Monday, 23 March 2015

Say Goodbye to Brilliant Books at Seely...With April Towers

Music week, this week, and everyone let their hair down. The books are read, the stories are written. 

Now, let the music begin.

April Towers are an up and coming Nottingham electro-pop duo who have recently played to 2000 people in London and have had their new single featured on Radio 1.

The Towers were introduced to Brilliant Books by big friend of the project, music journalist Dom Gourlay

I was surprised at the pupil's wide range of music interests During the question and answer session, we discovered that a) there was someone into death metal and b)no-one was interested in One Direction!

Dom went for non-fiction as his reading choice, reading from the biography  of  his favourite band, the Manic Street Preachers.

And afterwards, Phil treated us to a couple of songs from his days as the lead singer with local pop bands such as New Apostles, Strangefriend, Aardvark and Submarine. 

Here's everyone's favourite, Boomerang, which had all the kids singing along.

Finally, the kids queued up to read from their  short stories, which will be compiled into the Scribes of Seely Anthology II in early May.

A page, with a parade of all the children reading, is being prepared as we speak. 

These are the future. If the kids stop reading, then books, wonderful, magnificent, brilliant books, will eventually die out and that would be a cause for great sadness. 

And who knows - some of  these children may well become writers.

But in the meantime, children are children and here's my favourite fun activity of the whole term, thanks to Valentine, the Masai poet and her incredible native "jumpers".

So, after sixteen weeks, it's time to say goodbye to Seely Primary School. 

BB is a time limited, Lottery funded project to encourage kids to love books and reading and, like rolling stones, we'll be moving on to another school in Nottingham soon. 

Phil Pidluznyj, Shellie Eyre, all the hosts who gave up their time to contribute, and me, Mark Barry, would like to thank the staff, pupils and parents of Seely Primary School, particularly the brilliant Mrs Anona Morley, whose impression of the Duracell rabbit and her tireless enthusiasm motivated us all.

And thank YOU, Brilliant Books watchers, for helping this blog reach 10,000 views. Your support is appreciated.

But most of all, thank you to the children who made it such great fun for us all.

To reading and the love of books.

The Society of Goldenagers

Monday, 9 March 2015

Superstriker Tony Lormor hosts this week's...Brilliant Books

Last week, our host on Brilliant Books was pro footballer Tony Lormor who plied his trade around the country, with connections to almost every football club in the vicinity - including Mansfield Town, Lincoln City, Chesterfield and, briefly, the oldest football league club on earth, (and one of the most prestigious), Notts County.

His wiki lists his achievements as a footballer and below, you can see a video of his latest adventure, a trip to the North Pole

Tony was one of the most interesting of our Hosts, because at school, he was intelligent and destined for university until Newcastle United came calling and that, as they say, was that. He stopped reading, stopped any academic work and concentrated on football. Before that, you rarely found Tony without a book in his possession. The upshot of this was that at the end of his career, (an extremely amusing story about his last match at humble Telford United), he was left with nothing. No money,  no qualifications and no future.  With kids expectant, Tony had to work. He sold double glazing on the phone and door to door - a soul destroying job - and undertook many other menial, low paid roles before first working for Mansfield Town in the back offices (under the spectacularly dodgy Haslam regime) and then Chesterfield (which was much more stable).

A gentleman, a man of humour and a man to whom life has delivered some harsh lessons on which wisdom grows, he has developed a passion for reading again and also writing. Tony is planning two books. One of which is a story of his life after football and the other is an inspirational piece aimed at young professionals who, like him, are showered with money and glory and forget that one day they will have to join the rest of the world. 

Brilliant Books is supported by the Big Lottery Fund

And that day comes sooner than many of the young football apprentices think.

He gave a brilliant talk and the kids loved what he had to say. Tony promised that he would read the short stories the kids will produce and we'll make sure he gets a copy of Scribes of Seely II.

Then Tony got the kids doing some football style warm ups around the hall...

After fruit and recreation, Phil gave the kids an exercise, which they attacked with gusto

or otherwise and then, finally, the kids read from their short stories. Bear in mind that these stories didn' exist three weeks ago except in note form, this was impressive stuff.

For parents of the young people on Brilliant Books, there will be a page of videos where you can see your children reading their stories. This is in production.

This was a terrific session and, like most of the sessions this half of Brilliant Books, a memorable one. Next week is the last Brilliant Books at Seely (for now, we hope) and we've all had a great time. 

The last session will be run by Dom Gourley, music journalist who is bringing local band April Towers, recently featured on Radio 1

Should be a LOT of fun...

See you there, Mark

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Epic Journey of Valentine Nkoyo from the Masai to Brilliant Books!

This week, we welcomed Masai Poet and culture specialist Valentine Nkoyo to Brilliant Books. 

Valentine was one of those girls you see on documentaries who lived a tribal life, including the daily 10 mile walk to the well with a Jerrycan strapped to her back. 

Not content with this life (without rejecting it), Valentine, intelligent and curious, wished to go to school. In Masai culture, brothers take precedence and as Valentine is from a polygamous family, there were an awful lot of brothers who took priority for any education her father could afford.

A determined and frustrated Valentine, a prodigious reader and lover of poetry and stories, composed a poem to her father. Bear in mind, girls in Masai culture are not allowed to speak directly to their father, so, by writing the poem, she was breaking a cultural tradition, which demonstrated that grit and determination.

Its well worth a watch. Anyway, the upshot was, her father cried for the first time in his life and promptly sold his prize bull to pay the fees for Valentine's education. 

Unfortunately, he died two months later and her elder brothers were not as keen as he to continue. However, over time, and after enduring seven years worth of fragmented opportunities, Valentine found herself over in Great Britain on a scholarship and here she remains. 

Valentine is an advisor to government on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation and is a passionate opponent of that cultural tradition, which is still common in some British communities. 

Brilliant Books is funded by the Big Lottery Fund

She also works in Media at Nottingham's Mojatu Foundation, print and media partners of Empleo, who deliver Brilliant Books on behalf of Seely School.

Her favourite book is Alice in Wonderland

which she encouraged the children to read. One of my favourite moments of Valentine's in-depth presentation was her discussion of the Masai's skill in jumping. Some of the Brilliant Books gang couldn't wait to copy.

Valentine also brought along tribal dress and adornments, which everyone had fun trying out.

All in all, it was a great session of Brilliant Books. In common with authors the world over, only a few of the children met the Editor's deadline (twas it ever thus -Ed!) so we have an extra week to get the short stories in. 

Next week, we have ex-pro footballer Tony Lormor coming to talk about his life after football and his desire to turn that into an inspirational book for young people. He has recently returned from a trek to the Arctic.

Two weeks to go!


Some of the boys and girls from Brilliant Books - soon to be authors!