Saturday, 1 March 2014

Non-Existent Trains and Invisible Forests...

When I did my illustrator-in residence project for the ASCEL Conference last year, I met lots of librarians, which is always a pleasure, since librarians are almost as lovely as children's illustrators :-)

One of those I met, contacted me a little while ago and asked me to visit their library. So on Wednesday I took the train to Nottingham and spent a lovely day in Sherwood. There were no visible forests, nor merry men for that matter (probably a good thing at that time of day), though we did find a lovely deli for lunch and a lot of merry children from 3 local schools. 

It didn't start well though. When I checked the departures board at Sheffield station, to find my platform, I discovered that the train I'd booked didn't exist. Not just cancelled - never was! Bit of a blow. A chat with Customer Services informed me there'd been a landslide near Chesterfield on Monday and all the train timetables in that direction had been changed. Wonderful. 

Luckily, though half an hour late, I arrived just as the 60 children were filing into the library. Phew. My morning group was two Y3 classes, so I read stories, drew animals at the flipchart and generally played the goat (Giddy Goat, naturally). They were all lovely and I quickly forgot the stresses of the journey. 

After lunch (with cake - told you librarians were nice), I had a Y5 group, so I talked about my work and showed them some artwork, like this monkey's tea party illustration from Stinky!. I also took roughs and books-in-progress (including a sneak-preview of Swap!), then taught them how to draw characters in motion. They too were a smashing group and asked me some brilliant questions, which is always very gratifying (if I have to answer 'what is your favourite book' one more time...).

I finished the day with something a bit different: an hour with the homework club. Normally it's an after-school drop-in session, with 3 adult helpers on hand to give assistance with any homework children have. Since I was there, it was billed as a creative writing workshop instead. At the start though, we had just one boy (with the 3 helpers, the librarian and me - poor lad). 

It was okay though: I did him a personal illustration, adding all the elements at his direction, to use as the starting point for his writing and, thank goodness, before the drawing was done, five more children turned up. I showed them how to start a story in the most exciting way possible, and they all got stuck into a tale about a scorpion and spider who were trying to catch and eat a man in the desert.

The aforementioned lovely librarian bought each of the children one of my picture books as a special present to take home with them, which I of course signed, before heading off for the adventure of trying to find a train home.

It was a really positive day and a great start to the visit season (thanks Sarah!). It all kicks off in earnest on Monday - I'll be out every single day that week. Luckily I'll be taking trains in the opposite direction :-)


ann @ studiohyde said...

It must be lovely to inspire youngsters into not only writing but also drawing.

As I now have a Sailor pen (thanks to you mentioning them) I would guess this is what you have used in your drawings in this post. The man in the seat behind was right, they are brilliant! Thanks Lynn, you inspire me as well as those kids.

Sue Pownall said...

How wonderful.