Author Visits

We aim to inspire a love of reading in our federation, and one way to do this is to have visiting authors come in or to visit authors in other settings. They talk to us about their work, share their inspiration and expertise with us and answer questions we may have for them. Children have the opportunity to buy signed books, and for those that may be unable to we purchase copies for our library so everyone has access to them.

  • Author Visit with DR Mandy Hartley on 11th June 2024

    Dr Mandy Hartley came to talk to the juniors about her writing journey. She brought with her, her latest book which was hot off the press 2 days ago. This was exciting because it is a new series of books for the children to enjoy.

    We learnt that they are based on her own children, Anabelle and Harry and the funny things they get up to. We thought about if we could identify with the personalities of the characters in the text.

    Mandy told us that she did not like writing at school as she felt she wasn’t good enough; she then showed the children an enormous book she had written for her PHD. We were all very impressed. From this, she learnt how her scientific report writing and her sentences had to be clear and accurate. Next, she told us how she had worked with DNA through her careers – using it to solve crimes- and then used these experiences to write her books. We talked about how DNA is like a set of instructions inside to make us who we are- and how her books all used her knowledge of DNA to solve mysteries.

    Mandy told us she wanted to write books to inspire children in writing, reading and science. She liked being able to reach children all around the world through her books. Sometimes she has ideas when walking the dog, or as she is falling asleep and she is always keen to write them down in a notebook, before she forgets them. She likes to make maps to visualise the settings of her stories. We learnt that it is important to use our senses when writing stories, to create an image in the reader’s mind.

    A folding light box wowed the children and Mandy said that’s the reaction we want people to have when they open our book.

    The children really enjoyed the talk. They gave lots of ideas when they were helping Dr Hartley write part of her next chapter and asked a range of interesting questions about being an author.

  • Year 5/6 Author Visit – Julia Edwards 

    We had a special visitor in school on Thursday 12th January, a real-life author, called Julia Edwards. She told us all about her newest book, called Unlucky for Some. It is a collection of short nasty stories, sometimes scary stories, which Julia wrote in Lockdown, mainly to entertain herself as she wrote them! She has published it as she thought children would enjoy stories where nasty characters get punished! The book is great for children who aren’t so keen on long books, a collection of short stories you can dip in and out of. 

    Julia then went on to talk about her most famous series of books, seven books in total, called The Scar Gatherer series. The main character, Joe travels in time in each book, to a different era in history over the last two thousand years, and always meets Lucy, the other main character! Julia said the Slaves of Isabella is the book she wishes every 10/11year old child in this country would read, as it is about the slave trade and has some important lessons for us all. Julia’s own favourite period of history is the Tudors, and she would love to travel back to that time, as Joe did in the book The Falconer’s Quarry. The children also contributed many facts to the discussion about the Great Fire of London, which is where the book The Demon in the Embers is set. 

    Finally, Julia answered many questions from the children about actually being an author. She said her favourite part about being a writer is doing the research before beginning to write a book, and she said she usually spend about three months researching! Julia finds the editing part the hardest, and she showed us an A4 page of typing from one of her previous books, which was covered in writing – sentences she was changing and improving. Julia told us she may write a sentence over and over and over, before she is happy with it. One child asked a question about how the front covers of her books are created, and Julia explained she uses a talented illustrator. She tells him about the story of the book and gives him her ideas, and he creates some pictures. Julia said her favourite cover is the Slaves of Isabella, as she loves the eyes in the background. 

    The children gained a fantastic insight into the life of an author, and later in the day, Julia carried out some workshops in some classes. 

  • Visit from Matt Oldfield – Wednesday 12th January 2022

    Year 5 were very lucky to have Matt Oldfield come to visit Toftwood Junior School today. He is an author of a series of football books. He found that some of our children had already read some of them.

    He explained that it was his passion and knowledge that inspired him to write about football as well as his desire to learn more. He also acknowledged that maybe not all the children were inspired by football so he asked them what their passions might be; the children suggested gymnastics, music, motocross, gaming etc. Matt told them, “If we are writing about what we love, it is going to be fun.”

    Matt also showed famous male and female footballers with their favourite books of the football-themed genre, thereby encouraging wider reading around the topic. Max in SJ5 impressed Matt with his quiz knowledge.

    He made reference to “Reading is Cool. Books are cool” an inspirational quote by Marcus Rashford.

    Matt reflected on his supportive family in Southampton and Brother Tom (who now lives in Canada) with whom he has written some of his books.

    Matt discussed how we can make non-fiction books more fun so they are not just an overload of facts; you need to consider design, content and style.

    We looked at old-fashioned book covers, Sam in SJ5 reflected that the characters seemed to lack emotion and others said they looked old fashioned and lacked bright colours. We looked at the new series by Matt Oldfield and the children could appreciate the importance of illustrations and covers, which were more exciting, realistic, detailed and in action poses. The title also is short and snappy.

    “Do we judge a book by its cover? No. Matt explained that the content is important and requires research and planning. Research is not boring if it is a topic that we are interested in. Matt prompted the children to think about the kinds of facts that the children might need to research, which will be very useful as Year 5 are about to write biographies in their current writing unit.

    He showed us two versions of some facts and asked the children to reflect on which one they preferred and why. They unanimously chose the second version because it was more descriptive and exciting to read.

    Each class had an individual workshop led by Matt and he recommended in order to succeed in non-fiction writing, the children need to tell it in an interesting way. The children focused on two main components; setting and emotion. This makes good reference to our Alma writing before Christmas. After a class discussion, they planned a non-fiction story. Matt heard some being read aloud and commented on the enthusiasm that the children displayed.

    Everybody in Year 5 had an enjoyable experience and produced some exceptional stories.


James Campbell Visit – Summer 1

On Thursday 21st April, the children’s author James Campbell visited many of the children acorss EYFS, KS1 and KS2. The author of the BoyFace series performed, his poem the ‘Toothless Tiger’ and the children were able to perform this with him too. He also told the story of the ’Umbrella Tree’ and the children were able to join in with different actions too. James talked about what it was like to be an author and how he gets his inspiration. He even brought in his current note pad, which included ideas for his new book. James shared some of the titles of his chapter books with the children, they found the book title ‘The Funny Life of Teachers’ very funny!

He explained that anyone can write stories, at whatever age! All you need is some paper and something to write with. We know this visit inspired many of our young authors!


Visit from Matt Oldfield – Wednesday 12th January 2022

Year 5 were very lucky to have Matt Oldfield come to visit Toftwood Junior School today. He is an author of a series of football books. He found that some of our children had already read some of them.

He explained that it was his passion and knowledge that inspired him to write about football as well as his desire to learn more. He also acknowledged that maybe not all the children were inspired by football so he asked them what their passions might be; the children suggested gymnastics, music, motocross, gaming etc. Matt told them, “If we are writing about what we love, it is going to be fun.”

Matt also showed famous male and female footballers with their favourite books of the football-themed genre, thereby encouraging wider reading around the topic. Max in SJ5 impressed Matt with his quiz knowledge.

He made reference to “Reading is Cool. Books are cool” an inspirational quote by Marcus Rashford.

Matt reflected on his supportive family in Southampton and Brother Tom (who now lives in Canada) with whom he has written some of his books.

Matt discussed how we can make non-fiction books more fun so they are not just an overload of facts; you need to consider design, content and style.

We looked at old-fashioned book covers, Sam in SJ5 reflected that the characters seemed to lack emotion and others said they looked old fashioned and lacked bright colours. We looked at the new series by Matt Oldfield and the children could appreciate the importance of illustrations and covers, which were more exciting, realistic, detailed and in action poses. The title also is short and snappy.

“Do we judge a book by its cover? No. Matt explained that the content is important and requires research and planning. Research is not boring if it is a topic that we are interested in. Matt prompted the children to think about the kinds of facts that the children might need to research, which will be very useful as Year 5 are about to write biographies in their current writing unit.

He showed us two versions of some facts and asked the children to reflect on which one they preferred and why. They unanimously chose the second version because it was more descriptive and exciting to read.

Each class had an individual workshop led by Matt and he recommended in order to succeed in non-fiction writing, the children need to tell it in an interesting way. The children focused on two main components; setting and emotion. This makes good reference to our Alma writing before Christmas. After a class discussion, they planned a non-fiction story. Matt heard some being read aloud and commented on the enthusiasm that the children displayed.

Everybody in Year 5 had an enjoyable experience and produced some exceptional stories.


Year 1 and 2 – Author Visit November 2021

On Friday 12th November, the year 1 and 2 children were lucky enough to have local author, Alistair Reardon, visit them in school. He talked about his role as an author and how he works with his illustrator to create books and stories. The children enjoyed hearing his book, The Vegan Witch and after were able to ask any questions they had about the book or about being an author. Imogen asked, “Where did you get your ideas from?” Alistair answered that he gets lots of inspiration from his own children.