Thursday 18 November 2010


Yesterday evening, when I was sitting in an empty dining room with my books for sale, a girl brought me her poem to read, and actually gave me a copy too. It was such a delightful gift that I'm putting it - with her and her mother's permission - here in my Diary:

I see the stars above my head in the dark blue sky.
I seee the stars wandering by, dancing as they die.
I see the world starving by hunger, I feel a whirlwind blow.
I see the poorly people walking to and fro.
I see the children in Africa, Asia and Japan.
I see the starving children also in Taiwan,
I see the guns and weapons,
I see throughout the fight.
I see the animals scratching,
I see the animals yawning.
I see the trees blow in the breeze
I realise people's needs
Help our lovely planet,
Because it grows the seed . . .

Thank you for those thoughts, Ellen!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Last week, this week . .

Yes, a busy time. Last week at Harlow Carr was lovely, and the rain didn't rain on us the Poetree explorations very much at all. Thanks for all your poems, everyone. I had a great time and am sure Debbie did too.

Tomorrow I'm in another local school, OATLANDS JUNIOR SCHOOL in Harrogate, for the morning, I'm working with groups of Yr 5 & 6 children. Then I'll have a quick chance to sell my books before the Learning Event in the evening, but I'll be home for lunch & some writing in between!

Sunday 7 November 2010


Had a great time with my last set of visits. Then I had a busy writing time, working on a tight short story deadline, as well as a lovely half-term break with family.

I popped into HARROGATE LIBRARY too. It's my local library, which had only just moved back into its old-but-renovated home. I'd got quite used to the temporary "office space" library over the last two years, but really like this new one. The roof has had a huge "lantern" put in so the building is full of light and feels very open, which it definitely wasn't before. They open on Sundays now so later today I may pop to change some books.

Bonfire Night is over, so this week I'm looking forward to working in the new Bramhall Learning Centre at RHS Harlow Carr Gardens, and sessions with classes from WESTBROOK LANE SCHOOL, SHARROW PRIMARY SCHOOL, FOLLIFOOT PRIMARY SCHOOL and BELMONT GROSVENOR SCHOOL. See you all - and the lovely trees - soon!

Sunday 3 October 2010


Hi all, and it was an odd summer. A family emergency meant I never made it to Knaresborough to tell those stories after all, and had a quiet time over the holidays.

However, it's action time again. Last Wednesday, September 29th, I had a great time. In the morning I met all the smiling faces in Years 5&6 at HUDDERSFIELD GRAMMAR SCHOOL, and in the afternoon talked to lots of children at LINDLEY JUNIOR SCHOOL. In the evening I spoke to brave members of the Kirklees & Calderdale Children's Book Group who had come out in the pouring rain.

It was a great day for me as it was the first time I'd spoken properly about my new book A BOY CALLED MOUSE. The novels' officially published tomorrow, Monday 4th October, so I am very excited!

The week ahead is busy, so a happy hello wave to LORD DERAMORE'S PRIMARY SCHOOL near York for Monday, SINNINGTOM PRIMARY SCHOOL near Helmsley for Tuesday, WILTHORPE INFANTS SCHOOL in Barnsley for Wednesday afternoon, and ST FRANCIS' CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL, where I'll be on Friday as part of Beverley Literature Festival.

Wednesday 4 August 2010


Hey ho for the holidays! Have been busy enjoying some time away. Down to Oxford, partly to look at the Ashmolean Museum, including the new extension. Spent almost whole day pottering between this and that/ Especially liked the Money gallery - which slightly surprised me as a theme until I reflected on the fact that coins and notes are slowly becoming plastic currency - and all the oddities in the Ark of the Ashmolean) and the Mogul elephant paintings and the Pre-Raphaelite Room. And an early evening meal on the rooftop terrace, watching a ballon ascending at sunset. Followed by a few days in the Isle of White, one of which was spent on a golden beach helping two small people to learn to jump over and even into waves.

Now I'm home and starting to wonder what tales I should tell on Tuesday 17th August for my Wise, Wierd and Wonderful storytelling session at Knaresborough Library for the feva festival

Sunday 11 July 2010

Looking forward to some Young Librarians!

Home and at work again after a week away on a writer's retreat. Have had the final, final, final version of a Christmas story about a barn owl agreed by the anthology editor at Stripes, have begun on a short adaptation of Journey to the Centre of the Earth, but - even better! - I have worked out how to get Tome Two, my long Work-In-Progress going again.

But tomorrow I must get myself organised for Tuesday afternoon, when I will be at a wonderful event up in County Durham.

I'm going to HIGH SHINCLIFFE PRIMARY SCHOOL to meet almost fifty Young Librarians from all the primary schools in the Durham area. These KS2 students have been helping to keep their own school libraries organised and I am very much looking forward to hearing how they do it. I could do with some good tidying up and sorting-out and super-duper organising tips for my own bookshelves for a start!

Looking forward to meeting you all on Tuesday.

Thursday 1 July 2010


At the moment I feel caught in a tangle of technology! I had a great time at MICHAEL SYDDALL PRIMARY SCHOOL, Catterick on Friday 25th June, where I opened their new (and roomy) Library & Resource Centre THREE times - once for KS1, once for KS2 and once for the Parents Association and the Governors, as well as three "author" sessions with the children. It was something the school had been planing for several years so a great celebration for everyone. And I got very good at cutting wide purple ribbons.

However, just as I was tasting the delicious spread laid out in the library, a friendly Governor & IT specialist pointed out that what I think of as my "school blog" wasn't up to date. Oh dear!

That was when I realised that the link to this new "Penny Dolan's Diary" wasn't active on my website yet, and my old Journal had fallen foul of Blogger's updating a month or more back. However, today - 4th of July in fact - my kind resident IT expert has updated some of my website, including linking in this blog and my Year Of Mouse blog too, and putting up the cover of my imminent book.

The past week has been very busy with all sorts of admin and meeting deadlines for short stories - a Winter Anthology Story and a 247 word story for the Bloomsbury website. It's been slightly interrupted by the fact that I'm learning about how much time Facebook takes up too. Where does the time go?

But there was time on Wednesday 30th June for a lovely school visit to the Early Years & KS 1 children of ALL SAINTS SCHOOL, FEATHERSTONE nr Pontefract , where I also met two very smiley librarians who generously carried my bags for me. It felt like a life of luxury, so thank you, Frances & Christine. I had a highly brilliant time with the children & staff too so here's a quick "thank you" wave to everyone at All Saints!!!

Thursday 24 June 2010


Last week I was down in London for the Walker Books 30th Birthday party - totally starstruck by all the wonderful writers and illustrators gathered there! Back home for a few days of tax returns from which I've now escaped - hooray! - so I'm happily looking forward to my next two visits.

Tomorrow - Friday - I'm off to MICHAEL SYDDALL PRIMARY SCHOOL, Catterick Village, to meet the children, staff and parents and open their new library. Very much looking forward to it.

The next week I'm visiting the younger children at ALL SAINTS J,I&N School at North Featherstone, near Pontefract. Looking forward to sharing some stories with you!

And thanks to the artists of St Marks Rainbows, Harrogate for their lovely thank you card.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Rainbows ahead!

Been away for a few days in Ireland, but home now. This week's a quiet one, and I'm trying to get some writing work done as there's quite a lot of pieces needing urgent attention.

Next week, however, I'll be visiting ST MARK'S RAINBOWS, Harrogate, so will have to find my story hat again. It will be fun, because a while ago I was lucky enough to write some stories for GirlguidingUK about Olivia, the character you can see at the top of this post. Looking forward to seeing you all, Rainbows!

Wednesday 12 May 2010

National Share A Story Month and Me.

Hello. You've arrived at the second entry in my new Diary blog. The old Journal is being kept in detention by the forces of Evil IT or FTP or something far too complicated for me to understand.

I went into a local school this morning on behalf of Harrogate Children's Book Group. I was helping the children create a new "chapter" for the Federation of Children's Book Groups on-line story project, as part of National Share a Story Month.

The story itself was begun by Jeremy Strong - of the famous 100 Mile and Hour Dog fame - and the Aldbourne Chidren's Book Group back in late April. The project is running through May with about six more groups due to work on the story, so it will be fun seeing where the plot leads. It will also be intriguing to see how author Jeremy Strong finishes the slightly eccentric tale.

Today's session was great fun, and it was very kind of the school - BILTON GRANGE PRIMARY SCHOOL, Harrogate, to host the storymaking as some of the classes were busy with SATs this week. My group was a mixture of Year 3 & 4 children, full of enthusiasm and lots of ideas.

I'm now wishing I had some of the same enthusiasm and host of ideas. This afternoon I'm trying to pick up some writing work after almost two weeks break.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Blogger's Big Fat Cuckoo

Hello there! This is Penny Dolan, Children's writer & storyteller.

It's May 2nd and Blogger's big fat cuckoo egg of technical change has hatched and shoved me out of my old weatherworn blog-nest, once known as Penny Dolan's Journal. So the names of all the schools I've visited over the last few years have fluttered away with the wind of change. (Sigh!)

Luckily, I've managed to end up HERE on a brand new perch. Did you spot my new if not amazingly surprising title? PENNY DOLAN'S DIARY. At least it does what it says on the screen. Yes, this is where I'll tell you all about what I'm doing, where I'm going, who I'm seeing and which schools and other places I've been visiting.

Last week - and over the last few months too - I've had some great times with the Year 3 classes at MIDDLETON PRIMARY SCHOOL, near Leeds. We've had all sorts of storytelling, book reading, library visiting, drawing and poetry-making fun. So hello to all my Middleton friends and hope to see you again sometime soon.

This weekend I've been busy answering emails from children in FOREST OF GALTRES PRIMARY SCHOOL, near York, which I visited not too long ago. They tell me they are going to have a new school library soon - but where will it be? The one I recall was in a small room-and-also-corridor so maybe this will have more space? Hope I find out sometime.

Must go now, as I need to write a paragraph of two more for my current story before supper-time. What am I working on? What book have I got coming out? That's on my other blog, THE YEAR OF MOUSE.