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 just  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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Freddie’s back in Hull

Freddie and I are back in Hull for the voting event for ‘The James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award’ tomorrow. Very excited about meeting 400 young readers  and getting the chance to inspire them with the story of just how the idea for Freddie was found….

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Freddie’s off to book group

And yes, he will be able to answer all these Questions for book groups on The Finding of Freddie Perkins that Liz has put together! Unlike Liz… who has to admit that she was surprised to see macaroni cheese alongside the more authentically Scottish themed food at the launch party for the book – and had to be reminded it was Freddie’s favourite food!

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A great few days in Hull

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…

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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!

four happy stories for Freddie

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!

Liz Baddaley reads The Finding of Freddie Perkins

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!

Katie, Liz and Freddie

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!

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2014 is starting well for Freddie

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

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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’.