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We are the luckiest school in Britain…


Posted on 10th December 2019

We are the luckiest school in Britain…

We are the luckiest school in Britain...

Tom Palmer is a best selling author and a very humble man. He has sent us the draft of his new novel, and asked us to comment. He really wanted the children to help him with the balance of the book. How much background information does the reader need? How much sadness can we take? It’s a book about the Jewish children who survived concentration camps, and who were brought to Windermere after the war. They lived in the Calgarth Estate, and began to come alive again. Year 5 have read the book during English lessons, and had a great deal to say.

 

We are the luckiest school in Britain...

Comment number one: It is a very, very powerful book.

Comment number two: The balance of dark and light is complex. Humour and everyday details show that life goes on, despite past horrors.

Comment number three: Although the book made us desperate for a neat resolution, the children all agreed that a ‘happy ending’ could not work. The resolution of the book is that the main characters are moving into a new life, in hope, together…

The children were really insightful. Tom was caught up in their suggestions, scribbling them down quickly, and discussing revisions which could work. He shared his editor’s suggestions with the children, and asked for their opinions. 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 the sequel… Occasionally Tom seemed to get forgotten in amongst the passionate dialogue.

We are the luckiest school in Britain...

It was also really good to welcome Trevor Avery, whose 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, although the characters are fictional composites. There were some very impressive people in the community around Calgarth. They showed such kindness, sensitivity and empathy to these lost children. As does Tom, through his writing about them. So it’s a sad novel (I cried at least 3 times) but also a beautiful and inspiring one.

Thank you SO much, Tom. That was a wonderful experience for these children. They felt properly listened to, and able to talk on ‘equal’ terms about writing, with a professional writer. It was a joy to behold.

We are the luckiest school in Britain...