Walking the Tightrope with Gillian Cross
Clayesmore Prep pupils have enjoyed further collaboration with our Patron of Reading & Writing, Gillian Cross, this term. Head of English & Drama, Mrs Suzanne Chinnock, writes:
“Pupils in Year 7 have been exploring the author’s young adult fiction ‘Tightrope’, a gritty urban novel set in a deprived neighbourhood. Its protagonist, Ashley, is a model pupil. By day, she never puts a foot wrong at school and then goes straight home to care for her sick mother. By night, however, it’s a different story, as Ashley takes to the streets with her spray cans. . .
“The group were lucky enough to have Gillian come and talk with them about the novel. Gillian explained how the novel came into being. She had a vivid image of a girl performing acrobatics on a bridge and a figure stepping from beneath the bridge to offer his applause. From this, ‘Tightrope’ was born. She also explored how the circus had influenced the text and its characters.
“There were lots of questions before the pupils moved into a hot-seating session. They put questions to one of the novel’s characters, Gayle. Gayle’s son Joe has left home to live with another family in order to escape his bullying stepfather. Collectively, assisted by Gillian, Year 7 composed a first person account in Gayle’s voice just as it might have appeared in the novel.
“This was a much-anticipated session and the pupils gained a great deal whilst walking the tightrope with Gillian.”