HIGH ELBOWS IN BRADFORD!

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 25th, 2020 6:21 pm Comments Off on HIGH ELBOWS IN BRADFORD!

Apologies for the delay in writing this blog, but as everyone knows things have been a little strange and surreal over the last week or so! I’m still not sure how we managed to finish our week visiting four wonderful Delta Academy Trust schools in and around Bradford.

Perfect base at Hewenden Mill

We chose to stay at the scenic Hewenden Mill, located at Cullingworth just five minutes from historic Howarth, once home to the Bronte family. We had the entire place to ourselves and it turned out to be a fabulous retreat at the end of a busy day.

Monday started more than well with our old friends at Whetley Academy. Years 3 and 4 enjoyed our Mokee Joe presentation in the first part of the morning, and upper KS2 took in our Poppy Warrior presentation during the hour before lunch. Both audiences were a pleasure to present to and many pupils were keen to learn about all of our books, especially in Years 5 and 6, many already familiar with a good selection of them.

After a great book signing the next day we were on our way to Southmere Academy, the threat of school closure due to the virus closing in on us. No matter! We ploughed on with our Poppy Warrior presentation to around half of the expected size audience (many parents chose to keep their children at home) and all passed extremely well. Somehow the week managed to keep on going and similar successful presentations were carried out at Lower Fields Primary Academy and Greengates Academy.

In actual fact, it was such a long time since we’d visited Greengates (about 15 years ago and at the start of my author

       Lots of great books to read at Greengates Academy

career) that we decided to present a Mokee Joe performance. The next day the school closed! PHEW! Just made it! It was interesting to see so many copies of our Mokee Joe books on the ‘buying shelf’ in the Greengates Foyer. The books had been previously purchased by the school to sell on to pupils at a huge discount. I’m guessing (and hoping) that the books quickly disappeared after my presentation in time for the enforced school holiday! (See pic).

During our ‘Bradford Week’ we met up with some good friends of ours from the Delta Schools – Ms Stansfield and Mrs Truelove

Lots of Poppy Warrior fans at Lower Fields

from Whetley, Ms Binns from Southmere, Ms Gavin  from Lower Fields and Mr Gaunt from Greengates.  A ‘HUGE’ thank you to each of them for ‘putting up’ with an author visit amid such strange goings on re the virus and it’s effects on the daily routine. Still…it was great to see so much positivity in the school community and I lost count of the ‘high elbows’ with so many of our fans in the wake of not being able to shake hands or ‘fist punch’ anymore!

Kath and I are at home now in self-isolation. I’ve got a new book to get on with…lots to do around our new house…and I’m working on making one of my books available for home tutoring (KRUSCHMEISTER) along with an activity pack to enjoy. So lots to do! Whatever happens, we will be thinking of you all and feel confident that you will rally round to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. See you all again soon…and that’s a promise!

PJM

FOUR ‘LUVLY’ SCHOOLS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 16th, 2020 6:42 pm Comments Off on FOUR ‘LUVLY’ SCHOOLS!

A great week spent in four ‘luvly’ schools all quite close to our South Yorkshire home – Bawtry Mayflower Primary, Holme Hall Primary, Hopton Primary and Abbeywood School (only half a mile from our home!).

Our son and author, Simon Murray, had already visited Bawtry Mayflower Primary and could not say enough good things about it. So we took his advice and got in touch and arranged a visit. Simon was right! Such a lovely school and Kath and I had a fab time there working with all of KS2 on our Mokee Joe books.

It was on to Chesterfield next, for a first time visit to Holme Hall Primary School. The school is only small with around 90 pupils in KS2. However, quality beat quantity as they say, and the pupils revelled in the antics of Mokee Joe and proved a great audience. The next day was Sports Relief day and we signed loads of books in between all the exciting events that were going on…Brilliant! We heard that one boy got a PB during a running race by imagining that he was being chased by the seven-foot Mokee Joe monster. Great tactic!

Our next school was a little bit further afield, but we knew it would be well worth the journey. This was our second visit to Hopton Primary out Huddersfield way. The pupils were still excited about our previous ‘Mokee Joe’ visit, but this time we launched in with our new Poppy Warrior book. It was interesting to note the beautiful WW1 tribute displayed in the school entrance…very appropriate for our visit. The morning presentation went down really well and after a fab lunch in a nearby cosy West Yorkshire café, we returned to carry out an afternoon workshop with Years 5 and 6. We focussed the workshop on the new book and soon had everyone avidly writing about their very own WW1 experience. The pupils were brilliant and in the very short time available produced some stunning writing. Well done to all of them and a big ‘thank you’ to Mrs Johnson and all of the staff for making our visit as enjoyable as the first. We will be back!!

Last visit of the week to a school new to us (and nearest to us) – Abbeywood School. We had the best time ever here, enthusing and entertaining around 30 pupils of different ages along with their very supportive members of staff. A good time was had by all as they say and Kath and I couldn’t stop talking afterwards about the great response of the pupils. Thank you, Bethany, for thinking of us and organising this lovely event. We will be back very soon to meet up with the staff and pupils again, and to sign books for them.

And so ends a ‘luvly’ week in four ‘luvly’ schools. Next week will be very different, but hopefully just as ‘luvly’ as we head up into Bradford to visit four more Delta Academy Trust schools…watch for the next blog!

PJM

WORLD BOOK WEEK

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 2nd, 2020 4:59 pm Comments Off on WORLD BOOK WEEK

It’s that special time of the year! As usual we were very busy with school bookings and our chosen location for 2020 World Book Week was the Leighton Buzzard / Bedford area.

       Molly’s new hairstyle (Space Buns)

Day 1 started at the Gilbert Inglefield Middle School in Leighton Buzzard. Kath and I were up bright and early in our rented farm cottage and soon on our way for our first visit to this school. Unfortunately, the gremlins beat us to it, and on our arrival we were told that building alterations had put the school projector out of action. However, whilst we sipped a welcome cup of tea to steady our nerves, a ‘rescue party’ of school maintenance staff and senior teachers remedied the situation and we were soon ‘good to go’!

My planned time with 205 year 5’s and 6’s was cut from 90 minutes to one hour, but I launched into my full blown Mokee Joe presentation and somehow got through the six-book series in the allocated time. I sensed the audience were pleasantly stunned by the end of the hour and were appropriately ‘fired up’ to pick up a book (one of mine of course) and READ!!  Job done!  We found out how well the job had been done when we returned the next day for our book signing. Watch this space!

Day 2. Well…the book signing was amazing! The Year 5’s and 6’s were queued out of the library door waiting to

Memorial in Leighton  Buzzard

get their hands on the Mokee Joe books. And so many of our new fans purchased the entire series of six books! Prior to the signing we presented our new book Poppy Warrior to the Year 7’s and 8’s. They too proved a great audience. It’s always a challenge to engage this older age group, but the Gilbert Inglefield ‘oldies’ were great. Lots of them acquired signed copies of the book during their own signing and the feedback from everyone was more than encouraging!

A BIG thank you to Mrs Lewin and everyone at the school for looking after us so well. We really hope we managed to make World Book Week a bit special for you.

Day 3. A reunion with a teacher friend of ours, Mrs Jones, at her new school (new to her!), the St Thomas Moore Catholic High School in Bedford. We decided to go all out with the scary stuff and present her Year 7’s with Scabbajack and Dawn Demons. It was a great setting with the screen and projector in their theatre/drama studio and very soon the audience were squirming in their seats, but loving every minute of it.

             Bedford Boys Prep

Day 4. World Book Day. A visit to Bedford Boy’s Prep School brought back memories of my own teaching days at Cheam Prep School in Berkshire. We were only there for the morning and worked hard with two audiences (all boys of course!)…around 200 KS2 boys for the first hour, and a similar number of boys in KS3 for the second hour. Most of them were dressed up as their favourite book characters, hence a very surreal atmosphere in the stunning theatre setting! I presented my new book, Poppy Warrior, to both sets of boys and drew them tantalisingly into the story. It’s great to report that both younger and older audiences were VERY easy to present to. They joined in eagerly and when the occasion demanded it, they sat so quietly you couldn’t hear a pin drop (forgive the cliché!).  A big thank you to the boys and staff for looking after us so well. It was a real pleasure and made World Book Day very special for us…I hope for the boys too!

Day 5.  Today was a catch up day and two book signings for us!  Firstly, back to Bedford Boys Prep, and after a lovely brunch provided by our new friend and librarian, Mrs Lumley-Wood, we signed lots and lots of Poppy Warriors for VERY eager boys, desperate to get into the story and no doubt erase the ‘cliff hanger’s I’d left them on the day before! Brilliant!

Onto St Thomas Moore High School next and we couldn’t believe how many Year 7’s arrived in the library during their lunchtime to take advantage of our two book deal, complete with a free Dawn Demons poster. Many pupils gave up most of their lunchtime to get their hands on the books…very flattering from our point of view! Thank you Mrs Jones for looking after us so well. Kath and I felt sad when the time came to depart. That’s one part of my job I don’t like; you spend such a short time with new friends and old friends before it’s off and away and on to the next school!

Well…that’s it. Another World Book Week comes to a close. Believe it or not I’ve just been booked for the next one in 2021! I hope I survive that long! Kath and I thank you all for such a great week and we hope you enjoyed this special literary time of the year as much as we did. See you all again soon.

PJM

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