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Junior School welcomes costa book award winner and author, Katherine Rundell

Junior School welcomes costa book award winner and author, Katherine Rundell

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24 September 2018

It was a thrilling start to the week on Monday, as the children from Years 4-6, plus our Year 6 friends from Widcombe Primary School, gathered excitedly to welcome author and Costa Book Award Winner, Katherine Rundell, to the Junior School to hear about her new book, Into the Jungle.

Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, first published by Macmillan in 1894, is one of the most enduring books of children’s literature, delighting generations of children. Katherine has taken this as the basis of her new and enchanting tale, creating the back story and early years of favourite characters, from Baloo to Shere Kan and Kaa and Bagheera.  Each animal is introduced as they meet Mowgli on his travels through the Indian Jungle.  In this brilliantly imagined world, Baloo can speak every animal language, Mowgli’s Mother Wolf is a street fighter, Bagheera, born in a city, in a palace, in a cage takes flight to the jungle, whilst Kaa and his hypnotic superpower aids pick pocketers and is involved in a heist.

During her visit, Katherine provided plenty of inspiration on how to get started writing a story.  Ideas can come from anywhere – a dream, visit or conversation with someone, or perhaps something you are passionate about. She went on to explain how some of her own experiences and obsessions had served as the basis for her previous books. A long wished for visit to the Amazon, where she swam with pink dolphins and ate piranha fish, (noting it was luckily not the other way round!) inspired her fourth novel, The Explorer, whilst an encounter with a trap door above the library at All Souls College, Oxford, led her to explore the rooftop of the college and from there it was a mere tightrope walk to her second book, Rooftoppers.

Further writing advice saw Katherine encouraging her young audience to think about the ‘ingredients of a story’ - the characters of the book; the story setting; a possible first sentence and a ‘what if’ scenario.  It was important to get something down on paper, as a first draft, noted Katherine, but reviewing and editing a story was equally important and is the bit where stories become great stories.  As an example, she cited Roald Dahl’s Matilda, where Matilda, in the initial draft, was conceived as an evil character who ended up being trampled by a horse!

After Katherine’s talk there was plenty of time for questions before a very lengthy queue was formed for signed copies of her new book.

 

About Katherine and her books

Katherine Rundell grew up in Zimbabwe, Brussels, and London, and is currently a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She begins each day with a cartwheel and believes that reading is almost exactly the same as cartwheeling: it turns the world upside down and leaves you breathless. In her spare time, she enjoys walking on tightropes and trespassing on the rooftops of Oxford colleges.

Rundell's first book, published in 2011, was The Girl Savage; it told the story of Wilhelmina Silver, a tomboyish girl from Zimbabwe, who is sent to a posh English boarding school following the death of her father.

Her second book, Rooftoppers, followed the adventures of Sophie, apparently orphaned in a shipwreck on her first birthday. Sophie later attempts to find her mother, whom she is convinced survived the disaster, whilst also taking to the rooftops of Paris in order to thwart officials trying to send her to a British orphanage. It won the overall Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story, and was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal.

 Rundell's third novel, The Wolf Wilder, tells the story of Feodora, who prepares wolf cubs – kept as status-symbol pets by wealthy Russians – for release into the wild when they become too large and unmanageable for their owners.

Rundell's fourth novel, The Explorer, tells the survival story of a group of children whose plane crashes in the Amazon rainforest, and a secret they uncover. It won the 2017 Costa Book Award in the Children's Book category.[18] Following the award, Rundell discussed the book's environmental themes and her research, which included eating tinned tarantulas, on BBC Radio 4's Front Row.

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