My Happy World Book Day - in which Tall Story Got a Book Bench!

With the totally, utterly, spectacularly, beautiful
Books About Town bench created for Tall Story by
the children of Hampden Gurney Church of England
Primary School in Westminster
March 5 was World Book Day here in the United Kingdom -- a busy time for librarians, who organise WBD events, authors like me who appear at these events, and parents who lovingly help their children dress up as their favourite book characters.


A few weeks ago, I got a message from Gohar Avanesjan, literacy coordinator of Hampden Gurney Church of England Primary School, that her Year Threes (!) were enjoying Tall Story and that they were designing a book bench for it!


Last summer, I had enjoyed touring London's book bench trail with my SCBWI pals, gazing with authorly envy at all the beautifully illustrated benches, each honouring a book of note - from 1984 by George Orwell to Alex Ryder by Anthony Horowitz.

My friend Joe enjoying the bench for The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe

Books About Town is a joint project of Wild in Art and the National Literacy Trust, displaying fifty benches across London and later, auctioning them to raise money for reading. As part of an education programme, the project gave London schools their own benches to decorate (based on a book set in London).

World Book Day was my chance to see the Tall Story bench, which was created from the designs of Hampden Gurney's Year Three children. I cannot tell you how moved I was to see the bench and to meet the children and staff who made it. Here's a Slideshare I made about the bench with pictures of the bench and of the artwork the children made to develop the final design:


Me as Yoda. By Shanarama
I really, really, really, really must get my act together and dress up as a book character on WBD! Every year, the day comes along and catches me unprepared.

Perhaps next year I'll come as Yoda from Star Wars. My illustrator friend Shanarama drew a picture of me as Yoda recently, and I quite fancy having green ears! (My sons when they were still small and cute made me read Star Wars to them every night, over and over again)

On WBD morning, I passed several schools while sitting on the upstairs deck of a bus. It was so wonderful to see the streets filled with children all dressed up as their favourite book characters.

Last year, when I visited King Alfred School, librarian Cathy Brown dressed up as The Beast. This year, she was Max from Where the Wild Things Are. I think there should be prizes for Best Dressed Librarians and Teachers. (Some discreet pictures of children from King Alfred --- I was especially chuffed to see a boy dressed as Stanley Yelnats from Holes, love that book!)

The WBD display at City of London School
for Boys, complete with basketball.
Photo: David Rose
There were Wimpy Kids, lots of Elsas from Frozen, Boba Fetts, James Bonds, Red Riding Hoods, Cinderellas ... and at the schools I visited, I did actually meet several Andis from Tall Story! Woo hoo!

The Guardian has collected photos of WBD finery

The Telegraph came up with the 7 Stages of Parental WBD Crisis ... then documented the best and most bonkers WBD costumes

The day before WBD, I spoke to Year 8 boys at the City of London School for Boys -- a school on the banks of the River Thames, the view on one side is of the Tate Modern, and on the other side, St Paul's Cathedral. What a location! Thanks to librarian David Rose for inviting me.

Me and King Alfred's librarian, Cathy, at last year's WBD 
(btw to the boy who asked how I met my husband but I didn't have time to tell the story, here's a link to the comic I made about it An Affair to Sort of Remember)

On the morning of WBD, I visited King Alfred School where I talked to Year Fives about how myth was the earliest form of science because people were trying to make sense of their world.

A little girl named Carmel greeted me with a typewritten letter. She gave me permission to reproduce an excerpt in this blog:

... I absolutely adore Tall Story as it is one of the best books ever ... it makes me feel as if I'm actually inside the book. My classmates and I are reading Tall Story together and when it is home time, we sometimes groan when it's a cliff hanger and say 'Please read more!' or 'Why do we have to stop?' 

Thank you, Carmel, you are why I love writing for children. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

Thanks to King Alfred librarian Cathy Brown for inviting me to visit!

After King Alfred,  I travelled from North London to West London to visit Hampden Gurney C of E Primary -- not just to see their Tall Story Book Bench but to speak to the whole school. Lots of parents came! How fantastic to see parents turning out for WBD! Thank you so much to Literacy Coordinator, Gohar Avanesjan, whose idea it was to make a Tall Story bench. I was blown away!

My heartfelt thanks to everyone for your kind hospitality. I had a wonderful World Book Day -- how lucky I am that my day job involves meeting such inspirational teachers and children!

A note to Teachers and Librarians: World Book Day happens on different dates all over the world (most often 23 April), so if your country hasn't hit the date yet, you can trawl the British WBD site for ideas and downloads like the leaflet below.

Also read my blog for writers: Why (most) authors do not need a Facebook Page