Twinkl Imagine

Recently Twinkl have introduced a new feature: Twinkl Imagine. 

“Twinkl Imagine is a creative resource with a new image every day. From quick discussion to indepth learning, use it as a stimulus for a range of exciting topics”

So far there have been images based on Oceans and Sculpture, with this week’s theme being Harvest. Along with the daily picture Twinkl provide talking points, some cross curricula links and even some links to download resources to assist you with the pictures. They provide different activities/questions for KS1 and KS2 classes too!

I have used Imagine a few times with my Year 4 class and they LOVE it. I put an image on the board for them to come in on a morning. They sit on the carpet and they know that they are to discuss the picture that is on the board. This week (as you can see in the picture) we discussed this picture – of the stormy sea and the ship. I asked the children to think about things such as:

  • do you like the picture? if yes, why? if no, why not?
  • what do you think it’s like to be a soldier on the ship?
  • what can you see in the picture? 
  • can you think of any adjectives to describe the picture?

Once we had 5 minutes to discuss with their talk partner/person sat beside them on the carpet, we had a quick class discussion about opinions/thoughts about the picture then I gave them all a post it note. On their post it note I asked them to write something they want to say about the picture (whether they liked it/what they liked about it/why they didn’t like it/what it would be like to be on the ship) and then put their post it on the board. They absolutely loved sharing their ideas verbally AND in writing. It made for interesting work when the head came in too asking what the post it notes were about too! The children asked me to put the picture back on the board so they could have a quick discussion with the head (he had only come in to the classroom to ask me something!). 

From only a few sessions of using Imagine I have found that the children are happier to discuss and give reasons for their opinions. (Some of my children have asked me to put that week’s pictures on our class blog so they can discuss it with their parents/siblings so I have enquired as to if that is allowed!) So far we have had 2  Fridays of different pictures and the children have already commented that it is one of their favourite things that we get to do. They have really enjoyed the sense of freedom it gives them to talk about their opinions. That there is no right or wrong, there is no sense of academia in talking about the picture… it is purely how you feel about the picture. They love asking my opinion of the picture too. They are actively more engaged in listening to others’ opinions too, so that they can disagree or agree with them! Ha!

I will definitely be looking to use this as a continuing speaking, listening and justifying opinions session in a morning but would love to start using the other pictures from the week in English lessons. The pictures are of such a high quality that there are all sorts of activities you could get from just one picture! 

You guys should all check it out! I love it! Let me know in the comments or on twitter if you start using Twinkl Imagine or if you use it already!

Link: Twinkl Imagine

S x

UKYACX book haul!

So recently, as you all are aware, I was one of the bloggers for the wonderful UKYACX and wrote 2 blog posts about it! Which you can find on my blog! I will link them if you’ve not read them! Obviously as there were books for sale I MAY have bought some… OOPS. So I thought I would share them with you all!

MG books (MG = middle grade, so kids books to me and you!)

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(Descriptions from top to bottom)

The Great Chocoplot – Chris Callaghan
“Jelly and her family live in Chompton-on-de-Lyte, where everyone loves a Chocablocka bar or two. So when the end of chocolate is announced, she can’t believe it. Determined to investigate, Jelly and her gran follow a trail of clues to a posh chocolate shop and its owner, the pompous Garibaldi Chocolati. Gari’s suspiciously smug, despite his failing business and yucky chocolate. Is it really the chocopocalypse, or is there a chocoplot afoot?”

Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle (1) – Gabrielle Kent
“Alfie Bloom’s life is dull. Dull and lonely. All of that changes when he is summoned to the bizarre offices of mysterious solicitor, Caspian Bone, and inherits a castle full of wonders that has been sealed for centuries. Alfie is astounded to learn he was born in that very castle six hundred years ago during a magical timeslip. There, Orin Hopcraft, the last of the druids hid an ancient magic inside him, which others seek but should never be used. With the help of his cousins Madeleine and Robin, a shapeshifting solicitor and a flying bearskin rug Alfie must keep the magic safe from terrifying adversaries to make sure the secrets of Hexbridge Castle stay secret, forever.”

Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief (2) – Gabrielle Kent
“When Alfie Bloom inherited a castle and a centuries-old magic, his dull and lonely life was changed forever. But Alfie’s new life has come with dangers he never could have expected. When Ashford the butler is kidnapped in the middle of the night, the castle comes under threat from a terrifying enemy. Trapped inside with only his twin cousins and best friend Amy, it’s up to Alfie to defend his inheritance and prevent a terrible fate from befalling the whole of England!”

Flights, Chimes and Mysterious Times – Emma Trevayne
“Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London. Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones. Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack. His only hope of escape lies with a legendary clockwork bird. The Gearwing grants wishes or it did, before it was broken before it was killed. But some things don t stay dead forever.”

The Imagination Box – Martyn Ford
“There is a box. Anything you imagine will appear inside. You have one go, one chance to create anything you want. What would you pick?”
That’s exactly the question ten-year-old Timothy Hart gets to answer after discovering The Imagination Box. The greatest toy on earth. The top-secret contraption transforms his life but when the box’s inventor, Professor Eisenstone, goes missing, Tim knows he has to investigate. With the help of a talking finger monkey called Phil, he sets out to find the professor. In order to rescue his friend, he must face his darkest fears and discover the true potential of his own mind.”

Eren – Simon P Clark
“People are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad isn’t with them. Where is he? Has something happened? Oli has a hundred questions, but then he finds a secret of his own: he discovers the creature that lives in the attic.
Eren. Eren is not human. Eren is hungry for stories. Eren has been waiting for him.
Sharing his stories with Eren, Oli starts to make sense of what’s happening downstairs with his family. But what if it’s a trap? Soon, Oli must make a choice: learn the truth – or abandon himself to Eren’s world, forever.”

Boy X – Dan Smith
“Kidnapped and drugged, Ash wakes up on a remote tropical island. His mum – a genetic scientist – has been imprisoned and infected with a deadly virus. Where is he, and what’s he doing there? He sets out to cross the jungle to find out and rescue his mother. Soon he realises he’s quicker and sharper than before. But there’s something else …why are the animals watching him, and how can he use the jungle to his advantage?”

Now for the YA books I bought. I didn’t buy half as many YA books because I already have a lot and I just needed some signed!

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(Descriptions from L-R)

Lifers – M.A.Griffin
“Fear haunts the streets of Manchester: a schoolgirl has disappeared. Preston is drawn to investigate, exploring the city in the hunt for his missing friend. Deep in the bowels of a secret scientific institute, he discovers a sinister machine. Captured and condemned to a cavernous space filled with problematic teens, Preston is determined to escape – but this is no ordinary jail. Friendships are forged and lives lost in a reckless battle for freedom, revenge – and revolution.”

Cell 7 – Kerry Drewery
“A world where justice and the fate of those accused of murder is decided by the public, but has moved on from the Roman Gladiator ‘thumbs up or thumbs down’ public vote, to a public vote by telephone. If you are voted innocent you are set free; if you are voted guilty you are committed to death by electric chair. Those awaiting their sentence reside in ever decreasing cells, getting smaller each day, until Day 7 and Cell 7, where they hear their fate. Sixteen year old Martha has confessed to killing a famous celebrity. But has she done it? And if not, why has she claimed the murder? Perhaps she wants to show up the flawed and brutal system by sacrificing herself in the hope of a better world….
Or perhaps she is protecting somebody else…”

Gamescape Overworld – Emma Trevayne (this was an uncorrected proof)
“In a futuristic version of Earth, society is mostly controlled by a company that produces an addictive virtual reality game called Chimera. Everyone plays Chimera. Defeating the levels is how you earn enough points for clothes, food, even medical enhancements. Miguel Anderson is good at it. In fact, he s better than anyone he knows. He spends all of his free time playing, hoping to reach Level 25. At Level 25 you can pick any prize you want and Miguel needs a new biometric heart. When the game runners announce a global competition to launch a new version with untold prizes, Miguel enters and becomes a team leader. That s new for him playing on a team. And complicated, as the game becomes a delicate power play between wholly unexpected players.”

So there you go! The books I bought from UKYACX. So many books, so little time!

Did you come along? Did you guys buy any books? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @eenalol,

S x

Three weeks down…

Welcome to week 3! Really? Is that it? Is that how long ago the summer holidays were? MY word. They feel so much longer away! This week was MANIC. OF the 5 days in school, I taught for 4! 3 full days and then 2 half days… my usual timetable calls for me only doing 1 full day and then 2 half days but I have to say I LOVED IT. I felt like a proper teacher!

Mondays are generally spent supporting in Y2. I go in to support for Maths and English in the morning (after assembly and phonics). Monday PMs are spent in Y6 doing Guided Reading, French and Science. We’re doing Evolution and Inheritance in Y6 for this half term. We started with Pokemon… I debunked the myth that Pokemon evolve! My Y6s can tell you that they actually go through the process of metamorphosis! How cool. The kids loved that lesson, the boys especially were super engaged. Which is good, because that class is a CHALLENGE. After school on Mondays I run badminton club, I loved it. I have a great group of kids. I look forward to enhancing their skills.

Tuesday was spent in Year 1. Our KS1 classes and 1 of our KS2 classes go swimming every Tuesday so most of my morning was taken up taking the children swimming, after phonics. Swimming is always a big manic, getting 30 little people changed and ensuring they haven’t lost a shoe or a t-shirt or SOMETHING. We managed. After lunch we did some maths and a bit of writing – they’re creating their own superheroes. It was super fun!

Wednesday was a bit more of Y2 work (+ phonics). Weds PM is spent in Y4, doing topic work (Ancient Egypt) and some French, then assembly (every other Wednesday). We looked at daily life in Egypt, having found a great video on the BBC website. The kids loved it! 

Thursday AND Friday I spent with Year 4. I felt like a real teacher. It was so nice. It showed me that I can’t wait to have my own classroom. I usually get to spend a Friday teaching them, but getting to spend 2 days with them was an absolute delight. We did some innovation writing in our English lesson – the children changed a newspaper article about the death of Tutankhamen (for which I received a lovely text from the Y4 teacher telling me I worked wonders with them because their writing put a smile on her face while marking it!). Then we got to do a bit of singing and then a music lesson with our resident music teacher, Mr Miller. I never get to see music lessons so it was lovely to be involved in one! Some maths happened too! We did some self portrait work on Friday (using these templates). As you can see my not so great self portrait in the pictures below! I decided to display them on the windows for a bit so the children could discuss them with their parents!  

So yes, last week was manic. But it was great. I loved it. I can’t wait to be a teacher. For reals.

S x

BOOK BLOG: Non Pratt

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Non Pratt’s book ‘Unboxed’. My friend Rachel already had a copy of the book and she won another copy, so she asked them to send it to me. And man am I grateful! I was sent the book and a beautiful postcard with a quote, signed by the author. It is so gorgeous.

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Unboxed: beautiful, heartfelt, charming and awesome.

“Alix, Ben, Zara and Dean meet at their old school to keep a longstanding promise to open a memory box they left when they were thirteen. But there is a gaping hole – their friend Millie has died. When they open the box, secrets tumble out and old feelings rise to the surface”

When I first hear of a book with a group of friends with one missing I always worry that it’s just going to end up being a sombre, cry fest and this book was no different… at least I was worried it would be no different. Did it feel sombre? No. There were times when it was touching, where Millie’s death was touched on and let linger in the air, but never was it sombre or take over the story. Did it make me cry? Yes. Especially at the end. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but the ending feels perfect. 

Alix’s inner turmoil about her big secret is something I think everyone can relate to. I think everyone has a secret that they’re hiding from the world. Be it big, or small, there’s something about us that we don’t want everyone to know in fear of judgement or fear of being turned away. 

I really enjoyed the whole story. The characters were perfect. I especially liked Dean. But none of them felt out of place, none of them made sense without the other’s. Zara’s boyfriend is the only character I disliked… but that’s probably what is meant! This book was a delight. It was an easy read. It never felt like a burden to pick it up. It was never tough. I read it in a matter of hours. Absolutely devoured it. I love a book like that. You have to want to read a book. Otherwise you won’t read. 

Absolutely recommend this to everyone. Whether you’re a new reader or a reading lover. It’s an easy read and it’s so true to friendships. We all have those friends who we fall away from and if there’s something to bring you all back together then you do it. This book addresses that push and pull of friendships beautiful.

There’s a lovely page at the end of this book which gives a bit of an explanation about the make up of the book. I liked that. Heavy pages and a certain colour to lessen the ‘ghosting’ of letters. The book is written in a dyslexia friendly font too, how incredible. This book would be incredible for reluctant readers. Good work Non and Barrington Stoke. 

What about you? Have you read this book? Would you pick it up? The cover alone is one for me! Let me know, either in the comments or on twitter (@eenalol)

S x

 

Free-day: ICT Superheroes

Last year during e-safety week, Year 6 and I thought about how to be ‘online heroes’ and what we need to do to ensure that not only ourselves but younger people are safe online. So I came up with the idea that the children needed to think of Online Superheroes and how they could help.

The children had to think of a problem that someone might have online (viruses, cyberbullying, unknown websites etc) and then a superhero that would help the person who was having the problem (Super Computer Man!). They loved it! They then created comic strips from their storyboards. They made for very effective display and the children loved using their comics to explain to younger people how to stay safe!

There’s a few questions at the bottom of the sheet too! See if children can explain in words what they have drawn. E-safety can be pretty dull at times!

Here is the ict-online-superhero-comic-strip worksheet 🙂

Let me know if you download it nd how it goes down in your classroom. It’d be lovely to know my resources are of use to you. Let me know in the comments or on twitter (@eenalol)

S x

UKYACX Take 2: YA edition!

If you haven’t read Part 1 of my blog then check that out!

Here we go! Part 2 of UKYACX. This time it was the turn of some very funny, very endearing, wonderful YA authors! After I had lunch with Gabrielle Kent, Liz Flanagan and my friend Aimee we went back to the library for the panels of YA authors!

Much like the set up of the morning there were separate panels, with each author getting 2 minutes to talk, then a Q&A session afterwards and yes the HORN OF DOOM was back. HONK HONK. 

Paula Rawsthorne (Celia Frost/Blood Tracks) joined in the chairing the event fun for the afternoon as both Emma and Kerry had panels to be part of! She started with a lovely speech about Newcastle’s passion for books from everyone: students and teachers alike. Not just for kids books, but for YA and adult books too. A big thank you to Seven Stories too because they had provided all of the books for us wonderful people to buy!

The panels went as brilliantly as the morning had! We laughed til we cried, we cheered, we ooh’d, ahh’d and we had a brilliant time. There were some absolute characters (Kirkland I’m looking at you here!) and we had an absolutely incredible time. 

Some of my favourite moments from the afternoon:

  • Kirkland Ciccone finishing telling us about his book so he gave us an absolutely hilarious cat walk up and down the room in his incredible faux fur coat. He was an absolute joy, as soon as I saw him I said I wanted to be his new friend. I loved him.
  • When asked what they would say to their main characters if they met them: “Trust but don’t rush in too fast” (Ellen Pheanthean – Wall). “Don’t lose your phone!” (Perdita Cargill – Waiting for Callback). “Sorry” (Donald Hounam – Gifted/Pariah)
  • I asked one panel of authors what their faourite Roald Dahl book was and 2 said The Witches (Lindsay Barraclough – Long Lankin, Emma Trevayne – Gamescape), Fantastic Mr Fox was Leo Hunt’s favourite (13 Days of Midnight), Danny Champion of the World got Sheena Wilkinson’s vote (Name Upon Name) and Tales of the Unexpected was Patrice Lawrence’s favourite (Orangeboy).
  • Quite a few of the authors commented that they listened to classical music as they were writing too. 

Again it was incredible to be part of such an incredible event. I was totally overcome during the whole day. I wasn’t quite sure how to act at the start of the day and by the end I was getting used to the idea of talking to authors. They’re just people after all. People who write incredible books. People who are way more creative than me. People I totally look up to. I think UKACX was excellent training for YAShot in October, but I think nothing will quite surpass this. I loved UKYACX. I am so lucky to be part of something so incredible. AND IN NEWCASTLE. Thank you to whoever got this incredible event in Newcastle. We need more bookish events in Newcastle. (I’m looking at you Newcastle Waterstones and 7 Stories!)

A massive thank you to all of the authors, the incredible people at the library and the people I got to meet! I had such a blast. I can’t wait for next year!

S x

Second week… more fun!

If I’m honest I’m not sure I quite remember all of last week. It was BUSY. My brain is not quite there to remembering what went on. But I can fill you in on Friday. Because we had quite an exciting day in Year 4!

Last year the children had done some work with Barnardo’s about bullying and hate crimes. We had been part of a project with Newcastle United Foundation and Barnardos to help combat all types of hate crime/bullying. The children had designed some bunting which was then produced and made into some beautiful all weather bunting. So we were invited along to St James’ Park to do some work with the foundation and some volunteers from the charity about combatting bullying and hate crimes.

We arrived at about 9:30 and were taken to a very posh suite in St James’ Park. The children were so excited. Most of our children are Newcastle fans so for them this is a BIG thing. It was so sweet. Year 4 and Year 5 were invited along to take part. The children did some work on identifying and defining bullying/hate crime/sexism etc and then they were asked to produce a poster for the foundation to hopefully use. After that we got the chance to go out into the stadium for a photo op for the press. This was the chance for the children to see the bunting and for some of them to see the stadium for the first time! 52,000 seats is not a little thing. St James’ Park is beautiful. (I could be biased…). The kids were so well behaved, holding the bunting up when they were asked to. That took a short while and then we went back to school!

We have been looking at George’s Marvellous Medicine in our reading sessions and on Wednesday (see it’s coming back to me now… on Thursday I had a colossal fall over…) the children had used thesauruses to find synonyms for boring adjectives to describe Grandma. So Friday their focus was using those powerful adjectives in their writing. George had written then a letter to tell them Grandma had gone missing after taking one of his medicines and they needed to create a wanted poster. And I have marked their writing and it was SO GOOD. They all managed to use their adjectives in their writing and produce a piece they should be proud of. It was a happy teacher moment for sure!

(So yes, Thursday, I fell over. I was playing basketball with one of the girls and i had a colossal fall. I have a mega grazed knee and it still hurts as I write this on Sunday. That’s what I get for playing with the kids I guess ha!)

How was your second week back? It being a full week absolutely wrecked me. I slept so well on Friday night and am now still tired now! Ha! Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below!

S x

UKYACX Take 1! MG edition

This past Saturday was finally time for UKYACX to happen! WOOHOO!!

The sun was out in force. I got up early (ish). I got dressed. Lipstick was applied (it was only appropriate for such an occasion… it was my favourite lipstick – Soap and Glory Pommie Girl if anyone is interested!). Set off into town to meet my friend Aimee.

We got to the library a little bit early but were allowed in through a secret door so that we could get to event in time. UKYACX was hosted at Newcastle Central Library. For any of you who haven’t been yet you really must. It’s an absolutely beautiful library and we are so lucky here in Newcastle to have such a resource at our disposal. The event was held in the Bewick Suite (which eventually became the hottest room in the world, the staff were stars and tried to keep us all cool! Thanks guys!) When we first got in I met the amazing Kerry Drewery (author of Cell 7) who was an absolute delight. I was amazed. There were authors, their families, readers and bloggers just milling. I was a bit speechless. I couldn’t talk to these people, they were famous. I’m a mere peasant in comparison to them. But not to them I wasn’t. I had a voice. I was a person, just like them. And I loved that. We were all people with a love of books. That’s what we were all there to celebrate. We were all celebrating our love of books. And the power of reading. 

The day was set up so brilliantly by Kerry and Emma Pass (author of Acid/The Fearless). It was set up like so: panels of 4 authors, each with 2 minutes to talk about themselves/read an except from their book/make us laugh/tell us about their book, which was followed by a Q&A. After each panel there was a 5 minute break for readers to buy books/get books signed by the authors on that panel. They were timed with a very high tech sand timer and if the authors went over their 2 minutes there was a HORN OF DOOM. They would be honked! DUN DUN DUNNNNN. Each of the panels were incredible. All of the authors were amazing. We laughed, learned, ooooh’d, ahhhh’d and asked questions. I really enjoyed the Q&A section of the day as it was an opportunity for us to learn some interesting factoids about the authors and there were some brilliant questions from the readers and even fellow authors!

I got to meet the two wondeful authors that I had been a part of the book blog tour with and they were both incredible. Gabrielle Kent was absolutely beautiful and she even invited us to have lunch with her and Liz Flanagan (Eden Summer author). Me! Having lunch with famous folk! WHO KNEW. Sara Grant and I had such a giggle together! She was absolutely lovely! It was surreal meeting them both and actually having a conversation with them. But it was incredible.

Here are a few pictures from my day:

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Some of my favourite quotes/answers from the MG section of the day:

  • Dan Smith (author of Boy X) claiming he could juggle Mexican kittens.
  • Learning that some authors have day jobs! Chris Callaghan (The Great Chocoplot) is a stay at home dad, Jane Elson (How To Fly With Broken Wings/A Room Full of Chocolate) works with SEN children, Gabrielle Kent (Alfie Bloom series) is a game development lecturer at a university.
  • Great writing tips: John Fulton (The Beast of the Broch) told us that he always leaves a sentence unfinished at the end of the day (I think that’s an amazing idea! I think it would drive me insane though…) and Lari Don (Spellchasers) told us to remember about ‘What if…’ (Just like Gabrielle Kent did in her blog about getting children into writing!) 
  • Another question asked authors about their writing process: Gabrielle Kent lights a candle and has a deruma on hand when she starts and finishes a project, Sofi Croft (Indigo’s Dragon) told us she does a lot of research before she stars a book, Simon P Clark (Eren) let us in on the secret that he has to work in absolute silence to work.
  • James De La Rue (Spy Dog) was the only illustrator there and it was lovely to get his perspective and he said the most amazing quote “illustrations are the fabric of a book” (I love that!)

There were so many amazing moments during the whole day and so much laughter! I would be going on for weeks about all of the amazing things that happened. I am so honoured that I got the chance to go along. It was incredible. Thank you so much to Kerry and Emma for letting me be part of the whole thing! 

Watch this space for my book haul post (ooooops) and a recap of the YA panels too! 

S x

Free-day: Science dictionaries

In teaching lots of science last year I noticed that children had little knowledge of defining scientific words. I used a science dictionary as one of my assessment tasks at the end of a Year 5 topic and the kids thought it was great. During a book scrutiny the SLT also thought it was a great idea. It took me a while to think how I could make this a long term thing rather than just a one off assessment type task. So I came up with the idea that the children make their very own scientific dictionary in their science books. I’ve spoken to a few different teachers and they loved the idea.

I will use these sheets at the back of the children’s science books and then introduce key vocabulary at the start of the lesson and then when they think they can define a word they can write the definition on the lines. This will be a really useful piuece of on going assessment for me and I feel that it will help the children to have a bit more confidence in using scientific terms too!

I hope you find this dictionary template useful! Let me know if you download it and use it!

S x

UKYACX blog tour: Sara Grant

So I was lucky enough to be invited to do a blog post with not only one author, but 2! Here is my blog post with the amazing Sara Grant. We had a lot of fun doing this author/blogger Q&A. Questions 1-5 were answered by Sara Grant. Questions 6-10 were answered by me! 

1. Which book have you read that inspired you most? What was it about that book that inspired you?
To Kill a Mocking-Bird by Harper Lee

The story is captivating and honest. Its message of equality rings as true today – and is as important – as when it was written in 1960. It’s one of those rare, layered books that combines a compelling story with important themes. It lingers with you long after you’ve read the final page and challenges the way you look at the world.

2. Did you always want to be an author? Why?
I always wanted to be a writer. When I was really young, I told stories to my imaginary friends – Jolly and Eck. As a young child, I spent hours playing with my Barbie dolls. I’d create these epic tales that would last days and even months. I’d disappear into my room and be lost in a story of my own creation for hours at a time. So I guess I’ve always been a storyteller.

I wrote my first story when I was eight years old. It had a beginning, middle and end as well as a title page and dedication. It was called “A Dream I Wish Was True”. The story was about how eight-year-old me was able to meet my favourite movie star. As I was writing this first story and every time I read it, I controlled how the world worked – not something an eight-year-old gets to do. After that I was hooked!

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an author?
I worked for seventeen years in public relations for big foundations and small non-profit organizations. My forte was strategy and planning. After I earned a master’s in creative and life writing from Goldsmiths, I switched careers and worked for several years as an editor at Working Partners, a company that creates series fiction for children. I loved creating stories collaboratively with a team of editors and writers. I imagine I’d still be engaged in children’s publishing in some way.

3. Which of your own characters do you love the most? Do you have one?
I think you have to love all your characters – even the baddies – to be able to write about them convincingly. You spend months – and sometimes years – dreaming them into life. They become part of you.

My new Chasing Danger series stars Chase Armstrong, a feisty, athletic 14-year-old American. Because I’m currently immersed in writing adventures through her eyes, she’s probably my favourite at the moment.

Is there a literary character you wish you’d written and why?
There are so many literary characters I admire: the characters in To Kill a Mocking-Bird, particularly Scout and Atticus, for example. It’s less that I wish I’d written those characters

and more that I want to learn from epic writers, like Lee, and discover how they created compelling characters that endure.

4. If the world was coming to an end and you could only save 3 books (your books were safe!), which would they be and why?
This is a tough question. There are so many books I cherish. If the world was ending and I could only take three books in a bunker with me, I’d want one ‘meaning of life’ book, one to make me laugh and one for pure reading pleasure.

1. To Kill a Mocking-Bird by Harper Lee. I’ve sorted of answer this question in my YA novel Half Lives. To Kill a Mocking-Bird was the only novel that survived in my post-apocalyptic tale. The future I imagined is laced with winks to Lee’s book.

2. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I first listened to it as an audiobook, and I frequently burst out laughing. (Which got me loads of strange looks, especially while riding the Tube.)

3. The complete collection of Agatha Christie. I love mysteries. There’s something cosy and comforting about settling in with an Agatha Christie story. Murder on the Orient Express. And Then There Were None. Murder is Easy. I know most of these stories already but am willing to read them again and again.

5. What’s your favourite Disney film?
The Little Mermaid. I have fond memories of watching it with my nieces. I could probably still sing most of the songs by heart.

Do you prefer goodies or baddies?
All my books have strong female protagonist, unlikely rebels and heroes, so I prefer the goodies. But you need fascinating baddie to make the goodies great.

6. What is the first book you remember reading on your own? What’s the book you’ve just finished reading?
I’ve always read, as long as I can remember I’ve loved reading. I would say the first book I remember reading, finishing and it having an impact was Charlotte’s Web. I loved that it was all about friendship and the things we have to do for our friends. I’ve just finished Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Bernard. Coincidentally it was another book about friendship – the trials and tribulations of being a teenager and having best friends. I really enjoyed it! 

7. If you were a comic book character, would you more likely be the evil mastermind or the superhero? Why?
Oh this is a really tough one. But I think anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a goodie in life. So I would have to be the superhero. I would love to be a evil mastermind but it’s not me! I think to be portrayed as negative to me would destroy my soul ha!

8. Growing up did you have posters on your wall? If so, who featured during your tween years? If you were a tween today who would be on your posters today?
Oh yeah, I was a poster girl. Westlife/Boyzone featured VERY heavily on my walls. I was such a fan of them. But any boy bands were good with me. I remember buying Smash Hits and Top of the Pops magazine and loving when they had lyrics pages in and the posters you could rip out! I was also (I still am now) a fan of a quote – whether it’s book quotes, film quotes, inspirational quotes… I love them all. I would buy postcards which would have little quotes on from the shops and they’d be up there! David Beckham featured on my walls often growing up. He’s such a handsome man.

If I were a tween today? My word I don’t even want to contemplate that! But I think my walls would be plastered with probably 1D. Or Little Mix. I really don’t know. I mean I have calendars of Michael Buble and Cheryl and that’s enough wall decoration for me! David Beckham. Yes. That’s who. He’s been one of my number 1 crushes FOREVER. 

9. I don’t want to ask for your favourite book because I’m assuming, like me, you have many favourites. So what’s a significant book to you and why?
Matilda. Hands down one of the most significant books I’ve ever read and to this day continue to read at least once a year. To the people who don’t know me very well, Matilda is the reason I am getting into teaching. I remember reading Matilda as quite a young child and thinking ‘I want to be Miss Honey’. As an adult now she is still the one inspiration for me. That’s what teacher should be: caring, compassionate. There are other teachers in fiction who inspired me too but Miss Honey will always hold a special place in my heart. I connected so much with Matilda because I was Matilda. I was the little girl who loved reading. Unlike Matilda, I have an incredible family. But I was the girl who got more pleasure out of reading. We recently took a class to London and we got to see Matilda the Musical and I cried throughout the whole thing. It was amazing. Seeing someone so beautifully portray my favourite story of all time just made my heart so happy. 

10. You read and review loads of books. What makes a book great? What’s takes a book you enjoyed to a book that you are dying to talk about and share?
I don’t believe for me that there is a magic spell or recipe to make a book great. It’s about the way a book makes you feel in that moment. It’s about what it does to you, how it moves you, how it makes you think. It’s about having a connection to it. Either through the story, the emotion, one of the characters or just about it making you feel something: be it happy, sad, funny. For me that’s what makes a great book: it makes you feel something. A book that I come out of reading going “meh, that was alright” isn’t one I’d talk about. For example one of the books I talk about most is Gone Girl; I have SUCH a love/hate relationship with that book. I wouldn’t read it again. It drove me mad. But I ask everyone I know if they’ve read it.

Books, stories, characters should evoke an emotion or response from me. That’s what I want.

Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer my questions Sara! It was an absolute pleasure hosting you on my blog! 

About Chasing Danger

“I couldn’t shake the feeling that this vacation might actually kill me.”

When fourteen-year-old Chase Armstrong is sent to visit her grandmother at a remote tropical resort, she’s looking forward to sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling. The last thing she expects is danger. But she’s in for some surprises. She discovers another girl hiding out on the island and uncovers a devastating secret about the mum she’s never known. When modern-day pirates attack the island, it’s up to Chase to outrun, out-think and outfight the pirates . . . before it’s too late!

About Sara Grant

Sara Grant has inspired, written or edited nearly 100 books for children. Her newest book – Chasing Danger – is an action-adventure series for tweens. Sara teaches Goldsmiths University’s master’s class on writing for children/teens. She co-created Undiscovered Voices – which has launched the writing careers of thirty-two authors. She loves visiting schools and sharing her passion for writing and reading. She also leads writing workshops for adults in the US, UK and Europe as part of Book Bound (www.bookboundretreat.com). Website: http://www.sara-grant.com Twitter: @authorsaragrant

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