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Saturday, August 06, 2011

The CYL Comes To Sunshine College

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from Adele Walsh, the new head honcho at the State Library's Centre for Youth Literature. For a number of reasons she explained to me, she was offering to bring the Teenage Booktalkers to us. Would we be interested?

Would we?!? I've taken my book club to the CYL for one Teen Booktalkers last year and to the youth day at Reading Matters this year, but this way ALL our kids could have the treat and no excursion forms to fill in or collect and no transport issues, just set up the library and welcome the guests. When I went to the evening session the night before, Paula Kelly, the head librarian, told me they were thinking of regionalising the youth days, taking the show to schools and letting other schools in the area come over instead of into town and this was going to be an experiment to see how it would work.

I chased up copies of the books The Comet Box, All I Ever Wanted and Five Parts Dead by the visiting authors and read them in a weekend - yes, all three of them! I got them processed and promoted, although by last Wednesday only one student was reading any of them (and loving it - the book was Five Parts Dead, the student Dylan). It didn't matter - after the talk, every last copy of all the books was checked out!

Wednesday morning, the first visitor, Adrian Stirling, arrived about 10.15 am as I was finishing my setup. We had a lot of students missing - an ESL excursion, that included half my tiny literacy class, the netball team, the Bridge-Building science team that included two of my book club members who would have loved to be there. So I'd invited a bunch of students from our Ardeer campus. I would also have invited students from another local school, but the teacher-librarian doesn't work on Wednesday and in the end, it was just as well, because we had a big audience for each of the two sessions and only just enough chairs for them all.

I got Adrian to use the remote control to bring the screen down - the computer was set up ready for the presentations, as it had been used the night before for a year 10 info evening and the principal kindly left it set up for me. Meanwhile I did the finishing touches elsewhere. I knew there would be an autograph session and thought it might work well to print out some book covers. Some of my book clubbers not on an excursion turned up offering to help. There wasn't much to do, it was all set up, but I introduced them and asked Dylan to set out the book covers on the autographing table, which he did.

The rest of our guests arrived soon after. Tim Pegler was last. Adele was there, with Christine - a lady I knew well from her time at The Little Bookroom - and a lady whose name I didn't know but who helped the speakers with their presentations and later booked a cab for Vikki Wakefield.

We started with the Year 9 and 10 students. Adele did the intros and the bribery that helped move the sessions along. She has been a teacher and is quite comfortable talking to kids - and bribing them to answer questions. :-) She'd brought along books left over from the conference and bits of CYL stuff, such as "Insideadog" tags, which she gave out for a good response from the audience. At one stage she was running low on the tags and I gave her some chocolate frogs, which were plenty good enough.

Adrian is also a teacher - he'd had to negotiate a day off work to come - so he had a good clear voice ands knew how to speak to teens. He explained where he'd got many of the ideas for his novel The Comet Box and his memories of the excitement people felt last time Halley's Comet came around. This is his second book; the earlier one, Broken Glass, had won a Notable. He spoke about that too.

Vikki Wakefield has a background in graphic art and had done character sheets before writing anything. She showed these in her presentation I did mean to ask her if the publisher might, perhaps, do a reprint with the illoes, which were very nice indeed, but the students had plenty of questions and they took priority, of course. She showed a picture of the street where she had lived as a child, if briefly, and of the huge dog that was the inspiration for Gargoyle, the scary mutt in All I Ever Wanted. There were quite a few elements that she'd based on her own memories.

Tim Pegler is a journalist who has turned to writing YA fiction. I really enjoyed Five Parts Dead and have bought my own copy of Game As Ned to read when I have five minutes off from teaching, library, review books, etc. He showed some photos from Kangaroo Island and the graveyard which had a rather sad grave set apart from the others that had given him his idea for Five Parts Dead. He also showed some of the articles he'd written as a journalist, including the one which he'd used as part of his inspiration, about a woman who had killed someone in an attempt to do an exorcism.

The students were highly entertained and there were plenty who went up to get autographs done in the middle of the session.

I'd ordered lunch from the canteen and we had it in the staffroom. After lunch came the Year 7 and 8 students, who also enjoyed the event. Adele very kindly left us a whole box of leftover books from the conference and Adrian donated copies of both his books to our library. The books are being processed and will be out in the library next week.

All in all, a successful event and I am most grateful to Adele for arranging it and the speakers for entertaining our students.


Lan said...

Sounds like a really great time was had by all Sue. It's really great that you organise these kinds of events. As a western suburbs girl myself it's great to know that these things are happening in our schools.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Lan! I've been very lucky getting these things going. People are so kind! I've also launched my own books as they came out and the publishers and writer friends came to help.

What suburb are you from?

Lan said...

Wow. Could I have used the word great any more in my last comment? Sheesh. I think writers in general are a pretty good sort. I'm from St Albans.