WILLOUGHBY ROAD MAGIC!

This post was written by peterjmurray on May 3rd, 2019 1:13 pm Comments Off on WILLOUGHBY ROAD MAGIC!

Kath and I had a mostly easy journey to Scunthorpe to visit another Delta Academy school – Willoughby Road. Unfortunately our travel delivered a sting in its tail in the form of a big diversion so that we arrived feeling just a little stressed, but still in good time.  No matter! We had a great welcome and before we knew it a much-needed cup of tea was placed in our hands (which calmed our nerves!) and we were set up in the hall ready to deliver our Mokee Joe presentation to our 2-form entry, KS2 audience.

 Kath sat in impressive display corner at Willoughby Road

Things couldn’t have gone better, the pupils joining in at every opportunity and more than willing to come up on stage to win a much-prized Peter J Murray souvenir bookmark. During the interval we were treated to lemon drizzle cake served on a plate, complete with fork…a first for us in our years of touring schools. (I hope other schools are taking notice!)

The morning passed brilliantly and after lunch in a nearby well-known supermarket we were back presenting our creative writing workshop to Years 5 and 6. Again, a wonderful experience in front of so many enthusiastic pupils (and staff)! By the end of the session I was ‘mobbed’ by hoards of pupils desperate to tell me their ideas for writing spooky stories of their own.

The next day we returned to carry out a book-signing and I think it’s fair to say that Mrs Jubb and her staff were more than overwhelmed at the number of pupils waiting to get their hands on signed copies of our books! It was so much fun chatting and signing books to so many polite and friendly pupils that I didn’t even mind the fact that my scheduled fishing session in the afternoon would start later than planned!

A HUGE ‘thank you’ to everyone at Willoughby Road for making our visit so special. We look forward to working with your lovely school in helping to create a thriving reading culture…I don’t think it will be difficult!

PJM

PS. I still managed to get in a couple of hours fishing at the nearby Messingham Sands complex and caught a whole load of fish…the end to a perfect day!

PJM

NUTS ABOUT KNOTTINGLEY!

This post was written by peterjmurray on April 27th, 2019 11:37 am Comments Off on NUTS ABOUT KNOTTINGLEY!

After a relaxing Easter break, it was great to get back into schools again. And what a way to start by visiting four fab schools in Knottingley, near Leeds.

Ferrybridge ‘giants’ looming over the Knottingley schools.

England Lane, Willow Green, Simpson’s Lane and The Vale primary academies (all part of the brilliant Delta Trust) gave Kath and I a warm welcome and made our visits memorable for all the right reasons.

As the SATS tests draw nearer (May 13th), the schools opted to give us Years 3,4 and 5 in the morning for our Mokee Joe presentation, followed by our scary story writing workshop in the afternoon for Year 6.  The plan worked out really well and by the end of the week we had another huge following for our books…and not just the pupils – the staff all seemed hooked too!

Great welcome at Simpson’s Lane!

A big ‘thank you’ to the staff for looking after us so well at this very busy time of the school year; we really appreciate it. Now it’s time to pack books into the car to make a return journey on Monday for book signings at all four schools. It will be good to see everyone again. In the meantime, have a pleasant weekend and see you soon.

PJM

WORLD BOOK WEEK MAGIC!

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 17th, 2019 3:45 pm Comments Off on WORLD BOOK WEEK MAGIC!

World Book Week began for us with visits to two marvellous Garforth schools, Green Lane and East Garforth primaries, just east of Leeds and both Delta Academy Schools.

It was immediately evident in both of these schools that a strong reading culture existed; lots of literary displays and both staff and pupils only too ready to talk about books and reading etc. In each school we performed our full-series Mokee Joe presentation followed by a workshop in the afternoon centred on our Ten O’ Clock Caller short story collection. Both events were well-received to say the least and two days working in these lovely schools passed only too quickly. The only problem we had was to supply enough books for the subsequent book signings! Queues of avid fans seemed endless and more supplies had to be brought in before everyone acquired their share of the Mokee Joe novels.

A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Mrs Carlisle and Miss Binns for being the perfect hostesses – shadowing our every move and making sure that all went smoothly and that a good time was had by all. We really can’t wait to be back with more of our spooky books and spell-binding presentations to go with them. I gather that ongoing Mokee Joe competitions are taking place and that some pupils dressed up as the infamous creature on World Book Day – so that is brilliant, and thanks for that. See you all again soon….

WORLD BOOK DAY

I received a great e-mail on the day itself from a fan called Frankie, from Anston Park Juniors. Not only did he

    Such a great outfit!

decide to go to school dressed as the Bonebreaker, but he and his parents made the most amazing replica of the Bonebreaker helmet. Well Frankie…Kath and I think you looked amazing and we would have definitely given you first prize in any World Book Day dressing-up competition. The least I can do is send you a signed copy of one of my books and a new bookmark to go with it.  BIT thanks to you and your parents for being such great fans! It makes us feel very proud!

As it happens, we spent a wonderful World Book Day at Southmere Primary School in Bradford. We were met by a character from the Harry Potter books…Lee, the Head, looking very uncomfortable under a big bushy beard and flowing robes! The other staff and children looked fab in their various outfits and it was amusing to see how many ‘Where’s Wally’ characters were around…more a case of ‘Where isn’t Wally’!  I was soon joining them and dressing as the dreaded Mokee Joe and chasing one of the ‘Where’s Wally’ characters around the school hall! We spent a really enjoyable day at Southmere and looked forward to our book-signing a few days later…But nothing could have prepared us for the response! At least 20 parents turned up – just as keen to chat and have books signed as the hoards of eager children were!  MASSIVE thanks to Lee and all of the staff and pupils for making our World Book Day feel so special.

After recharging over the weekend we returned north to visit another school in Bradford – Lower Fields – and a school at Mirfield, near Huddersfield, Hopton Primary School. At the risk of sounding boring, both visits were once more great successes with yet further Mokee Joe presentations and afternoon short-story workshops.  BIG ‘thanks’ to Mrs Gavin and Miss Johnson for looking after us so well. It was with some sadness we headed back south in wild and windy weather to our Berkshire base. I think I have to say that this particular World Book Week was the best Kath and I can remember…it was a real honour to visit so many welcoming schools full of good readers and avid fans of our books.

PJM

MORE ‘DELTA DELIGHTS’

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 3rd, 2019 11:31 am Comments Off on MORE ‘DELTA DELIGHTS’

On returning to Wybers Wood and Estcourt Primary academies for book signings, we were overwhelmed with the response. So many avid fans waiting to get their hands on the books as well as getting involved in writing creepy stories of their own. Huge thanks to Nathan and Carol for all their support. On returning home I found 84 notifications on my Twitter account, showing loads of lovely tweets and pics relating to our visits.

               Another ‘Delta Delight’

After more wonderfully inspiring visits to Park View Primary in Leeds and Hatfield Woodhouse in Doncaster, it was back on the road to Grimsby to visit Macaulay Primary and The Strand Primary. We took the opportunity to visit nearby Cleethorpes where many of my childhood holidays were spent. I recall passing many a rainy day in a caravan in Cleethorpes, tackling jigsaws and any other activity guaranteed to while away the inclement weather!! In fact, we were truly surprised by how much this little East Coast resort had re-invented itself. It had some very attractive sea-frontage. One evening we visited the pier and had first class fish and chips in Papa’s – scrumptious to say the least!

…Back to the schools….fantastic in every way!!  The pupils and staff were

           First class fish n’ chips!

so welcoming and raved on about our books after each of our visits. One of the schools – The Strand Primary – even had a ghost of its own!  The phantom Lady Doherty – who opened the school in distant days gone by!  Surely a great opportunity for the pupils to come up with a creepy narrative of their own! Special thanks to Laura for sending us for lunch in the nearby Freshney Place – great!

More big book-signings and more almost tearful farewells and Kath and I were back on the M180 returning to our South Yorkshire base to recharge ready for World Book Week. And guess where we’ll be…correct! More Delta Trust schools. Well…why not?  So far the Delta Academy Trust has been a real pleasure to work with. Bring it on…

PJM

DELTA BEGINNINGS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 3rd, 2019 5:10 pm Comments Off on DELTA BEGINNINGS!

After being invited to be Patron of Reading for the Delta Academy Trust, Kath and I were very excited to commence our school visits.

       Delta Academy Trust here we come!

First port of call – and it really was a port – Estcourt Primary Academy in Hull. Mr Ullah was our host and what a great host he was. Everything was beautifully organised and before long it was all systems go in front of a great KS2 audience; enthusing and enthralling Years 3 to 6 with our tales of Mokee Joe. Will we ever forget the look of real terror on Harry’s face as he was chased by yours truly in the guise of the tall monster! In the afternoon we provided a workshop with Years 5 and 6 on ‘How to write a seriously, scary, short story’, based on our Ten O’ Clock Caller collection. Again, great fun and the pupils were a pleasure to work with. We return next week to provide a book signing and it should be fun. I’m just hoping they don’t forget us. I’m guessing not!

Second school of the week was a bit nearer to our Rotherham base – Crookesbroom Primary in Hatfield, near

     Some of our fans at Crookesbroom.

Doncaster.  Things were looking good!  Another lovely ‘Delta Welcome’ and another lovely school to work in. The response, yet again, from the pupils was nothing short of ‘A-mazing’! We had another great day including a repeat of the workshop on short story writing  in the afternoon. We returned to our home-base in rapidly deteriorating weather feeling very happy,  and wondering if we would make our third Delta visit the next day!

Final visit of the week was our Wednesday visit to Serlby Park Academy in Bircotes, another school close to our home base – Brilliant! Another great welcome and more lovely hosts: it was deffo another 3/3 as our third Delta School ensured we had a  great time. The school and campus is only 3 years old and incorporates a senior school. We were very impressed by the build as a somewhat-larger KS2 audience took up position in a lovely hall with a very large screen and projector. Hence, Years 3 to 6 loved the imagery offered with our Mokee Joe presentation during the morning and Ten O’ Clock Caller workshop after lunch.

Thursday and Friday saw book-signings at a number of schools, including Crookesbroom and Serlby Park, and the queues of avid fans awaiting our arrival were a clear indication that our audiences were ‘hooked’ and ready to digest our spooky tales.

A huge ‘thank you’ to Heads, staff and pupils for looking after us so well and ensuring our Delta experiences started so well. Tomorrow we head back over to the Humber Estuary to visit another Delta school (Wybers Wood Academy) and will return to Estcourt Primary on Wednesday for a book signing. Can’t wait!

Oh well…three down and only another 29 Delta primaries to go. Brilliant!

 

PJM

NORTHERN LIGHTS

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 25th, 2019 2:47 pm Comments Off on NORTHERN LIGHTS

Two great schools visits took place close to our roots in South Yorkshire….Barnburgh Primary and Maltby Manor Academy.

              Nowhere is safe!

We had a great time at both schools, starting with Barnburgh Primary near Doncaster. The school is close by some popular fishing lakes, so I couldn’t wait to visit both school and lakes to ‘suss’ them out!  It happened that the weather was bitingly cold and hence the lovely warm atmosphere of the school was far more welcoming than the bitter, bleak surroundings of the  fishing lakes!  Mr Taylor and his KS2 audience were delightful…as was everyone who we met at the school. As usually happens, Mokee Joe swept the audience of their feet and by the end of the morning the school was awash with ‘Mokee Joe Mania’!  But nothing could have prepared us for the book-signing the next day! Years 3 to 6 snapped up all

           Great display at Barnburgh!

books on offer to the point where we had to arrange a re-visit next week following an imminent book delivery to top up supplies. It is a real credit to the school to see the ‘love of reading’ existing throughout the community. We can’t wait to be back and hope to build a relationship with Barnburgh Primary  over the coming years. Oh yes…and by the way…we loved the World War 1 Poppy Display at Barnburgh! This is the subject of my new book out in September – watch this space!

Next visit was to Maltby Manor Academy where we have family connections! Miley, in Year 3, is the daughter of our niece, Donna, the very person who inspired me to become an author. It was Donna who reminded us of the childhood game, Mokee Joe, in which I chased her and other family members in a scary game of hide and seek, dressed up as the infamous spooky character (Big black hat and big, scruffy coat).

The 2-form KS2 audience sat spellbound as we took them  through the entire Mokee Joe story, from books 1 to 6. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the pupils were a real credit to the staff in the way they interacted positively at every opportunity. Due to the enormous success at Barnburgh, we had nowhere near enough books to offer a next-day book-signing at Maltby Manor. However, supplies are due early next week and we will be returning to both schools to fulfil the needs of our avid fans. We can’t wait!

Thank you to Barnburgh and Malty Manor for giving us such a good time. We loved every moment of it, and sense very much that you did too. See you soon.

PJM

LOVELY IN LUTON

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 19th, 2019 12:27 pm Comments Off on LOVELY IN LUTON

 

             One VERY happy Dallow fan!

We got the New Year off to a great start with two visits to Luton schools. Dallow Primary are ‘old’ friends and Lark Rise Primary were new to us.

For the first time, Dallow Primary gave us all of their large KS2 group and Years 3 and 4 joined in the fun. Mokee Joe made a dramatic appearance and even chased an unsuspecting Year 3 around the hall! The hour and a half passed extremely quickly as we took the fab audience for an action-packed ride through all six books of the Mokee Joe series. The book signing, a few days later, proved conclusively that all Dallow year groups had been ‘hooked’ by (what we like to call) ‘Mokee Joe Mania’ as queues of pupils waited patiently to acquire signed copies of our books. A huge ‘thank you’ to Ms Trotman and all Dallow staff in general for making Kath and I feel so welcome. We had a brilliant time and can’t wait to be back.

Next visit was to a new school to us – Lark Rise Primary in nearby Dunstable. Once again the school KS2 audience proved enthusiastic, attentive and interactive in the best possible way. And once again Mokee Joe appeared and entertained all with his spooky exploits. After a great morning  in school and a restful lunch in a nearby café, we returned to perform a workshop on ‘scary-story writing’ with Year 6. I have to say it was one of the most memorable afternoons Kath and I have enjoyed for a long time. We even put together a scary story revolving

around Lark Rise and let’s just say that no-one will be suggesting a reason for spending a night in the school for a very long time…if ever!  The Year 6’s were just great and a pleasure to work with.

Once again the ensuing book signing was extremely well-attended and organised by the school in brilliant fashion!  A ‘HUGE’ thank you to Ms. Francis and all of the staff for being such friendly and helpful hosts. We so enjoyed our first visit to Lark Rise and sincerely hope to be invited back in the not-too-distant future.

Have a lovely weekend everyone…and don’t have nightmares!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019 TO ALL OUR FANS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 4th, 2019 2:46 pm Comments Off on HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019 TO ALL OUR FANS!

After a relaxing (sometimes tiring!) Christmas and New Year holiday, we are really keen to get back into schools to do what we do best, promote a love of reading…especially our very own creepy, action-packed stories!

                   There’s someone standing right behind you!

It should be a VERY exciting year ahead with my new book to be published around September, and a wonderful new academy trust to work with. The academy trust in question is keen for me to be their ‘Patron of Reading’ and with around 50 schools in the trust this should be more than enough to keep Kath and I VERY busy….Brilliant! 

Of all of our books, it has become increasingly evident that the Mokee Joe books are the most popular of all. There is something a little bit special about the creature that got me into writing in the first place and his everlasting battle to bring down the hero, Hudson Brown and his two friends, Molly Stevens and Ashley Swift. For this reason, we have decided to concentrate on the Mokee Joe series (six books in total) during 2019, as well as devoting a great deal of time to the new book as soon as it’s released. Paul Davies, our amazing cover artist, has read the new  book (title still a secret!) and he loves it. He will be speaking to me in just over a week’s time to discuss the cover and I just know it will prove to be the best cover yet! (No pressure, Paul!) Something else to look forward to is that the new  book will be my first ever story published in a hard-back edition…very exciting!

Oh well…I’m going out now. The sun is shining – though it’s very cold – but it’s good to get out and get the old brain ticking over. Lots to think about!  Hope you’ve all had a good Christmas break and I’ll bet anything that you’re just dying to get back to your schools next week…not!

All our very best wishes for 2019 and Kath and I will hope to meet up with you again before too long. Bye for now.

PJM

THE CHARM OF YARM

This post was written by peterjmurray on December 19th, 2018 2:45 pm Comments Off on THE CHARM OF YARM

We finished off our term by travelling up to one of our favourite places to stay – especially at Christmas! Yarm, near Stockton, in the NE, is a market town full of period charm with it’s cobbled High Street and narrow alleyways leading off (Wynds); some down to the riverside – all very Christmassy at this time of the year.

      Pete with ‘mega fan’ Hannah, at Conyers

Conyers High School is such a lovely school to visit- always with a new cohort of Year 7’s eagerly awaiting us as well as lots of older fans who’ve met with us on earlier visits. Ms Dawson, the school’s librarian, was soon by our side, organising the presentation beautifully as well as providing much-needed refreshments throughout the visit. Bonebreaker, Dawn Demons and PS13 were our chosen books to thrill and scare our audience with. Once again the presentation went down a storm as several brave Year 7’s joined us on stage to help bring the books to life. Too soon it was all over and Kath and I found ourselves in Yarm centre devouring cakes and coffee in our favourite restaurant, Cena. We met up with our really good friend (and chef), Peter Huggins – affectionately known as ‘Peter Popps’, and we were soon booking an evening meal for later in the week; something to really look forward to.

Next and final school of the term was a new visit for us – Northfield School in nearby Billingham. Laura and

               A Dawn Demons fan!

Mandy, the school’s librarians, were eagerly awaiting us, keen to ensure that everything would run smoothly. Kath and I were also keen to finish our term on a high note and hence everyone hoped the bigger audience of 300+ Year 7’s would enjoy the experience.

…Well, all I can say is that things just could not have gone better. The presentation was a repeat of that at Conyers, and once again budding Year 7 actors and actresses rose to the occasion and did what they had to do with confidence and aplomb! The book-signing the next day also proved a huge success. A thronging crowd of Year 7’s waited with a mixture of excitement and anticipation in a never-ending queue to get their books and have them signed. Fantastic!

                     Big fans at Northfield

After leaving our happy librarians (massive thanks to Kim, Laura and Mandy!), we headed back to Yarm Cottages to rest before enjoying our fab evening meal back at Cena. This all proved a great way to end the term – though we are already excited about being back with my new book next year.

‘MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE AT CONYERS AND NORTHFIELD – HAVE A GOOD ONE…AND KEEP ON READING (even if our books do give you nightmares!)

PJM

 

WONDERFUL WHITLEY BAY

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 28th, 2018 10:37 am Comments Off on WONDERFUL WHITLEY BAY

A very busy week ahead of us, we headed up to the NE to seek out the newly refurbished Spanish City area in non other than Whitley Bay – a haunt of some of our most favourite schools!

Seaton Sluice, Valley Gardens and Whytrig…all brilliant middle schools, and a smaller primary school mid-week, St Teresa’s RC Primary, made for a hectic but fantastic week in this lovely part of the world.

The ‘Mokee Joe Finale Presentation’ was performed at each of these schools and to say the audiences were enthusiastic and receptive is an understatement! We had a fab time at each school and returned to our hotel feeling a great sense of fulfilment.  One evening  I was in such a good mood I put on my running gear and headed off down the promenade to St Mary’s lighthouse! It was a stunning run on the way there, but on the way back black clouds suddenly moved in off the sea and I got drenched! C’est la Vie!

            Great coffee and cake!

Some great moments during the week both in and out school! Of course visits to our favourite coffee shops…Coastline up near Seaton Sluice and Crusoes…always a stop-off after Valley Gardens. And Marshalls in Tynemouth for the best-ever fish and chips!

…And will we ever forget Molly at St Teresa’s being chased by yours truly dressed as Mokee Joe!  When cornered, she stopped dead, turned round and ordered me to ‘WAIT!’ as she calmly returned to her place. Exactly what Molly would have done in the Mokee Joe adventures!  (We didn’t even know the girl was called Molly when we picked her to come on stage…spooky!)

Will we ever forget the MASSIVE audience of Years 5 and 6 at Valley Gardens…along with the staff

Love the seaside views from Crusoes!

they joined in and made the presentation truly memorable for all the right reasons. Can we ever thank Pauline enough for helping us in so many ways. She seemed to ‘wear so many hats’, one of them being librarian and organising a huge book-signing with perfect precision.  She also ran the first aid department and was later seen wearing her high-viz clothing to go out on duty! Of course, it was also great to join forces again with our good friend Jon Roys from Rotherham, who helped organise the presentation with his usual cool and totally efficient approach! Good on yer Jon!!

Seaton Sluice and Seaton Delaval (Whytrig)…full of keen fans and avid readers and so easy to get along with. Both book-signings were an absolute pleasure. And on our last day it was ‘Children in Need’ day and Whytrig threw themselves into it totally!  We were so impressed by the school’s effort to make this day the special one it deserves to be!

Many thanks to all our friends and fans in the NE…we will be back soon with the new book and we just know you’re gonna luv it!!

PJM

 

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