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School children meet popular children’s author Kate Pankhurst

Primary school pupils in Knowsley spent a ‘fantastic’ afternoon in Huyton Library meeting renowned children’s author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst.

Kate took the children on an entertaining journey of ‘Fantastically Great Women who changed the World’ her globally successful non-fiction debut celebrating women.

As a distant relative of the suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst, Kate said she’d always been aware of the connection and always interested in writing stories with fantastic girl characters as well as strong boys.  

Kate introduced the children to some of the incredible women featured in her book by getting willing volunteers to dress up as Boudicca, Amelia Earhart and WWII spy Nora Ingalat, bringing to life the actions and achievements of these great women who changed the world.

Kate shared with the children her own story of becoming an author and illustrator, which she said was sparked as child by her love of the Beano.

Kate said: “I’d read the comic and then do lots of my own versions of the stories and drawings, which was really the early development of my talents.

“I then worked very hard to make the most of my talents and get the most out of them. I also read a lot which helped me learn how to write and what makes a good story.”

Kate talked to the children about the creative process: “I take my Dalmatian dog Olive to work in the studio with me every day. It’s good because if I get stuck I go and take her for a walk and it gives me time for ideas… I make time in my day to doodle which helps me with creative ideas.

“I find my best ideas come about that way. A doodle of the character Lady Winkleton – a character from my fiction mystery series Mariella Mystery – whose look was inspired by Amelia Earhart, gave me the idea to start working on my ‘Fantastically Great Women’ books.”

Kate explained she likes to put unusual details in her books, like the fact Amelia Earhart took a flask of hot chocolate on her longer journeys. She got the children to think along the same lines by asking them what they would take with them on a journey across the Atlantic; the most popular answers were marshmallows, grapes and Nutella!

The children all joined Kate in drawing a suffragette, learning how she starts illustrating a person with the eyes.

Step-by-step Kate showed the children her drawing process, advising them to leave in any mistakes as by the end they’re probably not noticeable and will add to the overall picture.

There children drew some really impressive pictures!

The session was a hit with pupils from St Anne’s Catholic Primary, Malvern and Mosscroft primaries: Joseph, from St Anne’s Catholic Primary, said: “I like the way Kate writes non-fiction so it’s like a fiction story. And it was great to do a drawing like her. What she’s told us has made me think that you can do anything if you work hard.”

Emily, from Malvern Primary, said: “It’s been really good today, finding out how Kate comes up with ideas for her books. I like here style of non-fiction and her pictures are really good at telling the stories and helping you understand them.”

This event for schools was organised as part of Knowsley Library Service’s series of author visits.

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