All About Heather Chamberlain
‘Fun is the key to learning.’
Heather Chamberlain has a B.Ed degree from Exeter University, with a distinction in teaching practice. She has written stories from a young age and during more than 20 years as a primary school teacher, was well known for her story telling. Some of the plots and characters she created featured in her musical theatre productions. Initially, Chris de Burgh provided the songs, but later she wrote her own lyrics, with a colleague composing the music.
In more recent times, Heather has adapted her lyrical skills to writing stories in rhyme. In October 2013 she published ‘Fowl Deeds and Feathers’, the first in her humorous rhyming series, Major Payne in Happy Bottom. The sequel, Mishaps and Mayhem was published in 2014. These books are essentially rhyming novels, with their chapters in verse. They follow a sequence of events, engaging the reader with comic Dorset place names (Happy Bottom is a real village in Dorset), distinctive characters and hilarious illustrations, mixed with an element of word play.
Heather Chamberlain lives with her husband and three sons in the wilds of Dorset. She finds peace and tranquility in the ancient oak woodland and is constantly entertained by the wildlife that frequent her garden. Observing the wood mice, cursing the crows, rescuing a pair of little owls that tumbled down the chimney and befriending an abandoned peacock, have inspired Happy Bottom plots and character creations.
Promoting the enjoyment of reading and inspiring children to achieve their creative potential, remains Heather’s primary objective. To this end she has set up the Happy Bottom Books website where children can contact her; upload their work and download activities. To bring the book characters to life, Heather’s activities will include introducing the life sized puppet Woofbot, along with Fireside, Panic and Scurry.
Heather’s School Visits
The aim of a school visit is to inspire not just reading and writing, but also fire a child’s imagination and lead to a desire to pick up a book, when previously they’d have been reluctant to do so.
To further motivate children after the visit, there is the website where their work can be published in the gallery.
Presentations can take place in a hall, but classrooms are preferred if the children are to engage in drawing and/or writing activities.
Heather will present to groups of more than 30, though, the larger the group, the less effective the session will be.
Below are suggestions for activities during the visit. There is flexibility and the option to tailor sessions to suit the school’s requirements.
Whole school assembly presentation.
These can last from 20 to 30 minutes.
At the beginning of the school day, a school assembly will include a brief introduction to the author and the inspiration for her book. Heather will read a rhyme or two. The main characters will be introduced, but not the puppets. There will be a Q&A session if time permits.
At the end of the day, it could be a session for looking at what’s been achieved (presentation of work) and a final Q & A. If an interactive board is available, there is the option of scrolling through the book, once more, for those children Heather has not worked with during the day.
These will begin with an introduction to the books and a brief look at the website. To save time, it would be helpful if the website is loaded before the author arrives. It would be useful if the children were familiar with the website prior to Heather’s arrival. It contains quite a lot of information about her; the characters are displayed on a scrolling banner and the real Happy Bottom can be found in the ‘scrapbook.’ It might be a good idea for the children to research some facts about the Heather and her book in preparation for the visit.
* Vocabulary will be highlighted and discussed at every opportunity.
* The use of homophones, alliteration, onomatopoeia etc and be discussed during sessions if appropriate.
* Performance rhymes: There is an option to practise and perform Happy Bottom rhymes for an audience. This could be performed as part of an afternoon assembly, or even to parents, invited to meet the author at an end of day book signing event.
A 20 minute session with a story outline and introduction to the puppet characters. The children are encouraged to ask questions and use descriptive language to describe Woofbot and friends.
Key Stage One:
A 30 – 45 minute session.
Objective: Fun. Design a character accompanied by descriptive language.
*Using an interactive white board…
The session begins with an introduction to the book and a brief look at the website. Move on to view some original character designs and then scroll through the book, outlining the story. Following this the puppets are introduced. Heather then reads rhymes from the book involving these characters and the children are encouraged to join in, reading the end of line rhyming words from the screen.
Children are encouraged to consider the significance of names and physical attributes when designing characters. They then use what has been learned to create and describe their own creation.
* Happy Bottom template provided for character design.
Key Stage Two:
Years 3 & 4:
45 – 60 minutes
Objective: Fun. Appreciate the pattern of rhyme. Design a character and create some rhyming description.
*Using an interactive white board…
The introduction for the session will be much as that for KS1. The book will be scrolled through as the story is outlined. The children will be encouraged to read with the author, focusing on the rhyming words.
The character puppets will be introduced and there will be time for a few questions and discussion about the importance of design.
The difference in this session, compared to the one for KS1, is that the children are encouraged to write rhyming descriptions and/or a two line rhyme about their character. (ref. website character banner and 2 line descriptions).
*Happy Bottom template provided for character designs.
Years 5 & 6:
60 – 90 minutes
Objective: Fun! Appreciate the pattern of rhyme. Design a character and write a short illustrated rhyme.
*Using an interactive white board…
The introduction to the session will be a tour of the website, a look at some original character designs and a scroll through the story. Author and volunteers will read some rhymes.
Introduction of puppets will consider the importance of character design. There will be a spontaneous rhyming session, with children encouraged to participate and a look rhyming patterns in relation to the number of syllables per line. (Random samples of rhymes from book are provided). The children decide the age group that they’re writing for and plan accordingly. Children will then spend time designing a character and writing a short illustrated rhyme.
* This is a good activity to pair children into writer and illustrator. The pairing would be best done by the class teacher prior to the session.
* Completed work can be forwarded to the author who will select some to publish on her website.
Key Stage Three:
Heather is prepared to discuss the possibility of working in secondary schools with students wanting to write for younger children. This could also be a collaborative session, with students from the Art and English faculties working together.
‘This book has lots of qualities to recommend it. Its style of writing is unique as it encompasses a range of rhyming patterns and poetry techniques which are complimented by comic illustrations. In my opinion it would engage even the most reluctant reader and has great potential for use within the English curriculum.’ – J. Walsh (retired English Co-ordinator)
‘I really enjoyed reading ‘Major Payne in Happy Bottom’. It had lots of funny parts in it and I liked the use of vocabulary the author, Heather Chamberlain, chose. The puppets were awesome. My favourite part of the day was when Heather came into our classroom as we designed some characters and started to write our own poems. I love poetry but I haven’t quite finished mine yet.’ By Joe
‘When Heather Chamberlain came to our school I really enjoyed listening to her read her book. I particularly liked the puppets; Woofbot, Fireside, Scurry and Panic.’ By Mollie
Reviews and Recommendations:
Thank you. There was a very positive buzz in Years 3 and 4 on Thursday and Friday! One Year 3 teacher reported a ‘I’ve changed my mind I’m going to be an author when I grow up’ conversation on the bus to swimming. I will ask the teachers concerned to send some work. Kind regards and thank you, Fireside, Scurry and Panic for coming too.’ Libby Newsome Assistant Headteacher, Woodlands Junior School
Thank you very much for coming to visit us and telling us about your writing and your books. The children particularly enjoyed meeting your puppets! They have been inspired to go off and design all sorts of new characters…
Yours appreciatively, on behalf of Castle Court School,’ Gill
… Thank you so very much for our visit, the children said you were a real inspiration. I have created a display in our main hall with some of the work produced by our Y5 class, and have lots of work that would be wonderful to send your way… Thank you again for your time and support.’ Rachel Pumfrey, Year 5 Teacher, English & RRS Leader, David Livingstone Academy
‘Thank you for your visit today at Galley Hill School. Thank you for all your work you did with the children across the three classes. We really enjoyed your visit and hope you did too!’ – Abby Apenning, Galley Hill Primary School
‘We thoroughly enjoyed having Heather Chamberlain visit our school. The children were fully engaged in the multi-sensory activities during the afternoon. In the short time we had: we created music, met the characters, enjoyed parts of the story and learnt what life is like as an author. The children were truly inspired and all very excited to read Heathers books. During lunch and afterschool, we had a very long line of eager children waiting to get their new book personally signed. We cannot thank Heather Chamberlain enough for bringing inspiration and motivation to our school through her new exciting books.’ – Natasha Hoskins, Archbishop Wake Primary School
‘We had a visit from an up and coming local author today…the children absolutely loved her and found her work entertaining. The reason I am recommending the author is because she led a lovely assembly where the children were involved and engaged; she visited seven classes and explored illustrations as well as character description, alliteration and rhyme; her books have most definitely been written with children in mind (vulgar in places, which works so well with the children, but also extremely clever). The highlight of the day, however, was when the children got to meet her puppets; they are amazing! The book includes a clever choice of vocabulary, rhyming patterns, great illustrations and the setting has been based on a local area. I highly recommend this local, up and coming author!’
‘Hi Heather, I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for today. The children at Heathlands Primary School had a fab time and enjoyed meeting the characters from your book…as well as you of course. What we particularly loved about your book was the clever choice of vocabulary, the rhyming patterns, the great illustrations and the fact that the setting has been based on a local area. Part of the new curriculum for English specifies that children need to read for enjoyment; your book certainly engaged the children and they want to read MORE and produce work based on the visit! I thought you would be pleased to know that this morning, the first thing I saw when the children walked into class was a child head straight for your book in the book corner. You really did inspire them! I will be sure to forward some work to you; the children are very eager for you to see what they produced! We wish you every success and hope that you will visit us again in the future.’ –Stacey Freeman Literacy co-ordinator Heathlands Primary School – Bournemouth
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Heather Chamberlain, 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
Further information on Heather Chamberlain is available from her website:http://www.happybottombooks.co.uk