Ali’s first stand-alone novel, Frozen In Time, won the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award in 2010 and her books, including the SWITCH series, have been translated into many languages from French to Japanese, Polish to Korean. Her books are pacy, funny reads, and this came across in two engaging presentations, one to Years 3, 4 and 5, and another to years 6, 7 and 8.
Ali really involved the pupils in the presentations. In her first talk she went into depth about how she became a writer, in a very interactive way, and in the second presentation she ran a Genius Quiz, to find out the potential child geniuses in the room, as the main character of her book, Carjacked was a child genius. To the horror of the teachers, she then repeated the exercise with them.
After singing books for the pupils, Ali then ran a workshop with some of Seaford Prep School’s keenest young writers. She spoke about the importance of the cover, blurb and first line to get readers hooked. After asking the pupils to vote on the cover, blurb and first line of four of her books, she split them into teams. She challenged them to come up with their own story idea, and come up with a title, blurb and first line. She encouraged them to focus on gripping the reader from the start. They then voted on each others ideas, and the winner was Human Robot. But all teams came up with interesting concepts, especially given the amount of time to work on them.
Ali was very impressed with the pupils, but had special praise for the winning idea. “The first line was very gripping, it really pulled you in, that’s why I voted for that one.”
Eleanor Jones, Seaford’s Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator, thought that Ali was fantastic at inspiring the pupils. “I had read a couple of books of Ali’s and so was delighted to have her come and talk to all the pupils today, she was wonderful, as full of fun, suspense and excitement as her books, we laughed, we held our breath, we ‘ahhh’d ‘all the way through her readings…fantastic!”