Monday, 17 November 2014

Goda's Journey from Lithuania to Seely School's Brilliant Books

Last week, we had a terrific visit from Goda Kacileviciute who is a young Lithuanian Emigre working in Sales and Social Media at the Mojatu Foundation in Nottingham.

Firstly, it was terrific to have a younger person involved in Brilliant Books, something the kids absolutely related to, and secondly, Goda has an interesting story to tell.  

Three years ago, Goda couldn't speak a word of English. 

Now, she speaks the language fluently. 

That's incredible and it was a message we were keen to get across to the kids, who, (and lets be frank, this is understandable) run the risk of taking this wonderful world language for granted.

Goda talked to the team about her love of Hans Christian Anderson and I know her parents would have been immensely proud of her when she actually read an extract from "The Fir Tree" and she was so good, you could have heard a pin drop. 

I don't want to give you the impression this was a breeze for her. At the meeting beforehand (which, I am told, is now known in office circles as a "huddle"), I thought she was going to be sick with nerves. 

This was the first time she had ever read in public, or addressed a group of twenty people. And speaking to 9-10 year olds isn't easy. Especially when, as Goda approached the screen, the questions came at her at speed, from all directions.

About Lithuania, about castles, about travel, about her, about everything.  Archie pointed out that Lithuania was one of just three Baltic states and clearly Goda didn't expect this. 

Archie had read this factoid beforehand. I know Shellie and Phil were proud of him and Goda thought it was wonderful. Goda dealt with her nerves and her presentation with aplomb and we were all proud of her - as will her parents back in Lithuania will be when they see this.

The book of Fairy Tales.
Thank you, Goda. 

Here are some of the highlights of the day.

Nathan and me traded comics - here is one his favourite
heroes - the Ghost Rider. I got a Wolverine in return.

Rawan and Amina ask me
about that number. I think I got it

Phil and Goda relax with 
parents and the kids after the 

The boys pass around "A Children's Guide to Politics"

Alex, Connor and Nathan with "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", a smash
hit in the Brilliant Books charts. The project purchased books those
for the kids to take home - it was published Wednesday.

In other news, the Brilliant Books anthology of the work generated by the pupils, "The Scribes of Seely" was published this weekend. It will be available, at cost price, on the First of December if anyone is interested in supporting the project. 

The pupils still cannot believe they are being published and every author out there reading this will know that feeling, the one where someone, somewhere, is reading your book. We'll be explaining this to them on Wednesday a bit further. I don't think they will fully understand until they see the book in their hands on 3rd December, presented to them, in front of the entire school.

The Brilliant Books project is kindly supported by the Big Lottery Fund.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Brilliant Books: Robots with Dr. Beardsley

Brilliant Books had a visit today from Dr.Paul Beardsley from the Disney Research Institute in Zurich. 

Paul grew up in Mansfield. Part of the reason he travelled over from Zurich to see eighteen kids with similar backgrounds is that he is a massive reader and always has been.

A typical Disney robot - Wall-E!

Paul told me that without reading, he would not be where he is today. And unlike some, he really HAS achieved what it says on his CV. 

Not bad for a lad from Mansfield - one of the most impoverished towns in the UK and a perennial fixture in the relegation spots for crime, ill health, poor education and unemployment.

The kids absolutely loved every word Dr Beardsley had to say and his presentation was a delight. Recorded by Radio Nottingham as he did so, and interviewed by the Nottigham Post, it was one of the best days we've had at Brilliant Books and a day the kids told me that they would never forget.

Here are some of the highlights:
Harry Potter - an ever popular favourite with the kids

The team gather with all the lottery funded Brilliant Books donations and some of their own books

Nathan shows me a photograph of one of his favourite superheroes - Emma Frost
of the X-Men. Nathan is a BIG comics fan and we'll be swapping comics next week!

The two Phils set some creative writing work on robots and here,
some of the gang get stuck in. The work  they created here wil appear in
The Scribes of Seely - published on December 3rd, just in time for Christmas.

A pupil poses with one of Paul's beautiful gifts to the school - "The Fairest Of Them All"
The Making of Snow White.

The Brilliant Books project is funded by the 
Big Lottery Fund - your £2 goes further
than you think

Shellie, seen here working on building robots, passionately 
supports the project as a Mentor, working with the pupils in small groups

Some of the books supplied to the kids - that they can take home and read - 
by the Brilliant Books Project

Dr Beardsley inspired the pupils to work in teams to build robots, following
instructions and then they had to design their own - the results
will be in The Scribes of Seely, the Brilliant Books anthology.

Here's an example :)

All in all, it was a fantastic day, one of the best so far and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks, Dr Paul!