Creating a Story World at East Plean Primary School
Everyone at East Plean Primary was buzzing when the news broke that Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, the brilliant illustrator of The Edge Chronicles, Ottoline, Goth Girl and so many other amazing children’s books, was to visit our school.
Since The Edge Chronicles all began with Chris Riddell doodling a map of “The Edge,” we asked our P4-P7 pupils to draw maps of the fabulous places they imagined might exist beyond The Edge, as well as visualise and draw all the characters and creatures they thought might live there.
Drawing Our Maps
In preparation for Chris’s visit, the children were asked to draw the “unknown places” beyond the mountains of The Edge. To produce their maps they completed the “mountains” doodle from Chris’s Doodle a Day book. All of their maps were in black and white (just like Chris’s) and the children worked really hard to include plenty of detail.
Some of the maps were quite mind-blowing! “The World of Weavers” shows a giant bobbin of thread used to weave entirely new worlds. Another had a “Pizza Hut”—shaped like a large slice of pizza! Several picked up on “weird” Edge Chronicles ideas, such as reversed compass points. Chris Riddell was already having a powerful effect on East Plean’s creativity—and he hadn’t even arrived yet!
Chris Casts A Spell!
Shortly after 9 am on the day of the author visit the pupils of East Plean Primary, along with two classes from Cornton Primary, entered the school hall to see Chris Riddell seated silently at the far end of the room, drawing. Overheard in the car park as Chris arrived: 'Mum—that must be the illustrator who’s visiting today!'
The children sat down, mesmerised by the amazing characters Chris was conjuring out of thin air up onto the big screen.
And as he sketched, Chris told us great stories that we later found useful for inventing our own characters.
When Chris first drew a Banderbear, he thought writer Paul Stewart would make it a vicious creature, but in Paul’s story it turned out to be gentle and loyal. Wig-wigs, on the other hand, look cute and fluffy, but have razor-sharp teeth and are very fierce.
When Chris’s daughter, Katy, was little she had very long hair that she sometimes brushed completely over her face 'like a curtain'. One day, Chris realised it was a great look for a new character, and Mr Munroe from the Ottoline series was born.
Morgan (P4) said she loved Ottoline so much she was already on her second reading!
For days after Chris left we saw many pupils walking around and sitting outdoors, reading their newly autographed Chris Riddell books. The atmosphere at East Plean Primary felt more like the library of a school on the floating rock Sanctaphrax!
Imagining Our Characters
Now it was the turn of our pupils to draw all the weird and wonderful characters they imagined lived beyond The Edge. Would Chris Riddell’s visit trigger an explosion of artistic creativity bigger than anything seen before at East Plean Primary? Our teachers were excited to find out.
A whirlwind of frenzied drawing broke out. Every pencil in the box was being employed in the struggle. All of us were curious to see exactly what this group of characters looked like.
Scores of brightly coloured eyes, ears and mouths began to appear on drawing pads throughout the school. Then POW! The weirdest bunch of characters we had ever seen started assembling on our display wall, and they all seemed to be staring back out at us. We had the eerie feeling this strange crowd was also very curious—to see exactly what we looked like!
Over the coming weeks the children will write stories describing what happens when these characters meet up in their bizarre imaginary world. All will be compiled into a book called Beyond The Edge for each pupil to own.
Take a look at the gallery below to see some of P4-P7’s artwork for Beyond The Edge.