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Once Upon a Lockdown: How Angus pupils became published authors

Once Upon a Lockdown, is now available to buy on Amazon.
Once Upon a Lockdown, is now available to buy on Amazon.

For some, lockdown was a time spent baking banana bread and hosting zoom quizzes.

But for pupils at Letham Primary School in Angus, their time at home led to them becoming published authors.

After impressing their creative writing teacher Dee Green with short stories completed during online learning, the youngsters have now seen their words come to life in a 344-page book.

  • We show two of the children’s stories below
  • And we tell how the community helped get the book to print

Their book, called Once Upon a Lockdown, is now available to buy on Amazon and the school celebrated by hosting a special launch event last week.

Alex Grant (P5), Evie Brachi (P6), Decalle Ryan (P5), Carrie Millar(P7), Courtney Leith (S1) & Adam Robertson(P5).

“I was so impressed by the quality”

Dee said: “I wanted to do something meaningful with them last year so I did creative writing with them.

“We did that all year and then when lockdown hit and we did online learning again, I was still setting their usual writing tasks.

“All these stories kept coming and I was so impressed by the quality and the standard of their work and it got me thinking about how we could find a way to preserve these.

“It’s such a big time in our lives that’s going to be a massive piece of history. So I went to our head teacher and asked whether we could look to get them published.”

My Tiny Baby Dragon by Emily Hopwood.

Dee inspired the pupils’ creative side by getting them to watch video clips and then having them rewrite it their own way.

She ended up getting more than 200 stories from pupils in P4 to P7, ranging from tales of dinosaurs and dragons to magical rainbows.

After contacting various publishers, both locally and across the UK, Mrs Green eventually found one that agreed to print the pupils’ stories.

But with the project costing close to £500, the school enlisted the help of the local community to raise the funds needed.

This proved to be so successful that not only did the school raise enough for the stories to be printed, there was enough money to get every pupil a copy.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Stairs illustration.

Mrs Green said: “It’s just fantastic to have the support of the community, and of course from our financial donators which made this all happen.

“By the time we raised all this money we had enough to cover the publishing costs and to buy a copy of the book for each of the children as well.”

As well as submitting their short stories, the pupils came up with suggestions for the name of the book which went to a vote.

There was also an in-school competition for pupils to design the front cover, eventually won by current P7 pupil Matthew Watson.

Matthew Watson (P7) who designed the cover of the book.

And it’s the quality of the work produced by the youngsters that has Dee singing their praises.

She said: “We had all concerns about what the implications would be with everything that has gone on in the last wee while.

“But when the kids came back into school in April, they were just so much more resilient than I think, at times, we give them credit for.

“We talk about this loss of learning that might have happened, but the gap is perhaps not as big as we think sometimes.

“It’s not all doom and gloom, there are certainly some positives that will come out of it.”

Stripes by Isla Swankie.

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