Author Kate Maryon talks at Cullompton Library
By Ed Patrick,
In deepest Devon, something really special happened at Cullompton Library on National Libraries Day. Our children met the wonderful author, Kate Maryon, and I believe they will remember her forever.
Kate is a very special person, as anyone who has met her will testify. She radiates calmness, kindness and thoughtfulness and takes a genuine interest in everyone she meets. Her books are brilliant for confident readers and ideally suitable for ages 7-15. The characters that Kate creates, struggle through some very difficult circumstances, reassuring troubled children that they are not alone, and drawing empathy from those that are already secure and cared for.
We were so thrilled to offer this free workshop, through Authors Aloud UK, to the children and young people in our community. It was so different from any other author visit we have ever hosted. Kate created a safe, cosy environment for the children, spread out over a big blanket with pots of assorted beads and threads to choose from to create their own unique beaded bookmark, a beautiful and useful souvenir to take home. This was a perfect activity to keep their fingers busy while they listened avidly to Kate, riveted to every word. Kate talked gently about her sad childhood, using a simple but powerful slide show to show some of the emotions she went through. She also showed some dynamic book trailers and a very moving video with alarming statistics about runaway and homeless children. She read an extract from her latest novel, Invisible Girl, endorsed by The Big Issue Foundation and the Railway Children Charity, which explores teenage homelessness and the breakdown of family life.
It was amazing that despite talking about some very sad, scary, difficult things, no-one was overwhelmed. Even the youngest children in the group offered suggestions about how the characters in Kate’s stories might feel in certain situations and how they might feel if they were in that position themselves. The children listened so attentively to each other and showed such sensitivity.
Kate’s message is simple: Every child is a unique human being with their own story to tell. Every child is more wonderful, more amazing and brilliant than they could ever know. Kate imparted an invisible toolkit to equip the children to know who to turn to and what to do if they are ever scared or sad or lonely. She reassured them about the types of grown-up people they could approach and it was clear that they all felt a renewed sense of how important they are and how to make themselves heard.
Kate gave a little intro for each of her books, describing the characters and a few incidents, making it very easy for the children to choose the book they wanted to take home. Crediton Community Bookshop had provided the books to sell, and when the children scampered over to the book stall they squealed, “I want the one with Tiff in it,” or “I have to read about the cold shower!” It was lovely to be able to promote our local bookshop but it was also really important not to alienate those who were not purchasing books, and they were so excited to be able to borrow any of Kate’s books from the library. There was such an astonished look on their faces when I told them it was free, even if we request extra copies from other Devon Libraries. Everyone left in great excitement, eager to get their nose into Kate’s books. Some couldn’t wait until they got home and sat around in the library, engrossed.
One girl of about 11 came in to see us the following Monday to say “I want to be an author or a chef.” I told her that perhaps she could be both and we had a great chat about life in general while I helped her find the huge array of cookery books on the shelves. I am glad to say that the Dewey decimal number 641.5 is firmly planted in her mind!
Other children that I have seen since are still talking about the event on National Libraries Day.
Other events that took place around Devon on National Libraries Day included:
- Personal Shopper Experience at Axminster Library – Customers were able to book a slot during NLD for some 1:1 assistance from library staff
- ‘Where’s Wally?’ at Honiton Library – Customers were invited to have their picture taken with a ‘Wally’ and to take part in a treasure hunt.
- ‘Mad Hatters Tea Party at Okehampton Library with storyteller Rob Pudner from http://www.entertaininglydifferent.co.uk/
- ‘Love your Library’ papercraft session at Dartmouth Library with artist Kate Marshall http://www.katemarshall.co.uk/
- Book Chat in partnership with the Burton art Gallery in Bideford http://www.burtonartgallery.co.uk/
- Coffee mornings, quizzes, craft events and many many more…!
Susie Tyler is Centre Support Assistant at Cullompton Library, The Hayridge, Devon