As some of you may know, two weeks ago, the children and I visited the Discover Stories Centre. It was amazing! We were fortunate to follow it up last weekend, by attending a story writing and drawing event hosted by Emirates Airlines and lead by Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve. It was a dream come through for me. The event was held to launch the new competition that Emirates is running, Flight Time Stories.


Sarah McIntrye & Philip Reeve


I’ve been following Sarah on Twitter for about one year, wearing my writer’s hat own. Sarah is passionate about children’s literature Illustrators receiving the same attentions are writers for their contribution to books. She also shares useful tips to aspiring writers on her blog.

Recently, I began to follow Philip on Twitter. Hot off the press: his books Mortal Engines will be made into a major motion picture. Together, Sarah and Philip make a fantastic team. In the past, they have collaborated on children’s books including Pugs of the Frozen NorthOliver and the Seawigs and Jinks & O’Hare Funfair Repair. On Saturday they worked with the children on the components of a story, as well as, how to draw animal characters. 


Arrival For Flight Time Stories

On arrival, Sarah and Philip introduced themselves and their work. It was an intimate affair. I think together with Sarah’s and Philip’s easy going vibe the children were encouraged to get involved. They suggested characters, places and events for the story being crafted on site. Sarah and Philip brought it all to life by illustrating the children’s suggestions.

At the end, it all came together in board game of sorts. Red’s and Blues competed to make it to the finish line. Each side had to miss a go a few times or take a ride on the Eagle Taxi. As you can imagine there was laughter and giggles. After the game we had a crash course in drawing an animal character of our choice. Each feature was given a few minutes with tips how to draw it. The event came to an end with refreshment, face painting, balloon animals and photo ops.

Emirates flight time stories


After the event, Sarah and Philip kindly shared pointers on how parents can assist children with their story writing and drawing. 

Top tips for story writing from Philip Reeve

  • Write about something that really interests you – a setting or an idea that you really love (or maybe really hate!) If you’re interested in it, hopefully the readers will be, too.
  • Start with your main character wanting something – they need to go somewhere, or get something, or escape from something, or meet someone. Maybe they’re just lonely and need to make a friend, or maybe they want to find some buried treasure. How they get what they want will be your story.
  • But they don’t get what they want straight away! There are problems to overcome along the way. Perhaps they meet other characters who help them, or try to stop them. It’s like a board game: there’s a start point and an end point, and what makes it interesting is the obstacles along the way.
  • don’t worry too much about the words. Just tell the story. Then, when you’ve finished, go back and see if you can tell it better. Does it make sense? Could it be shorter? Can you make it funnier (if it’s a funny story) or sadder (if it’s a sad one)?
  • Enjoy yourself. Have fun. Surprise yourself! Writing a story should be a bit like reading a story – you’ll want to find out what happens on the next page.


Top drawing tips form Sarah McIntyre

  • Focus on making your main character look awesome, but think about keeping it fairly simple because if you make a whole book, you’ll be drawing that character over and over again.
  • Think about setting: are you going to draw your character in a forest? At the beach? In space?
  • Add extra details: your character might have a plaster on its head, a moustache, attract a swarm of flies, or be holding a magazine. Often it’s these little details that will make a picture funny or interesting.
  • The colours you choose can set a mood for your picture: a blue background can suggest night-time, sadness, or cold. A yellow or orange background might look joyful, hot or full of energy.
  • Don’t worry about making things perfect: We all need to make lots of bad drawings before we learn to make better ones. Try your hardest, but then be kind to your artwork.



Emirates’ Flight Time Stories is a programme encouraging families to take creative inspiration from their holidays.

For more information on Flight Time Stories and how to enter the competition, please visit the website. You can also follow hashtag #flighttimestories to join the conversation.




(updated 9th July 2020)




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