Series: School Friends: Book 1
By Ann Bryant
“Not long now, Katy,” said Dad, taking his eyes off the road for a second to glance sideways at me.
A shiver of excitement mixed up with big-time nervousness ran through me and I turned round to check on Buddy, my pet rabbit, who was lying in his basket on the back seat. He blinked his velvety eyes at me, just like he had done every other time I’d checked on him during this three-hour-long car journey.
“Nearly there, Bud! Just think, you’re about to make lots of new friends!”
Dad laughed. “I reckon he’d be saying exactly the same thing to you, if he could talk, Kates!”
And that sent another of those shivers rushing through me because I was about to start a brand-new life and it suddenly seemed totally scary. I’d read plenty of books about kids at boarding schools, but I’d no idea what it would actually feel like to be at one myself, living in a boarding house, with a housemistress and a matron instead of a mum and a dad, sleeping in a dormitory with five other girls that I’d never met before, and walking to lessons every morning in less than a minute.
For the last few days I’d done nothing but pack and unpack and repack my cases because I’d changed my mind so often about what clothes to take. Even now I wasn’t sure that I’d brought the right amount. “What if I’ve got too much stuff, Dad?”
“Then you can just leave some of it in your trunk.”
“But what if I’ve not packed enough?”
Dad laughed. “Then you can collect more stuff at half-term. Stop worrying, Kates!”
“I don’t want you to come up to the dorm, Dad.”
“But what if you leave and then I wish you had come up to the dorm after all? I’ll be really sad.”
“So maybe it would be best if I did come up to the dorm then.”
“No because then I’ll definitely be sad when you’ve gone.”
Dad laughed and patted my leg. “It’ll all be fine. Remember what Mum said. It’s only fear of the unknown that makes us worry. Half an hour after I’ve gone you’ll be right as rain.”
I wasn’t so sure about that. And although I didn’t say anything else out loud, the questions kept going on inside my head. What if I don’t like the other girls in my dorm? What if they don’t like me? What if I can’t find my way around?
There was only one thing that would calm me down and that was sketching, so I pulled my pad and pencil out of my backpack and before I knew it I’d covered a double page with designs for dresses and boots. They weren’t new designs though because I couldn’t concentrate on being creative when my mind was on school, wondering how long it would take me to get used to having all my meals in an enormous dining hall and doing my homework with lots of other people in the same room instead of on my own, often in front of the telly. That thought made me suddenly feel homesick, which was a bad sign as I hadn’t even arrived at school yet.
I knew I was really going to miss Mum and Dad. Especially Mum. I don’t have any brothers or sisters so Mum and I are very close, but now I’m on my way to boarding school, America seems even further away than it did when Mum first went over there and it was just me and Dad living at home. At least Mum and I will be able to phone and e-mail each other, but I won’t see her again till Christmas.
It was less than a year ago when Mum and Dad first brought up the idea of boarding school, and I remember how I was instantly filled with excitement at the thought of every single day being like a sleepover. Mum had laughed and put her hands up like a policeman. “Whoa there! It’s not decided yet, Kates! Dad and I are just thinking you might be happier in a boarding school than being at home now I know I’m going to be away filming more and more.”
Everything had happened so fast. One minute Mum was an actress who nobody had really heard of, and the next minute she’d got the part of Lee Brook in an American sitcom that just about everyone in the world watches – The Fast Lane. It was only a small part at first, but then it gradually got bigger because the director and lots of other important people loved the way Mum acted it. In the end they wanted Mum’s character to become one of the main parts in the new series, but it meant Mum would have to live in America, and that’s when she’d started to think I might be happier in a boarding school.
So here I am, on my way to a new life, remembering how Mum hugged me tight before she went off to America two days ago, and said, “We’ll be together for the whole of the main holidays, Kates!” But right now the Christmas holidays seem an eternity away.
Dad threw me another glance. “What’s that you’re sketching?”
“Nothing much.” I snapped the book shut and sat up straighter than straight.
“Oh! Right! Something I’m not supposed to see.” He pretended to be upset.
“Course not!” I laughed. “It’s just that I’m going to watch where we’re going from now on.”
I was quiet after that, staring out of the window at the houses and shops flashing by, then the trees and fields as we went further out into the country. It’s weird having a mum who’s so famous. When she first appeared in The Fast Lane, I thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially when some of the kids at primary wanted my autograph, as though having a famous mum made me famous too. And they kept asking me if Mum knew other famous people, and I liked the feeling I got when they all gasped and said, “Wow! That’s so cool!” And some of the younger ones at school would point me out to their mums in loud voices in the playground. “Look, that girl’s mum is on telly! She’s Lee Brook!” And suddenly everyone wanted to be my friend so I got loads of invitations to people’s houses, and even the teachers used to tell me when they’d watched The Fast Lane the night before.
It was great getting all this attention, just like suddenly being allowed as much chocolate as I wanted, until one day the chocolate made me feel sick. You see, that’s when I realized the attention had nothing at all to do with me. The kids at school only invited me to their houses because they wanted to get an invite back to my place so they could see Mum. And it grew really annoying when people asked me if Mum could get other famous people’s autographs for them. In fact I started to wonder whether I’d got any real friends at all, and that was a great big scary thought, which made me wish I could switch the clocks back and just have an ordinary mum.
So then I talked to Mum and Dad about it lots, and Dad was always joking around, saying that he knew how I felt because it was the same for him at work – everyone being extra nice to him, just because he’d got a famous wife. Mum said she thought it would settle down when people got used to it, and then everything would be back to normal. She was wrong, though. It never went back to normal and I was never ever sure whether people liked me for myself, or just because I’d got a famous mum. There wasn’t anything I could do to change things back to how they were before, but at least I could try my best not to make the same mistake again.
From the moment I knew I was going to boarding school miles away from home, I realized I had the chance for a brand-new start, so I made a great big decision. My plan is to keep Mum and her job a secret from everyone. Well, nearly everyone. The Head of the whole school, Ms. Carmichael, knows who my mother is, and so does Miss Carol, the housemistress of Hazeldean, the boarding house that I’ll be in. But they’re both keeping the information totally confidential. So from now on I can be quite sure that no one will know about Mum. That means I’ll be able to tell for certain who my real friends are.
A feeling of determination went zapping through me just as we rounded a bend in the road and came across an arch of overhanging trees. I sat up straight and spoke in a gabble. “I remember this bit of road from when I came on my introductory day. It reminded me of a tunnel. We’re nearly there, aren’t we, Dad?”
“Just around the corner if my memory serves me right,” said Dad.
And next minute we came across the big blue sign with silver lettering…
Silver Spires Boarding School
For Girls Aged 11–18
“This is it!” I squeaked, as Dad turned into the long drive and I tried to catch my first glimpse of the Silver Spires main building.
Katy is nervous about going to boarding school for the first time, especially as she's got a big secret to hide. The girls in her dorm seem really nice, but when someone sets Katy up for a fall, how will her new friends react? Crammed with the glamour and gossip of boarding-school life, this is a fabulously aspirational new series from a well-loved author. Visit the School Friends Website at www.silverspiresschool.co.uk for biogs of the girls, friendship quizzes and lots more!
Ann Bryant is both an author and a musician. She started her writing when she was young, writing a play when she was still at primary school. At school, one of her favourite activities was just hanging out with friends and Ann is happy to relive these times again with the girls of Silver Spires in the fantastic School Friends series. Ann now teaches music and drama as well as writing children's fiction, including the very successful Ballerina Dreams series.
Visit www.annbryant.co.uk to find out more.
Read the following reviews or write one of your own.
“First term at silver spires”
I loved to read the first one, Katy's book. WHOOPI! It was fantastic! YAAHOO! It sets a good example for being brave. I hope lots of people read this book.
“Wow these books are amazing!!!!”
I saw Drama At Silver Spires and Star of Silver Spires on a shelf in the library and picked it up, thinking it might be worth reading. And it sooo was!!! Ann Bryant is one of the BEST authors ever! I would recommend this to you if you like Cathy Cassidy and Jacqueline Wilson. I can't wait to get my hands on the other books in the series!!!
Samantha The Actress
Heya, I LOVED the book First Term at Silver Spires. I spent every second I had reading it!
Elena The Silver Spires addict!
“I loved the book!”
Hey I loved the book it was so good I spent all morning reading it. I liked every thing about it it was so so good better than I thought it would be.
Tinka Dancing Queen
“On Katy's first day at Silver Spires Boarding School she meets the girls who are to share her dorm. There's Mia, who's interested in music, Grace, the very sporty one, Georgie who wants to be an actress, Jess the artist and Naomi who is an African princess. Lydia is in another dorm but wants to be closer to Naomi – Silver Spires is upmarket but there are not that many princesses around – and she's prepared to do anything to break up the growing friendship between Naomi and Katy. As soon as I started reading First Term at Silver Spires I was taken back to my childhood when I read Enid Blyton's books about Malory Towers, the fictional school in the Cornish countryside. Gone are the pranks played on staff, to be replaced by mobile phones and the internet, but there's the same eclectic mixture of girls away from home and thrown into each other's company to make friends and enemies. It's a good story which is sure to hold the attention of the older confident reader. The girls are all new to the school and it's a pleasure to see how the friendships between the Year Sevens cautiously develop, how the girls all have their own aims and ambitions. This is the first in a series of six books but each can be read as a stand-alone and there are no annoying cliff-hangers to force a parent into buying the next in the series just so that the child can find out what happens. There's a strong moral thread running through the story. Honesty is always the best policy and even small untruths can mean that others distrust you when their trust is important. Balanced against that is the delicacy of keeping a secret – your own or someone else's – as Naomi struggles to be known for herself rather than as a princess. Katy is in an even more delicate situation as her mother is a soap star and she's aware that if this became known there would be problems. Lydia wouldn't hate her any longer, but it would be for all the wrong reasons. The book's well written and it's obvious that it comes from someone who knows and understands children with all their worries and insecurities. Some of the characters are a little two dimensional from the adult perspective – Lydia has little in the way of redeeming features – but this isn't going to worry the target age-group with whom I think this book will become a firm favourite.”
The Book Bag
“Katy is nervous about going to boarding school, especially as she has a secret to hide. But soon she settles in and makes friends with all but one person... Lydia, who is always mean to her. Then one of Lydia's possessions goes missing, only to turn up in Katy's things. Can she prove she is no thief? Addictive reading for ages nine plus.”
“A new book in the aspirational "Silver Spires" series by Ann Bryant, a well-established author of books for girls including the very popular "Ballerina Dreams" series. Each book in the series is written in the first person by a different member of a group at a girls' boarding school; a nice touch allowing readers to empathise with various personalities. Another nice touch is the School Friends website (www.silverspiresschool.co.uk) with friendship quizzes, write-your-own book reviews and a chance to read this book free online until the end of September. An easy read for eight- to nine-year-old girls.”
“This was a very good story and I enjoyed reading it. It was about friendship and starting a new school. The story was well written and I would like to read others in the series.”
Teen reader's review in Teen Titles
“I liked this book because it was exciting and fun and you didn't know what was going to happen next. I'd give it five stars and definitely recommend it to my friends.”
tBk Mag - Peters Bookselling Services
“There is an old-fashioned charm and innocence here that brings back echoes of the hugely popular boarding school stories of years ago. However, Ann Bryant’s perceptive wit and insight into the mind of a child show her young readers how common themes bind us all through the generations – the fragility and strength of friendships, wanting to belong, and the awfulness of being on the edge.”
Carousel Guide to Children's Books
“I liked the book because there were adventures that were very exciting. Naomi, Katy, Lydia and Grace were characters in the book and they were very believable. I would recommend this book to 10-13 year olds.”
Madeleine O'Connell - Evening Echo (Cork)
“I loved this story because it had characters I could really imagine and the story was really gripping. It was set in a boarding school in modern times so girls who enjoy St Clare's and Malory Towers would like it too. I started the next one in the series straight after I finished it!”
Toppsta Reader Review