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On this page you will find:
Plays for a Whole Class to Act    Plays for Reading Groups

I have always loved acting in plays, and writing them is just as enjoyable. I also think they are a brilliant way for children to improve their reading.

Many of my plays were written for school reading groups, from infant to teenage level (including several for reluctant readers.) Others are for a whole class to act. I have also written two full-length musicals for adults to perform to children, and my teenage novel Running on the Cracks has been turned into a play.

It’s possible to buy signed copies of a few of the books on this page. Other options are are to buy from Amazon or phone the bookshop:

Tales on Moon Lane
Tel. 020 7274 5759

A few of the plays are now out of print but I have nevertheless included them, as second-hand copies can sometimes be tracked down.


Play Time

cover - Play TimeMacmillan,
isbn 978-1447231592

PLAY TIME is a collection of eleven fun-to-act short plays for all children to enjoy, especially those in primary school. Each play comes complete with helpful guidance on target age, running time and cast. Ranging from adaptations of traditional tales, such as The Three Billy Goats Gruff and the legend of Persephone, to original contemporary plays.


Plays for a Whole Class to Act

Bombs and Blackberries

cover - Bombs and BlackberriesHodder, 2002,
isbn 978-0750241250

This is a play for a whole top junior class, set in and around Manchester during World War 2. There are 4 songs, and notes on simple staging and costumes. The play would fit well into a project on WW2.

Britain is at war, and the Chivers’ youngest children have to leave their parents to live in the countryside. They are delighted to be brought back home when it looks as thought the Germans aren’t going to invade after all. But the air-raid siren goes off and this time it’s frighteningly real . . .

Bombs and Blackberries Cast
Primary 7 at Strathblane School did a very successful performance of "Bombs and Blackberries" in 2005, adding in songs from WW2.

For other, unpublished plays containing songs, see musicals


cover - The Head in the SandThe Emperor's Head

Hodder, 2002,
isbn 978-0750290623

This play is set in Roman Britain and is suitable for a whole top junior class to read or act.

A boy digs up a bronze head from a Suffolk river. As he puzzles over it, the dramatic story of the Roman invasion of Britain unfolds in front of his eyes. Emperor Claudius, British Queen Boudicca, Roman soldiers and British slave girls all play their part.


cover - The Big Book of ChristmasPersephone

included in Play Time

Macmillan,
isbn 978-0330436472

This is a play with three songs, based on the Greek myth and suitable for performance by a whole class of top juniors. I wrote it for my youngest son’s school and had fun producing it.


Here are two photos of a production of Persephone performed by St Jude & St Paul’s Church of England Primary School, Islington, London in 2012:

Nicodemus tempts Persephone with the pomegranate

 

Nicodemus tempts Persephone with the pomegranate

 

Jollity in the Underworld


What the Ladybird HeardWhat the Ladybird Heard

Illustrated by Lydia Monks
Macmillan
isbn 978-1509824779

Stage your very own What the Ladybird Heard play and bring the farmyard to life.

The What the Ladybird Heard Play has been designed with rehearsals and performance in mind, with colour-coding for each character, to help children to follow their lines and join the cast.

The book also contains helpful advice on staging the play and ideas for props as well as mask templates for the key characters.


cover: Tidler - A Play

Tiddler

Pearson

This picture book, about the adventures of a story-telling fish, is now available as a play for a whole class to act, as part of Pearson’s Bug Club “Plays to Act” series. To find out more go to the Pearson website


cover: Tidler - A PlayTyrannosaurus Drip

Pearson

A play for a whole primary class to act, based on the picture book in which a vegetarian Duckbill dinosaur egg ends up in a Tyrannosaurus nest by mistake. This is one of the Bug Club “Plays to Act” published by Pearson. To find out more go to the Pearson website


The Gruffalo PlayThe Gruffalo Play

illustrated by Axel Sheffler

Macmillan,
isbn 978-1447243090

Ideal for children to act as a school play or at home, the play book has been designed with rehearsals and performance in mind. There is a hints and tips section which includes helpful advice on staging the play and performing it with larger groups. It also contains the lyrics and music for the Gruffalo Song. The book could also equally be used for reading groups.

Steyning Bookshop logo

Running on the CracksRunning on the Cracks

illustrated by Axel Sheffler

Macmillan,
isbn 978-1783198689

"Run. Keep running. You're doing the right thing. Lie low. Head down. Don't look back. Just keep running. And whatever you do, don't tread on the cracks..."

Leo's world has been turned upside down. Her parents are gone and her bird-loving uncle is getting too close for comfort. She is only sure of one thing...she must get out.

In a desperate bid to find the grandparents she never knew, Leo jumps on a train to Glasgow, penniless and stealing food to survive. A nationwide hunt for her begins. Will she track down her grandparents, or will her uncle get to her first?

This is the play version of my novel for teenagers, which was adapted by Andy Arnold and was performed in various theatres around the UK.

'Young people’s theatre can be a difficult thing to pull off; it’s all too easy to patronise your audience. But Andy Arnold’s new adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s novel does not fall into this trap. It’s neither overly worthy nor heavy-handed, eschewing sentimentality for a more even-handed portrait of a young runaway.' Exeunt Magazine

'Andy Arnold...has freely but sensitively reimagined Julia Donaldson's young adult novel for the stage.' The Times

'Running on the Cracks is a novel-turned play which hits its target audience with near perfect aim.' Nouse


Plays for Reading Groups

Plays to Read

Plays to read

36 short plays with 6 parts, suitable for Key Stage 1 children, part of Pearson’s Bug Club. For use in schools.

This series of short plays, half of them written by me and half by other authors, was one of my major projects as Children’s Laureate.  Read the play aloud, then swap the parts again and again until all six readers are confident with the new words.  Then you can perform a rehearsed reading to the rest of the class.

cover - Step Inside a StoryThere are also 12 short plays with parts suitable for Key Stage 2 children, one written by me.

Bug Club Plays to Read were winners in the British Book Design Awards because “they combined imagination and innovation to truly reflect the educational requirements of the targeted age group. This resulted in an exciting and interesting developmental package for both teacher and pupil to enjoy in the teaching and learning experience.

To find out more go to the Pearson website


cover - The Giant JumpereeThe Giant Jumperee

Rigby “Star”, turquoise level, 2000,
isbn 978-0433029038

There’s something terrifying in Rabbit’s burrow! Join Rabbit, Cat, Bear, Elephant and Frog as they try to find out what it is. A short simple play with a rhyming element, for 6 infant actors.

 

 

cover - The Monster in the CaveThe Monster in the Cave

Rigby “Lighthouse”, turquoise level, 2001,
isbn 978-0602300944

Squirrel has hidden some nuts in a cave but he’s scared to get them himself. Who will help him get them out and win the reward? A short play with 6 parts for early readers.


cover - Stop ThiefStop, Thief!

Rigby “Lighthouse”, purple level, 2001,
isbn 978-0602300951

A short play based on a Japanese folk tale about a clever judge who manages to trap a doughnut-thief. There are parts for 6 primary children.


cover - Problem PageProblem Page

Heinemann “High Impact”, 2000,
isbn 978-0435214128

I wrote this play for reluctant teenage readers but it works well with any lower secondary class. David is a teenager who has managed to keep secret the fact that Mr Jones, the embarrassingly hearty science teacher, is actually his father. David wants to ask a girl back to his house, but how can he keep Dad out of the way? He writes to “Ask Dotty”, an advice column in a magazine – but Dotty turns out to be an agony aunt whose answers only lead to further agony. There are 6 parts.


cover - Tudor TalesYellow Stockings

Rigby Navigator, Year 4 Grey level
isbn 978-0433011705

Annie wishes she were allowed to act, like her twin brother Tom who is in Mr Shakespeare's new play, "Twelfth Night.” Instead, she has to stitch the costumes, until a pair of yellow stockings lead to unexpected events. There are parts for 6 top juniors.



cover - Worm Looks for LunchWorm Looks for Lunch

Harper-Collins, “Big Cat” green band 5, 2005,
isbn 978-0007185924

Worm is bored with eating earth for every meal. But when he looks for something more interesting to eat, he finds that danger is lurking. A very short easy play for 6 beginner readers.


cover - The Trial of Wilf WolfThe Trial of Wilf Wolf

Longman “Pelican Big Books”, 2002,
isbn 978-0582539938

A funny courtroom drama in Big Book format, with 12 speaking parts, though it can be acted by a whole class.

I devised this with some schoolchildren when I was working as Writer in Residence in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow. The wolf from Little Red Riding Hood has to stand trial for “breaking and eating”.


cover - Birthday SurpriseBirthday Surprise

Ginn "New Reading 360", levels 4-6, 1994,

isbn 978-0602259846

This was my first published play (and my second book). It is about a badly-behaved boy and a conjuror who comes to his birthday party, and can be acted or read by 10 children or by a whole junior class.

This is out of print but it is included in the collection of my plays called Play Time


cover Names and GamesNames and Games

Ginn "All Aboard" Stage 9, 1995,
isbn 978-0602261788

This was inspired by my youngest son, whose bossy friend Robin always insisted on playing Robin Hood and acting the lead – “because my name really is Robin”. The play, about friendship and playground games, has parts for four primary-school children.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time


cover - Turtle TugTurtle Tug

Ginn “New Reading 360”, 1995,
isbn 978-0602284350

Elephant and Hippo think they are too grand to go to the turtles’ birthday party – until the turtles play a trick on them, involving a tug of war. A short play based on an African traditional tale with parts for four beginner readers.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time


cover - The Magic TwigThe Magic Twig

Ginn “New Reading 360”, 1995,
isbn 978-0602280055

When Anna complains to the Wind because he has blown all the apples off her tree, he gives her a twig which will produce an endless supply of apples. But a wicked innkeeper is eager to get his hands on the magic twig . . .

A play based on a French traditional tale, with parts for four beginner readers.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time


cover - The Boy who Cried Wolf!The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Ginn “New Reading 360”, 1995,
isbn 978-0602267100

A short play based on the Aesop fable, with parts for four beginner readers. Also published as a Big Book.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time


The Three Billy Goats Gruff

cover The Three Billy Goats GruffGinn “New Reading 360”, 1995,
isbn 978-0602280024

A short play play based on the traditional tale, with parts for four beginner readers. Also published as a Big Book.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time



cover - The Wonderful SmellsThe Wonderful Smells

Ginn “New Reading 360”, 1997,
isbn 978-0602284466

Two Chinese children are accused of stealing the smells from a café and are taken to court. A play with parts for 7 junior children.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time



cover - Top of the MopsTop of the Mops

Ginn “Impact”, 1996,
isbn 978-0602274214

This is one of my favourites. I wrote it when my own son, Alastair, was about 14 and had his own rock band. The play was written for “reluctant readers aged 10-14” but I find it goes down well with any group of top primary or lower secondary children. Teenager Andy puts an advert in the paper for a singer in his band. His mother Carol puts an advert in too, for a cleaner. The result is a farce of mistaken identities. There are parts for 4 people.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time


cover - Steve's SandwichesSteve’s Sandwiches

Ginn “All Aboard” Stage 3, 1999,
isbn 978-0602293826

A short easy play for 6 beginner readers, about a fussy eater, his schoolfriends, and his long-suffering granny.

 



cover - All Gone!All Gone!

Rigby “Springboard Flyers” stage 3, 1998,
isbn 978-0602280895

Why does all the food in the café keep disappearing? A funny, easy play for reluctant junior readers. There are 6 parts.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time



cover - Books and CrooksBooks and Crooks

Nelson Thornes “Spirals”, 1998,
isbn 978-0748736560

A play for teenage readers (or for use in adult literacy classes) about two criminal old ladies and two gullible young librarians. I think I had more fun writing this than any of my other books. There are 5 parts.

This is out of print but included in my collection of plays called Play Time



cover - The Alien and other PlaysA Jumble for the Queen

included in The Alien and Other Plays, Heinemann “Literacy World” Stage 2 Plays, 1998,
isbn 978-0435093471

A play with a Tudor setting. Schoolboy Tom gets into trouble because he prefers collecting frogs to learning Latin. When he runs away and hides in the big house where his sister Joan is a kitchenmaid, he doesn’t realise that he will end up meeting Queen Elizabeth. There are 6 parts for upper juniors.


   
Home
About me
Picture books
Fiction
Early readers
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Songs
Songbird phonics
Plays
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Audio
Musicals
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