Monday, 24 June 2013

How to use Airfix models to get kids writing

I am working with the RAF museum in Cosford tomorrow. We are piloting a writing workshop where we will compare making an Airfix model to writing a story.

Most stories start with a character.
Airfix kits usually begin with the pilot.

Next comes motivation. What does the character want or not want?
That's the propeller: the part of the machine that drives the plane, or story, forwards.

The fuselage is the setting.
The wings create the plot.
The wheels - up or down - are the choice of genre.
The canopy determines the point-of-view.
The paint and decals are the descriptions.
And it goes on.

The idea is that 20 children will work on an Airfix Spitfire at the same time as deciding the main components of a story they want to write. This is the overall plan:

The reason behind this workshop is that some children find it hard starting a story, coming up with the main components. Just as it would be difficult to make a Spitfire model without all the parts. The workshop should give the children a structure to work from when writing stories in the future.

Also, it will introduce them to the fun that can be had making Airfix models. And to our history.

I'll blog more about it after the event. Until then, chocks away...

Friday, 21 June 2013

Five tips to get young Lions reading

The British and Irish Lions kick off their three-test series tomorrow, Saturday 22nd June. This is a great opportunity to encourage young rugby fans to read.

Here are five tips to do just that:

1. Deliver a newspaper to the door of your Lions fan, with breakfast in bed, encouraging them to sit and study the form at ease.

2. Invest in the Official Lions magazine or this month's Rugby World (both pictured), even giving them that tonight as bedtime reading.

3. If you can't follow the game on Sky TV or on TalkSport (I can't: I'll be at my daughter's dance class), you can follow it on the BBC website, Twitter feed or their sports App.

4. Borrow or buy one of the lavish photographic histories of the Lions from your local bookshop or library.

5. Give them a copy of my, Tom Palmer's, book, Scrum! (pictured) to read before the next test on 29th. Or Gerard Siggins' Rugby Spirit or Dan Anthony's Rugby Zombies.

Australia v Lions kicks off at 11am on Saturday 22nd June. Enjoy the game! And the rugby reading!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Sleeping on the Pitch

I researched my new book - Ghost Stadium - by sleeping on the pitch of the oldest international football stadium in the world. The Racecourse Ground in Wrexham.

I wanted to know how it would feel for three boys to camp inside an old football stadium. That's because Ghost Stadium is about three boys who camp in an abandoned stadium, overgrown and shut off to the public. And I like to experience what my characters experience. As far as I can.

Sleeping on a football pitch was amazing. As the sun went down and shadow then darkness flooded the stadium, I started to feel a bit creeped-out. But I needed more.

I decided - to make things more scary - to walk around the stands. Inside and out. Through dark corridors. In overgrown stands. I got some ideas about what my characters would feel like.

In the book the dead come to life and things start falling out of the sky. I had to imagine those bits. But I got some good material.

You can read the first chapters of Ghost Stadium here.