JEWELS OF THE SOUTH!

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Big fans at Winchcombe School

It was just great after the hectic start to the term to head back to our fab Berkshire retreat to have a little well-earned R&R.  But not for long! After losing myself in the Enbourne Valley, fishing, running and cycling…it was back into schools to talk about our books and to inspire pupils to use their amazing imaginations!

First stop was Mortimer St Mary – our second visit. But this time to work with Year 6’s on ‘How to write a seriously scary short story’ (try saying that!). The Year 6’s were great to work with and the next day saw almost every one of them lined up to get a signed copy of my short-story collection ‘Ten O’ Clock Caller’. We are returning once again to this brilliant school to perform our Bonebreaker Presentation just prior to Christmas. Can’t wait! It will be nice to have another excuse to meet up with our good friend, Carole Ockerby – we used to teach together at Cheam. Carole now teaches part-time at Mortimer St Mary – see you again soon, Carole!

Another wonderful (but exhausting!) day followed back at Park House School in Newbury. A big presentation to the Year 7’s followed by lots of workshops. The students were more than keen to join in with everything and Jane Stewart, the librarian, proved yet again a fab host, constantly keeping us supplied with tea, coffee and biscuits throughout the day…a big ‘thank you’ to all at Park House for giving us such a fulfilling day!

Pete and Kath with Richard Moor at his Cheam School book-launch

The next visit was VERY special…back to where the whole author thing started ten years ago – Cheam School, where I taught for 15 years! And the first event was a book-launch by a rival author! Our close friend, Richard Moore, had completed his wonderful book on the evolution of Cheam throughout his long career spanning over 30 years. The book paints an amazing portrait of events following the lives of headteachers and staff who lived and worked there – much of my own life I have to say. It was so refreshing for me to be on the other side of the author’s desk waiting to have my copy signed. I felt distinctly nervous!  And during my own event, it seemed more than strange to take to the stage in front of an audience where none of the pupils knew me (Years 3 to 5), but they certainly took to the Mokee Joe presentation and were more than fired up when we left. Of course, my biggest adult fan at the school, Jane Johnson, was there at the back of the packed auditorium, hanging on every word! Thanks, Jane, you are such an inspiration for me to carry on writing!

Hurst Lodge in Ascot and Moulsford Prep in Oxfordshire followed – both providing  great return visits. The dramatic

Moonwailer Werewolf victim at Hurst Lodge, Ascot

Bonebreaker Trilogy formed the basis of the presentations, followed up by the spooky, scary Scabbajack.  Much to their disgust, we decided to leave the Year 3’s out from part two of the presentation  – we thought the Dawn Demons, Moonwailer and Scabbajack novels might prove a bit too much for them, especially when their imaginations kicked in at night! I wonder just how many of our readers have a little peek under the bed before they go to sleep???  One poor teacher at Hurst Lodge wished he’d not looked under the bed after reading Moonwailer! You can see what happened to him in the pic – I didn’t even know that werewolves hid under the bed!

Great follow-up work from Winchcombe fans!

Final school for us before the half-term break was a real bonus – Winchcombe School in Newbury. I checked my diary and found an entry of September 2003 to show that this was one of my very first school visits all those years ago. I have to say that our present-day audience proved very special – they were magnificent in the way they interacted and threw themselves into everything with complete enthusiasm. I will never forget little Chelsea having fits of laughter as I chased her in my Mokee Joe costume – fab fun…as scary things should be! Kath and I were also humbled in seeing the mass of follow-up work the next day by some of the children – Brilliant!

Well…that’s about all for now. So much more I could have written, but I’ve got a couple of new books to get on with. Just left to wish EVERYONE that we’ve worked with over the last half-term a wonderful break and a happy and eventful Halloween…remember….scary should be fun! Enjoy!

PJM

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