Me and the Laureate!

Posted by Nette on Jun 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

If you could have seen me last night! Standing there, chin up, chest out beside the hugely famous Children’s Laureate, Mr Leigh Hobbs, keeper of Mr Chicken and Old Tom and Mr Badger and all those wonderfully glorious 4F freaky kids,  you would have been proud. I didn’t do anything wrong – well, just one smallish thing.

You know how sometimes it is possible to get one person mixed up with another? And you know how you finally pluck up courage to say hello and then its the wrong one! You know that feeling? Well, that’s what I did and to make matters worse, it was the author of one of my favourite books. Mmmmm-mmm. I have to tell you that ‘The Ratcatcher’s Daughter had me glued to my seat (well, bed as I like to read in bed) – not only but also, it became Ronaldo Hilton’s favourite as well and I had to finally steal it from his bedside-table to take it back to the library. I would have kept it longer if I’d known I was going to meet Pamela Rushby, who wrote it! And I insulted her by calling her the wrong name! Oh, Pamela, I gave myself such a beating when I got home but . . . in my own defense . . . I have to say I really do call you Pamela and not Pam – you tricked me momentarily. And Pamela does sound like Cheryl – doesn’t it? I promise I won’t do it again.

So, onward I went to see if I could make it for the rest of the night without another blooper, and there he was, the Laureate. Now I have to say that we go back a long time – him and me. I first met The Laureate when he was merely an author at a very spooky house in Ipswich. We were the first Ipswich Children’s Writer’s Festival (1997) – me and Leigh and Anne James and Brian Caswell (who tried to teach us to play tennis properly) – we were visited by equally famous Gary Crew and cared for by a good cook and her hubby and the ghosts of times past. I’m not joking, it was the scariest place in the world and we were in it and to prove it, the Laureate tested himself by walking through the corridors alone, at night. He walked and then he ran. I walked too, but only as I approached the building then I ran. It was like that scene in ‘The Shining’ when the little boy looks down that long corridor and then rides his tricycle along it. He was a whole lot braver than us.

But, back to last night. How brilliant it was to hear someone speak about the contribution made by librarians and school libraries. Equally wonderful to be included as a contributor were the creators – the authors and illustrators who plow away trying to keep our own culture and thoughts and understandings and stories going. The night, however, clearly belonged to the teachers and librarians and their libraries- and Leigh made sure they knew it. It belonged to the kids, too, even though they weren’t there. We heard wonderful stories about how cleverly children can read a space left in a good illustration. As an additional bonus we were all given insight into how a line here, and a dot there, can relay so much in an artwork or illustration.

To prove it, ho-hum, Ronaldo and I have our own versions of Old Tom.

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