Tell us a bit about The Almost True Story of Sandy Primary School.
It’s very silly and daft and aimed at children aged eight to 12. My publishers, Austin Macauley (UK), describe it as a hilarious yarn about a school located right on a beach, and its slightly bonkers teachers, students and parents. The school is flattened by Hurricane Soft and Fluffy and the children of Mr Bell’s class are asked to redesign it. Needless to say, hilarity ensues.
As vice-principal of Lantau International School (LIS), you must have plenty of material to draw on?
I love our school as we are so close to nature and the beach, and that was a big influence in how the book turned out. I have taught upper primary for a long time now, I’ve been at LIS for 18 years, so it made sense to write about what I know. I make notes when funny things happen at school, then try to sit down and expand the ideas in short stories.
The big question is how closely does Sandy Primary School resemble LIS?
Calamitous school fairs, perilous bus journeys and parent warfare… There is a small nugget of truth in all my chapters. But, to protect the innocent (and guilty) and avoid legal action, I can’t say too much. Sports Day has been eventful for sure, usually during the parents’ race!
So, what makes kids laugh?
You’d have to ask them! But they definitely giggle about the gluey guinea pigs and daft doctors in The Almost True Story of Sandy Primary School. There’s also a local artist with a big plastic windy bottom…
What’s great about the book, is that it’s an entertaining read for parents as well as kids.
I try to write things that make me laugh. There’s lots of silly stuff for kids in my book but also plenty of jokes aimed at adults.
Going back to the gluey guinea pigs… you share your home with a long-haired guinea pig called George?
I do. And my wife, Suzy; daughter, Eleanor; and son, Joe. Eleanor was a finalist in the Around DB and Life on Lantau Young Writers Competition last year. I obviously taught her everything she knows!
You launched The Almost True Story of Sandy Primary School at LIS in April. How did it go down?
A friendly audience, but they loved it. I may have mentioned this already but it’s a really funny book! I’ve also read it to a great bunch of kids at Hong Kong International Learning Academy, who really got involved in the presentation, and at Vibe bookstore in Mui Wo (standing room only). I hope to go to other schools this term and I’m available for author visits (hint, hint Discovery College and Discovery Bay International School!).
Who are your favourite children’s authors?
I wasn’t a big reader when I was young but Roald Dahl just caught my imagination. Today, David Walliams is superb, his books are great for adults to read to kids. But my favourite kids’ book is Wayside School by Louis Sacher. It’s funny, slightly surreal and I love reading it to my class. If you want to buy a child a book, buy that one. Actually, don’t… buy mine instead, then go to the library and get Wayside School. I need the money!
The Almost True Story of Sandy Primary School, published by Austin Macauley UK, is available on Amazon, at Bookazine and at Vibe in Mui Wo.