I’m doing a few school stops this month. First stop Clare Hall Secondary. Below are some highlights (a couple courtesy of my tour partner the Best of Books and the rest provided by the school).
I did two presentations that day. The first was with Ms. Davis’ fourth formers. Ms. Davis, of the school’s English department, had actually reached out to me some time ago to come speak to her students, maybe do a session on writing with them. It took a while to make it happen (time, you know). But then when I hit on the idea of doing a schools tour in February and wrote to the various secondary schools, Ms. Davis was one of the first to register. Then, as fate would have it, I was subsequently contacted by Ms. Shadrach, from the school’s Library Services department, about her planned author’s day – I informed her of my already planned visit to the school. Somehow these two things converged, so that I spoke with Ms. Davis’ students (though perhaps for a shorter time than anticipated) and with the students Ms. Shadrach had gathered in the auditorium for the author event – where my tour partner Best of Books also set up their display. I read from Musical Youth twice that morning (February 3rd).
One of my favourite memories though is the two boys who came up to the Best of Books table, after the author presentations had broken up. They asked if I’d written the Boy from Willow Bend (or rather if I’d really written The Boy from Willow Bend) and told me they’d read it in class (and acted out parts and everything). “I played Vere,” one said and I wish I’d been there to see that because seriously how often do you get to see students bringing your characters to life?
I’m happy that they seem to be still embracing The Boy from Willow Bend. Hopefully, Musical Youth will prove to be as enduring. The students did seem to enjoy the excerpts read, so fingers crossed.
The author gathering in the auditorium included presentations by Floree Williams, Lionel Max Hurst, Sylvanus Barnes, and Timothy Payne – whose bag of props – bush tea to bull bud – was a particular hit with the kids.