Back in 2015, I met the organiser of Wee Write! at an event where new books from Floris were being showcased. It seemed quite surreal to be chatting about half a dozen books I had not yet written. At that time, I was working on my first title – ‘Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Brawsome Bagpipes’ – and creating the style for the series.
The six Porridge books can be read in any order, as they feature recurring characters but stand-alone plots.
Just before the first two books were launched (Feb 2017) I was invited to take part in the Wee Write! schools programme. A great idea that brings schools into the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. It costs schools nothing and the children get lots from the experience. A morning – or afternoon – off school to watch authors and, in my case, engage in some silly wordplay and enjoy plenty of interaction. Yes, if you come to my event then be prepared to volunteer.
Nearly 180 pupils, teachers and helpers filled a large space inside the library, overlooked by big windows and curious office workers. Helped by Janette (an experienced librarian) and knowledgeable technical staff, I was able to prepare my presentation and props in no time at all. The worst bit was hanging around the back of the projector while I was being introduced. As ever, I couldn’t resist a bit of silly shadow hand puppetry and that got the kids laughing.
The stage was set for me to start. I was soon chatting about how my Porridge books came about. I then gave the children wee snippets about characters – aided by Yuliya Simona’s brawsome illustrations – and introduced Porridge (in soft toy form).
Plenty of noisy fun ensued with fast-paced tongue-twisters,
and kids running about the stage sorting out muddled-up words. A lot of Porridgy goodness was somehow spooned into one hour. At one point, we created our own crazy competitions – aiming to be as daft as Gadget Grandad’s Scottish Shed Racing Championships. There was also a lively joining-in session where children danced around and mimed tapping along to a noisy tripe writer. Next we explored together facts that sound like a load of old (typed) tripe but are actually true!
The hour flew by and everyone was hoarse and happy by the time my event ended. A short Q & A brought out some very good questions. “What’s my favourite book?” I was asked. I replied that it’s any book that’s being read. Books are meant to be read, to stimulate and engage.
Judging from the reaction of staff and the kind comments afterward, the children went away motivated and excited. If libraries and authors can get children enthused by the written word then we are all onto a winner.
Wee Write! is in someways an off-shoot of Aye Write! but it has its own special atmosphere. It offers a wee glimpse of the magic of books – and writing – to any kids (young or old) lucky enough to attend.
I loved it. Good job too because I did it all again that afternoon.