Friday, 8 August 2014

Special Guest Blog

This week we have a special guest blog post from Templar author Yuval Zommer who is in the middle of a tour of London bookshops with his fantastic picture book Big Blue Thing On The Hill. An insight into what it's like for a d├ębut picture book author undertaking the daunting prospect of promoting his book.

I'm in the middle of THE BIG BLUE THING ON THE HILL's summer tour. There is no tour manager or indeed a route plan and it all started with a neighbourhood event at my local book shop; The Idler in Notting Hill.

To my surprise and relief people actually turned up to the book launch and they were not all just my friends and neighbours. Word got around, parents would talk to teachers, book sellers would talk to librarians and somehow I found myself committing to visiting 10 book stores, 3 libraries, 3 schools and having an exhibition all in the summer of 2014!

My author events come under 'storytelling' and (after some trial and error) tend to be basically split into two parts:

The first part is a 'joint' reading of 'The Big Blue Thing on the Hill' where the children are encouraged to participate by reading out (loudly!) all the animal 'sound effects' parts which are dotted throughout the book. So all the 'hooowwwllling' and 'grooowwwllling' etc. Because of the story's surprise ending we usually try to then guess what happens next?

Which leads to the second part of the session where, as well as the kids asking me questions, I get to ask the kids to come up with their own characters/ideas and we work together on making up some fun stories. This can involve bits of A4 paper and some writing or doodling depending on the age group.

From small quirky shops to big glossy ones, spending my Saturdays being surrounded by shelves and shelves of books simply brings out the smile in me. But the best part is of course the kids being kids, which never fails to amuse and surprise me. Indeed we don't have to try hard to live up to Red Reading Hub's review of the book: "foolishly funny" and "an absolute hoot".

Here are some truisms I picked along the way:
  • Book stores are probably the only kind of stores where not only do they not mind, but positively encourage customers to sit on the floor, sometimes they even have cushions or beanbags for grown ups.
  • Kids are always going to be so much better than me at doing any animal noises.
  • You don't need to keep quiet at libraries, you can be loud and make as much noise as you like.
  • Grown ups like it if you're armed with a big marker pen and scrawl your name in big letters all over the book they've just purchased. 
  • The sweetest looking kids can be the ones to come up with the scariest stories.
So if you're anywhere near Greater London over the coming weeks please do come and join us or just say 'hi', as all ages are welcome at any of the following events:

Bookshop Events:
Saturday 30th August, 3pm Waterstones, O2 Centre, Finchley Road NW3
Saturday 6th September, 11 am Dulwich Books, West Dulwich, SE21
Saturday 13th Septemebr, 11 am Daunt Books Chelsea, Fulham Road, SW10
Saturday 20th September, 11 am Daunt Books Hampstead, South End Road, NW3

3rd - 21st September, exhibition at the Hornsey Children's Library gallery, Crouch End

I'll be adding some October dates soon. In the meantime, a big thank you to all the booksellers, librarians, teachers and especially the amazing kids for making me feel so welcome!



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