I had the most marvellous time gallivanting around London and Oxford, with my husband, in November. It’s amazing how many children’s literary icons you bump into in that part of the world! From sipping mulled wine at JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis’ old haunt, the Eagle and Child pub, through to coming face to face with the Dodo from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’ in the Museum of natural history, and discovering Tolkien’s’ dragon-treasure in the Ashmolean museum, finding Harry Potter curios dotted throughout the town, to imagining Lyra from Philip Pullman’s books slipping around the alleyways as we sauntered around the cobble-stoned town. And that’s only Oxford! It's such an inspiring and stimulating place, the centuries of creative thought seem to have infused the air!
In London, I missed out on visiting Paddington Bear at the station by just a smidgen, due to an over-enthusiastic porter (I can’t complain- he took pity on us dragging our heavy bags from Oxford, and gave us a lift on his tractor, direct to the taxi rank, bypassing my plan to stop off at platform 1) but I got to catch up on some rebels in kid’s lit at an exhibition at the British Library. Imagine seeing Roald Dahl’s Matilda manuscript with editor’s notes, and Lauren Child’s original collage artwork for Clarice Bean! And then there is the permanent exhibition with Lewis Carroll's beautifully bound handwritten story of Alice’s Adventures Underground. Just WOW!
At the library, I also got to meet up with author and friend, Stephanie Ward, whose new picture book, Arabella and the Magic Pencil is glorious! I took home a signed copy!
And of course, a visit to Shakespeare’s globe is a must for any literature lover in London – the guided tour was an anniversary gift from our children and it brilliantly evoked a bygone era. Marvellous!
Back on the home front, I had fun making a little video trailer for my story, Nine Christmas Carrots, in the Christmas Cornucopia anthology – check it out here. Move over, Marvel movie trailers, I say - they'll be knocking on my door for hints soon ;-)
Inspired to polish my writing skills by my time away, I’ve done a few things since returning:
This month I got to talk with Katrina Roe on Hope 103.2 about two novels that are great for starting conversations around deep themes – Girl Running, Boy Falling, by Kate Gordon, a YA story around the aftermath of youth suicide, and All the Things I never Said, by Samantha Wheeler, a mid-grade novel about a girl with a severe disability and her family. Both books were CBCA notable books this year.
With Christmas fast approaching, I joined up with Penny Reeve to sell our books at a Christmas market stall. It’s a lovely way to engage with customers in an immediate way, sell a few books and make connections. Penny wrote a beautiful post about it that you can read if you’re on facebook, here.
The end of the school year is upon us, and I was honoured to be asked to present the library award at a K-2 presentation assembly at Brookvale Public School this week. I didn’t have a speaking role, but if I had, I would have explained that I think the library award is actually the most important, because as we know, reading feeds the imagination and, as Albert Einstein is quoted as saying:
‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.’
‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’
Also on the subject of libraries, I was so pleased to see this article recently about the way a school turned around flagging grades by reviving the library! It was a lovely antidote to the article I wrote for the Students Need School Libraries blog, The Mystery of Shrinking School Libraries, earlier this year - as I said in that... it's not rocket science!
And talking about schools, if you’re a TL and you want to book me for an author visit or workshop next year, check out my presentations page here. I’m happy to say that I’m now represented by Creative Kids Tales Speaker’s Agency and Greenleaf Press.
As we wind down (and ramp up) to Christmas and the New Year, here's what I am looking forward to…
To close the year, Archie and I wish all our readers and followers a joy-filled Christmas abounding in love and laughter - I think this photo encapsulates just that! Happy Christmas!