I’ve worked on all of Fleur Hitchcock’s books across multiple Story Bites groups in the emporium, and groups outside including the then year 5s and 6s at Temple Sutton and Hamstel Junior Schools for Story Bites in School. The year 5 projects culminated in the construction of model villages as part of a whole year challenge for Shrunk, and it was during the building of Bywater by Sea Castle that I was asked enthusiastically by a group of Hamstel pupils if I could arrange for them to meet F.R. Hitchcock. Because her books were brilliant, they thought she must be brilliant too. It took some time for me to work out that I could ignore the logistics and actually make this happen, helped enormously by the fact that the children were correct: Fleur Hitchcock is as fabulous a person as you could ever wish to meet.
It was thinking about snowing as I meet Fleur off the train at Westcliff on Sea on Thursday 5th February, and after a brief cuppa at the emporium we whisked off to Hamstel Juniors. The school visit began with a talk in the hall. 240 children followed Fleur’s every word and move as she held their attention with stories of how the idea for Shrunk grew out of conversations and games at home, readings from her books and even a sneak peek from the manuscript of the next book in the Shrunk series. The pupils asked some fabulous questions, and the hour passed far too quickly. After break the excited year 6s returned to be set a creative writing challenge by Fleur and Hamstel accepted it with commitment and enthusiasm. The classes became hubbub of activity as new characters and stories were created and developed by the pupils and shared with Fleur as she rotated around the classes.
At lunchtime we were joined by some year 6s for an hour of chat over a delicious school dinner, and then after a tea break it was back to sharing time and ideas with the children as they completed their writing. All too soon, the day was nearly over. The pupils shared their writings with some fabulous results, so many ideas and characters that jumped off the page.
Then it was time for a book signing in the school library before a quick cab back to Westcliff for another books signing and to meet up with some shy story biters and some less than shy story biters.
It was starting to snow as Fleur left us at the end of the day. An amazing day. A brilliant day, made all the more fantastic through the generosity of time and ideas that Fleur shared with the children.