Here are some stories from the students in 3H who were part of the six week Wriggle Room Writing workshop which you can read about in the previous post.
One early day, Mr Tazz remembered it was December and he got to practice martial arts. The place is set in an underwater palace, which has over 5000 people and they are all special. Mr Tazz wore a blue swimsuit with yellow shoulder pads and yellow stripes on his legs. In the middle there is a circle and it says ‘Mr T’. He likes riding his submarine and his jet-ski, also sharks and whales. Mr Tazz is 32 and he practices martial arts. He lives in a special laboratory. Mr Tazz is mature, courageous and kind. Mr Tazz usually feels awesome. Moments later, Mr Tazz was inventing a new vehicle called the jet bike and suddenly his Tazz phone was tingling so he answered it…….it was the Queen! “Hello Mr Tazz, is that you? Can you help because the menacing Dr Octo has my crown! Bye”, said the Queen in a cranky voice. So he swiftly ran out the palace but there was an army of brain washed people. He flew over them, he went even faster! Finally he found Dr Octo, “You’re too late!” mentioned Dr Octo. “How do you know?” asked Mr Tazz. “Because I have an army” declared Dr Octo. “Uh-oh” said Mr Tazz in a slow voice. “ No one fear, Dr Finn is here!” Dr Finn said in a clear voice. He pushed the octopus away. Mr Tazz ran and threw his Tazzarang and it snatched and located the Queen and gave it back. “Oh how could I repay you?” cried the Queen. “Well you can pay us billion sheus” suggested Dr Finn. “If you say so” stammered the Queen. “Yes!” Shouted Mr Tazz. So everyone lived happily ever after but Dr Octo felt the opposite!
It was early on a Saturday morning when Shy was feeling very cool, calm and fine. Shy was a kind, helpful person. He wore dark, shiny boots with a brown, yellow jacket. Shy lived in a gloomy ship wreck. Shy was working on his inventions that he wanted to use to defeat the mighty Claw Trox! Shy needed to watch out because Claw Trox had a plan too! While Shy was working on his inventions there was a ring on his old phone. It was the Queen, she cried, “oh Shy! Help! Someone has stolen the fish so that they can be their slaves!” Screamed the Queen loudly. “ I am on my way!” When Shy ran out of his door he saw fish angrily charging at him. Shy got out of it because he had a rope and he grabbed the fish, Shy locked the fish in his house! After that Shy was feeling anxious because he had never faced a villain that was part fish, part whale and part shark! Then Shy swam so far and found Claw Trox’s lair. As soon as Shy swam into the cave he heard Claw Trox’s evil laugh echoing around him! Shy marched into the deep, dark and gloomy cave. A few seconds later Shy stepped on a stick and Claw Trox turned around and he said, “ Hello Shy, do you think you can beat me?” When Claw Trox and Shy stood face to face, Shy had a rope and he tied it around Claw Trox and freed the fish. Then, so Claw Trox would not come back, he blew him out of a cannon!
Early one day, Star was in her shipwreck drinking juicy seaweed stew with the Queen. Star was wearing a blue, scaley skirt with a pink, soft flower in her hair. Her favourite thing to do was swimming around in circles, swishing her arms in the water. Her favourite thing to eat was fried fish with a salt drink and her best friend loved that too. Star liked painting her submarine the colour yellow and blue and it went really fast! The sea was very cold and dark so star sometimes swam around a lot so she could get warm. After that the Queen went back to her palace, her palace where she keeps her bottles of potions. The Queen saw one of them was gone so she called Star on her underwater phone. She panicly screamed, “come right here! Spikey has stolen one of my potions!” “I’ll come right away!” exclaimed Star. Star raced to the Queens castle where she explained all about it. Then, Star went into Spikey’s lair but she could not get in because there were sea urchins everywhere around the house. “What shall I do?” complained Star to herself. “Oh! I know! I can use my underwater gloves that I use when I have to touch sea urchins!” yelled Star. Then she zoomed back to her shipwreck and grabbed them and it worked! She spent about an hour to take all the sea urchins off. Star felt really cross with Spikey, nobody liked her at all so hardly anyone spoke to her. At last Star finished and got into Spikey’s lair and she poured the potion into Spikey’s mouth so she could get sick and not the Queen. In the morning, Spikey did not feel well so she lay in bed all day! At the end of the day she knew what was wrong. Star had pured the potion in her mouth and soon after, about a month, she could not talk for the rest of her life! The people in the village were very happy.
Last spring, a group of us from the Islington Writers for Children went on a writing adventure with 2 classes of Year 3 students at Burdett-Coutts Primary School - in six sessions over six weeks we hoped to inspire a love of writing and words. Each author did a different session and over the six weeks the Year 3s played lots of word games, brainstormed together and wrote their own stories and poems. We all enjoyed it, and there were some wonderful pieces of writing!
You can read them in an earlier blog – below.
We called this writing adventure — Wriggle Room Writers.
This year we were invited back to Burdett-Coutts to do it again with the next bunch of Year 3s! Yippee!! And so another Wriggle Room Writers experience got underway. We all played with plot, character, setting, voice, rhythm and rhyme and making up a song. And along the way we gave each other feedback about our writing. We were bowled over by the inventiveness and creativity of their stories and poems. Watch out for those Burdett-Coutts Year 3 students and their big imaginations! Before you know it, their books will be appearing on the bookshelves in your local bookshop!
In the final session, our resident singer-songwriter brought a guitar and each class wrote and performed a song in 45 minutes!! This is a fabulous way to end the Wriggle Room Writers experience. You can listen to their songs here and sing along with the words.
First off, here is Class 3T with their Lullaby Song
And here is Class 3H with their Underwater Christmas Song
The PoetryJoe Show autumn tour kicks off on Saturday 31st August at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury.
The list of tour dates can be found here.
Please ‘like’ the PoetryJoe Show Facebook page – thanks!
Here are some examples of the wonderful writing that was produced by children at Burdett-Coutts Primary School for the final day of our six week writing sessions with the children of Year 3. We all listened to work being read aloud and the children commented and gave feedback after each reading. The comments and feedback were thoughtful and interesting.
The Song of Siger – by Sammi in 3G Orange as the sun, Fierce as a lion, Huge as a house, My orange fluffy fur is soft like a bear, I run like a fast cheetah, I purr like a fluffy cat, I creep like a quiet mouse My black stripes are as black as the night sky
An Adventure Story - By Ahkim in 3G One day I found a door, doors can some in all shapes and sizes but the door I found was extremely small! When I came down the old wooden stairs I found a tiny door. I was feeling terrified in case something bad came out of the door. Quietly, I opened the door and the floor was made out of clouds. In front of me was a green and black portal. I went into the portal and a jam army greeted me to defeat the ice monster. When we were fighting the ice monster it threw ice blades at us. We were all very injured. Then I made a weapon called the jam canon and we fired jam at the ice monster. The ice monster died and the jam army said, “Thank you so much you saved our people”. I replied, “That’s ok” and I went back through the portal, opened the door and went back home.
A Superhero Story – by Amaju in 3G Sasha Strickers (Alice) was a loud girl and she seemed quite joyful but her parents were always busy and she was always upset. Sasha Strickers had long, curly brown hair and pretty big, brown eyes. She was a kind, beautiful girl who always wanted to give charity to poor people. During the night she used this kindness to save the earth because Sasha Strickers was really a superhero! One dark, spooky night when there was a hurricane coming Sasha Strickers was in her bedroom wondering what adventure she would be be part of tonight. Suddenly, she heard somebody cry “Help somebody save us!” so she decided to investigate…
An Adventure Story – by Bella in 3G When I walked down the stairs I saw a mysterious little door. I whispered to myself, “What is that door doing there?” Slowly, I walked towards the door thinking it was going to jump right at me but I had to face my fears and open that door so I did! Worryingly, I opened the door but nothing happened. All I saw was a huge winter wonderland and a fun fair. There was an old, dusty ride with a beautiful fountain. It was when I walked a bit further that I saw a huge ice rink and a sign on the floor which I picked up. It said “Don’t go on it because it has been cursed.” I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a curse so I picked up my ice skates, put them on and started to skate…
In 1906, The Historical Association was set up ‘to support the study and enjoyment of history.’ And in 2010, it inaugurated the Young Quills Award for children’s historical fiction. There are two sections: Primary and Secondary. The award is unusual in that the young people themselves nominate, review and short-list the historical novels they have enjoyed and only then do the adult judges get involved with the final decisions.
The Historical Novel Society has reviewed all the short-listed books for 2012. I myself reviewed two books in the Secondary section. The first was A Skull in Shadow’s Lane by Robert Swindells.
1946, England. Jinty, age eleven, and her ten-year-old brother, Josh, live in the sleepy village of Coney Cley where nothing ever happens. Or so they think – until they decide to explore Shadows Lane and the abandoned Cornflower Cottage, which is rumoured to be haunted. But it isn’t until they see a living skull in an upstairs window that they realize the rumours are true.
Paul Bluet, a traumatized man returned from the death camps is camping out in the cottage. He is right to be scared; an ex-camp guard on the run has just recognized him ….
I read this book at a sitting and couldn’t put it down. The period detail is convincing without being intrusive. And the post-war mindset is just right, too. For example, the more formal relationships between pupils and teachers are nicely caught; not to mention the greater freedom for children – no health and safety concerns in evidence! Historically, it showed both the austerities of post-war Britain, as well as the darker side of war.
It opens in 1945, in Poland. The Germans are in retreat but Nazi death squads are still hunting down Jews. Thirteen-year-old Felix is in hiding, protected by Gabriek, a Pole who occasionally works with the partisans. When Gabriek disappears, Felix goes in search of the partisans hiding in the forest. Will they take him in, or will they kill him?
Felix’s parents have been taken to a death camp; he has seen people beaten, brutalized and murdered; he is in great danger himself, yet, somehow, he manages to retain his basic human decency and hold onto hope.
He learns that in a situation where humanity is stripped down to the bone, when all that’s left is your name, you must choose whether you will be a kind and decent human being, even in such horrific circumstances, or someone who can only feel hatred – a destroyer. Felix chooses to be a ‘mending person’.
I was gripped by this book; it was inspiring and it also moved me to tears.
It opens in 1598. Thirteen-year-old Thomas Munmore, a cobbler’s son living in Stratford-upon-Avon, longs to be an actor.
When he’s forced to flee after being caught poaching, he makes for London with his friend, Alice. But things do not work out as planned. Far from being a city whose streets are paved with gold, as Thomas believes, Elizabethan London is dirty and dangerous. Thomas manages to get work with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men theatre company but then he and Alice find themselves caught up in a treasonous plot to kill the queen….
Road to London is a terrific read, and doesn’t pull its punches about Elizabethan London. It’s a filthy, smelly, and dangerous place, there are few provisions to help those in need; justice is skewed in favour of the rich, and starvation is an everyday reality. Nobody cares whether Thomas or Alice live or die.
Finally, I reviewed The Great Escape by Megan Rix, set in the summer of 1939. Robert Edwards, aged twelve, and his nine-year-old sister, Lucy, live in London. They have three pets: a collie, Rose, once a sheepdog on a farm in Devon; Buster, a lively Jack Russell terrier; and a ginger and white cat called Tiger.
When war breaks out, Robert and Lucy are evacuated to their grandmother in Devon, and the three pets go to some neighbours, the Harrises, to be looked after. But Mr Harris resents their arrival and drags them to the local animal shelter to be put down – along with three-quarters of a million other pets. Tiger smells danger and escapes and, in the ensuing fracas, Buster and Rose escape as well. But where will they be safe?
I thoroughly enjoyed this heart-warming book. I learnt a lot about how animals were treated during WW2, and about what they themselves contributed towards the war effort. Everyone is tested. Robert and Lucy must cope with new and difficult circumstances. Their granny is suffering from mild dementia and can’t look after them; Robert’s teacher is sadistic; and there’s a spiteful girl at Lucy’s new school.
The animals, too, have much to learn as Rose takes them on the long and dangerous journey to the farm in Devon, the only other home she remembers.
So, four very different books, all of them very readable, without dumbing down the history in any way.
It was time to review all the exciting sessions that had taken place over the previous five weeks and to see how the children had been inspired and to celebrate being a ‘Wriggle-room Writer’.
However, Lynda and I had a special mission. We had been tasked with writing a ‘celebratory song’ with each class. This was to be written, learned and performed in a 45 minute time slot.
We knew that a song –writing collaboration with twenty-seven children might prove a little tricky so since we were limited for time it was decided to move quickly to raise the energy level in the room so that ideas would flow spontaneously.
Lynda got the children on their feet to perform the ‘rage stomp’, that she had taught them on a previous visit, from her fabulous Sand Dancers’ books. I followed that up by teaching them a musical version of Spike Milligan’s Ning Nang Nong poem I had written for a show and very soon the energy level was ready for us to begin to write a song.
Since I am a songwriter, I am fairly used to collaborating with other songwriters. The usual way of proceeding is to have a few ideas that you put forward just to get the ball rolling. It is understood that the ideas can change second by second as new and better ideas form.
So with Lynda acting as scribe armed with a marker and white board and me perched on the side of a desk with a guitar we began by writing the chorus with the children.
This was easy….Wriggle Room., Wriggle Room writers….We are the Wriggle-room writers.
The tune really wrote itself …think ‘earworm’ with an annoying catchy tune. The whole class was singing it within minutes and it was time to write the verses.
By asking the children strategic questions and fielding their responses, the song somehow began to reveal itself. I suspect this was because we were magically sprinkled with fairy dust, given Lynda’s connections.
The children were absolutely brilliant and extremely pleased with their song so we recorded it very roughly on an MP3 (hear below) and we played it back to them. First mission accomplished.
This was not the end however. One little boy came up to me and said very seriously ‘This is ‘our’ song isn’t it, not anyone else’s song?’ I responded by saying of course it was their song.
It was a good question because Lynda and I had originally thought perhaps once we had developed a structure for the ‘ Wriggle-room Writer’ song with the first class that we would use it with the second class and perhaps just write some extra verses.
That wasn’t to be. No we began again and the next class wrote another completely different song. This time think ‘power ballad’ full of angst, longing, and passion to be ..yes you guessed it.. ‘ A Wriggle-room Writer’ of course! The children were delightful, imaginative and friendly and it was wonderful day. Thanks kids!
I’ve now been the UK Children’s Book Editor for the Historical Novel Society Review for some months and overseen the children’s reviews for the November, February and May issues. It’s been very interesting; I like knowing what’s new in historical novels, and eight interested members of the HNS help with the reviewing.
What I hadn’t realized, though, was how the books would pile up. There are points when I can scarcely see the carpet in my study. OK, a number are waiting to be posted to reviewers, but that still leaves a pile which I’ve reviewed but don’t have room to keep, plus a few books which are unsuitable for reviewing (i.e. not really historical).
What to do with them? I’m a great fan of public libraries and, in these cash-strapped times, they need all the support they can get. I emailed Tony Brown, the stock and reader development manager for Islington libraries, and explained the situation. All I wanted, I said, was for the books to go to a good home. Would he be interested?
Almost immediately, I got a reply. Yes, please. He’d be delighted to have them. So I parcelled them up, addressed it to Tony Brown, and staggered to my nearest library – there were a lot of books and they were heavy.
The May HNS Review has just come out, so a new pile of books need a good home. They are:
The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper
SOS Lusitania by Kevin Kiely
The Positively Last Performance by Geraldine McCaughrean
Song Hunter by Sally Prue
Sun Catcher by Sheila Rance
The Hidden Gift by Ian Somers (the non-historical one which slipped through the net)
Queenie by Jacqueline Wilson
This time I did something different. I thought it would make an interesting blog, so I suggested to Tony that I bring them myself and say ‘Hello’. I’d bring my camera and perhaps a kind colleague could photograph us both, plus the books.
So here we are, in Islington Central children’s library.
However, that’s not the end of the story. There is an interesting sequel …