World Book Day : Thursday 5th March 2015

ycr4 Students (and newly appointed constables) from both St. Bartholomew’s and St Martin’s Primary Schools gathered in the Children’s Area at Jubilee Library in Jubilee Street, Brighton for the latest Young City Reads Book Launch – and a briefing on all the suspects of wrong-doing from William Sutcliffe’s dazzling, magical and wondrous children’s novel ‘Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom’!

Led by PC Shufflebottom (who was aided handsomely by PC Do-As-You’re-Told for the entire briefing) the latest recruits were ushered into the library for the meeting, which began with the handing out of some light refreshments: Boho Gelato’s Big Top Banan(z)a ice-cream – banana custard and sweet cherry flavoured, specially created for Young City Reads! The library was being used while the police station remained temporarily out-of-bounds, until officers had identified a possible spy from the Circus of Thieves who it was rumoured had been posing as a respectable officer in the Brighton area.

With five mug-shots of possible criminals lined up for the new constables to look over, it ycr3was their job to use the information about the Circus of Thieves provided by the police’s undercover informant (a young boy named Billy) and match the descriptions to the images PC Shufflebottom and his crew had so far managed to obtain. It was up to these new trainee recruits to make sure the suspects – known to the wider community as ‘The Impossible Circus Gang’ – were properly identified before being arrested and detained at a later date.

To help get the recruits into the mind of a circus criminal, PC Shufflebottom began the training session with a spot of ‘Sausage Role Play’ – where the pupils imagined what it would be like to be first Billy, then his new friend Hannah, then a dog called Fizzer – and even a camel named Narcissus! Lots of barking, snarling and farting camel impressions later, it was time to get the kids back to the drawing board – and start acting like the Circus of Thieves criminals so they could help identify each and every one.

ycr1So which one was Maurice, the fantastically French trapeze artist? And his Russian assistant Irrrrrrrena? What about Jesse, the human cannonball who hates loud bangs and heights? Or the terrible clown twins Hank and Frank? And – scariest and most criminal of all – the leader of the Impossible Circus Gang, the scheming, dazzling and terrifying Armitage Shanks? The only way to find out was to get into their heads. Cue lots more Sausage Role Play, with attempts at stirring a clap casserole, being scared of spaghetti, clowning about with a whistle and frying pan and carrying out some forward propulsion exercises (something PC Shufflebottom likened to literal sausage role-playing!) Before long, six of the seven suspects were correctly identified by the new recruits – even one that the officers had no photograph of to go on, the sly and cunning pick-pocket Fingers O’Boyle! The only one left to pin-point on the drawing board was Armitage Shanks…

ycr5But then PC Shufflebottom could keep up his disguise no longer. First the top hat appeared; then a long, silk red velvet coat; even a moustache made its way onto his lips! Once the circus whip was drawn, it was clear who all the new recruits were looking at – PC Shufflebottom was in fact the spy who had infiltrated the police force, Armitage Shanks himself!!!!!! It looked like there was about to be chaos when suddenly – “YOU’RE UNDER ARREST” blared PC Do-As-You’re-Told! She had been in on the operation the whole time! Not only that, she was actually PC Shufflebottom herself! Thanks to the patience and quick-thinking of the new recruits, she managed to arrest Armitage Shanks before he got away and started any more mischief.

The briefing finished with a congratulation to all involved in the capture of Armitageycr2 Shanks, followed by a giveaway of the novel ‘The Circus of Thieves’ for all pupils to brush up on what Shanks got up to before his arrest! Plus special identity postcards were handed out to help constables brush up on their detective skills – cards that might be swapped with other students, or even returned to their teachers with their thoughts on the book and what they make of the Impossible Circus Gang. An all-round successful operation for PC Shufflebottom, her team and the Young City Reads Book Launch. Hurrah!

John Attridge

Young City Reads Volunteer

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