What we brought to the School visit,

We brought a lot of goodies, a lot of preparation (which went straight out the window) and of course the main attraction – The Schoolhouse.

IMG_7738

Once the 2nd Class students saw him, it was question and answer time. And all of the good advice we got was spot on.

We did need plenty of water, tea and coffee afterwards.

The questions were interesting, “Did you always want to be famous?” This one had us dancing on the moon.

“Were did you get your idea from?” This was asked of both Sara and myself, along with, “How exactly do you pronounce your name?” and then out of the blue, “What is your favorite color?” & “I scored for our football team last week.”

Yes it was a fast and furious session.

We were impressed by the fact they all expected a sequel to the book, in fact many.

Colin, their teacher had set them all interesting projects to work on – for example they each had to draw one or two of the smaller characters featured in the book.

It was a terrific learning session for both of us and we enjoyed our visit. In fact we learnt as much from them as they did from us. We left feeling ten feet tall.

I would like to thank the Principal Ms. Ava Boyle and Colin Wickham, for allowing us the opportunity of meeting such a great bunch of kids. And yes I would encourage other authors and illustrators to step out from behind the pages of their books to go meet their readers.

Their review has since appeared on Amazon.co.uk

5*

Absolutely brilliant! Great novel to use for school children.
Review written by:
Second Class Navan Educate Together NS

We are a school in Navan, a town in Ireland. We read “The Runaway Schoolhouse” by Maria Matthews in May 2017. The pupils in our class are aged 7, 8 and 9 years old.
We could not be happier about the book. We found it extremely funny. There are lots of exciting adventures that the Schoolhouse Clearie, the teachers and the pupils get up to.
We all really enjoyed reading the novel and would recommend it to any child, teacher or school who wishes to use it for lessons.
“The Runaway Schoolhouse” even made some of us cry with laughter.

Would definitely recommend the book to any teacher to use it for English and Art lessons, it’s jam packed with a creative, funny and unpreditable story line and the pupils in our class were captivated by the novel.

As a teacher I will certainly be using this novel again in future classes!

Maria’s Stuff Playing with Pictures

I have been having fun at a photography class. Basically learning how to make better use of my camera.

But in the process I discovered some old photos’ and have started to play around with them. This one reminded me of how much fun, kids get out of the simple things in life,

in this case it was: Boxes.

What do you think?boxes

Bob’s Diary. Why cats?

I don’t understand why people are so taken with cats.

peeking

They don’t chase balls or fetch stuff. They just lie around and moan a lot. I’ve tried explaining we don’t need them as I catch the mice in this house, two so far this month and winter is not even here yet.

Maybe someone can explain the fascination to me but here is a sketch Maria did a while back of one breaking his way into the house.

ipp

Bob’s Diary: The reason why…

The reason why I want to be a bird is simple:

Look at these images and draw your own conclusion, please.

bird in bath male

 

 

 

 

 

 

washing bob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm wet, humiliated, broke,  how did this happen?

I’m wet, humiliated, broke,
how did this happen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baths make me feel like a hedgehog on stilts.

 

No Monsters Allowed.

Jessie was hiding under a chair. A shadow was chasing her.

“The monster can’t crush me here,” she whispered.

“‘Yes I can.” He roared.

Jessie raced into the kitchen shivering.

“Come on Jessie let’s go to the park.” Granddad said. Bob, her dog,  began to jump and bark.

“Wait till I put my coat on, Bob,” Jessie whispered looking around, searching for the monster. She didn’t want to be crushed.  A tear rolled down her face. Bobs sloppy tongue licked it off making Jessie giggle.

Bob walked with Jessie close to Granddad and Granny.

In the park Granddad went to get ice cream. Granny sat in the sun.

Climbing into the playhouse, Jessie felt safe. Bob was sitting beside her so there was no room for a monster.

“Jessie are you ok?” Granny asked.

“Yes. It’s nice here, try it Granny!”

“I’d get stuck in the door. Then you and Granddad would leave me.”

Jessie peeped out. “Oh Granny, I’d never do that.”

Granny smiled, “You might not, but Granddad would”

Granddad walked up to them carrying icecreams. He said, “One for you, Granny, and one for me.” He scratched his head, ” Was someone else looking for an ice-cream?”

Jessie giggled. Climbing out of the pipe she said, “Me, Granddad.”

“Who is this me?”

Skipping over to him she said, “Jessie.”

Bob was drooling. Great lumps of blob were hanging from his mouth.

“Thank you Granddad. But Bob is sad,” Jessie said. She stuck her finger in her ice cream and Bob licked her finger.

“It’s ok Bob. I have one for you.” Pulling a tub of ice cream from his pocket Granddad placed it on the ground. Bob looked at Jessie.

“Eat it up Bob.” She said. He did.

Jessie noticed a shadow looming behind her.

“You are tiny. I could swallow you in one gulp,” the monster shouted. He was huge, blocking out the sun. Jessie began to shake.

Bob was barking. Granddad said, “Stop, Bob.”

Huffing and grunting Bob moved closer to Jessie. She bent down to him and sat with her hands about the dog’s fluffy neck.

Later that afternoon Granddad handed Jessie a packet of crayons. “I am going to draw fairies and pixies but not leprechaun’s. They frighten me.”

“But, you are not afraid of anything, even spiders.”

Granddad said, “Do you want to know a secret? I’m afraid of lots of things especially nasty leprechauns.”

“Why?” Jessie asked.

“They want to take me away but I have a secret weapon – it’s a magic circle locking them out.”

“What is it Granddad?”

Granddad said, “Love! Leprechauns don’t understand love because their world is nasty. They don’t have you, Granny and Bob to love them.”

Jessie thought about all the nice things the monster couldn’t understand.

Granddad showed Jessie his drawing.

She laughed. “You drew funny coloured shapes Granddad.”

“They are fairies sprinkling butterflies everywhere. What did you draw?”

“You, Granny, Mum, Dad, and lots and lots of Bobs,” she whispered.

“Who will we bring to the park next time?” Granddad asked.

Jessie smiled and said, “We will, Bob and me. But no monsters allowed!”

 

Maria’s Stuff: A question for everyone

A question to everyone regarding the children’s illustrated book  Doris and Maria are working on (featuring the Ogre Breeze)

Have you or would you buy a children’s book

1)  online

or

2) in a bookshop

 

Your answer would help me (Maria) and stop me dithering,

thank you.

Mrs. Claus Fixes Christmas

Christmas Eve –  two am – Constance Claus decided it was time. She tiptoed through the snow filled square. Though the sound of the elves snoring was reassuring Constance was being extra careful. She knew Enda could hear a feather drop in snow.

“I wish I could snore in harmony like them.” She paused, mid step to listen. “Ahh. I know the name of this tune. Let’s get this party started.'” Bending down to rub her white cat, she murmured, “we agree, don’t we Summer?”

The cat shook her paws before continuing on to the doorway of the workshop.

Constance believed her idea was brilliant. She was tired of listening to the elves moaning about the amount of snow. They are getting themselves in such a state that they are catching cold. She shivered at the thought of catching such a dreadful thing.

With her hand on the door knob, she paused to check again. Their snores floated on ice cold air to her. Satisfied she walked inside, flicking on lights as she went.

The workshop looked empty and vast. It wasn’t that way an hour ago.

*   *   *   *   *

Panic had been the order of the day. For a start, getting Santa into the sleigh  proved to be difficult.

“Steady on, mind my trousers.” He shouted as the elves formed a line and pushed him into the sleigh.

“Let’s fit the other toys in around him when we squish him down,” Enda  suggested.

“Hey Enda, less of the squishing. I can sit down.” Santa roared.

“You do the squishing bit.” Enda’s brothers, Slim, Noel and Sam, sang. They preferred to stay out of his way during the fraught filled minutes of final preparations.

Constance walked up to Santa, “Wait dear, you forgot your thermal insulated gloves.” She narrowed her eyes, “did you remember to put the matching socks on?”

He gave a nod then grimaced because they were hotter than he liked.

She said, “Good. I packed you a snack.”

At the mention of food he cheered up.

“And some liquorice for the reindeers.”

When he scowled, she chuckled, “a thermal mug of hot chocolate and a barrel of ginger nut elf biscuits for you. Take your time. Remember the list. Drive carefully Mr. Claus.”

Santa scowled. “That incident with the plane was not my fault, the idiots came closer for a second look. The reindeers lost their bootees with fright. As for the traffic lights in the main street, it wasn’t my fault, Mrs. Claus, I didn’t know they could swivel.”

The elves scurried away to check the reindeer’s boot laces.

She kissed the tip of his nose then worked her way around the reindeers planting a kiss on top of every head or they would be jealous.

“Have a nice rest, be kind to yourself Constance do something for you just for a change.” With those words he left.

“I will indeed,” she said.  Armed with a giant cup of creamy coffee embellished with a sprinkling of coco and a flake bar,  to get her creative motor running she began to plan. She liked inventing things, and tonight she felt like doing so.

 “Deciding to invent something is easy. The problem is doing it without causing further complications along the way.” Constance bit into her flake bar.  “Oh dear I will have to be careful. I remember poor little Elsie’s hair. Poof, up it went in a rainbow cloud of smoke when I made a hair curling tongs for her. And poor Jake tested my first sock warmers. He couldn’t bear to reveal his scorched foot to anyone for a long time. It looked so hideous. I got sick when I changed the bandages, but then I suppose that was my punishment for the damage I did.”

To dispel that nasty image she nibbled on the flake bar. Summer neatly caught the bits that fell towards the floor. There was silence for a long time as Constance sat and considered if, maybe, this was another stupid idea. The clock chimed. She glanced up at it. A scroll flipped down. It read, “late Christmas eve, go to bed.”

She muttered, “You are correct. I should but I won’t get an opportunity for another twelve months. So lets start.”

*   *   *   *

Once in the work shop she began by grabbing her tool box and plugging in the compressor. Bright blue sparks flew about her. Steel screeched as she cut and shaped. She didn’t realise she was finished until she reached for the last nut and bolt and discovered there was no more.

 “Now for the fun bit, testing and trying.” She hesitated. “Bother health and safety but I can’t ignore it.”

Getting ready for the test took more time than she bargained on. She dressed with care but she frightened Summer who raced towards the woods.

“Coward,” declared Constance as she pulled on the goggles and the thick safety gloves, before checking everything. “Right let’s check first,  safety harness for climbing. Hard hat, in case I slip. Bright obnoxious yellow jacket to make me highly visible, in case I get stuck under the snow.” She lifted one booted foot and stopped, they were of course safety issue, heavy and cumbersome.

 Saying a quick prayer to her guardian angel she went to drag her monster invention out of the workshop. It wouldn’t budge.

She stood looking at it wondering how to get it moving, then spotted a pair of roller blades, “perfect.”

Minutes later it sat outside in the snow, looking like a forlorn giant dog. Humming merrily she pressed the on switch. Clipping her rope to the central Christmas Pole in the middle of the square she took a look at the trampolines. They were lined up in strategic spots. They were used for hanging up lost and fallen lights or icicles. “Tonight I have another task for you,” she said.

Taking a leap she began to bounce along the trampolines hovering all of the snow from sight!

Constance was woken by a loud rumpus. It roared in her left ear. Sitting upright in her bed she discovered wasn’t easy as elves were climbing up onto her bed. From the muffled sounds beneath her she guessed a few were hidden underneath her bed.

“It’s been stolen, Christmas has been nicked.” Enda squeaked. His brothers took up the shout. “Not one snowflake left. Christmas is lost.”

“Not at all. It’s….” Constance smiled. “Isn’t this what you wished for?”

“No course not. It’s gone.” There were elves sobbing and moaning all around her.

She chewed on her bottom lip while considering the problem. “Let’s make the most of it, pretend we are in Hawaii.”

The elves moved into a huddle. There was frantic whispering. Enda appeared beside her.  “Slim is googling it on his iphone.” He ducked back inside the large circle.

“Can we barbecue? Make flower garlands, wear grass skirts? Try limbo dancing?” Sam asked.

She grimaced and worked her way around the vision of a hundred elves who can’t cook attempting to barbecue while wearing grass skirts.

Constance nodded. “Of course we can, but we’d better make sure there is a giant bucket of water standing by just in case..”

The words, “Christmas gets burnt,” died on her lips as she quickly added, “in case you get thirsty.”

Constance watched them race from her room chattering about sun lamps and sun burn. She wondered how she was going to explain this to Mr. S. Claus. With a sigh she tumbled from her bed and went to search her cookery books for tips on barbecuing.

“I suppose if the worst comes to the worst, the reindeers will not get lost this year, they will be guided home by the flames and aroma of one hundred turkey’s burning.”

Race Day: a true tale witnessed by me,

Annie was hopping about. The mat on the ground was nice and soft.  “Good to bounce on”, she muttered, bouncing about.

This was Race Day. She had to win. She knew she could. She was fast. Even Jill, the tall girl standing beside her, said so. Annie liked Jill but she wanted to beat her to the line.

Annie’s palms were sweating. Her mouth was dry. Somewhere in the stand was her mum, dad, grannies and granddad’s along with most of her family. But she couldn’t think of them.

The man with the whistle was telling them to pay attention and get ready. She didn’t know if she liked him, she couldn’t see his eyes they were hidden under a huge peaked cap. Seeing people’s eyes was a deciding factor for Annie, because you knew by their eyes what they were thinking.

Annie was ready. They had practiced in the back garden and at school. Annie always won.

“Get set!” His voice boomed at her.

Annie faced the rippling tape at the end of the track. It looked very far away. She took a deep breath. The whistle blew.

Annie ran. She pushed her legs out as far as she could. She stared at that line. Tongue out, heart racing, it was getting nearer.

She was halfway down the track when she heard a shout, ” Come on Annie!”
Annie risked a peep to her right. There they were, Mum , Dad, her brothers and sisters, everyone. They were shouting her name. She stopped and squinted at them. They were shouting something at her and waving their arms. She waved back. She felt good. But then she heard the other runners catching up on her. She shouldn’t have stopped, should she? Annie felt afraid, so afraid she couldn’t move. Then she heard someone else say “Come on Annie, why did you stop!”

Taking hold of her hand, Jill looked down at Annie and smiled.
Together they trotted through the tape.

 

Note:

I have had the privilege of witnessing many events like this at Special Olympics, and my main stream athletes who came to assist on the day  were blown away by the fun and competition.

A Walk On The Wild Side (400 words)

‘I might as well be a tinned sardine.” The bus lurched to a stop. Grace’s chin met the large shoulder of the guy in front of her. One line of text from his book jumped out at her: ‘What will you do with your one wild and precious life”

‘Nothing wild in my life’ she thought, visualizing the stack of unpaid household bills. For a moment she wondered what being wild would entail.

‘Jumping ship to discover the wonders beyond these shores, with not one euro in my pocket?’ Grace’s smile was tinged with sadness and longing. Truth was responsibilities meant she was careful to colour her life inside certain borders and never, ever, step outside the boundaries. Besides I don’t do wild or mad, not anymore she thought, not since that one night of drunken madness resulted in baby Noah.

Though, she considered, I might become bonkers from stress, boredom or worse lose my patience with this whole system and run naked through the streets. Thinking of the stack of money needed to survive brought a lot of grey thoughts to her mind. Wearing them like a cloak she got off at her usual stop and trudged up the street.

Standing on the threshold of her front door step, she took a deep breath and walked into the grim reality of her daily life. One hour later and Grace was feeling that familiar tightness in her chest. The room was closing in on her. Two pairs of eyes followed her every move: a silent echo of the sadness she felt. For a moment she considered running away.

A glimmer of sunshine sneaked into the room, Grace turned and peered outside. The warmth and comfort beckoned.  Gran looked at Grace pulling hats and coats from the hooks by the back door, “Where are we going? We never go out after tea!”

Grace placed baby Noah on Gran’s lap saying, “Hang on tight to him. We are going to walk on the wild side.”

A puzzled look was shot her way, she grinned as she pushed the laden wheel chair through the door. Then standing in front of them she performed a dance.

“I am going to teach Noah how to make the most of this life, be it wild or precious, we have only one, let’s make it count, eh gran?” Giggling and chortling like two teenagers they set off for the park.

Halloween Night at Mudpile Wood – 600 words.

Floating clouds giggled as they slipped by  the sparkling silver moon who danced in the sky.. Breeze tiptoed through the wood carrying a large sack. “Last year was dreadful,” he muttered.

Spike, (Breeze’s pet frog) sat on his right shoulder wearing a golden wig and orange crown. “Riggggbyyyyt…” He said.

“They messed up my cave. Stuff exploded or cackled. This year it’s my turn.”

“How?” Tulip asked him. A thick layers of cobwebs were dangling from the brim of her purple hat. She sat on Breezes left shoulder scanning the wood for tricks.

“By undoing their tricks and scaring them.”

“Nice idea, but impossible.”

Breeze scowled. “No I’ve been planning.”

She tugged his ear. “Stop. There’s another fire crackling stepping stone.”

“Thanks.” Breeze scooped it up.

They walked on again. “Five paces left there is a bend over backwards fire work.”

“Don’t like them. Last year I was carried away to the Elven forest. Rubbish party they were having with twinkling lights and polite voices saying…excuse me but would you like a trick or treat.” He shuddered at the memory.

“So what is your goal tonight?”

“Survive..” he said. “Let’s climb out of the way.”

They sat high in the tree tops watching the stars play a duck and dive game. “Where’s your pet poodle, Tulip?”

“Maisie is tucked up nice and safe at my mum’s house. Mum doesn’t like Halloween anymore. Not since she got caught by Matt and his friends. They scared her and her hair became stiff.”

Breeze looked at her. “I thought her hair always stood up straight on her head.”

“Nope it used to be smooth and shiny. Like my fairy cake icing.”

Breeze tilted his head to one side. “Did you….?”

“Bring some? Yes they are on the branches above you.”

They sat eating cakes watching the show in the sky and waiting for the fun in the wood to begin.

Ten minutes before midnight Lovisma arrived. “Breeze said he’d set up the apple dunking stall in the clearing.”

Elegant said, “He did. It’s over there.”

Matt watched spiders spinning a rope from a branch that held a large parcel. “Ooh there must be loads of sweets and marshmallows in there.”

Right in the centre of the clearing a group of elves were dancing around a fountain. They chanted, “we love the strawberry sherbert fountain.”

Mrs. Groundsel, Hamish, Breeze’s mum, and other parents arrived.

Tulip looked at Breeze, “hope your mum enjoys a joke.”

Taking a deep breath, he roared, “Go.”

“How smart are they?” Tulip asked as she watched Lovisma lower her head over the barrel. However it moved away from her, sliding across the grass. Lovisma chased it. Steam bellowed from her slime covered hat.

“It shouldn’t take too long for the truth to sink in.” Breeze said.

The children who dug their hands into the fountain discovered, (a) it was green smelly slime and (b) it pulled them into the fountain.

The boys beating the parcel with the stick found it was growing instead of breaking.

Breeze’s mum laughed so hard she fell off her chair.

Breeze winked at Tulip. “It’s going to get better. Watch.”

Taking a deep breath he roared, “Trick or Treat?”

“Treat,” they shouted. Instantly the trees surrounding the clearing began to melt forming a dark pool. Matt dipped his hand into it and shouted, “mud.”

Everyone screamed with delight. Children rolled and played. The witches were building a castle. Suddenly the ground began to shake and rumble.

Elegant hopped on her broomstick. She flew high into the sky.

Her shrieking voice filled every space in the wood, “Grace and her friends, hide.”

Breeze was laughing so hard he pushed Tulip out of the tree. She raised her wand saying, “enough is enough, they will get squished by the hippos.”

“Relax, its not them its only Grace and she is bringing the surprise a Halloween barbecue complete with sparklers and flaming cauldrons. What more could a surprise Halloween party need?”

“Us,” Tulip said and flew down to join them.

For a picture/image of Breeze and Tulip visit : miartedoris.wordpress.com see the illustration under, The Trouble with Trees  .