The Strange Disappearance of Mr Hyde: Pamela Butchart at Yewdale Primary School
In July 2015 the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour visited primary schools in Cumbria with the Blue Peter Award-winning author Pamela Butchart. Alison Birkett, Year 4 teacher at Yewdale Primary School, describes how she used Pamela’s book Baby Aliens Got My Teacher as inspiration for a brilliant and slightly terrifying creative writing project.
Pupils at Yewdale Primary in Cumbria had a traumatic week preparing for Pamela Butchart’s visit. On Tuesday morning they arrived in class to find that one of their teachers had gone missing! Mr Hyde had disappeared and in his place children found only a quivering pile of green jelly.
To prepare for Pamela’s visit pupils had been reading Baby Aliens Stole My Teacher, and so of course they instantly imagined the worst. Had Mr Hyde been abducted by aliens? Had he been zapped into green jelly? Would he ever come back to school? Izzy and her friends had definitely influenced the creative minds of year four!
Gathering together for support with Mrs Birkett’s year four class, pupils set off to investigate the mysterious and disgusting disappearance.
Pupils managed not to contaminate the crime scene by going in twos to Mr Hyde’s classroom with an iPad to gather evidence. The scenes they filmed were reminiscent of ‘The Blair Witch’ fiasco, complete with shaky camera control and blurred footage. Indeed, some groups managed to capture nothing more than running feet escaping the now-haunted classroom.
Over lunch break there were reported sightings of Mr Hyde with witnesses describing him as being ‘flustered’ and ‘a pale shade of green’. He did not reappear that afternoon but managed to contact Mrs Birkett on his mobile phone. Children asked questions and managed to piece together information to locate his whereabouts. Two brave souls set off to recover Mr Hyde but arrived back at base disorientated and covered in jelly.
Throughout the ordeal pupils kept a journal of their investigations and theories. There was no time to plan, edit, or structure their writing. Sentences flooded together, not unlike the story telling voice of Izzy in Baby Aliens Got My Teacher. Perhaps we have the first chapter of our next book!
Luckily Mr Hyde was later discovered wandering the halls with a confused look on his face, his skin a pale shade of green.
After a dramatic week pupils were very excited to meet Pamela and tell her all about the abduction of Mr Hyde. Pamela kept the children enraptured throughout the session, sharing funny stories and ideas. Pupils let their imaginations run wild crafting aliens out of plasticine, and they narrowly avoided having their brains invaded by tiny baby aliens during a white-knuckle game of heads down thumbs up! Fuelled by Pamela’s enthusiasm and inspired by the journals they kept during Mr Hyde’s disappearance, pupils went on to write their own stories, with one pupil writing two books over one weekend!
A state of normality has resumed at Yewdale Primary School, though we may never know what happened on that strange afternoon tinged with the smell, feel and fear of green jelly.