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“You can’t edit a blank page!” Visiting author inspires Sheffield Girls’ pupils to reach their creative potential

Last week Seniors at Sheffield Girls’ were treated to a talk from visiting author Danielle Jawando. Her extraordinary debut novel, ‘And the Stars Were Burning Brightly,’ has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize (Older fiction) 2021 and The Diverse Book Award 2021, as well as the GDST’s own Book Award 2021-22. 

‘And the Stars…’ is a novel about loss, love and the importance of speaking up. It is a powerful, thought-provoking book that covers difficult themes including bereavement and bullying. The author wrote the novel based on her own difficult experiences which led her to attempt suicide at the age of fifteen. Danielle writes ‘there is still a significant stigma surrounding mental health, and I hope that this book encourages people to seek help, to open up and start conversations.’

Pupils in Year 9 met with Danielle to discuss with her her path to becoming a writer. After reading an extract from her novel, the author then took part in a Q&A session before guiding the students as they took part in a writing exercise, complementing their current English topic: ‘Write like a …’ where students are learning how to write like journalists, authors and campaigners. 

Year 10 and 11 girls were involved in discussions with Danielle about mental health, the importance of speaking out and the potential impact of bullying. Our older Seniors were delighted to have the opportunity to explore a new text whilst also considering the broader topics related to health and wellbeing. One pupil commented: “It is really inspiring to see someone with experience with challenging mental health and bullying to have blossomed into such a kind and incredible individual”. 

After trying their hands at origami paper cranes - a recurring theme in the novel - our students were given an early glimpse of Danielle’s new novel ‘When our worlds collided’, a powerful story exploring chance encounters, injustice and the powerful impact individual decisions can have on our futures, which will be released later this spring. 

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