St.John’s School Kilkenny

This page, as the name suggests, is about St. John’s School in Kilkenny. Last term they studied my book in what they call A One Book Project. I thought it would be a good idea to record some of the things they did and below you will find samples of their work. It’s a great school and I have been very impressed with the work that the teachers have put into this project. One of the teachers, Ms. Mackey, has very generously given me a copy of her teaching notes to make available to other schools.  These I will post on the Teaching Notes page. This year,  so far,  Ms Mackey’s 4th and 5th wonderful combined class have done The Butterfly Heart and they are now going onto The Sleeping Baobab Tree.

Ms Mackey’s 4th and 5th Class 2013/2014

On my blog I posted a short piece about Ms Mackey’s 4th and 5th Class combined. What follows are some photos of some of the beautiful work they have been doing! I hope they have come out well enough for you to see.



Wanted Posters

Wanted Posters

Snakes Galore

Snakes Galore






Today I received a parcel of reviews from Ms. Mackey’s class. I am not going to scan them all in but am going to put in an excerpt from each person’s review. I was delighted to receive them , so thank you again to Ms Mackey and her class for all the effort put in and for all the kind words about the book. I also loved looking at the pictures you drew – fantastic! You have all put a lot of effort into the reviews, your art work and all the other pieces of work you did.

So,  Asante sana (thank you very much in Swahili), Zikomo (thankyou in Nyanja another language spoken in Zambia) and Natotela (in a language you know!) and finally …… Go raibh maith agaibh (hopefullly that’s right!)

Here is a picture of the pile of reviews being inspected (or perhaps read, she’s a clever cat…) by Pushka, one of our cats. She is a Siberian cat (good for people like me who are allergic to cats) and her name in Russian means Fluffy.

Pushka inspecting the Book Reviews

In their reviews the students were asked:

What was the book about?

What did you like about the book?

Were there any parts you didn’t like? Discuss.

What was your favourite part of the book?

Would you recommend this book to a friend?

How many stars would you give this book out of 5?

Draw a picture to show your favourite part of the book

What I will do is take different answers to all of these questions and put them in. I hope I don’t leave anyome out!


Jody Frayne

I liked this book because it is full of suspense. It is very exciting, interesting and funny. The book is amazing because you don’t know what is going to happen.

Cillian Curran

What I liked about the book was that we got to learn Bemba and we got to play Bemba Bingo!

Aaron O’Brien

I liked the way that it was unexpected, exciting and well explained from each character’s point of view.

Krys Graca

I like the book because it holds you in suspense and it is fun and dramatic. I really like the characters of Bul-Boo and Sister Leonisa because they have great personality.

Gavin Phelan

I like the fact that the book was full of suspense. You never know what’s going to happen because things that happen in other books don’t happen in this one.

Szymon Lukasiak

I like the part when the snake attacks the Uncle and the old man.

Niall Higgins

The part about the tapeworm was great and disgusting. We got to learn about the honey guide bird, foot binding and we did art on Madillo, Bul-Boo, Ifwafwa and the Kongamato

Jamie Young

I like that the book is very descriptive. We learned loads of things like Bemba and the Zambian National Anthem.

Lucy Hickey

I liked all the crazy stories Sister Leonisa told.

Success Edogun

I like the part where Madillo, Bul-Boo and Fred go into Fred’s great-granny’s room and they start t talk about her. Then the great granny pops out of nowhere and Fred and Madillo run away so Bul-Boo is stuck with her.


I liked reading it because the book taught me about child marriage. I had never heard of it before. The book was also full of surprises.

Alicia Nolan

I liked the book because it was good to hear and  very very interesting and very dramatic.


 Jake Fahy

I didn’t like the part about the hookworm where it goes up through your feet. I would have liked it if the book was longer.

Mariosa Dowling

I didn’t really like the part where I heard that the man Simon was still alive.

(interesting as a lot of people in the class commented on this! Paula)

Ben Powell

I would have liked all the other characters Fred, Madillo, Sister Leonisa, Winston, the great-granny to get their own chapters. If they had it would have been even better than it is.

Joanna Konieczna

I didn’t like the part when Winifred’s father died and the uncle came and was really mean.

Denise Campion

Well not really I loved the whole book. There was nothing I didn’t like. Everything was just perfect!


I did not like that the Uncle and Simon survived. I would have given it five stars if they were dead.


Kate Marie

My favourite part was when Sister Leonisa was telling about the dirty shoes.

Shane Smith

My favourite part was the story about the Kongamato

Conor Kelly

My favourite part of the book was about the Baobab Tree because it tells us we should think twice about what we do.

Rebecca Folan

My favourite part of the book is when Winifred’s family is happy and safe again.


My favourite part was when Winifred’s mother told the Uncle’s friend to leave and not come back.

Zoe Neary

My favourite part of the book was when Sister Leonisa winked at Winifred and when she got Madillo to come up to the top of the class and take off her shoes.


14 students gave it 5 stars out of 5!

7 students gave it 4 and a half stars out of 5! (and a good few of that number said they would have given it 5 if Simon had died…!)

1 person gave it 4 stars out of 5!

And 2 people gave it 3 and a half stars out of 5!

Seems pretty good to me – thank you all for that.


Jaw Dropping! Awesome! Intriguing! Surprising! Understanding! Fascinating! Suspense Filled! Fun and Fabulous! Happy! Unusual!  Mesmerising! Mysterious! Secretive! Spectacular! Makes Sense! Inspiring! Unexpected! Extraordinary!


March 29th

I received a wonderful email today from Miss Mackey’s Fifth Class and I was going to reproduce it here. But then I decided not to because it gives away the ending of the book and that might spoil it for people who haven’t read it.

But just to say thank you to them for the wonderful email and I wish you all a Happy Easter.

Here’s a picture you might like of a pair of beautiful green dung beetles (Miss Mackey’s class asked me why I mentioned Dung Beetles twice – and I had to say it’s because I like them!)

Taken from the website

March 28th

I went back to St. John’s today and this time I vistied Miss Butler’s class as well as Miss Daly’s. I had a great time as the students asked lots of questions – they had finished the book and they all had very good questions for me. One of them I couldn’t answer – if I was to describe my book using one word what would that word be? I think they all enjoyed reading it and their questions were very informed. Here are some pictures of Miss Daly’s class (I already had Miss Butler’s class up on the site as they used to be with Felix Nolan before his early retirement) . Miss Butler wasn’t in the classroom so we had Mr. Roche – who was one of the teachers who organised the One Book Project. So a big thank you to Mr. Roche!

I have also put up some photos of their work but they will be sending me copies so that I can scan them in.

Thank you all the fifth and sixth classes, you have been brilliant!

Miss Daly’s class (the other side!)

Miss Daly’s class

Butterflies in Miss Daly’s class

More butterflies….

Book reviews

First Steps – Creating images

March 14th 2012

Yesterday I visited two classes in St. John’s and spent time with them answering questions. I visited Ms. Mackey’s class (a Fifth Class) and Ms. Bolger’s class, a Sixth Class.

I had a great time with them both – loads of different questions and for an author that’s very rewarding. It seemed to me that both classes  were really getting to understand the book and, more importantly, that they liked it.

I had not been in Ms. Bolger’s class before so I took a couple of pictures of them for the site. Here they are.

Ms Bolger’s class

Ms Bolger’s Class

Ms Bolger’s Class

Ms Mackey also gave me some copies of work her class had done. I was hoping to scan some of them in but they are too pale, so what I have decided to do is quote from some of them

They were two different pieces of work.

First, a Last Will and Testament. The children decided whose Will they would write from amongst the characters in the book. A really great idea as it demonstrated how well they understood the different characters.

Here are some examples.

The Last Will and Testament of Ifwafwa

I, Ifwafwa, hereby leave my treasured possessions of my snake bag and bicycle to Bul-Boo and Madillo, for the following reasons:

Madillo likes spirits and things that are not true like me. Also she is interested in snakes and is fearless.

Bul-Boo likes books so she can carry them on the bicycle. Bul-Boo is very trustworthy.

Other reasons given by different students were thet Bul-Boo never breaks a promise, Madillo has a gift of seeing things that are not there, Bul-Boo can use my (snake) bag to keep her books in and Madillo can ride my bike while she’s counting!

One student wrote the Last Will and Testament of Winston – leaving his big black whip to Sister Leonisa!

Other wrote wills leaving books t0 Winifred.

They were all very well written and presented. Well done Ms Mackey’s class.

Secondly, there were Madillo’s Report Cards

Another great idea, as any teacher will know in order to write a report card you have to know your students well.

Here are some examples:

Madillo always got an A in Maths because ‘she is always counting,’ ‘Because I noticed she even counts in Japanese’ ‘She loves Maths and when I ask her a question she never lets me down’

She also did well in English, ‘Very expressive, reads  very well,’ ‘She loves telling stories’ ‘She’s a very good storyteller but when she tells stories there’s not always the truth’ ‘Good storyteller but she gets too carried away after a while.’

PE she didn’t fare as well … but her teachers held out some hope for her: ‘\She is starting to improve but still needs to do better’ ‘She goes mad when it comes to PE on a Friday’ ‘She doesn’t show much potential in this subject but has improved at Netball’

Drama, of course, Madillo earned top marks! ‘She shows great passion for drama’ ‘She is very dramatic and has a good imagination’

In SESE and Nature a number of her teachers mentioned that she was not only not very good at working out which bird was which, but she always insisted she was right.

Wonderful work, thank you for sharing these with me.

Beautiful artwork from Ms. Mackey’s class, St. John’s, Kilkenny

Tuesday 14th February 2012

Today I received a wonderful email from Ms. Mackey’s class and to it she attached some pictures of the artwork done by her students.

All of them made the butterflies for the noticeboard, and  Ben, Maríosa, Success, Conor, Rebecca and Cillian painted the picture of Bul-Boo.  Szymon, Lucy, Alicia, Niall, Denise, Joanna, Jordan and Hamedah painted the picture of Madillo.  Gavin, Jamie, Jody, Kate Marie and Liam painted Ifwafwa.  The Kongamato was painted by Jake, Krys, Krystian, Shane and Aaron.  Success, Ben, Cillian and Conor made snakes.

Brilliant pictures – I am looking forward to visiting and seeing them up on your wall.

Here they are:

The Butterfly Heart Noticeboard




The Kongamato

A Hissing snake

Ms Mackey’s Fifth Class

Friday 10th February 2012

I have decided to create a new page for St. John’s School in Kilkenny. As I mentioned in my blog they are doing a book project and my book, The Butterfly Heart, has been chosen as the book for Fifth and Sixth Classes.

I will add in information as the project progresses, but today I popped into the two Fifth classes that are being taught by Ms. Mackey and Mr. Nolan. I took a few pictures of the classes and chatted to them briefly.

To my surprise and delight Ms. Mackey’s class have already started learning a few words of Bemba. I think they are the only class in the whole of Ireland who are doing this, a big congratulations to them! And, natasha – which, in Bemba means Thank You.

Here are a couple of the photographs.

Ms. Mackey’s Fifth class (the other side!)

And Ms. Mackey’s class again (in the middle!)

Mr. Nolan’s Fifth Class

Mr. Nolan’s Fifth Class (hopefully everyone in!)

15 responses to “St.John’s School Kilkenny

  1. i like the piactures of ms.amackeys and mr.nowlan class

  2. I am glad you are enjoying it Rebecca, and hope the rest of your class is too.

  3. Joanna Konieczna

    there deadlee all the art we did are up there

  4. I am Christain Folan I have read the book butterfly heart I love the book it is great my favourite character is ifwafwa you have came up with great phrases.paula you are an inspiration you are a brilliant author and I hope you and your family have a very bright future.You came to my school st johns senior school today (28) March 2012 and you have really shown people the things that can happen all of a sudden and that Zambia is in poverty and to put an end to this paragraph I just want to say you are amazing and I can’t wait to see your next few books

    • You are very kind Christian and I am delighted you liked the book. I enjoyed meeting your class today and it was great to get so many questions that showed how well all of you had read the book. You have a wonderful school. Ifwafwa is one of my favourites as well, I think he is a kind and clever man. Hopefully the next book will be out in 2013 and you will get to read it.

  5. sharonmcgorrian

    hi, i like the puictures of the 5th class mr.nolan and thats my class it was a great book u should write more great ones like that u are the best author i ever have known and best of look in the futcher

    • Glad you like the photos Sharon, I was pleased I was able to come and speak to your class last week even though Mr. Nolan had left. He used to teach my own children as well! Thanks for wishing me luck.

  6. hi paula i am in st johns 6th and i love the pictures ms mackey and ms butler(ms butler is my 2nd cousin!!) worked on. i really liked the book and really enjoyed sister leonisas funny crazy storys! i cant wait to read your next book good look with it!

  7. thank you paula actually i met you today with my friends in the carpark of eurospar and my friends asked you for your autograph!

  8. sharon mcgorrian

    Thats cool and no bother 🙂

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