School Visits

St. Mary & St. Michael Catholic Primary School, Garstang 5th October 2010

Marilyn visits St. Mary  & St. Michael Catholic Primary School

The second school I visited following the launch of White Chin was SS Mary & Michael Catholic Primary in Garstang where I met Classes Four and Five and two of your teachers, Mrs. Christina Parker and Mr. Alan Parry. (Again I am grateful to Mary Wynberg who attended and who sold the books from her Corner Bookshop).

I was immediately struck by what a really happy school it felt and you all made me most welcome. You together with Mr. Parry’s special help taught me very early on in our questions and answers that by asking you to talk and write from an animal’s point of view so that I could pick your brains for my next book was what you all called “magpie-ing”. Whoops – I had never thought of it in that way!!

However you had the last laugh on me, as the combined class was so big I never did manage to walk off with the written essays, but what I did “magpie” from you while we were talking was this, you passionately, lots of you, wanted to write yourselves about animals that can fly – here are just some ideas you had that I scribbled down as you spoke:

  • peregrine falcon with its sharp talons and fast movements
  • sting ray
  • a cheetah because it could run really fast
  • Pegasus because he can fly
  • golden eagle because it is fast
  • a ferret because it is fierce
  • a meerkat because you think it is more like a human! (Is that because they stand up on their back legs to look out for danger I wonder?)
  • a fish, specifically a goldfish
  • a cat, because they are both weak and strong at the same time
  • a kangaroo, because they can survive
  • an abandoned dog
  • an African hunting dog
  • a tarantula
  • a snake
  • a metal cow – I never asked the right question about this one??
  • a duck, which can fly above and below water
  • a mole, but we need to know more about how they live
  • an army of ants
  • a peacock because of its spectacular colouring
  • a wolf
  • a hedgehog
  • a rat, especially because they get a bad press
  • a werewolf
  • a flying squirrel

and these wonderful enthusiasms that you threw around, and your mentions of Pegasus, Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, peacocks, flying squirrels and ducks that can fly above and below water have helped me to work out how, in my new book when the real cat, Magnificat as she is called, goes missing, the little boy hero Ben has to resort to his imaginary friend “Magicat” who can do all these magical things!

The following picture appeared in the Garstang Courier later that week with a small news story and Corner Bookshop kindly sent it on to me.

Marilyn visits St. Mary  & St. Michael Catholic Primary School

So can I say a very big thank you to your kind headmistress Cathryn Wilkinson and to Alan Parry and Christina Parker* and Classes 4 & 5 of SS Mary and Michael Garstang for really helping me with big ideas for the new book and for a lovely morning. It will be a privilege to acknowledge your contributions in the new book, MAGNIFICAT, when it is published in 2012.

*since this visit, I was very sad to hear of Christina’s death, and extend my sympathy to her family and friends and indeed to you all.