This was the first year that I felt really busy celebrating "World Book Day", with 3 events to attend and 1 secondary School visit. Mandy (Mary Poppins), the owner of "Memorable Events", asked if I would like to join in with their swap-a-book days, where children of any ages were invited to drop in after school to pick up some free books. Many local people had kindly donated all kinds of fiction for kids, from board books to picture books, right through to chapter books, resulting in a varied collection for children to rummage through. Mandy had created the most child-friendly welcome area - a huge carpet for children to sit on, a dressing up box, a little table and chairs to do some colouring in - all surrounded by shelves of books! It was a joy to see families pop by and get involved. It was also a great opportunity to read all 3 of my own children's books to them, which they all seem to enjoy thank goodness! A huge thank you if you were one of the families that bought a signed copy of one of my books! It truly made my day. I should also mention that the staff at the shop painted a wonderful window, inspired by my little "Peg People" book. I feel very honoured and it looked stunning!
Next up was a trip to Derby Cathedral School for a morning of chatting about my work and how I made my stories to selected English and Art students. It was my first Secondary School experience and I was in equal parts excited and terrified! I do have a tendency to waffle on so there wasn't a huge amount of time to do the story boarding/character design workshop at the end (my favourite bit!) but I do hope I inspired the students in some way to have the courage to find the job that they love in the future. A special thank you to Charlotte McCrory, who initially invited me and organised the whole thing, her enthusiasm for literature and encouraging children was infectious.
A lovely end to the World Book Day celebrations was held at Erewash Museum. A really fun Saturday where children once again put on their book day costumes and enjoyed a day out with their families. It was great to meet other local authors and discuss the varied projects we were all working on. I hope there will be more authors/illustrators next year to join in. I absolutely loved meeting all the families who came to hear my stories, and I especially loved hearing about what books the children loved best. Once again, if you bought a signed copy of one of my books, I really can't thank you enough! A special thank you to all the staff at the Museum for organising their first book day event, especially Sam.
It's a strange thing going from working completely on your own for most of the year, to then meeting children and families of all ages and backgrounds all in the space of a week. I worry I will forget how to talk to people sometimes, but it all comes flooding back. It's also a great reminder to test my books out on the actual target audience, see if they read as they should and who they appeal to. Books are to be loved and shared and I especially love the interactions that children's literature can offer. I always come away with a renewed energy to channel into the next project and I am already excited to see what World Book Day 2023 will bring.