Friday, 24 April 2009

London Book Fair

I went to London Book Fair with Chris on Tuesday. It was fun (as anything is with Chris) but a little bit scary too.

We somehow went in at the wrong entrance and didn't even have to show our passes. I was a bit miffed that I didn't get to wear my flashy 'author' badge, but ended up with it tucked down my skirt later not to ask really!

The first person we saw was someone Chris knew, an illustrators' agent, who showed us the spreads for a book he was trying to sell. It was whilst we were squatting on some steps poring over the pages that I realised that whereas Chris and I were there out of curiosity, for most other people there it was a place of business. Then I had one of those 'my book has to compete against all these' moments.

I am notorious for my wobbles of confidence, but in truth I haven't had one for a while. I have been spending so much time with Little Doogs and his friends recently that I know just what I love about them and I am finding out just what other people love about them too. And the one thing I'm always pleased about is that 'passion' is the one word usually mentioned. I AM passionate about our little characters, and about 'On The Flipside' of course, and I think that's the most important thing, always. Without passion you might as well give up.

One other lovely thing which gave me a boost was an email I received from Russell from Chichester Library. He said that one of the families who had been to the workshop had returned to thank him and to ask if there were any other similar events planned because his daughters had really enjoyed it. They had both been especially good at Honey's stroppy walk, which had been sort of a breakthrough moment of the afternoon as I remember. Apparently the family are Polish and hadn't made many friends in the area yet, but both girls were now fired up to visit the library regularly and meet other children through the events there. RE-SULT!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Chichester Library 18th April

Saturday saw glorious sunshine - the first of the Easter holidays down Chcichester way apparently. Jaqueline Wilson and Francesca Simon could compete with that I am sure - Fiona Cummings? Not a chance!

I did panic slightly when not a child had appeared on the horizon at 1.55pm - but a few steadily trickled in and more sat with their parents looking at books so it was all cool.

Things I learnt on Saturday:

1. Things will never go to plan - your inner voice might be screaming 'Don't panic Captain Mainwaring' but you have to look as though you're doing exactly what you'd intended all along.

2. It is absolutely vital to participate 100% - the crazier you look the more children will respond. I looked COMPLETELY crazy....and then some!

3. My 'Honey Walk' is quite a sight to behold - but quite possibly not as impressive as my 'lazy Jezza swagger'!

4. Photographs of me taken at 'readings' will never be flattering - but hey! I was giving it my all!

5. Hot pink tights might make children remember you but they do NOT go down well with the old ladies of East Wittering.

6. I found out that I can think on my feet. Now that I know that I feel so much more confident about everything.

7. Every library should have a librarian as committed and supportive as Russell Allen. Chichester is very lucky.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

My favourite books

In my presentation to children I always talk about my favourite books - the ones that I treasure and mean the most to me. There are lots of reasons why a book is important to me - it might make me laugh, cry, remember something particuarly poignant. I always take 5 favourite books with me. But now I am going to have to add another.

At our reunion Cathy (she of the song lyrics) gave me a book which the children in her class had made for me. She had read 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs' to them and they had all drawn a picture of one/all of the characters and said what they liked about them. It was such a lovely thoughtful thing for her to do and I will treasure it forever. The drawings are fabulous - Honey and Jezza had obviously made the biggest impressions - and reading what the children had chosen to write is .....actually very moving.

I struggled to choose which pages to upload because quite frankly the whole book is worth sharing.

Children in Class 2 at St Patrick's Primary School in Elland - I think you are WONDERFUL!!!! THANK YOU!


I seem to be a week or so behind myself which is something of a worry but not really a surprise! Whilst in Yorkshire, as well as seeing Jules and taking Harry's eggs and of course wanting to smuggle a few lambs home beneath my coat, I got to meet up with quite a few old friends. And one new one!

I find it pretty amazing that after so many years when our lives have gone in different directions I can meet up with friends I haven't seen since I was 18 and it can feel like we're back at school. We still laugh like drains, Jenny still has the driest sense of humour, Cathy can quote lyrics like you wouldn't believe (a talent I have always been very envious of) and everyone is an all-round lovely person who is a joy to know. We're older, we're hopefully a bit wiser, we no longer have the silly hang-ups we had as teenagers....but we still know how to have fun!

And the new friend....well I only met Stuart in person for the first time last week, as did everyone else at the reunion, but I feel as though I've known him for ages. He makes me laugh out loud, snortingly loud, but is so sweet and lovely too (although I'm not sure he'll be too pleased about the 'sweet' bit!). He's very much one of the posse now and I look forward to lots more get-togethers in the not too distant future.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Random views from Yorkshire

Yorkshire was so beautiful last week and we had such a good time I am feeling quite homesick now. The leaves seemed to pop out on the trees whilst we were there and I swear that if I'd taken the time I could have actually watched them growing. There were daffodils nodding and shining in the sun and many lambs. It took me all my time not to dash out across the fields, scoop a few up and bring them back with me to Wimbledon. Ted would LOVE them I am sure.

I saw the rainbow as I was walking Ted one day: it was part of a double rainbow and was the widest, brightest, most vivid rainbow you could imagine. I had to stop and stare and wonder if the people beneath knew that they were at the end of it.

The eggs are from Jules' father's hens and are, I am assured, the most delicious eggs in the world with massive rich yellow yolks.

And Jules....she is my Oldest Dearest Friend. I love spending time with her when I am 'home' I miss her very badly when I am not.