Whew! What a busy couple of weeks. After all the fun and frenzy of Bookweek, I jumped on a plane (two planes, actually), and flew across Australia to visit sunny Townsville, in Queensland. The thirteen hour journey was worth every second, because once there I spent a couple of amazing days working with the students and staff of Kirwan State School.
At Kirwan, all four year six classes have read and studied my three verse novels. They haven’t just read them – they have talked about them and written about them and analysed them and, I suspect, there are kids there that now know my books better than I do!
Every student wrote me a letter asking me to visit and telling me their responses to Pearl Verses the World. They are all also preparing for panel discussions where they will analyse my writing style. All of this is wonderful, but what is the most wonderful part is the very personal connections that so many of the students have made with the books. They are opening up to each other, to their teachers and to me about their own life experiences and how they find themselves reflected in the pages of the books. For me, this is heart-warming, and inspirational, and perhaps slightly overwhelming.
As a writer I spend a lot of time working in isolation and wondering if what I am doing is reaching readers. When I visit Kirwan, I know that my books are certainly doing all of that, though I think the biggest reason this is happening is because there is a team of teachers who present the books in a meaningful way, and wonderful young readers who are prepared to engage.
Thank you Kirwan for having me, for the second year running. I look forward to visiting again in the future.