NORTH EASTERLY MAGIC!

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 16th, 2018 5:33 pm Comments Off on NORTH EASTERLY MAGIC!

Our week up in the North East has got off with a ‘BANG’ to say the least! There’s no shortage of avid readers up in this area and it’s pleasing to report that most of them are reading (or have read) our books!

Mokee Joe fans from Belsay School

First stop on Monday morning was Ponteland. Our host, Mr Harvey (Belsay School), had organised a get-together of Year 6’s from six primary schools local to the area to assemble at Richard Coates Primary to see my presentation. The schools were all fabulous to work with and I feel I must mention them by name – Ponteland, Whalton C of E, Belsay, Heddon, Stamfordham and ,of course, Richard Coates. The presentation was fast and furious, but at least it seemed to engage the 300+ audience as I covered the entire series of Mokee Joe books produced over the last 14 years. A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Mr Harvey and all of the staff from each of the schools for taking the trouble to bring our audience to us…we hope you got as much out of it as we did. We really hope to visit you again in the not-too-distant future.

DAY 2 – Highfield Middle School.  We have visited this school a good

            The Amazing Highfield Librarians

number of times throughout my author career…and not without reason. The teachers have always pulled together to create a fantastic reading culture in this BIG school community. Once again Kath and I were received like ‘old friends’ and shown the utmost friendliness by the youngest Year 5 to the eldest of the Year 8s. We love working at this school! Mr Bell and his team of keen librarians set about arranging the hall in readiness to accommodate all 400+ pupils. They did a sterling job and I began my presentation in front of a brilliant audience where everyone could see and hear exactly what was going on and join in at every opportunity. One and half hours passed VERY quickly to say the least! The staff and pupils were so appreciative I felt I could have gone on forever!

Tomorrow, we return to officially open the school library and sign books for our willing fans…it could be a very interesting experience and I just wonder if the record for the number of Mokee Joe books signed in one afternoon might well be broken??

   Phoebe with her fab ‘Molly’ hairstyle

Well…I think the record WAS just about broken! I think my signing hand was broken too by the end of it! The signing went on forever and everyone was just ‘buzzing’ about books and artwork and all things to with literacy. Brilliant! We even signed a book for Phoebe who had overnight adjusted her hair to Molly’s new hairstyle (Molly is the girl hero in the Mokee Joe books) and it seems that ‘space-buns’ are fast becoming really trendy.

‘R’ FOR CHALLNEY

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 6th, 2018 1:27 pm Comments Off on ‘R’ FOR CHALLNEY

Wow! What an amazing couple of days in Luton! OK…so Luton may not be the most attractive location in the UK, but the schools are nothing short of brilliant to work in. Challney High School for Girls proved no exception.

Great logo!

We were immediately impressed by the school and its campus – very attractive – and drawn to the logo decorating the wall outside the school reception (see pic). After working in this school all day Thursday and spending much of Friday signing books, Kath and I decided the ‘C’ in the logo should be replaced with an ‘R’. Never have we been treated with such ‘RESPECT’ as shown by the Challney Girls. We worked with just over 200 Year 7’s, but the elder pupils were just as keen to meet and chat with us, remembering us from our visits to their primary schools in the not-too-distant past.

A very big presentation on Thursday morning followed by two workshops may well have proved exhausting, but incredibly worthwhile as our keen followers hung on every word and joined in at every opportunity.

To finish off our great visit, on returning home we discovered a ‘little note’ had been slipped into one of  our bags. I reproduce the message below:

‘Hi Pete

I just wanted to say thank you for inspiring me. The first time I read your book (Bonebreaker) I wanted to be an author. I attempted to write a book where all your evil characters and the good characters in your book go into a haunted maze. Other people go into the maze and think it’s just a Halloween stunt…but it’s not…and the good characters have to save everyone! Anyway, thanks for inspiring me again.

Best wishes from your biggest fan!

I suspect my ‘biggest fan’ is a bit on the shy side as she didn’t sign off to say who she was. But if you’re reading this, then an even bigger ‘THANK YOU’ from me. It’s little messages like this that keep authors like me inspired to carry on writing!

…So thank you, Ms Anonymous, thank you Challney girls and thank you Challney staff…you did us proud. We will be back!

PJM

 

BRILLIANT AT BAILY!

This post was written by peterjmurray on September 28th, 2018 9:35 am Comments Off on BRILLIANT AT BAILY!

Kath and I have visited this school a good few times during my author career, but nothing could have prepared us for the fantastic response we got during our recent visit. Our lovely librarian friend, Ms Mumford, accepted our offer to introduce the final instalment in the Mokee Joe series – Mokee Joe: Scourge of the Emirates – set in the glamorous location of Dubai.

Come the day of the visit, I felt a little bit nervous of only having just over an hour for my presentation, which normally lasts for just under two hours! The big audience of Years 4,5 and 6 sat before me in stiff silence as I launched into a ‘potted’ coverage of  how I became an author followed by speedy snippets of the first five books. By the time I reached the intro of the final book, the audience were totally relaxed, rocking with laughter at my non-stop jokes and funny anecdotes, but at the same time gripped with descriptions of the ensuing battles between the hero, Hudson Brown, and his terrifying enemy, Mokee Joe.

It was a fabulous hour of fun and it passed only too quickly! Once again, the Francis Baily audience did themselves proud…totally engaged, interactive when required, and to use the old cliché – ‘you couldn’t hear a pin drop’ during my readings.

The calm before the storm in the school library!

All very well, but how would the book signing go the next day? Ms Mumford kindly allowed us to use her  fabulously cosy library, and she and Kath set up the signing area with lots of Mokee Joe books for the pupils to browse over.

…What followed had to be seen to be believed! So many boys and girls eager to get their hands on the books and ‘devour’ them at the earliest opportunity! The excitement as they looked over the books, ran their hands over the richly-embossed covers, and enjoyed the smell of the newly printed pages… Who says that children are not excited by books anymore!

The signing went on for the whole of the afternoon and we still hadn’t finished by the close of school. In fact we returned the next day to finish off with a Year 5 class who unselfishly volunteered to curtail their excitement for a further 24 hours.

All in all a wonderful experience and the reason I am so keen to keep on writing and working with such an enthusiastic and enjoyable age group. The children at Francis Bailey proved great friends, polite and helpful without exception. Thank you to them (and the staff) for everything.

We will be back!!

BACK WITH A BANG!

This post was written by peterjmurray on September 23rd, 2018 11:09 am Comments Off on BACK WITH A BANG!

I can’t remember starting a new academic year with such an amazing week as last week. Three ‘cracking’ schools in my native South Yorkshire – Dronfield Stonelow Juniors, Thurcroft Junior Academy and Kiveton Park Meadows Juniors provided the perfect start-back after the long hot summer holidays.

Pete with Mitchell – a life-long fan, at Kiveton Park Meadows.

I have visited each of these schools a good few times during my author career and have many fans spread over several generations within these lovely school communities. As one of the young teachers said to me at Kiveton Park Meadows, ‘I’ve grown up with your Mokee Joe books and can’t believe you’re here today to present the final book in the series.’ (Mokee Joe: Scourge of the Emirates). Needless to say I signed a book for ‘young Mitchell’ the very next day!

I want to congratulate the head teachers and staff on the warm ambient nature of each of their schools as well as managing to create a fabulous reading culture throughout every year group. Will we ever forget the length of those queues of children desperate to get their hands on our books and ‘devour’ them at their earliest opportunity!

As one of the teachers said to us. ‘I can’t believe how many children are already sitting in the playground, shivering in the cold, but totally absorbed in their reading.’  I quickly pointed out to her that they may well have been shivering with fright rather than cold!

Thanks again to everyone for making us so welcome…enjoy your books and have a great run-up to Christmas…but don’t forget that Halloween is just around the corner!

PJM

JERSEY PEARLS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 3rd, 2018 3:47 pm Comments Off on JERSEY PEARLS!

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

‘BUZZING’ ABOUT BOOKS IN LEIGHTON BUZZARD!

This post was written by peterjmurray on June 8th, 2018 1:40 pm Comments Off on ‘BUZZING’ ABOUT BOOKS IN LEIGHTON BUZZARD!

Kath and I were fortunate enough to be invited to  Linsdale Middle School in Leighton Buzzard.

The school is big and has over 600 pupils in Years 5 to 8. Hence, we decided to work over two days, the first day with Years 7 and 8 and the second day with Years 5 and 6. Some authors would say that to enthuse the older pupils in the summer term would be a challenge…especially the Years 8’s in their final year of middle school. But, as already ‘tweeted’ in my latest ‘tweet’…NO WAY! Both audiences proved exceptionally easy to perform to…fully attentive, interactive and hanging on every spooky word!

                  Great Library Display!

The Year 7’s and 8’s were entertained with my dramatic Bonebreaker presentation and some of the pupils provided excellent acting skills as they joined me on stage. Will we ever forget the six-feet tall Dunston, doing his best to help out his much-shorter Saxon hero-friend, Wilfrid!  Comedy entertainment at its best to say the least!

The Year 5’s and 6’s were just as entertaining and seemed fully-engaged in the full-blown Mokee Joe presentation…climaxing with the final MJ book set in Dubai.

Both audiences provided a select group of pupils for our afternoon workshop based on our Ten O’ Clock Caller short story collection, and again, brilliant fun with brilliantly-attentive pupils!

The two days passed only too quickly, but the most exciting event was still to come in the form of a book-

          Kath can’t bear to look!

signing-for-all during our final day. Over my entire author career of around 15 years, I can’t remember signing so many books in one morning (around 3 hours). I think it’s safe to say that records were broken…as seemed my signing hand at the end (repetitive strain injury!). Again, during the signing, our entire crowd of enthusiasts were polite, well-mannered and more than friendly in their conversation and relentless questioning.

WOW! Thank you Linslade for being so amazing and renewing my confidence to go on and write more scary books and to make more school visits. You reminded Kath and I why we love our job so much and why we feel so privileged to visit schools like yours. A BIG ‘thank you to Mrs Lewin, Kelly the lovely librarian, and all of the staff for making us so welcome…and that includes Matt the IT expert, the reception staff and the caretakers.

WE WILL BE BACK!

PJM

SUPERB IN STOCKTON

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 26th, 2018 5:42 pm Comments Off on SUPERB IN STOCKTON

The 21st Anniversary of the Stockton Children’s Book Award finally arrived.

Along with 14 other authors, Kath and I headed for the Stockton Library special weekend celebrations. The library were very generous and put us up in a nearby hotel and sent a taxi to collect us to take us to the library on Sunday morning along with 7 fellow authors. The other 7 invited authors had spent the previous day (Saturday) with their fans…now it was our turn!

Outside brilliant Stockton Library

Scabbajack was the reason for my invite. It won the award back in 2012 and it was pleasing to find out that it’s still a popular read in the Stockton schools today…despite it being very scary! Well, we had a fabulous day! As usual, Lucy Carlton-Walker had organised everything with super efficiency and our two presentations, with lunch in between, and subsequent book signings, all passed smoothly and without a hitch. Thank you so much, Lucy, and to all of the library staff for making our day so enjoyable. We loved every minute of it.

The next morning found us at Tilery Primary School. We have a long-standing relationship with this lovely school and it was great to find out that they are still HUGE fans of our books. We performed our full-blown Mokee Joe presentation to a fab KS2 audience. I could have talked to them forever…and I think they would have sat there forever if we’d given them the chance! Tomorrow, our son, Simon, arrives and he is going to entertain and enthuse the KS1 pupils with his Icky Doo Dah books. Thank you Tilery Primary for inviting us back…we love visiting your school and will continue to do so as long as you keep on reading our books!

Next visit was to our old friends at Conyers School.  Five Year 10 boys greeted us, helped us set up in the auditorium and even managed to acquire a cup of tea for the both of us. Amazing!

A big audience of Year 7’s (232) sat extremely attentively (very polite!) as I talked on about the reason why I was in Stockton in the first place – Scabbajack – followed by a dramatic presentation of the sequel – Kruschmeister. The performance was well-received and I thought the audience did me proud in sitting on their hard seats for an hour and a half! Phew!

The following day we arrived back at Conyers in the midst a ferocious hail storm, made our way to the library and managed to sign books for a long queue of fans, chat to the lovely librarians and somehow eat our lunch at the same time. Exhausting but brilliant!  BIG ‘thank you’ to Ms Dawson for being a superb hostess (as usual), and to her fab team of librarians for looking after us so well. We will be back!

Final visit of the Stockton tour was to St John the Baptist Primary in nearby Billingham. Unfortunately it turned out that the Year 4’s were out swimming and the Year 6’s were heavily involved in SATS preparation, so our audience was restricted to Years 3 and 5. But didn’t they make up for it!  All of the children were brilliant and a pleasure to perform to. The Mokee Joe presentation went  down a storm and we couldn’t get over how many of them were waiting the next day to get their hands on the books. It seemed Simon had also made an impact working with KS1 on his Icky Doo Dah books and hence the school was more than pleased with our visit.

Good food with good friends!

We finished off the tour with a visit to the Cenna Restaurant in Yarm to link up with a good friend of ours, Peter Huggins, alias  ‘Peter Popps’ to those who know him in the area. Peter has followed us over the years since we visited his daughters’ school, Yarm Primary. His eldest daughter, Sophie, is now preparing for university, but is currently helping out in the restaurant and she actually served Kath and I with our meal. Brilliant! The meal, by the way, was excellent, and Kath will tell you that the dessert was to ‘die for’!

Oh well, back to base for a well-earned rest. Just hope the snow and ice keep away so I can get some fishing in! Thanks to everyone who met up with us in the Stockton area…it was a real pleasure, as always!

PJM

BACK ON HOME GROUND!

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 18th, 2018 5:12 pm Comments Off on BACK ON HOME GROUND!

After our great week during World Book Week on the Isle of Man, it was good to be back on home ground, and especially to be in and around our roots in Doncaster and Sheffield.

Put that baby down! On second thoughts…no, don’t!

First stop was a new school to us, Mallard Primary, and not a million miles from our South Yorkshire base…about 15 minutes to be exact. We entertained a good-size KS2 audience for the morning, introducing them to yours truly and to the entire Mokee Joe series. I love talking about the recent final book in the series, set in Dubai, and to see their faces as I show Mokee Joe holding his hostage (a baby) at the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa; about to do battle with the hero of the books, Hudson Brown. All this is down the great artwork of our brilliant artist, Paul Davies. Where would we be without him! Kath and I couldn’t get over how many pupils queued to get books and posters signed on our return the following day. All credit to Ms Wilde and the staff for striving to develop a reading culture in this lovely school. We hope to stay in contact with Mallard Primary and to help in any way we can. Thanks for having us…we will be back!

Second visit of the week was not a new school to us…far from it! Birkdale Prep have been with me since the start of

           My new scary picture!

my author career and it was fitting to introduce them to the final book in the Mokee Joe series. But not before presenting my spooky, scary football-themed book, Kruschmeister.  An all-boys audience of Years 5 and 6 were an absolute delight to entertain for an hour and a half. I was so impressed with the pic one of the teachers took of me n action – my newly updated Wikipedia author profile at the back of me and the boys in the foreground. Having said that, my pic looks a bit on the scary side!

After nosing around where Kath was brought up on nearby Ecclesall Road (Ecky Road as the locals refer to it) we returned the next day to do a signing, and once more we were delighted at the number of boys queuing up to acquire books. Usual BIG ‘thank’s to Ms Birch and all of the boys and staff for making us so welcome. The complementary lunch of chicken casserole and herb dumplings was to die for! We will be back when my new book  is finished (a closely guarded secret!)…and not just because we enjoyed the lunch so much!

A final ‘thank you’ to both of the above schools…keep up the great work!

PJM

WORLD BOOK (SNOW) WEEK 2018

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 26th, 2018 4:46 pm Comments Off on WORLD BOOK (SNOW) WEEK 2018

Phew! Kath and I made it to the Isle of Man to visit some of our favourite schools during World Book Week. The weather forecast was scary to say the least – almost as scary as my books! However, the ferry crossing from Birkenhead across to Douglas was the calmest crossing we’ve ever experienced. Maybe ‘the calm before the storm’ as they say!

              BIG fans at Michael School

This morning (Monday) saw our first school visit, travelling up and over the mountain road and finally dropping down to the lovely Michael School…a firm favourite of ours. The cold and frosty weather was soon forgotten as we launched into our Mokee Joe Finale presentation. The KS2 pupils were extremely brave as I changed into my Mokee Joe outfit, complete with huge platform shoes, towered to seven feet tall and hovered threateningly over them. I’ve been visiting Michael School for a good few years and it gave me great pleasure to describe to them the sixth and final book in the series. It

With our good friend Ms Riley at Michael School

felt strange being at the school without our old friend, Mr Robinson, (he is now retired), but his successor (and not-so-old friend), Mrs Riley, proved the perfect hostess and ensured we were well looked after during our first morning. We’re planning to meet up with her at the weekend to explore a spooky place she wishes to show us on the island – maybe the setting for the next scary book!

Well…at least we had ONE great visit during World Book Week…hope the snow doesn’t dump on us and stop us from visiting the rest!

     Mokee Joe Display at St John’s

Great news…the snow stayed away for our second day and we made it to St John’s School, another favourite of ours. The Mokee Joe Finale presentation was performed all over again, and our second KS2 audience were completely captivated, joining in with great gusto as I changed into the seven-feet tall Mokee Joe and charged around the hall. One of our keenest fans, Harry, seemed to know more about my books than I did, and another young fan (Tough Ted) showed no fear whatsoever as I donned my huge Mokee Joe boots and towered above him. He gave me 0/10 for scariness! (I’m very upset about this!) Thank you to Mrs Willoughby and her lovely staff and pupils for giving us the usual fab welcome…we love visiting this school! See you tomorrow for the book-signing.

Will we make it to our third school tomorrow (actually, two schools – Dhoon and Laxey)? Fingers crossed!

WEDNESDAY: ALL ISLE OF MAN SCHOOLS CLOSED TODAY!  I obviously didn’t cross my fingers hard enough! We will keep in touch with our friends at Dhoon and Laxey and hope the situation improves. Oh well…at least I can get on with writing my new book (a closely guarded secret!).

THURSDAY – WORLD BOOK DAY: By some miracle we didn’t experience the severe weather disruption going on back home

World Book Day at Bunscoill Rhumsaa

in the UK and Thursday found us back in action at Bunscoill Rhumsaa. Years 3 and 4 turned out in amazing book character costumes and did the school proud. I was soon feeling at home amongst them dressed in my Mokee Joe outfit, complete with massive platform shoes to make me 7 feet tall! It was brilliant fun working with the younger end of KS2 and the morning passed only too quickly. The following day we returned to enthuse and entertain the older pupils in upper KS2, and again, fabulous fun. The pupils at David Jenkin’s school always do us proud, they and the staff have become good friends and big fans over our years of visiting the island. Whilst the mainland back home struggled with the snow and cars got stranded on roads the length and breadth of the country, Kath and I spent a very stress-free Friday afternoon driving around island schools signing books for our fans.

We have been extremely lucky in being on the IOM during the busiest week of an author’s year! Looking forward to visiting two more schools after a relaxing weekend.

     First visit to Scoill Yn Jubilee

After an interesting weekend, including a failed ‘Wallaby Hunting’ expedition with our friend, Karen, and her husband, Rob, it was back to work with our very first visit to Scoill Yn Jubilee, in Douglas. We presented our Mokee Joe Finale performance to a large group of Years 5 and 6 and had a great time. It’s a lovely school and it was fab to make new friends and recruit new fans for our books. The book signing the next day showed us just how many new fans we had made! It was interesting during the signing how many passing Year 4’s expressed their frustration at not being involved in the presentation – we assured them that Mokee Joe would ‘get them’ next time!

We were able to amend our return ferry booking and stay on the island an extra

    Under the tree at Laxey School

day so that we could still go ahead with our visit to Laxey and Dhoon Primary schools, postponed from last Wednesday. Well…all I can say is it was worth the wait! Around 150 KS2 pupils had a great time, both schools integrating beautifully to interact in our dynamic Mokee Joe presentation. And our final island book signing the next day proved a great way to finish…signing books and posters for almost every child from both schools. We were taken up with some of the brilliant display work around the school and particularly where I sat to sign books – check out the pic! Thanks, Mr Kelly, to you and your lovely team of staff and pupils for making our final school visit on the island such an enjoyable and memorable one,

…And thank you to all schools on the brilliant Isle of Man for making our visit so enjoyable and successful, hopefully from both sides. It was nothing short of a miracle that we were able to go ahead with our World Book Week schedule. Had we been back home, much if not all it would have no doubt fallen foul of the severe weather!

We will be back again soon, nothing so sure, and hopefully we might even spot a wallaby or two next time…who knows!

PJM

LIVING BY THE WALL!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 30th, 2018 6:13 pm Comments Off on LIVING BY THE WALL!

After visiting two great local Berkshire schools, Spurcroft Primary in Thatcham and Springfield Primary in Reading, Kath and I headed back up the A1 to Hexham. We moved into a 300 year-old cottage in the appropriately named village of Wall, just a short distance from the famous Hadrian’s Wall. As soon as we arrived the weather changed and gale force winds buffeted our cottage and moaned down the chimney during the night…what a great spooky start!

         Pete outside Church Cottage in Wall

Never mind! Two great days followed in Hexham Middle School, one day working with Years 7 and 8, and a second day with Years 5 and 6. We performed a full-blown Mokee Joe presentation, presenting my very first book (Mokee Joe is Coming!) right through to the new and final Mokee Joe book (Scourge of the Emirates). Both key stages seemed taken up with the Mokee Joe story and sat extremely attentively whilst I entertained and enthused them. It was also great to show them the first book in Spanish and Japanese, and very satisfying to present a copy of the Spanish book to a Spanish girl in the audience, Ayala. She and her family sent us a lovely card afterwards expressing their gratitude. Usual great thanks to our lovely Hexham friend, Ms Roff…she always spoils us and organises everything so efficiently. We’ve already invited her around to our cottage in Wall for tea and cake…she never refuses!

After signing lots of books for our Hexham Middle School fans, Kath and I spent the weekend as tourists, visiting some of the local attractions….Hexham Abbey, The Sill visitors’ centre on Hadrian’s Wall, other locations along the wall…and of course being dragged into the shops with Kath striding out in front of me…M&S, Beales, Waitrose, Tesco and lots of coffee shops!

St Joseph’s RC Middle School was our next port of call and another good friend, Mrs Coulson, was waiting to greet us.

               Lovely library at St Joseph’s

We performed the ‘Mokee Joe Finale’ presentation again, in front of another big KS2 audience, and then again, the day after, at Ovingham Middle School. By Thursday, Kath and I were reciting the performance in our sleep! But every audience is different and the response is so enthusiastic that we never get bored! We met another delightful Spanish girl at Ovingham, Lucia, and presented her with a Spanish book. The next day she acquired a whole set in English…a true Mokee Joe fan to say the least! I must also mention that the Ovingham First School Year 4’s joined in with our presentation and sat for two hours completely rapt. During the subsequent signing, almost every one of them acquired books and were so thrilled to see us – so glad they joined in!

More presentations followed at nearby Corbridge Middle School  – Mokee Joe for KS2 and a Scabbajack/Dawn Demons presentation for KS3…all great spooky fun! Another Mokee Joe presentation at Ovingham for Years 6/7 and then it was wall-to-wall signings on the last weekday to complete the tour! PHEW!

Big thanks to Ms Quinn and Ms Watkins at Ovingham and Corbridge respectively…fab ‘hostesses with the mostest’ and to all the teachers and pupils in the Hexham area for giving us such a brilliant time.

We will be back!

PJM

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