During the last four months the Yorkshire city of Wakefield
has been invaded by vampires, werewolves and assorted aliens. Fluffy bunnies have been conspicuous by their absence.
It’s all due an ambitious scheme launched by Wakefield Council
targeting selected schools to improve performance in maths, reading and writing. As part of this project, an author and I have been working with year 5/6 pupils to help them to write and illustrate stories which are to be published as eBooks.
The author on the project is Tommy Donbavand
, creator of the comedy horror series Scream Street
. Tommy has worked professionally as a clown, a London stage performer
and has written over 50 children’s books. He is a ninja master at firing up a classroom with the enthusiasm to write.
A recurring problem in schools is motivating boys to pick up a pen or a book. Fantasy horror is a terrific way to engage their interest. The fact that the writer is male has provided a useful role model in an environment where the teacher staff is predominantly female.
I’ve known Tommy for years and illustrated his first two books. Following him into schools is always fun because you never know what awaits you. During this project, at each school I’ve been confronted by wild and wacky creatures inspired by Tommy’s workshops. It’s been my role to help the children turn these written characters into drawings and to give them the skills to produce three finished illustrations for their eBooks.
Most children are naturally enthusiastic when it comes to drawing. The challenge has been channeling that enthusiasm into something which is going to be usable as a book illustration without harming the natural charm of their drawings.
Join me in the next episode for the first drawing lesson.
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