JERSEY PEARLS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 3rd, 2018 3:47 pm Comments Off on JERSEY PEARLS!

Kath and I have just finished off the academic year with one of our best author visits, ever!

We last visited Jersey two years ago at the invitation of Le Rocquier School in conjunction with the Jersey Library Service. Such was the success of the trip, we were invited back and had no hesitation in accepting. But this time our son, Simon, was also invited to work with the younger pupils on the island with his extremely popular Icky Doo Dah books.

Day 1. Whilst Simon headed off to primary schools, Kath and I started our week at Les Quennevais Library, meeting up with our friend and Head Librarian, Cathy Bithell. The library is shared between being the school library and the branch library, so it made sense to bring in a large group of Year 7’s from Le Quennevais School, followed by a similar-size group of Year 6’s from the nearby Mont Nicolle feeder school. Well…both groups were an absolute delight to present our two chosen books, Bonebreaker and Dawn Demons. We even managed to find enough floor space to act some particularly scary bits from the books with the help of the more-than-enthusiastic students!

Day 2 found us back with another very good friend and librarian, Moi Mabbs, at Le Rocquier. This time we performed our usual BIG stage presentation to all of Year 7, followed by a lovely short-story workshop with a smaller group of Year 7’s in the afternoon. Again, Bonebreaker and Dawn Demons were our chosen books and again, they went down a storm. A special ‘thank you’ to Ross on this occasion for being a great help as our sound technician (and a great Viking fan in addition!)

Day 3 was the day of the ‘Jersey Sing’ and many schools on the island were far too busy to engage with author visits. However, one of the smallest schools we’ve ever visited – St Christopher’s – were still able to accommodate us and we spent a fun-filled morning with all of the 14 KS2 pupils. The little classroom became a theatre as the two younger Year 3 boys along with slightly older girls took to the ‘stage’ and brought my Bonebreaker story to life.  At the end of the session we travelled back over to Le Rocquier to proceed with a VERY big book-signing for the eager Year 7’s we’d entertained the day before.

…And then it was onto the beach to meet up with Simon for a swim and a sunbathe. In fact, this became our routine as the week progressed…presentation in the morning, book-signing early afternoon followed by a welcome relax on the beach. In the glorious weather the beaches had a real Mediterranean feel…brilliant!

Day 4 found us back at Les Quennevais library to meet up with two groups from nearby St Peter’s Primary – Year 5’s and Year 6’s.  Both groups were an absolute delight to work with and by the end of each session the 25-30 pupils were ‘buzzing’  and desperate to read our books.

Day 5 proved to be the busiest day of all! A big presentation back at Le Rocquier to five of their feeder schools (Year6’s), a workshop with a group of Year 8’s, a book-signing back at St Christopher’s (apart from one girl who found our books too scary all of the pupils acquired both books!) and finally back up to St Peter’s Primary where around 60 Year 5’s and 6’s were frantically waiting for us! PHEW! A manic, but extremely fulfilling day.

No time for beaches on our final day! Simon packed and left on the evening ferry and Kath and I collapsed, watched TV and packed for our departure the following morning.

As I said earlier, this was one of the best ‘author tours’ we’ve ever had…we’re already planning a return trip next summer to present our Mokee Joe series. We can’t wait. BIG thanks to all staff and pupils on Jersey for making the Murrays so welcome. And special thanks to Moi and Cathy for all their work and support.

We love you all…

PJM

‘BUZZING’ ABOUT BOOKS IN LEIGHTON BUZZARD!

This post was written by peterjmurray on June 8th, 2018 1:40 pm Comments Off on ‘BUZZING’ ABOUT BOOKS IN LEIGHTON BUZZARD!

Kath and I were fortunate enough to be invited to  Linsdale Middle School in Leighton Buzzard.

The school is big and has over 600 pupils in Years 5 to 8. Hence, we decided to work over two days, the first day with Years 7 and 8 and the second day with Years 5 and 6. Some authors would say that to enthuse the older pupils in the summer term would be a challenge…especially the Years 8’s in their final year of middle school. But, as already ‘tweeted’ in my latest ‘tweet’…NO WAY! Both audiences proved exceptionally easy to perform to…fully attentive, interactive and hanging on every spooky word!

                  Great Library Display!

The Year 7’s and 8’s were entertained with my dramatic Bonebreaker presentation and some of the pupils provided excellent acting skills as they joined me on stage. Will we ever forget the six-feet tall Dunston, doing his best to help out his much-shorter Saxon hero-friend, Wilfrid!  Comedy entertainment at its best to say the least!

The Year 5’s and 6’s were just as entertaining and seemed fully-engaged in the full-blown Mokee Joe presentation…climaxing with the final MJ book set in Dubai.

Both audiences provided a select group of pupils for our afternoon workshop based on our Ten O’ Clock Caller short story collection, and again, brilliant fun with brilliantly-attentive pupils!

The two days passed only too quickly, but the most exciting event was still to come in the form of a book-

          Kath can’t bear to look!

signing-for-all during our final day. Over my entire author career of around 15 years, I can’t remember signing so many books in one morning (around 3 hours). I think it’s safe to say that records were broken…as seemed my signing hand at the end (repetitive strain injury!). Again, during the signing, our entire crowd of enthusiasts were polite, well-mannered and more than friendly in their conversation and relentless questioning.

WOW! Thank you Linslade for being so amazing and renewing my confidence to go on and write more scary books and to make more school visits. You reminded Kath and I why we love our job so much and why we feel so privileged to visit schools like yours. A BIG ‘thank you to Mrs Lewin, Kelly the lovely librarian, and all of the staff for making us so welcome…and that includes Matt the IT expert, the reception staff and the caretakers.

WE WILL BE BACK!

PJM

SUPERB IN STOCKTON

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 26th, 2018 5:42 pm Comments Off on SUPERB IN STOCKTON

The 21st Anniversary of the Stockton Children’s Book Award finally arrived.

Along with 14 other authors, Kath and I headed for the Stockton Library special weekend celebrations. The library were very generous and put us up in a nearby hotel and sent a taxi to collect us to take us to the library on Sunday morning along with 7 fellow authors. The other 7 invited authors had spent the previous day (Saturday) with their fans…now it was our turn!

Outside brilliant Stockton Library

Scabbajack was the reason for my invite. It won the award back in 2012 and it was pleasing to find out that it’s still a popular read in the Stockton schools today…despite it being very scary! Well, we had a fabulous day! As usual, Lucy Carlton-Walker had organised everything with super efficiency and our two presentations, with lunch in between, and subsequent book signings, all passed smoothly and without a hitch. Thank you so much, Lucy, and to all of the library staff for making our day so enjoyable. We loved every minute of it.

The next morning found us at Tilery Primary School. We have a long-standing relationship with this lovely school and it was great to find out that they are still HUGE fans of our books. We performed our full-blown Mokee Joe presentation to a fab KS2 audience. I could have talked to them forever…and I think they would have sat there forever if we’d given them the chance! Tomorrow, our son, Simon, arrives and he is going to entertain and enthuse the KS1 pupils with his Icky Doo Dah books. Thank you Tilery Primary for inviting us back…we love visiting your school and will continue to do so as long as you keep on reading our books!

Next visit was to our old friends at Conyers School.  Five Year 10 boys greeted us, helped us set up in the auditorium and even managed to acquire a cup of tea for the both of us. Amazing!

A big audience of Year 7’s (232) sat extremely attentively (very polite!) as I talked on about the reason why I was in Stockton in the first place – Scabbajack – followed by a dramatic presentation of the sequel – Kruschmeister. The performance was well-received and I thought the audience did me proud in sitting on their hard seats for an hour and a half! Phew!

The following day we arrived back at Conyers in the midst a ferocious hail storm, made our way to the library and managed to sign books for a long queue of fans, chat to the lovely librarians and somehow eat our lunch at the same time. Exhausting but brilliant!  BIG ‘thank you’ to Ms Dawson for being a superb hostess (as usual), and to her fab team of librarians for looking after us so well. We will be back!

Final visit of the Stockton tour was to St John the Baptist Primary in nearby Billingham. Unfortunately it turned out that the Year 4’s were out swimming and the Year 6’s were heavily involved in SATS preparation, so our audience was restricted to Years 3 and 5. But didn’t they make up for it!  All of the children were brilliant and a pleasure to perform to. The Mokee Joe presentation went  down a storm and we couldn’t get over how many of them were waiting the next day to get their hands on the books. It seemed Simon had also made an impact working with KS1 on his Icky Doo Dah books and hence the school was more than pleased with our visit.

Good food with good friends!

We finished off the tour with a visit to the Cenna Restaurant in Yarm to link up with a good friend of ours, Peter Huggins, alias  ‘Peter Popps’ to those who know him in the area. Peter has followed us over the years since we visited his daughters’ school, Yarm Primary. His eldest daughter, Sophie, is now preparing for university, but is currently helping out in the restaurant and she actually served Kath and I with our meal. Brilliant! The meal, by the way, was excellent, and Kath will tell you that the dessert was to ‘die for’!

Oh well, back to base for a well-earned rest. Just hope the snow and ice keep away so I can get some fishing in! Thanks to everyone who met up with us in the Stockton area…it was a real pleasure, as always!

PJM

BACK ON HOME GROUND!

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 18th, 2018 5:12 pm Comments Off on BACK ON HOME GROUND!

After our great week during World Book Week on the Isle of Man, it was good to be back on home ground, and especially to be in and around our roots in Doncaster and Sheffield.

Put that baby down! On second thoughts…no, don’t!

First stop was a new school to us, Mallard Primary, and not a million miles from our South Yorkshire base…about 15 minutes to be exact. We entertained a good-size KS2 audience for the morning, introducing them to yours truly and to the entire Mokee Joe series. I love talking about the recent final book in the series, set in Dubai, and to see their faces as I show Mokee Joe holding his hostage (a baby) at the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa; about to do battle with the hero of the books, Hudson Brown. All this is down the great artwork of our brilliant artist, Paul Davies. Where would we be without him! Kath and I couldn’t get over how many pupils queued to get books and posters signed on our return the following day. All credit to Ms Wilde and the staff for striving to develop a reading culture in this lovely school. We hope to stay in contact with Mallard Primary and to help in any way we can. Thanks for having us…we will be back!

Second visit of the week was not a new school to us…far from it! Birkdale Prep have been with me since the start of

           My new scary picture!

my author career and it was fitting to introduce them to the final book in the Mokee Joe series. But not before presenting my spooky, scary football-themed book, Kruschmeister.  An all-boys audience of Years 5 and 6 were an absolute delight to entertain for an hour and a half. I was so impressed with the pic one of the teachers took of me n action – my newly updated Wikipedia author profile at the back of me and the boys in the foreground. Having said that, my pic looks a bit on the scary side!

After nosing around where Kath was brought up on nearby Ecclesall Road (Ecky Road as the locals refer to it) we returned the next day to do a signing, and once more we were delighted at the number of boys queuing up to acquire books. Usual BIG ‘thank’s to Ms Birch and all of the boys and staff for making us so welcome. The complementary lunch of chicken casserole and herb dumplings was to die for! We will be back when my new book  is finished (a closely guarded secret!)…and not just because we enjoyed the lunch so much!

A final ‘thank you’ to both of the above schools…keep up the great work!

PJM

WORLD BOOK (SNOW) WEEK 2018

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 26th, 2018 4:46 pm Comments Off on WORLD BOOK (SNOW) WEEK 2018

Phew! Kath and I made it to the Isle of Man to visit some of our favourite schools during World Book Week. The weather forecast was scary to say the least – almost as scary as my books! However, the ferry crossing from Birkenhead across to Douglas was the calmest crossing we’ve ever experienced. Maybe ‘the calm before the storm’ as they say!

              BIG fans at Michael School

This morning (Monday) saw our first school visit, travelling up and over the mountain road and finally dropping down to the lovely Michael School…a firm favourite of ours. The cold and frosty weather was soon forgotten as we launched into our Mokee Joe Finale presentation. The KS2 pupils were extremely brave as I changed into my Mokee Joe outfit, complete with huge platform shoes, towered to seven feet tall and hovered threateningly over them. I’ve been visiting Michael School for a good few years and it gave me great pleasure to describe to them the sixth and final book in the series. It

With our good friend Ms Riley at Michael School

felt strange being at the school without our old friend, Mr Robinson, (he is now retired), but his successor (and not-so-old friend), Mrs Riley, proved the perfect hostess and ensured we were well looked after during our first morning. We’re planning to meet up with her at the weekend to explore a spooky place she wishes to show us on the island – maybe the setting for the next scary book!

Well…at least we had ONE great visit during World Book Week…hope the snow doesn’t dump on us and stop us from visiting the rest!

     Mokee Joe Display at St John’s

Great news…the snow stayed away for our second day and we made it to St John’s School, another favourite of ours. The Mokee Joe Finale presentation was performed all over again, and our second KS2 audience were completely captivated, joining in with great gusto as I changed into the seven-feet tall Mokee Joe and charged around the hall. One of our keenest fans, Harry, seemed to know more about my books than I did, and another young fan (Tough Ted) showed no fear whatsoever as I donned my huge Mokee Joe boots and towered above him. He gave me 0/10 for scariness! (I’m very upset about this!) Thank you to Mrs Willoughby and her lovely staff and pupils for giving us the usual fab welcome…we love visiting this school! See you tomorrow for the book-signing.

Will we make it to our third school tomorrow (actually, two schools – Dhoon and Laxey)? Fingers crossed!

WEDNESDAY: ALL ISLE OF MAN SCHOOLS CLOSED TODAY!  I obviously didn’t cross my fingers hard enough! We will keep in touch with our friends at Dhoon and Laxey and hope the situation improves. Oh well…at least I can get on with writing my new book (a closely guarded secret!).

THURSDAY – WORLD BOOK DAY: By some miracle we didn’t experience the severe weather disruption going on back home

World Book Day at Bunscoill Rhumsaa

in the UK and Thursday found us back in action at Bunscoill Rhumsaa. Years 3 and 4 turned out in amazing book character costumes and did the school proud. I was soon feeling at home amongst them dressed in my Mokee Joe outfit, complete with massive platform shoes to make me 7 feet tall! It was brilliant fun working with the younger end of KS2 and the morning passed only too quickly. The following day we returned to enthuse and entertain the older pupils in upper KS2, and again, fabulous fun. The pupils at David Jenkin’s school always do us proud, they and the staff have become good friends and big fans over our years of visiting the island. Whilst the mainland back home struggled with the snow and cars got stranded on roads the length and breadth of the country, Kath and I spent a very stress-free Friday afternoon driving around island schools signing books for our fans.

We have been extremely lucky in being on the IOM during the busiest week of an author’s year! Looking forward to visiting two more schools after a relaxing weekend.

     First visit to Scoill Yn Jubilee

After an interesting weekend, including a failed ‘Wallaby Hunting’ expedition with our friend, Karen, and her husband, Rob, it was back to work with our very first visit to Scoill Yn Jubilee, in Douglas. We presented our Mokee Joe Finale performance to a large group of Years 5 and 6 and had a great time. It’s a lovely school and it was fab to make new friends and recruit new fans for our books. The book signing the next day showed us just how many new fans we had made! It was interesting during the signing how many passing Year 4’s expressed their frustration at not being involved in the presentation – we assured them that Mokee Joe would ‘get them’ next time!

We were able to amend our return ferry booking and stay on the island an extra

    Under the tree at Laxey School

day so that we could still go ahead with our visit to Laxey and Dhoon Primary schools, postponed from last Wednesday. Well…all I can say is it was worth the wait! Around 150 KS2 pupils had a great time, both schools integrating beautifully to interact in our dynamic Mokee Joe presentation. And our final island book signing the next day proved a great way to finish…signing books and posters for almost every child from both schools. We were taken up with some of the brilliant display work around the school and particularly where I sat to sign books – check out the pic! Thanks, Mr Kelly, to you and your lovely team of staff and pupils for making our final school visit on the island such an enjoyable and memorable one,

…And thank you to all schools on the brilliant Isle of Man for making our visit so enjoyable and successful, hopefully from both sides. It was nothing short of a miracle that we were able to go ahead with our World Book Week schedule. Had we been back home, much if not all it would have no doubt fallen foul of the severe weather!

We will be back again soon, nothing so sure, and hopefully we might even spot a wallaby or two next time…who knows!

PJM

LIVING BY THE WALL!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 30th, 2018 6:13 pm Comments Off on LIVING BY THE WALL!

After visiting two great local Berkshire schools, Spurcroft Primary in Thatcham and Springfield Primary in Reading, Kath and I headed back up the A1 to Hexham. We moved into a 300 year-old cottage in the appropriately named village of Wall, just a short distance from the famous Hadrian’s Wall. As soon as we arrived the weather changed and gale force winds buffeted our cottage and moaned down the chimney during the night…what a great spooky start!

         Pete outside Church Cottage in Wall

Never mind! Two great days followed in Hexham Middle School, one day working with Years 7 and 8, and a second day with Years 5 and 6. We performed a full-blown Mokee Joe presentation, presenting my very first book (Mokee Joe is Coming!) right through to the new and final Mokee Joe book (Scourge of the Emirates). Both key stages seemed taken up with the Mokee Joe story and sat extremely attentively whilst I entertained and enthused them. It was also great to show them the first book in Spanish and Japanese, and very satisfying to present a copy of the Spanish book to a Spanish girl in the audience, Ayala. She and her family sent us a lovely card afterwards expressing their gratitude. Usual great thanks to our lovely Hexham friend, Ms Roff…she always spoils us and organises everything so efficiently. We’ve already invited her around to our cottage in Wall for tea and cake…she never refuses!

After signing lots of books for our Hexham Middle School fans, Kath and I spent the weekend as tourists, visiting some of the local attractions….Hexham Abbey, The Sill visitors’ centre on Hadrian’s Wall, other locations along the wall…and of course being dragged into the shops with Kath striding out in front of me…M&S, Beales, Waitrose, Tesco and lots of coffee shops!

St Joseph’s RC Middle School was our next port of call and another good friend, Mrs Coulson, was waiting to greet us.

               Lovely library at St Joseph’s

We performed the ‘Mokee Joe Finale’ presentation again, in front of another big KS2 audience, and then again, the day after, at Ovingham Middle School. By Thursday, Kath and I were reciting the performance in our sleep! But every audience is different and the response is so enthusiastic that we never get bored! We met another delightful Spanish girl at Ovingham, Lucia, and presented her with a Spanish book. The next day she acquired a whole set in English…a true Mokee Joe fan to say the least! I must also mention that the Ovingham First School Year 4’s joined in with our presentation and sat for two hours completely rapt. During the subsequent signing, almost every one of them acquired books and were so thrilled to see us – so glad they joined in!

More presentations followed at nearby Corbridge Middle School  – Mokee Joe for KS2 and a Scabbajack/Dawn Demons presentation for KS3…all great spooky fun! Another Mokee Joe presentation at Ovingham for Years 6/7 and then it was wall-to-wall signings on the last weekday to complete the tour! PHEW!

Big thanks to Ms Quinn and Ms Watkins at Ovingham and Corbridge respectively…fab ‘hostesses with the mostest’ and to all the teachers and pupils in the Hexham area for giving us such a brilliant time.

We will be back!

PJM

DUKE OF KENT TAKEN BY STORM!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 24th, 2018 5:26 pm Comments Off on DUKE OF KENT TAKEN BY STORM!

Kath and I chose to arrive at the Duke of Kent School, deep in the Surrey hills, from the relatively nearby town of Dorking. We travelled there on Sunday afternoon and stayed overnight in readiness for our school visit the following Monday morning. Thank goodness! The threatening weather forecast proved correct and we drove the 9 miles from our hotel in driving wind and rain along high-banked winding lanes, falling tree branches and even a lorry (victim of his GPS system) stuck in front of us! When we finally arrived in time for a warming breakfast with the staff, it took a large and strong cup of coffee to steady our nerves!

…All very worthwhile, though!

Without exception, every pupil and member of staff made us more than welcome.  And the day could not have passed better…and so quickly!  Assembly with the entire school followed by workshops with Years 3 to 8 (and even an unscheduled half hour chat to year 9), all proved a pleasure, the enthusiasm of the pupils making it all very easy and thoroughly enjoyable.

Alas, the long journey back to Newbury at the end of the day proved exhausting again…rain, sleet, snow and heavy traffic. However, the return journey the next day for the book signing could not have been easier! Bright sunshine, stunning scenery and quiet roads…my brain was starting to get confused about just where this school was situated. We signed loads and loads of books for our keen new fans and again it proved a great experience.

Thank you to Ms Anand for being such a caring and thoughtful hostess during our visit and our very best wishes to all at the school and good luck in the future, especially re all things literary. We are hoping to be back before too long, and maybe with or son and illustrator (Simon) in attendance. The Murrays may well try to take over!

Hope the weather stays kind to you all.

PJM

PERFECT AT PARKLANDS

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 12th, 2018 10:08 am Comments Off on PERFECT AT PARKLANDS

Kath and I were lucky enough to be invited to an ‘outstanding’ school in Leeds. One of the teachers, Ms Huby, had worked with us at Rawmarsh Rosehill in Rotherham, and since moving to Parklands Primary, she thought it would be good to invite us there.

…Well, we had a great time there presenting our Mokee Joe series to a more-than-enthusiastic audience of KS2 pupils. The headmaster, Mr Dyson, and all of his staff and pupils gave us a great welcome and by the time our morning session was over we felt reluctant to leave.

The next day we had a great book signing and stayed on for lunch.  Again, all went extremely well. During our time at Parklands we had some memorable events take place. Will we ever forget the look on Jiri’s (hope I’ve spelt it correctly) face as Mokee Joe homed in on him…pure terror!  Another great moment was meeting up with Callum…an author in the making, and it was a pleasure to read his book along with its great illustrations (Super D)!

Finally, a big thank you to Codie (I think with a ‘C’ and not a ‘K’) for being a lovely hostess to us during our lunch.

Since visiting this lovely school, Twitter has gone ‘mad’ and I’ve never seen so many tweets re our visit flying around …brilliant! Thank you, Mr Dyson. Hope to see you all again in September with more scary books and a scary presentation to go with them. In the meantime….keep on reading!

PJM

BIG CHRISTMAS FINALE

This post was written by peterjmurray on December 17th, 2017 5:53 pm Comments Off on BIG CHRISTMAS FINALE

Mokee Joe by Kai Poole (aged 10)

After launching the new Mokee Joe book 6 in South Yorkshire, on our return to our Southern base our first job was to call in to New Scotland Hill Primary in Sandhurst. This was a visit carried over from last term and our son, Simon, had raved on about it during a visit of his own. We soon found out why! It was a lovely school and our welcome couldn’t have been warmer.  Ms Brewer ensured that everything passed smoothly and a perfect presentation was followed by a perfect book signing. In fact the book signing was organised with military precision to levels never seen before! Fantastic! The KS2 pupils were really up for it and seemed inspired not only to read, but to produce work of their own. Hope you like the pic sent to me by Kai Poole….thanks Kai, you’re a star! And thanks to everyone at New Scotland Hill Primary – we hope to be back!

The following week, we headed back up North, where three more schools provided us with a perfect finish leading up to our Christmas break, the first being St Mary’s RC Primary School at nearby Edlington. Despite being close to our South Yorkshire base, it’s an area I don’t know very well. However, we were more than pleased to quickly discover that this smart, compact school was a hub of enthusiasm for our scary books and our Mokee Joe presentation was more than well-received. After walking down the road and spending lunch in Ollie’s café (well-recommended), we returned to work with the Year 6’s on our Ten O’ Clock Caller short story workshop and the afternoon passed all too quickly. A HUGE ‘thank you’ to all at St Mary’s for making us so welcome. We look forward to working with you again…can’t wait!

Second school of the week was to Rosehill Juniors in Rotherham, one of our most favourite and well-visited schools and big fans to say the least! As usual, Mr Wagstaffe, the Headteacher, was there to greet us and we were soon performing our Mokee Joe – Scourge of the Emirates performance to a packed hall. It was great fun donning my Mokee Joe outfit and chasing one of the unsuspecting Year 6’s, carefully dodging the Christmas tree and other festive decorations! We always sign a vast number of books the following day and this occasion proved no exception. Great reading school – great fans! Thanks again to Mr Wagstaffe and all of the staff and pupils. Hope the staff enjoy the biscuits we left for them and that Mr Wagstaffe didn’t scoff them all!

Our final school proved a brilliant choice – St Gerards RC Primary at Thrybergh – another location close to our Northern base. On our arrival we were astounded to see that the innovative Mr Drury had  rigged up his classroom and turned it into a pseudo TV studio with blackouts and backdrops and a screen already displaying my new Mokee Joe book….incredible!   With 62 KS2 pupils crammed into the space in front of us, we launched into a wonderful hour of scary literary fun and everyone had a great time to say the least.  Brilliant! This lovely school has a real family feel about it and we are proud to be a part of it…I really need to write more books so I have an excuse to get back again.

Ah well…that’s about it until 2018! What a great term working in so many fab schools. We are truly privileged! HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE AND SEE YOU AGAIN SOON.

(By the way…I’m working on a new book…ssshhhh!)

PJM

MOKEE JOE 6 LAUNCH!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 20th, 2017 6:51 pm Comments Off on MOKEE JOE 6 LAUNCH!

Well, at last, the final Mokee Joe book is out! Without doubt it’s the most exciting and action-packed book of the series and it’s called: Mokee Joe: Scourge of the Emirates….And where better than Dubai for the action to take place – including the final battle on top of the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa.

         Launched at last!

Our choice of location to launch the book was my home town of Rotherham, in South Yorkshire, to visit four schools there at the beginning of my author career, more years ago than I care to remember! Our son, Simon Murray, author and illustrator, chose to accompany us. Simon produces the amazing black and white, pen and ink drawings inside all the Mokee Joe books, as well as producing his own lovely picture books for the younger KS1 pupils, Icky Doo Dah (www.ickydoodah.com). Simon did a wonderful demonstrative art slot during each presentation before slipping away to enthuse and inspire KS1…this greatly added to the impact of our visit.

Roughwood Primary was our first choice of ‘launch pad’ for the new book…and what a choice it proved to be! We’ve been visiting this school for a great number of years and have fans spanning over several generations. The presentation took the audience right back to the start of the Mokee Joe series, introducing the main characters, Hudson, Molly and Ash, and following their horrific encounters with Mokee Joe through to the thrilling climax in the United Arab Emirates. We were astounded to learn how many of the pupils had been to Dubai for holidays…but none of the staff, alas! The book signing the next day was as popular as it always is…avid fans and avid readers lined up the length of the school hall, desperate to get their books and to have them signed. A big thanks to Mr Cadman and his staff for being so willing to take part in our ‘Mokee Joe Finale Tour.’ And of course, to all the pupils for being such supportive fans. Enjoy your trip to Dubai everyone – I promise that the book will definitely take you over there!

Our second school visit of the tour was to Northfield Lane Primary at Wickersley, situated very close to our Northern home. Since our last visit, around ten years ago, the school has acquired some interesting ‘pod-type’ buildings and we quickly got lost inside them, weaving our way along the warren-like corridors. Despite building work going on around us, the presentation was again well-received and by the end the pupils were definitely at ‘fever-pitch’! Another great book signing ensued the next day and books were also put aside for a number of excited Year 6’s, who had left for a residential trip prior to our arrival. Unfortunately, Simon didn’t get chance to weave his ‘Icky Doo Dah magic’ with KS1 at this school, but he has promised to get back before too long. After all, his Nan lives just around the corner and offers him a great place to stay!

Onto our third school – Anston Park Juniors. This was to provide our biggest KS2 audience of around 340 pupils.

The Burj Khalifa – the final battle!

We played to a packed hall and once again enthused our audience to ‘Mokee Joe hysteria’! During each of the presentations, I dressed myself up as the infamous Mokee Joe monster and chased a brave and willing volunteer across the hall. I was amazed how fast my victims sprinted back to their place (and safety!) and even more amazed how fast I moved…there’s still life in the old man yet! As per usual, the headteacher, Mrs Bartholomew, and the deputy, Mr French, immediately capitalised on our visit and launched follow-up work and competitions based on the my books along with Simon’s illustrations. The subsequent book signing just about broke all records and I’m sure must qualify for a Guiness Book of Records entry for the most books signed by an author in one session. We had to return the next morning to finish off and then spent the rest of the day recovering from the experience! Thanks once again to everyone at this delightful school…and I mean everyone. We just love our visits!

Final visit of the week was to Reignhead Primary in Beighton, near Sheffield. We chose this school because it was one of the first and most pleasant of the schools we visited right at the beginning of my author career. Well…Kath and Simon and I are pleased to report that Reignhead is just as pleasant and as nice a place to visit as it ever was! Yet another great presentation well-received and the book signing produced its very own ‘Black Friday’ experience at the end of school the next day. Will we ever forget the boy I chased wearing my Mokee Joe outfit and him with a plaster cast on his broken leg hidden beneath his trousers! And he still managed to outsprint me…incredible!

Well…what an amazing week! The launch could not have gone better. The Rotherham Advertiser also did me proud with great coverage of the new book and a competition launch on their Captain Jack page with six copies of the new book up for grabs. You may wish to check it out!

Time to rest and recharge now…more schools to visit before Christmas…and more Mokee Joe victims to terrorise in the school hall. Ha ha….

PJM

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