Brooke Hill Academy pupils work with author to produce a book from scratch

Author John Haden pictured with some of the pupils who helped to produce the book.
Author John Haden pictured with some of the pupils who helped to produce the book.
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Brooke Hill Academy pupils learned it is good to be different be it in colour, creed or size while producing a paperback book from scratch.

Working with author John Haden, the year-long project involved 18 year five and year six pupils from the Oakham school getting funding, researching, writing and illustrating the book and getting it published.

And on Friday Good to be Different: Small People with Big Lives was launched at Oakham Castle amid due fanfare.

School leader Jane Fitzgerald said: “The children have done a fantastic job. They’ve really enjoyed the whole process of researching, writing and publishing a book and learned an awful lot about history.”

Mr Haden, who has written 12 books with other schools, said children at Brooke Hill had asked if they too could write a book during a visit, with members of Oakham Methodist Church, to perform plays of stories from The Bible.

He said: “All the other books were about early American history. As Rutland did not have any such links we had to think of something that was different about the county.

“Around that time Ellie Simmonds won Paralympic golds at London 2012 and in an interview said, had she not been small she’d not have had the same opportunities. So we looked at Rutland being small and other people who are small and what it is like to be different.”

The book explores what makes Rutland a good place to live in and explores the lives of Jeffrey Hudson of Oakham, the smallest man in England in his day, who had a distinguished career as court dwarf in Queen Henrietta Maria’s court, the Jewish Ovtiz family, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, Star Wars actor Warwick Davis and Ellie Simmonds.

Mr Haden said the children did most of the work, including getting funding from the governors for 450 copies.

“They learned about team work, about writing and drawing,” said Mr Haden. “It was a project which involved every aspect of producing a book.”

Good to be Different is published by Barny Books and is on sale at Walkers of Oakham at £5.99 and is also available online at