Traction City Sighted in Blackawton!

Oh, I hate having my picture taken, and it always shows, but I had to include this one to give you a sense of the scale of this vast model of London from Mortal Engines, built by pupils at Blackawton Primary School.  It comes complete with caterpillar tracks, chimney smoke, a working elevator, flocks of airships and balloons, and a smaller model of Salthook constructed around the school's wheelchair lift so that it can be reeled in by London's 'jaws'.

Tom Pether, one of the teachers at the school, made contact in the summer to tell me that he was planning a whole term of topic work based around the book: "...investigating character development, settings and narrative... using the character of Hester as a stimulus to look further at ideas of gender - perceptions and assumptions, the history of female emancipation etc...  (And) looking at how technological change affects people..."  I never knew there was so much in it!

I've always felt a bit ambivalent about my books being used in schools in this way - I didn't really intend them to be Set Texts, more the sort of thing you read under the bedcovers with a torch, and your parents say, "What are you reading that rubbish for?".  But when I visited the school yesterday the children all seemed to be enjoying the book and had done lots of great drawings, as well as coming up with some interesting ideas of their own for extra characters who might inhabit London.  One group had invented an alternate version of MEDUSA which fired swarms of metal bees to strip rival cities bare!  They all had lots of good questions to ask, and I ended up having a thoroughly enjoyable morning with them while Sarah did the shopping in nearby Totnes. 

Sir Dogford of Poo.
I wish I could have stayed longer, but it was the first time we'd left Frodo at home on his own, so we had to hurry back at lunch time, expecting to find the kitchen a sea of wee and worse.  But happily he seems to be getting the hang of things, so there weren't too many puddles.