10 favourite moments from my happy Hull day

Well, Freddie didn’t win the James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award, but I still felt like a winner the whole way through yesterday’s voting event! All those children passionate about reading, lots of fans of Freddie, great chats with the other authors, fascinating talks from each and every one of them about their books and an amazing team of kind and excellent librarians who definitely could organise a book award in a city hall…

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Here are a few of my favourite moments:

1. Walking into City Hall, looking at the chairs and tables and thinking, wow…

2. Giving my actual talk. I love getting to speak to children and hopefully inspire them a bit about some of the things that matter most to me. Stories, creativity, friendship and above all – redemptive hope.

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Yes, it’s me up there, though I’m very small and a little blurry in this shot…

3. That funny moment when it struck me over a very enjoyable breakfast with Fleur Hitchcock… that you know you’re both a children’s writer and an introvert when you feel much, much more relaxed about speaking to 400 children than you do about having dinner with about 12 other adults…

4. Having said that, I loved meeting all the other shortlisted authors that night and Elen Caldecotte in particular had me giggling happily by pudding. (I already knew the librarians were lovely because they’d done such a brilliant job looking after me during my school visits in May.)

I felt like one of the children sometimes – not that that’s a new sensation for me particularly – because I was so excited to hear from them all. You know – from real authors. And then I would think… oh hang on a minute…

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5. Here we all are in a moment of relative calm over lunch with last year’s brilliant winner Ellie Irving. By this stage I was relaxed with the adults too. They were all lovely and had great stories, good tips that they were kind enough to share with me and a brilliant sense of fun.

Shortly after this photo was taken I became a bit agitated though, as Veronica Cossanteli got out her millipedes to show us while I was still eating my sandwich. I was more than intrigued, but the amazing mexican waving legs made me feel a bit queasy all the same. Not enough fluff to be a pet choice for me!

6. Speaking of Veronica, I did absolutely love her talk.

All the authors spoke beautifully and uniquely but I couldn’t help but pick a favourite speech. It was very funny and I enjoyed how she spoke about characters living in her head. And somehow it struck me as I was listening to it, that if one was going to write the perfect authoress, she might justĀ  carry a little bit of the same slightly magical charm… I know there were at least seventeen children who agreed with me.

7. Meeting the girl that managed – I don’t know how given the lengths of the queues – to get eight bookmarks all signed by all the authors… I make that nearly 50 queuings-up…

8. Receiving a present from Izzy B, which one of her friends delivered on her behalf and another helpful girl identified for me as being made out of ‘aqua beads’ when I unwrapped it. It was a dolphin and I have added it to my box of Freddie-related treasures.

9. The lovely children who kindly told me they were voting for Freddie, that he was their favourite or simply that they had loved the book… Favourite comments included ‘I reckon Freddie’s going to walk it Miss’ and ‘I really loved your book. I loved it so much I got to the end.’

10. Realising to a much deeper extent just how unusual, blessed and wonderful the story I have now decided to call ‘The Finding of The Finding of Freddie Perkins’ or perhaps ‘Just how Freddie Perkins was found’ truly is… and how amazingly privileged I am to find myself, almost as if by magic, a children’s author who was shortlisted for such a special book award.

Congratulations to Rachel Carter who thoroughly deserved her win for Ethan’s voice – here it is with all the short-listed books, and of course, with the one that’s still my favourite…

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And thank you again to Tracey Acum, Hull Libraries (for all these photos as well as an amazing experience start to finish). And of course to the children, who were simply – as always – what made it.

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