When award-winning children’s author, Ali Sparkes, hosted an exciting book launch at Clayesmore Prep School, it wasn’t for one of her own all-action novels but for the unveiling of a professionally bound anthology of written work by pupils from years five and six.
The collection of poetry, prose and colour illustrations, entitled ‘Then and Now’, features a mix of written and artistic work. Emotive poems focusing on the theme sit alongside snippets of prose and stories of transformation and redemption. Pupils’ artwork, guided by Head of Prep Art, Caroline Ritchie, adds colour and vibrancy to the writing.
Ali Sparkes, author of the popular Shapeshifter series of books, ‘Out of this World’, ‘Unleashed’, ‘Dark Summer’, and ‘Frozen in Time’, among others, became Clayesmore Prep’s Patron of Reading last autumn, agreeing to take on the role for three years. A patron’s job is to raise the profile of reading for pleasure among pupils, parents and staff and Ali has visited the school a number of times to present entertaining workshops and encourage the children to get reading and writing. Being a published author, Ali also assisted with the production and promotion of the book. Her most recent workshop focused on PR and publicity, to help the children tell the world about their creative venture. She also wrote an entertaining foreword for the book with her own humorous take on the ‘then and now’ of becoming Clayesmore Prep’s Patron of Reading!
Ali talked to a sizeable crowd of parents and guests about how she became a writer and how much she is enjoying being Patron of Reading. She read excerpts from ‘Then and Now’ alongside some of the pupil authors and the celebration concluded with book-themed cakes and book signings.
Head of Prep English, Suzanne Chinnock, was justly proud of the pupils and their remarkable creative output with its ‘mix of humour, poignancy, action, adventure, reflection and sorrow’. She also commented on how the ‘sheer quality of the book took a lot of people by surprise, but what impressed people most was the high standard and maturity of the writing and illustrations.’