Back to the past for Peebles pupils

PEEBLES, UNITED KINGDOM. - 20/02/13 : 'Kingsland Primary School in Peebles hosted a very special book launch recently.''Children's writer Janis MacKay visited the school with her latest book, The Accidental Time Traveller.'The story is set in Peebles and tells of the adventures of a young girl from 1812 who is transported two centuries to Peebles in 2012.'The first person she meets is a pupil from Kingsland Primary School. ''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2013)
PEEBLES, UNITED KINGDOM. - 20/02/13 : 'Kingsland Primary School in Peebles hosted a very special book launch recently.''Children's writer Janis MacKay visited the school with her latest book, The Accidental Time Traveller.'The story is set in Peebles and tells of the adventures of a young girl from 1812 who is transported two centuries to Peebles in 2012.'The first person she meets is a pupil from Kingsland Primary School. ''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2013)

Peebles pupils last week got the chance to meet an author who featured their school in her latest book.

Kingsland Primary School welcomed Janis Mackay on Wednesday as she launched her new children’s book, The Accidental Time Traveller.

The pupils prepared for her visit by writing essays about life in Peebles in times gone by and inventing their own time-travel plans. Youngsters also got the opportunity to dress up in old-fashioned clothes to celebrate the book’s launch.

Janis said: “The book is set in 1812 and involves a little girl called Agatha Black. She gets herself hurtled through time and ends up in Peebles in 2012 where a boy called Saul tries to help her get back.

“I like working with everyday life and then interweaving magic and fantasy into that.

“Saul goes to Kingsland and brings Agatha along, so there are scenes set in the school itself.”

She added: “I’ve been to Kingsland a few times before and everyone there has been so supportive. The headteacher, Mrs Wilson, wanted to make a special event to get the children involved, which was great.”

Headteacher Jacqueline Wilson said: “We are delighted to have hosted a book launch in our school for Janis, especially as Kingsland is part of the story.

“The book has caught the imagination of the children and provided a great context for Curriculum for Excellence with a range of activities for all of our pupils to engage with.

“Our school is three years old this week and already we feature in a novel!”

Janis added: “Peebles is a lovely historic old town. Many years back I lived there for a year.

“My sister and mum live there, and my nephew Saul, who I based the main character on.

“It is the kind of place where children can be children, with places to go, play, have fun, with woods and a river, and Kingsland Primary School up on the hill.”

The idea to write about time travel came to Janis when she saw a theatre show about Marjory Fleming, a young girl who lived in the early 1800s.

At the age of eight she kept a diary and wrote poems and observations of life around her.

“It was Marjory that inspired the time-travel theme,” Janis explained. “She was a wonderful writer. She died before her ninth birthday, but her diary was kept and later published.

“This gave me a Scottish child’s insight into life 200 years ago.”

At their special assembly last week Janis read extracts of the book to the children, while fellow guest, performer Callum Leyton, dressed up and spoke to pupils about life in 1812.

In the book, Saul is on his way to the corner shop when a strange girl appears in the middle of the road.

She wears unusual clothes, is terrified of traffic and is amazed at the products on display in the shop.

Saul joins forces with his mates to solve the problem, but will they figure out the trick to time travel and get Agatha back home?