I’ve kickstarted the Book Weeks of two Yorkshire schools recently that each have strong literary connections of their own – neither of which I had originally been aware of.
First up was a visit arranged by Book Events for Schools to Carlton Miniott Primary School. Have you ever heard of Carlton Miniott? No, neither had I. Turns out it’s a village of around 1,000 souls near Thirsk, in the old North Riding of Yorkshire.
However, when my husband happened to ask where I was going next, he immediately said ‘Carlton Miniott? That’s where J.L. Carr went to school.’ (Trust my husband to know that sort of thing!) And he went over to the bookshelves and got down a copy of A Month in the Country.
I hadn’t read it before, I’d only seen the film version, of which I had fond memories. Made in 1987, the film starred Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth. (Who doesn’t have fond memories of Colin Firth?!)
So as part of my preparation for my visit to Carlton Miniott Primary School, I read A Month in the Country. It’s in the Penguin Classics list, and rightly so. It’s beautifully written. Poignant and touching, it gently transports you to a very different time and place.
How inspiring for the pupils of Carlton Miniott Primary School to know that one of their forebears became a famous writer. If J.L. Carr can do it, why not them too?
Next up was Norton Community Primary School, which invited me to come and kickstart their combined ‘Book and Bug Week’.
It’s a big school, with some 600 children. My visit there was organised by Year 1 teacher Mrs Everitt. As she was leading me through the school to the place I was going to do my book signing session, she kept pointing out parts of the building that had been used when filming J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. I assumed she meant a film that had been made decades ago, but no, it was a new BBC production filmed just a couple of years ago, starring David Thewlis, Miranda Richardson, Ken Stott!
So, to wind down from my visit to Norton Community Primary School, I watched An Inspector Calls. I’d seen it at the theatre many years ago, so the dénouement wasn’t a surprise, but I very much enjoyed the production, and spotting the locations used. (The primary-aged children may need to wait a few years before watching it, though!)
However, what I was doing at the school was age-appropriate – lots of Buzzing! minibeast activities, including two Buzzing! shows, Buzzing! poetry writing and performing workshops and Buzzing! book signings.
Here’s what Mrs Everitt told me afterwards:
‘The children have loved it – lots of staff have stopped me in the corridor to make positive comments about today – so mission accomplished, thank you.’
And here’s some feedback from a Year 5 teacher:
‘Excellent content which really enthused the children about the topic. There was good interaction with the children and they participated fully. In the classroom afterwards there was a lot of discussion about the content.’
Thank you to all the staff and pupils of both Carlton Miniott and Norton primary schools, for inviting me into their – literature-rich – schools. And to Clare Burkhill-Howarth of Book Events for Schools for organising my Carlton Miniott visit.