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  • Writer's pictureMark Bird

Em Norry - Author Visit

Updated: Jul 15, 2023

Throughout my 26 years of being a teacher, I've been lucky to have experienced many wonderful author visits. As part of our topic on Victorians in Year 6, we read the inspiring story, "Son of The Circus" by E.L. Norry a.k.a Em Norry, based on the real story of Pablo Fanque and his son Ted. Pablo Fanque was a British equestrian performer and circus proprietor, the first recorded non-white British circus owner in Britain. You can find out more about the author on Twitter @elnorry_writer

Em Norry was an inspiring force of positivity and it was a joy to welcome her to our school. The children and adults were captivated by her honesty, humour and warmth. I can't recommend her book and author visit experience enough.

I loved when she told the class, "There is not one question I will not answer."

What a wonderful woman!

Em Norry shared her own life and writing experiences but equally loved listening to the children's ideas and passion, inspired be her story, "Son Of The Circus."

A school display of EM Norry's "Son Of The Circus"
Our "Son Of The Circus" display

And finally I will share a piece of writing from one class member, Abdulkadir. Our writing was based on creating an alternative chapter 2 for "Son Of The Circus." This 10 year old is gifted and deserves attention. Get ready to be wowed!

Alternative Chapter 2

His worn out boots were scuffed by the rough stones that populated the bleak stretch of road that he had spent many a glorious day in the radiant sun , dashing along the house that he was now leaving behind , along with Mother and George. Anguish flooded Ted’s mind at the thought of leaving George, followed, quite rapidly, Ted would later reflect on, by such a burst of anxiety, Ted thought he would fall apart at the seams at the mental pain that struck in a brutal manner, reminiscent of his period working in the steel factory and the strife that had accompanied the whip that he had come to hate and fear.

And the source?

The reason for Ted’s current state. It was the man, the myth, the pig faced, demon dung, conceited, stuck up excuse of a father! Ted bit his tongue in an attempt to intercept the abuse before he ended up in a sticky situation, which had honestly happened to him more often than others. His father, the great Pablo Fanque, the first black circus owner to entertain for Britain. If he was so wealthy, so successful then why did he leave them? Why didn’t he send money and other essentials like other fathers did while travelling or on business trips? No, instead he went off gallivanting in the circus, leaving my mother once more but taking one last thing from her: me. How could he live with himself after all he did to us?

The thick veil of silence that had enshrouded us disappeared as Pablo , his voice ringing in the empty lane. “ Why do you frown, my dear boy? He asked in a theatrical manner. “ You are off to the circus, a dream of many. A dream coming to life for you.” My answer was not one he wanted to hear. “ Oh, yay for me!” I replied, spreading layer after layer of sarcasm into my voice. “ I’m off to a circus I’ve never heard off in the middle of nowhere with a maniac for a father I’ve never met. Hooray for me!!!” and just like that, Pablo’s carefree look evaporated, only to be replaced by a glare so terrifying, my heart nearly stopped.

Pablo’s voice , unlike his demeanour, was the same as before, only Ted could hear a subtle strain in his voice. “ You will go to the circus and you will enjoy it,” his voice crystal clear.”Otherwise , dear Charlotte and George will be heartbroken and you don’t want that, do you?”

There was a certain menace in his voice, one that made Ted shudder. He opened his mouth to resist, but Pablo quickly silenced it as a gargantuan blow. Reeling away from the attack, eyes watering, Ted finally lay down, accepting the fact that he may never see his family again as the carriage rolled into the night.

Ted leaped out of the rickety carriage, stretching his limbs after hours of cooped up frustration . Even though he hated the destination, he was glad, not to mention grateful to leave that infested hive of accursed woodworms. The whole abominable journey he had spent warding off insects and bugs.

The end result : His skin littered with pockmarks and bites. He looked around, observing his new surroundings. Lush, swaying blades of grass littered the ground, abundant trees of all shapes and sizes, from great oaks to lithe willows. It deserves its name, Raw Green, Ted thought to himself , silently chuckling. A mazarine, crystal - clear lake lay frozen in time, a phenomenal delight, an ivory moon-glade sweeping elegantly across its surface. Looming over the field, a flaming crimson and calming cerulean big top stood, a crown of colour so splendid it rivalled the Milky Way. A jarring note crept into the grassland, assaulting Ted’s ears and bringing a close to the serene blissful moment in time that Ted had enjoyed for a brief period. Ted reeled back, his hearing screeching. But to his horror, more notes danced in.

I told you it was good!

Until next time ...

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