Frances Watts at Esk

The children were squished into the Esk library function room like sardines.  Their manners were impeccable as they waited patiently for Frances to begin.

Frances began by asking the children what an author does, they nailed it, they knew what was going on.  She showed a picture of herself as an 8 year old, dressed as Aslan for a Book Week Parade.  The kids nodded knowingly as she recounted her own memories of Book Week Parades.

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Frances asked the kids where they think authors get ideas from stories, they were very keen to answer.  She then explained that she gets her ideas from memories, experiences, things that happen to you, hobbies and interests, imagination and so on.  Frances explained how she got the idea for “Kisses for Daddy”.  It was a lovely insight into her creative process.  As she showed the kids the book, she quizzed them on what different parts of a book are called, such as the title page.  The kids all seemed to know the book, chiming in with Frances as she read the story and explained the illustrations.

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“Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books” was the next book to feature.  Frances took the opportunity to explain how book covers can be cleverly done and the importance of end papers.  As Frances read the story, she asked the children about different kinds of stories, who they share their books with, where they read their books (including on the toilet) and more.  This book looks like a great one to share with younger readers to engender a life long love of reading.  I will be adding the book to my shopping list too, it’s such a lovely book about books, and I love books!

Parsley Rabbit

Frances continued by talking about using imagination in writing stories.  she used “Captain Crabclaw’s Crew” as an example.  Who would have thought of a boat full of animal pirates?!  Before reading the book, Frances gave the kids a lesson in talking like pirates, “arggghhhhhh and ahoy” shouted the crowd, clearly an excuse to make a big noise during school hours.  Fearsome animal and pirate sounds rolled out the front door of the library and over the hills of Esk as Frances read from her fearsome tale.

Frances talked about the language used in children’s books.  Covering an issue close to my heart, Frances explained to the children what alliteration is, using examples from “Captain Crabclaw’s Crew”.  I had a debate with a knowledgeable friend lately about alliteration, she claims it is used too much, I heartily disagreed.  Frances explained that rhyme and repetition can also be very affective, a good tip for aspiring authors.  She read from “Goodnight, Mice”, which has examples of alliteration, rhyming and repetition.

An enthusiastic Q & A session rounded off this session.  I feel sorry for authors and illustrators at this time of a session because kids have about 1 000 000 questions.  Frances handled it expertly, including when one child said, “there are a lot of books about dinosaurs”, even though Frances hasn’t written one. Not find out more about Frances, check out here website HERE.

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