School Visits

Toys and Tales 9th November 2010

Marilyn visits Toys and Tales

In November wonderful bubbly Karen from The Toys & Tales bookshop in Stockport approached me to give a talk both at Norbury Primary School and also to her Creative Writing Class which she holds in the shop approximately weekly. I have done a report on Norbury separately, but this is an account of her amazing talented little group. Her Creative Writing Class.

On the day I was there, 9th November, the group I spoke to consisted of Niamh, JJ, Imogen, Annie, Joe and Tom and you all did some wonderful writing.

I read from White Chin and then we talked a little bit about the problems and joys and challenges of writing about animals from an animal’s point of view.

These are some of the ideas that you threw around and then wrote about:

  • an abandoned dog, who can’t be rescued because of the allergies of the one who finds him, gets terribly upset and he has to be taken to the vet in the hope that that will sort him out. But will the little dog survive and if so, what will his future be?
  • a brown gerbil sneaks past a sly fox and appears to survive. But does he? And if he does, what happens next?
  • we read the heartbreaking story of a chocolate Labrador puppy who is given to a little girl at Christmas as a present and who horribly and totally reject him. He then has to make his way through Manchester after dark when everything is shut being chased by a big Rottweiler and then…
  • we discover a nest of newborn mice huddled together in the hole of a tree on a beautiful dew ridden morning…more, more, more
  • enter the scary fierce cat, who in reality turns out just to be a tiny little kitten who finally makes a truce with the guinea pig and from that point on they learn to live with each other.
  • and then finally a glorious epic tale about a stray cat without a name who has some very firm ideas of what awful things humans inflict on pet cats, like collars with bells! He gets into an astounding pickle around dustbins and two teenage boys and by Chapter Two we are left on a complete cliff hanger – what has happened – will he survive – who or what is the creature that sounds like a dog. Oh oh. I need to know??? The imagery in this tale was so rich and glorious. Well done indeed.
  • In all these collected writings you have displayed much sensitive thought as to what makes a great story. You all, in quite different ways, have a really good way of knowing how to make us want more in your stories. I am so impressed that you all give up your personal time to come into the shop and join Karen in her Creative Writing courses and I do hope that you will keep it going. You all have real talent and writing is like a muscle when you are an athlete, you need to keep your muscles toned up, so please keep with it, don’t ever give it up.

    I would love to say a very special thank you to you for letting me take over from Karen on that one day, but I just know that what she is doing is really special, so good luck with it and enjoy it and can I also say a very big thank you to Karen and also to James from Toys & Tales for all their support and passion for what makes and keeps books and reading special.

    It will be a privilege to acknowledge your contributions in the new book, MAGNIFICAT, when it is published in 2012.