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!
We are having a great time writing a new story for Fiction Express. Fiction Express is an online
Reading platform where our readers can help decide which way the story goes. It’s frantic, it’s pressured and most of all it’s fun.
We write one chapter a week which goes live on Fridays. At the end of each chapter we give three choices for how the story can continue.
For example, in The Great Space Race, based on the 1969 Moon Landing, there are problems aboard Apollo 11.
What happens when the lunar zapper is fired?
A It shrinks Neil Armstrong
B It shrinks one of Crackon’s boots
C It’s on the ‘grow’ setting and hits Mag.
Then we sit and wait. At three o’clock on Tuesday we find out the result of the vote . . . and have one day to write the next chapter.
There is also a forum where readers can get involved. We love to hear their ideas. And we get ideas from readers all over the world.
We’re delighted that our latest books are out today. They are two reading scheme books for Collins Big Cat. ‘Our Fantastic World’ is non-fiction and we had great fun finding out about phenomena like thundersnow and fogbows before. We hope we never come across ball lightning!
‘The Thing in the Deep’ is a mystery story. What is swimming beneath the weeds in the park pond?
We love writing books for reading schemes. It’s like doing a puzzle. We are asked to use certain sounds for the reader to practise. For ‘The Thing in the Deep’ we had to use -ng- as in thing, -ai- as in afraid and -ee- as in deep. When we thought about the words we could use, the idea of a thing waiting in the weeds seemed perfect.
Here’s the list we made to help us.
NG – Hang song wing long thing swing sting sing
AI – Afraid again chain faint tail trail wail wait
EE – Teeth creep deep green weed reed see sweep
What sort of story would you make with these words? Have a go!
One of the best things about writing stories is that you can go anywhere in your imagination – even during lockdown. You might not be able to go on holiday yet, but you can have an adventure without even leaving your house. All you need is a pen and paper. Here’s an idea. Imagine you’re on an Easter Egg hunt. You’re scrambling through the bushes looking for that brightly wrapped chocolate egg when suddenly . . . What do you think could happen next? You might fall into another world. You might find a message that takes you on a strange journey. You might find a treasure map. What problems are you going to face? Remember that all good stories have problems to overcome. You might find you are very small in this new world. Your strange journey could take you into space or the centre of the earth. Someone else may want your treasure map and they will stop at nothing to get it.
How are you going to overcome these problems and get back to the Easter Egg hunt before your friends have snaffled all the eggs!?
So get writing. And have a great Easter holiday!
It was a World Book Day with a difference but we had great fun meeting you all. Not only have we been on pirate treasure hunts and chatted to lots of classes online but we’ve also read stories to audiences that included at least one dad and a couple of dogs. The dogs were very good listeners although one did pretend to be asleep! It was fantastic to see the comments come up on chat as the stories reached their climax. “Oh no!” “Poor Chelsea!” “Nooooooo!” It was almost as good as being in the school hall with you all.
We have more admiration than ever for teachers since we’ve had to grapple with Zoom, Google Classroom and Teams. They’ve been doing it all year. We’re also very impressed with how our readers deal with the technology – although maybe not the scribbling over our presentation when we shared screens! It’s lovely to see how excited the children are to be going back to school. Have a great time getting back together on Monday.
Want to tell a story but you’re running out of ideas? Why not take a traditional tale and tell it or write it in your way? We love doing this.
Our story Tom, Dad and Colin is based on an old fable, The Man, the Boy and the Donkey. We wrote it for a reading scheme at a level where the words boy and donkey were too hard. So we gave them easier names to read. Tony Ross’s illustrations made it a very funny book.Sometimes we do more than just change the names. We’ve written two stories about Cinderella.
In Cindy and the Football Boots, our Cinderella is an amazing football player with two horrible stepbrothers who want to stop her getting to the match.
In Cinderella:The Real Story Cinderella is the villain and her ugly stepsisters are the heroes. We even managed to bring in The Big Bad Wolf and Rumpelstiltskin. The story is told in texts, emails, social media and police reports.
We’d never been happy with the original ending of The Princess and the Pea. The poor princess has a bad night’s sleep and then has to marry a prince she’s only just met. In The Proper Princess Test we changed the ending to make our princess much feistier and in charge of her own destiny.
These are just some ideas. Have a go yourself. How about the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk? You could make Jack the villain and the giant a vegetarian. You could set it at your school where the beans have been sown as a school project. There’s lots of stories out there waiting for your special touch.
Welcome to our new website. We’re delighted to see you back again. 2020 was a very strange year for us all. We hope you’ve all stayed safe and well. One of the good things was that we’ve all been reading more. Books are a wonderful way to escape. Only last week Jan went back over a hundred years to Dickens’ London and Sara flew to Mars!
Our writing has been a fantastic escape too. In the last few months we’ve been working for two reading schemes. We’ve imagined what was creeping in the depths of a pond and we’ve explored our fantastic world for Collins Big Cat. Then we had pirate adventures with Rising Stars Reading Planet. The Collins Big Cat books come out in April and the Rising Stars books will be here in August.
We’ve had fun working on Zoom as we couldn’t be together. We just pretended we were out in the snow in Austria!
We hope that 2021 is a year of health and happiness . . . and lots of reading.