All About Claire Barker
Claire Barker’s brain is like a barrel of excited monkeys. Writing stories lets the monkeys run about, for which they are very grateful. Ten years ago she worked as an HLTA in a primary school. She was always trying to find special stories to put in book bags – ones that are easy to pick up but hard to put down. In the end her brain monkeys wrote their own book.
Her award-winning Knitbone Pepper series, about a lovable ghost dog, has been translated into eight different languages and is available in hardback, paperback and audiobook. In 2017 the first book was a runner up in the Sainsbury’s Children’s Fiction award, was shortlisted for the Fantastic Books award and then won The Book Factor; an award voted for exclusively by over 2000 children. In the same year she was thrilled to be nominated by Devon Librarians for the prestigious Ruth Rendell Award, for the author who has done the most to champion literacy. She has performed on stage at Edinburgh, Bath, Cheltenham and a variety of other festivals, not to mention in front of thousands of children in schools around the country.
Claire lives on a small Devon farm with her family and several animals that are constantly trying to escape. None of them are actual monkeys.
I begin with lots of pictures and funny stories about my animals and how living in the countryside, surrounded by the natural world, inspires me to write. I talk about famous pets and ask the children about theirs. I tell the children all about the Knitbone stories – how they came about, with readings and accompanying pictures. The Peppers in Knitbone series are hat-mad so I bring along a jam-packed suitcase with lots of different examples for the children to identify. There is always plenty of time for questions and I give away postcards for the best ones. Needless to say this creates a lot of engagement, most significantly from children who may not usually take part.
Length -45 minutes, this can be adjusted to suit the school timetable
Numbers – Happy for it to be whole school
Requirements: Powerpoint facilities, waist high table, water
Workshop – Beloved Imaginarium.
Together the children and I create a character on the board using a series of questions. (15 mins) The aim is to stretch their imaginations like an elastic band, to make language work hard for them. Then the children fly solo, using a pre-prepared worksheet to create a character profile. (15 minutes) When this is complete I will talk to the children about the three critical elements of a good story: character, plot and language, using juggling balls to explain ( 10 minutes) Time allowing I shall do another reading and answer any more questions.
Length -50 minutes approx, this can be adjusted for school timetables.
Numbers – up to 30 with appropriate teaching support
Requirements: Flip chart, pens, chair, table.
9:00 -9:45 –whole school presentation
10 – 10:50 – workshop
11:05 – 11:55 – workshop
1:30 – 2:30 – workshop
3:00 pm signing session
Reviews and testimonials from previous school visits.
“Claire was her usual vibrant self and kept the children completely captivated. She took time to chat to individuals as she signed her books, making each child feel special. She has the knack of inspiring both children and teachers!!” Testimonial Claire Rowe, KS2 teacher, The Maynard School, Exeter
‘Thank you Claire Barker What an amazing and inspiring talk today for children of Seaton, Colyton, Kilmington and Shute Primaries. Hats, biscuits, how to create a character, the power of your imagination, and stories about Claire’s own collection of animals past and present which have inspired her writing. And that was just the talk in the hall! Claire was then invited to some classrooms to look at their creative writing and share top tips. And after that she spent an hour in the library chatting to any children who dropped in, signing books and answering questions’. Jenny Eagles, Owl and Pyramid Bookshop, Seaton
‘Claire was like a breath of fresh air… When signing her books, Claire talked with the children individually and made it a really special memory for them. Many children have said how they have been inspired to write more stories as a result of this visit.’ Winscombe Primary, North Somerset
“A boy in my class was a very reluctant reader, I had tried all sorts of books and activities to try and get him enthusiastic and inspired but for him reading was a chore. After a visit from CCB and the author Claire Barker he purchased the book Knitbone Pepper and got it signed by the author. He went home excited about reading the book in the evening – I couldn’t believe it! The next day he was giving me a summary of what had happened so far with great enthusiasm. We spoke about the book often and one day he proclaimed “I used to hate reading until we had the visit from the author – now I love it!”. For this little boy that 50 minute visit and book signing had changed his attitude and enthusiasm towards reading forever, which without CCB we wouldn’t have had. He is now an avid reader who finds it hard to put a book down!” Teacher’s email to Crediton Community Bookshop
‘Claire came to speak to our KS2 children last week and was fantastic! Her story ideas and tips as an author were inspiring and the workshop afterwards complements perfectly our approach to story writing – never accepting the first idea, adding detail and “tell me more”! It was a wonderful event and many children went on to buy her book and appreciated meeting her as an author. Claire took the time to speak to each child individually and as I have walked around the school since, have seen lots of children reading her book. A lovely event – thank you so much!’
Chulmleigh Primary School
‘A simple yet powerful presentation that showed the children that, although hard work and requiring a great deal of patience, being a published author is not out of their reach. An inspiring visit that saw many children buying books and instantly wanting to read them and not put them down – a winning sight for any teacher. Thank you so much for visiting us and reminding the children how exciting, interesting and adventurous being a writer can be….What we particularly enjoyed was the way you showed the children how easy it could be to come up with ideas…Ever since your visit, your book has been read by a large number of the children and, from their reading comments, it is clear that they are loving it! Bring on the next one – we can’t wait!’ Haywards School, Crediton
“Wow! What can I say… the children and adults alike can not speak highly enough of you. Your presentation and workshops are truly inspiring, motivating and thought provoking. Our morning together has left my children desperately eager to write creatively and imaginatively, which was most defiantly our aim. The sessions provided great enjoyment for all abilities of children.
We loved the ‘Beloved Imaginarium’ sheets you provided as they set a great stimulus for the children to express their own ideas following on from the whole group discussion, allowing them to see that they all have the potential to be wonderful writers. As you know i am a devoted Knitbone Pepper fan and thoroughly enjoy reading the series to both my own children as well as my class. The series is humorous, yet tugs on the heart stings but above all are beautifully written with a depth and breadth of vocabulary.
Overall I would highly recommend a morning with Claire Barker to any school, your way with the children is lovely and their engagement this morning was truly magical… I have never seen them so engrossed and quiet. One of the children described your humour as tremendous 😊. We also appreciated the time you took after the session to sign some cards for the children as this makes the experience more personal for them.
Thank you again, you are an amazing author and we would happily welcome you back anytime.”
Mrs Riley and the children of Broadfield Primary Academy
The Books: Knitbone Pepper
Meet Knitbone Pepper, the dead special ghost dog haunting Starcross Hall.
Knitbone has a problem. His beloved owner Winnie and her bonkers parents may be forced to move and leave Knitbone behind. Can the Spirits of Starcross, a gigglesome gang of ghostly animals, help Winnie save her home?
Illustrated by the multi-award winning Ross Collins and published by Usborne
- Winner of The Book Factor 2017
- Runner up in the Sainsbury’s Fiction Prize 2017
- Shortlisted for the Fantastic Book Awards 2017
- Featured in Ten of the Best Children’s Utopias in Books for Keeps magazine
Book One – Knitbone Pepper: Best Friends Forever
‘Knitbone has made lots of new animal friends since becoming a ghost dog. But his owner, Winnie, is missing him. Can the ghostly gang come up with a plan in time to help Winnie see Knitbone again?’
Book Two – Knitbone Pepper: The Last Circus Tiger
‘Roll Up! Roll Up! The circus is coming, and Winnie and her ghostly animal friends can’t wait. The magicians, acrobats and clowns are such fun! But Knitbone sniffs something beastly in the big top….’
Book Three – Knitbone Pepper:A Horse Called Moon
‘One starry night, Knitbone and his friends find a ghost horse hiding in the garden. Her name is Moon and she is searching for her long lost owner. But Moon has a spooky secret which is sure to spell trouble.’
Reviews for Kntibone Pepper
- “Highly recommended…an irresistible series.” Daily Express
- “Full of hilarity, warmth and undefeated love” MG Strikes Back
- “A brilliantly conceived and warm-hearted series” Lancashire Evening Post
- “Funny and tender” The Metro
- “Perfect for enjoying as a great read aloud with a class, this is also a book that could be used for inspiring writing.“ Sue Wilsher, School Librarian
· “Knitbone Pepper is a fab spooky read, one of our top picks” Mumsnet Books
· “Heaven in a book for young animal fans.” LoveReading4Kids
· “The skill, charm and animal instinct to rival Dick King-Smith…great class reading material, a great bedtime book and an all round winner” Sunshine Books
- “There is no doubt that one day these books will be looked on as classics.” Bookseller Bob Stone
To Make A Booking
To make an enquiry about Claire Barker, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org