It had been a long summer and I was well and truly ready to get back to work, so when I had to face 360 students in two different sessions at Glenealy School, for their book week, I was rearing to go. I had visited the school in 2014 and I was suitably impressed by the changes. I was led into the state of the art auditorium by Giselle Stone, the best librarian in town, so I have been told. She explained how everything was new and with a press of a button all the seats could disappear. I also had a tour of the library which was super organised, welcoming and well-stocked.
Whenever I go to a school and I am speaking to a large group I only feel comfortable once I have met the tech support and tested the mic and slide show. Without a hitch this happened within a few minutes.
It always helps to have a professional photographer on site so when a lady appeared with a large camera and started taking some pictures I knew they would be good. Thank you Hardeep for the photos.
I started off with 180 students of Year 4 – Year 6 and we discussed my books, watched some inspirational videos and I did a reading from my latest book, The Fallen TetraStars. We travelled to some destinations in the book; Stonehenge, The Colosseum, York and the Alps. I even got time to talk about my life experiences in Kenya which led me to write The Boat Race.
The first chapter of The Fallen TetraStars, the third adventure story in the series, takes Zack and Kante to Europe where they meet the phantoms of the Colosseum, Barb the furry mountain man, the Griffinion androids and many more. The book starts with a letter from Captain Krun, King Kra’s uncle informing the Banana People stranded in Africa that their rescue mission star ship which has been searching for them for years has now landed on planet Earth. The space ship and crew are stranded and need their help. Zack Kante and Ria must find the TetraStars that have been planted by the ship to locate them.
The children found out that the three books in the Zack and Kante series have been published in Chinese and sold in book stores in Hong Kong. It is a good way for children who read in both languages to compare the books, although the Chinese one is much more colourful with plenty of pictures bringingthe world of the Banana people to life. I usually get asked about the illustrations of my books and I am always proud to say that my son did them for me.
Near the end I had them guessing where the most haunted city in Europe is and they got it right. There are plenty of spooky ghosts in The Fallen TetraStars.
The question and answer session is my favourite time as I get to interact with the children. They asked interesting questions about the illustrations and why I began to write. It leaves me asking myself the same question too – why I am passionate about writing. In reality it enriches my soul to be able to put ideas down on paper and know that someone out there has enjoyed reading what I have written. The session usually ends too fast for my liking and it breaks my heart when there are still many hands up waiting to ask something and I have to take the last question. I would happily stay there all day chatting to these enquiring minds.
Year 1- Year 3 were adorable and extremely attentive. We talked about making paper boats and my experiences as a child in Kenya which kept them suitably amused. It was lovely to see them clapping in tune to the Jambo song. They learnt some words in Swahili and lingered on at the end trying to talk to me and looking at the book marks.
The following day was the day they dressed up for book week and I was fortunate enough to see some photos from a friend. What a marvellous effort they’d made!
I would like to thank Giselle Stone and Phil Sangster for co-ordinating my visit and inviting me to their school and I look forward to seeing them again.