Our Class Loves This Book!

We are delighted to announce that the winner of  UKLA’s Our Class Loves This Book: the John Downing Award 2015 is Emma Faulker and her Y6 class, Stenson Fields Primary Community School, Derby. The winning submission is a creative and imaginative response to Blackberry Blue and other fairy tales by Jamila Gavin, who has accepted an invitation to visit the school to celebrate with the pupils. Members of the judging panel were captivated by the imaginative and truly innovative submission, which reflected the children’s immersion in the text. The panel was particularly impressed by the attention to detail evident throughout this project, and its lasting impact on the children and their teacher.

Just Imagine were delighted to interview the inspirational class teacher, Emma Faulkner

Your class based their work on Blackberry Blue, by Jamilla Gavin. What did they like about the book?

The children responded well to the text, especially the twists in the tales, the sinister elements, and the variety presented within the book. Here are some of their comments;

A great alternative to your everyday Cinderella and Rapunzel, not for the light-hearted, not always a happy ending but, Jamila Gavin’s done a good job with this.

Blackberry Blue is an outstanding book because you can’t predict what is going to happen and I also like it because it was alternative and gruesome! Overall it is amazing.

Blackberry Blue is a good alternative fairytale because it had a mixture of fairytales.  It had unexpected twists which made it even better.

Emma, please describe the piece of work they created. How did Blackberry Blue inspire this piece of work?

The book inspired so many class activities. The students predicted what would happen in the text from the cover and opening paragraph. They were then asked to find clues about a character (in this case the woodcutter’s wife) and how this could affect the story.  The aim of this second activity was to get the children to really think about this character so that later in the story they would see why she acted in particular ways. They were also asked to write in the ‘shoes’ of a key character by writing a diary entry as Blackberry Blue, The Woodcutter’s Wife or Prince Just.  Class members then created and performed a monologue as the main character- Blackberry Blue- after her adoptive parents had died, and she was in love with a man she didn’t really know. The children expressed their feelings as Blackberry Blue talking to her ‘mother’ (the bush) within the monologue. Feelings maps for Blackberry Blue were drawn and students were encouraged to explain why her feelings were correct at particular points in time. They were also asked to use their imaginations and think creatively, writing the next part of a story. Prince Just had fallen ill, how might Blackberry Blue be able to save the love of her life?  The children were expected to use the knowledge of not only the story so far but also the way in which the characters had acted and their particular motives. Finally, they completed an activity to predict how the story would end. As the mysterious ‘woman’ arrived at the party, the children were asked to think about who she was, why she was there and how her being there would affect the end of the story. Once the unit came to an end, the children planned and wrote their own ‘sinister’ fairytale based on not only Blackberry Blue but also the other alternative fairytales from the book.

Emma, why did the class select that particular book?

The book was chosen by me!  The reason that I selected it was that they were very unenthusiastic about  ‘Traditional Fairytales’ such as Cinderella and Snow White.  This is most likely to be because they are used throughout their school-life and they felt too grown-up for them in year 6!  There is a hole in the market where this is concerned; in my opinion.  Many authors have tried to put a comedy twist on them but these fairytales by Jamila Gavin are just completely unlike anything they’ve heard…and so sinister.

Thanks Emma. Finally, please tell me in less than 50 words why I should read this book?

Blackberry Blue opens up so many opportunities to engage both eager and reluctant readers and writers with fairytales.  Its language is captivating, illustrations beautiful and the suspense that you can create with it is immense!

We would like to offer huge congratulations to Emma Faulkner and her year 6 class at Stenson Fields Primary Community School, for entering Our Class Loves This Book, and for sharing such an inspirational piece of work.

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