Tag Archives: stories

illustrating for the Story of Me

cameron's dragons cropYou know the feeling you get when you’re involved in a particularly inspiring project? Something that’s not only fun, interesting and exciting but that bit special too?

I’ve had that feeling recently about an illustration project I’ve been working on. It’s called The Story of Me and is the brainchild of a friend of mine who’s a primary school teacher in Scotland.

Sus – or, as she is generally known by a classroom of children, Mrs Jeffries – is one my oldest friends and someone who never fails to amaze and inspire me. She’s not only a teacher and a mother of two, she also writes for the TES, sits on the boards of creative companies and is studying illustration. I don’t know what powers her (although I suspect creme eggs or party rings might play their part!) but to top it off she’s always full of amazing ideas. The Story of Me is no exception.

The idea is based on a study which found that children were more likely to recall target vocabulary if it was used in sentences where they themselves were the subject of the sentence. In other words, when you’re teaching kids to read, they’re more likely to remember words in stories about them.

Knowing how well children respond to images as well as words, Sus designed a project where the children in her class would work (remotely) alongside illustrators to create stories that they were the subject of. You can read more about the details and expected outcomes here but the basic idea was that the children would provide sentences for the illustrators to work with and by the end of the project, each child would have a short illustrated book about themselves which would help them learn and remember target words. A book that they’d co-created – how cool is that?!

I was one of the twenty illustrators who were a part of this project and I worked with six-year-old Cameron. He wrote a sentence or two a week for me to illustrate and the project evolved as it went along – I was never sure what Cameron would write or how I might respond and was often surprised… by both of us! There was something so lovely about illustrating for a specific child and feeling I was helping to create a story that meant something to him. I’ve heard from Sus that he loved what I did and that means loads to me.

Anyway, as the project draws to a close, I thought I’d share our little story:

Cameron's dragon's 1cameron's dragons page 2Cameron's dragon's page 3Cameron's dragons 4

I have to admit, when I got the first sentence I wasn’t sure how to illustrate it at all and figured all I could do was draw Cameron (I had a photo to work with). After that it became easier; the dragons came to me the moment I read his ‘dun dun duuuuuuuuun’ – I mean, clearly there was something exciting going on so… dragons!

I absolutely loved the way Cameron took the dragon idea and ran with it. Dragons playing hide and seek was loads of fun to draw (and apparently the whole class of kids enjoyed looking for them in the picture) and the idea of a dragon that would trick him with a drawing of itself was brilliant. He really gave them – and the whole story – personality!

The kids are all going to receive their final pictures and finished books after the Easter holidays. I’m looking forward to finding out what Cameron and his classmates think about them! It’s been a fab thing to be involved in! :)

is writing in the genes?

Do you think the urge to write is innate – a quirk of the genes we are born with? Or is it behaviour learned from observing parents, role models or others close to us? Or could it be something else entirely, a random striking of inspiration, a bolt from the blue?

books open

My Dad is a writer and, although it was never his day-job, the image of him sitting in an armchair, pad of paper on his knee, scribbling away with a fountain pen, is one that sums him up for me in many ways. His stories and poems are woven throughout my childhood memories along with all the other books he and my mum read to us. My uncles are writers too, my grandfather is a wonderful storyteller and, in fact, everywhere you look in my family, there seems to be a passion for reading, writing, stories, books and well, just words in general.

So maybe my writing ambitions were inevitable. Certainly, I remember having ‘writer’ on my list of future careers (along with ‘vet’ and ‘air hostess’!) from a very early age. Why it took me ’till a few years ago to actually realise it was a career I wished to pursue, I have no idea.

The lovely thing is, I’m now seeing this passion for books in my sons too: my eldest (8) is a prolific reader and his younger brother (6) isn’t far behind. They both love to write too – I came down to breakfast the other morning to find them both with their heads down over pieces of paper, concentrating hard. “Good morning boys!” I chimed (oh, ok, since it was morning, I probably grunted it) only to be met with “Shhhhh, we’re writing our novels!” Oh, ok then.

Yesterday I found this on the kitchen table, written by my six-year-old:

cow story

I have no idea what a ‘wild life tiger toothed fish ocean’ is but I’m very glad the cows escaped from those nasty humans. Mind you, reading it again… three little cows who had to escape two big humans… that’s not a metaphor for him and his brothers having to escape their Dad and me is it? Hmmm, the less said about that the better!

How about you – does writing run in your family? Are there any passions of yours that you see reflected in your children?

Little Hearts, Big Love
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what I’m writing – week twenty-one

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week twenty-one of ‘What I’m Writing’. Twenty-one! We’re all grown-up! We had another great week over at Muddled Manuscript last Tuesday with a great batch of posts. Thanks to everyone who joined in.

If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is my co-host Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through.

We take turns to write a monthly roundup of posts. My December Round-up should give you a flavour of what we’ve all been up to recently if you want to catch up!

We’ve also just set up a private group on Facebook that all linkers are welcome to join. It’s somewhere we can share work and have a chat about all things writerly (and whatever else we fancy really). As it’s a ‘secret group’ it’s hidden until I send an invititation but I have sent them to all linkers – or at least I’ve meant to! We’ve had a few issues with people’s invitations going AWOL though (think they’re being eaten by the big mail cruncher in the sky) so if you’d like to join and haven’t received one just leave me a comment – thanks!

We welcome linkers old and new and if you’d like to join in there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

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