Oakley Vale Primary School

Part of the Brooke Weston Trust

Educating the next generation of inspirational adults

Oakley Vale students meet best-selling author

Oakley Vale students meet best-selling author

Students at Oakley Vale Primary loved meeting best-selling author Cathy Cassidy, who signed books and answered questions when she made a recent visit to a  Brooke Weston Trust  primary school.

Cathy, who has had more than 30 young adult books published over the past 15 years, spoke to students about her career, including how she develops characters and details about her latest book in the Lost and Found series, ‘Sami’s Silver Lining.’

She spoke at Beanfield Primary School, where keen readers from other Brooke Weston Trust schools including  Corby Business Academy  were also invited along, and, in the afternoon, she went to Compass Primary School in Kettering, where students from Kettering Science Academy also attended.

Cathy, a former illustrator and art teacher, told students how one of the most important components for creativity is day-dreaming:  ‘It is when unexpected, imaginative, creative ideas get a chance to shine. That daydreaming skill is one of the big reasons that I am an author. You are pulling the daydream from your imagination and putting it down on paper. If you are lucky enough to be published you get to share your daydream with readers all around the world.

‘My number one tip to help your creativity, and the way I plan my stories, is where my daydreaming technique comes in. I research my ideas and inspirations and allow it to unfurl in daydream form. If you get really good at the daydreaming thing, it is as though you have got a story running through your head like a movie that only you can see. Sometimes something unexpected might happen and the characters might go off-script and do something that you really didn’t think they were going to do. Those are often the best bits of all. I dream and type straight onto my laptop and that brings the story to life.’

Cathy creates mood boards to help her construct her novels. ‘Sami’s Silver Lining’ is about a young Syrian refugee who travels through Europe in order to get to his family in Britain. There he joins ‘The Lost and Found’ band. The book is one in a series and each book tells a story from an individual band member’s perspective.

She said: ‘I wanted to write about someone who had gone through that journey. It is one of the greatest tragedies of our time and I was trying to imagine what it would be like to be a young person in that situation. I did research that was heart-breaking.’

She read chapter one of the book to the students and also did a quiz with them.

She encouraged students to develop their own stories and characters and also to upload their work, drawings and photographs to the ‘Dreamcatcher’ blog on her website.

She answered questions from the audience and encouraged them to find their own creativity: ‘If there’s something you want to do, keep on working for your dream. The harder you work the more likely it is to happen.’

After the presentation she signed books for students, taking time to talk to each individually.

Cathy Cassidy said: ‘Books are about friendship, fitting in and feelings. In Sami’s Silver Lining the story is largely about the band and the fun they have but his backstory is such a dramatic one that it is hard not to talk about that when presenting the book. A child’s natural instinct would be to reach out and help a fellow human being. A refugee is no different from you or I and children see that so easily. It is so important to step into the shoes of another character.

Sami’s story, although it is not an easy read because it is sad in parts, does have a happy ending which I felt it needed because, for the kids it is important that hope, love and friendship can triumph and I do believe they can. Young people are the best human beings on the planet and that is where the hope lies. They are our inspiration.’

To see a gallery of pictures, click here.