Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Missionary work in Widnes and a great sporting victory. Of sorts...

A busy day today. The morning was spent back at Wade Deacon High School in Widnes, alienating - sorry, working with - a bunch of Year 8 students. The gentle ribbing re: preschool characters being Warrington Wolves fans continued, culminating in one lad telling me he didn't like me one bit. This was directly as a result of Spud the Scarecrow's rugby allegiance, although the lad did concede that Wereworld sounded rather awesome. So I'm going to put that in the "win" box.

Signing session in the library brought a gaggle of yoofs who were big readers along, including young Ben, pictured to the left in this picture. Ben's what we call 'a character'. By that, I mean he speaks in an American accent. Yet he lives in Widnes. I asked what had made him move to Widnes, and he explained he's always lived in Widnes. It transpires Ben watches a LOT of US telly and has adopted the accent. A cautionary tale for all, methinks. Those old duffers out there might remember Dexter Fletcher in Press Gang. That's what I'm talking about.

Super lad, though, as were all the students today. Even those who suffered with selective mutism in the final session. There were some startled faces out there, and I don't think it was on account of my hat and sideburns. At least I hope it wasn't - that would be hattist. Or hairist. Or somesuch...

I still had time at the end of the day to make it to Daughter #1's school sports day, where I triumphed in glorious fashion in the Dads Obstacle Race. There was a touch of the flamboyant about my performance, naturally, with a bit more wiggling, skipping and victory celebrations than was the norm. But I felt I'd earned it.

QUESTION: What's your greatest triumph? And did you fall to your knees, weeping hysterically, like you'd kicked the winning drop goal at the Wembley Challenge Cup Final? I'm not saying that's what I did... cough cough... some might though....

Monday, June 24, 2013

How to turn a roomful of peaceful pupils into a partisan mob with a rugby related anecdote.

Come on, we've all done it, haven't we?

Great day with staff and students of Wade Deacon High School in Widnes, Cheshire. This has been the first of three visits I'll be doing over the coming weeks, speaking to students in Years 7, 8 and 9. Showing incredible kindness and generosity, the school have chosen to purchase around 150 copies of "Rise Of The Wolf" for select pupils in each year group, a tremendous gesture. It was a huge thrill to see students walking around today with their books clutched to their chests, my graffiti daubed within the covers.

I got booed at by quite a few of them, but you can hardly blame them. I did point out that Spud the Scarecrow of Bob the Builder fame has a red and green scarf because my beloved rugby team, Warrington, had those colours for their away kit the year I designed the show. You could say I was leading with my chin(s), sullying their childhood memories with partisan rugby banter. I like to think it was playful booing, although the shoe-throwing and screwdrivers in my tires were a bit over zealous....

Tomorrow sees me heading down to That London to meet up with my old mucker Tom McLaughlin. Tom's a super talented author/illustrator (you'll have seen his fab books) and the two of us have collaborated on our first 'lift-the-flap' picture book for Egmont Press. I haven't illustrated this - odd, considering my past in picture books - but simply written it. Fab artwork all supplied by Tom.

On my OWN doodle front I'll be doing a new set of black and white pen and ink illustrations for the chapterheads in the UK edition of "War Of The Werelords". Kicking off with those on Thursday and I'll be previewing them on here too ;-) Stay tuned, Wereworld fans!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Two (not so) random acts of kindness. Humans can be rather awesome, you know?

A lovely moment this week from one of the pupils at St Augustine's school in Warrington. The young lad had saved all his pennies in order to get the first Wereworld book, Rise Of The Wolf. Sadly, at the signing event, he realised he was a couple of pounds short of the amount he needed for the book. Rather than mentioning this to his teachers, he simply decided to purchase a Raa Raa the Noisy Lion board book for his
one year old sister (she's a huge fan apparently), passing up his opportunity of getting a signed, doodled in edition of Wereworld.

To say I find his kindness touching doesn't come close.

Now, this young man is utterly unaware of the fact that his father has emailed us to let us know about this big brother's act of kindness for his little sibling. Dad's asked if there's any way we can send him a book, and he'll pay for it, as the poor boy is obviously a bit crestfallen. Even better than that, I suspect a certain author will be revisiting the school in the morning with a signed, doodled in copy of Rise Of The Wolf for the boy, and we won't be expecting pennies for it either.
It seems to have been a week for kindness. In addition to the young man who so generously spent his own pocket money in this way, we
also received an email from a stranger in Yorkshire. I know what you're thinking: "That doesn't narrow it down, it's Yorkshire, surely they're ALL strange there," but bear with me. (Sorry, the cheeky Lancastrian in me just came to the fore).

This was from someone who was living in our old house and had received fan mail from somebody in the United States. The stranger didn't know who I was from Adam, nor what my work was, but was so touched by the letter that they felt obliged to forward it on to us. We assumed they had received the letter at my old home which we left 6 years ago, a converted church reading room, in a North Yorkshire village, and said so much in our reply. Turned out it wasn't THAT home but the one we'd vacated 5 YEARS PREVIOUS to that. So, this lovely lad from the US had found an address that I hadn't lived at for 11 years. And somehow, the message still came through. Kudos to the tenant of my old house from yesteryear! Makes my helping an old woman up some steps with a shopping trolley this morning look rather paltry.

Here's a wee scan of the back page, where young Chris from Cambridge, NY, shows that no author has a monopoly on wordplay 

Bada Bling!

PS: I'm allowed to make the Yorkshire joke - I'm a half-breed Yorkie mongrel thanks to my old man, plus I do rather love the old county.