WEST BERKSHIRE TO KENT

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 10th, 2017 11:49 am Comments Off on WEST BERKSHIRE TO KENT

Captivated Audience

Our concentration on local schools continued with visits to Hermitage Primary, Burghfield St Mary’s and Springfield Primary. And in between visiting  these lovely schools, we still somehow managed to work with our fab set of Year 3’s at Francis Baily Primary School where I’m currently their ‘Author in Residence’. So a busy week to say the least.

Hermitage Primary are ‘old friends’ and it was great to be back with them again, this time performing our Bonebreaker presentation to a keen KS2 audience. The children participated really well and the atmosphere in the hall was ‘magic’. Part 2 of the presentation was centred around our super-scary short story collection – Ten O’ Clock Caller, and again, this went down a storm. I suspect after our mega book-signing the next day, many avid Hermitage readers were careful to read in bed AFTER ten O’ clock!

Thanks to staff and pupils and especially to Ms Turner for looking after us so well. We’ll be back…

Bonebreaker Stars

Burghfield St Mary’s and Springfield Primary are new  to us and it’s more than pleasing to report that both schools were a real pleasure to work with. We’ve since heard from staff and parents  that the children are still ‘buzzing’ about our books and that lots of reluctant readers now have their heads buried in our spooky novels…GREAT! That’s what it’s all about! Thanks again to the staff and pupils for making us so welcome.

The following week found us heading down to Kent to work with a cluster of schools under the heading of the Valley Invicta Schools. Ms Sarah Bone is our ‘hostess with the mostess’ and she now books us annually for National Story-telling Week to visit her four schools. Three of the four schools are brand new as part of newly developed housing projects in the area. It’s very exciting for us to ‘grow’ with the schools and each year our KS2 audience will increase…lots of new fans in the making!  This year (our second year), our son, Simon, made the journey with us and he enthused and entertained the younger KS1 audiences with his colourful Icky Doo Dah books. We felt very proud to hear the amazing feedback he received during  the week and he has already been booked to return with us next year. Yeah….keep it in the family…that’s what I say!

During our stay in Kent it was a cold, drab miserable week weather-wise, but the schools were great. It was real thrill to

Is this the 'real' Bonebreaker

receive a beautifully hand-written letter from one of my biggest fans at Aylesford Primary and I’ve decided to frame it for my office wall. A BIG ‘thank you’ to Josie…good luck to you and the other pupils currently entered for the BBC 500 words writing competition. Thanks also to everyone at Kings Hill, Leybourne Chase and Holborough Lakes for ensuring we had such a ‘brill’ time. Can’t wait to see you all again next year.

Well…it was back to rural Berkshire to fight off cold and flu germs before travelling back up North, in readiness head on up to Bradford to work for three days with Whetley Academy. This school single-handedly inspired much of my latest Kruschmeister book, so I can’t wait to get up there and tell them all about it!

Oops…it’s snowing as I write…hope we make it!

PJM

MORE LOCAL GEMS

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 23rd, 2017 6:18 pm Comments Off on MORE LOCAL GEMS

Bonebreaker Drama at Long Lane Primary

Working in local West Berkshire schools goes on…and Kath and I can’t get enough of it!

We started another busy week at Welford and Wickham Primary and they brought across their sister school, Stockcross Primary. The two KS2 audiences of around 60 pupils combined beautifully to set the scene for one of our dramatic Mokee Joe presentations. The weather outside was dire…incessant pouring rain. But inside Welford and Wickham primary it was a very different atmosphere – spooky, humorous and, most important of all – great fun!

Lovely work from Chieveley Fans

Tuesday found us at another wonderful local school, Chieveley Primary. We’ve bypassed Chieveley many times

whilst driving up and down the A34, but this time we headed off to find out what this school was like. We were not disappointed! We found the school full of avid readers and with a Headteacher with northern roots (Lancashire)…we couldn’t go wrong! Again we used Mokee Joe to stir up our audience, and the book-signing the next day almost broke records! Many of our new fans presented us with work of their own based on Mokee Joe and I took a pic of some of their efforts…hope you like it. Big thanks to Ellie, Evie, Nathaniel, Grace for their artwork and to Maxwell, Mostyn and Eliot for their great 3-d model of Mokee Joe.

Wednesday found us at Long Lane Primary in Purley, a school we already had fond memories of from a previous visit. They proved just as fantastic a second time and loved our Bonebreaker presentation. This was followed by a mass workshop centred on writing short scary stories. We used our Ten O’ Clock Callerbook for the workshop and I was VERY cruel

Signing for eager fans at Long Lane Primary

and kept leaving the audience on cliff hangers. Needless to say, the pupils were desperate to get hold of the book the next day during our signing! A big thank you to everyone at Long Lane for making me ‘Author of the Month’ and for putting upwith all my scary antics!

Final call of the week was to Kennet Valley Primary The Head teacher is someone we met at the beginning of my

author career some 12 years ago. Mrs Devine has long been a fan of ours and it was great to meet up with her again out in the wilds of the Newbury/Reading borders. The school loved this, our first visit, during which we wowed them with Mokee Joe. And the signing on Friday morning rounded off a perfect week – so many books signed for such a relatively small school!

Thank you to all staff and pupils at each of these fab local schools.  I feel confident in saying a good time was had by all…and certainly a good time was had by us. See you all again soon.

PJM

BRIGHT START IN THE DARK DAYS

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 15th, 2017 4:52 pm Comments Off on BRIGHT START IN THE DARK DAYS

Great auience at Inkpen Primary

The days are dark, the weather’s dire and it’s Blue Monday tomorrow. But guess what…Kath and I are having the time of our lives! We kicked off our new term  to a blistering start by visiting three new local schools (new to us!) – Spurcroft Primary in Thatcham, Birch Copse Primary in Tilehurst and Inkpen Primary…in Inkpen! In between these visits, we visited our old friends at Francis Baily Primary and did a morning workshop with a large group of Year 3’s.

…So a very busy week, but all very enjoyable and heart-warming to say the least.

Each of our ‘new’ schools gave us a lovely welcome and it proved an absolute pleasure to introduce our Mokee Joe series to lots of pupils in KS2. The subsequent book signings were VERY busy and it was so humbling to chat and while away the time with our many new and enthusiastic fans. We were bombarded with drawings of Mokee Joe, ideas for stories and loads of questions about me and my books. It was easy to see that our new fans were more than inspired.

Kath and I would like to express here in writing our thanks to Cath Airey, Kevin Cooling and Jane Kanisius for being such great hosts during our visits. We hope you will have us back again before too long to build on the great literary start we feel we have made at your lovely schools.

BIG thanks to Mr Pilsworthy and the Year 3 teachers for ensuring our Year 3 workshop at Francis Bailey was such a success. We’re already looking forward to our next visit in a couple of weeks to view the work that the children come up with.

…And finally…very best wishes to all reading our ‘dark’ books in the dark days ahead!

PJM

AMAZING FINISH AT APJS

This post was written by peterjmurray on December 11th, 2016 10:18 am Comments Off on AMAZING FINISH AT APJS

Zak and Pete at APJS

Our last school visit in the run-up to Christmas was to Anston Park Juniors, very good friends of ours and great fans of our books. It’s a big school, and with 300+ pupils sitting in front of us, we launched into our Kruschmeister presentation, but not before talking about the prequel – Scabbajack.

An hour and a half passed very quickly and to say the audience was attentive and enthusiastic is an understatement; they hung on every word. The next day resulted in a mega book-signing which went on for just over three hours. In fact, Kath and I had to return to base to grab more supplies!

We were inundated with great feedback from the pupils, some handing over pictures and artwork they’d been inspired to come up with, others keen to show us stories they’d started and lots of pupils eager to read their newly-acquired books in bed that very night!

Some special moments too. Like meeting Zak, the Year 6 boy with the same name as the hero in the two books (hope you like the picture, Zak), and Alicia, the girl with the injured leg, but still keen enough to provide Kath and I with little Christmas presents to say ‘thanks for coming’.

Well…what a way to finish. Is there any wonder we enjoy what we do and just want to keep on writing. And speaking of writing, I need to get on and finish my sixth Mokee Joe book. I’m almost there, but just need a great ending. I can’t wait to have the book in my hands early next year.

In the meantime, a BIG ‘thank you’ from Kath and I to everyone for a great term and we hope you have yourselves a merry (spooky) little Christmas. See you again in 2017.

PJM

 

BACK UP NORTH

This post was written by peterjmurray on December 3rd, 2016 9:03 am Comments Off on BACK UP NORTH

Fab Librarians at Samuel Barlow Primary

Kath and I travelled north to make a first time visit to the Samuel Barlow Primary School near Mansfield. In fact the school is very close to Sherwood Forest, true Robin Hood country. We were invited to this school by Mr Durkin, someone who is destined to become a good friend of ours. Like the other staff at Samuel Barlow, he is dedicated to making the school a real reading den, where both staff and pupils value the experience of reading and enjoying books. Unfortunately, Mr Derkin was under the grip of a chest cold during our visit on a very cold Friday morning, but still managed to sit through our Mokee Joe presentation delivered to the whole of an enthusiastic KS2 audience.

We delivered our short story workshops during the afternoon and returned the next day to do a book signing. Miss Pye and the three lovely Year 6 librarians did a great job in assisting us through a very hectic and exciting signing…we are still staggered at the number of pupils who queued up to get books. We wish Samuel Barlow Primary all of our best wishes for the future and hope everyone has a great ‘spooky’ Christmas holiday reading our books. Thank you  Mr Durkin for inviting us…hope you are back to full health very soon.

Having escaped Robin Hood’s arrows, we quickly moved on to my home town of Rotherham and visited Thrybergh Fullerton Primary for a full day. Again, a lovely school and a lovely day spent with a relatively small KS2 audience of around 70 pupils. Everyone seemed taken up with my Mokee Joe character and lots of books were signed the next day…great!

Back down to Chesterfield next, to enthuse and entertain two schools in one go…Barrow Hill and Poolsbrooke

Pete and Ben with younger readers at Barrow Hill

Academies. These two small village schools joined forces at Barrow Hill, just across the road from an aunty of mine. After spending a day with the two schools, we turned up the next evening to join in a great initiative of Barrow Hill Primary in holding a reading evening. The children (and some of the staff) even turned up in their pyjamas. The event was somewhat ‘lively’, especially with having so many of the younger KS1 children in attendance, but when it came to my turn to read/tell a spooky story (Ten O’ Clock Caller), I was astounded at the silence that suddenly took over. Thanks to all at Barrow Hill and Poolsbrooke for a lovely couple of days and to the children for the lovely printed letter of appreciation they handed to me. We’ll keep in touch and hope to be back with you all before too long.

Pete standing by the 60th Anniversary Redscope display

Final school of the week…Redscope Primary School…my old school!It’s always a joy to be back there, reliving my boyhood memories. The new football book, Kruschmeister, and the prequel, Scabbajack, went down an absolute storm. We sold and signed books the next morning at the school’s Christmas Enterprise Fair and judging by the reaction, there’s a lot of spooky reading ahead over the coming weekend. Whilst we were at the school we took time to look over an exhibition to mark Redscope’s 60th anniversary. It was fascinating to find my name entered in the school’s registration book along with my old address, date of birth (secret!) and my dad’s name (Thomas). We also made time to check out the brass plate engraved with my name and date of me opening the superb children’s reading area just outside the school building. All of this served to make me feel quit emotional and very proud to be an ‘Old Redscopian’. Thank you Ms Walpole and all of the wonderful staff and pupils for giving us such a good time during the busy run-up to Christmas. See you all again soon.

PJM

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 27th, 2016 10:15 am Comments Off on CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

CHRISTMAS IS COMING…but not before we entertain and enthuse around 8 more schools in the festive run-up to the big day!

It was back to Luton again first, to spend a whole week working at Beech Hill Primary – obsessive and devoted fans of ours (did you see my recent tweet!). The school hall was out of use so I went back to being a teacher again and did hour-long workshops in classrooms working with all of Years 5 and 6. Bonebreaker was the theme for Year 5 and Ten O’ Clock Caller/Kruschmeister for Year 6. I’m pleased to say that all of the workshops were well-received and our eager fans seemed to get a lot out of them. By Friday I’d realised how tiring teaching is…Kath and I returned to our Berkshire base feeling very satisfied, but completely exhausted! However, it’s schools like Beech Hill that keep us going; they have developed such a strong reading culture among the entire school community and we feel proud that we and our books are a part of it. Thank you Mr Hawkins and Mrs Carey for being great hosts as well as good friends. We’ll see you all again next year.

 

LOVELY LUTON SCHOOLS

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 11th, 2016 6:21 pm Comments Off on LOVELY LUTON SCHOOLS

After a short break and celebrating our granddaughter’s 7th birthday, we set off late on a Sunday afternoon for the dreaded M25 to make our way up to Luton. The journey was well worth it!

Dallow Primary School was our first port of call the next day, just minutes from our lovely hotel accommodation which was slap bang in the centre of Luton. Arriving at the school we were a little disappointed to find out we were only working with one year group, but the large contingent of Year 4’s proved a great and enthusiastic audience for our Mokee Joe presentation. In the afternoon we enjoyed further work with the Year 4 classes in 3 lively workshops talking about ‘settings’, and in my case, of course, ‘spooky settings’! We enjoyed our day very much at Dallow Primary School and thanks to Mrs G-B and all the other staff for making us so welcome.

The following day was spent at Denbigh High School – a new school to us, though we have met many of the pupils before from their feeder primary schools. We entertained the Year 7’s with a 2-hour presentation during which they proved one of the best audiences ever! Fabulous! After providing us with a lovely lunch, we carried out two afternoon workshops, one with around 20 boys from Year 7 and 8 – again, fabulous!This was followed by a second workshop with a large group of high-ability Year 7 writers joined by a smaller group of Year 6’s from nearby Beech Hill Primary – a school that is very dear to us! The workshop was a great success and by the end of it these talented writers were producing work of a standard that had me distinctly worried (future competition)!

During our entire day at Denbigh High, the pupils were VERY respectful and more than polite to us. They were all a joy to work with. The staff were also delightful to be among. Thank you so much Ms Lane and everyone at Denbigh High for looking after us so well. We look forward to working again with you again in the future…I have the feeling that this was the first of many visits!

Next week we are back in Luton again for the whole week…maybe we should buy a flat there! There’s certainly lots of great schools in the area.

PJM

LOCAL GOLD

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 28th, 2016 8:19 pm Comments Off on LOCAL GOLD

Three schools local to our base in Berkshire and two schools local to our Yorkshire base, proved great visits and gave Kath and I a great time in the run-up to half term.

Great library display at Francis Baily

Parsons Down and Francis Baily in Thatcham and Falklands Primary in Newbury are all old friends of ours. Our job in all three schools was to present the new book, Kruschmeister and its prequel, Scabbajack. Our big KS2 audiences responded wonderfully to our spooky presentation and were more than enthused to get their signed copies of the books in readiness for half-term reading – though I suspect most fans started at the first opportunity! We challenged our readers to dare to read their books in bed; some seemed keen to rise to the challenge whilst others stated they would prefer to play safe and digest our creepy stories in daylight!

A BIG ‘thank you’ to Ms Cole, Ms Mumford and Ms Prentice for all their help and support. It was such a pleasure to almost fall out of bed and arrive at these lovely local schools within minutes, something we are looking forward to doing much more frequently in future. There are a good many schools in West Berkshire and Kath and I are more than willing to call in and do our best to help the staff raise the all-important profile of literacy in the curriculum.

OFF UP TO YORKSHIRE…

It was away up the M1 heading towards South Yorkshire next. Rawmarsh Rosehill Primary and Oakwood High School were our

Always welcome at Rosehill Juniors!

targets for the new week ahead.

I think we’ve visited Rawmarsh Rosehill more than most schools over the last ten years or so and that’s because it’s a school that never fails to deliver. Our very good friend, Mr Wagstaffe, has always regarded literacy as a major part of the school ethos and this is reflected strongly in the reading culture he and the staff have developed in the school. They also have a strong football interest among the community and hence I couldn’t wait to introduce Kruschmeister to them. One of their Year 6’s is a great footballing potential – a girl in Year 6 called Sydney; it was fab to meet up with her and sign her a copy of the book. I asked her and some other keen footballers at the school to tell their team mates about the book and spread the word…I hope they don’t let me down…I very much doubt it!

Scabbajack v Mokee Joe at Oakwood High School

Final call was to a school where we have a very strong connection – Oakwood High School.  Both my sisters attended this school and I lived close by as a boy for a considerable time. In fact some of my old school pals went to Oakwood. I attended a school called Old Hall, and I have fond memories of playing against Oakwood when I was a member of my school football team. The school has just been moved to a brand new building and Kath and I were more than impressed as we drove into the car park. We did a great presentation to a marvellous Year 7  – about 220 pupils in all – in the schools new hall/theatre setting with raised seating and a very large cinema-size screen. Brilliant!

Many of the pupils knew us from their primary school days and were already big fans of ours. It was a win-win situation for everyone! The next day we officially opened the new library and signed countless copies of the new book for our enthusiastic fans. 23 books were awarded as prizes for pupils who had completed work based on our books and our congratulations go out to them. Our thanks also go out to the two great librarians, Sally and Julie,  for all their help and enthusiasm. As we always say, great librarians are so essential in maintaining interest in reading and literacy in the school environment…a BIG thanks to both of them.

I was due to visit one more school before the half-term break, Anston Park Juniors, more massive fans of ours. Alas! My voice went and we’ve had to postpone the visit until later in the term! As Kath always reminds me…I talk too much! Never mind, I will rest my voice over half-term and allow Kath to get a word in edgeways for once!

Have a lovely rest everyone and see you all soon.

PJM

RAVE REVIEWS FOR KRUSCHMEISTER

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 17th, 2016 2:14 pm Comments Off on RAVE REVIEWS FOR KRUSCHMEISTER

 Reviews are finally coming in for my latest super-scary, football-themed book, KRUSCHMEISTER. Here are some of them:

1. I read this book in three sessions…I found it hard to put down. Spell-binding! Michael McCrossan.

2. Really good story line and illustrations. Very frightening, but in a good way. I would rate it 10 out of 10. Grace

3. I’m not a football fan, but I love scary stories…and so I loved this book. Brilliant!  Samantha

4. I think my favourite part of the book  is the big derby match. As a supporter of a football team with a huge rival I think you capture the atmosphere perfectly. This is not to say that I did not find it scary…its terrifying, especially when Zac wakes up at 2 am ! Sophie

5. Kruschmeister was a very mysterious and intense book to read. I loved all the wild twists and interesting characters. The book was so magical it felt like it was coming true; I loved every word of it. Jessica

 

Please can we have lots more reviews messaged to my website…it would be great to hear from some of the footballers among you, both boys and girls.

PJM

BIG SCHOOLS – BIG FANS – BIG BOOK SIGNINGS!

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 10th, 2016 4:12 pm Comments Off on BIG SCHOOLS – BIG FANS – BIG BOOK SIGNINGS!

Big fans at Valley Gardens

We have just finished one of the best two-week tours of all time; the fabulous North East of England did us proud yet again.

Hexham Middle School, Whytrig Middle School, Valley Gardens Middle School, St Columba’s RC Primary School…all amazing places to visit! After our Hexham visit, reported in the last blog, we moved on to the other schools listed above and presented the latest book, Kruschmeister, and the prequel, Scabbajack. The two books proved a  huge success and we had problems immediately in running out of books during our signings. Never mind…son, Simon, stepped in back home and dispatched more books out to our desperate fans.

We’re now back home and reeling from the response to our books. In fact we have just packed and sent out another big

Back to our friends at St Columba's RC Primary

consignment of books to Valley Gardens and Kath and I would like to thank the pupils at this amazing school for their patience and understanding in waiting for their spooky reads. We would also like to thank Vinny Turner at the lovely St Columba’s Primary for their enthusiasm and help in agreeing to put in an order for books subsequent to our visit. By the time we got there we had no books whatsoever! I guess we must be doing something right!

On a lovely day on Thursday 6th October we returned to the Edmund Hillary School in Worksop, not far from our northern base.

Our very own 'mega fan' at Edmund Hilary School

We last visited this school two years ago and had an amazing time. We wondered if this return visit would be as good?  No worries whatsoever! In fact, this visit proved even more amazing. It quickly became apparent that we had not been forgotten and our range of books was firmly established on the bookshelves of the Edmund Hillary School family community. We presented our new book, Kruschmeister, along with the prequel, Scabbajack, to the new year 5’s and 6’s,  and it all went down brilliantly. We returned the next day for a book-signing and were ‘blown away’ by the fantastic response. In fact, one mega fan came along and insisted on purchasing our full range of books and almost needed a trolley to carry the books back home with him. (see pic).

A HUGE thanks to all at Edmund Hillary School for making Kath and I so welcome and having so much enthusiasm for the work we do…this is what really drives us on!

PJM

 

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