Just around the corner from Cholsey Primary School, where I am currently the Patron of Reading, is a small and beautiful church. When I was visiting the school a couple of weeks ago – I’ll write about that visit here very soon – I nipped away at lunchtime and, rather than sitting in the staffroom, wandered through the churchyard, past mossy graves, to a heavy stone squatting in the furthest corner from the entrance. This grave belongs to Agatha Christie, who lived a couple of miles away on the outskirts of Wallingford, and attended the church.
Here is the front of the grave:
This is taken from the other side, with the church in the background:
And here is the entrance to Cholsey church:
Next time I visit Cholsey, I’m planning to walk across the fields to Christie’s home, Winterbrook House. And I’ll also ask the children at the school how much they know about their famous neighbour, and whether any of them have read or watched the exploits of Poirot and Miss Marple.
I’m very pleased that the staff and pupils of Cholsey Primary School have asked me to be their Patron of Reading for the next three years.
I’m going to visiting the school tomorrow, talking to classes, seeing the library, talking about my books and hearing about the books that Cholseyites love.
(Cholseyites? Is that the correct collective noun for a group of people who live in Cholsey? I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll find out tomorrow.)
I’ve been to the school once before. After that, I was sent some letters from the pupils to forward to Uncle Morton. I’m afraid he took several weeks to reply, but he is very busy at the moment.
I was also sent this picture of a fantastic display that the children have created.
If you don’t know about the Patron of Reading scheme, you can find out all about it here: http://www.patronofreading.co.uk
The 4th Dragonsitter book will be published at the beginning of March.
Garry Parsons and I are going to be doing several publicity events together, including the Imagine Festival on the Southbank on Saturday 15 February.
In The Dragonsitter’s Island, Eddie, Emily and their mum travel to Uncle Morton’s island in Scotland.
They’re just supposed to be looking after his dragons while he’s in Outer Mongolia, but they soon discover that the island is full of surprises….
I’m very pleased that I’m going to be Writer-in-Residence at the lovely Roald Dahl Museum for the next few months.
I’ll be working on a book of my own – and perhaps I’ll get a chance to sit in Roald Dahl’s chair, which is now in the museum, along with all the other objects from the shed where he wrote his books.
I’ll also be spending some time in the museum’s archives. I’ve already had a look around and seen some of Dahl’s notebooks, letters and early drafts, which are absolutely fascinating. I also saw two Oompa-Loompas lying on top of a cupboard, wrapped in bubble-wrap. They were the models made for the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and are oddly creepy.
I’ll also be visiting five schools in Buckingshire and working with several different classes, talking to them about my books and Dahl’s, and working with them on their own stories.
I’ll be doing several events at the museum, some alone and others with Garry Parsons, who illustrated The Dragonsitter. Please come along if you can. And if you can’t, you should try to visit the museum another time – it’s a wonderful place.
I’ve been whizzing around the country over the past few weeks, visiting schools, leading creative writing sessions and talking about my books.
I had a great World Book Day at Fairholme School in Hounslow – here are some fantastic photos. If you click through to the last one in the collection, you can see a picture of me opening Fairholme’s great new library. I actually got to cut the ribbon!
I went to Brixington School in Exmouth, and here is a nice piece from their local paper.
And here’s a photo from a day that I spent at Harris Academy in Peckham.
Thank you to these three, and all the other schools who have hosted me. I’ve been from Nottingham to Yeovil, Folkestone to Croydon, and I always come home buzzing from the enthusiasm of the kids and teachers. An ordinary day at my desk, sitting on my own, telling stories, feels very quiet and mundane…