What do a historic Norwich venue, juggling knives and 62 children from six schools across Norfolk all have in common…? All three were part of our Noirwich fringe event which took place on Tuesday morning at Norwich Arts Centre!
Julian Sedgwick, author of the Mysterium and Ghosts of Shanghai series, spoke to a packed audience of year 7s and 8s about a variety of things including the history behind his books and the influences on his work, which ranged from daring wire walker Philippe Petit, to his own Father who owned an Arts Centre and the circus, both old and modern incarnations. He also spoke how important it is to create three-dimensional characters around which you can structure your stories, particularly if you want your readers to invest or relate to the protagonists in question. The talk ended with some knife juggling to hammer home that sometimes it’s okay to make mistakes in writing and in life- we just have to keep going!
A brief break, emergency mars bar and extra cup of coffee, Julian encouraged the students to take risks in their own writing as they had the opportunity to come up with their own creations which, as we learnt toward the end of the workshop, were wildly imaginative: one group conjured up a werewolf called Lopez, currently living in a forest all alone but still (somehow) attending school, and another took a more real-world approach by envisaging a girl who uses sport to forget about the bullies making her schooldays a misery.
Of the work produced, Julian said: “I was very impressed by the speed and creativity of the workshop participants – I generally get good amounts out of those 25 mins, but everyone did masses – just a shame we didn’t have time to share more!”
Julian had visited Litcham School during the summer term for a transition event, two accounts of which you can read here (by Amelia at Litcham) and here (by Moby from the YNAF comms team), and we were so pleased to be able to bring him back to Norfolk, this time at one of his favourite Norwich venues! Thank you for joining us, Julian, and for signing lots of books afterwards (even if you were sat in direct sunlight!)
The event was a partnership between ourselves, the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Writers’ Centre Norwich, Young Norfolk Arts Trust and Norwich Arts Centre and would not have been possible without the brilliant assistance and cooperation of the teams from each organisation. We had a brilliant time and were so pleased to be able to offer such a wonderful opportunity to those students who attended; fingers crossed we’ll be able to do something like this again in the future!
Here are this week’s Friday Reads:
Gail: The Adventures of Alfie Onion by Vivian French, illustrated by Marta Kissi
Vivian French is one of my favourite children’s writers. Her stories are effortlessly funny and definitely ‘reading for pleasure’ fare. Her new story The adventures of Alfie Onion is a spoof reworking of a fairytale where the favourite brother, Magnifico Onion, proves to be not quite the hero his mother imagined and it’s left to younger brother Alfie to save the day!
(Walker Books, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781406363104)
Harriet: A Library of Lemons by Jo Cotterill
I would have felt some empathy with the heroine of this book as a child; she will appeal to quieter, book loving girls (in particular), who may feel rather uncool and friendless. But her circumstances are definitely nothing like my childhood experiences, as her father has gone into shock and depression following the death of his wife. His daughter has to become his carer, but she finds strength through a developing close friendship with a new girl at school who shares similar interests, and ultimately, although there is no quick fix, it is clear that dad is on the mend with the help of other adults, including social services. Not wide appeal maybe but a touching, warm story for upper KS2/KS3.
(Templar, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781848125117)
Zoë: Dumped by Dee Phillips
This is a short story where Vicky has to make a major decision about her life.
Her father has got a new job in Australia which offers lots of opportunities, as pointed out to her by her best friend, Becky. However Vicky loves her boyfriend, Chris, of three years and doesn’t know whether to stay or go. She decides to speak to him, having listened to the arguments from her dad and Becky. What will she do?
At the back of the book are a number of follow-on activities to encourage the reader to consider what Vicky may do. Some of these can be incorporated with SMSC and/or PSHE as the situations are similar to many that teenagers will experience.
(Saddleback Educational, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781783220496)
You can find an archive of our previous recommendations here.