KIDS’ author Peter J Murray gave Rotherham pupils a sneak peek at the drama in his new book - days after a triumphant launch at the school which inspired the “emotional blockbuster”.
The writer read from First World War novel Poppy Warrior to classes at Roughwood Primary and Rawmarsh Rosehill Primary.
“I’m glad to be visiting Rotherham schools as it’s my home town and I hope to get kids reading the book,” he said.
“At the launch, I had 200 children listening to me read.”
Characters in the book are named after staff at Pheasant Bank Academy in Rossington, Doncaster, which is where Peter unveiled it last month.
Best known for his spooky, award-winning Mokee Joe series, Peter admitted the new story was a departure for him.
“I went there, to Pheasant Bank, to inspire pupils about writing and they ended up inspiring me.
“I was welcomed by an amazing display of wild poppies on an embankment and they, plus the wonderful children, had me thinking about a World War One tale.”
The story takes an 11-year-old, computer-game addicted, identical twin, via a spooky series of events, to the Great Western Front, standing alongside his great, great grandfather and discovering the real-life horrors of trench warfare.
Peter said: “The story delivers a poignant message of discovering the difference between the meaningless violence contained in virtual reality computer games and the actual events experienced by the brave men who fought and died for us.
“The narrative also uses historical fact based around the Battle of the Somme to show children the scale and horror of what happened.”
The book is set at Pheasant Bank and features head Pippa Robinson and her deputy Ryan Schofield.
“They and the children inspired an emotional blockbuster of a novel,” said Peter, for whom Poppy Warrior is his 15th book and his first hardback.
It is already garnering plaudits in his home town, with Willow Tree Academy head Jane Fearnley saying it had “real warmth, with a gentle familiarity of home, school and relationships”.
Peter will be promoting the book at more than 90 schools across the UK during the academic year.