Free Bernard’s Watch eBook

Free Bernard’s Watch eBook

To celebrate World Book Day Award winning children’s author Andrew Norriss is giving away his book Bernard’s Watch. Help your self! It’s a delightful story about a boy who is given a watch that stops time.

UK link

If you could stop time…

Bernard’s Watch by Andrew Norriss is the children’s book based on the popular children’s TV series Bernard’s Watch. The eBook is free for 3 days now from Amazon.

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What would you do if you had a watch that could stop time?

When Bernard finds himself outside of school during the lunch break, his Aunt B. gives him a special watch with the power to stop time. With it, Bernard need never be late for anything again, and begins using the watch to help himself and others. He becomes star of the school football team by playing in goal, waiting for the ball to come his way, then stopping time and moving into a position where he can stop the goal being scored. He stops time so he can find out the answers to difficult maths and other academic problems, and to hand school bullies over to the police without them knowing how they came to be hanging on railings outside the police station. But the watch also has a power for great harm. While Bernard can use it to stop time and move someone out of the way of a car accident, someone else could use it to move him into the path on an oncoming bus. And can the watch stop time from running out for his elderly Aunt B.?

Andrew Norriss shines in this book; his writing is sensitive, humorous and thought-provoking all at once. The relationships between the characters are extremely important, and Norriss doesn’t just focus on the children. He give times to the personalities of Aunt B. and the thoughts of Mr. Beasley and his neighbour, and shows Bernard’s change through their eyes as well as Bernard’s own. It is refreshing for the listener to have time to appreciate the reactions of Bernard’s close family and friends, as well as the police sergeant who finds himself mysteriously caught up in events where things seem to appear and or disappear into thin air. It is enjoyable by both children and adults.

The audio book runs at approximately 3 and a half hours, perfect for a long car journey.

by Louise Anne Bateman, WATERSTONE’S CRAWLEY

Free eBook for World Book Day 2013


Free Download on World Book Day 2013

“Bernard’s aunt gave him the watch at a little after two o’clock on a Thursday afternoon in early February. Later, he would sometimes wonder why his aunt chose to give it to him at that particular time or, indeed, why she chose to give it to him at all, instead of to somebody else. But whatever the reason, he was always extremely grateful to her. It was the perfect present at the time because, at the time, time was exactly what he needed.”

So begins Bernard’s Watch by Andrew Norriss. The story began as a 15 minute short film for the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) some years ago. As the brief was to provide a story comprehensible and enjoyable for children throughout Europe, there was little dialogue and a narrator told the story. It was a great success, so much so that a series was commissioned by ITV, and then another and another…


The first run told of a young boy called Bernard who was always late, until a postman gave him a “magic watch” which could stop time. He soon found out that the postman had magical powers, and that these watches were given to people who needed them. The rules of him keeping his watch were that he couldn’t use it to commit crimes and couldn’t be greedy. Every episode focused on Bernard or someone he’d lent the watch to facing a problem or simply doing day-to-day stuff and trying to sort it out, using the watch.

Here’s episode 1 on Youtube

Andrew Norriss wrote 6 series of delightfully stories about Bernard and then used some of the ideas to write a the book Bernard’s Watch published by Puffin Books in 1999. When it went out of print I typed it out (we didn’t have the original document), and published it as an eBook. It was a delight for me to re-read and I recommend it to adults and children alike. Andrew Norriss’s characteristic ‘light humorous touch’ and clever plotting make for a most enjoyable and satisfying read, and so that more can appreciate it I have made it free to download for 3 days this week including World Book Day. Do help your self and let me know what you think!

Click here for Bernard’s Watch by Andrew Norriss

Free eBook World Book Day 2013



Hooray for Proof Readers!

When I’m reading I find typos quite distracting and #thewriter and I try to ensure that his books are error free, but it’s not easy. And this week when making a quiz for I Don’t Believe It, Archie! by Andrew Norriss I found a whopper. Unbelievable!

Proof reading is a real art/skill. The first time I get to read, or indeed find out anything about #thewriter’s new work is when he finishes a book. I am then allowed to read it for the first time in order to proof read for typos and ‘anything that isn’t clear or doesn’t make sense’. I try to read carefully looking for spelling mistakes, repeated words etc. We both read a script more than once with #thewriter making changes and corrections. Then various people at the publishers read it carefully. We read it again and after more slight changes have been made the book is printed. After so many careful readings by people who really care that the text is accurate it should be perfect shouldn’t it? We read the wonderful new book when it arrives. Perfect – or so we think…

It’s over over a year since I Don’t Believe It, Archie! was published and I decided to make a quiz. (The book is popular in schools and libraries in both the UK and US and and someone had come to my website having searched for one).  I was getting on nicely, there seemed to be six simple questions for each chapter, and then I got to chapter five – On Thursday… the story with the helicopter and the ‘lady in the smart pink skirt’. When the brilliant illustrator Hannah Shaw had delivered rough sketches for the book she drew a picture of the lady wearing trousers. ‘Tut tut’, we said, she should be wearing a skirt. Hannah dutifully changed the picture and all was well – or so we all thought until his week. A question about what the lady was wearing seemed good for the quiz when my eye was caught by the words ‘trouser suit’. What! I re-read the story. Twice the lady is described as wearing a smart pink skirt, and then… turning the page there she is described as wearing a smart trouser suit. Well at least she’s still smart and pink but how could it have happened? So many clever people concerned for accuracy –  #thewriter, #thewriterswife, editor, illustrator, more publishing people, and none of us spotted it. So many readers, teachers and librarians have read and reviewed it and and no-one has written to us to comment on it either. Does that mean no-one at all has noticed I wonder…

lady in skirt

So my question for the quiz changed and is now a useful exercise for children in reading accurately! I am left wondering if our striving for exactitude matters after all. Actually I think it does and when I proof read the next lot of Archie stories I shall pay even more attention to detail and hope not to let anything slip through the net.

The stories however are wonderful. Andrew Norriss has a particular style/gift for writing with clever plots and a light comic touch. This is common to both his children’s books and his screen writing. Fortunately I love the way he writes and so when proof reading there is no worry about feeling critical of the content. How awful it would be not to like the writing style of your nearest and dearest. I laugh out loud and then find a tear in my eye at the end when I read #thewriter’s  books and that’s good because it means the story is working at an emotional level. I am engaged with the characters and plot. And best of all they always leave me with that deeply contented satisfied feeling that you get from a good story well told.


PS. Aquila, which won the Whitbread Children’s Award, is a Puffin Modern Classic and is read around the world also has an error. That one was spotted and reported to us by a class in Australia who had used finding the lost invisible Aquila as a mathematics exercise and found that the details given in the book don’t actually work. They had the double delight of interesting maths and correcting the author. they’re the only one’s to have discovered it so far.

Author Interview for Scribbler! magazine.

Scribbler! magazine for children is a great way to improve literacy skills and help your child with their reading and writing. Created for children aged 7-11, it is packed full of fun yet educational activities for the kids to enjoy. Here’s a example of one of their author interviews and competitions. 

UntitledClick on the picture to see more clearly. Andrew Norriss was delighted to be interviewed for Scribbler! and lucky competition winners got signed copies of Archie’s Unbelievably Freaky Week.

Disaster? I don’t do disaster…

Andrew Norriss, Whitbread Award winning children’s author and all round kind thoughtful man, was asked by his publisher David Fickling Books, to contribute to their Story Blog, by writing about disaster. I’m not sure they got what they were expecting but Andrew writes with total honesty and having lived with him for over 30 years, read many of the same books, had many, many discussions about life, the universe and all that I agree with everything he wrote for them. Andrew passed on Games People Play by  Eric Berne for me to read in the seventies, and since then we have talked about some of the ideas with our children over the supper table. ‘Aint it awful‘ and Parent, Adult, Child are two very useful ideas when considering how people behave in certain situations.

So here is what Andrew wrote about disaster. Beautifully written piece, clearly expressed and rather different from what was expected I suspect…

Disaster… by Andrew Norriss

I don’t do disaster.

Well, obviously I do in real life – my own has had plenty of them –  but I don’t write about it. Not unless I’m going to turn it into a joke. Using real life tragedy for a story feels… wrong, somehow.

I whiz through books like War Horse and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, but only to keep up with the game. They are not books I read by choice or for pleasure, however brilliantly written they may be. They do not make me feel comfortable, and this is not simply because the subject matter itself is uncomfortable.

In Games People Play, which I read while I was at university, Eric Berne described some of the mind games we all play in life.  more

So if you want books that consider disasters and problems that occur in everyday life, and then consider how to sort them out and live more happily, you want to read Andrew’s books. That is why he is an Award winning author and his books are read and valued particularly by teachers and librarians as well as loved by children.

£1 Million Pound Give Away!

£1 Million Pound Give Away!

Well not really of course but the book Matt’s Million by Andrew Norriss will be free to download at the weekend 21st – 24th December 2012.  Click on the book cover below or here for more information.

Ever wondered what it would have been like to have  had £1 million or ($2 million) when you were 11 years old? Andrew Norriss did and so he wrote Matt’s Million as a way of experiencing it vicariously, and it turned out that having that sort of money is, like so many things in life, a little more complicated than you might think. Yes you can go out and buy everything you want – but will it fit in your house when you get it home? You could move to the house of your dreams but then you might not be near your friends anymore, and who are these ‘new friends’ anyway? You can buy people expensive presents but when they don’t accept them as cheerfully as you expected life gets a little confusing.

Matt’s Million is a greatly entertaining read as you imagine yourself in Matt’s place thinking about what you would buy or do in his situation, and as in all Andrew Norriss’ books everything is happily resolved with a most satisfying ending. I love Mr Kawamura’s advice – it should be given to everyone at an early age.

A delightfully engaging story with believable characters, a clever plot and told with a light humour it is your to enjoy for free this weekend.

Yes, free. Absolutely no catch. Let me know if you enjoy it. Click on the cover…

Matt's Million eBook

Matt’s Million was made as a children’s TV series and some episodes are to be found online.

It all starts with a good story…

I think most teachers and librarians would agree that the best way to get children reading is to give them a good story, either one read to them which I don’t think happens enough, of one they read themselves. But what is a good story? This is what I wrote in 2009 and  it still holds true for me now. What do you think…

How to define a good story…  For me, these are the best:

a fun, humorous, and intriguing story;  inspiring and uplifting rather than depressing and despairing;  a story that you can’t put down once you’ve started – and is of a length that if you sit long enough you can do just that; a story that keeps you guessing all they way through and yet is entirely logical and believable in a not quite of this world sort of way; a story that leaves you feeling satisfied and complete – and yet wanting more; rounded believable characters who behave consistently; exciting without manipulating  the emotions; problems that need solving; and an overall theme/idea of growth and discovery.

To find all of these in a story is a rare and wonderful thing, and I find that the stories written by Andrew Norriss fulfill them all. Written for children, but enjoyed by readers of all ages – children,  teenagers, twenties, parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians. These are stories that get even the most reluctant children enjoying reading and wanting to read more. And as Andrew Norriss has declared  ‘Reading is the most essential skill of all‘.

Inviting an author to visit…

Andrew 'book signing' at George Heriots Sept 2010We get many letters from teachers inviting Andrew to visit their school. Two arrived on the same day this week, two very different letters.

Letter 1

(As far as we know we have had no previous contact with the teacher and she does not name the school.)

Hi Andrew
I am currently putting together activities for a School Book Week next March.
Do you have any dates free during the weeks beginning 4th or 11th March when you could visit us in (name of town)?
Look forward to hearing from you.

Letter 2

( No previous contact with teacher or school but we had been contacted by Kate, a School Library Service Librarian. This correspondent gave her name, position and the name of school)

Dear Jane,
Kate forwarded her email to you, so I hope you don’t mind me contacting you direct!
Kate visited our school recently and introduced one of your books to us. The children (and teachers) thoroughly enjoyed the story and so I was wondering whether your husband could visit our school? World Book Day is on 7th March next year – would there be any possibility he would be available then? Would I be able to ring you to discuss this date or an alternative if this one is not suitable? So many questions!!
Kind regards, 

Both invites are for the same week in March which has in fact been well booked up for some time, but decisions were easily made about how to reply. The first letter gets a simple but polite ‘No’. I’m afraid if you show no knowledge of or interest in an author’s books you are unlikely to get a visit. The second teacher has been offered an alternative date as it’s hard to say no when you know your books are enjoyed and appreciated. 

I wonder if these letters reflect back on the teaching of letter writing in school. We have had many children’s letters sent by teachers which have been written as a class lesson. ( I remember one lot which came out of the blue and didn’t even have a covering letter from the teacher). Some letters are short and formulaic, whilst others are more inventive and interesting to read. The few letter that have made their way from individuals via the publisher are special, as they have been written by children who really love Andrew’s books and it’s clear from their letters that reading and writing have not come easily. Real effort was involved. 

We made our children write ‘thank you’ letters by hand on paper for all their birthday and Christmas presents as they were growing up. It was not always easy but they got done and 2 lines was not enough! The turning point came for our second son when his godmother wrote a ‘thank you’ letter to him. He was so thrilled to receive a letter addressed to him in the post, to get the thank you and to hear her news, that ever since he has cheerfully set to and written idiosyncratic letters which have delighted the recipients. I wonder if children who get replies from Andrew feel the same. 

So if, as I suspect, few children write or receive letters at all these days how can we expect young adults to know how to write appropriately for any situation, or have any awareness of the impact their letter on it’s arrival. 

By the way, teachers take note, popular children’s authors like Andrew Norriss are in particular demand for Book Week in October and World Book Day in March so if you want a visit then you’ll probably need to book a year in advance to get the author and the day that you’d like. And it’s worth doing, as having a real author whose books you’ve read and enjoyed in your classroom can have a powerful impact on children’s enthusiasm for books and reading! 

Read Aquila for my School

Read for my School  is a  national schools reading competition is brought about  by The Pearson Foundation and Booktrust, with support from the Department for Education. In 2012 and 2013 Aquila by Andrew Norriss was one of the books available to read for free as an eBook during that time – I don’t know if it is on this year’s list.

Aquila won the Whitbread Children’s Award in 1997 and is a Puffin Modern Classic both of which reflect how good the book is – a well told story with a message delivered with a light humorous touch. Its timeless quality means it’s still being discovered anew after so many years as shown by this review from an American blogger on Nov 19th.

Interesting science fiction book… interesting how the inquiry process really is blatantly presented in this book. Boys skip out on a field trip and discover a skeleton and a spaceship in a cave. Boys learn how to fly around and work the spaceship. Then boys find one thing they’re interested in researching after another. Teachers become concerned and curious about the boyschange in attitude towards reading and learning… I enjoyed the book overall. Wouldn’t mind finding a spaceship to fly around in! Goodreads Summary: Two schoolboys out on a school trip discover a space ship, Aquila. They learn to fly the ship, and to talk Latin – the only language Aquila understands. After many adventures, they realise Aquila is making a real difference to their lives…
The Styling Librarian

So to read one of the best loved children’s books around for free, schools can sign up to Read for my School giving even more children the chance to discover that reading can be fun,  flying your own spaceship is a real possibility  and that school work and learning might not be  such a bad idea after all!

There are brilliant Teaching Ideas and Resources on the Teaching Ideas Website here.

Aquila new

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