Banner image: Penny Dolan, storyteller & childrens author Other


can be found in the following anthologies:

"Pet Poems" compiled by John Foster & Korky Paul. OUP

"Around the Year" compiled by John Foster. OUP

"Aliens Stole My Underpants" chosen by Brian Moses. Macmillan

"Watch Out, There's a Ghost About" collected by John Foster. OUP

"The School Year" chosen by Brian Moses. Macmillan

"Lines in the Sand" edited by Mary Hoffman and Rhiannon Lassiter for UNICEF. Frances Lincoln

"The Dog Ate My Bus Pass" chosen by Nick Toczek and Andrew Fusek Peters. Macmillan

"Really Rude Rhymes" picked by John Foster. HarperCollins Children's Books



Article on Author Visits to Schools, written for the World Book Day 2004 Schools Pack. Booktrusted / Book Trust

Like many children's writers, I have quiet days and loud days. Quiet days are Writing Days - just me, the cat, and the computer. Loud days are School Visit Days - me, meeting forty to four hundred people, both small and tall. I like having both kinds of day in my life, especially when they go well. So, what's a good Visit Day?
It starts cheerily. My "booking" teacher and I have chatted through today's plans some weeks before. When I meet the friendly staff, everyone seems involved. Hooray! They've read my books with their classes too, so the children will have some interesting questions and comments.

My sessions start with storytelling for the youngest children. I show my books, explaining I'm an Author - no, not ARTHUR! - but I move into the full "Author Talk" for the KS2 juniors. Sometimes, I'm working "as a writer" with a class, taking an idea from blank flip-chart to written draft. It's a part-storytelling, part-scribing experience, catching some of the excitement a writer feels.
All the teachers stay with their classes, enjoying the talk, or sharing in the workshops. Great! This way they can follow-up anything I've said or started, getting real value from the day. Some teachers even suggest such visits are an enjoyable form of INSET.

A surprise! One lovely class has created its own "Ghost of Able Mabel" display, complete with character descriptions, paintings, and Revolting Recipes for Mabel's Mystery Mince. Thank you, wonderful teacher, for passing your enthusiasm on to your pupils.

In my talks, I'll warn my listeners that writers spy out for useful ideas, even inside schools. I'll mention the magic a good illustrator brings to a written story. I'll remind them that writers are keen readers, and find out about their own favourite books. I'll ask about the writing they've enjoyed doing, whether at school or at home, and what it was about. After all, when they write, they're being Authors too.

Someone's arranged to sell my books today, and, helpfully, told the children and parents too. Like any visiting author, I'm not dreaming of Rowling gold, just manic about my sales figures and the publisher's watchful eye.

It's the end of the afternoon, and time to say a big thank you to the children, and staff and everyone. It's been an excellent Loud Day! Then I set off, back to the Quiet and the cat.

Just a final Author Thought. I'm a writer, not a Reward. Don't feel your school must be full of able pupils or "wonderful writers". Almost all children can pick up on a writer's enthusiasm, get intrigued by an illustrator, or be spellbound by a storyteller. There are plenty of us out there, all with different writing voices, personalities, and skills. Some are quiet, some are loud, and some are somewhere in-between. So go on, have a good time. Ask in an Author!

By Penny Dolan.
March 2004

March 2004




WRITING FOR THE RAINBOWS. Penny was commissioned by Girl Guiding UK to create four special stories for the new RAINBOW resources pack distributed in September 2004. All four stories feature the likeable young OLIVIA character. Two stories appear in book form: an introductory story, READY FOR RAINBOWS, and a book for Rainbows preparing to move up to Brownies, MY POT OF GOLD. The two other stories appear in the Rainbow activity booklets RAINBOW ROUNDABOUT and ROUNDABOUT THE WORLD. Olivia is a friendly modern little girl but she takes her name from Girl Guiding's founder Lady Olivia Baden-Powell. Penny celebrated their publication by reading READY FOR RAINBOWS to a group of her local Rainbows.

"SPLASH IN TIME". Published 2002. As part of an Artist-in-Schools project at Athersley South Primary School, Barnsley, Penny wrote SPLASH IN TIME, a short Victorian time-slip novel for KS2 readers. It developed from a mural the children had painted with community artist Pete Deakin. Contact Penny for details of how to get a copy of SPLASH IN TIME.



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