Archives for category: author appearances

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Book Week Scotland (25 November to 1 December 2013) is only in its second year, but already it is a hugely popular fixture in the literary calendar. This year over 600 events have been taking place in schools, libraries and community centres across Scotland, with author visits, competitions, book launches and art projects celebrating the joys of reading and writing.

Like many authors, I’ve been having a great week visiting schools and sharing my books with lots of enthusiastic children! On Monday I travelled to Kirknewton Primary in West Lothian. I spent a brilliant day reading all my picture books to nursery and P1 children in the morning, and then more nursery and P2 children in the afternoon. They were all so well behaved and had lots of great questions for me! Kirknewton is a fantastic school and Mrs Fletcher was a very kind and thoughtful host.

blog CD cover

On Tuesday I spent the afternoon with all the lower primary pupils (P1 to P4) at Flora Stevenson Primary School in Edinburgh. It was the first time I had used high-tech sound equipment and a computer connected to a big screen, so we had a few technical hiccups at the beginning! Luckily there were expert teachers on hand and the children were very patient. Flora Stevenson has a strong emphasis on musical education, so I was asked to help inspire the children to write in verse and set their poems to music. This is something I enjoy very much, so it was a great pleasure to share two of my songs from Pink! the Musical and teach them the actions for “It’s Fun to be a Penguin.” Many thanks to Mrs Broadley and Mrs Brennan for inviting me!

Four children were dressed as the main characters from the stories: Officer Tod, Gallus the craw, Hooley the hoolet and a little old lady.

Four children from Comely Park Primary dressed as the main characters from their own books: Officer Tod, Gallus the craw, Hooley the hoolet and a little old lady.

On Wednesday I took part in the P4 Big Book Bash Book Launch at Comely Park Primary in Falkirk. Comely Park is my Patron of Reading school, and I had been involved early on in the creation of two Gallus and Hooley adventures with the P4 classes. You can read more about the development of both stories, written in English and Scots and beautifully illustrated by the children, HERE. The book launch was a brilliant success, attended by parents, grandparents and friends. Chris Leslie from the Scottish Book Trust, Elaine Webster from Scottish Language Dictionaries, Yvonne Manning from Falkirk Libraries and Tony Bragg, Falkirk’s Quality Improvement Officer were all there to help celebrate the children’s achievement.

My next Book Week Scotland event is a visit to Low Port Primary School in Linlithgow. I’m looking forward to meeting the P2 and P3 pupils and having a fun-filled morning talking about pink penguins, pet walruses, heroic puffins and crocodile toothaches!

EdBookFest logo

I had a great time at the Edinburgh Book Festival this summer, reading Pink! to a big audience of pre-schoolers and their families with the help of three very talented singers. While I read the story, Sophie Williams, Hugh McKay and Anna Cooper entertained the audience with all the songs from Pink! the Musical.

Pink 2

My three brilliant penguins all study at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh. Not only are they excellent singers, they also play instruments (Sophie plays violin and Hugh and Anna play cello). As you can see, they wore penguin hats for our show, and Hugh was dressed in pink as the central character in the story. They all did a fantastic job, so I want to say a big THANK YOU to Sophie, Hugh and Anna!

We had lots of fun singing all the Pink! songs, and at the end everyone in the audience joined in with the Fun to be a Penguin song!

Pink cover blog

Pink! is the story of a little penguin called Patrick who is very upset when he wakes up one morning to find he has turned pink overnight. His friends all tease him and the doctor can’t fix him so he goes on a journey to see if he’s better off living with pink flamingos in Africa. As it turns out, penguins and flamingos couldn’t be more different, so he swims home again to a big welcome from all his friends and family. In the end, Patrick decides that being pink is okay after all.

Birlinn logo

Recently Pink! has been republished by a small London publisher called Wacky Bee Books. They are a great group of people who have been really supportive of all my books. If you visit their website you will see an activity page dedicated to Pink! which includes video clips of the story and fun games and puzzles to download.

signing tent

After our show, Sophie, Anna, Hugh and I made our way to the signing tent, where I sat and signed books and the singers posed for photos with members of the audience. It was lovely to meet lots of children and ask them if they enjoyed singing the penguin song. They were pleased to discover both the book and the CD in the Children’s Bookshop at the festival! It was great to think that lots of children would be singing along with Patrick in the car on the way home!

blog CD cover

Comely Park PS

Recently I had my inaugural visit to Comely Park Primary School, where I was introduced to pupils and staff as their new Patron of Reading. A huge hall with over 400 children greeted me, and it was at this final whole-school assembly that I was able to say how honoured I was to be “adopted” by the school to encourage a love of reading and writing.

My first task as Patron was to announce the winner of the School Makar, an honorary post for one lucky pupil who will write poems about school events. The winner was Ruby in P5/1, and she will have her work published in the school newsletter and here on my blog.

Following our presentation, Yvonne Manning of Falkirk Libraries told everyone about the Summer Reading Challenge and encouraged pupils to choose six books on this year’s Creepy House theme to read over the holidays. Children can also design their own scary monster, get ideas for books they might try and enter competitions HERE.

Once the assembly was over I went round a number of classes to chat with the children and read them stories. My able guides Kelsey and Logan took me round the whole school and looked after me very well!

At the end of my visit I was presented with two amazing gifts from Miss Lucas’s P4 class! One was a set of coasters which were illustrated with drawings of Gallus the Craw, a character they have developed and hope to incorporate into a picture book (with a little help from me!)

Gallus coasters2

You can see that the little rhyming verses are written in the Scots Leid which is something I am not an expert in at all! I understood the first three: Gallus the crow is golfing with his dad; Gallus the crow doesn’t like insects at all; Gallus the crow is chatting with his mum; but the last one had me stumped! It had a new Scots word I’d never seen before: tapsalteerie. As you can guess from the picture, it means upside-down. Gallus the crow is upside-down on the wall.

Wee Bannock story

The other lovely gift Miss Lucas presented me with was a bilingual picture book created by her P4 class. It’s called The Wee Bannock and is written in both English and Scots. It’s a really fun story about a bannock (a bun made with raisins and sultanas) who escapes all sorts of people who want to eat him. Here’s Kelsey’s illustration showing the bannock getting caught by a fish hook in a river:

Wee Bannock page

I’m looking forward to the new school term when I can go back to Comely Park Primary and work with the children on a wide range of exciting projects! In the meantime, have a great holiday, everyone!

This Egyptian queen was part of a bellydancing troupe.

This Egyptian queen was part of a bellydancing troupe.

It’s festival time again in Glasgow and we had a fantastic, sun-drenched weekend for the annual parade! Every year it gets bigger and better as more musical and community groups get involved. Judging by their elaborate costumes and spectacular props, some of them must spend the whole year getting ready!

SheBoom drummers

SheBoom women’s percussion band, who once appeared on Britain’s Got Talent!

This year I managed to get a spot with a clear view so I took tons of photographs. (Normally I’m stuck behind crowds of people, and being short I end up seeing only a few bright feathers and flags pass by overhead!) There were lots of percussion bands with drums, trombones, bagpipes and other instruments. The one above is SheBoom, who play African-Brazilian and Celtic rhythms.

I loved the tropical colours of these "glad rags"!

I loved the tropical colours of these “glad rags”!

There were dancing groups too from all over the world, who waved scarves or dressed in colourful costumes. The group above look like they’re from Jamaica, but there were also representatives from China and other communities who have settled in Scotland.

The beautiful silk costumes of the Chinese troupe.

The beautiful silk costumes of the Chinese troupe.

Some of the participants were artists, like the Scotstoun Woodcraft group who created an impressive banner for the parade.

Scotstoun Woodcraft

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland also took part, and the BA Production Arts & Design students had made some amazing costumes and props on a “Fairytales of the Unexpected” theme.

Some traditional fairytale costumes and a rather splendid toadstool!

Some traditional fairytale costumes and a rather splendid toadstool!

And look at this dragon!

I would love to make something like that!

I would love to make something like that!

There were two enormous traditional Chinese dragons as well, with lots of people walking underneath to support their long, snake-like bodies. As you can imagine, it was impossible to get a whole dragon in any of my photographs!

One of the beautiful Chinese dragons at the parade.

One of the beautiful Chinese dragons at the parade.

Another artistic group taking part in the parade was a group of young women dressed in cardboard paper-doll cutouts. They were called The Studio: Sew Last Century, and they are a Partick-based textile club for 10-18-year olds. The paper dolls represent 1950s dress design which is something the group have been researching in the Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections.

This big pink billboard really got my attention!

This big pink billboard really got my attention!

Not only is the West End Parade a fantastic event to watch, but you also learn about so many groups and creative enterprises that are thriving in this city! Sometimes the groups in the parade have a political message, like this peace organisation that wants to get rid of nuclear-powered submarines in Scotland:

This group wants to recycle Trident and make it a yellow submarine.

This group wants to recycle Trident and make it a yellow submarine.

Another thing that Glasgow has coming up is the Commonwealth Games in 2014. One poor person had to spend this glorious hot day sweating in a green thistle costume as the Games mascot:

Celebrating the Commonwealth Games in Scotland next year.

Celebrating the Commonwealth Games in Scotland next year.

Although I was just a spectator at the parade, I actually made a little contribution to the festivities myself, spending an hour in the Botanic Gardens where a lovely quiet space has been created for children and families. It’s called the Children’s Garden, and in the fragrant and shady willow house I sat and read stories with a group of chatty youngsters. It was the perfect end to a brilliant day!

willow house reading

rainbow puffin

After receiving 48 lovely letters inviting me to visit their school, I had a wonderful day with the P2 children at St Matthew’s Primary in Bishopbriggs. From the moment I arrived I was surrounded by eager faces, and their teachers Mrs Hannah and Miss Lochhead were warm and welcoming. I felt like a pop star!

Once I was in my chair-of-honour and the children were all sitting around me, Mrs Hannah picked up her guitar and led them in a spirited sing-song about the circus! They all sang gustily about The Girl on the Flying Trapeze and The Funny Circus Clown, and I was very impressed indeed. They sang beautifully and Mrs Hannah was a real expert on the guitar! Next to us on one wall was a huge audience made up of very individual characters:

Circus audience

When the songs were done, all eyes turned to me. I had brought several of my picture books to share with the children, and they had lots of questions for me as we went along. We talked about crazy pets and fussy eaters, and because they had spent so much time working with Lewis Clowns Around in class, they were especially keen to hear the new story all about Lewis’s brother, Harris the Hero.

Mrs Hannah showed me around her very colourful classroom, and I must say the children’s work was quite amazing! They had used Lewis Clowns Around to make circus programmes, circus drawings and circus poems, and they even had a Lewis counting wall!

circus programmes

The programmes were all very different, and inside they listed all the events happening at the circus and their starting times. I liked the way they were displayed on the wall at a jaunty angle. Very stylish!

Lewis counting wall

The Lewis counting wall helped the children learn the different combinations of numbers adding up to 5 or 7 or 9 and so on. The number 7 Lewis was juggling balls that read 0/7, 1/6, 2/5 and 3/4. What a clever way to make maths colourful and fun!

letter to Lynne

On another wall I spotted a letter addressed to me from Alyssa. It said, “Dear Lynne – If I was in the circus I would like to be a clown because they play tricks on people. Yours sincerely, Alyssa.” I thought she might like to keep the letter up on the wall at school rather than give it to me, so I took a picture of it instead.

Lewis reading corner

Later the children sat in their reading corner with copies of Lewis Clowns Around. You can see them all reading very intently! I think they all love the beautiful illustrations by Gabby Grant (and so do I!) I can’t wait for Harris the Hero to come out so I can send them a special signed copy.

Harris the Hero cover

At the end of my visit the class presented me with a big bag of goodies! They had looked on the About Me page on my website to find out more about the kinds of things I like. I happened to mention the fact that I love crunchy carrots, Bramley apple crumble and very dark chocolate. And look what they gave me!

thoughtful gift

Visiting St Matthew’s was an absolute joy, and I was so impressed by Mrs Hannah and all the P2 children. I hope they are reading this: THANK YOU, EVERYONE!