Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Football Writers 2

I spent two days at Ghyllgrove Junior School, Basildon last week. I go there three days in every term to work with a group of year sixes.

The children we work with are called the Football Writers.

Sixteen girls and boys.

Last year’s group wrote a short novel together.

This year the children want to script, plan and produce a book trailer for one of my books. We chose my forthcoming fifth Foul Play book, Own Goal, which is out in May 2011.

That gives us a deadline.

We started by looking at book trailers on YouTube. Charlie Higson’s The Enemy. The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney. And another couple.

The first thing that struck me was that, as soon as the kids saw the trailer, they wanted to read the book. It showed the power of book trailers, I suppose.

During the first day we created storyboards of the book trailers we’d seen to help us design one for my book.

Then the children looked at a guide to making short films, seeing all the different jobs there are to do: producer, director, location manager, etc. After reading that through they all chose two jobs they’d like and wrote a letter to me saying what job they wanted, why and what made them a good person for the job.

Next – in my absence – they are going to read the book.

Then we will work together in November on how to create a compelling trailer.

I love working with the Football Writers. Each year we find new ways to read and write about football – and get the children into books. I learn so much working with them and I feed that into the work I do in schools the rest of the year.

After all that we took to the fields at the back. Eight-a-side. It was tight and tense, even interrupted by a fire drill, but my team went on to win 1-0.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Hotel room art appreciation # 1

I have decided to spend a little more time appreciating art. And where better than in some of the hotel rooms I find myself in?

This masterful piece really captures my mood.

You see what I mean?

And, when you see it alongside its companion piece, on the partitition wall to the toilet, it all starts to make sense.


The Football Writers

We started a new cohort of Football Writers at Ghyllgove Junior School, Basildon, today.

Every year I work for several days at Ghyllgrove with teacher, Diane Baker. We work with the children on ideas that we hope will make reading and writing more fun.

This year's group are great. As you can see.

Today we watched book trailers. Charlie Higson's trailer for The Enemy was the best. We storyboarded a trailer and worked out what makes the effective ones work.

Tomorrow the children are going to start thinking about a trailer for my May 2011 book, Own Goal. the plan is to work with media students from a high school and a graphics expert to produce a trailer that I can use to promote the book.

We are also going to work on a reading scheme where the group will act as a police department and solve a crime. That's a bit vague, but the children will put the flesh on the bones tomorrow.

I love working at Ghyllgrove.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Ridgeway School

I was at Ridgeway School in Maidenhead today. And it was brilliant. I worked with reception to year six. I did my football reading game with most years and they all seemed to like it.

They looked after me superbly. Two coffees, a hot choc, a lovely lunch and even a school Leeds fan, who insisted on staying in goal, as his arm bled following a nasty carpet burn. That's Leeds fans for you. He was a hero. Leeds fans worldwide would have been proud of him.

Unusually for me, I read a story to reception and years one and two. I chose Dogger by Shirley Hughes. It brought back great memories of reading Shirley Hughes to my daughter. I love her stuff.

The picture above is the World Cup wall Ridgeway did around my World Cup story.

Thanks for a great day, Ridgeway.

Monday, 13 September 2010

New Resources from the National Literacy Trust

I have been working with the National Literacy Trust to create some spectacular (because they have designed them so well) football reading resources that can be used in schools and libraries anytime.

They include:

* three brand new exclusive classroom read stories by me
* a national writing competition running for the next seven weeks
* a revamped football reading activity toolkit
* new football writing exercises
* and more...

You can find it all at:


I would be very grateful if you could pass it all on to your colleagues and networks. It would help my friends at the National Literacy Trust too.

In addition I will have 10,000 A3 posters to give to schools and libraries from 14 September. You can email me at info@tompalmer.co.uk to let me know how many you want.

Thanks, as always.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Willows

I had a great time at The Willows School, Rotherham, on Friday. It's a special school in a village on the rural edges of the town.

They have an excellent reading culture:

* older children are reading buddies for younger kids
* they take part in lots of reading schemes and projects
* there are reading posters and displays throughout the school
* and, like many schools, they have a driven and passionate literacy co-ordinator

Also, they looked after me very well. Five cups of tea. A lovely lunch. And a lift to and from the station.

Thanks to The Willows!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

New Library

This is the new King Cross Library in Halifax. I popped in today to talk about the launch day. I'll be doing an event on the morning of 2nd October.

It's a good library. Lots of books, lots of space. It's good to see a quality library opening in the middle of a large community.

I usually go to Todmorden Library, which as I have said before, is wonderful. In fact, I'm off there now to pick up some books my wife has ordered.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Writing and Running

Hurray! I've finished Own Goal, the fifth Foul Play book. Now it goes to Lindsey at Puffin, so she can cast her intelligent eye over it.

I feel pretty good about finishing it. My wife suggested we have a BBQ this evening to celebrate. She is at the supermarket as I speak buying charcoal, or whatever that black stuff is taht you burn in BBQs. I still have loads of beer left that I had bought in to watch England in the later stages of the World Cup.

As I have been writing the book I have also been training for a 10K race. Three runs a week, mostly.

This is my number. It's in Mytholmroyd on Sunday - birthplace of Ted Hughes. Alice's Run in aid of Epilepsy Action.

I hope to do it in under 50 minutes, which would be good for me and maybe a bit beyond me... and nothing special in the greater scheme of things.

My great focus, however, is not this race. The big one for me is 27 December: The Hot Toddy. A punishing 5.8 miles over the tops in Todmorden. I did it in 52'00 last year, my first ever race. This year I am targeting 42'00, a ten minute improvement. It is possible, so long as my bad knee holds out.