JERSEY PEARLS!

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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

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