School Visits (also Library, Bookshop, and Festival Events)
Comments from Teachers, Librarians and Pupils
The children had such a fantastic time - we are still talking about your books now. You were such a inspiration to them! ... The writing opportunities that your visit has created have been wonderful.
Clare Shields, teacher, Wardley Primary School
... taking the opportunity to write to you say a huge thank you for all your hard work and great sessions ... The sessions are so well planned and paced - great variety, good fun but also plenty of opportunity for children to learn. I'm sure the children will remember them for a long time.
Barbara Wood, Youth Services Manager, Gateshead Council
Joan Lennon is an inspiration to us because she gets children interested in reading and writing imaginative stories. She is so popular because she is kind, she makes stories come alive and she tries to make everyone the best writer they can be.
Rebecca, Riley and Holly from Primary 7 at Queensferry Primary School.
I am currently offering two events for secondary schools:
1. For age 12+ - Silver Skin
2. For age 12+ - Walking Mountain
and four events for primary schools:
3. For 6 - 8 year-olds - Tales from the Turrets
4. For 7 - 10 year-olds - The Leif Frond Adventures
5. For 8 - 11 year-olds - The Slightly Jones Mysteries
6. For 8 - 11 year-olds - The Wickit Chronicles
1. Silver Skin
Inspired by the Stone Age village of Skara Brae in Orkney, sci-fi meets prehistory in the story of a time traveller from the far future who accidentally ends up in ancient Scotland.
This talk looks at the inspiration for the novel and shares writing tips, as well as readings, Q&A, and some behind-the-scenes insight into cover art.
Silver Skin was shortlisted for the 2017 Scottish Teenage Book Prize.
Teachers notes are available, with a range of multi-discipline curriculum activities based on the novel. There is a Silver Skin website with background material, videos and interviews with the author, and a section on Readers' Art.
2. Walking Mountain
Every year, for as long as anyone can remember, the Mountain has moved a little northwards. But now it's moving in the opposite direction. And it's picking up speed. Three unlikely friends find themselves undertaking an epic journey, from the Mountain all the way to the Sea. Dangers abound - nothing is what it appears to be. And the price of failure? The end of the world ... again.
This talk introduces how I went about inventing a strange future world that is fantastic and familiar at the same time, where ideas come from, and how publishers get us interested in books, as well as readings and a Q&A.
Teachers notes are available, with a range of multi-discipline curriculum activities based on the world of the novel. There is a Walking Mountain website with more resources, podcasts and interviews with the author and sections on Readers' Art and Readers' Writing.
3. Tales from the Turrets
Using puppets and a suitcase full of toy ferrets, this event introduces the three books in this collection – The Ferret Princess, Wag and the King, and The Mucker’s Tale. I will be reading from the books, talking about where I get my ideas, and also about what it’s like to be a writer. There will be time for Questions and Answers.
Teachers’ notes are available, including ideas for writing exercises based on the books.
This event can be tailored to include some hands-on writing with the children.
4. The Leif Frond Adventures
Leif Frond is the smallest in a very large family of very large Vikings, but he's desperate to be a hero. In my talk I introduce Leif, his ambitions and his adventures. There will be readings from the books - Leif Frond and the Viking Games and Leif Frond and Quickfingers - and we'll look at some of the things you need to create a fabulous Viking story.
There will be time for Questions and Answers, and teachers' notes are available, with more ideas on how to use the world of the books in the classroom.
5. The Slightly Jones Mysteries
Meet Slightly Jones, a spindly, freckly, red-haired girl with a burning ambition – to be as good a detective as the great Sherlock Holmes himself! Set in Victorian Britain, the series follows the adventures of Slightly as she pits her wits against mad scientists, underworld criminals, Egyptian mummies and the occasional ghost. To find out more, visit Slightly's Notebook.
In my talk I introduce Slightly and her world, reading from the books and answering questions about what it’s like to be her writer. Teachers' notes, with ideas for further discussion and class projects based on the books, are available.
6. The Wickit Chronicles
The Wickit Chronicles is a series of books set in the vast swampy fenlands of medieval England, and tells the adventures of Pip, an orphan brought up at Wickit Monastery, and his friend Perfect, a living, breathing, talking, dragon-shaped stone gargoyle. To find out more, click here to visit the mini-site.
In this event, there are medieval costumes for the audience to model, readings, squishy and revolting facts about the medieval period, and time for questions about the books. I also talk about what it's like to be a writer. Teacher’s notes, with ideas for further discussion based on the books, are available.
Creative writing workshops for children, young people or adults are also on offer, based on my novels or built around character, setting, getting inspired - or something individually tailored. These workshops can focus on writing fiction or poetry.
Arranging a visit
I live in Fife. Most of my visits are arranged through Live Literature Scotland. They will pay half the session fee (currently set at £175 per session, usually one hour) and travel expenses (and accommodation if necessary).
You can also book me direct by e-mail. If you are booking me direct, please could you have a cheque ready on the day of the visit - anything else makes life much too complicated. I offer a maximum of three one-hour sessions per day.
I’m happy to do book signing. You can arrange with a local bookseller to supply copies of my books, or I can bring stock with me. It’s a good idea to let the parents know beforehand that there will be the chance to buy books at school, so they can send in money.