John Dougherty – review

Peals of laughter and delight poured from the Infant School on 17 March when author John Dougherty came to visit BGS. Children from Reception to Year 2 were captivated.

A former primary teacher, he read from two of his latest books – Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Evilness of Pizza and Finn MacCool and the Giant’s Causeway – using a stream of voices, accents and facial expressions. Just when it seemed the children could laugh no more, he had them in stitches again, singing a song of his own entitled simply Underpants. A sure-fire winner.

Responding to questions from our pupils, he explained how the popular Stinkbomb series was inspired by his own children, now twelve and fourteen. One night when he was trying to get them to bed, they began a game that spawned two crucial characters:

“They started trying to make each other laugh by calling each other silly names, including ‘Stinkbomb’ and ‘Ketchup-Face’; the more they did it, the more they giggled, and I thought to myself, ‘What great names: I’ll use them in my silly story’.”

John, who has published fifteen titles, has several more in the pipeline: these include Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Bees of Stupidity, which he has just finished, and Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Chapter Thieves, which he’s just about to start. He emphasised the importance of enjoying writing, having fun with stories and, above all, having a go.

“The best way to make sure you never make mistakes is never to write anything,” he warned. “Everyone makes mistakes in their writing, and that’s okay. The most important thing is to make your story as good as you can, and have fun with it. You can go through it later and check for things like spelling mistakes.

“Have lots of fun writing, and have fun reading too. There are lots of books out there for everyone, and there will be a type of book that suits you best. You just have to get out there and find it.”

The children left for lunch full of ideas – and singing, of course, the chorus from Underpants!

Lizzie Peck

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