Stanley's Schools Page

 

This is Max Tofts, age 8, on World Book Day 2017, dressed as Stanley Smartpants. He won the “Best Costume” competition at his school, Barton End Primary Academy in Haverhill. Congratulations, Max. Stanley himself would have been proud of you!

Alexander Martin offers visits to Primary Schools for Creative Writing Presentations and Workshops

The following is a guide to what an Alexander Martin visit can encompass. All visits can be tailored to suit the individual school.

Presentation for KS2 children – Session Length approximately 40-45 minutes

This is accompanied by a Powerpoint Slide Show with approximately 30 slides.

“After an introduction to Stanley Smartpants and the Mackerel Robberies - what the story is about and how I came to write it - we discuss “The Hook”, and why it is important at the beginning of a story.

We look at how to progress a story, and how to make one’s characters come to life. I do this in sections or elements, and illustrate each element by reading small amounts of text from the book. There is a lot of humour in the extracts I read out, including a number of jokes, most of which have been sent in by children, and I show how they are woven into the story, in this case Stanley Smartpants and the Harbour Mystery.

I also show children how easy it really is to be creative, again with examples. Perhaps most important of all I offer them the opportunity to contribute to subsequent Stanley Smartpants stories by sending in creative ideas, and I show examples which have been sent in by other children.

Depending on time and availability we may make a brief visit to the Stanley Smartpants website. Finally – Questions."

KS1 Presentation

Session Length - approx 40-45 minutes – Can be shortened if desired

Follows similar pattern to KS2 Presentation, with certain age related changes.

Individual KS2 Class Workshop

CHARACTER DESCRIPTION

Session Length - approx. 60 minutes. This can be shortened to 45/55 minutes to accommodate school timetable if required.

“This session can be linked to a Writing Competition if desired.

The first task involves the THREE STANLEYS (the front cover designs of each of the three books) on the whiteboard/screen. I read out my descriptions of STANLEY 1 and STANLEY 2, and then ask the children to write their descriptions of STANLEY 3. Invite those children who wish to do so to read out their descriptions. I make any comments that are relevant.

Hand out a “Thesaurus Sheet” to each child, and make comments. Then I discuss alliteration, and read an example from “The Mackerel Robberies” - illustrates the value of a thesaurus when writing.

I read out “DOMINIC THICK”, a brilliant little character description written by a Year 5 boy at a school I visited. Truly amazing!

Ask children to create and describe their own cat character. Invite children to read out what they have written if they wish to do so.

If required introduce Writing Competition.”

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CHILDREN

Over the course of writing these novels I have developed what I think is a unique footprint. As I set out to write the second book in the series, Stanley Smartpants and the Harbour Mystery, it occurred to me that I could involve children in more than reading manuscripts and writing reviews. I could encourage them to participate in the creative process of writing a novel.

There are three main avenues of contribution. During my talk about creative writing I show many examples of creativity. My own particular forte is humour, and these books, detective stories in which all the characters are cats, are quite simply a vehicle for humour. Thus I demonstrate just how easy it is to be creative, and the joy of writing humorously, word play being one of my favourite tools. I invite children to invent character names, names of businesses and places, and expressions that have some “cat reference”, e.g. Cat-Tucky Fried Chicken. Two ways of encouraging this aspect of creativity is through individual class workshops and a story writing competition subsequent to my visit.

In conjunction with my visit we usually have a colouring competition, in effect to give Stanley a new outfit. Stanley wears a number of different outfits during the course of the stories, and every one is a child’s design, including the front cover image. The final area of contribution appeals to most children, sending in jokes. Any joke that appears in one of the stories earns the sender a credit at the front of the book.

In total thirty children have a credit at the front of the latest book in the series, Stanley Smartpants and the Exploding Bananas.

Testimonials

Email from Oldway Primary School, Paignton:

"Many thanks for visiting Oldway last month. The children had a fantastic time and loved getting to find out about Stanley and his many adventures. It seems as if everyone in the school is currently reading one of your novels!

It is also much appreciated that you spent so long on our learning platform answering the many questions that the children didn’t have time to ask on the day. All in all it was a great success - we look forward to seeing you again. Please let us know when the next book is out!"

Email from Assistant Headteacher at Shiphay Learning Academy, Torquay:

"‘Cat’ivating, ins’purr’ational and stu’paw’dous are the ‘purr’fect words to describe an author visit from Alexander Martin, author of the Stanley Smartpants series.

Shiphay Learning Academy were privileged to have Alexander Martin work with the school for the day during Book Week. All the children from Reception to Year 6 were absolutely captivated by the exciting extracts read from the series, and will always remember the special guest appearance of the detective himself - Stanley Smartpants!

During the presentation, Alexander Martin gave the children some really useful writing tips and his humorous ‘cat’ themed play on words and the clever inclusion of the locality really grabbed even the most reluctant reader and writer’s attention. He inspired within the children a desire to not only carry on reading the story, but to become involved in the story making process themselves.

We are all really looking forward to Alexander Martin returning to our school with the next book in the Stanley Smartpants series."

E-mail from Literacy Coordinator at Market Deeping Primary School:

"Many thanks again for visiting our school, you were a wonderful speaker and the children were thoroughly inspired by your talk. I know you have encouraged many of our children to be creative with their writing and aspire to become budding authors when they are older."

E-mail from acting head at Fen Drayton Primary School, Cambridgeshire:

"Alexander Martin visited our school recently to work with our KS2 pupils. The children thoroughly enjoyed the session during which Alexander read excerpts from his delightful books about the sartorially elegant cat detective Stanley Smartpants and his adventures solving such crimes as "Stanley Smartpants and the Mackerel Mysteries". Stanley and his colourful colleagues at the Cat Haven Police held the children enthralled and many having bought their own copies to enjoy are eagerly awaiting the next title in the series.

Alexander also spoke to the children about the inspiration behind his stories and characters and offered some great writing tips which we know will be put to good use in future writing tasks.

The children were thrilled to meet a "real live" author and the whole event was a great success."

Testimonial from St. Mary’s CE Primary School, London

"Alexander Martin is an inspiration to young children. His sharp humour, clever characterisation and alliterative language, enthral and captivate their enquiring minds.

His visit to our school was a hit with the children aged from Year 3 to Year 6, many of whom have since expressed an interest in story writing and characterisation. His personality, warm nature and ability to liken real-life anecdotes to Stanley Smartpants ensure that the workshop is an enjoyable experience for all."

Testimonial from Literacy Subject Leader Moss Hall Junior School, London

“I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you for your visit in July. My class absolutely loved Stanley Smartpants and we even gave each child in the class a character and acted bits out as we read. I would come into school every day and the first thing they would ask me was .... ‘when are we going to read Stanley Smartpants?’ It was then a constant battle throughout the day until we read a chapter! During your visit the children were very excited at the prospect of seeing the man behind Stanley Smartpants and were keen to ask you lots of questions. The most important to them was whether there will be a second novel? During the book signing the children were still asking you lots of questions about the characters in the book and I have attached some photos for you to see. I have been inundated with colouring competition entries and have enclosed some more for you to look at. Once again I thank you for coming to visit us at Moss Hall. The children were ‘over the moon’ that you came to our school.”

Testimonial from the Literacy Coordinator at Monkfrith Primary School, London

“Purrr-fect! Cat-tastic! P-awesome!

Your recent visit during National Storytelling week is definitely one to be remembered by the children in upper Key Stage 2. A good rapport was immediately apparent and the fun, laughter and learning were such an enjoyable experience, for the adults present, as well as the children.

Watching the faces of the children at various times during your presentation really brought home the importance and power, that ‘authors’ have to inspire our young children. The idea that they could visit your website and contribute to your next book elicited the most shocked but encouraged facial expression I think I have ever seen (sadly I was not quick enough to capture this on camera!)

I do believe that the children will bring with them, and use the tips that you shared for their own writing.

The response you received at the end of the day and the number of book sales were a testament to the impact ‘Stanley Smartpants’ had on the children - as well as the number of e-mails that Stanley has already received!

Thank you so much for visiting our school and sharing ‘Stanley Smartpants’ with the children of Monkfrith. Your presentation was both fun and informative, making creative writing more accessible and achievable in the eyes of boys and girls alike.

I would like to recommend you further, as I feel it would be selfish to keep you and Stanley to ourselves.”

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