Award-winning author Stewart Foster made a return visit to Southwick as part of a tour of schools for Anti-Bullying Week.
The author’s second book for children, All the Things That Could Go Wrong, is set in Brighton and tells the story of two boys who forge an unlikely friendship when they find themselves building a raft together one summer.
Children at Glebe Primary School had a day of workshops, including building their own rafts and writing their own stories.
Kate Gieler, school librarian, said: “Children in years four, five and six listened intently while Stewart read a hard-hitting passage about a bullying incident from the book.
“He then related it to Glebe’s recent ‘it’s cool to be kind day’, which has seen children across the year groups extending the school’s core values, nurture, inspire, challenge, by demonstrating random acts of kindness to each other.”
Students from Shoreham Academy were invited to join them for the author’s talk and stayed for a book-signing session.
To demonstrate the importance of being a good friend, Stewart involved the children in a role play activity based on one of his short stories.
Year four pupils made mini rafts in a fun workshop and tested them to see if they would float, linking it to the science curriculum.
Stewart said: “I always wanted to build a raft as a kid, so that’s why I included it in the story. It was also the perfect way to bring the characters together on a shared project.”
The children were given lolly sticks, cotton reels and string to create a raft that could hold the weight of two small figures, representing the boys in the book.
Stewart said: “It was great fun to work with the kids on this and super to see a how my story can fire imagination for a practical activity, not just creative writing or discussion.”
Ahead of the visit, year-five pupils took part in a competition Stewart ran on Twitter to write a postcard to Joe, the main character in his first book, The Bubble Boy.
They further embraced free writing with the author during the visit and he listened to some of them proudly reading their stories out loud.
This workshop involved the children lying on the floor with their eyes closed, listening to Stewart giving them a scenario to think about as a starter for their writing. They then had to write or draw what came into their heads.
Mrs Gieler, who organised the event, said: “It’s amazing what can flow from imagination to pen to paper when you take away the constraints of punctuation and grammar – and even furniture – for a while. Some of these children could have carried on writing all afternoon.”
To end the day, year-six pupils put Stewart on the spot as they recorded an interview about his books, writing techniques, favourite snacks and football. They left buzzing with excitement after hearing about his new book, Check Mates, which will come out in May 2019.
Joy Waelend, interim head teacher, said: “The children hugely benefited from a wonderful visit by Stewart Foster. They were inspired to become authors and became very excited at the thought that writing could be what they do as a career.
“We are so grateful for the support Stewart offers our school, including judging writing and art competitions and we are delighted by the impact his visits have on our children and the reading culture in our school.”
The week-long tour also included Heene Primary and St Mary’s Catholic Primary in Worthing, Steyning Grammar School, Steyning Primary School, Windlesham House School and Greater Brighter Metropolitan College, with support from The Steyning Bookshop, plus City Books and The Book Nook in Hove.
Stewart previously visited Glebe Primary in February, when he officially opened the new key stage two library.