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Thursday, 18 June 2015
The girls at Hesketh House were delighted to meet children’s author E. B. Colin, whose book Pyrate’s Boy has been shortlisted for this year’s Bolton Children’s Fiction Award and the Scottish Children’s Book Awards. As part of their involvement with the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award, some of the pupils in the Junior Girls’ School have read Pyrate’s Boy and were really excited to meet the ‘Queen of pirate yarn-spinning’!
Beatrice spoke to pupils in Years 5 and 6 in two stimulating and informative sessions. Several Year 5 pupils from Walmsley C.E. Primary School joined the Junior Girls in the afternoon for the second talk.
In each session, Beatrice began by talking about some of her research into pirates and how surprised she was to find out that pirates were actually quite rich and well-dressed, and that many of them operated under the Pirate Code. However, she also described what might happen if a pirate was caught: a gruesome death, which put many sailor off the idea of piracy.
After this interesting introduction to the history of pirates, she gave an exciting reading from Pyrate’s Boy. She began with the dramatic first chapter, in which the pirates are about to sail away from the ship they have just attacked when they discover a boy in the water who is chained to a locked lead box. This was followed by a reading from later in the book: the moment the main character, Silas Orr, finally sees the contents of the box.
These readings really piqued the children’s interest and they had lots of ideas about what might happen next.
Beatrice then led the children in a creative writing exercise where they created a pirate story of their own. They came up with a name and description for their main character, and decided what kind of pet and what special skill they might have. They then had to think of the villain of the story. There were lots of really creative ideas for the different aspects of the story and the pupils were really enthusiastic in joining in the collaboration.
Ananya Ajit in Year 5 enjoyed this activity in particular: “E. B. Collin read parts of her book to us and then helped us to come up with ideas for our own pirate story. We heard everyone’s weird and wacky ideas and together created the basis of a story. It was really lots of fun and I would love to do it again!”
Lexie Vincent, who is also from Year 5, enjoyed meeting a real author. She said, “I really enjoyed making up stories with E. B. Colin this week – so much so that it has inspired me to write my own story. Also, I can’t wait to read Pyrate’s Boy now!”
There was also time for a few questions at the end of each session, with pupils finding out what inspires Beatrice and how they can overcome writer's block.
The Junior Girls’ school recently ran a Pyrate Writing Competition which was inspired by the locked box in Pyrate’s Boy. The girls had to imagine that a similar box had ‘washed up’ in the library and were asked to write a short story, poem or sea shanty about what was inside. All of the entrants to the Pyrate Competition were given special invitations to have lunch with Beatrice and afterwards were able to show her their creative pieces. She was particularly impressed with the two ‘Pyrate Boxes’ the girls had made, which were filled with stories and artefacts, but also loved reading the girls’ poetry and chatting to them about their ideas.
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