A video for the children of Brazil on World Book Day

A video for the children of Brazil that I made with picture book man Ed Vere and the children of Nightingale School for Pop Up Projects!

A lovely Wild Thing at Norland Place
School, World Book Day
It was not World Book Day in the rest of the world of course, the 7th of March was only World Book Day in Ireland and the United Kingdom. But by the end of last week, I'd visited schools from Hackney to Holland Park, from Balham to Clapton - as well as making the film embedded above: a message from the children of Hackney to the children of Rio.

Now THAT's World Book Day.

(Read this, and then watch the 14min video)

So. My WBD began two weeks ago when I began working on this film with the lovely Ed Vere (author and illustrator of Mister Big and The Getaway) and some very energetic children from Nightingale Primary School in Hackney.

Me and Ed Vere. I'm healthy and he's tasty.
Which is not entirely true because I'm not that healthy. Photo: Rose Bishop

The idea was to create a film that would allow schools in our Olympic zone to forge ties with children in Brazil.

This was a kind of love letter - from the children whose lives had been irrevocably changed by the Olympics last year in Hackney, East London to children in Rio whose lives are about to be touched by the Games.

Ed had to be the talent because I was doing the filming. I loved this moment in the film when he was reading to the children. The children's faces lit up and when I was editing the film that weekend, it was SO hard to pick the final  footage for the film!

It was the brainchild of Dylan Calder of Pop Up Projects (check out their absolutely STUNNING new website) - he got me and Ed together in a pub one night in North London and we vaguely tossed around words like 'legacy' and 'literacy' and talked about transporting all that Olympic goodwill across the seas to Rio.

It felt good, even though none of us were really sure what our final film was going to look like. In fact, Ed and I decided to simply turn up and see what the children were going to say and do.

It was kind of scary just leaving it to the kids, but having worked with children on two film projects last year  (We Read, my DIY documentary and the IBBY Honour List of Picture Books ), I knew that I could count on children to entertain, move and surprise.

The four year old stars of our film do the 'Mobot'

HELLO BRAZIL! Ed and I set up in Nightingale's little library with softbox video lighting and tripods to interview a procession of children.  

Lucky for us head teacher Catrina Tilbury was absolutely supportive, and deputy head Veronica Benjamin acted as a kind of line producer, sending children to talk to us, paint pictures with Ed, and read books to us.

At one point, Ed and I had an impromptu cartoon duel. I drew myself and Ed's character Mister Big on the left. Ed drew himself and his monkey on the right. Heh I loved how impressed the kids were.  Photos by Rose Bishop

We filmed for two days - and then over the weekend I went off to edit the film and Ed went off to create the animation that appears at the end. We met up on Sunday to put it all together!

City Hall
Pop Up launched the film on World Book Day at the leaning egg-shaped City Hall near Tower Bridge. The event was also a celebration of Booklinks, Pop Up's programme of bringing authors into schools in Hackney and Islington, which I'm involved in - and the venue was packed with authors, illustrators, teachers and children.

All dressed up for World Book Day at Norland Place School.
It just so happened that, long before I knew about the film, I'd made sure that I was booked up for World Book Day.

You see, on my first WBD as an author I didn't get any invitations to visit at any schools. Zilch. Even though WBD is supposed to be the busiest time of year for authors. So, determined not be humiliated again, I made sure I had a full programme of events for this year ... which was great. And then the film came along. Which was great but OMG.

So by the time of the launch, I'd already spent the week before visiting Virginia and Sebright Primary Schools in Shoreditch with Town Hall Tales, then visiting Morningside, Millfields and Clapton Girl's Academy for Booklinks; on WBD itself, I did an author visit to Norland Place School in Holland Park, then trained down to Balham to visit Hornsby House School under the auspices of the Golden Treasury Bookshop. And as overspill, I also had Battersea Park School today!

If that sounds frenetic, it really was.

Mad Hatter teacher taking the register
at Norland Place School
In fact, when I finally got to City Hall, I was dismayed to discover that there were no chairs for me to collapse into.

But I got through ...

I'd met many of the children and teachers attending the launch so it was a very homely event. We had a big picture taken of all the authors and illustrators and children, in which I managed to get author Na'ima Robert in her niqab to stand beside me so that I would look thinner.

The very generous sponsors, Linklaters, Inspire! and the Mayor's Fund for London took it in turn to address the crowd before Paralympian Alexandra Rickham gave an inspiring speech recalling the wonder of the Games. Rastamouse creator Michael de Souza got everyone excited. Ed Vere introduced our film and after the film I was supposed to give an energetic, closing message.

But when the moment came, all the meaningful notes I'd scribbled down to put into my speech swam before my eyes, and it was very hard to string a coherent sentence together. I think I managed to say vaguely what I wanted to say but I was very aware that the quality of my delivery might have been less than best. I was SO tired.

Here's roughly what I tried to say:

Here is a film, made by children reaching out to touch children an ocean away. And here we all are, authors, illusrators, educators, children - brought together by a fierce love of story - all reaching out to each other in the name of the book.

And the temptation is to say: what a small world this is! Look at our video, through YouTube sending a message across a vast ocean.

Well no, it isn't. World Book Day is not about shrinking the world. It's about EXPANDING the world, making it BIGGER, pushing the boundaries of everything.

Because that is why we read. To grow our world.

Happy World Book Day!

Sailing champ Alexandra Rickham added Paralympic glamour to the occasion

I was terribly nervous about how the children would respond to the film. My heart was booming so loud I thought it was drowning out the soundtrack! But the kids looked like they were enjoying themselves.

The stars of the video were not so happy though, and this was the typical reaction when their faces appeared on the screen!

This November, Ed and I are taking the film to be screened at the Flupp Festival in Rio ... and hopefully we will get to work with children there to bring a message back to the children of Hackney.