MOKEE JOE 6 LAUNCH!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 20th, 2017 6:51 pm Comments Off on MOKEE JOE 6 LAUNCH!

Well, at last, the final Mokee Joe book is out! Without doubt it’s the most exciting and action-packed book of the series and it’s called: Mokee Joe: Scourge of the Emirates….And where better than Dubai for the action to take place – including the final battle on top of the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa.

Launched at last!

Our choice of location to launch the book was my home town of Rotherham, in South Yorkshire, to visit four schools there at the beginning of my author career, more years ago than I care to remember! Our son, Simon Murray, author and illustrator, chose to accompany us. Simon produces the amazing black and white, pen and ink drawings inside all the Mokee Joe books, as well as producing his own lovely picture books for the younger KS1 pupils, Icky Doo Dah (www.ickydoodah.com). Simon did a wonderful demonstrative art slot during each presentation before slipping away to enthuse and inspire KS1…this greatly added to the impact of our visit.

Roughwood Primary was our first choice of ‘launch pad’ for the new book…and what a choice it proved to be! We’ve been visiting this school for a great number of years and have fans spanning over several generations. The presentation took the audience right back to the start of the Mokee Joe series, introducing the main characters, Hudson, Molly and Ash, and following their horrific encounters with Mokee Joe through to the thrilling climax in the United Arab Emirates. We were astounded to learn how many of the pupils had been to Dubai for holidays…but none of the staff, alas! The book signing the next day was as popular as it always is…avid fans and avid readers lined up the length of the school hall, desperate to get their books and to have them signed. A big thanks to Mr Cadman and his staff for being so willing to take part in our ‘Mokee Joe Finale Tour.’ And of course, to all the pupils for being such supportive fans. Enjoy your trip to Dubai everyone – I promise that the book will definitely take you over there!

Our second school visit of the tour was to Northfield Lane Primary at Wickersley, situated very close to our Northern home. Since our last visit, around ten years ago, the school has acquired some interesting ‘pod-type’ buildings and we quickly got lost inside them, weaving our way along the warren-like corridors. Despite building work going on around us, the presentation was again well-received and by the end the pupils were definitely at ‘fever-pitch’! Another great book signing ensued the next day and books were also put aside for a number of excited Year 6’s, who had left for a residential trip prior to our arrival. Unfortunately, Simon didn’t get chance to weave his ‘Icky Doo Dah magic’ with KS1 at this school, but he has promised to get back before too long. After all, his Nan lives just around the corner and offers him a great place to stay!

Onto our third school – Anston Park Juniors. This was to provide our biggest KS2 audience of around 340 pupils.

The Burj Khalifa – the final battle!

We played to a packed hall and once again enthused our audience to ‘Mokee Joe hysteria’! During each of the presentations, I dressed myself up as the infamous Mokee Joe monster and chased a brave and willing volunteer across the hall. I was amazed how fast my victims sprinted back to their place (and safety!) and even more amazed how fast I moved…there’s still life in the old man yet! As per usual, the headteacher, Mrs Bartholomew, and the deputy, Mr French, immediately capitalised on our visit and launched follow-up work and competitions based on the my books along with Simon’s illustrations. The subsequent book signing just about broke all records and I’m sure must qualify for a Guiness Book of Records entry for the most books signed by an author in one session. We had to return the next morning to finish off and then spent the rest of the day recovering from the experience! Thanks once again to everyone at this delightful school…and I mean everyone. We just love our visits!

Final visit of the week was to Reignhead Primary in Beighton, near Sheffield. We chose this school because it was one of the first and most pleasant of the schools we visited right at the beginning of my author career. Well…Kath and Simon and I are pleased to report that Reignhead is just as pleasant and as nice a place to visit as it ever was! Yet another great presentation well-received and the book signing produced its very own ‘Black Friday’ experience at the end of school the next day. Will we ever forget the boy I chased wearing my Mokee Joe outfit and him with a plaster cast on his broken leg hidden beneath his trousers! And he still managed to outsprint me…incredible!

Well…what an amazing week! The launch could not have gone better. The Rotherham Advertiser also did me proud with great coverage of the new book and a competition launch on their Captain Jack page with six copies of the new book up for grabs. You may wish to check it out!

Time to rest and recharge now…more schools to visit before Christmas…and more Mokee Joe victims to terrorise in the school hall. Ha ha….

PJM

MORE HIGHS AT DENBIGH HIGH!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 5th, 2017 1:59 pm Comments Off on MORE HIGHS AT DENBIGH HIGH!

Our last school visit before a short break was with our good friends at Denbigh High School in Luton.

It proved to be another very tiring, but fulfilling day, working with Year 7’s in the morning and two workshops in the afternoon. The presentation centred around the Scabbajack and Kruschmeister books and was very well received – the audience a little on the quiet side at first, but by the end of the presentation bubbling with excitement and definitely in a mood for Halloween (that very night!)

Workshops involved guests from the nearby Linslade Middle School and they joined in brilliantly, pupils from each school coming up with some very professional story writing in line with the task I gave them. I never cease to be amazed by the talented young writers out there. They fill me full of hope (as well as fear of impending competition!).

Once again we really enjoyed our time at Denbigh High School. It is easy to see why this school has been classified as ‘outstanding’. Thank you so much to Amy Lane and her team for all of the wonderful hospitality we received.

Hope you survived Halloween after my visit!

PJM

HIGH SCHOOL HALLOWEEN HIGHS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 4th, 2017 5:16 pm Comments Off on HIGH SCHOOL HALLOWEEN HIGHS!

      Halloween display at St Peter’s

As Halloween approached rapidly, Kath and I made our way to one of favourite schools in Huntingdon,Cambridgeshire – St Peter’s. I have been Patron of Reading at this wonderful school over the past year and enjoyed

Well done, Lisa! You can almost feel the heat!

every minute of it. The object of the exercise was to build an author/school relationship to enthuse reading and inspire writing and from what we have seen during our visits I think between all of us we’ve more than realised our objectives.

After an earlier flooding disaster in the lovely library, the amazing librarians, Rachel and Lisa, had somehow got everything back in order for our recent visit. Moreover, Lisa had put together a stunning artificial camp fire decoration in the centre of the library floor for my 90+ Year 7 students to gather round for my story telling sessions.

    Molly’s new look for the new Mokee Joe book

The day was quite exhausting with two ‘camp fire’ story telling sessions, a prize giving resulting from competitions during my last visit and two workshops in the afternoon. Phew! But didn’t we have a good time! It was brilliant and Kath and I enjoyed ourselves so much. I think one of the highlights was awarding prizes to three Year 10 girls who had presented hairstyle designs for Molly’s new look in the final Mokee Joe book. They were ‘blown away’ by the fact that the cover artist, Paul B Davies (he designed the original poster for Stephen King’s terrifying ‘IT’ movie), had studied their designs in creating Molly’s new look.

Thanks, Rachel, Lisa, and all of the lovely students at St Peter’s for making us so welcome and for making my job as Patron of Reading so easy. It’s been an absolute pleasure! We are looking forward to signing lots of books for your Year 7 students and seeing whether they dare take on the challenge I gave them – to read them in bed!  Bye for now.

PJM

CARRFIELD, TEMPLE NORMANTON, RAVENFIELD

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 4th, 2017 1:30 pm Comments Off on CARRFIELD, TEMPLE NORMANTON, RAVENFIELD

Leaving behind the majestic countryside of South Oxfordshire, we headed off on a familiar journey up the M1 towards our Northern roots in South Yorkshire.

Many of our school visits arise via word of mouth, and our next port of call was down to a teacher-friend of ours from East Dene School. Andy Morton, now moved to Carrfield Primary School at Bolton-on-Dearne, had sung our praises and set up a visit. Well…we had a fabulous time at this new school (new to us!) launching into our Mokee Joe presentation with gusto…and didn’t the Carrfield kids love it!

The visit was over all too soon, but not before we found out that there’s lots more great schools in this area, which for some reason have escaped our attention. We’ll soon put that right!  It also turned out that Carrfield is a keen footballing school, so we promise to be back VERY soon with our Kruschmeister story.  ‘Thank you’ Mr Morton…it seems we are going to be very busy in your neck of the woods for some considerable time!

Reading a great book in the fab new Temple Normanton library

It was on to Temple Normanton next; a small village school with only 41 pupils making up our KS2 audience. But what they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in enthusiasm. We decided to perform our Bonebreaker and Ten O’ Clock Caller presentation and it wasn’t long before the pupils were  ‘hooked’ on our books! The following day we carried out a book signing in their recently renovated library and were astounded just how many books were acquired by avid readers. Brilliant!

Thanks to everyone at Temple Normanton for looking after us so well. We will be back again before too long, we promise!

Final school of the week was just a stone’s  throw from our Northern base in Rotherham. Ravenfield Primary – a school which we have driven past many times, but never stopped to visit and do our stuff…until now! We decided to talk about Mokee Joe and describe how I became an author – especially relevant as it all happened in Rotherham over 14 years ago. In fact, my niece, Donna, who reminded me of the classic game of Mokee Joe, which gave rise to the creation of the series, works in the school with the Foundation children. She even managed to get over to see us during the subsequent book signing and say ‘hello’. To make matters even more interesting, one of the younger pupils in our audience, Henry, introduced himself as a distant relative of mine! It turned out that Harry’s granddad is my cousin and his gran a close friend of mine back in our schooldays. We have since found out where they live and had a fab reunion with them. If you’re reading this blog, Jess and Wendy…’Hi’ from me and Kath and see you again soon.

All in all, a great week working in the area where I was born and brought up. Three great schools and three more lots of keen fans! What more could a northern author want!

PJM

 

ON THE BANKS OF THE LEAFY THAMES!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 4th, 2017 12:42 pm Comments Off on ON THE BANKS OF THE LEAFY THAMES!

            Leafy Thames at Moulsford Prep

After the delights of Northumbria, it was time to sample the delights of an ideally-situated beautiful prep school on the banks of the Thames. Moulsford Prep are good friends of ours and it always proves a real pleasure to get in front of a packed, all-boy audience, and spook them with my scary books!

This time it was the turn of the Kruschmeister – the huge, savage football player who delights in taking the opposing players legs from under him (and usually cracking a bone or two at the same time!). I talked about the prequel, Scabbajack, first, and really got some tension into the Yr 5 to 7 enthusiastic and attentive audience. I have to say that the downbeat and dilapidated setting for both books seemed far removed from the lush Oxfordshire school grounds outside!

Yet again, Kath and I were made extremely welcome during our stay and I really hope that we contributed significantly towards the success of the Moulsford Prep Art Week. Many of the boys were asking about the Mokee Joe series…it seems there are more than a few avid fans. Hence, if Mr Martin is willing to have us back, we will return early in the next academic year to present the final book in the series…due out in a few weeks time – Mokee Joe: Scourge of the Emirates.

Thanks to everyone at Moulsford – hope you enjoyed your half-term break.

PJM

NORTHUMBRIA PART 2

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 6th, 2017 8:34 am Comments Off on NORTHUMBRIA PART 2

Our time in this lovely area continues to provide great school visits for us.

Stunning area!

St Joseph’s is a middle school I visited over eight years ago, but still with vivid memories of performing my early Mokee Joe presentation there and it being well received. This time I presented the Scabbajack and Kruschmeister books to a huge audience of around 340 Years 5 – 8. The sun came out before the start of the presentation and threw a ray of light across the projector screen obscuring most of my dramatic images! It didn’t matter…imagination is more powerful than any electronic image, but soon the sun lowered and faded and everything came right. The success of the presentation can only be judged by the book-signing that took place in a prefabricated classroom during a heavy shower of rain the following lunchtime! With the help of our ‘hostess with the mostess’ Kirsten…we signed books for around 150 pupils in that confined space. At one time, poor Kirsten was standing on a desk directing ‘traffic’ like some super-efficient New York cop! All in all we had a brilliant time at St Joseph’s and we’re already planning to return early next year to launch our final Mokee Joe book. See you all then.

Final visit was to a new school to us…Corbridge Middle School. The town of Corbridge provided a stunning backdrop to this visit

        Great town…great school!

and Kath and I had a great time exploring the ancient buildings as well as wandering along the banks of the River Tyne. The school was fab and we got a great welcome from staff and pupils before performing our Bonebreaker trilogy for a big audience of Years 5 and 6. We stayed overnight in a B&B so we could return the next morning to do a book-signing. The B&B was so close that we could see the school from our bedroom window! The book-signing was yet another ‘mega’ experience and no wonder my signing hand is beginning to suffer!

So there you have it…four brilliant Middle Schools  in one of the most beautifully scenic areas in the country. And now over 1000 pupils eagerly absorbing our scary books during the ‘spooky season’ with dark nights drawing in and Halloween just around the corner. I doesn’t get any better! Thanks to everyone and see you all again VERY soon!

PJM

SPOOKED OUT IN SHEPHERD’S COTTAGE!

This post was written by peterjmurray on September 25th, 2017 4:29 pm Comments Off on SPOOKED OUT IN SHEPHERD’S COTTAGE!

Our cosy Shepherd’s cottage in the middle of nowhere!

Kath and I are currently tucked away in deepest rural Northumbria, close to lots of superb middle schools in and around Hexham. We are staying in a VERY remote cottage known as Shepherd’s Cottage, somewhere in the hills just off the A69 west of Hexham. The door to the cottage looks around 1000 years old and inside it has lots of nooks and crannies…perfect places for the ghost of the old shepherd to hide! I’m already getting some great ideas for spooky stories!

This morning we visited our old friends at Hexham Middle School and entertained around 240 Year 5’s and 6’s with our Bonebreaker and Krushmeister presentations…involving two very different, but equally bad guys all the same! The audience was more than enthusiastic to say the least and a great time was had by all. Tomorrow we return to enthuse their older brothers and sisters in Years 7 and 8, but with different books – Ten O’ Clock Caller, Dawn Demons and Moonwailer. I have some new Dawn Demons pics to project and they are VERY spooky. I can’t wait to see their reaction…

…Well, the reaction was great and I almost got a standing ovation at the end of the presentation. The book signing in the afternoon for the Year 5’s and 6’s went on forever (as usual) and our good friend, Ms Roff, had everything organised super-efficiently as usual.

The following morning found us at Ovingham Middle School; a school I had visited a good few years earlier and it was great to be back! Our audience was around 200 Year 5’s and 6’s – eager to absorb the Bonebreaker story as well as the Ten O’ Clock Caller short, spooky stories. Mr Bennett, the Headteacher, originates from Doncaster, close to our South Yorkshire base in Rotherham, so we had a lot in common and Kath and I were more than impressed that he made time to sit through just about all of our thoroughly enjoyable presentation. Can’t wait to get back to Ovingham to sign books…see you all soon.

In the afternoon we signed more books back at Hexham Middle School for the Year 7’s and 8’s and once again, a great response. We really do have many dedicated fans in this stunning area! Over to St Joseph’s tomorrow. Again, a school I visited a long time ago and I can’t wait to get back. Watch this space!

PJM

BRILLIANT AT BILLERICAY

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 5th, 2017 1:34 pm Comments Off on BRILLIANT AT BILLERICAY

My last school visit of the summer term involved driving along the M4, onto the infamous M25, and into deepest Essex to visit one of our favourite schools  – Billericay School. Well worth the drive!

FAB LIBRARY DISPLAY!

Our good friends, Jacqui, Kim and the other library staff were waiting to give me a great welcome (as usual!). I say ‘me’, because my wife, Kath, had stayed back home to rest her aches and pains from the extensive driving we had done recently. Having said that, she was already booked to help look after the grand children – not so resting!

Back in Billericay, I took a deep breath and launched into a presentation of my latest football-themed, super-scary book: Kruschmeister. The 300+ Year 7 students packed into the auditorium gave me their full attention for around an hour, before a short break and part 2 of the presentation – Ten O’ Clock Caller.

The morning passed very quickly, but I still made time to showthem a fab ‘movie/book trailier’ for Kruschmeister devised by a Year 8 student from Oakwood High School, as well as giving them a sneak-preview of the finished book-cover and accompanying poster for my new, about-to-be-published, sixth and final Mokee Joe book. I’m

KATH WITH HER BILLERICAY CUPCAKE!

pleased to say that the Billericay students seemed more than impressed, as I’m sure everyone will be when they reach the public eye. Our cover artist, Paul Bryn Davies, is surely the most talented cover artist in existence!

During the subsequent book-signing the next day, I was impressed with the fab display of my work in the library I just had to take a pic with my phone…I hope you like it. And since returning home, I took a pic of Kath with the special cake sent by Jacqui and tied with a ribbon by Kim…hope you like that pic too!

Thanks to everyone at Billericay School for making me so welcome and to Jacqui and her library team for looking after me so well in Kath’s absence. We look forward to being back after the release of the new Mokee Joe book. In the meantime, have a great summer…everyone!

PJM

 

NORTHERN GOLD

This post was written by peterjmurray on July 3rd, 2017 3:59 pm Comments Off on NORTHERN GOLD

After working in Berkshire for a while, it was good to head north up the M1 back to our northern roots around Rotherham, Sheffield and Doncaster.

Poppies galore at Pheasant Bank

First port of call was to a new school to us – Pheasant Bank Academy, at Rossington near Doncaster. The lovely Headteacher (Mrs Robinson) knows us well from her previous school and was keen for me to fire up her new pupils to use their imaginations in a good read (or two!). Well…she needed no worries! The large KS2 audience joined in our presentation with great gusto and the next day we enjoyed a huge book-signing…each and every pupil being polite and a joy to chat with after their long wait in the never-ending queue. One interesting point about the school is vast amount of poppies growing along the edge of the staff car park. No one planted them and it’s a mystery why they are there. I immediately felt a spooky story coming on…ghostly WW2 soldiers appearing at dusk among the fading blood-red flowers… Thank you Pheasant Bank Academy for making us so welcome. We can’t wait to be back.

Following the great visit described above, it was time to move on to several schools in my home-town of Rotherham; to visit five schools as part of the ACET academy trust, introduced to us through our good friend, Martin Mullane. Thurcroft, Aughton, Listerdale and Lowedges Junior Academies, along with Swinton High School and a visit to our old friends at Oakwood High School, provided a whirlwind of visits that left us breathless (literally!) The enthusiasm and energy of countless friendly and welcoming staff and pupils was a credit to all involved.

After all the bad press associated with Rotherham over the past year or two, it’s so pleasing to report on all the immense positivity we experienced during our two weeks there. One thing that really impressed us was the way in which these school communities pulled together, and Kath and I really felt that the immaculate striking uniforms that the ACET trust have adopted helped greatly in this way. All of the pupils without exception were smartly turned out and seemed proud of their attire! Brilliant!

One of the Oakwood High School Year 8’s was so impressed with our Kruschmeister book that he took it on himself to construct a trailer film for the book! It’s nothing short of amazing and I’ve been showing it to everyone, including the pupils during my current school visit at Billericay (see next blog report). Feed back like this makes us very proud. As we always say, there is such talent out there among our student audiences, (bring it on!).

From Rotherham, it was down the A1 heading into the Fens to arrive eventually in Suffolk to visit our ‘very’ old friends at Northfield St Nicholas. Our librarian friend, Julie Gulliver, was waiting to give us a nice hug and begin looking after us in the usual high-standard way of East Anglian hospitality. I’ve been Patron of Reading for quite a while at this school and we always look forward to our visits. The pupils are huge (or ‘hooge’ as they say in this part of the world) fans of ours and are already familiar with all of my books. We passed a very quick day of workshops with each year group and a ‘fun’ time was had by all. As I always say to our fans, ‘If it’s not fun then it’s not working as is should be.’ And that applies to reading, writing and all forms of artwork and literacy.

Whilst we were in the area, Kath and I visited nearby Great Yarmouth and took a nostalgic trip along the sea-front. We

Childhood memories at Great Yarmouth

spent our honeymoon in this resort more years ago than we care to remember. I even got to search out the ‘snail ride’ by the side of the pier, which I adored as a child.

Oh well…back to Berkshire for a brief respite before heading down into deepest Essex for our very last school of the summer term – none other than Billericay School…more VERY old friends of ours and a great venue to finish on a high note before a long rest during the long summer hols!

By for now, everyone…and if anyone has any pics they can send from our visits to include in this post, please e-mail them to me asap.

PJM

SCABBAJACK INVADES ROUGHWOOD!

This post was written by peterjmurray on June 14th, 2017 5:45 pm Comments Off on SCABBAJACK INVADES ROUGHWOOD!

To all my Scabbajack fans at Roughwood Primary, may I first apologise for taking so long to get back to you. I received

Pete with all his letters and artwork from Roughwood Primary

so many wonderful letters back in April and I’ve only just got round to reading them.  I’ve been so busy charging around schools all over the place, and that’s my only excuse.

On a positive note, the letters were brilliantly written and a real credit to the teaching in the school.

I hope you like the pic of me holding all your letters and artwork outside my secret office somewhere in deepest Rotherham. You can even see the Scabbajack boy lurking behind me!

What I loved about your letters was the way you had remembered all the exciting bits of my story and how they’d scared you, but you couldn’t wait to read on and find out how things turned out. That makes me as an author really proud. After all, my job is to build the suspense and intrigue and keep you reading on and turning the pages!

Lots of you said you would like to meet me, so I’m going to get in touch with a friend of mine at your school; I’m sure you know him – Mr Cadman – and ask if I can come along to Roughwood as soon as possible. I love being back at Kimberworth Park – after all, I was born and brought up there. Does anyone know Leybourne Road?

Well that’s all for now. Thank you again for writing to me – I read EVERY letter and admired EVERY piece of artwork. Hope you enjoyed the end of Scabbajack and can’t wait to see you all and tell you about the next new book.

Keep on reading and keep on writing and I’ll keep on writing more and more scary books! As one of you said to me in your letter, ‘Scabbajack gave me nightmares for a few nights, but it was worth it…I loved the book and can’t wait to read more!’  Brilliant!

Pete

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