There was great excitement and anticipation as pupils were treated to a visit from award-winning children’s author Tamsin Cooke, as part of their Arts Week celebrations. Meeting an author in real life and hearing their passion for their work can fundamentally alter a young person’s relationship to books and ignite a life-long love of reading.
Tamsin is the author of The Scarlet Files and Stunt Double series which was shortlisted for the Eugenie Summerfield Children’s Book Prize. She is just wild about animals, so a perfect fit for this year’s Arts Week animals and puppets theme.
The children were spellbound as she explained how wonderful it is to still have her head in the clouds as she makes up stories and goes on imaginary adventures. She lived in several countries as a child, but once they stopped travelling she was finally allowed a pet. She said: “I’ve always been passionate about animals, and I begged and begged for a pet I could cuddle, teach tricks and take for walks. They gave me a stick insect!” She still loves animals and if she wasn’t a writer, she’s be working to save the rainforest, or maybe even tigers.
Tamsin has been so lucky to have been able to research her books by visiting safari parks and animal sanctuary’s all over the world. On one visit she was able to get up close to an alligator! However, she left the children with some good advice “Never take a selfie with an alligator”. Everyone really enjoyed this tip as the room erupted into giggles. The children were taught all about spirit animals, known as Nahualli’s, and how they play into Tamsin’s award-winning book series The Scarlett Files. The children then acted out the story as the rest of the school decided what plot the story would take. From pressure plates to being chased by a big spikey boulder, to crossing a bridge with alligators trying to snap off your toes, all of the children really enjoyed watching their story play out in front of them.
After the workshop in the morning, the year four and five pupils were each treated to a workshop with Tamsin. They asked lots of questions and learned about what makes a good book, from storytelling to cliff-hangers and everything in-between. After writing their own stories, Tamsin read them and gave one-to-one advice and feedback, which the children’s creative writing looks set to benefit greatly from the inspiring visit.