By Jonathan Ferrier. Illustrated by Matt Rowe
“An enthralling glimpse into life in one of the leading boarding schools for dragons…”
Dragon Times Ed Supp
When Arvor’s father Colonel Grendel decides to send him to Caderbrith, a boarding school for dragons, neither he nor his son realise what problems Arvor is going to have there.
Arvor really struggles with his school subjects: he is bad at spelling, hopeless at games, terrible at flying and a disastrous fire-breather. The teachers get cross with him, and none of his classmates want him on their team. In fact, he’s quite a disappointment to his stern father.
But Arvor has excellent qualities too; he is kind, gentle, and loyal. Actually, he’s very much the sort of dragon you would want for a friend. Can his big heart get him through his haphazard schooldays? Follow Arvor in his trials and triumphs at Caderbrith, as his curiosity leads him into all sorts of adventures: tackling school bullies, sneaking out of bounds, being accused of plagiarism, organising a school disco, and risking his neck to save the school’s prized Golden Egg trophy…
Accompanied by Matt Rowe’s lively drawings, Arvor’s Schooldays is a heart-warming tale that will appeal to young readers of all ages – and shows the value of being true to yourself.
Author Jonathan Ferrier was a GP for 25 years but then changed to being a dyslexia (SpLD) teacher and assessor. His wife is also a retired GP and they have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. They live in Oxfordshire but spend some time in Montenegro where their daughter lives. Jonathan offers the following insight into what inspired him to create the character of Arvor:
“The character of Arvor, a dyslexic and dyspraxic dragon, just came into my head out of the blue, as I think happens with many writers.
Originally I wrote about him as a story to be read to my oldest grandson who was four at the time. However a few months later I used Arvor as the main character in another story, and then over the next year I wrote some more stories about him and assembled them into a book.
I didn’t set out to write about dyslexia, but I have been a specific learning difficulties (SpLD) teacher and assessor in secondary schools for the past ten years, so clearly my contact with many children who have these difficulties (dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc) has influenced the way I write. Although not dyslexic myself, I am a bit uncoordinated, which made compulsory games in school never much fun for me, and this gives me a certain sympathy with those children who struggle in school.
In fact I have often been impressed with how hard they try when all the odds are stacked against them, until in their teens some of them just give up and refuse to have anything more to do with school. Many school staff don’t understand their difficulties and many of those that do, do not know what to do about it. But then I have the advantage over the class teachers in that I only see the children one-to-one and for up to two hours if needed.
Even though it was not my intention to write about specific learning difficulties, I suppose I wanted to show the positive side of these kids and give them some encouragement. I find them pleasant, responsive and very frank about their difficulties; they never seem arrogant and often have a wonderful imagination. I hope that Arvor reflects some of these characteristics.
It’s funny the way a character takes over the story, and to a large extent I was happy to just let the stories go where they wanted. However roughly half way through the book I began to feel that Arvor was getting to be too much of a ‘goody-goody’, so I deliberately let him get into a bit of trouble. Luckily, being a dragon, I can’t see him becoming a role model for the children.”
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:
Matt Rowe is a freelance Illustrator who has worked in the Greetings Card industry for several years. He has a keen interest in photography, and has recently started to produce digital animal portraits. Matt lives in Worcestershire with his wife, two boys and Miniature Schnauzer. This is his first book illustration.
Arvor’s School Days is published on 22nd January 2014, price: £8.50 paperback, ISBN: 9781909544826
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Posted by Tracy Thomas