Bestselling children’s author and Carnegie Medal 2020 nominee Tom Palmer visited Grasmere School this week. Tom had asked if the children would like to work with him on the draft of his new book ‘After the War’.
He gave them exclusive access to the manuscript, and then visited school to hear their opinions.
Head teacher Jo Goode said ‘This was an amazing opportunity. Tom is a brilliant author and a very humble man. He listened very carefully to the children’s contributions and ideas, and scribbled them all down as fast as he could. The children had lots to say, as this is a very powerful book. It’s the story of some of the children who survived the Holocaust and came to Calgarth Estate in Windermere.
Tom really wanted the children to help him with the balance of the book. How much background information did they think was needed? How tragic should he make it?
The children had strong opinions on all the questions asked, and were surprisingly mature in their empathy.
It was a really fascinating session, in which children were debating and discussing with each other – pointing out potential inconsistencies in plotting; analysing why particular passages were so moving, or horrific; theorising about a potential sequel.
Trevor Avery from the Lake District Holocaust Project also came to the session.
His incredible knowledge about the Jewish children who came to Calgarth has been the barometer for Tom when writing this novel. All the events in the novel are real experiences, which Tom has learnt about from Trevor, although the characters are fictional composites.
Tom Palmer said: “The children at Grasmere have helped massively with the book I am writing about the Holocaust survivors who came to Windermere in 1945. They gave me new ideas. They helped me choose what scenes to take out and keep in.
“And – most of all – their intelligent and sensitive response to the story of those refugees from 74 years ago gave me the confidence I need to keep writing After the War.”
Carnegie Medal 2020 nominee Tom Palmer is originally from Leeds and credits articles about football with getting him into reading as a child. As well as writing the top selling Football Academy and Foul Play series (Puffin), he has also written many books for Barrington Stoke including Armistice Runner, Over the Line, Ghost Stadium, Secret FC, and the Rugby Academy and Wings series. He has been shortlisted for prizes including the Blue Peter Book Award and the Lancashire and Coventry Book Awards. Rugby Academy: Combat Zone is featured in the Scottish First Minister’s Reading Challenge. He travels all over the UK for events, performing his immensely popular rugby and football reading games, and is well-loved across
the book trade.