• mattflukes

EXCITE, ENGAGE AND INSPIRE

It’s World Book Day today so I thought I would write about my book and how it is going.

The response to the book so far has been amazing. I have been blown away by the support and love for Olly and Lilly. I have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful schools and adoption agencies, allowing me to share the story with children of all ages and backgrounds. It is humbling and enriching to see the joy on their faces and to complete some fun Virtual School Author Days. I can’t wait for lockdown to be eased so that I can actually visit schools in person and read to children. See the engagement in person.

I wrote the book initially as a legacy for my sons but it has quickly transpired into more than that. I realised early on that this book was needed by many children and parents who find themselves in a similar situation – trying to figure out their life story and their adoption journey. We simply couldn’t find any books that would help with this or resonate with our children. Having difficult questions that need to be answered, hard truths to face up to and the confusion and feeling of loss this process can create. The book has really helped many children in varying situations to have those discussions or to start trying to process their own experience and story.

My heart sang when I received a note from a children’s services support professional who was working with a young child who was really struggling to understand and accept their situation. They read the book together, several times, and the child was then able to ask those tricky questions they probably didn’t want to ask before. “Why did this happen to me?” “Where are my birth parents now?” “Will I be moving to another family again?” and so forth……. The praise for the book in allowing this acceptance and discussion was astounding and something that fuelled my desire to help more and more children – whether they be adopted or not.

As the book has non-gender specific parents and also focuses not solely on adoption but also setting your goals, dreams and achieving it has received some amazing feedback from all children from all backgrounds. In fact, many of the children who have taken part in my author days have really enjoyed the book as not only does it allow them to reflect on their family lives, it also allows them to understand diverse family types and the concept of setting your goals and winning.

In November 2020, ( a year many of us want to forget), I was invited to speak on Saturday Live on BBC Radio 4 – one of the hosts being Richard Coles, who I think is wonderful. I was so nervous, it was live with an average listener count of 2 million! 2 million!!!! Oh and I would be on with Gabriel Byrne, Courtney Act and David Quantick!!! It was a wonderful experience and a chance to tell my story of adoption, cancer and writing a book. I received such humbling and meaningful feedback from many listeners and I am so fortunate to have been given this opportunity. You can hear the interview here: BBC Radio 4 INTERVIEW

I was then invited to run an author day with EYFS Home – an online resource that supports children and parents in the EYFS years which has been invaluable during lockdown. For this I recorded various videos of me reading Olly and Lilly as well as carrying out fun exercises for the children to complete with worksheets. It was such fun and I really enjoyed it. You can see the day here : Super Bikes Day at EYFS

This sparked something within. I felt alive. I felt like I wanted to do more and to spread the word. I could see that Olly and Lilly was helping many children in many situations and I wanted to do more. I developed a series of videos, activities and a flow to the delivery to allow me to offer Virtual Author Days to schools. I have really enjoyed doing this. Seeing their faces as they meet an author, helping to excite, engage and inspire. I normally run a live Q&A after the book reading and some of the questions are very telling. As we know, kids don’t have filters and I have had all sorts of questions and comments. I love engaging with the class groups, encouraging them to be creative, set their goals, practice whatever it is they want to achieve and ultimately to allow their imaginations to burst and expand. We run through fun exercises such as hopping on one foot, rubbing your belly and tapping your head whilst exploring the themes and messages in the book.

IF YOU ARE A PRIMARY TEACHER OR KNOW OF ANY CLASS GROUPS WHO WOULD WELCOME AN AUTHOR VISIT, CURRENTLY VIRTUAL, THEN PLEASE DO PASS ON MY DETAILS. I LOVE ENGAGING WITH KIDS, SEEING THEIR FACES LIGHT UP AND THEIR SMILES BEAM

So what is next for Olly and Lilly?

I am currently in the planning stage of book 2. A book that will focus on feelings and emotions. Taking feedback from parents, carers, teachers, social workers and professionals – children of primary age really struggle with certain emotions. I am writing the second book to address this, helping them to process a certain feeling and giving them basic tools and techniques to deal with and understand those emotions. It’s an exciting time as I feel like I did when I wrote the first book. Excited, nervous, yet keen to write something that helps others. I would welcome any feedback on what emotions your primary age children struggle with.

So watch this space, Coming soon will be Olly and Lilly’s next adventure – and an adventure to me to dive into another story.

OH AND FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WANT A TASTER HERE’S A FEW CLIPS OF ME READING SOME EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK


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