Hayling Island teacher pens children’s book about a skeleton with a passion for music

THREE teachers have just published their first children’s book, which has already had more than 1,000 orders internationally.

Saturday, 30th October 2021, 5:25 pm

Musical Bones was released on October 25 by Mark Coates, 47, Grant Davidson, 44, and Lisa Willis, 50, who are calling themselves ‘The Three Teachers’ as they all teach different subjects.

The book tells the story of Sidney, a skeleton with a passion for music.

It was written by childhood friends Mark, an English teacher at Hayling College, and Grant, a music teacher.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Lisa Willis and Mark Coates with a copy of Musical Bones

Read More

Read More
Ex-University of Portsmouth carpenter and international horror author has final ...

It was illustrated in watercolour by Mark’s partner Lisa Willis, who teaches art at Thornden School.

Mark, who is also a coach at Heart of Hayling Boxing Club, said: ‘Grant and I used to write songs together at university, but before now we’ve only ever written books for our own children and enjoyment.’

The book was discovered by publisher Burton Mayers after Grant decided to make a YouTube video about Musical Bones in 2018.

The authors were signing copies of the book outside Hayling Island Bookshop today

Mark said: ‘He just saw the video and loved it and said he wanted to publish us.

‘No one expects these things to happen – for someone to discover you - and especially at our ripe old age.’

The book has had more than 1,000 pre orders, including from book retailer Barnes and Noble.

Mark said: ‘It surprised us how it’s taken off.

‘We were expecting it to just sell a couple of hundred copies to family and friends.

‘We’re really excited. It’s a massive thrill. I’m really enjoying signing and sending out copies to people, although the best part for me is definitely people sending pictures of their kids reading the book and laughing. That’s the biggest joy.’

Musical Bones is a rhyming book aimed at readers aged eight to 12.

Mark added: ‘It takes inspiration from Julia Donaldson but is a little bit more mature.

‘It’s quite unusual because it’s slightly more challenging than other rhyming books out there-there’s loads of cultural capital and all sorts of complex words.

‘It’s really good for extending children’s vocabulary as well. We’ve done loads of teaching resources on it. We’re just chuffed to bits.’

Ten-year-old Iris Reah has read the book herself and said: ‘It’s neither too long nor too short so you can read it before bed without falling asleep in the middle.

‘I loved it and thought the illustrations were amazing.’

Mark explained that the book’s message to young readers also takes inspiration from the late Ken Robinson that you just have to find your element.

He said: ‘Sidney’s a bit of an outsider but his element is music – you just have to find what you can do.

‘It’s a cliché but worthy message that no one is great at everything but everyone is great at something. And as soon as you’ve found it – you’re off.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, for 26p a day.