A GROUP from Birkdale School took part in a transatlantic dialogue with students in New York when a video conference was set up during a visit from children’s author Peter J Murray.
It took place a few days before the Kimberworth-born teacher turned best-selling writer flew out on a book tour of the US and the video link was arranged by his American sponsors, Carmel Hill Fund, a legacy set up to provide American schools in socially-deprived areas with much-needed resources
The idea was that while the students benefited from an international cultural exchange – especially since they come from very different social backgrounds – the author could glean information from the children about the type of book that they liked to read so that he can target this age group more in the future.
Pete is best known for his Mokee Joe trilogy which has sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide. Its success owes much to the former maths teacher’s indefatigable promotion on visits to schools inspiring and enthusing children about reading, writing and being creative.
It often involves dressing up as Mokee Joe and doing a whole performance.
This time the discussion revolved around his latest book, Scabbajack.
The 15 members of the Birkdale Book Club aged between 10 and 13 years stood in front of the link-up camera and joined in the discussion between the author and students at Joseph F Lamb School in Brooklyn and Manhattan Middle School for Scientific Inquiry.
“It was a great experience and by the end of the session, those who hadn’t yet read the latest book, Scabbajack, seemed desperate to read it. This book always creates lots of talking points and arouses one’s sense of curiosity more than any of my other books,” he said.
The author said he was grateful to people on both sides of the Atlantic for managing to pull off the video conference, especially as most of the schools had been on holiday in the preceeding weeks.
“Thank you for providing a wonderful start to our 2011 US experience,” said the writer, who is visiting schools in New York for two weeks and one week in each of Louisiana and New Orleans.