Sunshine and three very special schools in Hackney for Booklinks

I stopped for coffee next to the Hackney Empire theatre 
Today I visited three schools in Hackney as part of the Booklinks programme created by Pop Up Projects - Morningside, Millfields and Clapton Girls' Academy. I've just been reading my friend Jane McLoughlin's report about her Booklinks Day and I have to agree that it's a very special and satisfying programme -
at least for us authors (we can't believe our luck when we meet children who have actually read our books!) I hope the children feel the same way. Here are some highlights of my Booklinks Day:

1 The sun came out and Hackney was beautiful!

Loved these cats I passed on a random street

2 At Morningside Primary School, Teacher Kenneth totally threw me by playing an old Filipino comedy song    - Pinoy peeps, it was Yoyoy Villame's Philippine History Song!!! Oh my! When I got home, I excitedly reported this to my daughter and (groan) she hasn't stopped singing it since!
Couldn't help noticing this beautiful church opposite  Morningside.

At Morningside Primary you are greeted by this mosaic:
"Today is a great day to learn something new". Yes indeed!
3 Left-field questions from Morningside: Who is Lapu Lapu? How many years have you been married? How old were you when you published your book? (I forgave them when they guessed that my age was somewhere between 18 and 27)

4 When I'm explaining character and showing pictures of famous characters in children's fiction, I always throw in Tom Sawyer, one of my favourite books when I was a child, but I never expect anyone to have read it. Surprise surprise! One boy had a copy of Tom Sawyer in his BAG! Respect! (Then I found TWO more boys who'd read Tom Sawyer in Millifields and one girl in Clapton - who says children don't read the classics?)

5.At Millfields Community School I had to start by apologizing because the children had left some lovely questions on the Booklinks website but I couldn't for the life of me log in and answer the questions.

More outdoor art at Millfields

6 Millfields children performed in the grand finale of the Paralympics!

A display of Paralympics performing gear

7 One Millfields boy told me his dad went to the boarding school where Michael Morpurgo was a teacher. They weren't allowed to go out at certain times, but Michael Morpurgo made an exception if they could write a poem!

I was signing autographs when I discovered that the girl whose notebook I was signing was Orla Hill who plays Jennifer in Song for Marion, now showing in cinemas near you (starring Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave) ... I promptly asked her sign MY notebook!

 The Millfields children had watched my video on How to Write Your Own Legend and had tried making their own legends!

10 Clapton Square is one of the prettiest places I've ever seen and I took a lot of pictures while waiting for my gig at Clapton Girls' Academy.

Somewhere near Clapton Square

One of the extraordinary slides Sam showed of dogs
working for the war effort
11 I arrived in time to catch the last fifteen minutes of another Booklinks author's presentation - Soldier Dog by Sam Angus. Sam (who, by the way, is a woman) gave a fascinating talk about the use of dogs in war, and how their heartbreaking loyalty was exploited to send them on missions that they often didn't survive. At the siege of Stalingrad, dogs strapped with bombs were sent on suicide missions to face down tanks. That made me very sad.

Clapton Girls' Academy had this beautiful etching on their gate which reflected the buildings opposite.

WISDOM, the mosaic said outside Clapton
Girls' Academy. 
12 And oh my goodness! The girls greeted me with a big sparkly welcome banner, with a pop-up Bernardo popping out  of the banner and balloons spilling everwhere! What a reception!

13 After I finished my talk the Clapton girls then jumped up and performed scenes from the book - I was gobsmacked! Especially because the girl who played Andi moved and talked just like I imagined Andi would move and talk! Wow, wow, and wow!

The girls had prepared fabulous mini-performances of scenes from Tall Story! I totally didn't expect it! Photo by Patrick Boyd

A banner for me! Photo by Patrick Boyd
What a day! I feel thoroughly embraced. Thank you to the splendid children and teachers of Morningside, Millfields and Clapton Girls' Academy. How totally you all rock!