FANTASTIC TIME ON THE ISLE OF ‘FRIGHT’!

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 13th, 2022 1:10 pm Comments Off on FANTASTIC TIME ON THE ISLE OF ‘FRIGHT’!

Well…we’ve reached the end of our first week of school visits on the wonderful Isle of Wight! PHEW!

 

Lanesend, Wroxall, Nettlestone and Broadlea primaries have given us the best time ever! As said in my previous blog, I think the lack of visitors and whole-school assemblies due to Covid restrictions have resulted in even more enthusiasm for our entertaining visits and subsequent supplying of our spooky, scary books!

                      I’m going to catch you…Mokee Joe!

In all four schools the staff and pupils have been brilliant! I

I’m going to finish Mokee Joe book 1 if I have to read all night!!

have chased willing pupils around the school with renewed energy! I love the pic here of the boy being chased at Lanesend. His expression is a mix of pleasure and terror! This is what spooky books are all about. It’s great to use the imagination to bring on the scariness, but always feeling safe at the same time. What can be safer than reading a book tucked up in bed??

Hope you like the pics of yet more girls sporting Molly’s latest

Space Buns’ galore at Lanesend Primary

hairstyle. The ‘Space Buns Look’ really seems to be catching on!

 

I’ve showed a lot more pics here, because pics sometimes say more than words. Hope u like them!

     I’ve got my book…great!

Another week of IOW schools next week…watch this space!

 

          Wroxall Feedback!

EXPLOSIVE START ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT!

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 9th, 2022 4:22 pm Comments Off on EXPLOSIVE START ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT!

Two schools have already given us the best start ever to our ‘Mokee Joe Invasion’ of the Isle of Wight!

Kacey at Wroxall sporting books and ”space buns’!

Lanesend and Wroxall Primary Schools were ab fab hosts and we had the best time ever over the last  few days. Mokee Joe was relentless in chasing unsuspecting KS2 pupils around the school hall, whilst Pete and Kath-with-a-K entertained pupils thirsting for knowledge of the spooky, scary, 6-book Mokee Joe series.

Maybe it’s because of schools being starved of visitors

Another ‘Wroxall Gal’ – Maddison – with Molly hairstyle

and large assembly-like audiences for such a long time that the current response to our visits is nothing short of euphoric (look up the meaning KS2!). So many memorable moments during these last two visits…so many ‘Molly hairstyles’, lots of lovely questions, great artwork and feedback and a real desire to get stuck into our books. What more could an author want!

Watch out Isle of Wight…we’ve only just started!

PJM

ROCKING AT ROCKINGHAM!

This post was written by peterjmurray on February 5th, 2022 9:30 am Comments Off on ROCKING AT ROCKINGHAM!

Darcie, complete with ‘space buns’. GREAT

Just prior to getting ourselves ready for our big Isle of Wight tour, we had unfinished business at Rockingham Primary School! This was a postponed visit due to me being ill some time earlier, but we more than made up for the delay in entertaining the junior KS2 pupils in the hall with none other than Mokee Joe prancing around and up to his antics!

After chasing the fastest boy in the school, Archie, around the school hall, I was still fit enough to take the audience on a virtual tour of New York, New Orleans and finally to Dubai, following the exploits of the good guys, Hudson, Molly and Ash, as they fought against their deadly enemy.

Some of the Year 6’s had seen part of the Mokee Joe presentation before, but they still sat glued to the action and were keen to acquire the later books in the series during the book signing.

Molly’s new hairstyle yet again made a big impact on the audience and I was so touched when little Darcie came the next morning to get her signed books with an almost identical hair style to the great girl hero. Hope you like the pic, Darcie?

Just to say a huge thank you to Jane Fernley and all her staff at the Willow Tree Academy schools…they have all been BRILLIANT!  Lovely headteachers, lovely staff and lots of polite and lovely kids. What more could an author want???

Off to pack for the Isle of Wight now. Mokee Joe was last seen heading for the Southampton ferry. Oh dear!!

PJM

WICKERSLEY NORTHFIELD MJ HYSTERIA!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 30th, 2022 3:13 pm Comments Off on WICKERSLEY NORTHFIELD MJ HYSTERIA!

Mokee Joe strikes twice in one day!

After the expected ‘mega’ book signing at Brimington Juniors, we prepared for what we thought might be a more ‘sedate’ author visit to our very local Wickersley Northfield Primary.  The school is a two-form entry and it’s at least four years since we last ventured there. Due to Covid restrictions I’d agreed to have two KS2 year groups in the morning, and the other two in the afternoon. Two Mokee Joe presentations in one day is not an easy task for an ageing author presenter like me, but I was in the mood and really went for it. How can you not when you find yourself in front of a sea of beaming faces ready to engage in the most brilliant way possible!!

Well…the hard work more than paid off. Nothing could have prepared us for the reception we got the

Molly’s new hairstyle (Space Buns)

next day when we arrived at 9.15am to carry out our book-signing!  The first thing was the great feedback from Miss Middleton (head teacher) and staff as to how fired up the children had been after our visit. Always nice to hear! Secondly, it was interesting to discover that some of the girls had arrived in school that morning with the latest ‘Molly hairstyle’. We’d talked about this during our presentation. I’ve inserted a pic here for referral. The hairstyle is called ‘Space buns’ for those not familiar with it.  I would like Kath to adopt it, but she’s not keen! Can’t think why! Two lovely sisters at the school, Eve and May, both sported the latest Molly hairstyle and posed for a pic with me and Kath. Hope you like it.

Eve and May with ‘Molly hairstyles’. Brilliant!

…Back to the book signing! It started at 9.30am and by lunchtime we’d still three of the eight classes to go! In fact we had to return home (good job we live nearby!) to re-stock with most of the books in the six-book series. I finally signed the last book at just before 3pm at the end of school. Phew!

All in all it was the most brilliant visit with so many positives coming out of it. We even donated a full classroom set of the Spanish version of the first Mokee Joe book after finding out that Spanish was popular in the school and taught in the curriculum! It was also great to learn that some of the classes had downloaded my spooky football story (Kruschmeister) from my website and were enjoying it as a class read.

Well, Wickersley Northfield Primary…you certainly proved one thing to us. We don’t need to travel far from our doorstep to find a real ‘Reading School’! We will be back! You can count on that!

PJM

STRUGGLING TO COPE WITH MOKEE JOE!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 22nd, 2022 4:26 pm Comments Off on STRUGGLING TO COPE WITH MOKEE JOE!

Three more ‘cracking’ schools over the last week in and around Rotherham. Greasbrough Primary, Herringthorpe Juniors and Brimington Juniors provided pupils with an insatiable thirst for books about all things scary! The ‘scary’ in question being Mokee Joe!

Two keen fans at Greasbrough Primary ‘absorbing’ the Mokee Joe books!

Covid restrictions have resulted in some of the larger schools

                 Busy, busy, busy!

asking for two presentations instead of one: lower KS2  in the morning, followed by upper KS2 in the afternoon. Hence the week has been very tiring, but very fulfilling. Even more tiring, (but fulfilling) has been the huge numbers of books I’ve had to sign for our adoring fans! It never fails to amaze me just how many pupils queue up to get their hands on all six books in the MJ series. Having said that, lots of pupils have made use of their surplus Christmas money and I’m entirely in agreement with their parents that signed books by authors are a good choice of purchase; something they can hopefully keep on their bookshelves and treasure into adulthood.

Our book signings take a long time because I insist on chatting briefly with every child. It’s quite touching just how polite and friendly our young clients are towards us, and in mine and Kath’s opinion a book signing should be much more than simply acquiring a book. It’s a ‘special’ moment in a child’s life! Sorry…I’ll get off my ‘soap box’!

I would like to say that all three Rotherham schools we have just visited, as part of the Willow Tree Academy Trust, have been wonderful to visit. Without exception, every pupil and member of staff have given us a warm welcome and have valued the impact of our book presentations. I have chased pupils around the school hall, read ‘scary’ readings, cracked my jokes (albeit some old ones!) and subsequently signed books for them. All in all…GREAT FUN…which is what it should be! Another important aspect of our resumed school visits is that some form of normality is being experienced – which is more than a good thing after all that everyone has been through! Long may it continue!

Oh well, we’ll try and get some well-earned R&R this weekend. We have an expected HUGE book-signing at Brimington Juniors on Monday afternoon and then more school visits to follow.

We will gladly ‘struggle’ to cope with the success of our books and I will sign for our fans until my arm drops off! Bring it on!

PJM

BACK IN THE SWING!!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 14th, 2022 7:43 pm Comments Off on BACK IN THE SWING!!

We have had the most amazing few days at Pheasant Bank Academy and Mary Swanwick Primary School. It’s been nothing short of fantastic and to say that Kath and I now feel well and truly back into the swing of things is an understatement!

Beautiful Display at Pheasant Bank Academy

Pheasant Bank Academy holds a special place for us (and always will!). It’s where we were inspired to write my POPPY WARRIOR book, and it was great to see that the display boards in the school are still testament to this fact. The headteacher at that time was Mrs Pippa Robinson (a very good friend of ours); she has now moved on to Serlby Park Academy where we visited recently. Her successor as Head to Pheasant Bank is another good friend, Mr Ryan Schofield (both he and Mrs Robinson are real characters in the book). On this visit we decided to present the Mokee Joe books to Years 5 and 6. To make the visit even more interesting, our son, Simon, the author of Icky Doo Dah, visited Years 3 and 4 on the same day. WOW! The Murrays well and truly took over the school for the day and Mr Schofield and his staff hosted us like true VIP’s. A massive ‘thank you’ to them all. The pupils at the school are devoted fans to our books, and the subsequent book signings seemed to take forever! But no one is complaining! This is what authors like me need to inspire more writing and more visits. Keen fans like the Pheasant Bank pupils are our ‘bread and butter’!

Some of the many highlights of the visit:

  1. The super-fast contact to my website by a super-fan, Teagan. I also replied super-fast, so the both of us were more than super-pleased!
  2. Will we ever forget Max! He was so keen to get his hands on a Mokee Joe book 1 translated into Spanish, that he went home and wrote out and practised giving me some nice complements for my work in Spanish! How could I refuse signing the Spanish version of book 1 after that. WELL DONE, MAX!
  3. One of the teachers commented on a boy sat in a quiet corner of the playground reading the first Mokee Joe book in the full set of books he’d just purchased. The teacher told us that the boy in question does not normally have any interest in books and reading! How special is that!!

Thanks to everyone again at Pheasant Bank Academy. We WILL be back!!

From Pheasant Bank Academy, it was quickly off and onto the M1 heading south for Chesterfield. Our newly-acquired Scabbajack

Tight Covid restrictions at Mary Swanwick Primary!

and Dawn Demons fans were waiting with baited breath to get their hands on signed copies of the books. We love visiting Mary Swanwick Primary. Apart from the school being haunted and and providing added inspiration for my Poppy Warrior book, the pupils are great lovers of my spooky scary books and very brave in going for what I consider to be the two scariest books of the 17 books I’ve written. Very brave!

We signed loads of books and just in time for the weekend so that these keen pupils could bury their heads in them! I was so touched when one girl told me that she’d set the timer on her watch to count down the time to me being back to sign a book for her. That is such a complement. Who says that kids these days are not interested in books! Try telling her that!

Big thanks to all of the lovely staff, and especially to Miss Law for hosting us. We will keep in touch and be back before long. We’ve already pencilled in a Bonebreaker presentation for the not-too-distant future. See you all soon.

PJM

MOKEE JOE GOES VIRTUAL!

This post was written by peterjmurray on January 11th, 2022 5:48 pm Comments Off on MOKEE JOE GOES VIRTUAL!

Hi Everyone!

Did you have a good Christmas…and hopefully virus free??

Well, it’s good to be back with you again. A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL…from me and Kath. We sincerely hope the Covid situation will ease (as it was doing before Christmas!!) and that we will be back with you before too long. I can’t tell you how much we miss being with you in your lovely schools!

Since my last blog after arriving on the Isle of Wight, we returned to Bembridge Primary School and had an amazing book signing. Just about everyone in the school went crazy to get signed copies of the books. Wow! Such big fans at this lovely school. We will be returning very soon to cover books 4 to 6 of the Mokee Joe series and look forward to being back with our good friend Mrs Chambers (Head teacher), and hopefully, once again, to ‘wow’ our KS2 audience!

Currently, we’re back in our Northern base in South Yorkshire, visiting schools in and around Rotherham/Chesterfield. This morning I did a ‘remote’ presentation in the school hall at Roughwood Primary School. I wasn’t sure how well it would work. You can imagine standing in an empty hall in front of a giant TV screen and talking to it is to say the least  a ‘strange’ experience! The head teacher, Mr Williams, and the ‘techno expert’ , Callum, were fantastic in helping me set up and it all worked a treat. After the Mokee Joe presentation I went round each of the six KS2 classes to meet them face to face and to challenge them to answer a few questions based on the presentation. I couldn’t believe just how much info they’d all absorbed and remembered! Well done to all of them!

Tomorrow I’m presenting my Scabbajack book to the pupils of Mary Swanwick Primary in Chesterfield, before returning to Roughwood Primary to do a book signing (not virtual!!) I can’t wait to see them all again…they are lovely pupils and most of them live on the same housing estate I was brought up on…Kimberworth Park. How special is  that!

Keep watching this space. I’m going to update with more info an pics as they come in. See you soon.

PJM

BACK ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 24th, 2021 3:32 pm Comments Off on BACK ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Kath and I love spending time on this wonderful island. I’ve been coming to the IOW ever since I was a young child and have always been captivated by it’s strange atmosphere of history and timelessness. It’s the ideal place to inspire the writing of my creepy stories. In fact, I’ve already started a new compilation of spooky tales set in various locations around the isle. But that’s all I’m prepared to say about it for now. ‘Watch this space,’ as they say!

    Mokee Joe strikes again!!

Right now, I’m taken up with Bembridge Primary School. It’s new to me and Kath, but the headteacher is an old friend (not really old!) and her name is Mrs Chambers. We’ve worked together several times at her old school (again…not really old!) at Broadlea Primary. This morning I performed my dramatic Mokee Joe presentation, but only focussing on the trilogy of the first three books. I’m pleased about that, because it gives me a chance to return and present books 4,5 amd 6. Bembridge Primary is a school that any author would be glad to return to!

Today’s audience of Years 4,5 and 6 were a joy to perform in front of.  They were soooooooo enthusiastic and keen to join in at every opportunity, and presenting just the first three books gave

         Kath with a new friend!

me more time to interact with the audience. We had some real laughs as pupils came on stage and helped bring to life several of the story’s dramatic scenes – especially the part where Hudson meets Mokee Joe for the first time in the local supermarket. That was a scream!  We can’t wait to return tomorrow to sign books for our new fans.

In between school visits we love to visit all our favourite haunts around the island. We called in to Ventnor recently to the Spy Glass Inn. I love the atmosphere in this old ‘smugglers’ inn; it’s crammed full of all manner of marine artefacts. But Kath always seems to get drawn into meeting up with some of the old sailors. The guy in the picture was so big I hardly dare challenge him when he insisted on buying Kath a drink!

PJM

BACK WITH A BANG!

This post was written by peterjmurray on November 13th, 2021 10:51 am Comments Off on BACK WITH A BANG!

Since returning from the Isle of Man, our feet have hardly touched the ground!

Two days at Serlby Park Academy, a visit to Willoughby Road Primary, and visits to very local schools  – Willow Primary School, Hooton Pagnall Primary, Wath Victoria Primary and finally to West Melton PrimaryPhew!

Pete with his great friend, the REAL Miss Robinson!

Our great friend, Miss Robinson, welcomed us into Serlby Park Academy to perform POPPY WARRIOR, first to a KS2 audience, followed by a presentation to Years 7 to 9 in KS3. With Remembrance Day just around the corner, the WW1-themed book was more than appropriate and both audiences embraced the topic totally. The audiences loved the fact that many of the characters in the story are real teachers at the real Pheasant Bank Academy…including their own Headteacher, Miss Robinson, who was Head at Pheasant Bank at the time of writing…Though it has

Poppy scarves in abundance at Serlby Park Academy!

to be said that the real Mr Schofield stole the show again, the image of his glaring expression creating spookiness and humour at the same time! A big ‘thank you’ to all at Serlby Park Academy for hosting us so well over our time there, and I would like to add that the older KS3 audience were one of the most attentive audiences I can remember…a real credit to this lovely school.

It was off to another Delta School next to visit our friends at Willoughby Road Primary Academy in ‘Sunny Scunthorpe’. And it really was the most glorious sunny day! The only problem was the sun glaring through the car windscreen as we headed east along the M180! But we made it safely and another KS2 audience were once more taken up by our POPPY WARRIOR presentation in a packed hall. Mrs Jupp and her lovely staff looked after us in their usual VERY hospitable way and each and every one of the pupils were a pleasure to be with. The book signing the next day saw so many signed copies of the books passing into eager hands. We also got some great feed back including some inspired work from several of the pupils. Thank you to everyone at the school for giving us such a brilliant second visit. We can’t wait to be back again. I really do need to get on with the next book!

Pete at Willow Primary, sitting by amazing entrance display.

Schools almost on our doorstep were next in line. First local visit was to Willow Primary and a return to Mokee Joe! I have to say that I still get most pleasure from performing this spooky presentation of my first ever book! It creates such a ‘buzz’, especially when I don my Mokee Joe outfit and chase some very brave KS2 pupil around the school hall! A large audience of Years 4 and 5 were totally taken up by the ‘Mokee Joe Experience’ and by the end of the performance it seemed we had recruited a new small army of MJ fans! This was certainly borne out the following day when we ran out

         Great story from Dusty

of MJ books during a hectic book-signing. But at least it gave us an excuse to return a few days later to sign more books for the rest of our new fans. In addition to the MJ response, this school has totally embraced my books, and in particular, Bonebreaker. I can’t remember seeing so much book-inspired work produced from so many keen KS2 pupils. It was touching to say the least to see a wonderful picture of one of the pupils (Arthur), dressed up as the ferocious Sigard the Bonebreaker on the school’s Viking Day. I was also presented with a short book by Dusty (love the name), and I’ve included a pic of her work here because it was so neat and well-presented.  ‘Well Done’ to everyone at the Willow Primary – fab staff and fab pupils creating a real reading culture in their lovely school.

Lovely Willoughby Road POPPY WARRIOR -inspired work

Three more local visits followed to Hooton Pagnall Primary (very difficult to find!), Wath

Erynne from Year 5 at Wath Victoria gave me her exciting book to read – GREAT!

Victoria Primary (very hard car park to get into) and West Melton Primary. These three schools are all members of the James Montgomery Academy Trust and I have to say that there was a great feeling of ‘togetherness’ in each of the schools between staff and pupils. We thorough enjoyed presenting POPPY WARRIOR to three extremely attentive and willing KS2 audiences. I would also like to add that I was flattered to be invited to Wath Victoria on the day of their OFSTED inspection. They had complete confidence in me as I stood before a large 2-form entry audience, including a very ominous OFSTED inspector. Thankfully, all went more than well and I’ve heard that the gentlemen in question was taken up with the WW1-themed book (it turned out he was a historian…phew!) It was also special to be presenting the POPPY WARRIOR story during the actual week of remembrance. In fact, the presentation at West Melton was on Remembrance Day, the finish being just ten minutes before the eleven-o-clock two minutes silence. We still have to do our book signing here on Monday next (can’t wait to see them all again) and then we’re almost done until after Christmas.  Just one more school on the Isle of Wight would you believe!

But what a time we’ve had. So many great schools and hoards of KS2 pupils keen to work with us on our literacy-inspired visits.

Like I said earlier…I really do need to get on with the next book!

PJM

REELING ON THE ISLE OF MAN

This post was written by peterjmurray on October 31st, 2021 6:16 pm Comments Off on REELING ON THE ISLE OF MAN

Kath and I are actually ‘reeling’ from the success of our fabulous Isle of Man tour. As if the first week wasn’t brilliant enough, our second week was just as fab!

Amazing IOM scenery at White Beach, Niarbyl

A ‘mind-blowing’ second visit to David Jenkin’s Bunscoill Rhumsaa, followed by thoroughly enjoyable visits to St John’s Primary, Marown Primary and our last visit of the tour to Cronk-y-Berry School. In between our visits, our good friends, Karen and Rob Riley, took us out to explore some of the amazing places on the island, including White Beach, at Niarbyl, and a ‘wallaby-spotting’ excursion to a nearby nature reserve. Previous attempts to find wallabies had failed and we wondered if we were ‘victims’ of some bizarre Manx joke! But no! On this occasion, Karen found us TWO wallabies and I even managed to capture a pic of one on my phone – though it seems only I can see it!

One or two spooky events took place during our second-week visits:

  1. I randomly chose a boy and a girl to play the Palmer twins in the POPPY WARRIOR story. It turned out they were brother and

        Fab audience at Bunscoill Rhumsaa

    sister.

  2. At Marown School, a big bird suddenly appeared at a window high up in the hall where I was presenting. The bird pecked on the glass seemingly to attract our attention to it.
  3. One school reported hearing mysterious footsteps in the corridors and a smell of pipe tobacco – just as in the story I was relating. Which school? It’s a secret between me and the headteacher! We don’t want to scare the pupils!

Maximus and Lily – REAL twins at Cronk-y-Berry School

Every one of our EIGHT school visits was an absolute joy! Staff were so welcoming and the pupils were friendly and polite (and more than enthusiastic!) without exception. It really does inspire hope in this world of ours, which constantly gives the impression that everything is ‘doom and gloom’. All that Kath and I can say is that if these masses of KS2 pupils are our hope and inspiration for tomorrow, then they surely must be REAL hope for everyone. (Sorry to get carried away, but it needs saying!)

It makes me really proud to thinks that so many pupils on the Isle of Man are currently engaged in reading my book, and even prouder is the fact that they are reading it is a real tribute to all of those brave WW1 soldiers who gave their today for our tomorrow…as the words on the wall of Cronk-y-Berry school proclaimed.

Hope you had a great ‘HOP TU NAA‘ on the island and see you all again…but not such a long wait this time.

PJM

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