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Julie's infants pick a winner

Primary teacher of the year takes pupils on Richard and Judy show to choose best book

IT IS not often that a bunch of primary pupils become kingpins in the cut-throat world of publishing.

But Sam Lloyd, author of Calm Down, Boris, the story of an over-enthusiastic orange monster, may suddenly find her bank balance burgeoning - thanks to Julie Puxley, deputy head at Elsenham primary in Essex, and the reception class she teaches.

Ms Puxley, who was named primary teacher of the year at the Teaching Awards this year, was invited by the chatshow hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan to select the children's book of the year for their Christmas book club.

She appeared on the pair's Channel 4 show with six of her pupils.

"They've just got a family feel to them," she said of TV's most famous husband-and-wife team. "They were really welcoming to the children, like an uncle and aunt."

The Richard and Judy effect is a publishing phenomenon, with books recommended on the programme often shooting up bestseller lists. But Ms Puxley was unfazed by the effect that she might have on Boris's shelf life.

She left the final decision to her pupils who voted for their first choice after they had been read all five of Richard and Judy's shortlisted children's books.

"It was a clear winner," said Ms Puxley. "It lit their imagination. It's an interactive book, and they need interaction at that age. They loved it, they really did. So that takes away any nerves."

Sam Lloyd is pleased that her book proved so popular. "I was just so relieved, really. It's nice to see children laughing, because that was my intention."

But if the Elsenham pupils were unflustered by their new-found influence in the publishing world, they were equally blase about their appearance on national television.

"We've just made a DVD of their nativity play," said Ms Puxley. "So they now think they're on the telly all the time."


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