Monday, 6 October 2008

My working week in Rio

Most of the content of my Rio postings have been a kind of journal. I just want to go into a little more detail what I actually did at the British School

I did a series of readings, talks and workshops spread over five days, all of which took place in the libraries at the various sites as part of the school's Book Week. In the main I found the students at all my sessions eager and bright and well-behaved. And I only say 'in the main' because once you have groups of over twenty children, it would be a miracle if they all sat still and did not fidget or whisper (though whispering is the arch-enemy of the storyteller!). Many of the children are listening and speaking in a second language and this fact made the quality of the comments and questions all the more impressive.

I went to the Urca site on Monday and Thursday and had class 6 and 7 students (in England they would be Year 8 and 9) - students ranging in age from 11-14. I had four sessions of about 50 minutes with groups ranging in size from 15 to 35. Monday was my earliest start with an 8.10 am start to the first session. Mostly, my working day lasted until 2.30.

I was at Barra on Tuesday and Wednesday - three sessions on Tuesday with Class 1 (Year 3 in the UK) 7-8 year-old students, four on Wednesday of Class 2, 3, 4 and 5 (aged 8 to 12). Most groups were around 20 students, but one on Wednesday had 40.

Friday was my only day at Botafogo - the oldest part of the British School. Here I had four sessions, each with large groups of Class 4 and 5 (Year 7 & 8) students aged between 10 and 12.

The sessions were all different. I had asked if there was anything the staff wanted me to highlight in particular when I visited, and so I tended to address particular genres or areas when I was at Barra for instance. We talked about fantasy writing, historical fiction and mystery writing, relating these subjects to specific books I had written. I read extracts and talked about research, planning, character development and so on.

Urca had not specified anything and so I was very happy to follow the lead of the English teacher, Ilma Lima, who wanted the sessions to be more interactive. In those sessions I gave the students a prompt to begin their own story and let them run with it. We created a number of very workable ideas revolving around one idea of a computer in the school library that does something weird (sends you to another world or parallel world, say) when an odd combination of keys is used and another about a portal in the school - the best idea being the trapdoor the the stage that takes the characters into the world of the play they are acting in. I hope we showed how quickly the bare bones of a story can be put together.

At Botafogo, the students had looked at my blog and done their research and wanted to ask questions. Again I was very happy to drop what I had intended to do and spend the time answering questions. In my next posting I am going to go through the questions that came up during these and other sessions, from both staff and students, and give my answers to them.


  1. Adriana Sardinha8 October 2008 at 16:46

    Hi, Chris!
    I've been reading your blog along the last week and thought about you on Saturday, your last day in Rio... Good to know you had a nice time and a good trip back home.
    We are glad to publish Uncle Montague's tales in Portuguese and will do our best for the success of the book here. Hope to send you other articles with good news about it soon.
    All the best,

    PS: It's still rainning a lot here!

  2. Hi Adriana

    And I am very pleased to be published by Rocco. I just hope the book sells. I also wish I had thought to sign the stock of books at Livraria de Travessa while I was there.
    Thank you for all you support and kindness on my trip to Rio. And it is very sunny here in Cambridge!