Full Circle!

Abu Dhabi - Yasmina2

At the height of the world’s biggest recession in over 70 years, I quit my job. Walked out, had enough, didn’t want to be part of that rat-race anymore.

Sheik Ahmed I was living in Dubai with my family in 2009, and we came to realise that no amount of sunshine, big 4×4’s, maids, gardeners or even swimming pools can make up for that clawing lack of fulfillment. So I left. We came home to Scotland with my dream of becoming an author.

And everybody laughed. People thought I was bonkers. Friends and even close family members told me ‘how stupid’ I was to walk away from a great job, and basically, to give up the career in hotel management, and lifestyle, that I’d spent 25 years working towards.

My wife, on the other hand, was brilliant. She said “What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll just need to get another job in 12 months, if it doesn’t work out. Give it a go!”

So five books published and six years later, I cannot begin to describe the absolute pleasure and feeling of total satisfaction I had stepping off that Emirates 767 flight in Dubai, ready to embark on a 12-date tour of schools in the UAE. I had come full circle.; the journey was complete. I’d left with a dream and was returning fulfilled, proving doubters wrong and truly able to say “I’m an international author!”

With Amer

And what a celebration my three week visit was. I stayed in my old hotel, I met old friends and caught up with so many of my original team.  I hired a car and rejoined that wild roller-coaster of ride called Sheikh Zayed Road. After all, this wasn’t a holiday, this was work.

The schools were fantastic, despite the steep learning curve about not mentioning the opening page of Charlotte’s Web. the dog in a Michael Morpurgo book called Stella Artois, and the risks of showing a topless picture of David Beckham during my book show. He was picking his nose, but it must’ve been his belly-button that caused offense.

In total I performed to nearly 3000 pupils, and sold almost 1500 books. I hosted 42 creative writing workshops and drove 1000 miles between Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain. I hit the headlines in the local newspaper, 7Days, and it felt brilliant!

The icing on the cake was my final school, the royal Rashid School for Boys at Nad Al Sheba, where every single pupil is a prince or related to royalty. I happened to mention the opening line from David Walliam’s Billionaire Boy… “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a million pounds?” and every kid in the class practically shrugged and said “I got that for my birthday.”

The senior librarian thanked me before I left, adding, “How you kept 120 princes entertained and engaged for over an hour was mermerising. Well done!” and that feeling of fulfillment washed over me again.

Now, I was wrong about one thing. My journey’s not complete, the journey is only just beginning. 2015 was fantastic, my most successful year yet but my first international book tour has opened up a host of possibilities. I’ve dipped my toe in the worldwide waters and and I want to inspire every kid in the world to want to love books.

2016 is shaping up to be even better. My diary is jam-packed with school visits from Cornwall to Aberdeen. From Lowestoft to Liverpool, Norwich, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh and my hat-trick of appearances at the Wigtown Book Festival. I have a tour of Isle of Man schools in April, and a three week tour of Northern Ireland in June. I’m hosting a few gigs in Australia in August and heading back to Dubai in October. There’s even a little dialogue about a trip to Los Angeles.

Reading Rocks over the world!

Abu Dhabi - Yasmina2


Good Feature in the Daily Record

Me and the girls

Just before Christmas the Daily Record ran a feature about my change in career and lifestyle. It’s probably the most accurate article that’s ever been ran about me.

Full version can be found here (complete with scary pictures) but here’s the condensed copy.

STUART REID has already authored the Gorgeous George series for kids, but more recently has been giving talks at events and festivals.

STUART Reid enjoyed a luxury lifestyle in Dubai – complete with five-bedroom house, pool, maid and flash cars.

But the dad-of-two turned his back on his place in the sun to return to Scotland and write kids’ books .

Stuart has written best-seller Gorgeous George and the Geriatric Generator and four sequels and is busy giving talks to schools and at festivals.

He is also is launching a creative writing programme for children.

And he has no regrets about his decision to quit his job as a hotel manager to follow his dream.

Me and the girls

Stuart, 47, lives near Falkirk with wife Audrey, 42, who works in airport security, and their daughters Jess, 15 and Charley, 10.

When he went to Dubai, it was to manage Premier Inn’s first hotel outside the UK – a 300-bedroom property in the Gulf state.

He said: “It was a great accolade to go across there. For the first two years it was great.

“We built a fantastic hotel, occupancy was brilliant and I was enjoying myself.”

Stuart, who was also the voice of Scottish football on a radio station in the Gulf, added: “I had a five-bedroom house, a maid, a gardener, swimming pool and two 4×4.

“But I grew disillusioned by the shallow, materialistic rat race and gave it all up to write about bums, bogies and big bottom burps. It is now my job to inspire even the most reluctant readers to want to read more books, more often. And it’s the best job in the world.”

Towards the end of 2008, the hotel industry hit a slump and Stuart realised he wasn’t happy.

“Suddenly everyone was fighting for a slice of an ever-decreasing market,” he said.

“My wife said I should do something fun and work out what I enjoyed doing.

“I wasn’t chasing a bigger house, a bigger swimming pool and more money. But I knew I used to love writing.

“I’d written a play which was performed in Dubai and I’d also written a radio advert for Premier Inn, so I thought, ‘I’m going to see if I can start writing.’

“I started writing about things that made me laugh. And suddenly the writing took over from the running of a hotel.

“So my wife and I said, ‘Let’s go back to Scotland’. I gave up the lifestyle to follow a dream. I knew I’d never have another chance to try and be an author.

“And it’s turned out even better than living in so-called paradise in the Middle East.

“I have been a full-time author for nearly three years and am probably one of the busiest in Britain today.

“I’ve performed at 700 schools, libraries and book festivals in that time, including over 60 shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.

“My first book Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator, was released in 2011, and chosen as Silver Seal winner at the Forward National Literature Awards in America.

“It was a Top Pick in the Daily Record’s Book Club and its re-release last month includes a testimonial from Ireland’s Children’s Laureate, Eion Colfer.

“There are now four books in the Gorgeous George series, with number five, Gorgeous George and the Jumbo Jobby Juicer, due out in March 2015.”

But it’s not all been plain sailing and after a dispute with his publishers, Stuart has turned to self-publishing with help from Indie Authors Scotland.

He said: “This will take a few more months and things have been tough recently but I’ve had tremendous help from a designer and illustrator in Grangemouth, John Pender.”

Stuart was recently presented with the Enterprise in Education Champion Award by Falkirk Council for his work with local schools.

He’s loving being able to write and inspire children. Meanwhile, Audrey has discovered a love for growing vegetables.

He said: “We’ve realised it’s little things like that that make us feel really happy. It’s one of the fundamental things I say to kids, is work out what you love doing best, become really good at it and then get paid for what you love doing.”

Stuart’s latest initiative, the Writing Rules OK programme, came about because he was so busy visiting schools.

He said: “My diary became so busy I wished I could clone myself. So by the end of this year I will be launching a creating writing website for schools and individuals to download modules, activities, exercises and lesson plans.”

His programme is aimed at pupils aged seven to 14 and each module will contain a 15-minute video and a series of activities suitable for different age groups.

Stuart said: “Once each module has been purchased by the school, they can be played over and over again to any number of pupils in that school for no extra cost.

“Hopefully I can inspire them to want to pick up their pencils.”

Stuart added: “I’ve got to pinch myself now. I don’t have a proper job. Five years ago, I wore quite sensible suits and ties. Now I wear shorts and a T-shirt every day. I just want to get kids into reading and if that means I talk about poo and pee and pumps – even better.

“I’ve regressed to my childhood and I’m eight years old again.”


Hmmm… tricky!


SnotasaurusOne of the toughest parts about being a children’s author is when you’re asked to choose a winner in a ‘Design a book cover competition’ – I hate to offend anyone or let kids down and I know it always comes across as ‘twee’ or just, plain sitting on the fence but honestly, I usually think each drawing is brilliant in it’s own way.

Recently I had a fantastic day up in Aberdeen, visiting the awesome Braehead primary school in Bridge of Don. It was great fun, reading and presenting my usual booky nonsense to a fantastic response from the children.

The nursery pupils joined in too, designing a cover fSnotasaurus2or one of my books aimed at 3-6 year olds; Snotasaurus Rex! It’s about a dinosaur with a cold, so there’s going to be an enormous amount of snot involved if one of these big beasties sneezed everywhere! And I think the kids had great fun coming up with their designs. I loved this one (above) which looks basically like a giant T-Rex chasing a little green ball of bogie. The bogie looks rather mischevious too, so watch out, I can imagine this wee booger hiding under the desk ;)

Rebecca’s big blue beast is a beauty too, with rivers of snot flowing from his nostrils. As another illustrator, whose drawings are nowhere near as good as this class, put it I’m just a snot-obsessed chimp so this is right up my street.

Snotasaurus3I sometimes wonder what the poor teachers must think when some loon like me comes along and suddenly starts encouraging their pupils to draw flu-choked dinosaurs. There’s must’ve been a shortage of green crayon in this school afterwards but I loved Ritrik’s very colourful banner.

But my all-time favourite is this creature, drawn by unknown little artist (below). Sadly there’s no name on it and I hope the school knows who it belongs to when they read this post.

It’s big, bold, bright and colourful. There’s plenty of mucus dripping and I totally love how the name ‘Snotasaurus’ drapes down the side of the dinosaur. An absolute cracker but of course, they were all brilliant!Snotasaurus4

Thank you for a super day, thanks for letting me see your amazing drawings and big thanks too, to a young lad called Jordon Bennett, who sent me the most incredible letter on behalf of the whole school. I’ll post more about this letter on here soon but I just wanted to let you know that I scanned it and plastered it all over Facebook and sent a copy down to the BBC, and  they think it’s incredible too.

Watch this space!



It was magical. A truly heart-warming experience that still sends shivers down my spine and I get a lump in my throat just listening to the video (replayed again and again) every time!

I was presenting at a primary school in Pitmedden, a small town past Aberdeen. It was a Monday afternoon and the kids were still  getting into the swing of the new week. It was a straight-forward performance, nothing special… just the usual reading session, bums and bogies, my normal enthusiasm and energy for books and 160 pupils in the audience.

And then it happened…

I wasn’t prepared for it, wasn’t expecting it and I was so shocked and thrilled by the effect I’d had on the kids that I was almost too slow to grab my phone.

The pupils spontaneously burst into a chant of Reading rocks! Reading rocks! Reading rocks! They were so inspired by my book presentation that they needed an outlet for their own enthusiasm – it wasn’t planned, rehearsed or even part of a normal gig – they just went for it as they queued to head back to class.

And it went on and on and on…

Eventually I snatched up my phone to capture the moment, there’s only one minute of tape but they kept it up for at least a minute before and a minute after I pressed ‘record’ – my only regret is I didn’t want to film the kids (their faces were brilliant) so I pointed the camera at the screen. It’s not right to record children in schools without permission but I didn’t want to miss their energy. Just listen to it.

The teachers didn’t want to stop it, every single pupil was openly admitting a love for reading, unafraid of what anyone else thought and books were cool again!

The head even said later she’d never seen such a passionate response to books, literacy or reading and it was at that moment that I truly realised that I was born to present the Reading Rocks! events. I was put on this planet to inspire kids to read more books, more often.

Just turn the sound up and enjoy!


Reading Rocks On!

ReadingRocks hi-smallb

ReadingRocks hi-smallbIt’s been 355 days, 246 schools, 6 libraries, 5 book festivals, 55,000 kids performed to, 31 Edinburgh Festival events and over 10,000 books sold since I last updated my website!

My apologies but trust me, I’ve been a bit busy.

The last few months especially have been all about change, and taking charge of the important things. I ditched my old publisher in June, started working with a fantastic new illustrator called John Pender, secured my first international rights deal and published my 4th book in record time, ready for the Edinburgh Festival.

I’ll go into more details about all that stuff over the next few months but now the new school term has started and my diary is chocka with more bookings than ever. My new show Reading Rocks! is really taking off, inspiring kids to read more books, more often.

Fuzzy with PhilipAnd I never thought I’d top last year’s appearance at the Wigtown Book Festival alongside the Book Trust’s Writer-in-Residence Philip Ardargh (that’s Big Phil in the photo, apparently his beard makes all selfies go fuzzy) until I was invited to a book festival in Yorkshire… alongside… wait for it… MICHAEL MORPURGO!!!! You just might hear me mention this once or twice on Twitter @StuartReidBooks in the next few weeks :D

Oh, and I’ve formed a new top secret company called Gorgeous Gararge Ltd that plans to take over the world in the next few years. Watch this space!

New cover (john)Gorgeous George and the Unidentified Unsinkable Underpants Part 2 was released on the 31st July 2014 and launched at the Edinburgh Festival. It was originally meant to released in March, then promised in May, and again in June before I thought I would do it myself. No messing, no pifling around, just do it! (note to newbie authors – if publishers tell you it’s complicated, expensive, time-consuming or there’s things you won’t understand, don’t believe them. It’s not that tricky, costly or complicated, just don’t allow yourself to become distracted)

It’s endorsed by the Fast Show’s Charlie Higson, who said ‘It’s Underpantastic!’, which I think is my favourite quote of all time. In fact, Charlie has been a brilliant help, we’ve been tweeting back and forth and he’s even sent me loads of stuff for my creative writing workshops. As well as appearing on the telly Charlie writes his own books, including the Young James Bond series and his zombie-horror collection, starting with The Enemy, which I refer at schools; it’s really creepy, the kids love it.

And finally, here’s a sneeky peak at one of the illustrations from the soon-to-be-rereleased Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator. We celebrated the third anniversary of the publication of my first book back in August and it’s so exciting to see George’s new style developing, cooler, edgier and more dynamic than ever before. John’s a talented artist and there’s plenty more awesome artwork to follow.

And I promise you won’t need to wait another 355 days for the next post!

Grandpa Jock fighting

PS I realise that I’ve just mentioned Philip Ardargh, Charlie Higson and Michael Morpurgo in the same post, so apologies. David Walliams told me it was rude to name-drop.


Festival of Fun!

Festival Poster

What an absolutely stunning summer! First, back in June I broke the 300 Barrier, with the number of schools I’ve performed in since I became a full-time author in February 2012. Then the next record I set was hosting an event in the oldest and poshest school ever, St Leonard’s Independent School in St Andrews. Honestly, it was like performing in Hogwarts!!

Into July and I spent most of the month down in schools in England before coming back home to prepare for my debut year at Edinburgh Fringe. Rehearsals went well, fly-postered Edinburgh and kick-started the Festval in earnest… maybe I got a wee bit carried away. 36 shows in 25 days, making guest appearances at four different children’s stand-up events; including three shows on top of a bus!

Three radio interviews, one session with BBC Learning and lovely cup of coffee and a Tunnock’s caramel log in Fred Macaulay’s green room, and still the excitment continued.

I sold almost 500 books, presented to over 3,000 people and lost 12lbs in weight. And to celebrate my first year at the Festival, I had my first ever tattoo done, my favourite book character Grandpa Jock . As Fresh Air Radio said… ‘Everyone should have a flatulence-themed tattoo somewhere on their body!’

And now summer’s almost over and the Scottish kids have returned to school. Thanks goodness for that, really. I can’t wait to get back to the day job properly ;)

For some reason, things have went pretty mental in the last few days. I sent out a few emails to schools, asking if they’d like to book an author event and suddenly my phone was crazy… I mean red-hot, never stopped ringing nuts! My diary is now almost full until mid-October and I’ve had to stop twice whilst writing this to take bookings.

Long may it continue and here’s my bookings for the net few weeks…
Fri 30th August – Kinneil primary school, Bo’ness
Sat 31st August – Charity gig at Bright Beginnings Nursery
Wed 4th Sept – Merrylee primary, Glasgow
Thurs 5th Sept – Alexander Peden primary, Shotts
Thurs 5th Sept – Clelland primary, Motherwell
Mon 9th Sept – Northern Parade primary, Portsmouth
Tues 10th Sept – Hampshire TBC
Wed 11th Sept – Sandown Bay Academy – full day event
Thurs 12th Sept – Cleeves primary, Glasgow
Fri 13th Sept – St Teresa’s, Glasgow
Mon 16th Sept – Whitelees primary, Cumbernauld
Tues 17th Sept – Riverside primary, Stirling
Tues 17th Sept – St Kevin’s primary, Bargeddie
Wed 18th Sept – John Paul II primary, Uddingston
Wed 18th Sept – Bargddie primary, Bargeddie
Thurs 19th Sept – Whitecros primary – full day event
Fri 20th Sept – Craigellachie primary, Aberlour
Fri 20th Sept – Lhanbrydie primary, Elgin
Mon 23rd Sept – Buckingham primary, Hull – full day event
Mon 23rd Sept – Radio evet with Hull radio station
Tues 24th – Links primary school, Stockton
Wed 25th – Wheately Hill Community School- full day event
Thursday 26th and Friday 27th – Currently there are 6 schools I’m trying to juggle into these two days. TBC
Sunday 29th Sept – Wigtown Book Festival – children’s event
Mon 30th Sept – Kilbrinie primary school, Kilbirnie
Tues 1st Oct – 2 events at Wigtown Book Festival
Wed 2nd Oct – Loreburn primary, Dumfries
Wed 2nd Oct – HMP Dumfies – family event
Thurs 3rd Oct – Castle Kennedy, Stranaer
Thurs 3rd Oct – Lochrutton prmary, Dumfries
Fri 4th Oct – Carrbridge primary, Carrbridge –
Launch of Gorgeous George and the Unidentified Unsinkable Underpants
Fri 4th Oct – Park primary, Oban
Fri 4th Oct – World Porridge Making Championships Ceilidh
Sat 5th Oct – World Porridge Making Championships event – specialty porridge
Wed 9th Oct – Holy Family primary, Kirkintilloch

Then there’s another 12 events booked in across the next 3 months. It’s going to be a rather busy period, starting Friday, reckon I’ll sell a couple of thousand books too ;)

I might need to get another tattoo to celebrate!


Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013


I usually need to be doing something – 25 years of working 70-80 hour weeks will probably do that to a person. So during the school holidays, I go absolutely mad. I’m bored, moody, grumpy, frustrated and irritable. The school are closed and I can’t do what I love doing best – presenting my book show.

Last year I spent most of July presenting to schools in England – thank goodness the Scottish schools break up in June and there’s a convenient over-lap period…..But then there’s August!! Dun-dun-duuuuuuuuhn!

Every school in the country closed and I was bouncing off the walls again – So not this year. I have applied for, and was accepted to present my book tour show at the largest art festival in the world – The Edinburgh Fringe! 25 days of presenting, every day for almost the entire month. AND IT’S FREE!!!

I just want to perform. I want to entertain, educate and inspire children (and parents) about the wonders of books, how brilliant it can be to become lost in another world.  Obviously I pretty much talk about my own two books but there’s some cool stuff about the environment, alternative energy, bums, bogies and big bottom burps. False teeth will be thrown and there may even be snot. One awesome hour of energy, and audience interaction too.

Category Children’s Shows
Genres comedy, storytelling
Group Stuart Reid – Award Winning Author
Venue Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters
Event Website www.mylittlebigtown.com/gor…
Date 1-25 August
Time 13:15
Duration 1 hour
Suitability PG (4+)
Country of Origin Scotland

As I said, it’s free but you can collect tickets here (as a wee memento) and signed copies of the book will be available everyday. See you there!

Silver Seal Winner – Forward National Book Awards 2012

Silver Seal











Awarded to Stuart Reid – Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to accept this fanastic prize from those wonderful people at the Forward National Literature Awards. I can honestly say how humble I feel in light of their amazing predilection and proclivity towards good taste, their perceptive literacy acumen and almost flawless decision-making prowess – thank you.

Almost flawless… because obviously I didn’t win Gold (this year) but I’d still like to pass on my heartiest congratulations to whoever it was that won this prestigous award in the Middle Grade/Chapter Book Section. It’s on their website somewhere but, of course, I only got as far as looking for my own name. It said ‘Second Place Winners’ at the top so I allowed my particular selective narcassistic tendancies to take over and all I read was ‘Winner’.

Of course, it’s not really about winners and losers, it’s about the joy of taking part; where everyone receives a medal just for turning up. It’s about the overwhelming satisfaction in being judged by your peers and betters to have written a novel of literal quality, described as ‘entertaining, imaginative and very funny’, and for all the faninancial rewards that go along with it – except there was no big cash prize, so it really is all about the joy of taking part (and winning, obviously).

And what a fantastic group of judges they really are! They certainly know their stuff when it comes to books about as the entries were judged on their uniqueness, entertainment, and content. Amongst others, Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, six other books and an internationally acclaimed key note speaker and host of radio and tvshows.  Mark David Gerson is a screenwriter, award-winning author and creator of The Q’ntana Trilogy of fantasy novels and feature films. The MoonQuest, the first book in the trilogy, has won multiple awards, as has his book on writing and creativity, and the film of the same name will be in theatres later this year. 

I’d like to thank my publisher, my agent, my wife, my children……. (continued overleaf – click here)
……….. the team at My Little Big Town, all the schools, pupils, parents, teachers, book shops, libraries and book festivals I have ever, and will ever, present to.

L love you all! No, no, it’s okay. I’ve just got something in my eye…

London Calling?


For a couple of months now I’ve been trying to sort out a few school bookings in London but for one reason or another we haven’t been able to tie anything down. Agreeing dates, clashing diaries, other committments; they’ve all gotten in the way of booking confirmations. Then I received this.

Maybe the Olympics have gone to their heads? Maybe London is becoming as loony as La-La Land in California but for whatever reason, I cannot fathom out the depths of madness that this politically correct borough council authority is expecting me to go to, just to present to school children about bums and bogies.

At least, they claim to represent a borough council. You decide…

Dear Mr Reid (author)
Further to your recent enquiry regards your book reading presentation in the borough schools district, I would like to ensure that you have filled in your risk assessment pro formas and had a full CRB screening.  I trust your material has had a full equalities impact assessment made and that your teaching mode has been cleared as appropriate by the regional Ofsted co-ordinator, as moderated by the LEA senior trainer and core curriculum lead intervener.
The reading levels will, of course, have been tested by the literacy co-ordinator and subjected to a multi-cultural awareness examination, to ensure there is no implicit or explicit culturally insensitive material, as it relates to the families of those from 56 nations represented in the school district. 

During ecumenical-awareness enhanced times such as our own, the contents of your publication will need to be vetted by the All Faiths co-ordination committee to ensure that there are no references to anything that could remotely offend any of our diverse faith communities is presented, no matter how obliquely.  This is a tricky test, which may require the engagement of an all-faith, multi lingual, expert team of positive action assessors, possibly complemented by a specially commissioned and recruited, and ethnically and gender weighted, focus group.

An earth-moving device

The regional public Heath board will be required to conduct a series of tests on the bogies of a sample of mixed gender, sexuality, faith, race and ability/ disabilities to ensure that the full dietary needs of all – vegetarian, vegan, halal, kosher and just fudging faddy or fussy are catered for, without there being too many challenges to those with particular dietary needs, and allergies. 

Use of the word “bum” will of course be prohibited, as it is too colloquial and fails to meet target 6 of Key Stage 2 communications through multicultural, non discriminatory interaction mode. Only posterier, derriere or glutomous maximus may be used.
You will be expected to be accompanied by two governors at all times you are on the schools’ premises and will not be permitted to film any part of the proceedings without the explicit prior approval of the parents/guardians/carers  for fear of any images taken being posted on the Internet and attracting unwarranted deviants.
You will not be permitted to use the word ‘Giant’ at any stage of your your presentation, as it has been deemed heightist and offends the vertically challenged amongst us. Studies have shown that 96.3% of all primary school attendees are below the average height of an adult, therefore, we presume, a highly sensitive group.
‘Geriartic’ is also inappropriate, considered ageist and ‘Chronologically Advantaged’ should be used instead. The council’s ethics committee has yet to deem ‘Generator’ offensive but we are sure it will happen at some point, particularly to protect the less efficient members of the public sector and the word should be removed from your presentation.
Whilst the nomiker ‘George’ is permitted, it must not be used with any regal or republican connotations or undertones, however the adjective ‘Gorgeous’ is wholly inappropriate, abusive, misleading and unrepresentative. We recommend you use the phrase ‘Less visually challenging’.
No child will be permitted to display any form of emotion during your presentation, as this would be regarded as the commission of an act of cultural bullying aimed at impacting adversely on the feelings of insecurity and inadequacy potentially suffered by child/children unknown who do not “get the joke”. Cultural bullying such as this has, in multi-national studies, been shown to possibly induce feelings of insecurity and inadequacy in as many as 0.2% of all pupils, and thus enhance the discriminatory exclusion sensitivities of many from different social and cultural family settings.
Once you have completed the above criteria in full and submitted your remittance of £499 to cover administration charges, then we will look forward to the event featuring your book Less Visually Challenging George and the Positively Pituitary, Chronologically Advantaged Mass Production Hardware in our district.
Yours Sincerely
Johann Spazierganger

Lest We Forget…

Sunday 11th November 2012. Armistice Day. Remembrance Sunday.

Poppy Day.

Poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour symbolising the blood spilled in the war. Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” and every year since, Britain pays its respects to all those in the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.

Today it’s been a morning of quiet reflection. Partly due to Calvin Innes’ beautifully poignant illustration of two characters whom I love dearly and what they may be thinking. And possibly because I am working on a series of World War Two diaries given to me by my next door neighbour Graeme, whose father was held captive in a German POW camp for four years. He kept these diaries hidden all that time; he could’ve been shot if the Germans had discovered them.

These diaries are a sombre change from the normal ‘bums and bogies’ nonsense I write about but I’m realising that children love learning about history. I’ve seen the WWII projects that go on in schools where kids built Anderson shelters and recreate entire model streets and towns, only to come into school on Monday morning to find the houses demolished, as they might’ve been in reality 70 years ago. This first hand impact and the emotional connection this creates helps to develop a rounded understanding of what people went through back then.

And despite what some scare-mongering newspapers like to promote, children are still children these days. Whilst I’ve been visiting schools throughout the length and breadth of the country, I feel reassured that society will look after itself; that children are still just small people and 99% of them are decent little human beings being taught the same ethics and values that develop responsible citizens, regardless of their background.

Talking of trust and decency, I was incredibly moved this week, when I was due to visit Glebe Primary School near Derby. The literacy co-ordinator at the school, Freda, offered to put me up at her house for the night. Freda and her husband, Steve had been talking about my dramatic change in careers and wanted to help out a new author embarking on a different voyage. It was a wonderful offer, because travelling to different schools around the country can be an expensive business, with hotels and meals etc, and they very kindly agreed to look after me.

Nobody does that now, do they? Nobody agrees to take a complete stranger into their home, feeds them with wonderful pork and cider casserole, two baked potatoes and vegetables, fruit, ice-cream and copious amounts of wine?

Well, Freda and Steve did! A wonderful couple with a beautiful home and a strong artistic, creative streak running through their family. I hope Freda fulfils her dreams to begin writing seriously (and turns the cubby room under the stairs into her writing studio). I was amazed with Steve (a former policeman) and his stories about engaging with youngsters and leading a group of performing children to the Houses of Parliament to win a national award, promoting the serious message of Stranger Danger in entertaining ways. I will never forget your kindness and generosity.

However, Freda kept quiet about this but Steve told me later that her eldest lad Dan, aged 23, has just won the UK Final of the Loop Station and V-Drum World Championships and is now off to Los Angeles to compete for the world title. If that had been me and one of my daughters, I’d be shouting about it from the rooftops. Good luck, Dan!

And Glebe primary school pupils were amazing! 400 enthusiastic and engaged children (and 60 parents) willing to take part in some nooby author’s manic performance. They were a credit to the school with the superb behaviour and the ability to become very vocal and excited one minute then come back down to earth to listen carefully to the next part of the story.

But then again, most schools are like this. What made Glebe primary special was the size of audience, all the parents in the audience and the extra excitement around the school because of literacy week. Thank you Glebe Primary, thank you mums and dads and grandparents, thank you Mrs Seymour the headteacher and especially, thank you to Freda and Steve.

Finally, there’s that tiny percentage of pupils who haven’t quite learned what good behaviour is. I suppose the earlier you identify this, the easier it is to correct. There’s always one or two kids in most schools that can be a little er… flighty. However, I was still rather surprised at another school, with this outburst.

I had already performed to the Key Stage 2 children; they were brilliant. Then I was presenting to the Key Stage 1 pupils, reception and early years children aged between 4 and 7 years old. I was in full flow, coming to the end of my session, extolling the virtues of books and reading and I was asked what inspired me about books.

‘Books are great,’ I began, ready to continue when one little chap in the back row, who was about six, shouted out.

‘Boobs are great!’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘I said “Books are great.”’ Luckily none of the other children picked up on what the kid said. Then, the little nutter lost the plot altogether.

‘No, BOOBS! Boobs are great. Tell us about boobs!’ he started shouting. ‘Tell us about boobs!’

His teacher was swift to move in and the boy was whisked out of the classroom faster than a rocket on roller-skates. Amazingly, the rest of the classroom seemed oblivious to the disturbance and I managed to keep going with a straight face.

At the end, the teacher came up to me and apologised for the interruption, saying she was surprised he’d kept quiet for almost an hour; he could be a bit of a handful. Then the lad came back into the classroom and apologised, quite sincerely. Someone had had a word in his ear and hopefully he’d learned his lesson.

This blog began in a sombre mood and ended with a seaside postcard moment of madness from a very cheeky six year old. My only justification for including this today is judging from that diary, and the black humour of the British ‘Tommy’ soldiers in that POW camp in northern Germany, they’d be laughing their socks off right now.

Lest we forget…

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