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Thursday, August 31, 2017

My Students Meet Morris Gleitzman! At the MWF...

On Monday I took nineteen students to the Melbourne Writers' Festival, where they were going to hear Morris Gleitzman speak about his Once series. It would have been twenty, but young Kim, who is a huge fan of the series, suddenly had to go with her family to Vietnam. She had been so looking forward to it. There wasn't time to invite another student to go in her place. I ended up buying her a copy of the newest novel in the series - Maybe - and getting him to sign it for her.

We had been planning this since July. My original plan had been to take them to Reading Matters, but it sold out before we could get the numbers, so we went to the Festival instead.

The kids were wonderful. All of them who were going to be late rang me to let me know. One poor girl ended up having to walk all the way to the station because she didn't have a myki card. I gave her one of my spares, which I'd topped up, because there is always at least one student who either forgets to buy a card or to top up the one they have with money. That time there were three - and I had bought extra cards just in case.

And who should we meet on the train station platform but Natasha, one of my former book clubbers, now studying to be a teacher! Natasha ended up chatting to Taylor, a hugely book-loving student, so I left them to it, after a brief chat with Natasha.

Morris Gleitzman was a very good speaker, talking about his series in general and specifically about the new book, which I hadn't realised was out already. Kim will love this, I thought. one of my students, who hadn't read any of the books, admitted that "it was a bit boring" when I asked him how he had enjoyed the talk. But next day he told me that he had found Once in his literacy class's book box, started reading and was loving it. So in the end, he did get something out of it.

I had intended to text my friend George Ivanoff, who was going to be there, but there wasn't time. I stood near the book-signing queue and took photos for the school magazine. Morris was quite happy to have kids pose with him.

Not all the kids had money for a book and I ended up buying about three books for them, because I couldn't bear for them to miss out.  It was worth it to see those joyful looks as I handed them their copy. And then I thought, what the heck, I'll get a print copy for me, and I was the last to have a book signed that morning.

We went to lunch at the Melbourne Central food court and along the way to the court, I pointed out the Little Library. People donate books to it and you're supposed to take one and either return it or bring one. I will certainly be putting in some books soonish, but I doubt my students will. They pounced on the books with cries of joy - one of them even walked off happily with a Rick Riordan novel, one of the Magnus Chase ones rather than Percy Jackson.

They all returned to our meeting place on time and we returned to our station, where I dismissed them. 

It was a good day!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - that sounds like a wonderful day ... made even more so for some students with you being thoughtful and generous to those who might have missed out - glad you got a book too and had it signed - cheers Hilary

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Hilary! Well, I had considered buying an ebook for myself, but got the print copy on an impulse. As I said, I hated for my kids to miss out while others got them...

Penny Dolan said...

Well done with all this, Sue! Wonderful to hear of students being taken to places like the MWF.

I heard Morris Gleitzman long years back in the UK - around the time of Two Weeks with the Queen and Sticky Beak etc, and he was lively and entertaining in a good way. However, with these new books, I expect his talks are more serious in tone to match - but obviously still interesting enough to make that boy choose a book when he could. I'll look out for that Maybe title.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Penny! Yes, Morris Gleitzman is a wonderful writer(and a nice man). His stories can be funny and sad at the same time, always touching, and he makes you care about his characters. He did something odd with this series - gave us a novel, in the middle, in which the hero of the first two was now an old man living in Australia, having a great friendship with his granddaughter and much-loved by his patients for his compassion. And then it went back to the 1940s, to when he was a boy... So you got to see where this loveable boy went - it added to the depth. You should read the whole series if you haven't.

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