Book Week

It’s Children’s Book Week. That’s the time of year when authors like myself get to go out of the house, blinking in the sunshine like moles (couldn’t think of an Australian blinking animal. All our burrowing creatures are semi-nocturnal I think. Perhaps I could have said wombat).

Yesterday I visited Sunbury West Primary School. It was a terrific session. The kids had all read Dragonkeeper. I showed them a Powerpoint presentation of things that had inspired me while I was writing the book (no one fell asleep). Then they all asked lots of terrific questions. It was great.

School visits aren’t always like that. Sometimes teachers book me and don’t actually tell the kids anything about me. That’s hard. You’re faced with 50 (or worse 200) bored kids who would rather chat amongst themselves. There are some authors who can get up in front of a group like that and basically do a stand-up comedy session. They tell jokes and read hilarious bits from their books (mainly male authors, there’s a heap of them). I can’t do that (not too many hilarious bits for a start). Often I’m just starting to win them over when the bell rings.

Anyway, Sunbury West wasn’t like that at all.

I have more schools this week, and I’m judging a short story competition.

9 responses to “Book Week

  1. you came to my school last year i think, but i was sick!!! i was so sad!! i would rather hear you t alk then chat with people…
    garden of the purple dragon was really funny at most parts!!

  2. To entertain even the most unprepared, cynical children follow this formula:
    Write a series of interesting, scary, funny anecdotes – preferably about your life. (You are a writer, so this shouldn’t be too difficult. About 5-10 mins each is a good length.)
    Link them together with games, helpful tips (not too many), pictures, readings, activities that need volunteers to come out the front etc.
    Learn from your mistakes and keep tweaking until your author talk is the best drafted piece of writing you’ll ever do.
    PS. I’m one of those male writers…

  3. Thanks for the tips, Mr Anonymous.
    I’d prefer not to go to schools where the teachers haven’t made any attempt to prepare the kids. It doesn’t happen very often. As I said I’m not a performer. I don’t write humourous contemporary stories, so it doesn’t seem very relevant that I stand up and amuse the kids with funny stories from my life. Perhaps I should come up with some sort of dragon game for desperate situations….

    As it happened, I didn’t need any ploys for difficult kids. I had another wonderful Book Week school visit. This time to Springvale Primary School. The kids were fantastic.

  4. We have marsupial moles! So feel free to compare yourself with this unusual desert-dwelling Australian animal..
    I’m studying to be a teacher and adore writing (though at the moment it’s only assignments).
    From a teachers (sort-of) point of view, I think the only reason you should be invited to a school is if one of your books has been explored and appreciated. In that way you wouldn’t need any anecdotes, the kids would be enthralled regardless.
    Love your work!

  5. Bec,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Yes that’s true but sometimes I go to a school that hasn’t read my books and I still feel I make a connection, so I don’t want to cut out all the ones that don’t know my books.

  6. After reading both Dragon Keeeper and Garden of the Purple Dragon I’m waiting for the next instalment! I love the history and the way you have portrayed Ping- her loyalty and unselfishness to care for Kai no matter what, and the often humorous portrayal of Kai as a little one whose own needs must always be met (but in such a beautiful, sensitive manner). As I travel and teach in many little schools it does not take much to inspire children to read your work! Each time the books are returned they’re out again.

  7. Karen,
    Thanks for that. It’s good to hear that the books are read and reread. I had fun with Kai. Sometimes kids think it seems unfair for Ping to have the responsibility for him.

  8. Dear Carole,

    I would absolutely love it if you came to our school! Everyone in my class loves your book, Dragonkeeper, and everyone was happy to go into lunch to keep reading!

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