Posts Tagged ‘school visit’

Daisy bouquets and spontaneous applause

May 14, 2016 1 comment

This week I visited Davidson’s Mains Primary for some author sessions with the P4s and P5s.  I’ve done quite a few school visits over the years, but this week two things happened to me which have never happened to me before.

First there was a spontaneous round of applause after I read a chapter from The Wishcatchers.  I can’t tell you how lovely that was! And then, later in the day, before I’d even started my session, two girls presented me with a little bunch of daisies.  How wonderful was that?


Not only that, at break time I was offered chocolate in the staffroom.  Yum!


The rest of my visit went well too.  The P5s hung up some brilliant, nail-biting cliff-hangers (not on a cliff, but on a string instead).  There were some amazing ideas there, involving anything from escaping snakes to the sudden realisation of magical powers.  The P4s went to some very interesting places in their imaginations.  Some of them even travelled to other planets.  They also got really good at describing objects to each other – sometimes even without using any adjectives at all.

So a big thank you P4 and P5 at Davidson’s Mains Primary!  You were a fantastic audience and you made me feel very welcome.



Wishes, Inspiration and a Teacher who Knows a Thing or Two about Shark Tongues

Well, what a fabulous morning I had with the P5s at Davidson’s Mains Primary today.  The whole school was buzzing with Book Week excitement, classrooms were rearranged and there seemed to be books and authors everywhere.  Every so often there would be a bing bong bung over the tannoy and everyone would stop what they were doing for five minutes and read.  The children were all so enthusiastic and could tell me all about their favourite books and authors.  It was such a lovely atmosphere.

Here's all my stuff ready to be packed for the visit

Here’s all my stuff ready to be packed for the visit

I met the two P5 classes and we talked about books and reading and writing and using our amazing imagination.  There were so many wonderful and interesting ideas bubbling up in those classrooms – I might even steal some of them for one of my books!  Everyone got a chance to make a wish and I always have a prize on offer for the best wish.  This time it was a shark, with a tongue that blows out.


I did make the point that although I wasn’t sure that sharks actually had tongues like that, I did know that sharks do have a sort of tongue – and the class teacher, Mr Greene, immediately said, “Yes, they do.  And it’s called a basihyal.”  How impressive was that?

I love doing author visits to schools, and today was especially brilliant.  Several children came to tell me that I had inspired them or that they now had a great idea for a story and were itching to write it.  And it doesn’t get better than that.

So a big thank you to P5 and Mr Greene and Mrs Bassett, as well as Mrs Higgins, for a hugely enjoyable and exciting morning.

Ever wonder what happens on an author visit?

June 10, 2014 1 comment

Every writer has their own way of doing school events, but I can tell you a bit about what might happen at one of mine.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the P2s at Blackridge Primary and we had a whale of a time.  Literally – as you will see if you look at the photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  There are a few whales on there – including, if you look carefully, a blue squirty whale on the table.  That whale was quite special, because he was a prize.  When I go into schools, I always take my wishing box and the children have a chance to write their own wishes and put them in.  There’s always a prize for the best one – something sea- or beach-related, but not always a whale.

That’s just one of the fun things we do on a school visit.  At Blackridge, we talked about creels and dog whelk shells and woke up our imagination by playing the “what if” game and I can tell you that the P2s had loads of great ideas.  We also did some wondering about what could be in my sparkly box.  (It’s a secret!  I can’t tell you what it is.  But it’s very, very important.  And if you come to one of my author events, then you’ll find out the answer.)  I read a bit from my book, The Wishcatchers, and the children asked lots of really good questions.  As you can see from the pictures, P2 at Blackridge was a fabulous audience. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before I left, I signed some books.  That’s what I’m doing here, although you might be forgiven for thinking there was more chatting than signing going on.


And finally, there was a big surprise for me – a lovely bouquet of flowers!

flowers resized

I enjoyed my visit to Blackridge Primary School hugely.  I wonder what stories the P2s have been thinking up since then…

What’s in the box?

I had a whale of a time today on a visit to Echline Primary School.  But now for the hard bit…

What’s in the box?


Well, this is my special wishing box and on every school visit I do, the children get to make a wish and put it in the box.  There’s always a prize for the best one.


See?  It’s full of wishes.  But I can’t show you what they say – wishes are secret!

The trouble is that it’s always so difficult choosing the “best” one – is it the one that makes me laugh out loud?  The one that makes me wish I’d thought of that? The one that is so kind it makes me want to cry?  I’ve chosen all these kinds of wishes before.

I don’t know what’s in these wishes yet, but I’m dying to find out.  Wish me luck in choosing the winner!

“It made me feel I could do anything”

This is exactly the kind of feedback which makes it all worthwhile!  This week a wonderful package arrived from J6 at Clifton Hall School, full of lovely letters and a brilliant card with photos from my visit last week.

Writing is largely a solitary business.  Mostly it’s just me and my notebook or my laptop, getting down words, one after the other, trying to pin down the world which is in my head into something that other people will understand.

Which is why it is always such a privilege to be able to take my words out and about and share them with real live children.  And it’s great fun to find out some of the amazing ideas and interesting questions the children have inside their heads too.  I always come back from a school visit absolutely buzzing.

To hear how much the children enjoyed the visit too is great.  Here are just a few quotes from the letters I received this week:

“I’ll never run out of story ideas again.”

“Now I have my own notebook and I am going to take it everywhere.”

“The “what if” game really inspired me the most.  I loved how you used it to get us going.”

“Thank you for reading your new book to us. It made me feel that I could do anything, fight crime and save the day.”

“Last Christmas I started writing a story and after your talk I decided to go back to it and I wrote two more pages so it now has 7 pages, which is an achievement for me.”

And my favourite comment:

“I think you really inspired the class because tons of people are bringing in notebooks and writing stories.”

I love stories and there is nothing more satisfying than knowing I have inspired someone else to pick up their pen and start writing.  So thanks J6!  You were a fantastic audience and your card and letters really made my day.


Halfway through January already!

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

I know, I know.  18th January already and all my promises to get back to writing “in the new year”  have come to not very much.  November and December were such busy months that my writing dwindled to almost nothing, but I promised myself I would get back into the swing once the festive season was over.  A bit of writing, a bit of editing, a writers’ group meeting, arranging a school visit – it doesn’t amount to much over almost three weeks.

They say that diets always start on Monday and I’m very tempted to write this week off and say I’ll get back into good habits next week.  I don’t know why I think on Monday I will be brimful of enthusiasm and the million things I have to do – mostly involving admin and housework, neither of them among my favourite activities – will miraculously have disappeared from my list.  So maybe I should start today, in fact right now!

But then, I notice that it’s after 2pm and I haven’t had any lunch.  Surely a writer can’t be expected to produce works of genius on an empty stomach.  So, lunch first, then writing…

Superheroes, villains and lots of wishes

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I had a brilliant time with the P4 classes at Carrick Knowe Primary yesterday.  They got to have a sneak preview of the next Wishcatchers book – and they had very interesting  ideas as to why the wishes were not coming true any more.  It’s just as well that I know the answer, or I might have been tempted to use some of those ideas instead!

We moved from wishes to superhero agents and everyone had a chance to invent their own superhero or baddie and make up a fact file for them.  Some extremely intriguing characters emerged – how do you fancy meeting Poo-boy? (I don’t need to explain to you what his weapon is, do I?) Or the evil Mr Wood with his splinter gun?  I loved the idea of the superhero whose weapon was a huge fire-shield – and also the idea of a Supergirl whose powers are to make everything clean and tidy. ( I could certainly do with Supergirl in my house!)  There were loads and loads of fabulous heroes and villains being invented in Carrick Knowe yesterday.  I hope they don’t just stay in their fact files but get to go out and cause mayhem in some stories.

At the end of the session, everyone got a chance to make a wish and I’ve been reading through them this morning.  There’s a prize for the best one in each class and it’s always so hard to choose a winner, but I’ve just about managed it. The wishes were absolutely brilliant and show how thoughtful, funny and profound children are.  Thank you P4A and P4B at Carrick Knowe for a wonderful afternoon!