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  1. Just over a week ago a friend put up 10 facts about her that were interesting to read and intended to give a picture of the personality behind her business. We thought this a great idea but didn't want to use her questions as some were password linked and 'that wouldn't do'!

    Poppies in France

    I scoured the internet for inspiration (it is STILL a daily joy to have the ability to do that more than 20 years later). One site had a list of 100 questions from which we managed a shorter list of 30, but can't pick which ones to lose. So what follows is 30 questions answered by Simon first and then by me (Amanda) which probably shows we tend to like words! One question we culled was hobbies as that would just be taking photos and writing stuff...

     Simon Davey photographing an insectQuestions - Simon Davey

    1.       Who is your hero?

              Dr Francis Rose, brilliant ecologist and mentor

    2.       If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

              Costa Rica

    3.       What has been your favourite holiday?

              Travelling around northern France visiting cathedrals and abbeys

    4.       What makes you angry?

              Greed

    5.       What's your favourite thing about your career?

              Travel

    6.       What's your proudest accomplishment?

              Being a tour leader showing people natural history in amazing places

    7.       What's your favourite book?

              Eastern Approaches by Fitzroy Maclean

    8.       What did you want to be when you were a child?

              A sailor or an architect

    9.       What is your favourite sport/game to watch?

              Tennis

    10.     What would be your Karaoke song?

              Didja' Ever (originally by Elvis Presley)

    11.     Who is your favourite author?

  2. How it happened

    Last year, one of the first magazines on my list to approach for a review of Freckles and Friends was New Nature, a fresh online magazine aimed at young people, who I had been following on Twitter for some time. The lovely Emma responded with an enthusiastic yes please and said that she would ask around to see who she could line up to do the review.

    Freckles and Friends and pile of reviewsNot long afterwards came the news that she had arranged for a review to be done by Year 8 of Calderstones School, in Liverpool! Their teacher comes across as just the right sort of teacher to have, positive and engaged with the world around her. I looked forward to the answers with a mix of excitement and anxiety. It was so exciting to have a class of schoolchildren go through the book. But what would they say?

    The tweeted glimpses of their work looked positive and I awaited the promised piece. By October came the fact that Emma was no longer working on the magazine, but Alice made contact with the school and promised that a blog would be forthcoming.

    When there was still no news, I made contact with the teacher in February this year and she promised to send me the scripts so that I could write them up.

    The conundrum

    So. I wrote the book and I am going through the reviews. Authors rarely get the chance to respond to feedback, it is certainly not a good idea to go on the defensive. What has struck both of us (Simon and me) is how consistent these kids were in their reaction to the book. For this reason I have decided to quote from each of their pieces where they had something individual to say about the book. I will then summarise their niggles and the grading that they gave. At the time they were thirteen years old. To have taken the trouble to write their reviews is a mark of their characters, as the book was really written for younger children, a fact that they all pointed out with relish.