As part of our Adventures in Bookland series, we welcomed Dame Jacqueline Wilson to delight and inspire Year 4 and 5 girls across the GDST with her 113th book, The Primrose Railway Children, a reimagining of E. Nesbit’s classic tale.
Pupils from across our family of schools, along with classes from several of our partner schools, logged on excitedly to ask their questions of Jacqueline. Questions ranged from, ‘Did you read a lot when you were little and who inspired you? to ‘How do you choose which books to give endorsements to and why?’ There was lots of interest in Jacqueline’s journey as an author and what advice she’d give to budding young writers, which included, reading voraciously and variedly. She wrote her first ‘novel’ when she was nine years old, and she has been writing ever since with over forty million copies of her books sold in the UK alone.
Jacqueline spoke with such energy and excitement about The Primrose Railway Children, which she says is a like a ‘new baby’, the sole focus of her attention. Jacqueline explained that she carried out a lot of research for her new book but that sometimes she found it tricky to find the right information, admitting she sometimes found ‘railway books’ difficult to understand.
Jacqueline explained, ‘I’ve reimagined the story from the youngest child’s point of view…I’ve always loved E. Nesbit’s wonderful classic The Railway Children but I’ve also felt she wasn’t quite fair to the youngest child Phyllis…In my modern story, there are no easy solutions – but the children still have exciting adventures and I promise there’s a happy ending.’ As is typical of so many of Jacqueline’s works, here she uses stories to address themes such as family relationships and absent fathers – a modern take on life issues and difficult topics.
Ahead of the event, Jacqueline spoke of the importance of reading to children, not only when they’re very young but also as teenagers, an approach central to Adventures in Bookland which encourages pupils to read aloud and to engage with the spoken word.
Launched in January 2021, to support our Junior pupils through the Covid-19 pandemic, our Adventures in Bookland events and resources have been accessed over 3,500 times and by embracing digital technologies, we are able to share the magic of stories with more pupils than ever before.