Category Archives: st luke’s

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

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Rock & Ryhmes

Over to St Luke’s Adopted Author Ali Sparkes who’s set a rad rhyming challenge….

Hello again, 5P!

I know you’re all reading Dark Summer so I wonder if you can guess what kind of rock this is…

To give you a clue, I found this at the top end of a pot hole in the Mendip Hills in Somerset while I was there researching for Dark Summer. I got to meet the people who run the Wookey Hole Caves tours – and they showed me the places where tourists don’t usually get to go including an amazing miniature cave, filled with tiny stalactites and stalagmites and frozen rivers of rock. It was beautiful but you could only reach it up a ladder, with a torch, which is why the public don’t normally go there. While I was there the cave manager agreed to turn off the torch so I could experience the ultimate DARKNESS. It was quite something. It was so utterly dark it felt like someone had pushed black velvet against my eyeballs.

I also got to meet a cave diver and rescue guy (the one called Dan who is in the story is based on Dany, who helped me with my research). He told me exactly how cave rescues work and little details like the warm oyxgen canisters they use to revive injured cavers, which they call Little Dragons.

Anyway, you’ll know by now that one of the things Eddie loves is messing around with words. You’ll have noticed that I messed around with the words to the song I WILL SURVIVE. I hope you all know it and can hear the music in your head as Eddie’s singing ‘…and then I spent so many nights remembering you look like King Kong and I grew strong… ‘cos girls with that much hair are wrong…’

Changing the lyrics to songs is a really good way of learning about rhyming and rhythm. Many people can rhyme words but not so many people can get then to scan correctly. This means the rhythm is right and when you read it out loud it really works. You should always read a rhyming poem you’ve written out loud to check the rhythm is right. An author who is really good at this is Dr Seuss who wrote The Cat In the Hat and many other rhyming stories.

Can you rhyme and scan? Give it a go. Think of a really well known song and then mess around with the lyrics. I’ll give you a theme to make it easier – how about FRUIT AND VEG! Anything to do with fruit and veg will be great. So if you rewrote Happy Birthday it might go like this:

I need spuds for my stew

And a big turnip too

And tomatoes

And potatoes

And a small slice of you

(Written by a polite cannibal.)

If you sing this now, you’ll find all the words fit the rhythm exactly. So – have a go. Use any song you like (but which most people will know, so they can hear the tune in their heads) and work fruit and veg into it somehow. Practise it out loud and see how you do!

Good luck, 5P.

PS. This line of warning, which I wrote this morning, will cease to rhyme, in two seconds time, when I randomly tail off without any further effort…

PPS. The rock in the picture is limestone with a bit of quartz and iron oxide on the top.

Never ones to shy away from such a challenge 5P accepted the task with gusto and created some first-rate rhymes!

Wow! A banana called Ana, a trip to Ghana, a nana called Hannah Montana from Louisiana! Scary peas, shoes stolen by emu’s, falling in love with carrot soup – 5P your rhyming is fantastic but also EXTREMELY FUNNY!!!

That was 5P’s last challenge – next stop THE DOME!!!!! Until then….

Team AAA x

5P’S EXCELLENT EDITS!

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

That’s a quote from the brilliant children’s author Dr Seuss (above) as this week we’re sharing 5P’s EXCELLENT EDITS!

Before the Easter break Ali emailed her adoptees with updates on her super soup making! STOP Ali, you’re making us all hungry and we’ve still got another hour till lunch!

This week I am running, walking, making soup…

This is the soup I made on Sunday. Cauliflower, potato & cheese.

Loooooovely, if I do say so myself. I’m making lots of soup this week.

I don’t know why. I just AM, OK?!

…and redrafting. Or editing. This basically means I am going all the way through a story I wrote earlier and rewriting bits of it, adding extra bits, taking some bits away entirely. It tales a lot of concentration and in many ways is harder work than writing a whole story for the first time. On the upside, I’ve just engulfed one of my main characters in a swarm of bees. (Yeah. I’m like that.) I didn’t have that bit in the first draft.

Editing is a really important part of being a good writer. It’s tempting to think that the first thing you’ve written is brilliant and could NEVER be improved. But you always can improve your first draft. So this week I’m not asking you to write anything. I’m just asking you to IMPROVE something. I’ve attached your task. It’s some writing which is… a bit iffy. There are all kinds of problems with it. See if you can find them and improve them. You can rewrite bits if you like, adding stuff or changing words to make it more exciting –  or just to make it make sense. You can do this as a class or in groups, in pairs or on your own – I’ll let Paul decide.

Good luck, 5P!

Ali

PS. This message will self destruct in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – RUUUUUUUUUUN!!!

Here’s the original text – and let’s see what 5P made of it….

What’s wrong with this story? Can you improve it?

Bella woke up in the moonlite and heard strange sounds coming from outside thw window, oh no, she thought, who could that be? She creeped downstares and opened the front door but there was only a shadow in the distance which scared her even more because it was making a mowning sound like a creature.

Suddenly it sprang out of the trees with a scream and Bella was scared to deth. She went and got a stick from the cupboard and threw it at the monster which was running towards the dore.

But as soon as she saw the monster she was gobsmacked because she knew it wasn’t a monster. It was something else.

 

We AND Ali were super impressed….

Well done on your editing before you went off on hols. From the samples I’ve seen it looks like you all picked up the obvious errors and also added some really nice – much better – descriptive words and phrases. And well done Kalina and Matt for getting rid of that ghastly word ‘gobsmacked’ and replacing it with something better. I put it in there because it’s an example of a cliché… the kind of thing which gets said a lot for a while and is a bit of a trend and quite annoying. If I smacked someone in the gob every time they said ‘gobsmacked’ I’d be a champion prize-fighter by now. And in prison, obviously.

Listen out for clichés in the news. The one you’ll hear all the time at the moment is ‘going forward’. It really doesn’t mean anything. Politicians say it a lot. They tend to use a lot of clichés. They’re always saying ‘let me be clear’ and ‘hardworking British people’.

Try to avoid clichés – like ‘scared to death‘ and ‘over the moon‘ and so on. Everyone knows what you mean but they get so boring and predictable. Words are for playing with. You can create your own clichés if you fancy it. Try it out for fun. Instead of ‘sick as a parrot‘ you could say ‘bilious as a bullfrog‘. Instead of ‘over the moon‘ you could say ‘orbiting Jupiter‘.  My favourite made up one is in the Shapeshifter series – ‘mad as a jar of gerbils‘.

A bilious bulfrog, yesterday.

Make a list of boring clichés and then come up with some 5P replacements! And start using them around school. After a while everybody else will start to know who’s from 5P without even looking at them.

OK – the MAIN challenge now. At the end of last term I sent you a small book called A SUDDEN DROP. We’ll be using this….

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BUT…I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait until next week to find out what 5P’s next challenge was….

5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – RUUUUUUUUUUN!!!

Team AAA x

 

Satellite of love…

Ali got in touch with 5P this week and shared what she’s been up to on her travels in the North of England – inspired by a HUGE radio telescope she set them a fantastic task…..

Dear 5P

I’ve been up north. On my journey I went first to Crewe in Cheshire and then drove across the Peak District to North Yorkshire on Monday afternoon, when the sun was shining and the spring landscape was rather gorgeous. The views of the hills and valleys took my breath away! Then I drove past Jodrell Bank where one of the UK’s biggest radio telescopes is sited and saw this…

My jaw just dropped! The dish is HUGE, weird and kind of beautiful. I really wished I had time to stop and go to the visitor centre. I LOVE this kind of stuff. If any of you have read Destination Earth, you’ll know I have a streak of Sci-Fi geek running through me. I’ve visited the Goonhillie site in Cornwall twice now; they take you around on a bus tour to look at all their giant dishes close up – but most of them aren’t in use any more. This one, at Jodrell Bank, very much IS. In fact some of you may have been watching Stargazing Live on the BBC this week and there’s a good chance that’s where it’s all happening (I haven’t had time to check yet but it usually is).

So, this week, inspired by the huge satellite dish at Jodrell Bank, how about this..?  You’re on a school trip and just as the visitor centre is closing, you’re suddenly alone. Paul was too excited by the alien plushies in the gift shop and hurried away with the rest of 5P, leaving you behind while you tied your shoelaces. You should be going after them but, as the stars begin to glow overhead, you find yourself magnetically drawn to the huge satellite dish. It’s making an odd noise… whaaaaaat?

Over to you!

5P had some great fun with the Joderell Bank adventure – we’ve picked our favourite to share, we particularly love Johnny’s story and felt gutted on discovering the Bonbons were GONE! Ali thought it was brilliant too…

Johnny – you are a young man after my own heart. I too love bonbons. Especially lemon – although I’d be willing to try blueberry. I would also be horrifed to find the bonbons in the gift shop were all gone. Maybe some alien life force needs them to build a sticky, chewy death star…

Peace out Earthlings… until next time 5P…

Team AAA x

Thunderbolts & Lightening very very…spooky…

Ali got in touch with 5p this week to share her thoughts on their “seriously bonkers” work! Let’s read her email below…

Dear Class 5P

Well, what can I say? I was concerned about you all last week, and this week I KNOW you’re all seriously bonkers! What IS Paul feeding you? Several million miniature winged goats? (Thanks for that, Zain.)

Your Fill In Fun stories have left me breathless, whimpering and occasionally licking the walls for comfort. A trickle of jam and dread just went down my spine, Henry. I’ve just realised I’m going to have to MEET YOU all in MAY! AAAAAAAAAAARGH!

Have to admit, I’m loving your mad ideas, from chicken onesies to zig-zaggy hair, to soggy iPhones to naked luck.

It’s made me stop and laugh after a busy day launching Thunderstruck – my brand new book. I launched it wearing my special lightning waistcoat:

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And my special lightning earrings and pendant:

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In Thunderstruck, Alisha and Theo get struck by lightning and afterwards they can see ghosts. Happily Dougie and Lizzie, who were killed by lightning in the same place in 1976, are quite fun and groovy as ghosts go.

Imagine you met a ghost and got chatting. How would your ghost speak? This week I’d like you to work in groups to come up with some ghost chat. Imagine you’re having a conversation with a ghost from:

  • 1666 (the year of the great Fire of London)    or
  • 1917  (during World War One)    or
  • 1966  (the swinging sixties)    or
  • Medieval England (the time of the legends of King Arthur)

Ask your ghost about their life… and how they died. Just get chatting – and see if you can make them speak correctly for their time, using the right kind of language.  Write down your conversation. You can describe how your ghost looks, too.

Good luck, 5P…

Ali

Here are some brilliant examples ghostly interviews – we especially like the idea of a TV show called ‘Catching up with the Dead‘ and think Saturday night TV is missing a trick!

Well done 5p – we’re looking forward to your next bonkers instalment!!!

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!