Monday, 21 November 2011

NCBF: A Whirlwind of Storytelling!

On Sunday afternoon, just over a week ago, I packed a suitcase and a sketchbook, then hopped on a train to Newcastle, where I was staying right through until Wednesday afternoon, doing loads of storytelling for the Northern Children's Book Festival.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to do any drawing on the way: the train was full of drunken football supporters, so I thought it wiser not to draw attention to myself!! Not to worry: there were other sketching opportunities during the festival, as you can see.

I have done the NCBF many times before: it's one of my favourites. I love spending 3 days steeped in stories; I love all the excited children I meet; I love (and am in awe of) the extraordinary way librarians transport loads of authors and illustrators to vast numbers of children, all over North East of England.

This year, instead of staying in a hotel, I was put up by Ann Key, ex chair of the NCBF. She gave me a bed, cooked me lovely dinners (with home-baked cakes!) and kept me company in the evenings when I got in from my events. We had loads in common, so it was a real treat. Mind you, most nights I was so tired I was asleep by 10pm.

Each morning, bright and early, I travelled to a different part of the region to read my 3 latest books: Dragon's Dinner, Stinky! and Bears on the Stairs

On Monday it was N. Tyneside, where I was looked after by Lesley. We had a great day: I saw 180 children from 3 different schools. Between them they bought 135 books (!), so many, there wasn't time to sign them all on the spot (not drawing a picture too), so I took them back with me and was still signing at 7pm.

Lesley remembered from last time I was there, how much I love the sea so, after the last event of the day, we wrapped up warm and went for a walk along the front. The tide was in and the waves were really crashing down - fantastic!

On Tuesday, Ann drove me to Hexham, where I changed cars, then Kim drove me way up into the wilds of northern Northumberland, where are there are lots of small rural schools, who clubbed together for my sessions. The best of all was Kielder First School, with just 10 pupils in total - that's the whole school! They were lovely (hello guys). 

Kim and I had a gorgeous pub lunch at half time in the pretty, historic village of Bellingham (mushroom madras - yum yum). I probably had garlic breath all afternoon (sorry kids!).

Wednesday was a very early start - I was up at 6am. I had to pack up my suitcase then at 7am Ann drove me to Newcastle station where I caught a train to Middlesborough for the day. Because I was drawing the people, I noticed how at 7.30am the train was full of men, who all got off at Hartlepool for work, which was where at 8.15am, it re-filled with women.

I had a fun time in 
Berwick Hills Library in the morning, then again in Acklam Library in the afternoon, meeting 170 children in three 1hr sessions.

The end of the day was a crazy rush though: the children didn't arrive until quite late, so we got a little behind. It was my own fault - I should have finished earlier, as I had a huge pile of books to sign.  I didn't have time to sign them all properly, as I had a taxi waiting at the library door to take me to Darlington to catch a train home. I just managed to draw a little picture in each book before I literally ran from the library, coat under one arm, suitcase in the other!

We made it in time (phew) and I was able to catch my breath once I was safely underway. Luckily this time the train was full but peaceful, and I was able to get my sketchbook out and draw all the way home.

Thanks to everyone who looked after me, drove me around, humped flipcharts and big boxes of heavy books back and forth, took me to lunch etc and especially a huge thank you to Ann Key for her wonderful hospitality!   

1 comment:

Joel Le Blanc said...

Love the sketches of the journey -- art provides us with such a wonderful way of looking at the ordinary moments around us with new eyes. So many people, the men and women in your pictures, probably take that journey every day, almost unconsciously. Art, like stories, helps us to stop and look at the world around us, again.