HOME-GROWN MAGIC!

This post was written by peterjmurray on December 1st, 2019 11:41 am Comments Off on HOME-GROWN MAGIC!

As the end of term approaches and Christmas draws ever nearer, it was so good to be on home ground to visit my old primary school, Redscope Juniors, and the nearby Greasbrough Primary just a few days later.

I love being back at Redscope! All by boyhood memories come flooding back – I even remember the school window I broke whilst playing cricket in the school playground. I didn’t get into trouble – one of the teachers was bowling at the time!

The Poppy Warrior presentation went down a storm and so many children queued a few days later to get their desperate hands on signed copies of the books. During the signing it was brilliant to talk with the pupils about where they lived (many on the road where I used to live), where they played football (St Paul’s Field and Barker’s Park) and to share so many of my other memories of the Kimberworth Park Estate with them. I was really touched when one little girl had the book signed to her and her brother. When I asked how old her brother was she informed me he hadn’t been born yet! That was a first for me…to sign a book for a baby still inside Mummy’s tummy!

A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Ms Walpole and her lovely, lovely staff for giving us such a wonderful time at my old school. They even provided us with fish and chips (it was Friday) with yummy pudding to follow. As Ms Walpole informed us as we left…we are now part of the ‘Redscope Family’!

Nearby Greasbrough Primary provided more boyhood memories (Greasbrough provided schoolboys with numerous places to visit away from the housing estate in the form of woods, fields, water and other interesting places). The school was great and the only downside was that many of the KS2 children were absent with flu and sickness viruses…something currently a worry with the extreme weather going on a the moment. The children were VERY enthusiastic about ALL of my books – not just the new one. It turned out that they had read Scabbajack as a class reader and had become obsessed with it (teacher included). They made me promise to bring copies of the book to the signing next Monday. Oh…and some Mokee Joe books too!  Should be an interesting signing…watch this space!

PJM

 

BACK DOWN BEDFORD WAY

This post was written by peterjmurray on December 1st, 2019 11:15 am Comments Off on BACK DOWN BEDFORD WAY

The next week found us hurtling down the M1 again to spend three days at Linslade Middle School just outside Leighton Buzzard. It’s a fabulous school and provides plenty of willing fans for our books – almost 700 Year 5 to 8’s in total!

Presentations all round!  Mokee Joe with Year 5 and Poppy Warrior with Years 6 to 8. Following the performances, I carried out workshops with KS2 and KS3 groups and enjoyed every one. It was so rewarding to work with smaller groups and hear their thoughts and ideas on books in general and ‘horror’ in particular!

Not-so-far-away Putteridge High School  proved to be another very successful visit, the Year 7’s providing a great audience for the Poppy Warrior presentation and talented Year 8 writers contributing excellently in subsequent workshops . The challenge was to write a detailed descriptive account of what Josh Palmer saw when his Great Great Grandfather took him back in time to experience the real-life horror of the battlefield in the bloodiest battle of all time – The WW1 Battle of the Somme. The Year 8’s really got their teeth into the challenge and produced some excellent writing…deliberately shocking to say the least! Such was the standard that we decided to turn the challenge into a competition and awarded prizes for the best entries. Brilliant!

Most of the schools we visit around Bedford and Luton belong to the Chiltern Learning Trust and we have been so impressed by these schools that we’ve decided to spend World Book Week 2020 in the area. Can’t wait!

PJM

STILL UP NORTH!

This post was written by peterjmurray on December 1st, 2019 10:57 am Comments Off on STILL UP NORTH!

Three more schools close to home – Simpson’s Lane at Knottingley, Brinsworth Howarth Primary, very close to our South Yorkshire base, and finally to Dronfield Stonelow Juniors (old friends of ours!)

The new book ‘Poppy Warrior’ was well-received at all three schools. Brinsworth Howarth Primary was the smallest of the schools, and it proved to be a ‘hidden gem’. Kath and I had lived close by when we’d first got married, but never knew the school was there! Most of the children were real ‘book worms’ and we were so impressed by the enthusiasm of all concerned! Such was the success of our visit that the school have booked me for World Book Day in 2021! (I’m hope I’m still going by then!)

Dronfield Stonelow Juniors rose to the occasion (as always), and gave us a VERY warm welcome. We signed lots of books the next day following the presentation and it was a real pleasure to meet up with all our Dronfield Stonelow friends again.

Thanks to everyone and hope to see you again before too long.

PM

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 10th, 2019 12:21 pm Comments Off on VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE!

Three very different schools with one thing in common – they were all a pleasure to visit.

First stop was a Delta Academy School –  Kingston Park Academy. This was our first visit so we presented our Mokee Joe series to around 120 KS2 pupils.  It was great fun chasing a ‘victim’ around the school hall again. All of the children seemed thrilled to hear about the Mokee Joe story and the following day we signed lots of books for our new fans.

Next stop was a high school in Chesterfield – Whittington Green.  Totally different to the previous school audience; around 100 Year 7 pupils, so we decided to present two of our most scary books, Scabbajack and Dawn Demons. At first, the audience seemed quiet and reserved, but within a very short time they were all totally hooked!  I thoroughly enjoyed entertaining and enthusing them and by the end of the presentation I felt I could have gone on with them forever! The next day we signed loads of books for a very enthusiastic new set of fans. Brilliant!

Final school of the week – Wakefield Girls High School Juniors. Wow! What an experience.  It’s almost 8 years since we visited this lovely school, but none of the staff who we’d met all those years ago had forgotten us.  Around 180 KS2 girls made up our VERY enthusiastic audience. To say they were brilliant would be an understatement. As Craig would have said in Strictly Come Dancing – A-Maze-Ing!  They couldn’t get enough of the Mokee Joe story and by the end of the morning they were desperate to get their hands on the books. Despite the extreme weather and flood chaos all around us, we somehow managed to have a smooth journey back to the school the following day for our book-signing. We knew it would be a big one, but nothing prepared us for how many of our new fans were keen to get the full set of books. My hand was dropping off after almost four hours of continuous signing…but no one is complaining. We are all about inspiring reading and a success like this makes it all worthwhile.  Thank you to all the lovely girls and to the wonderfully welcoming staff who looked after us. We can’t wait to be back…and it won’t be 8 years this time!

Have a lovely weekend everyone and keep in touch.

PJM

CHILTERN DELIGHTS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 10th, 2019 10:03 am Comments Off on CHILTERN DELIGHTS!

Kath and I visited two of our favourite schools in Luton, Denbigh High School and Chiltern Academy. These are part of  the Chiltern Learning Trust,  a trust which continues to grow and provide us with an increasing number of delightful schools to work with.

      A very cute Poppy Warrior!

On this occasion we spent the best part of four days working in Denbigh and Chiltern Academies, presenting our new book – POPPY WARRIOR – and carrying out extensive workshops with Years 7 and 8. As usual, the days were very well organised and the staff and pupils gave us a great welcome. Both schools provided us with some superb writing from their aspiring writers and I finished up reading and making comments on around 50 pieces of work – PHEW! – it was like being a teacher again!  One or two budding artists also provided us with some inspired artwork as shown in this blog. It was a real treat to work to work in a brand new school. Chiltern Academy has just moved to its new site and everything is gleaming…how long will it last??  They even have a brand new mascot – a fab dog called Flynn (Don’t know whether I’ve spelt it right). Hope you like the pic.

   Pete with Ms Lane and Flynn.

A huge thank you to Mr Amjad and Ms Lane for being the perfect host and hostess

Big fans from Chiltern Academy

during our visits. We sincerely hope all of the pupils have enjoyed the Poppy Warrior after we signed so many books. It is of course a very significant time to dwell on a WW1 story as I write this blog on Sunday 10th November! I hope my new book will add to the tributes towards those wonderful heroes who gave their lives for us!

PJM

POPPY WARRIOR LEADS THE WAY!

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 19th, 2019 5:01 pm Comments Off on POPPY WARRIOR LEADS THE WAY!

After the delights of Hexham, Kath and I made our way out to Humberside to visit two lovely Delta schools, Estcourt  and Willows Primary Academies.

It was our second visit to Estcourt in Hull, and it turned out to be just as successful as the first. Our ‘Estcourt fans’ were ready to move on from Mokee Joe and hear about our new book – Poppy Warrior. To say they embraced the new story would be a gross understatement!  The somewhat emotional presentation, themed on WW1, went down a storm and the next day we could hardly keep pace with the queue of customers waiting to acquire a signed book and poster.

It was our first visit to The Willows Academy (on the other side of the Humber Bridge in Grimsby). They had already purchased a substantial supply of Mokee Joe books and it just needed me to do my stuff and inspire  the KS2 audience to pick up the books and read them! No problem! After dressing up as the infamous MJ and chasing a brave soul around the school hall, the excitement built rapidly, and by the end of the morning the pupils were hooked! Since the visit we’ve had great feedback from Ms Beckett, the head teacher, and it seems the children are getting their hands on the books left, right and centre!

 Serious competition from Willows   Academy.

It was back to my home town of Rotherham and away to visit our great friends at St Gerard’s RC and a little further afield to The Willows Academy (yes…another one!) close to Doncaster. The new book, Poppy Warrior, went down a storm at both schools and the subsequent signings were amazing. Our good friend, Mr Drury, organised everything brilliantly and somehow managed to get 70 + pupils into his classroom to enjoy a very intimate story-telling session that had the audience on the edge of their seats (even though most of them were sitting on the floor!)

It was the same at The Willows Primary…a fab experience, made even more interesting, by learning that a great many pupils had entered a spooky story writing competition inspired by our last visit. Mrs Kirsopp did a wonderful job in organising everything and was overjoyed by the standard of the KS2 writers!  One entry was so good I was convinced it had been copied from the internet  – far too high a standard for a Year 6! But no…it turned out that Liv, the girl in question, is a gifted writer and it was a real pleasure to meet her and have a chat about her literary talent.  Other entries were also of a very high standard, showing great imagination and writing ability.  No wonder the staff appeared so excited!

Well Kath and I have been really inspired by our first half-term school visits and next week we plan to have our half term break and a rest. Half term varies slightly depending on the location; the week after next we are working in Luton at two of our favourite schools, Denbigh High School and Chiltern Academy…already great fans, and I know they are going to love the new book!

PJM

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

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