Saturday, 31 January 2015

Queen of Steampunk Rae Gee visits Brilliant Books!

Allow me introduce you to Rae Gee.

Noted and traditionally published Steampunk author, based in Leicestershire and with big contacts in the US, Rae didn''t just come up to Nottingham with books. As you can see, she brought props to add context to her book choices, which were:

 and the Time Machine, Rae's favourite two books and a major influence on her career as a writer. 

You can read War of the Worlds here:

and though we didn't get the chance to listen to it, you can listen to Jeff Wayne's magnificent War of the World's soundtrack here.

(Rae and I have many American friends and we would just like to point out that the original Martian invasion was in Surrey not New York, contrary to what you and Mssrs Cruise and Spielberg might think :D - Ed!)

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

Rae read from War of the Worlds and then talked steampunk and science in general. Topics included Edison, the first ever recorded music and aliens. She discussed the legendary Skinwalker Farm in Utah, which is rumoured in some circles to be a portal to another galaxy and thus heavily guarded by the authorities in the US. You could see many of the children were inspired by what novelist Rae had to say about the subject and I can imagine quite a few of them will choose steampunk and science fiction as a reading genre.

Rae will be blogging about her experience this weekend and I shall include it here when it is available.

The kids really enjoyed her patter and obvious knowledge of the sector.  Afterwards, we moved to the classroom to develop their stories.   They did some more readings - one of the major delights of this programme is the willingness of the kids to get up and read what they have written to their peers.

Many pupils struggle with this in formal lessons, but on Brilliant Books, they can let their hair down and be a star for thirty seconds or so. And Phil, Shellie and me have been seriously impressed by the talent on display.  

And these young people are REALLY getting into their stories (for publication in Scribes of Seely II in April). 

All in all, it was a terrific afternoon. I'd like to thank Rae for travelling north to see us - we both enjoyed a healthy lunch too :D - and I am sure she'll be back on future projects. She's the second author to host a Brilliant Books session (after the talented Georgia Rose in October) and they definitely add something different to the mix. 

It is noticeable that the young people seem seriously interested in what authors do, in as much as what they choose to read. That's worth noting for the future.

Next week, Phil talks about how he got involved in Brilliant Books on the blog, and live in Sherwood, we have a visit from one of the top education officers at the Nottingham Fire Service. 

Keep reading,


Northampton based genius Alan Moore's
classic steampunk graphic novel

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Brilliant Books...IS BACK!!

Hi everyone, Brilliant Books is back!!  

The reluctant readers project started by Empleo (Phil Pidluznyj and me) and working with Seely Primary School in Sherwood, restarted with a bang last Wednesday, hosted by Councillor Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council.

A new group of sixteen young people have committed eight weeks of their own time to embrace the joy of the written word (when, sometimes, the joy of the joystick calls louder). Councillor Collins talked about his life and history and, in particular, how he ended up in Nottingham "because he thought he would see more snow!" 

Follow Jon Collins on Twitter

Jon Collins Blog:

Brilliant Books is kindly funded by the Big Lottery Fund

Books: Jon chose to read from his childhood favourite book, and the kids were enraptured as he read a passage describing the life of a young biplane pilot for the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. 

To paraphrase the narrator, offering advice to a new pilot: "if you survive twenty four hours out here, you will be lucky, If you get through your first week, you'll be a veteran"

Even I was enraptured! Then, as usual, the group devoured fruit (too many bananas and not enough apples, Phil! - Ed!) at half time before moving onto the bookwork.

Jon Collins, to everyone's surprise, then offered the kids a trip to Nottingham's magnificent Council House, where they may even get to sit in the august ceremonial throne which overlooks the council chambers.

Then, the kids sat down and came up with their Manifesto for Nottingham some of which we caught on video.

For those of you new to Brilliant Books, one of the major differences between our projects and others is, at the end, the kids, together, produce a book:

The Scribes of Seely - available on Amazon

Last year, the stories were short extracts and an anthology of weekly exercises. this year, we are planning that EACH child writes a short ongoing story, not only in the session, but at home. So this session, I asked the children to go away and come up with a CHARACTER who is going to feature in their story. Together, the book they compile will be known as Scribes of Seely Two.

At the end of the session, the young people took home a book to read for the week. They actually queued up to pick one. I'll take a picture of the selection of books we at Brilliant Books supplied next week.

Next week, Phil takes over, reading from The Silver Sword and the kids will learn about setting and place for their short stories.

Until next time, Mark

For more Brilliant Books fun, type in The Scribes of Seely on Google. We're making inroads :D

Anyone got one of these?