Over the last two years I have been working closely with the RAF Museum in Cosford and the primary school at nearby Albrighton. It has been invaluable to me as a writer.
Over the next twelve months my Rugby Academy series will be published by Barrington Stoke. (Find out more here.) These books feature children with parents involved in a dangerous RAF humanitarian relief effort. Without the help of both the museum and the school, I would not have been able to write the series.
But there is more.
I visited RAF Cosford today to talk about how we can work together to promote reading for pleasure. The museum has dozens of astonishing artefacts that would stimulate most children. Spitfires. The recently recovered Dornier. A soon-to-be launched exhibition of fragile WW1 planes.
And behind those artefacts there are stories. Each plane – be it from WW1, WW2, the Cold War or between and after – has a wealth of stories that we can engage both boys and girls with. I can attest to this having visited the museum with school children and my ten-year-old daughter.
In fact, it was making an Airfix model with my daughter that inspired my future series of books, due out in 2016.
I am thrilled to announce today that Barrington Stoke will be publishing three books in that series called Wings.
The books will blend the excitement of making model aeroplanes and seeing the real thing at RAF Cosford with the true stories of adventure, sadness, fear and courage that many of the planes in their collection inspire.
I’ll have much more to say about both new series of books and my relationship with RAF Cosford over the next few months.
During the next two weeks I will be visiting all of Leeds’ thirty-six public libraries. By bike.
I am doing it because cycling is the big thing for kids in Leeds at the moment: the Tour de France starts in the city on July 5th and everyone is getting pretty excited about it.
Also, because I want the next big thing for kids to be libraries.
I’ll have half an hour in each library – four a day – to talk to a class of year three and four children, visiting from a local school. I’ll ask them if they use libraries and tell them about how Leeds Libraries changed my life. I am also going to read them a story I have written for the tour. About a girl who goes on a different adventure each time she borrows a library book. Which is kind of what libraries do.
There’s a full schedule of my tour on my website. It’s about 250 miles in all. The worst/best day is 40 miles. I’m a bit worried about that one, to be honest. I’m not a great cyclist. But I’ve done a bit of training. I should be okay.
The highlights – for me – will be Leeds Central Library and Oakwood Library. The places where libraries worked their magic. It’ll feel good returning to those. I wouldn’t be an author if it wasn’t for Leeds Libraries.
More importantly, I wouldn’t be a reader. I love reading. It makes me think. It makes me happy. It gives me something I can’t even put into words. I want to get that across. Somehow.
I visit hundreds of bookshops, schools, museums, libraries and festivals each year:
Thur 15 Aug-Barnsley Library
Sat 17 & Sun 18 Aug-IWM North
Tues 20 Aug-Edinburgh Book Fest
Weds 21 Aug-Edinburgh Book Fest
Sat 24 & Sun 25 Aug- IWM London
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