All About Kathryn Cave
Kathryn Cave is an award-winning children’s author. She writes for all ages and her books have been published in Europe, Asia and America as well as in the UK. Kathryn lives and works in London. She’s the author of picture books (Something Else, You’ve Got Dragons, Friends, Horatio Happened and others) and books for older children (Similon, William and the Wolves, The Emperor’s Gruckle Hound and the Henry Hobbs stories).
I became an author because I grew up in a house full of books. One of my earliest memories is standing on the arm of the sofa by the bookcase to reach the books on the top shelf. I talked to imaginary friends under the dining room table. I told myself stories to get to sleep. I loved books I could lose myself in, like T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone, where real all-too-human characters lived their recognisable lives in a world with different rules from home. I still love the no man’s land where reality and fantasy meet. My longest novel so far, Similon, is all about that and I’m working on another story set in that territory at the moment. I’ve been hugely lucky to have wonderful illustrators like Chris Riddell, Nick Maland and Paul to work with on my books.
Writer in Residence
Kathryn was in Doha in October/November 2011 as Writer in Residence at Qatar Academy and a selection of Arab schools, working with students from age 10 to 16.
Kathryn’s School Visits
Kathryn works with all ages from Key Stage 1 up to GCSE and older secondary school students.
Kathryn can begin the day with a large-group assembly style presentation. In a secondary school presentation Kathryn uses images of people: close up or far away, whole or partly concealed – and uses the slides to talk about the stories that are all around us when we walk down any street if we actively engage our imagination. The raw material of stories is all around us: people and places. In an infant school setting, the presentation would focus on her book Something Else and the ideas that are in the story.
For the presentation Kathryn will need a mic and something to run a PowerPoint presentation on. Following the presentation Kathryn will then work with smaller groups in workshops.
Whatever the age of the students, the storybag workshops are basically improvisations. These give class-size groups a hands-on experience of the wonderful story making possibilities of the ordinary and surprising things in Kathryn’s storybag. The stories that come out of it are gripping. There’s a torch in the bag. Does it work? Switch it on! All at once, you’re someone in a cave high on a mountain. You had to creep past a sleeping lion to find it. Someone was supposed to meet you here, but there’s no one in sight. What does your character hear… see… think… remember? Who’s the last person they spoke to on the way to the cave? You reach into your satchel and find …. To be continued.
This approach works with primary and secondary school students too. Kathryn can adapt the workshop for groups of up to 80, but ideally the workshops would be for class sizes, using small group work followed by individual writing.
The result is collection of one-page story fragments to explore, develop, combine and share in later activities. Throughout these workshops Kathryn can also refer to 3 or 4 great story-telling episodes from literature: David Balfour setting out from home after his father’s death at the beginning of Kidnapped; Steerforth baiting the kindly teacher Mr Mell in David Copperfield and the wild coach ride at the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities.
The goal of these workshops is to inspire story writing. Writing part of the story may be built in to the workshop or it can take place in a follow-up session with Kathryn on hand to help.
At key stage 1, the main thing is to make the students want to write.
At key stage 2, to give the students some interesting approaches to use and have fun with.
Senior school classes, especially those with enthusiasm for stories/writing, may have experiences that include the following: taking themselves by surprise; making things up as they go along; using details and experiences from real life to give their writing plausibility and force; getting the confidence to move lightly from point to point of the story rather than spelling everything out; knowing the characters in depth and lots of other things!
Something Else Workshops
The story of Something Else is often used in primary schools to open up discussion of how it feels to be different. We explore the story page by page, both the words and Chris Riddell’s inspired illustrations. The slideshow has lots of pauses for children to share their experiences of feeling different and left out as they follow the story of the little creature who just wants to belong. What’s it like in that situation? What would would they do if they were Something Else?
No matter how he tries, this hopeful little creature can’t seem to belong. Until one night a visitor comes knocking. Chris Ridell’s illustrations capture the spirit of this award-winning text that’s become a favourite in schools and at home.
Kathryn has produced two photograhic picture books, W is for World and One Child, One Seed were produced in collaboration with Oxfam. Stunning photographs from Oxfam’s picture library combine with warm, simple words in W is for World, a round-the-world ABC. One Child, One Seed is a warm, simple early counting story with photographs of a South African village by an Oxfam photographer.
“If you are lost in the wood, in the wood,
I will find you.
If you’re afraid of the cold and the dark
I’ll sit beside you.”
Nick Maland illustrates this gentle text about what friends mean with characteristic warmth and humour.
You’ve Got Dragons
Words and wise, witty illustrations by Nick Maland make this a great picture book for those times when we have to face what we’d really rather ignore or run away from.
The Emperor’s Gruckle Hound
Two puppies take to the city streets on the Emperor’s birthday. A gardener’s boy smuggles Sam into the Emperor’s palace. Scruff finds a home with a tinker’s daughter. So far, so good. Until one fateful day Sam slips his leash and tastes freedom. What happens next teaches an Emperor and his stuffy advisers a lesson they’ll never forget.
A fourth rate wizard studying in Middlesex tries a simple theoretical exercise and manages to splice a section of outer London onto the realm of Theromantia. The Wizards’ Council takes over a secondary school, a rebel called Zelda wages war, and aardvarks multiply like mice. It’s all Similon’s fault. How can he put things right?
William and the Wolves
William’s small sister Mary invents an imaginary friend called Lamb that makes his life a misery. In revenge, he invents an imaginary pack of wolves that live in the garden shed. When they get out of hand, he finds out the perils of letting his imagination run away with him.
Reviews and Recommendations
Something Else: “A gentle, eloquently told story about the meaning of tolerance.” Guardian
Something Else: ” … an outstanding picturebook” CLAL
Friends: “Books like this remind us that there is so much more to them than simply reading.” Scottish Herald
You’ve Got Dragons: “My favourite picture book this year. Cave entertains and provokes in equal measure… The ultimate message is one of hope.” Glasgow Herald
W is for World: ” … a title to widen horizons and bring pleasure to childrenand teachers alike.” Bookseller
One Child, One Seed: “… this is, plain and simple, a good book. It has a feeling of completeness about it – from pumpkin seed to pumpkin seed, the cycle of life completed so as to start all over again.”
Similon: “A funny, chaotic, wild novel in which the mix of comedy and fantasy is well done.” Books For Keeps
William and the Wolves: “…[a] delightfully funny tale with an edge of darkness…. This is one of those stories that that will absorb young, inexperienced readers, but will also be a joy to read aloud. Great stuff.” Carousel
“An excellent visit to the classroom with perfectly pitched resources and interaction that had the children (and Staff!) hooked.”
“My daughter came home so enthusiastic about her writing. It is not easy to engage teens but Kathryn did and lit up such enthusiasm in her for the written word.”
“The writing the children produced was so imaginative … you have brought ideas and imagination out in them that I didn’t know they possessed”
“The quality of their writing, particularly my hard-to-motivate boys, is excellent.
I would say that for some of those children this is the best piece of writing they have produced all term. I will be doing my very best to build upon it!”
To make a booking
To make an enquiry about Kathryn Cave, 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