30th June is Dorling Kindersley‘s first ever Dinosaur Day! We’re joining in, encouraging everyone to read about these wonderful prehistoric creatures. Do you have a favourite dinosaur story? Ours are, of course, the Dinosaur Club books. Jane Clarke wrote half of the series, and we wrote the other half. Can you imagine having a dinosaur adventure? This is exactly what Jamie and Tess do when they find a mysterious tunnel in a cave that leads them to a world of living dinosaurs. Which dino would you like to meet?
We’ve just finished Art Attack which is an online story for Fiction Express. Fiction Express stories are read in classrooms all over the world from Argentina to Thailand. Art Attack is about a boy called Robbie who visits his great-aunt Stella in a care home. Aunt Stella is a sprightly 97-year-old inventor. She has developed three interactive paintings which her elderly friends can enter for an amazing adventure. Of course everything goes wrong and Robbie has to rush to the rescue.
Whenever we write for Fiction Express we write a chapter each week. Each chapter has three choices at the end and our readers vote for how they want the story to continue.
Here’s an example of the choices. Which special power does Robbie choose?
We can’t start the next chapter until we get the result of the vote. It’s very exciting for us as we never know where our story is going to go.
Each week we and our readers contribute to a forum. Readers answer the questions that we pose and their best contributions are rewarded with a certificate. This is celebrated in a Zoom meeting when the book is finished. On Monday we were privileged and delighted to meet some of these readers online. It was a thrill to be talking to students from different countries across the world. They were able to ask us questions about our work and we were able to ask them about their experiences of Fiction Express.
Many congratulations to all the certificate winners!
It was World Book Day last Thursday and we had an amazing time at a school in Essex. The great thing about writing stories is you can go anywhere in your imagination. On Thursday we went to Africa with Jack and his magic backpack. We had a treasure hunt with Sam Silver Undercover Pirate, faced a vicious sea monster and became a spy for Henry VIII. The children’s costumes were fantastic and they worked very hard and shared all their ideas with us.
And if that wasn’t enough, today we had a lovely online visit with a school in Kent. The children were great listeners and asked us some very interesting questions.
We love World Book Day.
We’ve had a fun year and hope you have too. It’s been wonderful seeing our readers in the classroom and on Zoom. It’s very cold now and it’s difficult to imagine how hot it was in the summer. On one of the hottest days of the year we went to a school in Chelmsford where we recruited Class 3 into WILD Rescue and set off to save a pair of lost snow leopard cubs. Class 3 came up with some amazing gadgets to help us all combat the dangers of the snowy Himalayas.
Here are some more of our snowy books.
Happy Christmas to you all from us and our favourite pirate, Captain Icicle.
Here are seven of our new reading scheme books – written for Collins Big Cat. We enjoyed writing each one of them, but Dreena’s Hair is particularly special for us. We both have someone close who lost their hair through illness – like Dreena in our story.
When we wrote this book we found out about The Little Princess Trust. They are a wonderful charity who make wigs for children like Dreena. The wigs are made from real hair donated by others and can really change a child’s life. In Dreena’s Hair her sister and friends come to her rescue. When we’ve been into schools we’ve seen how helpful children are to each other and we wanted to celebrate this.
This year we’ve had a very happy and busy time writing stories for reading schemes – 15 in total. One of these was for Fiction Express which is an incredible online reading scheme and reaches readers worldwide. Our story is called Flying Solo and it’s about the amazing Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic ninety years ago. We imagined what it would be like if someone had gone back in time and met her. Each week we wrote a chapter with three possible choices for how the story could continue and our readers voted for their favourite.
Here’s a challenge for you for the school holidays. Write the first chapter of a story of your own and finish it on a cliff-hanger. Write down three possible things that could happen next and get your friends and family to vote. Then write the next chapter using the winning choice. Watch out as the fun begins! And remember, your story might go in an unexpected direction.
Here’s an example from Flying Solo. Amelia has gone up on a test flight and taken our hero, Grace with her. This is what happens next.
We were already high above the nearby fields. Amelia was enjoying herself, whistling as she made the plane circle over the trees below.
Then she stopped whistling. “Something’s wrong,” she cried.
What happens to the plane?
It runs out of fuel
It starts to dive
Flames can be seen coming from the engine
So get writing and most of all, have fun.
The Spitfire Fund was a very successful crowdfunding project in the Second World War. Picture this. It was Britain, 1940 and the Nazis were threatening to invade. The British had a wonderful plane called the Spitfire but they didn’t have enough of them. Lord Beaverbrook was the Minister of Aircraft Construction. He had the idea of crowdfunding to get the money to make more Spitfires. People were asked to send any money they could spare and the Spitfire Fund was started. The population were happy to help. Some people sent large amounts but every little sum was welcome. Children sent their pocket money or had table top sales. In Southampton, a brother and sister sold pears from their garden and two eleven-year-olds sold their chocolate bars. A farmer charged six pennies (6d about £1 today) for people to see where a German plane had crashed in his field. The fund grew and grew and raised at least £13 million (about £744 million today). The fund didn’t pay for all the new Spitfires but it did something much more important. People had been feeling hopeless and scared but now they felt they were helping to fight the Nazis. A boy in Guildford, Surrey, sent his money to the fund. He received a letter from King George VI congratulating him and telling him he’d bought a tyre for a Spitfire. Every time a Spitfire flew over, the boy thought – that could be my tyre. You can find out more about the Spitfire Fund using this link – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct0t1g
We’ve been doing some research into the Second World War. We were surprised to find that not everyone used the shelters at their home or street during the Blitz. Some people ‘trekked’ to nearby fields and spent the night there to avoid the bombing. Then they returned in the morning to go to work or school. We’ve asked our relatives who were alive at the time and none of them have heard of ‘trekking’. But they thought it sounded a good idea. The Government at the time were not pleased about the ‘trekking’. They said that these people were weak and lacked moral fibre. In other words, they were cowards. We’re not so sure. At least these people were alive and safe even if their houses had been destroyed while they were away. And it can’t have been comfortable. Can you imagine sleeping in a field on a wet and freezing December night?
Ahoy there, shipmates! We have four new books out. Hookwell’s School for Proper Pirates is part of a new reading scheme from Rising Stars. Can you imagine being an ordinary kid and suddenly finding yourself in a school that’s just for the children of pirates? That’s okay if your parents happen to be pirates but Josh’s mum isn’t a pirate – she’s a pilot! There’s been a bit of a misunderstanding. Josh is desperate to stay at Hookwell’s School so he mustn’t let anyone else know his secret or he’ll be walking the plank for sure.
We love writing about pirates and we love writing for reading schemes, so this was a perfect project for us!