East Lothian Council

Pencaitland Primary make their first foray into writing children’s fiction

Published Monday 16th June 14

Pencaitland Primary launches Pirate Families (Sheila Averbuch and Lindsey Barley)

Could Pirate Families be a summer best-seller?

Pencaitland Primary teacher Emma Kerr suggested that, as part of their World Book Day celebrations in March this year, local children’s author Sheila Averbuch become a roving writer and help children from every class at the primary to develop a ‘whole-school story’. 

Sheila was spent five hours working with 36 children, four from each of the school’s nine classes (including the nursery class).  She began by asking the primary 7s what makes a good story. They mentioned cliff-hanger endings and great descriptions and then settled on characters, as characters bind all the other elements of a story together.

Sheila used a questionnaire developed by Christine Banach of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators to help the children create their main character, Hazel. The children decided that Hazel’s favourite pastime was watching The Pirate Family television show, which was a bit like the real-life Modern Family. She was eight years old and had lost her father. She stows away on a pirate ship.

Primary 5 came up with the baddie and Primary 3 decided that he smelled like rotten eggs and drying paint. Primary 4 supplied the storyline, Primary 6 furnished the first chapter, and the little ones focused on the scenery, sights, sounds and smells.

Sheila took everyone’s ideas away and polished them so that now there is a 6,000 word, 51-page book Pirate Families (RRP £5.00, publisher East Lothian Council), which Pencaitland Primary launched on 13 June 2014 at 12.30pm at a special event at the school. You can get your copy from Pencaitland Primary School, Kesley’s Bookshop in Haddington or online at Amazon.

Depute Headteacher Lindsey Barley said:

‘We wanted something where the whole school could work collaboratively on a writing project. We tried something similar before when we all wrote a poem together, but this was much more challenging. I think that Sheila and the children have produced something quite remarkable. I’m so pleased that we opted to do this.’

Sheila Averbuch added:

‘I am delighted that every group was so engaged in the story-making process. Our book contains elements that came from every child in every class, for the bobbly sea weed to key lines of dialogue’


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