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Tonight the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour to “Meet our Authors” became “Meat our Authors” after they forced me – forced, mind - to scoff down an 18oz steak for our final dinner of the tour. Tomorrow I go home, assuming I somehow survive the night with 160g of protein surging through my veins, and vivid hallucinations involving cows stampeding endlessly through my nightmares.
This morning on the tour I visited a secondary school and spoke to some Year 8 classes, along with some Year 5 classes from a neighbouring primary school. Although there isn’t much between the groups in terms of age, it’s fascinating to see how differently they react to my event.
The primary school group this morning were rolling around with laughter at all my terrible jokes, and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. The older kids, on the other hand, seemed determined not to let on. When they did laugh, they made a conscious effort to do it silently, and to stop as quickly as they could. It took a while before I was able to break their spirit and get them joining in with the interactive stuff, but break their spirit I did. Judging by the number of books they bought, and the feedback they gave me at the signing afterwards, it seems they did actually enjoy themselves after all, but just neglected to tell their faces.
The afternoon session was at St Paul’s C of E Primary School, and those kids didn’t hold back when it came to showing they were having fun. It was another big group, and although I deliberately left more time than usual for questions, I think they could have kept on asking them all day. I answered seven or eight questions, but there were easily ten times as many hands still up when time was up.
After the events were done, just as I thought I was done for the day, I had a Twinterview sprung on me. I had no idea what a Twinterview was. I assumed it was an interview between me and someone who looked exactly like me, but it turns out it’s an interview on Twitter. People were invited to tweet me (@barryhutchison) with the #barryontour hashtag and ask me anything they wanted to know.
Questions ranged from the sensible and thought provoking to the worrying and disturbed. The tweets should still be visible on the #barryontour tag for a few days after this blog post goes up, so check them out if you can.
It’s the final day tomorrow. Beth has been trying to give me a scraggy looking donut since yesterday, but I’ve managed to avoid it so far. Just a few more hours of politely declining and I can be finally free of its sugary wrath.
At breakfast Beth said to Michael, “I have a great idea”, to which Michael replied, “This should be good ...” and much to his chagrin, it was good. The idea was the Twinterview. Basically, we got people to throw questions at Barry on Twitter, to which he either answered intelligently or cleverly avoided answering at all. You can check out the questions following the hashtag #barryontour.
I’ve noticed that many of the schools have a much higher percentage of English as a Second Language (ESL) pupils than you see in Scotland. That reminded me of the importance of what we’re trying to do. Making books, reading, writing, and storytelling fun. It’s a good thing to do.
Note: If you are ever in Manchester, go to a restaurant called Smoak, on Piccadilly Street. Order the Steak. You will not be disappointed.
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