I had a great time meeting new friends in six primary schools across Hull last week. It was brilliant to see children so engaged and answer such great questions about writing, inspiration and the specifics of the book they’d all been reading! Best of all though were the impressively creative and moving new ideas about the different directions ‘finding’ could have taken had The Finding of Freddie Perkins not been about Freddie at all…
There were ideas for finding people, new connections, lost love, hidden talents, precious items, safety and much much more. What a privilege to create together!
A writer’s life is more grammar than glamour, but there are plenty of truly happy moments. In the last week, I have had four of these – as a result of four separate stories that have reached me about Freddie Perkins and the new friends he continues to find wherever he goes!
Wednesday – News from a friend who sent Freddie to Australia that his down-under host likes him so much she wants to pass him on to everyone she knows.
Thursday – A friend of a friend’s son dresses up as Freddie for World Book Day – I still don’t know exactly what he wore but this was lovely news!
Saturday – I get a text at breakfast from a friend forwarding on this one from her friend who is also a teacher, ‘I have just sat in the lovely spring sun and finished reading The Finding of Freddie Perkins – and I LOVED IT!!! Thank u – will be a big hit with my class – our next story to share’.
Yesterday – My pastor’s wife told me that one of her sons had been at a library event where you had to pick your favourite author. He later told her, ‘I wanted to pick the Freddie Perkins lady but I couldn’t quite remember her name and you had to be able to spell it!’
Yes – more grammar than glamour but such a privilege to be involved in all these stories of connection.
And another inspiration to finish editing the next novel!
Liz was delighted to visit some of her favourite readers in York on Saturday 1 February. Katie and Liz wanted their photo taken together (with Freddie) but actually spent most of their time talking about another book they both love – Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess and Katie’s recent modern dramatasiation of the story using Sylvanian Families characters!
The Finding of Freddie Perkins has been short-listed for a second prize – this time for the Portsmouth Children’s Book Award. It’s going to be a long wait till the summer, when all the short-listed books have been read by all the year five pupils in the city… but for now even news of the nomination is excitment enough. Read more here – PBA 2014 shortlist annoucement FINAL
2013 ended well for Freddie too. In December, he heard about his first short-listing – The James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award – and Liz was invited back to her old school in St Albans on account of his story.
Standing in the hall of St Albans Girls’ School (or STAGS to anyone in the know) again, shaking the hands of girls mostly back from their first term at University to collect their A-Level certificates was a good ending to the year for Liz too.
Undoubtedly there were young women in that room who are going to go on to do remarkable things – and getting the chance to be a small voice of inspiration in any of their stories was an incredible privilege.
Unsurprisingly she’s as pleased as Freddie about the 2014 news from Portsmouth too, and is very much hoping he’ll win so she can go and meet more promising young people, talk about writing Freddie and above all – give children hope and encouragement in their creativity.
For now though, she’d like to thank one young man closer to home for the hope and encouragement he gave her last year:
‘Matthew Hodson, it seems your review was spot on… let’s hope Freddie really is ‘award-winning’.
All Freddie’s Christmases have come at once! Today he found out that his story has been shortlisted for The 2014 James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award. It’s his first shortlisting so it’s particularly special…
Hundreds of key stage 2 pupils in Hull will read his story and four others over the coming months ready to vote for their favourite on 11 June.
Obviousy Freddie and Liz both have high hopes for June…
But meanwhile, there’s a lot of excitement simply about the short-listing itself. And some reminiscing too because Liz remembers two Christmases ago – almost to the day – first receiving news that Freddie was being seriously considered for publication from Kate Paice, who was to become his editor.
To Kate, who helped Freddie become himself more fully, as well as to those involved with the shortlisting – thank you for another wonderful, early Christmas present!
Freddie was searching the internet yesterday and found some more lovely reviews. He and Liz particularly enjoyed this one, from Inis – The Children’s Book Ireland Magazine by Catherine Duffy. You can read it on their website, or below… but it comes with a warning from Freddie that there is a bit of spoiler in this if you haven’t read his story first! So if you haven’t… get started here…
“With such an unusual title, the reader is instantly intrigued to unravel the mystery surrounding Freddie Perkins. The expression “finding” prompts many questions. Is it Freddie Perkins who is lost? Has Freddie Perkins lost something valuable? Is it a tale of development and maturity? The author delicately appeases our curiosity by opening up Freddie’s world.
“Although a story of loss and despair, the tale never becomes too bleak or grim. Baddaley tackles one of life’s most devastating tragedies but does so without over sentimentality or moroseness. Through the eyes of Freddie Perkins, we are exposed to the devastating impact death and loneliness can have on a childhood. The author focuses on how death can not only result in the loss of a loved one, but in the loss of one’s own identity. When a person loses someone close, a part of that person can sometimes seem to die too. Young Freddie feels he has lost his creativity, his appetite for life and laughter. A mysterious creature, the Fynd, helps Freddie rediscover the joy of family and life, and especially for Freddie, the joy of art. While Freddie is trying to firure out the mysteries of the Fynd, he unwittingly discovers himself again. Freddie is reconciled with this grandmother and his dad.
“The subtle and delicate sketches in each chapter intensify the emotional impact of the story. The simplistic etchings echo the innocence of childhood. The author has accomplished a work which can be absorbed and studied on several levels: a tale of mystery, a fable, and, ultimately, a story which reminds us of the importance of love and compassion. Perhaps, most of all, this is a love story between a grandchild and his grandmother. Through this loving relationship, the reader is shown how love and hope can help heal even the deepest of wounds.”
Freddie’s first literature festival appearance was a great success… yesterday’s event was a sellout and the talk on Loss and Hope in Children’s books went to time and to plan…. as always, what really made the event a success though was the people in the room – their engagement with the subject and their helpful comments and questions. It was a great privilege to be joined by Headmistresses, teachers and parents – as well as those interested in children’s literature – as we unpacked the therapeutic and educational power of narrative with Freddie’s help.
Thanks to The Grove Bookshop, Ilkley for their continued support… it was great to have the book sales all taken care of.