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Adopt An Author 2020 – update

Dear All,

As you might have guessed, like so many other projects Adopt An Author has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sadly, with schools closing everyone has had to cut short their involvement in the project. Most schools were only able to fit in a couple of emails with their authors.

Obviously we’re all incredibly disappointed. But the correspondence between schools and authors so far has been amazing – from Carden’s spectacular drawings based on Brightstorm, to BHASVIC’s deeply thoughtful questions for Bethan Roberts.

A massive thank you, from everyone at AAA, to all the students, authors and teachers. And we hope the students have been inspired to keep reading the books.

There’s still some amazing content from the project that we haven’t posted yet, so watch out for that in the next couple of weeks!

Till then, thank you for following us, and stay safe.

– Team AAA

Questions and diary entries for Ross!

The pupils at Peter Gladwin had some thoughtful questions for Ross. Here they are with his responses!

Hi Ross, 

We have been wondering about the monster and Caitlin this week and have some more questions for you:

Is the monster coming out of Perijee or is Perijee sinking into the monster? (Joshua and co)

WHAT A GOOD QUESTION. The only answer I can offer is… you’ll have to keep reading!!! I’d love to know what you all think yourselves!

Does Caitlin have dyslexia and if so why? (Matthew, Evie and co)

The answer is yes – very well spotted! Caitlin does have dyslexia, but its never mentioned outright in the book and she doesn’t realise it herself. I worked as a primary school teacher for seven years, and I worked with lots of children who had a dyslexia diagnosis. As many of you will know, all it means is that you struggle more with reading and writing and need some tools to help you do it – it doesn’t mean you’re less intelligent than anyone else. However, I met lots of parents who didn’t want their clearly dyslexic children to have a diagnosis as they believed it would make their lives harder – but in my experience, it just meant that those children still struggled and believed it was because they were stupid! It was heartbreaking to see. I liked the idea that for Caitlin, letters and numbers are like an alien language – just like Perijee trying to understand the world around him! 

I loved your diary extracts, by the way! What a great idea for an activity – I love the idea of Caitlin keeping a diary. I particularly liked the line, “Last night was the worst night the history of nights” – that’s exactly the sort of thing she’d say, I think!

Check out those diary entries below:

I loved your diary extracts, by the way! What a great idea for an activity – I love the idea of Caitlin keeping a diary. I particularly liked the line, “Last night was the worst night in the history of nights” – that’s exactly the sort of thing she’d say, I think!

Thanks again for your questions – I hope you have a lovely week!

Best wishes,

Ross

Do you remember the time?

Bethan set the BHASVIC students a really thought-provoking creative writing exercise:

I have a writing task for this week’s session, which is inspired by Arthur’s question about creating characters.  For My Policeman, I used the story of the novelist E.M. Forster’s love affair with a policeman called Bob Buckingham, who was married to a nurse named May. Forster and Bob had a long love affair, and no one really knows how much May knew about this, but we do know that it was May who nursed Forster when he had a stroke late in life. She was by his bedside, holding his hand, as he died.

This story gave me the kernel — the starting point — of the novel, and of the characters of Patrick and Marion.

The task is called Do You Remember the Time? and I hope it will allow you to remember an event from your past, but through the eyes of someone else.

For the task, I want you to think of a real person you know. It might be a member of your family, or it might be a friend or an acquaintance. Make a few notes about them. How do they look? How do they speak? How do they walk? What’s it like to live in their body? What are their secret hopes and desires? Perhaps spend 10 minutes on this. 

Now I want you to write a letter or an email from this person to you. Begin it with the words Do you remember the timeIn the letter, they will describe a memory of something the two of you did together, or an event the two of you witnessed. Perhaps, for example, a primary school teacher is writing to you about the time you answered them back. Or an aunty is writing to you about a family Christmas meal. Or a friend is writing to you about the time they stole your trainers.

Don’t worry about writing in full sentences, or about polishing anything at the moment. All of that can come later. Just write. Follow your pen. If you find yourself making things up, or going off at a complete tangent, so much the better.

If you find that you have written something interesting, you can work on it at home, later. For now, just allow your imagination to take you somewhere. Put some words down and see what happens.

Good luck!

Bethan

Here’s one of the amazing responses, with Bethan’s feedback.

Ruby’s story

Ruby’s message to Bethan

Hi Bethan,
I really loved reading your book, to the extent that I put off two pieces of homework to  finish it. I particularly loved your characterisation and the quirks that separated the individuals, like Patrick’s trochaic heart. I have been trying to work on my own characterisation recently, but feel like I’ve hit a few walls. I have an old friend, an elderly woman I used to work with, who I have based characters off in the past. Today, I tried the exercise you set us of writing a letter from the perspective of someone from our pasts. I chose my old friend, and I think I was able to find my focus and detail in my character/interpretation  of her personality, but I’m still unsure of how it’s working. I have attached my piece and would love your feedback on it.
Thank you.
Ruby

Ruby’s creative writing piece: Letter from Linda

Dear Ruby 

Do you remember when we first met Victor? He was that French one, that I’m sure had never read a book in his life.  I’m sure you remember.  He came in half an hour late, and practically demanded to speak to management.  You really put him in his place, John and I were trying not to laugh as your maturity made him look like a toddler.  Speaking of toddlers, do you remember how he refused to help me with the children’s books.  Instead he spent about twenty minutes stacking travel guides, and pricing them at £5.00 a pop.  He probably never learnt the value of British money.  Of course he spent the majority of his shift on that balcony, puffing out enough smoke to pollute the whole of Brighton.  And do you remember when he went on his lunch break?  Taking an hour out of a four hour shift – how terribly rude.  I told him that, didn’t I, when he came back.  He was such a rude boy.  I’m glad Ollie sacked him.  Do you remember that?  It was that day we were under-staffed, and I had a bad back.  I remember, because you had to handle the children’s books.  I wouldn’t have been able to trek up and down those stairs all day.  And of course he never showed up, so it was even more difficult in the shop.  I remember you tried to call Ollie but he was on holiday again, so you left him a note.  Well, John told me that Mary had a talk with Ollie about this Victor, and they decided to let him go.  I won’t say it was a shame because it wasn’t.  He was an assistant at a bookshop, and he didn’t like books, and he didn’t assist. 

I hope to hear from you again soon and we can catch up on all.  

From Linda.

Bethan’s feedback

Hi Ruby,

Many thanks for sending your piece, and for your kind comments about My Policeman. I’m really pleased that you found the exercise worth doing, and that you’re thinking so deeply about characterisation.

I think you’ve got the start of something promising here. Linda’s is an interesting voice and I started to get a real feel for her character from this. She’s very judgmental (‘he was that French one’), and I’m getting a sense of her as someone who is a bit stuck up and rude herself  — but also amusing and rather intelligent (‘your maturity made him look like a toddler’). I like the way you’ve carefully selected your language to underline Linda’s slight snobbishness and her humour (‘enough smoke to pollute the whole of Brighton’). All this suggests to me that she is a very unreliable narrator, perhaps with her own secrets to hide, which is great…The specific detail is good, too (‘pricing them at £5 a pop’), because it makes the scene begin to seem real. I like, too, the situation of Victor coming to the bookshop — he’s a ’stranger coming to town’ (one of the classic beginnings of a story!). 

I suppose that, if you’d like to push it further, I would encourage you to think about a couple of things. One would be how you could begin to turn this into a scene. Could you imagine the scene of Victor arriving at the bookshop, complete with descriptions of the place (is it an old shop? a new one in a train station? is it busy? what does it smell like?), the time (morning? lunchtime?), the sense-based details that make up Linda’s vision of the shop (what does she notice about the window display that day? about the sounds coming from upstairs, or outside?) and the people around her (what does she notice about Victor’s appearance? his voice? his way of standing?). Could you add some dialogue (perhaps Ruby’s putting him in his place might be a place to start?). 

I like the conflict you’re suggesting between Linda and Victor, and between Ruby and Victor. Conflict is essential to all stories, because only trouble is interesting! Could you push this further, and perhaps suggest more about Ruby’s relationship with Victor and Linda?

All best wishes, and good luck with your writing,

Bethan

We’ll post another student’s response to the creative writing exercise soon!

Perijee and Peter Gladwin Primary

Peter Gladwin Primary school did some great work with Perijee’s transformation scene! (Warning – spoilers for Perijee and Me ahead!)

Hi Ross,  

We have had a great week reading the story. We all gasped when the army was brought in! We suspect it was mum but we’ll see next week. 

Looking at the description of Perijee shape-shifting into Caitlin, we drew cartoon strips using sentences from the story. Here are a few of them. 

Best wishes, 

Year 4 

Check out the pupils’ amazing cartoons below!

And here’s Ross’s response:

I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the surprise turn in the story!! I was particularly pleased with the pancakes –> army moment myself – in fact, it was one of the first ideas I had when I came up with the story in my head! The chapter where Caitlin shows Perijee to Mum and Dad is very precious to me, too – like Caitlin, my parents got divorced when I was a kid, and when I wrote that scene I was thinking a lot about the memories I had of the day they told me. Authors always mine their lives for ideas! Hope you enjoy what happens next, the story is set to become weirder and weirder from here on out… 

We can’t wait to see what happens next!

Vashti’s Mission for Carden Primary!

Last week Vashti Hardy sent Carden students her Mission Pack – it’s super-detailed and full of amazing resources and activities.  Here’s her opening greeting:

How are you all? I’m so excited that you have adopted me as your author! I’m also very happy to hear that you have joined the crew and are reading Brightstorm.

I hope you are all enjoying the adventure so far. I have a mission for you all to take part in over the coming weeks…

Your Adopt an Author Mission will be to create a new place for the Brightstorms and the crew to explore and begin creating your own adventure book! Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm live in a place called the Great Wide and there are lots of places still to explore and discover.

Your imagination is your superpower. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Best wishes – invent the incredible and dream BIG!

The first part of the mission:

Decide on a quest and research possible dangers that your characters could get into.

The students’ responses were amazing – check out some examples with Vashti’s comments!


The blue koala and magical forest sound enchanting. I wonder how they will get past the glittery dragon trying to blind them?!
You’ve chosen three great natural disasters which will be exciting for the adventure – well done! I wonder if there will be any interesting creatures along the way and what the goal might be?
I love the addition of zombies to the world! Are they scary (or friendly?) and I wonder where they live? Exciting and lots of danger!

And here’s Vashti’s message to the class about Part 1 of the mission:

I was so excited to see what you all got up to on your first mission! You’ve all had some amazing ideas which will make for some hugely thrilling adventure quests: dragons, natural hazards, fearsome baddies… you’ve got all the right ingredients! There are some great ‘ticking bombs’ in the ideas too – this is when the characters must complete the task before disaster strikes or before someone else gets their first. You may like to think about if you could include that in your story adventure if you haven’t.

This is such a brilliant start to creating your story worlds. Well done all of you! You’ve all got fabulous imaginations.

I can’t wait to see what you do next. Onwards to Mission 2!

We can’t wait to see what Mission 2 brings either!  Until next time…

AAA team x

BHASVIC Week 1!

Sixth form students at BHASVIC sent their first questions to Bethan Roberts this week!  Students asked about the character relationships and wider social issues in the book, and Bethan took the time to answer them individually.  The questions were really thoughtful and the answers offered a lot of insight.  Check them out!


I really enjoyed My Policeman and I got through it really quickly. I wanted to ask a few question about the story. Why does Marion bring Patrick to live with her and Tom and why won’t Tom speak to him? Also I was wondering if you’re supposed to sympathise with Tom at the end because he comes across so cold and emotionless but then I want to feel bad for him as well? Also when Patrick goes to prison how does that come about, is it actually Marion’s fault because she sent that letter or was it just coincidence?

Many thanks for your questions and comments about My Policeman. I’m so glad you enjoyed the novel.

I’ll tackle the question of why Marion brings Patrick to live with her first. I suppose my immediate response is to ask you the same question in return (sorry!) — why do you think she does this? And why do you think Tom won’t speak to Patrick? I’m interested because I think everyone will have a different response to a story, and I’m always fascinated to hear what readers take from a book.

In terms of my own intentions, I guess I wanted to suggest that Marion brings Patrick into her house for a few reasons, some of which she’s probably not even aware of (I don’t think any of us know precisely what our own motivations are at all times). One is to punish him. She’s harboured this grudge for many years and there’s a part of her that is tempted to punish Patrick even more. But another is to try to atone for her sins. She knows she’s done a very bad thing, and she wants to put things right. Another reason for bringing Patrick into her home might be her desire to push her relationship with Tom towards some sort of change or conclusion — their marriage has been stalled and stale for years, and I think she’s longing for things to move on in some way.

I think Tom doesn’t speak to Patrick because he’s afraid. He’s afraid of his love for him, primarily, but he’s also afraid of his own guilt — he was a free man, after all, while Patrick served his time in prison. He’s also angry with Patrick for causing (as he sees it) all these complications in his life! I’m glad that you felt bad for Tom. I feel bad for him, too. I think he’s trying his best. It’s just that — like so many of us — he falls short.

As for the letter… Well, I wanted to suggest that Marion’s letter did indeed have an effect, but that she is not entirely responsible for Patrick’s prison sentence. I imagined that Houghton may have tipped off the police about Patrick, having received Marion’s letter, but that they may have been investigating the boy from the Argyle anyway.

I found My Policeman to be a really engaging novel. I was especially interested by how you took the modern, open city of Brighton, which is so accepting to gay relationships nowadays, and took it back into the 50s, which was contrastingly such an oppressive time for people of the LGBT+ community. It allowed me to truly realise how far we’ve come as a society, but also how much further we have to go, because despite this city being so accepting, not everyone is, and that can especially be said on a national level. Also, I have some questions about writing in general. Since when have you wanted to be an author? And what inspires your writing? Do you base characters around people you have known? Or events around things that have happened to you or others?

Thanks so much for your comments about My Policeman. I’m so glad that the book made you think about changing attitudes of the majority towards the LGBT+ community in Brighton and beyond.

To answer your questions in order:

I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. But I’m from a working class family and I grew up on a (very nice) council estate, so it wasn’t the sort of thing you admitted to. For a while I pretended I wanted to be an air hostess, because that was what other girls said they wanted to be. And then, later, I thought I might be a teacher or a librarian, because those two professions seemed less pretentious. I went to university to study English and afterwards I worked in TV production for a bit. Eventually, when I was in my late 20s, I admitted that I really wanted to be a writer, and I took an MA Creative Writing at Chichester University. The course gave me the confidence to take my work seriously.

I think anything at all can inspire writing. It’s really just a case of allowing yourself to be open to ideas and to language, and of getting in the habit of writing things down. I do tend to like starting with real lives, real events — often not things that have happened to me but things that chime with me emotionally. My Policeman started with the story of the novelist E.M. Forster, who for years had a lover who was a married policeman (see above). I took that as a starting point and I made my own story from it. A lot of details in the novel came from a wonderful book called Daring Hearts, which is a collection of memories of the lesbian and gay community in Brighton during the 1950s and 60s. I’d recommend looking it up.

Characters are most often a mash up of people I’ve known or have encountered, people I’ve read about, other fictional characters, and — of course — myself. I find writing about these people so much fun, because it allows me to put on masks, to take on new voices, like an actor. They’re all me, of course, but they’re also not me.

Thank you so much Bethan and BHASVIC – more from you next week!

Lorraine Gregory and the Carden Plot

To send their Adopt-an-Author project off with a bang, Year Six and Lorraine finally got to meet at a special event. First up, a wonderful speech from Lorraine!

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Lorraine’s talk was all about smell! The main character in  “Mold & the Poison Plot” has an incredibly acute sense of smell, and Lorraine had loads of fun with Carden Primary inviting them to take part in blind smell games!

Most popular was the Boys v Girls event… as you can see from these photos, they were all taking it very seriously!

After a lovely picnic, some book signings, and a very impressive number of questions for Lorraine, the party was almost over. Carden surprised Lorraine with a beautiful album, containing some of their brilliant work. Not so much a dastardly plot…but definitely a very lovely Carden Plot.

We’ve so loved reading your work over the past eight weeks!

We’ll leave you with this fantastic team photo of Lorraine & her creative Carden classes:

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Team AAA xx

Jaguars meet Jennifer

At the end of their Adopt An Author project, Jaguar class got to meet their author Jennifer Killick at a very special party.

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It was such a lovely morning- the class were in thrall to Jennifer as she read aloud from her book. She also brought in a few special items to show them- items that help inspire her or remind her of some of her characters! Do you recognise the goldfish from Alex Sparrow?! A few lucky students even got to try on a very familiar hat!

 

 

She also told them all about her new book- which hasn’t even been announced yet. We think Jaguar class can keep a secret though!

As the children enjoyed a picnic, Jennifer went around and met each pupil, and signed their copies of “Alex Sparrow”.

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And as a very perfect end to the party, some of the class read their work aloud. As you can tell from this photo, Jennifer was very impressed!

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It was lovely that their Adopt An Author project ended with the children becoming writers themselves.

Thank you for joining us, Brunswick Primary!

Team AAA xx

The Meet Up

Year Nine at Cardinal Newman finally got to meet their adopted author Patrice Lawrence! From their letters, it was obvious there was increasing excitement about their planned meeting as the weeks went by. Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 13.29.24

The party was no disappointment. The class and Patrice started things off with an impressive amount of takeaway pizza, and then Patrice gave a talk about how and why she became a writer.

It was so fascinating to hear all about her roots, and about how she felt when she was the same age as her Adopters. A particularly highlight was when Patrice read from her teenage diary!

Patrice also signed all Year Nine’s copies of “Orange Boy”.

At the end of the afternoon, Year Nine presented Patrice with a card to say thank you for all her wonderful letters:

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We’ve loved reading all of your letters too. Thank you for being a part of Adopt an Author 2019, CNCS!

Team AAA xx

Party Animals!

To celebrate the end of their Adopt-An-Author project, Gecko class had a party with Alex Milway!

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The party was a great success. Some of the class came dressed up as Harold or Pigsticks, and two boys even made their own super fan t-shirts!

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Alex did a reading from his book, some brilliant speedy illustrations of the characters, and even showed one of his animations to the class! Afterwards, the Geckos gobbled down an impressive number of brioches from the buffet, whilst Alex signed books and got the chance to speak to each of the pupils individually. The class also brought in some of their work from the last eight weeks; Alex seemed very impressed!

 

The party ended with a most FABULOUS FLAMINGO DANCE! Some lucky volunteers got to try on these rather amazing wings and show off some dance moves, and the whole class sang along. What a brilliant ending for Benfield Primary’s Adopt-An-Author project!

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Team AAA xx