Thursday, 13 March 2014

Book Week at Pathways Academy, Sheffield

See what one Sheffield school has been up to for this year's Book Week.  Pathways Academy has actually had TWO weeks focusing on books, and using them to inspire learning across the whole curriculum.  They have published these brilliant class blogs, so click on the links below and go and have a look.  You might even see me!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Where WILL that rat go next?

Meet Liam.

He's a Year 2 pupil in a Sheffield school I visited recently.  After listening to Catch That Rat, Liam and his classmates thought about what might happen if Pinky the rat kept on running.  Where would she end up? 

Liam's teacher was so impressed with his work that she searched the school to find me!  He has written some FABULOUS descriptions that conjour up a wonderful picture of a little white rat enjoying the seaside.  Here are some of Liam's words:

She ran to the beach with hot sand and the salty sea.
The rat sees the tingling rock pool, the dangerous waves and hard rock. She heres the waves smashing the sand in rage and cheering and squeeling people. 

Well done Liam and all the Year 2s!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A Book Sniffing Pug Reviews Foxy Tales - The Cunning Plan

With her stubby little paws, The Book Sniffer, aka Emma O'Donovan, reviews the best picture books the world has to offer.  It's a FANTABULOUS book blog so you absolutely MUST go and have a look right now.

And while you're there, see what she has to say about Foxy Tales - The Cunning Plan.

Check it out now!

Foxy Blogging for Library Mice

Want to know a bit more about Foxy Tales?  
Of course you do!

I wrote a little blogette for Library Mice which has just been published.  Library Mice is THE most wonderful book blog run by Melanie McGilloway.  During the day she's a school librarian, but during the evening she is even busier running a children's book group,  wrinting gazillions of book reviews and helping to organise the Red House Children's Book Awards on behalf of the Federation of Children's Book Groups.  She is also a mum and wife and tireless children's book enthusiast. So if you love children's books, check out Library Mice!

You can read my guest blog here

Read her review of Foxy Tales, The Cunning Plan here - and get a peek inside the book too!

Nettleham School Book Week

Last year, I spent around 20 days in schools, working with children aged 3 to 10.  The feedback I get from teachers, parents and children always gives me a boost. 

This time of year is the busiest for school visits - many schools run a Book Week in March or April in celebration of World Book Day, with children dressing up and generally spending lots of happy hours doing all manner of activities designed to get them super-excited about reading and writing.

So yesterday, I was in Nettleham Infant School in Lincolnshire, and happened to glance over a teacher's shoulder in the staff room.  She was putting the finishing touches to a comic the children had made all about my visit!   I was so impressed I simply had to show you.  So here it is!

If you would like me to visit your school, please do get in touch.  You can contact me here

Nettleham School used an iPad app called Comic Life to create this wonderful record of their day.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Imagine Festival 2014

As part of this year's World Book Day celebrations, Alex T. Smith and I did an event on 22 February at the Imagine Children's Festival at the South Bank Centre.  

As you may know, Alex was selected as this year's World Book Day official illustrator, which means he's been in HUUUUGE demand!  And rightly so.  His work is amazing and I'm still pinching myself that I am lucky enough to be working with him. 

Image by Charlotte Hacking
So we spent some time with a group of very enthusiastic children in a rather large and echoy room as part of the celebrations.  Alex told them all about his cheeky dogs and drew them, then taught everyone how to draw Claude, star of the hugely successful young fiction series.

We then did a bit of a double-act talking about Foxy Tales.  Alex drew Foxy and Alphonso while I read a some bits of the story.  I *think* the children enjoyed themselves.  I certainly did!

With huge thanks to the Southbank Centre for having us, and to Hodder Children's Books for putting us up in such style!

Books are for Everyone!

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Carmen and Kerry Haselup at the Inclusion event at the South Bank's Imagine Children's Festival.  Carmen runs the Rhino Reads book blog, which celebrates the best in children's picture books. She has also set up four free libraries in needy schools under the Rainbow Libraries scheme.

Carmen and Kerry are champions for inclusiveness in children's literature.  This means that they campaign for books to represent children from all sectors of society.  It is something that I have become increasingly aware of as my own books have been published. 

A couple of years ago, when I was working on Plunge into the Pirate Pool, I realised that all our characters were white, and that many of them were male.  It reminded me of when I was a child, when all the characters I admired were male.  All my cuddly toys were male.  I was a tom-boy.  I genuinely believed that boys were better than girls!  It seems ridiculous to say it, but it's true! 

So when I looked again at my own books, something just didn't feel right. So I made a point of asking Ed Eaves, illustrator of the Albie series, to include a female pirate amongst the crew.  We also made sure our characters had a variety of skin colours.  It was not a big thing.  Just our way of being a bit, well, fairer, somehow.

Well it turns out that, actually, it IS a big thing.  And in her recent blog, Carmen explains why.

Read what she has to say here:

Inclusion in How to Catch a Dragon