VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 10th, 2019 12:21 pm Comments Off on VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE!

Three very different schools with one thing in common – they were all a pleasure to visit.

First stop was a Delta Academy School –  Kingston Park Academy. This was our first visit so we presented our Mokee Joe series to around 120 KS2 pupils.  It was great fun chasing a ‘victim’ around the school hall again. All of the children seemed thrilled to hear about the Mokee Joe story and the following day we signed lots of books for our new fans.

Next stop was a high school in Chesterfield – Whittington Green.  Totally different to the previous school audience; around 100 Year 7 pupils, so we decided to present two of our most scary books, Scabbajack and Dawn Demons. At first, the audience seemed quiet and reserved, but within a very short time they were all totally hooked!  I thoroughly enjoyed entertaining and enthusing them and by the end of the presentation I felt I could have gone on with them forever! The next day we signed loads of books for a very enthusiastic new set of fans. Brilliant!

Final school of the week – Wakefield Girls High School Juniors. Wow! What an experience.  It’s almost 8 years since we visited this lovely school, but none of the staff who we’d met all those years ago had forgotten us.  Around 180 KS2 girls made up our VERY enthusiastic audience. To say they were brilliant would be an understatement. As Craig would have said in Strictly Come Dancing – A-Maze-Ing!  They couldn’t get enough of the Mokee Joe story and by the end of the morning they were desperate to get their hands on the books. Despite the extreme weather and flood chaos all around us, we somehow managed to have a smooth journey back to the school the following day for our book-signing. We knew it would be a big one, but nothing prepared us for how many of our new fans were keen to get the full set of books. My hand was dropping off after almost four hours of continuous signing…but no one is complaining. We are all about inspiring reading and a success like this makes it all worthwhile.  Thank you to all the lovely girls and to the wonderfully welcoming staff who looked after us. We can’t wait to be back…and it won’t be 8 years this time!

Have a lovely weekend everyone and keep in touch.

PJM

CHILTERN DELIGHTS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 10th, 2019 10:03 am Comments Off on CHILTERN DELIGHTS!

Kath and I visited two of our favourite schools in Luton, Denbigh High School and Chiltern Academy. These are part of  the Chiltern Learning Trust,  a trust which continues to grow and provide us with an increasing number of delightful schools to work with.

      A very cute Poppy Warrior!

On this occasion we spent the best part of four days working in Denbigh and Chiltern Academies, presenting our new book – POPPY WARRIOR – and carrying out extensive workshops with Years 7 and 8. As usual, the days were very well organised and the staff and pupils gave us a great welcome. Both schools provided us with some superb writing from their aspiring writers and I finished up reading and making comments on around 50 pieces of work – PHEW! – it was like being a teacher again!  One or two budding artists also provided us with some inspired artwork as shown in this blog. It was a real treat to work to work in a brand new school. Chiltern Academy has just moved to its new site and everything is gleaming…how long will it last??  They even have a brand new mascot – a fab dog called Flynn (Don’t know whether I’ve spelt it right). Hope you like the pic.

   Pete with Ms Lane and Flynn.

A huge thank you to Mr Amjad and Ms Lane for being the perfect host and hostess

Big fans from Chiltern Academy

during our visits. We sincerely hope all of the pupils have enjoyed the Poppy Warrior after we signed so many books. It is of course a very significant time to dwell on a WW1 story as I write this blog on Sunday 10th November! I hope my new book will add to the tributes towards those wonderful heroes who gave their lives for us!

PJM

POPPY WARRIOR LEADS THE WAY!

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 19th, 2019 5:01 pm Comments Off on POPPY WARRIOR LEADS THE WAY!

After the delights of Hexham, Kath and I made our way out to Humberside to visit two lovely Delta schools, Estcourt  and Willows Primary Academies.

It was our second visit to Estcourt in Hull, and it turned out to be just as successful as the first. Our ‘Estcourt fans’ were ready to move on from Mokee Joe and hear about our new book – Poppy Warrior. To say they embraced the new story would be a gross understatement!  The somewhat emotional presentation, themed on WW1, went down a storm and the next day we could hardly keep pace with the queue of customers waiting to acquire a signed book and poster.

It was our first visit to The Willows Academy (on the other side of the Humber Bridge in Grimsby). They had already purchased a substantial supply of Mokee Joe books and it just needed me to do my stuff and inspire  the KS2 audience to pick up the books and read them! No problem! After dressing up as the infamous MJ and chasing a brave soul around the school hall, the excitement built rapidly, and by the end of the morning the pupils were hooked! Since the visit we’ve had great feedback from Ms Beckett, the head teacher, and it seems the children are getting their hands on the books left, right and centre!

 Serious competition from Willows   Academy.

It was back to my home town of Rotherham and away to visit our great friends at St Gerard’s RC and a little further afield to The Willows Academy (yes…another one!) close to Doncaster. The new book, Poppy Warrior, went down a storm at both schools and the subsequent signings were amazing. Our good friend, Mr Drury, organised everything brilliantly and somehow managed to get 70 + pupils into his classroom to enjoy a very intimate story-telling session that had the audience on the edge of their seats (even though most of them were sitting on the floor!)

It was the same at The Willows Primary…a fab experience, made even more interesting, by learning that a great many pupils had entered a spooky story writing competition inspired by our last visit. Mrs Kirsopp did a wonderful job in organising everything and was overjoyed by the standard of the KS2 writers!  One entry was so good I was convinced it had been copied from the internet  – far too high a standard for a Year 6! But no…it turned out that Liv, the girl in question, is a gifted writer and it was a real pleasure to meet her and have a chat about her literary talent.  Other entries were also of a very high standard, showing great imagination and writing ability.  No wonder the staff appeared so excited!

Well Kath and I have been really inspired by our first half-term school visits and next week we plan to have our half term break and a rest. Half term varies slightly depending on the location; the week after next we are working in Luton at two of our favourite schools, Denbigh High School and Chiltern Academy…already great fans, and I know they are going to love the new book!

PJM

POPPPY WARRIOR INVADES HEXHAM

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 6th, 2019 8:45 am Comments Off on POPPPY WARRIOR INVADES HEXHAM

Three schools in and around Hexham made for one of the best weeks of school visits that Kath and I can remember!

Hexham, Ovingham and St Josephs Middle Schools provided fab audiences of Years 5 to 8, who fortunately for us, seemed captivated by our new book – POPPY WARRIOR. The presentation provides scary spooky moments to tie in nicely with the genre of my books, but at the same time it is an emotional, emotive story with lots of factual history

      With a keen fan, Heidi, at            Hexham Middle School

surrounding the horrific events that took place in the Great War of 1914-18. So far I have been thrilled with the reaction of the pupils and I’m guessing there are literally hundreds of pupils in the Hexham area this weekend with their heads buried in the novel, eager to find the outcome of Josh Palmer’s experiences in dealing with the ghost of his Great, great grandfather Stanley!

As I said earlier, this was one of the most enjoyable weeks that Kath and I can remember. So many lovely fans in theshape of both staff and pupils, so much wonderful organisation from our friends Nikkee, Suzanne and Kirsten, and a wonderful stay in a grade 2 listed cottage (dated 1669) in nearby Ridding Mill. Fortunately our old cottage wasn’t haunted – I may write spooky books, but I’m the biggest coward in the world when it comes to the supernatural!!

A HUGE  thank you to all up in Northumberland – you do really live in a beautiful place – and we will be back before long.

PJM

 

POPPY WARRIOR LAUNCH

This post was written by peterjmurray on September 14th, 2019 6:01 pm Comments Off on POPPY WARRIOR LAUNCH

Pheasant Bank Dancers

Wednesday 11th September, 2019 will remain in our memory for a long time…and not because it happens to be our son, Simon’s, birthday!

We finally launched our brand new book at the fabulous Pheasant Bank Academy, Rossington, near Doncaster. The book was launched with two spectacular presentations – one in the morning and one in the afternoon; and much of the success was as much due to the school’s involvement as well as our own.  To start with, never have Kath and I seen such displays, both inside and outside the school, to fit in with the poppy-orientated and military theme of the book. Incredible!

The theme of the narrative is centred on World War 1 and it was great to see the British Legion represented in the audience, as the Pheasant Bank Dance Troup performed a spectacular military-styled routine…brilliant! Then it was my turn to stir emotions with a set of thought-provoking images on screen, set to wonderfully appropriate music.

Next, two courageous Year 6’s joined us on stage – Alex and Crystal – to act out the story line; to say that they were

Pete with Alex (Josh) and Crystal (Jess). Heroes of the book!

amazing would be an understatement!  They did so well in front of  an audience of VIP’s and MIP’s  (I consider the KS2  pupils to be MIP’s – Most Important People!)

By the end of each performance, most, if not all of the audience, were full of stirred emotions, hooked on the storyline and desperate to get their hands on the book.

Following the launch, the head teacher, Miss Robinson, ensured that everyone of her pupils received a copy of the book and the next day my hand nearly dropped off as I signed each and every one of them.

Even Miss Robinson’s dog loves the story!

I have to say that never have I witnessed such devotion to a book launch by a single school, and experienced such a touching warm ambience created by every pupil and member of staff without exception. (I do apologise if this sounds exaggerated and somewhat ‘over the top’, but it’s exactly true! Kath and I were totally overwhelmed).

A MASSIVE thanks to everyone involved in the launch – too many people to mention individually – but I really don’t think any of this would have happened without the foresight shown by our close friend and Pheasant Bank Academy Head Teacher, Miss Pippa Robinson!  Thanks Poppy! Oops…I mean ‘Pippa!

PJM

BLISTERING END TO THE TERM!

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 25th, 2019 9:42 am Comments Off on BLISTERING END TO THE TERM!

Wow! What a way to finish off the term.

Great time at Willow Primary

Willow Primary School in Doncaster provided the perfect finish to a busy academic year. Our visit was on the day before the end of term due to me having a flu virus a few days earlier. But thank goodness we were still able to fit it in…it was such an enjoyable experience in every aspect. Simon Ingram and Tracy Kirsopp proved perfect hosts and the presentation and afternoon workshop passed without a hitchWhat was really moving about our visit, was that the KS2 audience were already avid fans of our books. During the book-signing (on the very last day of term!) each of the pupils purchasing our Mokee Joe series chatted on relentlessly about our other books and how they had enjoyed them. It was very humbling to hear how enthusiastic they were.

Thank you to all at Willow Primary. Have a great summer holiday and keep on reading.

Just to give an even better ending to the term, I received an e-mail from a 16 year-old girl who wanted to tell me how well she remembered my visit when she was a junior at one of my favourite schools. She went on to say how she still immersed herself in my books if she felt a little low or under pressure. Isn’t that great! I do the same thing myself. It should always be remembered that exciting action-packed novels provide a great form of escapism from the pressures of everyday life. The imagination is a powerful tool and there are no limits to where it can take you! I’ll get off my soap box now and say ‘thank-you’ to Molly (yes – her name is the same as my fave character in the Mokee Joe books) and wish everyone of my fans – pupils, staff and anyone else who knows me – a great summer break and lots of best wishes.

(My new book is with me now and I can’t wait to unveil it next term…watch this space!)

What will the new book look like???

Yeahhh…the new books are here!

PJM

‘POPPY WARRIOR’ GOES TO PRINT

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 10th, 2019 11:37 am Comments Off on ‘POPPY WARRIOR’ GOES TO PRINT

I’m very aware that I haven’t updated my blog for a while and apologies to those who have checked in recently.

The truth is that we’ve been visiting schools and finishing off my new book (Poppy Warrior) at the same time…exhausting!

Bowling Green Primary in Stainland, near Halifax, Morley Place Academy in nearby Conisbrough, Craven Primary in Hull, Eckington Juniors (old friends) and Worlaby Academy in Brigg – all provided us with fabulous recent visits. As per usual, the staff and pupils in all of these schools were more than welcoming and a real pleasure to work in. And also, as per usual, the pupils couldn’t wait to get their hands on our books.

We rounded off our visits with a return to Pheasant Bank Academy and did a Bonebreaker presentation (first for a while) and followed up by giving the audience a ‘taster’ of the new book, which is actually set in their very own school!  The whole thing went down a storm and created a real ‘buzz’ of excitement!

The new book arrives with me on Friday 19th July and we’re so very excited to see it – my first hard-back book so far.

Just a small part of new ‘Poppy Warrior’ cover

Paul Davies has made a wonderful job of the cover and to the left is a taster for all my fans:

The book is themed on World War 1 and the story revolves around identical Year 6 twins, Josh and Jess Palmer. From the moment they arrive at their new school (Pheasant Bank Academy), Josh falls victim to a whole series of spooky events. He will need all of his amazing sisters support as things go from bad to worse. Josh being  finally confronted with the awful truth – that real life in the trenches in World War 1 was very different to the virtual reality of his obsessive computer game!!

 

As you can imagine, loads of schools have already booked for my planned exciting new presentation. I can’t wait to tell everyone about it, but until I’m ready and finished, enjoy the summer and keep on reading. See you all next term.

PJM

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

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