What an amazing day!!! 

Today was our Book Launch Day, the climax of our fantastic collaborative Storybook Project at Higher Openshaw Community School in Manchester. We started with a whole school assembly in which we shared a video documenting the creative process that resulted in four fabulous original picturebooks. Then we read each story in turn, projecting the artwork, and presented the teachers with a class copy for the school library. There was such a buzz in the air as every child in YR1 & YR2 received a copy of their very own book:

It’s the best book I’ve ever read!” – Ruby, YR2

My book is fantastic!” – Myah, YR1

It was magic to get my monster in the book!” – Abigail, YR1

It has been wonderful working with you! The children have had an amazing experience to create and make and have their own book.” – Miss Meddick, YR1

The books are amazing and the kid’s reaction to them was fantastic! You had every one of them engaged and that is so rare – I love it!” – Mrs Hughes, YR2

We had a wonderful treat during the event when we were able to share a specially recorded video message from the Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, creator of Charlie & Lola!!!

 

Our very own message from Lauren Child – so lucky! We are so pleased to say our work with Pippa will continue next year as she’ll be our Patron of Reading.” – Miss Mort, YR2

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I’m so excited about tomorrow’s Book Launch at Higher Openshaw Community Primary School!

This Celebration Day will be the culmination of a fantastic project with four classes from YR1/YR2 that has spanned the Summer Term. The children have learned to develop characters, structure their stories, and create fantastic illustrations to convey emotion and complement the written narrative. 

As a group we shared storybooks: listening, responding, and discussing the ideas and what we liked about them. We created characters and scenarios and developed them through role-play and story-mapping. We played with language, decoding the tangle of words, and discovering the joy of mixing up the 26 letters of the alphabet to create magical sounds and shapes!

Children gained an understanding of simple story structures, planning exciting ways to combine words and pictures into dynamic storyboard layouts. They explored a variety of fun and engaging illustration approaches, developing visual literacy skills, as they worked together to produce lovely pieces of art to complement their story.

Tomorrow, July 11th, at the end of the project, the school will host a Book Launch event at which every child who participated will be given a copy of their very own book – in front of friends, family, the local press, and the whole school!

I know the children will all be so excited when they each receive their very own copy of the book they have worked so hard to create. We’ve also planned a very special surprise for the day – tip top secret at the moment!

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A fab project. Every school should do this!” – Dawn Robertson, blogger for Madeleine Lindley

Click here to learn more about Pippa Pixley’s amazing Storybook Projects for primary schools

Or click here to get in touch with Pippa to discuss a Storybook Project or an Author Day

 

No misnomer – making this picturebook has been mission impossible! Mrs Heald’s Y2 class at Higher Openshaw Community School were full of ideas; so many, and so good, that we had to come up with a story that could include as many as possible. The result is a real rollercoaster ride of a tale, a rhyming adventure that whisks the reader through a series of wildly different worlds: under the sea, a digital games world, a ghostly zone, an alien place, etc. Linking these different environments, the rollercoaster rails spiral and loop, rise and fall, requiring language to match.

Early in the process we all went to the school hall and marked out a circular route on the floor using masking tape to represent the tracks. This was punctuated by large areas of paper, a separate zone for each themed world on the ride, where the children could sketch out their wild ideas. They were encouraged to write descriptive words next to their characters that could form the basis of the text. The result was a neatly circular story structure, with all the disparate ideas linked by the same main characters journeying through them along the rollercoaster rails.

Next the children set to work creating the backgrounds, using ink washes and bold crayons. Then they drew the characters in pencil and cut them out.

Everything was scanned into my Mac back at the studio, and arranged in InDesign to produce a proof copy of The Ultimate Test. I think we passed!

The-Ultimate-Test7

Perhaps we should have called this book “Outta Space” because that’s what it is all about! Miss Mort’s Y2 class at Higher Openshaw Community School have come up with a science fiction storybook that sends a team of brave astronauts on a mission to fix mankind’s chronic space shortage . . .  by vacuuming up a precious cargo of the stuff which outer space is made of!

We had some serious brainstorming sessions to generate lots of ideas about how different aspects of life and the environment would be affected if all the space disappeared: no spaces between words, no parking spaces, no personal space! What about wildlife? What would towns and cities look like?

Children also spent time roleplaying scenarios aboard the spaceship and back on Earth, using mini whiteboards and markers to make their own speech bubbles and dialogue. This story would have a journey/return structure, a knowing narrator voice, and plenty of quips between the main characters: Astrogirl, Astroboy, Astrodog & the Queen, of course!

The class were inspired by the work of illustrator Anna Llenas, having recently admired one of her gorgeous collage-style picturebooks, so we decided that the artwork for our book would feature cool cardboard bits and cut-out elements. The team set to work designing rocket components, aliens and asteroids. They also used ink and watercolours to create crowded scenes of people, birds and sea life that would be relayed to the space crew on their cardboard computer screens as they sped to the rescue . . .

All these elements were photoshopped and layered together back at base, and arranged into the series of stunning spreads that make up S P A C E. Only one book to go and it will be Mission Complete!

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That’s me! That’s right, in full Native American costume and sat in front of my tipi! I was invited to visit Saltney Ferry C.P. School in N.Wales to be the secret ingredient in their Wild West themed day. It was great fun! The children were so excited and responded really well to the traditional tales I shared.

I also got to feature some of my own favourite characters, The MiniYarns, in a little story about a cowboy who lost his hat. The children loved joining in by trying to come up with solutions for rescuing it from the top of a prickly cactus!

Activities included group mark-making sessions and also threading story beads and found objects onto string to serve as a mnemonic aid to storytelling. The children produced some beautiful art and performed superbly, being able to recall and retell even complex narratives. Everyone had a truly wild and western kind of day!

 

Thank you so much for Friday, all the children and staff loved it! Some of the Year 1s and 2s have even made story sticks over the weekend!” – Charlotte Luke, Headteacher

 

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I was thrilled to be invited to reprise my performance and workshop for a new generation of pupils at Liverpool’s Abercromby Nursery School as part of their visit to Unity Theatre. It was great to have access to such excellent facilities – atmospheric lighting & immersive sound – along with superb support from the house technical team and management. The children and staff from Abercromby really enjoyed the experience and posted their own gallery of images from the day on the school’s website.

The second picturebook from my project with Higher Openshaw Community School is looking great! Miss Meddick’s Y1 class had already selected a monster theme and started to come up with story ideas, so I was able to work with them to develop the plot and produce a classic problem/resolution narrative structure. In all the best fairytales things come in threes (3 is the magic number) so we invented three meany monsters of increasing scariness for our little hero to encounter while out for a walk.

The class wanted their book to convey a clear message about how to deal with life’s challenges – even if you are only quite little. This lent itself to a rhyming story with a powerful and memorable repeat refrain expressing the determination of the main character, The Littlest Monster, not to give up. I worked with the children to brainstorm descriptive words for each character and setting that we could then group into rhyming pairs and use within our story text.

Miss Meddick’s class was full of excellent illustrators, so we had brilliant versions of the four monsters, displaying a wide range of expressions, that we could fit into the page layouts. The children painted tissue paper to produce highly textured bodies – cut out and collaged in different poses – and accessorised with wool and feathers. Our budding artists also used watercolours to paint scenery; crayons to scribble clouds and shadows; and buttons to make pretty flowers.

This delightful picturebook is now ready for printing, and each child will get their own copy at the launch event on the 11th July – I can hardly wait!

This is the first of four picturebook collaborations with KS1 classes at Higher Openshaw Community school to reach proofing stage. 

I worked with the children and teaching staff over four weeks to help them to generate their own story ideas, words and pictures.  In Miss Butterworth’s Y1 class we quickly settled on Monsters as a theme, and devised a concept celebrating the kind of words that monsters love – oozingly onomatopoeic & awesomely alliterative!

To gain inspiration we set up stations around the classroom where the children could try out some monstrously messy activities, such as squishing dough, crunching pasta, and mucking about with goo. This serious research helped us to come up with some truly truly authentic monster words which then went into the mix – along with a dash of rhythm and rhyme, and a little twist to finish – to produce our story text.

The artwork would be kept simple, with each contributor providing at least one original monster illustration that could be cut out, scanned, and arranged to complement the text. The children drew, painted, snipped, and collaged their creations, unifying the eclectic work by using black & white sticky dots to add the eyes as a finishing touch.  Back at the studio we fed all the words and pictures into InDesign, added some simple backgrounds and pleasing typography, and now Monsters Love Words is ready to send to the printers!

 

In this exciting new project I’m collaborating with four KS1 classes to create four original picturebooks. The children have already brainstormed ideas, selected key characters, produced story maps, and are now busy working on the words and pictures.

Their working titles are:

  • Monsters Love Words
  • The Littlest Monster
  • S P A C E
  • The Ultimate Test

As the project progresses I’ll share more news about how each storybook is developing…

HOCSpippa

As usual World Book Day has turned into World Book Week! I have been racing around the country visiting lots of lovely schools and having a marvellous time – here is some of the feedback I’ve already received:

A huge thank you for yesterday! So well received across both key stages!” –  Higher Openshaw Community School, Manchester

It was a wonderful day, the children were still talking about it as they were leaving at 6 o’clock! I posted a little bit about the day onto the news section of our website and have had some lovely comments. We are now busy documenting it all so parents can come in and see what the children were a part of.”  –  Incy Wincy’s Nursery, Bedale

It was lovely to meet you too and hear your stories, they are amazing! Thank you for all the work you did with the children, they loved it! – Woodthorpe Community Primary School, Sheffield

Pippa was able to work with a range of students with different needs. She pitched her activities at the correct level and at the end of the day some students had an opportunity to perform in the assembly, which they loved doing!” – Hazelbeck Special School, Bingley

Had a fabulous day working with the lovely staff and children at Whinney Bank Primary School, Middlesbrough, last week. The children found out the secrets of where authors get ideas from, how to create amazingly brilliant beginnings, magnificent middles and exciting endings and the importance of showing-not-telling. They discovered the tools and tricks of how to get your story out of your head and onto the page. Using cool paper engineering techniques they created characters that popped out off the page!

Thank you for a wonderful day which the children thoroughly enjoyed. They were totally engaged in the story making session – as one boy said, “I’m enjoying this – and I don’t even like writing.” They were all highly delighted with their pop-up books and I am sure they will remember your visit for many years to come.”   Gillian Cain, YR2 Teacher

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I was thrilled to perform Scribble & Scrunch today at Unity Theatre, Liverpool. They had invited children from nearby Abercromby Nursery School to visit the theatre and enjoy a storytelling and activity session. It was a great experience to work with the in-house technicians to put on a show with professional lighting and soundscapes. Thank you so much to all the staff and children for such a fabulous day!

The session was lovely! The children were all engaged and loved the stories and activities. The costume was fabulous! “She is a real princess,” said one little girl. It was all fab!

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Developed through extensive collaboration with the Co-operative College and the Rochdale Pioneers Museum our historical epic is finally published!

ks1 coverThis rhyming picturebook follows two modern schoolkids as they embark on an amazing time-travelling adventure into the grimy world of the Rochdale of 1844. Before making it back to the future they meet some of the original Rochdale Pioneers and witness the opening of their first co-op shop. Along the way they explore the stinky streets, strict classrooms and dangerous workplaces of a Victorian mill town and discover what life was like for many children in the past.

The book is packed with historical facts and includes a glossary, reading comprehension questions and a set of activities ideal for use with KS1 children.

Buy a copy online here . . .

The first book in The Little Pioneers series has reached print proof stage which is fantastic!
charlie coverIt features Charlie, a four-year-old who loves to join in and play with his friends at nursery. He is based on one of the existing mascot characters used by Co-operative Childcare to promote their core values. Charlie is joined in this rhyming picturebook by four friends – Ping, Ela, Alice & Ebo –   and they have fun as they create some amazing things together!

charlie spread

Each of Charlie’s Little Pioneer friends represents one of the organisation’s DOES values: Democracy, Openness, Equality & Social Responsibility.  I’m already busy working on the next book in the series which features a girl called Ping and introduces concepts of democracy for children in the Early Years.

 

story creatures image

Staghills Childrens Centre invited me back to do another 6-week project on storytelling and emergent writing. 

basket imageWe explored the story creation process using cameras and iPads, creating characters and settings, building story structures and linking them to movement, roleplay and writing. Each session has been a multi-sensory experience: paper has been ripped, torn and scrumpled; dough has been squished, squashed and squeezed!

Children have become forest adventurers and ocean voyagers, and have been introduced to some of my own favourite characters: Scribble & Scrunch, Mouse & Rabbit, Sydney the Sock. It has been so exciting to see the children develop into confident storytellers!

I loved attending the sessions as did my little girl. I loved the interaction with the children, especially getting the children to write the stories, which turned out quite funny! Thank you for sharing your stories with us!”

Lyanne, parent

I had a wonderful day with the children at the Co-operative Childcare nursery at Littlehampton. I have been commissioned by The Midcounties Co-operative to produce five little picturebooks to feature each of their existing Little Pioneer characters. Yesterday the children worked with me to build stories for the first in the series – about Charlie, a boy who loves to co-operate with others!

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I was also filmed and interviewed throughout the day. The film will be screened at the organisation’s AGM next month . . .

teepee image

I’ve just completed a fun mark-making project working with 2-3 year olds at Staghills Children’s Centre in Rawtenstall, Lancashire. Parents joined their children for stories and activities on several dates including today’s celebration event. The brief included creating 3D sculptural work whilst helping the children to develop confidence in using a wide range of marking media and materials. I began each session by sharing an exciting story selected to inspire a particular approach to mark-making. Over 6 weeks we experimented with:

  • Drawing with chunky wax crayons on paper
  • Stamping on fabric with fruits and vegetables
  • Painting tracks with toy cars and dinosaurs
  • Printing with bubblewrap and foam shapes
  • Marking with fabric crayons, paints and markers
  • Creating & decorating cardboard structures
  • Making lanterns using wax crayons on yupo paper

Some of the activities produced beautiful decorations on squares of fabric. I quilted these together to create an 8ft teepee and some gorgeous scatter cushions – a perfect place for telling stories!

I have now been invited to extend my stay into the Summer Term to work with the same children as they progress to the next stage as storytellers and emergent writers . . .

pippa at burnley youth theatre

The Stories Alive project began today with a storytelling experience at Burnley Youth Theatre for classes of children from local nursery settings. On each group’s arrival the project lead, Gordon MacLellan (Creeping Toad), introduced myself and Carol Ferro (Short Story Lady) in the main auditorium. We then headed to breakout rooms for interactive story creation sessions.

The project will continue over the remainder of the academic year with each practitioner assigned to work closely with one of five participating schools. I’m looking forward to spending more time with children from Taywood Nursery in Burnley, helping them to discover the excitement of telling their own tales . . .