All About Amanda Mitchison
Amanda grew up in Scotland. She has travelled widely. Her first job as a journalist was on The Egyptian Gazette in Cairo and later she worked as a radio reporter for the Vatican in Rome.
She has worked as a features writer and roaming foreign correspondent for British newspapers. She now writes occasionally for the Guardian magazine and lives in the countryside just outside Bristol with her husband and her two teenage sons. She won an Arts Council Writers scholarship in 2005 and was nominated for a Blue Peter Award in 2003.
Amanda says, ‘I grew up with no television and I had a hoard of cousins. We passed the summers together building dens and going fishing and climbing trees and playing Billy Haley and The Comets on a rickety old record player. We read Tolkein and Joan Aiken and played games of Monopoly late into the night (supervision was lax.) We were free.
My aim when I visit schools is to help the children to be free. I mean that in the widest sense of the word – for books and writing allow you to go places you could never visit and be people that you are not. On paper the world is limitless.
I strongly believe that in every child there is a spark of invention and creativity that is the key to their learning. The job of a visiting author is to fire children up, to make them experiment, invent, step outside their normal selves and take a few risks. Without imagination we all become “Gradrinds”.’
Amanda Mitchison has just released her second mid-range thriller ‘Crog’ aimed at 9 to 12 year olds. Random House has dubbed it ‘Stig of the Dump Meets The 39 Steps.’ Amanda Mitchison also has a double life as the dragon trainer Professor Georgie Blink.
Amanda’s School Visits
Amanda is happy to tailor her event to your school’s need, providing timetables and co-ordinating activities with class teachers. She has workshops and presentations suitable for key stages 1, 2 and 3. All her events are based around books that she has written.
Amanda says, ‘I like children to participate, not just listen. So in all my sessions they have to do something – discuss, imagine, act and write. So usually they will need pencils or pens and something to lean on. The activities range from map making to writing their own little booklets and diaries. My aim is always to get the wriggly boys in the back of the classroom keen to write something.’
Crog Presentation (years 5 to 9)
A 45 -50 minute event suitable for a larger assembly (i.e. up to about 250 pupils). Includes a PowerPoint presentation and an ‘ideas’ box. Children will require pen and paper.
-What we know of the Bronze Age
-The bloody history of clan wars in Scotland
-How writers work—how you discover things as you write
-Hidden back stories to books
-The importance of editing
-How spelling doesn’t really matter but handwriting does
-How all children can crack writing.
Crog Writing Workshop (years 5 to 9)
Suitable for up to 60 children working for a morning or afternoon.
Theme: what would a Bronze Age boy think if he was dropped on earth today?
-PowerPoint presentation on the Bronze Age
-Box of modern prompts and brainstorming session
-Guided writing exercises/drafts leading to children writing a diary booklet.
Map Making (years 3 and 4. An hour.)
Suitable for up to about 60 children (can be done over two classrooms).
This is a map-making workshop, based around the book Amanda wrote about Alexander Selkirk, who was the real man on which Daniel Defoe based his novel Robinson Crusoe. Selkirk was abandoned on the Juan Fernandez Islands off Chile for 4 years in the early 1700’s.
The workshop involves:
-A talk about Selkirk’s terrible experiences on Juan Fernandez
-A brief bit of role play
-A PowerPoint presentation showing early maps–which are often wildly inaccurate but do give greater scope in other, less technical respects
-The map making. I give the children A3 copies of the 18th century map of Selkirk’s island but including only an outline–all the wonderful sea monsters and other paraphernalia of the early map have been blanked out. The children then fill in the missing bits. At the end we then compare their versions with the original map (kept hidden until this point….).
Dragon Clinics (years 1 to 6. An hour).
The fantastically dressed Professor Georgie Blink gives basic instruction on dragon care.
-A bit of writing and drawing in little dragon books
-Some practical exercises in how to control your dragon, what to feed it, what equipment you will need, which breed to select, the pros and cons of hatching an egg versus picking up a cheap rescue dragon, etcetera
-If they are good the Professor will let them stroke her invisible dragon Picton on the end of a lead
-Also features a chance to touch dragon poo, experience dragon breath, and examine dragon snot
-Dragon literacy worksheets also available for follow up work. Takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Children will need pencils and, ideally, red and green crayons.
Dragon Days (reception to year 6. All day activity)
A whole day of dragon related activities orchestrated by Professor Blink.
-Whole school assembly to start the day
-Dragon-related activities, calibrated for the different year groups and introduced by Amanda (She will supply accompanying worksheets). These include: making dragon eggs and luggage labels (years 1 and 2), writing ‘Wanted’ posters (years 3 and 4) and agony aunt letters to the dragon trainer (years 5 and 6)
-Construction of a giant school dragon with each child in the school decorating and writing at least one paper scale (see picture above)
-Final assembly where children read out some of their written work, show off their eggs and, hopefully, admire their completed giant dragon.
What facilities will Amanda need when she visits your school
Amanda will need a computer with PowerPoint installed and a projecting facility so that she can play her presentations off a memory stick. She will also need a flipchart and the children will need pens or pencils, a pad and something to lean on (a clipboard or a book).
When Wilf sees the small, gold-rimmed wooden bowl in the local museum, he’s not sure why he’s so drawn to it – but something about the bowl has him mesmerized, and he just has to take it. The next morning, when Wilf wakes up, there’s a small, pale creature in his room: Crog. Dressed in brown rags, dripping mud and blood, with black stubs for teeth and a grisly rope around his neck, Crog isn’t sure how he ended up here – but he knows it’s because of the bowl. Three thousand years ago, Crog was tasked with protecting the bowl from those who want to use it to gain power, and he failed once. But he won’t fail again.
‘A thoroughly contemporary yarn… an involving adventure’ The Observer
‘A strong vein of humour,’ Books For Keeps
‘There is so much to like in this book, it’s intriguing and fast-paced with a fantastic chase, ghosts, the Scottish landscape and the fingers of the far distant past coming to haunt.’ Rebecca Lisle on Goodreads
This story is based on real events. During the winter of 1942 four teenagers, trained by the British Army Special Operations Executive (the SOE), are sent on a mission to Norway to stop Hitler from making the atomic bomb. Ase, Freddie, Jakob and Lars must penetrate the fortress-like Vemork power plant and then escape over the freezing mountains into Sweden with the Germans on their heels. Can they make it?
‘A clever and tense reconstruction,’ The Mail on Sunday
‘A gripping thriller’ The Scotsman
‘Altogether superior’ The Sunday Telegraph
My First Pet Dragon
Leading dragon expert Professor Georgie Blink will answer all your questions about dragon care. Find out everything you need to know–from choosing a breed, to incubating an egg, to feeding, grooming and training.
Alexander Selkirk: Survivor on a Desert Island
Alexander Selkirk, Scottish mariner and adventurer, was delighted to be rescued by passing sailors after four years alone on a Pacific island. The story tells how Selkirk came to be stranded on the island in 1705, and how he survived – the story of the real Robinson Crusoe.
David Livingstone: The Legendary Explorer
How Livingstone survived in the wilds of Africa. Features lion and hippo attacks, cannibals, quick sands, rapids etcetera.
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Amanda Mitchison, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at email@example.com