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A Ghostly Good Time

5th August 2020

Virtual author events are a great way for schools to connect with authors - especially in the current climate. They are a brilliant way of overcoming distances and of bringing the author to your pupils from wherever they are on the globe!

Independent Usborne Organiser, Sandy Wild, tells us about how she transported Claire Barker, author of the Knitbone Pepper series, from Cornwall to Northern Italy.

"During a summer school book fair in North Italy, I had a chat with the English teacher who had just agreed to also take on the role of Librarian. We talked about ways to inspire ESL children to read in English for fun and how brilliant Usborne's books were for doing this.

We continued to correspond by email during the summer holidays about ways to encourage reading, and in September, the school Director agreed to fund a virtual author visit - the ultimate way to bring make reading fun! The Librarian was keen to work with Claire Barker, author of the brilliant Knitbone Pepper series, and contacted Claire by email, she replied immediately and the cost of the visit was reasonable. Claire has some great videos on YouTube which helped the Librarian to identify the best classes to choose for this first experiment with ESL children.

Before Christmas, I advanced enough free copies of Knitbone Pepper to the school to allow two full classes to read one book over the Christmas holidays to get them feeling excited for their author visit.

In January they discussed what they had read and started thinking about questions they would like to ask the author. I was amazed by the quality of their questions and their enthusiasm for finding out about everything from the series to the writing process. Then in February the school were thrilled to finally meet Claire for their much anticipated event!"

The school were thrilled with the event and told us more about it: "Claire did a general introduction, answered pre-prepared questions that we emailed her (and some extra ones). Then she read a short extract and discussed the writing process. She spent 30 minutes each talking to two classes.

The part I was most interested in as a teacher was the writing process part. 

The idea of a Winnie/Knitbone prequel came about as a child asked if she had written anything with only Winnie and Knitbone before he dies and no other characters.

She said she'd never thought about it before, but good idea and maybe we could have a go too, so we're going to do that, and also Claire says she's discussed the idea with her editor as a result of the skype!"

The event was so successful that the school already have plans to do one with another Usborne author.

If you'd like to find out more about having a Virtual Author Event in your school, contact your Independent Usborne Organiser who will be happy to talk about the best options for your pupils.