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Article by Kaz Russell-Graham | 6th April 2019

Kent College Teacher Celebrates Book Success

Award-winning Canterbury author Lucy Strange, who teaches English at Kent College, is celebrating the recent publication of her second children’s novel Our Castle by the Sea, following her critically-acclaimed debut, The Secret of Nightingale Wood, published in 2016.  

Lucy, who grew up reading classics such as Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden, didn’t start writing until her mid-30s, greatly influenced by the Edwardian age of literature, yet developing a more modern style of her own. 

Set on the Kent coast, the action in Our Castle by the Sea takes place in a village modelled on St Margaret’s at Cliffe. “It examines fear and anger,” explains Lucy, “and if we can find compassion in times of conflict.”  

The story follows 12-year-old Petra, who lives in a lighthouse and whose life is turned upside down when the Second World War breaks out. Petra’s mother is German, which raises difficulties when evidence of a traitor is discovered in the community. “About 80,000 people, many of them refugees, were kept in camps in the war,” Lucy says. “The book is most definitely an adventure story, but also questions how we see people as individuals, and not just part of an enemy nation.”

Lucy is a passionate advocate of the written word. “Reading allows children to experience maybe difficult things in the imagination, before having to experience them in the real world,” she explains. “They can experience narrative from film, TV and games, but words are different. They stay in their imagination, and there’s a chemical leap in the brain that doesn’t happen with other media. It’s unique.”

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