November 26th kicked off with a painful 5.30am start, and a train to Manchester. As the publicists and Tamarind staff were swept northward, we were cheered about the day ahead: we had hot dates with 40 librarians!
The Reading Agency invited publishers, authors and librarians from all over the country to meet, share new titles and converse about what they have been doing. In the morning publishers and authors presented their new titles in very short slots. Ours was on why I get out of bed – especially at 5.30am! – to help put black children into books. It was all done in our allotted 45 seconds!
The afternoon was slightly more leisurely – each group of librarians had 8 minutes to speak to each publisher at their station. As the librarians circulated around the room, we had pithy and powerful conversations revealing lots of local initiatives, teen reading groups and community needs where our books could make a difference.
By the end of the day, we were looking forward to the next insanely early start. Thank you Reading Agency!
Last Saturday brought with it blue skies, an early start and Tamarind’s final event of the season: the National Union of Teachers Black Teachers’ Conference. The NUT did their best to make the conference wonderful, holding it in the beautiful Stoke Rochford Hall, Lincolnshire, the shire Benjamin Zephaniah calls home.
We broke a land speed record, selling over 200 Tamarind books in two half-hour breaks. We introduced teachers to Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses saga and to her new title Boys Don’t Cry, perfect for secondary students and adults looking for their next read. Most teachers also signed up to the Tamarind e-newsletter. Not a newsletter reader yet? Sign up here.
On 8th November, as part of an eventful school Reading Week, Odette Elliott visited St. Marylebone School for Girls. The author of My Big Brother JJ and Sammy Goes Flying spoke to a Year 7 class about writing picture books. Odette was particularly looking forward to the visit as her granddaughter Cherry is a pupil at the school.
Before her visit, the students had looked at Odette’s website for their homework, and already had quite a few questions to ask her. Odette was pleased to note that they all enjoyed hearing and reading stories. The class were very interested to hear about the drafting, designing and printing process required to make a picture book. The mixed ability group had the choice of a drawing or a writing task. They came up with a variety of ideas and imaginative artwork. Odette especially enjoyed one girl’s excellent blurb for a story she might write.
After the workshop, staff and pupils bought copies of My Big Brother JJ in the school library. Performance poet John Hegley performed during the lunch hour, so Odette stayed to enjoy his poetry. John even bought one of her books!