Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Book Week - To Wales and Beyond!

Sorry for the delay: it's been such a frantic week. I got back from Denbighshire on Tuesday evening, tired but happy after a lovely couple of days. This is my sketch for the train to Wales. The visit was all very well organised, as usual (thanks Bethan), with enthusiastic kids and really supportive librarians. I visited 4 libraries in all, doing 3 storytellings a day, with a minder each day to pick me up from my hotel, escort me between venues and get me fed.

The Denbighshire Festival arranges for school classes to go to their local library for the author events, rather than authors visiting the schools. This is to encourage children to use their library more (sadly, there are families who never take their kids).

I was sharing my hotel in Ruthin with Shoo Rayner (right) and Cliff McNish (below), both great fun and excellent company for the evenings (which can otherwise be rather lonely). We spent the whole time swapping tales about previous visits and trying to better each other's horror stories. Shoo and I both work mainly with primary kids, but Cliff has mostly teenagers, some of whom like to 'test' him ("Your books are rubbish!" for instance). Rather him than me.

Unfortunately I finished on a slight downer: the last school decided 20 minutes before the start that they didn't want to bring the class to the library after all, so we had to dash across town with all our gear. When we arrived, nobody was around to let us in, so we had to run around the outside of the school in the pouring rain, knocking on classroom windows to attract attention. Finally inside, we humped everything, unaided, down corridors and across the playground (still in the rain), to a classroom crammed with 60 fidgety children and several teachers, none of whom had bothered to erect the flip chart while they waited. We wasted yet more time out of the hour struggling with that, trying not to take any kid's heads off.
The children were a little excitable but ok, however the teachers decided to use the session to do their marking, only surfacing to occasionally shout at kids. They even walked in and out of the room, fetching things while I was talking. My minder was livid. I worked late to make up some of the lost time, and we even offered to stay to sign books for the school library, but the teachers were completely uninterested.
Still, that blip apart, it was a very enjoyable visit, in a beautiful part of the country. The train run in is particularly lovely: it hits the sea quite suddenly at Prestatyn and shadows the coast, virtually on the beach, for quite a while. The hills around Ruthin are lovely too: Cliff McNish actually went for a long hike up one after his Monday sessions. I'm ashamed to say, I vegged in front of a DVD!


granny grimble said...

That was a pretty rotten way to treat someone who had come all that way to entertain their pupils!
Will you complain about it, or is it all grist to the mill. Still you did have two hunks to escort you in the hotel. Better luck in Staffordshire.

cassia said...

excellent to have you back on the ol' blog there. We missed ye!

Personally, I think a naming and shaming for that school is in order- was seething just to read about it. How can people expect to inspire kids when they're so uninspired and ignorant themselves? Oooooh...! *steam exits via the ears*

Beautiful sketches though. How big? They look lovely and loose. Is it charcoal pencil? x

Jon M said...

Cor! You weren't far from me, I could have waved to you from across the Dee!

weechuff said...

I am so sorry about the last school. How can educated people be so rude as to march in and out while you were speaking? I am glad my grandchildren don't go to a school like that with teachers that are obviously so disinterested. Still it seems the other schools made up for them!

Damian Harvey said...

Sounds like you had a good time in Wales Lynne but a great shame about the last school. A good job that came at the end and not the start of your time there as I know it can really spoil things.

It's such a shame when you get a school visit like that. Especially when you're working with the libraries. Most teachers are wonderful and really know how to encourage the children and value what is taking place so they get the most out of it. A very small number, thankfully, can be rude and just really don't seem to care... then they wonder why the children aren't interested. Sadly, you can come away from a session like that wondering why you even bother leaving your desk.

Lynne Chapman said...

It was a lovely visit and the last school didn't manage to spoil it. Bethan is so good at organising, and she always puts us up in the most fabulous hotel: the Manorhaus in Ruthin - only tiny, but run with love. There's lots of interesting art on the walls and sensational food.

Naming & shaming - the dodgy school was Bodnant Infants, in Prestatyn!

Re sketches: I work in an A5 sketchbook with a 3B pencil. I try to get a seat with a table so I can put my handbag on the table and hide my sketching behind!