Two Schools

This has turned out to be a busy month of events for me.  I'll be off to London again later this week for two school visits and a talk at Roehampton University, but I just have time to mention two other school events I did recently.

St Luke's Science and Sports College is a big modern school in Exeter, and the librarian there, Aileen Hamer, invited me to to visit at the end of February.  I gave my usual talk about my Life and Works, in which I discuss the books that inspired me as a child and the ones that I've written as an adult, with detours into my illustration career and anything the audience want to ask about.  In fact, I gave it four times, to various different year-groups, in St Luke's very impressive and well-equipped auditorium (I'm the tiny dot in the distance in the photo above).  There are some more pictures on the school's website, including a good one of me looking Very Old and Wrinkly Indeed...

Then for World Book Day on the 1st March I was asked along to Newland House School in Twickenham, where I talked to two groups of pupils and then signed books non-stop for about an hour and ten minutes in the library.  Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen such a long signing queue (not that I'm complaining)!  It was also the first time I've talked about my new book Goblins.  I read a couple of segments, and showed images of some of the characters - my own scratchy pictures, drawn while I was writing, as well as David Semple's brilliant cover portraits.  It's always difficult choosing which bits of a book to read - they need to be exciting, and give a flavour of the book, but not reveal too much about the story.  I'm still finding my way a bit with Goblins, but the two passages I picked seemed to go down pretty well.

One hour later...

Authors on social time-frittering site Twitter were marking World Book Day by posing for pictures with their favourite books, and I thought I should join in.  I don't really have a favourite book, though: I have lots of favourites, ranging from Bleak House to We're Going on a Bear Hunt, and it's impossible and also kind of pointless to choose between them.  However, I do have a favourite author - Geraldine McCaughrean - and The White Darkness is one of her finest books, so here I am clutching a copy.  (Thanks to the hipster-friendly 'Instagram' app on my 'phone, it looks as if it was snapped on World Book Day 1926.)

The picture was taken by Newland's librarian Caroline O'Donnobhain, who not only organised my trip but invited me to stay at her house the previous night: it was a real pleasure to meet her and her lovely family.

Spring had come to London that day, and when I had finished at Newland House I made my way up to the South Bank, where I ambled about in the late afternoon sunshine and snapped more Instagrams...

(Needless to say, spring had gone away again by the next morning: I walked to Greenwich with That Sarah McIntyre, and it was freezing...)

Many thanks to Mrs Hamer and Mrs O'Donnobhain and the staff at St Luke's and Newland House for two thoroughly enjoyable, well-organised school visits!