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

MORE ‘DELTA DELIGHTS’

This post was written by peterjmurray on March 3rd, 2019 11:31 am Comments Off on MORE ‘DELTA DELIGHTS’

On returning to Wybers Wood and Estcourt Primary academies for book signings, we were overwhelmed with the response. So many avid fans waiting to get their hands on the books as well as getting involved in writing creepy stories of their own. Huge thanks to Nathan and Carol for all their support. On returning home I found 84 notifications on my Twitter account, showing loads of lovely tweets and pics relating to our visits.

               Another ‘Delta Delight’

After more wonderfully inspiring visits to Park View Primary in Leeds and Hatfield Woodhouse in Doncaster, it was back on the road to Grimsby to visit Macaulay Primary and The Strand Primary. We took the opportunity to visit nearby Cleethorpes where many of my childhood holidays were spent. I recall passing many a rainy day in a caravan in Cleethorpes, tackling jigsaws and any other activity guaranteed to while away the inclement weather!! In fact, we were truly surprised by how much this little East Coast resort had re-invented itself. It had some very attractive sea-frontage. One evening we visited the pier and had first class fish and chips in Papa’s – scrumptious to say the least!

…Back to the schools….fantastic in every way!!  The pupils and staff were

           First class fish n’ chips!

so welcoming and raved on about our books after each of our visits. One of the schools – The Strand Primary – even had a ghost of its own!  The phantom Lady Doherty – who opened the school in distant days gone by!  Surely a great opportunity for the pupils to come up with a creepy narrative of their own! Special thanks to Laura for sending us for lunch in the nearby Freshney Place – great!

More big book-signings and more almost tearful farewells and Kath and I were back on the M180 returning to our South Yorkshire base to recharge ready for World Book Week. And guess where we’ll be…correct! More Delta Trust schools. Well…why not?  So far the Delta Academy Trust has been a real pleasure to work with. Bring it on…

PJM

DELTA BEGINNINGS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 3rd, 2019 5:10 pm Comments Off on DELTA BEGINNINGS!

After being invited to be Patron of Reading for the Delta Academy Trust, Kath and I were very excited to commence our school visits.

       Delta Academy Trust here we come!

First port of call – and it really was a port – Estcourt Primary Academy in Hull. Mr Ullah was our host and what a great host he was. Everything was beautifully organised and before long it was all systems go in front of a great KS2 audience; enthusing and enthralling Years 3 to 6 with our tales of Mokee Joe. Will we ever forget the look of real terror on Harry’s face as he was chased by yours truly in the guise of the tall monster! In the afternoon we provided a workshop with Years 5 and 6 on ‘How to write a seriously, scary, short story’, based on our Ten O’ Clock Caller collection. Again, great fun and the pupils were a pleasure to work with. We return next week to provide a book signing and it should be fun. I’m just hoping they don’t forget us. I’m guessing not!

Second school of the week was a bit nearer to our Rotherham base – Crookesbroom Primary in Hatfield, near

     Some of our fans at Crookesbroom.

Doncaster.  Things were looking good!  Another lovely ‘Delta Welcome’ and another lovely school to work in. The response, yet again, from the pupils was nothing short of ‘A-mazing’! We had another great day including a repeat of the workshop on short story writing  in the afternoon. We returned to our home-base in rapidly deteriorating weather feeling very happy,  and wondering if we would make our third Delta visit the next day!

Final visit of the week was our Wednesday visit to Serlby Park Academy in Bircotes, another school close to our home base – Brilliant! Another great welcome and more lovely hosts: it was deffo another 3/3 as our third Delta School ensured we had a  great time. The school and campus is only 3 years old and incorporates a senior school. We were very impressed by the build as a somewhat-larger KS2 audience took up position in a lovely hall with a very large screen and projector. Hence, Years 3 to 6 loved the imagery offered with our Mokee Joe presentation during the morning and Ten O’ Clock Caller workshop after lunch.

Thursday and Friday saw book-signings at a number of schools, including Crookesbroom and Serlby Park, and the queues of avid fans awaiting our arrival were a clear indication that our audiences were ‘hooked’ and ready to digest our spooky tales.

A huge ‘thank you’ to Heads, staff and pupils for looking after us so well and ensuring our Delta experiences started so well. Tomorrow we head back over to the Humber Estuary to visit another Delta school (Wybers Wood Academy) and will return to Estcourt Primary on Wednesday for a book signing. Can’t wait!

Oh well…three down and only another 29 Delta primaries to go. Brilliant!

 

PJM

NORTHERN LIGHTS

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 25th, 2019 2:47 pm Comments Off on NORTHERN LIGHTS

Two great schools visits took place close to our roots in South Yorkshire….Barnburgh Primary and Maltby Manor Academy.

              Nowhere is safe!

We had a great time at both schools, starting with Barnburgh Primary near Doncaster. The school is close by some popular fishing lakes, so I couldn’t wait to visit both school and lakes to ‘suss’ them out!  It happened that the weather was bitingly cold and hence the lovely warm atmosphere of the school was far more welcoming than the bitter, bleak surroundings of the  fishing lakes!  Mr Taylor and his KS2 audience were delightful…as was everyone who we met at the school. As usually happens, Mokee Joe swept the audience of their feet and by the end of the morning the school was awash with ‘Mokee Joe Mania’!  But nothing could have prepared us for the book-signing the next day! Years 3 to 6 snapped up all

           Great display at Barnburgh!

books on offer to the point where we had to arrange a re-visit next week following an imminent book delivery to top up supplies. It is a real credit to the school to see the ‘love of reading’ existing throughout the community. We can’t wait to be back and hope to build a relationship with Barnburgh Primary  over the coming years. Oh yes…and by the way…we loved the World War 1 Poppy Display at Barnburgh! This is the subject of my new book out in September – watch this space!

Next visit was to Maltby Manor Academy where we have family connections! Miley, in Year 3, is the daughter of our niece, Donna, the very person who inspired me to become an author. It was Donna who reminded us of the childhood game, Mokee Joe, in which I chased her and other family members in a scary game of hide and seek, dressed up as the infamous spooky character (Big black hat and big, scruffy coat).

The 2-form KS2 audience sat spellbound as we took them  through the entire Mokee Joe story, from books 1 to 6. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the pupils were a real credit to the staff in the way they interacted positively at every opportunity. Due to the enormous success at Barnburgh, we had nowhere near enough books to offer a next-day book-signing at Maltby Manor. However, supplies are due early next week and we will be returning to both schools to fulfil the needs of our avid fans. We can’t wait!

Thank you to Barnburgh and Malty Manor for giving us such a good time. We loved every moment of it, and sense very much that you did too. See you soon.

PJM

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