Novel turn for pupils

Children from Skye hook up with a real author to pen a top read. Julia Horton reports

Imploding toads, a sadistic dentist and a giant with OCD are all key ingredients in a new children's book Kimi's Secret. But the real novelty is that it was written by a class of P7 pupils working with author John Hudspith.

The 11-year-olds at Portree Primary on the Isle of Skye spent two terms collaborating on the novel with Mr Hudspith, suggesting plotlines, characters and illustrations.

The project came about after support for learning teacher Anne Stormont read an unfinished draft of the book to pupils in a bid to rekindle their enthusiasm for writing.

She said: "I read a couple of chapters to my group of somewhat reluctant writers. Their responses were amazing. They liked the characters and the story and they wanted more, but they also had suggestions and ideas of their own about the text."

Mr Hudspith was asked to be the school's author in residence, sending in chapters which Mrs Stormont read to the class.

She emailed their suggestions and film clips of class discussions to the author, who also set pupils writing tasks based on the book to submit to him for feedback.

Mr Hudspith was overwhelmed by their response. "What an opportunity to experience something quite wonderful - direct contact and interaction with my intended readership. Seeing my story, characters, plot line, pulled apart and questioned in a manner which perhaps only children can be proficient at brought me great wonders."

It is two years since the project began and the pupils, now in high school, are delighted that Portree Primary is listed among the acknowledgements in the book, of which they now have signed copies.

Mrs Stormont said: "They are rightly proud of their involvement in this wonderful work - and so am I."

Kimi's Secret: a collaboration between pupils from Portree Primary and John Hudspith.

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