Margi McAllister
Margi McAllister
Margi McAllister's book Urchin of the Riding Stars, was short-listed for the Ottakar's Children's Book Prize and awarded winner of the Heidelberg Leander 2005.

All About Margi McAllister

“I always loved stories with animals as the heroes, but I didn’t know I could write one until my agent persuaded me to try. My favourite animals are red squirrels and I put them on a secret, enchanted island surrounded by mists. Mistmantle is inhabited by squirrels, hedgehogs, moles and otters. It has a king and queen, a tower, woods and coastline – but it also has villians, secrets and betrayals. I think, if you like Narnia, you’ll like Mistmantle.”

Margi’s School Visits

Margi mostly works with children in KS2, but will happily work with all year groups, from reception to sixth form. She always discusses the school’s requirements in advance, as they usually have particular aspects that they want to focus on, or may be working around a topical theme.

A typical day with Margi

Margi begins the day with an assembly, here she reads something from one of her books or tells a story which involves plenty of participation, then asks the children some ‘what if’ questions to fire their imagination. Sometimes finishing the assembly with getting them all to join in with a rhyme about the fun of reading. Following the assembly – Margi will then work with class group sizes to deliver workshops.

By the end of the day, Margi wants to leave the children buzzing with excitement about books, about their own stories and about their own ability to make stories.

KS1 Margi may get pupils involved in a shared activity, often looking for a lost toy, which develops into a story with them regarding how the toy ended up where they found it. There’s always a bit of reading from one of Margi’s books or story-telling, too.
KS2 school visits usually involve Margi reading a fable to the class and talks with the children about what a fable is and what it tells us, then work with the children to make up their own. Otherwise, instead of a fable, Margi can work around a theme that the children are studying, looking at the need for conflict and character. Margi will always leave them with a story ‘to be going on with’. Students will work in small groups for these sessions.
KS3 Margi will read from something she has written and then discuss the themes. From there students learn to look at some of the well-known traditional stories and identify basic plots before starting to work on a re-writing of a familiar plot in whatever genre they choose. Students will work individually in these sessions. Alternatively, students can look at ‘three-cornered’ stories, the familiar eternal triangle stories.
These sessions are only a guideline – if schools have a particular agenda of their own, Margi can be flexible.

Margi’s Books

From the highest point of Watchtop Hill, Urchin could see the whole island. For days, squirrels and hedgehogs had dragged rough branches up this hill. Their bonfire was ready to light now, stacked up so high that Urchin knew he had to climb it. He was old enough to manage it, and young enough to want to. Springing swiftly from one branch to the next, twirling his tail to balance himself, he reached the very top, gripped with his hind claws and dusted moss from his fur. He was still as pale as honey, with the red-squirrel colour only at the tips of his ears and tail. When he straightened up,  shook his ears and looked out over Mistmantle, he felt he was lord of the island.

At last I can tell you about Hamilton, the hero of the new series I’m doing with Puffin. I’m writing this under the name ‘Poppy Harris’, as it’s something quite new and different, but it’s still me!

Bethany adores her new hamster, even before she discovers that he can understand all she says, read, do her maths homework in his head, and send text messages. Like all hamsters, Hamilton Hammy is inquisitve and adventurous, but how did he become so intelligent?

More than two thousand years ago, a slave called Aesop told stories, mostly about animals. Each story has something to teach us about living wisely and safely in the world. This is a Book-for-Life. Enjoy!

Reviews and Recommendations

Urchin
‘A spell-binding, anthropomorphic epic.’ –  Publishing News

‘From the first few pages McAllister sucks the reader in…  like the island of Mistmantle itself it’s virtually impossible to leave behind.  With characters who spring off the page and a well-told story.’ – Yorkshire Post

‘It’s hard not to root for little Urchin and his friends.’ – The Washington Post

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about Margi, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email on trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk

For more information on Margi http://www.margaretmcallister.co.uk/