Jasmin blossoms into a published author

Writing skills programme pays off as 11-year-old has her first book published, as Jean McLeish discovers

When teachers at an Aberdeen primary school embarked on a programme to improve children's writing skills, they couldn't have imagined one of their charges would become a published author at the age of 11.

Jasmin Duncan, from P7 at Kittybrewster Primary, showed talent at an early age and has just had her first book, The Unicorn Legacy, published.

In a bid to raise their writing attainment, children at the school had been split into small groups of similar ability, when Jasmin was younger.

"Jasmin was writing with P7 pupils when she was in P2, because we set for writing," says headteacher Ian Macindoe. "As a teacher, there's nothing much you can really improve - it's almost like magic. She puts it down as a first take - it's neat, it's correct - but it's always been like that."

Jasmin writes in every spare minute, from the moment she wakes up until bedtime. "I really love writing, it's like a form of play for me. It's much more exciting than going outside and riding on my bike," she says. "I just like expressing my feelings and thoughts in words - it's just fun."

She describes her first book as a mix of supernatural, paranormal and fantasy, in which the main character Kia is befriended by a unicorn. "It's not a little girl's book," she warns. "It's for teenagers or young adults."

Jasmin's break came after one of the school parents, who is an author, offered to run a writing workshop with the children. Nicola Ormerod runs an independent publishing company and mentored Jasmin after spotting her ability.

"I first met Jasmin last year when I volunteered to publish a book made entirely by the children of Kittybrewster's P7 class. Jasmin instantly stood out as a brilliant child, so full of ideas and who already absorbed books well above her recommended age level of reading," Ms Ormerod says.

"After moving to Lancashire, I kept in touch with Jasmin and, with her parents' permission, offered to publish her. Within a month, much to my surprise I was presented with a book just shy of 20,000 words - a massive feat for a primary school student.

"My editor was astounded at Jasmin's mature writing style. I have a feeling we will be seeing much more of this young prodigy," she writes on the Karabeth Publishing website.

As well as an encouraging school environment, Jasmin has had the benefit of supportive parents - "My dad tells me bedtime stories - he's a very good storyteller," she says.

Her first book is dedicated: "To my wonderful parents, all the staff at Kittybrewster Primary, (especially Mr Macindoe), and my awesome mentor, Nicola Ormerod. Thanks for making my dreams come true."

The Unicorn Legacy by Jasmin Duncan (Karabeth Publishing) is also available as an e-book.

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