Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Simon Bartram's South of Newcastle Tour Day 1

Day 1: Dulwich Hamlet Junior School

Simon and Bob have blasted off on their adventures south of Newcastle with their first stop at Dulwich Hamlet Junior School. Templar's Press Officer, Jayne Roscoe, reports back on the day's events...

In the beginning: Please can we have Simon Bartram visit our school - the children would just love it and he's fantastic. The pleadings of two head teachers I met at a seminar (back in the autumn last year) that Simon had just done for teachers on his books featuring Bob, Man on the Moon. And so began the planning for this week in March, which would take in three days in south London schools and two days in Sussex schools. As Simon lives in the north east, it makes sense to tempt him out of the shed with the promise of several school dinners in a row.

A cold and wet Monday morning and we rendevous at Dulwich Hamlet Junior School at about 9 am - well, Simon got there before me as I didn't listen to my satnav and found myself up a cul-de-sac with the school on the other side of the roadworks. Still it was quite nice gazing into the chi chi shops whilst waiting for the green light.

He kicked off with the year 3's. Sweet lovely children who when asked what pets they had, one insisted he had a camel. They also had a great idea to give Barry, the alien dog, a call sign of brrrrrbrrrrrbronngg whenever they saw him, rather than the traditional woof woof.

A five minute break and the year 5's came into the hall. Slightly bigger and with a little more attitude. Simon re-adjusted his talk to include more about his drawing process and they all loved seeing his sketch book and the different stages of how he constructs a painting. After another short break, the year 5's were replaced by the year 4's, who were determined to out-shout the rest of the classes. Their roars when aliens were spotted practically deafened us all and they shrieked with laughter at their own silliness. Simon was being pretty silly too and that just added to the general mayhem and noise.

Now time for lunch and off we went to queue jump the dinner line up - there are some perks to being with an illustrator. Rice and 'mixture' was the order of the day and after ducking and diving back across the playground, we found the staff room where peace and quiet reigned. Most of the staff were catching up on their half term news, which gave us a time to relax.

For the last session we had the top year group, the year 6's. Very smart and sophisticated and for them the funniest thing was Simon's accent. Soon, however, they were all with him, booing and hissing at the dog catcher, barking when Barry came into view and when Simon said he got the idea for Bob's Best Ever Friend from his own situation, i.e. man in shed on his own most the day - one young person wise-cracked, Why didn't you get a guinea pig if you were lonely? No answer to that really.

With all the class events over, Leah from Tales on Moon Lane set up shop in the school hall and as we waited for the parents and children to come and get their books, Ruby and Maame, both aged 10, interviewed Simon for their school newspaper. Quizzing him about his own school days and his favourite books amongst other things, the two intrepid reporters wrote copious notes for their article.

Unfortunately, Mrs Case, the headteacher who had originally asked Simon to visit was in a staff meeting as we left, so we weren't able to say a personal thank you for a great day and to all the children at Dulwich Hamlet Junior School - there are no such things as aliens!

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