Author launches book week at Forest Gate school

Elmhurst Primary School pupils listen to Cressida Cowell

Elmhurst Primary School pupils listen to Cressida Cowell - Credit: Archant

One way of defending yourself in a Viking battle is to throw a cat at your opponent’s head.

Elmhurst Primary School pupils listen to Cressida Cowell

Elmhurst Primary School pupils listen to Cressida Cowell - Credit: Archant

That’s what pupils from Elmhurst Primary School learnt during a visit from How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell.

Mrs Cowell, 50, visited the Upton Park Road, Forest Gate, school yesterday to launch Children’s Book Week, a national campaign encouraging children to read for pleasure.

Speaking about why Elmhurst Primary was chosen to launch the push, Mrs Cowell said: “This school is really impressive. They regularly buy new and exciting books.

“They try and get parents involved and the children here are so energetic. It’s so tricky for parents because they are so busy, but sharing a book with your kid is so important.”


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Pupils from years 4, 5 and 6 listened in awe as Mrs Cowell described childhood holidays to the remote island which inspired her novels, the first landing point for the Viking invasion of the British Isles.

Talking about her use of real animals to inspire her own mythical creatures the children gasped when Mrs Cowell revealed a holiday snap of a giant conger eel the writer’s environmentalist father caught and killed on a fishing trip.

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The children laughed when Mrs Cowell taught them how to say “My mother does not like to be bitten on the bottom” in dragon language.

Head of school Sukwinder Samra said: “We wanted to get an author in to inspire the children and I can feel the inspiration in the air.”

Following the launch, Mrs Cowell cut a ribbon to open the school’s new £3m extension which includes a library stocked with books selected by pupils.

The youngsters bought copies of Cressida Cowell’s books from a stall run by Newham Books volunteers.

Diane Gerald, director of reading charity Book Trust ,which is behind the week, said: “Children who read for pleasure are happier, healthier and do better in life.”

Adventure story fan Faryaan, nine, said: “Today was fun. It has inspired me to write stories.”

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