thinking something’s going to come and get me in the night: my cat starts fights with others cats at 4am and runs back in the house screaming. If you ever want to wake up terrified, it’s a pretty effective method.
 
Did you create the Obsidian Blade mark? Caitlin
Sort of!! I sent my publisher a design on Microsoft paint, saying that I was happy for them to come up with something better – in the end they took most of my idea anyway. It’s supposed to be a crucifix that looks like a dagger, with tentacles – you should be able to see the initials OB in there too! Below is what I sent my publisher – as you can see, it’s pretty rubbish.
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Is Wanderly based on a place you’ve seen/heard of? Caitlin
Oooh, interesting – when I visualise it in my head, it doesn’t look like anywhere I recognise! That can happen a lot – it’s often not until I’ve finished writing a book that I realise I’ve based places and characters on real places and people I know. For example, when I think of Middle Island I picture the pig farm I used to work on in Yorkshire when I was 21. I imagine Wanderly is based on the big rural towns that used to be near the farm – places like Knaresborough, Harrogate and Northallerton. How good are those names?!
 
How did you come up with the idea of stealing a yacht and supergluing people’s feet to the floor? (Funny thought)! Alfie
Glad you like it! I wanted Caitlin and Fi’s journey to have lots of different “stages”, so it made sense for some of it to be on land and some of it to be on water. I also liked the idea of it being confusing and chaotic – and how the reader has no idea what Caitlin did to steal the yacht! Again, I think it’s nice to let the reader make up their own minds sometimes – it makes reading even more fascinating when you know that everyone comes up with a slightly different idea or image in their mind.
 
What gave you the idea to make Perijee have patterns all over him?
I suppose part of it was wanting to do something different – a type of alien that hasn’t been shown before in books and films (although I’m sure that someone has thought up an alien covered in writing before!) I also wanted to link it to Caitlin’s problems with dyslexia – to Caitlin, all writing seems like an alien language. I wanted the reader to be confused and fascinated by what the symbols could mean, and that helps get an insight into what it’s like for Caitlin to read. There are lots of themes in the book about symbols and reading – hence why I included a symbol for Obsidian Blade rather than just writing their name!
 
Why did you decide to put a cow in the life jacket? Kayleigh
Because it is hilarious. If in doubt, put a cow in a life jacket!
 
How did Perijee start growing tentacles? Alfie
Again, I have no idea – I like the idea of the reader coming up with an image in their mind. I do imagine it happening lightning-fast though, like when a venomous snake suddenly attacks…
 
You have been talking soooo much about Pineapples that I actually dreamt about one. Evelyn
Good. You should buy a pineapple nightlight!
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I like the irony of them reading the boat safety manual while the boat is sinking next to them-Bradley
Thank you! It was a joke I added in at the last second and thought no one would find funny except me – looks like I was proved wrong!
Thanks again
Ross
6L have some wonderful comments on the book, it’s safe to say that they all really enjoyed Perijee and Me!
 I loved the book because you never knew what might happen next and when I read it I felt like I was IN IT! #Perijeeandmeforever – Mothakin

 I love the book because it really asks you the question ‘do aliens exist.’ Also you really get to know all characters and how they are all very different. Honor

 I loved the book because you never knew what was going to happen. And EVERY day we were left on cliff hangers. My favourite character was Perijee. Charlie T

 I absolutely loved the way that through the book the style type/genre changes like when it’s all adventurewhen they are collecting Perijee whilst he’s shrinking but then a few pages later Caitlin is saying goodbye to Perijee forever. Overall the book was astonishing and I would give it a 10/10  Charlie J

 The part of the story where Perijee returned to the ocean was so upsetting I wondered why you even added it but then I realised that that’s what makes it a great story – Evelyn

 The saddest bit is the ending it was so sad because I now miss Perijee – James

 The book was amazing! My favourite scene was when Perijee put a hole through the door and when Perijee said goodbye to Caitlin. That was so selfish of Perijee! Hehe. But overall it was the best book I’ve read. I would give it 10/10 (Great)! – Alfie

 I really loved the book. It’s full of adventure, humour and excitement. My favourite character is Fi because she’s very exciting and outgoing. I like the promotions of pineapples in the book but unfortunately I’m allergic to pineapple

 Perijee is also really cool because he’s funny and interesting. I’d definitely recommend this book and maybe read it again and again! 10/10 Ellie

 I loved the book it was amazing. I liked all the emotion, the characters and that there is so much we still don’t know. My favourite character was Fi because she is different and mysterious. Lauren

 I loved the book because there’s more than one cliff hanger. I like the fact that it felt kid friendly but also had some naughty words  My favourite characters are Fi and Frank because they came to the rescue at the last minute. 10/10 book. Jack

 The reason why I loved the book all together was because most of the scenes were emotional and made me develop feelings for the book too!  I also loved the bit when Perijee sunk into the water because the scene was emotional. Nayeema

 It was so SAD, why does Perijee have to go. It made me think of the scene at the end of the Titanic where the girl drops the boy into the sea while he is frozen. Louis

 I like that we got to say the words that Miss Liddle wouldn’t normally let us say but they weren’t that bad.

P.S. I LOVE THE BOOK because it’s funny and a sad book. When I was reading it I had mixed emotions. Freya R

 I loved the plot twist about how he lived in the water. Also I loved the characters personalities. But it was so sad at the end I almost cried! Courtney

 Great book, mix between Sci-fi and friendship. Love how you really get Caitlin’s character across. The

dyslexia and innocentness about her and how she is kind of simple. William

 I love the book because of all the detail in it. I also love the characters in it because they’re relatable. Also how sad it is but happy as well. Bradley

 It makes me feel like there’s another planet up there somewhere. I loved the book, my favourite scene was when the monster came in. Fin

 I liked Mother because she was funny at times. Kayleigh

 I really liked the book. Your way of writing is different and great to read. The way you write for kids but there are more important messages and all the unique characters. Caitlin

 My favourite character is Perijee because he was a mysterious little thing. The book is probably the best book in the whole world, better than Roald Dahl. I love how you have used all the similes and how it’s so creative. Brooke

 I loved the book, I like how they adopted Fi and that Frank lives with them and the story is fascinating and I just don’t want to put it down. My favourite character is Fi. – Freya S

 My favourite part of the book would be when Caitlin had to say goodbye to Perijee, it was very emotional and my eyes teared up. I love the similes, they are so detailed. Mia

 I loved how Fi got adopted and the fact that Caitlin drank champagne and felt dizzy and had to lie down! And in the whole book Perijee was very cute! I also like how Frank used some rude language. Amelia

See you at The Dome 6L and Ross!
Team AAA x

Perijee, Pineapples & Planets!

Over the course of the Adopt An Author project classes and their authors get to know each other really well – Ross Montgomery shared some details of an amazing holiday he recently went on to Montenegro:
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WOWEEEEE what a beautiful place! An inspiring place to write too we imagine!
It sounds like 6L have been visiting some pretty cool places too!
Hello Ross,

We think your holiday looks amazing and we enjoyed looking at your photos. Lots of us have been on exciting holidays too including Mexico, France, Wales, Isle of Wight, Birmingham, Cornwall and London.


We’ve some more questions and comments. As you can see, we’re very interested in this new character Fi!……

Where did you get the idea of stealing a van? James
This is an excellent question – I’m not sure if I know myself! In the first draft Caitlin stole a Ferrari and immediately crashed it – I think I decided on an ice cream van because it was the only thing big enough to fit a cow and two girls inside, AND because it’s funny.
 
If you could, would you turn Perijee and Me into a series? William
Without giving TOO much away… I don’t know if I could turn PERIJEE & ME into a series! I’ve never written a series before, and I’m always tempted to revisit characters, but at the moment I think it works best as a stand-alone book. Perhaps you’ll understand when you finish it!
 
If you ever had the chance to put Perijee into another story what would it be? Alfie
I do occasionally end up putting characters from one books into other books – in fact, an early version of Frank was originally in my previous book THE TORNADO CHASERS, as a teacher called Mr Pewlish! In the end I changed the character completely and made the teacher a woman called Mrs Pewlish – but I liked the character of Frank so much I put him in PERIJEE & ME anyway, and I think he works much better there. I’m not sure where I’d put Perijee – I’ve got three more books out in the next year, and unfortunately he’s not in any of them!
 
Does Caitlin like being the character where she tells a lot of lies? Charlie J
What I like so much about Caitlin is that she often doesn’t REALISE how bad she is at lying! She’s too innocent to really understand what lying is, and how you can be good at it. Whenever I wrote her lying, I always thought of a child with chocolate smeared all round their mouth going, “Cake? What cake? I haven’t seen a cake round here anywhere…”
 
How did you think of Fi? Honor
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Fi didn’t turn up as a character until one of the very late drafts! Originally Caitlin found Mother quite quickly, and most of the second half of the book was about their relationship. My publisher told me this was boring – and to be fair, whenever people talk to me about the book everyone mentions Fi and no one ever mentions Mother! It’s a pity, as I really wanted Mother to be a strange, scary and memorable character – I’m not sure I got it quite right…
I realised that in order to make the story more interesting, I had to pair Caitlin up with someone who was the total opposite of her – streetwise, cynical, pessimistic and sharp. Someone who was totally appalled by how naive Caitlin is, but who is eventually won over by her warmth and love for Perijee. 
The character ended up coming to me quite easily – to be honest, I have a few characters in my other book who are quite like Fi! There’s Martha in ALEX, THE DOG & THE UNOPENABLE DOOR, Orlaith in THE TORNADO CHASERS…. there’s even a similar character called Ivy in my book published next year called MAX & THE MILLIONS! I guess I’m a fan of smart, sarcastic and slightly violent girl characters…
 
Why did you choose for Fi to steal a cow? Mothakin and Finlay
I’m so glad this joke went down as well as it did! I wanted the world after Perijee had taken over to be confusing and chaotic – Caitlin often doesn’t understand how the world works anyway, and it would be like dropping the reader right into the deep end as well. I loved the idea of Fi doing something absolutely bizarre and inexplicable as if it was the most normal thing in the world! And cows are pretty darn hilarious. Like pineapples.
 
What happened to Fi’s parents? Was she telling the truth when she said her mother was sick? Lauren
In truth, I haven’t ever decided what happened to Fi’s parents – I always wrote that moment thinking that she was lying about her mother being sick, but now that you mention it I suppose it could have been partly based on something that happened to her. The sad truth is that there are lots of children in the UK who live in very difficult home situations – more than we like to admit. Perhaps, if something as huge and catastrophic as an alien invasion happened, then there would be lots of children like her able to wander the country and steal things without being stopped.
 
Why did you choose the name Wanderly? Caitlin
What a good question! I often wondered this myself – I had to make up a name and it was the first one that came into my head. I think I wanted something that sounded like a town in the middle of the country – quaint, but big enough to have a town hall etc. Perhaps it’s because it has the word “wander” in it – rather than something more exciting or dynamic! Like Explosionville. Or St Nunchucks.
 
Did you have any other ideas of how Caitlin escaped the camp? Caitlin
I did! In fact, until the last draft Caitlin escaped in a different way – we still had her talking about putting her “disguise” on, then walks up to the exit. The guard looks at her… then turns away. Caitlin thinks her disguise is working perfectly, only for the guard to tell her to go back to bed. It turns out Caitlin is wearing a bedsheet over her head – she thinks if she dresses up like a ghost then no one will see her!
My publisher thought it was a bit too silly – after all, Caitlin often makes mistakes and misunderstands things, but she’s not STUPID. I much prefer the final version in the book – if nothing else, it helps remind us of the trouble Caitlin has with dyslexia!
 
Have you heard about a stolen cow before? Caitlin
 
Do you know anyone like Fi e.g. has her personality and attitude? Louis and Courtney
Yes – my girlfriend!! 
She’s probably be hacked off if she found that out – but then, so would Fi.
 
Where were you when your idea for Perijee and me swung into your mind? Mia
I’ve mentioned before that I was walking through a park near the place where I worked, and I saw the businessman lying on the ground – it’s right next to the Museum of Childhood, which is a wonderful museum – next time you’re in East London, make sure you visit!
 
What inspired you to have a 12/13 year old girl as a thief? Freya S
I like the idea of characters who don’t necessarily behave how you’d expect – I particularly like it when those characters are children! It’s one of the joys of writing a book – in real life, if you did what Fi did you’d get in serious trouble… but I love imagining her doing illegal things and getting away with it!
 
Why is her name Fi? Brooke
I realised this only recently! When I first wrote her, I chose the first name that came into my head – Fi just seemed to make sense to me, and I didn’t question why. It was only much later that I realised that when I wrote those new scenes, I had just read an early copy of a book written by my friend Katherine Rundell – THE WOLF WILDER 
(The best part about being an author is you get to read books before they’re published!)
Some of you may have read THE WOLF WILDER – if you haven’t, you should! It’s a wonderful book with an amazing main character – a young girl who lives in the middle of a snowy forest in Russia and teaches tame wolves how to be wild again. And her name is… Feo!
Basically, I completely stole the name and had no idea until much later. Luckily Katherine Rundell didn’t want to beat me up or anything – and she probably could. As well as writing books, she’s a tightrope walker, a pilot, and stuffs animals!
It was now Ross’ turn to set a task for 6L….
What do you think Perijee’s home planet might be like? Do you think there’ll be lots of aliens like him – will he have a family? What would their house be like? What would their cities be like?

Discuss your different ideas – then, as a class, have a go sketching your ideas down. Once again I’d like you to focus on your descriptive writing – if you end up drawing Perijee’s house, label it with really good descriptive words! Think about what a whole city of Perijees might need – roads? Parks? What would alien shops have to sell, and what would they look like?
If you like, you can each do a drawing – however you might prefer to do one big one as a class. I leave it entirely up to you!

We’ve picked a few of our favourite other-worldly landscapes to share – Perijee’s home looks pretty lovely – another exotic holiday destination to add to the list!
Bye for now!
Team AAA x

6L’s Superb Storyboarding

We’ve caught up with the wonderful work that 6L have been producing for their adoptive author Ross Montgomery! A few weeks ago he explained the importance of planning each chapter of your book and asked the class to create some storyboards…
You’ve each designed an alien and started describing it. Eventually you’ll be putting your alien in a short bit of writing – but for now, we’re going to plan it. Planning is essential if you want to be a writer – often it helps you realise that the idea in your head won’t work as you thought! I normally plan my story out by typing out what happens in each chapter, but seeing as you’re all such excellent artists you’re going to be making a storyboard instead.
  1. Start by diving your sheet of paper up into 9 boxes – three lines of three. You could always do more/less, but 9 is a good place to start! If Miss Liddle prefers, she could give you a printed sheet with 9 panels on it already.
  2. Your story is going to be about a child who finds an alien near where they live. It could be they find it in their house, or on the way home from school, or when they go exploring in a forest. The choice is yours!
  3. In the first three panels, set up your story – why is your character doing before they stumble upon their alien? Add bits of dialogue if you want, but this is a storyboard so it doesn’t need much.
  4. In the next three panels, your character is going to discover their alien. This will be an important part of your story, so make sure it’s a surprising or magical moment! How would your character react – terrified? Entranced? Delighted? Disgusted? Remember the alien you designed – if they’re scary then your character will probably be petrified!
  5. In the last three panels, you’re going to show what happens next – we don’t have to finish the storythough! Does you main character become friends with the alien and try to hide him/her? Does the alien ask your main character for help? Is your story a horror story and the alien chases your main character away? The choice is yours – but remember, this is only the beginning of a longer story. It could always be a single chapter later on!

It’s safe to say 6L created some amazing storyboards, I think there’s a few budding graphic novelists in our midst! We’ve picked a few of our favourites…

Dear 6L,

Thank you so much for sending on your storyboards! I loved looking through these – there’s was such a variety of different ideas and story directions. I’m also busy writing at the moment – I’ve been given two books back by my publishers (TWO!) and need to have them completely finished by Wednesday, so I’m working like a maniac. Perhaps I might even be able to read some of them to you when I see you!
  • Amelia: I LOVED the Amazon joke in this! Properly made me laugh. Can’t wait to read more of your funny story!
  • Caitlin: I can tell you’re a fan of comic books – your drawings are lovely and you’ve chosen to “frame” each scene really well.
  • Ellie: …And the same goes for Ellie! This looked exactly like a real comic to me instead of just a storyboard. I’m intrigued by your mysterious alien!
  • Freya: This alien is adorable! I love how you set the scene with snow outside as well – this will work really nicely when you write your story.
  • Jack: What a story! It’s got a sad beginning and tons of destruction – just my kind of thing! However I DO want to find out more – about how Kia sadly dies, and how Peritron is killed – make sure you leave room for those details!
  • Lauren: I’m fascinated by your strange and wonderful alien! I also love how many different languages you know as a class – my girlfriend is currently learning Greek so we have lots of post-it notes with Greek words stuck up all over the flat, so it was lovely to see them used here…
  • William: …and then I see a story filled with kanjis too! You may well find this becomes useful for the last chapter of PERIJEE & ME (I’m also intrigued by frame 7 of your story – what’ stopping him going back in the house?!
For your next task, we’re going to combine the two different bits of work you’ve done so far – the descriptions of your aliens and your storyboard.

 

Oooooh we’re intrigued for the next challenge – can’t wait to see them! Until next time Ross & 6L!

Team AAA x

 

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:
Image result for pineapple tree
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:
Image result for charles II pineapple

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

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!

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…
RM
How exciting for them!

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

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

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

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

Ross seemed impressed by this initiative and responded:

Hello Year 6s,

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

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

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

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

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

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

His eyes were as dark as coal.

You could say ‘His eyes glimmered like coal’

OR

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

OR

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

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

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