School Visits

Norbury Hall Primary School on 9th November 2010

Marilyn visits Norbury Hall Primary School

In November I visited Norbury Hall Primary School where I met librarian Debbie Holt and teachers Sue Whittaker, Hannah Garrett and headmaster Geoff Dodd.

At the beginning we had the whole class of Year Six and I talked about writing and read chunks from White Chin and we discussed the special senses that animals have, do you remember? And I asked you all if you could share with me what animal books you really liked and I managed to scribble this little list here, which I am setting out just to remind us:

  • Firehorse
  • A Dog so Small
  • I Houdini: the self-educated hamster
  • The Warrior Cats series
  • Animals in War
  • Angel and the Flying Stallions
  • War Horse
  • Sniff

and then I remember one kind boy tentatively offering the title “White Chin” and that made us all laugh! and then after that I went into a classroom with a smaller group of you and we did a writing exercise and you produced some wonderful ideas in there. You remember, we talked about how we think animals really feel and how tough it must be having to make those difficult decisions. Here are some of the things you produced:

  • The story of White Leg - a frightened little cat in a wood in mid-winter. The trees are without leaves and the branches are waving about in the wind. The little cat has to kill something but he doesn’t wan t to because he is gentle and friendly. So what happens next??
  • Speed, the lonely and frightened polar bear, who gets sucked under the ice and slowly sinks to his doom.
  • Bob the guinea pig who makes a break for freedom and nearly meets his end on the big road outside and then he ends up in a big playground
  • Billy the dog who has been abandoned and doesn’t know any more who to trust who takes him to the RSPCA and he soon gets well
  • Semore the pigeon, who is busy just collecting food and minding his own business and then suddenly gets brutally netted – he struggles to free himself and the next he knows they….
  • The story of Caramel, the little Scottish horse who come to Mill Farm and is stabled next to the fierce Malibu. He isn’t at all happy and makes a great break for freedom, smashing down his door. In the morning Tracy has to go looking for him…
  • We go on a journey and accompany the breakout of a little hamster, who has a rough time having nuts banging down on to this head now he is out in the big bad world
  • And finally “The Road of my Destiny” which is a story of a small frightened creature (?) who finally meets the person he/she had been wanting to see

In all these collected writings you have displayed a great deal of thought, of what makes a great story, of what creates suspense and makes the reader want to read on and know more. Of introducing multiple characters and events. Of trying to think what it might be like to feel as an animal feels, rather than a human.

Well done all of you and please keep up this quality of writing and do enjoy your reading as well, as reading helps writing.

So can I say a very big thank you to your kind headmaster Geoff Dodd and to your wonderful teacher, Sue Whittaker and librarian Debbie Holt and to Year 6 (October 2010) of Norbury Hall Primary School for their really helpful input and for a lovely visit. It will be a privilege to acknowledge your contributions in the new book, MAGNIFICAT, when it is published in 2012.

Marilyn visits Norbury Hall Primary School