The library at Brentwood County High, a co-operative school in Essex, has been extremely busy this term with visits from authors and shadowing the Carnegie Prize.
Sara Grant visited the school and gave a talk to year 7 students and some year 6 students from Holly Tree Primary school about her writing and in particular her new book, Chasing Danger. Sara talked about her work as an author and went on to show how to develop ideas for a story. Prompted by Sara, students lay down the plot for a story whose main character is a detective who is secretly a serial killer out to avenge the death of his murdered father.
Sara then launched a writing competition for year 7 students which she and Natasha Radford of the Chicken and Frog Bookshop will help to judge later this term.
Author Nikki Sheehan visited the school to run a creative workshop for some year 8 students. Students were invited to tell her about their childhood imaginary friends and everyone was quite surprised by the number and variety of characters described. From imaginary ponies to invisible dolls, the details of these secret people all came tumbling out.
From there Nikki asked students to make up characters for a story, taking the most popular ideas and helping them to develop the plot. There was an eight-foot tall, 84-year-old tramp who was wrongly convicted and jailed for murder; Becky, a homeless girl who lives in an alleyway; and not forgetting a comic strip idea for a hot cross bun boy. Students produced some fantastically imaginative work and all seem to have benefited from the experience of working with a published author.
In addition to visiting authors some year 10 students have been shadowing this year’s Carnegie Prize. They have met regularly with the school’s librarian, Mrs Ann Smy, and with head of Roman House Mr Paul Callow. Each week there was a competition for the best book review and the winner was awarded an Amazon voucher. The students’ choice for the award was Lies we Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley; unfortunately, it was not the winner!