School Visits

I felt very privileged to visit Silverdale school where I did writing and reading sessions with both Years Five and Years Six.

A selection of ideas and extracts from Year Fives:

One day me and my granddad went a’ walking to go and find a kingfisher. We came to a bridge and saw some flying fish which were pink and spotty. The spots were gold. (Great visual imagination!)

The adventures of Scooby were quite special and in the end he had to be rescued from near-death by helicopter. (It was really exciting this story).

An adventure that takes place on a farm, where the whole family have to up sticks and move to Scotland and poor Polly the cat finds a spider in her food. (Action packed this one.)

One sunny day in England a little dog went playing on a field. There was a man there and he said “fetch”. The dog didn’t listen. The man kicked the dog and went to pick up the ball. When the man turned around the dog had gone. He had run away….so begins a very exciting tale about superdog which maintains very good dramatic tension throughout.

Brilliant and complex family tale with a large cast of noisy characters at the centre of which is Mark who is trying to do his homework and Max the cat, who wees on it. And the oh so poignant coda is: “Mark sighed, picked up the piece of paper and started his five page essay all over again.”

A vivid and extremely true to life depiction of a cat fight between Ronny and Reggie. And exactly in the way that cats carry on, it blew up into its ferocious glory and no sooner had it exploded than it died down and peace resumed as “leaning away from each other, they grudgingly went through the door. The fight was over.”

An exquisitely well drawn essay on the catching and killing of a mouse by Pepsi, who behaves “as if she is a queen as she paces about the garden” and the mayhem that ensues in the household as a result of Pepsi bringing in her trophy. Many cat lovers will recognize that one!

And a story about Magnificat and Ben with wonderful ideas for the new book – thank you very much!

“Magnificat crept softly over the damp grass. From her past she had learned not to trust humans. Even a human that seemed to like animals”

“Here, pussy, come on puss puss”, whispered Ben. “Come out puss”. Slowly and cautiously Magnificat crept out. “You’re so beautiful” gasped Ben. Ben was amazed because in front of him was the most sleek and adorable creature on earth…..

Silverdale St. John’s Primary School on 16th October 2012

A selection of ideas and extracts from Year Sixes:

A lovely story about a boy called Eddie who rescues Mitzi the cat with “her tennis-ball-sized head” (brilliant observation, that is the perfect measurement of a cat’s head!) and ends up taking her to the vet. I might use that in a book one day!

Amazingly gory account of the disembowelling of a big fat toad by Coco the cat leading on to a domestic fight with the Yorkshire terrier, Alan. But this final suspenseful paragraph had me on the edge of my seat:

“She would always fight with him and always win. But the fight would hardly start thanks to Mum, who every time broke it up. But today was different. Unbeknown to Coco this could be her final fight with Alan”. Well done. I really want to know what happens next.

Wonderful account of Zang’s hunting in the long grass making great use of his varied senses, well done – it was short but well executed!

Sad tale of Doogle who finds himself abandoned on the beach and who rushes from sea to shore and back again trying to get help and gets pursued by the incoming tide but who at last finds peace and happiness when he is rescued by a lady who lives in a home with other dogs and cats.

A lively tale of Ruby the dog who tries to convey to her owners that she really doesn’t like the coat they put on her but eventually when she really does outgrow it and she can now walk coatless she still doesn’t want to go out in the rain – so now they realise she is just a dog who doesn’t like rain.

And here we have another meeting between Ben and Magnificat. Wonderful detail to entice the reader on followed by this poignant loss. “Then the shape disappeared. Although Ben thought the beauty looked sad, he knew her heart belonged in the wild. He looked away.” And then we see it from the cat’s point of view. “A blue glimmer of light shone through the trees. She liked the look of it. She liked it a lot. She ran through the trees to explore the wonderful shiny sight.” And we finish with a breathtaking encounter with Magnificat sandwiched between two foxes with the final knuckle whitening phrase hanging in the air “Can she escape in time?” – indeed.

Thank you, brilliant.

And then these were selected as continuations of the White Chin story and give much food for thought:

A loud cry wakes White Chin from a deep sleep. “There it was again - that same, almost eerie, howl. He flattened his ears against his head and crept silently to the entrance of his cosy cave.” And following a bit of a scary chase he then hears “another grunt – different and sharper this time – the figure turned and slunk away. All White Chin could see was a big bushy tail.” And I loved the following sentence as it felt like Marilyn-speak: “being in the forest he had to be as quick as quick as otherwise he would lose his fat tasty smelling dormouse meal, which he particularly wanted as he was exceptionally hungry”. Thank you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And finally on the continuation of the White Chin story this – I think I should have used much more of this technique in White Chin, so thank you very much for the ideas: “White Chin found himself looking up at a rather unfriendly canine that was ten times the size of him. White Chin was rather puzzled. His little head was full of questions. Who owned the dog? Why was it out here? Did anyone own it? All of these questions remained unanswered and they would remain unanswered because White Chin wasn’t up for having an argument with a rather hungry looking Labrador.” Well done.

Marilyn would like to say a special message. “Thank you all of you from Silverdale, St. John’s – your welcome was wonderful to Michael and me when we came to see you on 16th October and I will never forget it.

I would like to add to that a special and enormous thank you to Years Five and Six. Your input and your enthusiasm and your real writing talent were a joy to encounter and you must keep that precious talent going, so when I see you again - perhaps with the new book Magnificat - I hope it will be there for all to see. And remember, writing and indeed reading are a bit like the muscles in your arms and legs, so to be in tip top working order your brain needs you to be reading and writing whenever you have a spare moment.

May I add to that a special thank you to your Year Teacher, Claire Bloomfield, whose special encouragement is a precious teaching gift and to your wonderful head teacher, Cathie Armistead. It was a lovely morning.

Septi and Otto

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Fannie, Titus, Pushkin and Gilly

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