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Award-winning children’s author tells tales at the Junior School

Award-winning children’s author tells tales at the Junior School

On Tuesday 27 February, award-winning children’s author Julia Jarman visited the Junior School as part of our week-long celebrations to mark World Book Day.

In Julia’s words she writes from “tots to teens and in between” and is perhaps most well-known for The Time Travelling Cat series of books as well as many others for all age groups. Julia spent the day running workshops and activities with the different year groups – inviting them in to her wonderful world of storytelling.

Julia writes for all different types of genres but she told the groups that she always uses the same recipe when cooking up her stories. All stories have two major ingredients: 1) real life and 2) imagination. “That’s what is exciting about my job”, she said. “I can explore, celebrate and satisfy my curiosity – as a writer you can make anything happen, there are no limits!”. This is especially true of one of her books for tots, Big Red Bath, which celebrates bath time as well as Julia’s big red bath in her house!

She gave some sage advice to our budding writers and told them that what you need most in order to write a story is a character who has a problem. Ghost Writer was born from a request by a pupil at a similar school visit. He asked Julia to write a story about him. This boy had dyslexia but he wanted the story to illustrate the fact that just because he had dyslexia, he was not ‘thick’. The main character in Ghost Writer is based on this very same pupil and his reading challenges.

Our Junior School pupils heard how Julia plans out her stories like a one sided mountain – because she needs to steadily build the excitement to the climax of the story – as well as what the process is to map out the plot and characters. The girls posed questions such as: “What style of writing do you like best?”, to which Julia replied: “I like being able to express my personality so I like all styles. My children wanted me to write realistic books and to include lots of scary bits!”. Julia answered the question “Have you liked writing since a young age?" with a resounding “Yes! I’ve always liked telling stories and I’ve always loved words. At first I wanted to be a surgeon and my family wanted me to be a nuclear physicist but my teacher always knew I would do something with words.”

With World Book Day taking place on Thursday 1 March it was an opportune time to invite Julia in to speak with the girls about her journey to become the author she is today. On World Book Day itself the pupils dressed up as their favourite book character to raise money for CAFOD and an ‘Extreme Reading’ photo competition has been running throughout the week. The celebratory week will culminate in the annual inter-house book quiz on Friday morning.