Event

TRAIN ON TOUR IN DELHI

TRAIN ON TOUR IN DELHI 1280 914 88admin

The thing I like best about writing the Train to Impossible Places Adventures is the opportunity to take readers on journeys to new and exciting worlds. Much to my surprise, the books took me on a much more literal adventure last month when HarperCollins India (who distribute Usborne’s books on the sub-continent) invited me to speak to young readers in Delhi.

P.G. Bell posing with copies of The Train To Impossible Places in the library of Pathways School, New Delhi

P.G. Bell posing with copies of The Train To Impossible Places in the library of Pathways School, New Delhi

 

I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I’d done school tours before but never overseas, and the itinerary looked brutal – meeting three thousand children at ten events across seven schools in just three days! I normally only do two events a day and with smaller groups than I’d be facing in Delhi, so this felt like quite a challenge.

But I was in safe hands from the moment I landed. Nisha Singh from HarperCollins was with me every day alongside Amit Sarin, the owner of local bookshop Kool Skool. They were my guardian angels throughout the tour, ferrying me from one event to another in the face of smog, storms and roadworks.

A view across part of New Delhi

The schools all gave us a wonderful welcome. At our first stop in the Shri Ram school in Aravali I was invited to join the teachers in lighting a ceremonial lamp, representing the light of knowledge. The pupils were certainly shining bright. Despite there being a crowd of 700 – by far the largest group I’ve ever spoken to – they were engaged, enthusiastic and bursting with so many great ideas and questions that they made the event feel almost effortless. It was a pattern repeated at every school we visited, and I’m extremely grateful to all the children and teachers who made those three days such an exciting experience. (My favourite question came from a boy at the Kunskapsskolan international school in Gurgaon, who wanted to know how I manage my time. He was clearly making plans for his own future, which I can only hope will be more organised than mine.)

P.G. Bell and the teachers at Shri Ram school in Aravali light the ceremonial lamp

P.G. Bell and the teachers at Shri Ram school in Aravali light the ceremonial lamp

 

Lighting the lamp at Shri Ram school in Aravali

This tour was also a striking demonstration of the importance of school libraries which, unlike in the UK, are a legal requirement in India. Some of the library spaces were incredible, especially the one at Pathways international school which was the size of a small sports hall. Every school on the tour was doing its bit to champion reading for pleasure, led by really passionate librarians and teachers, and it was clear what a tremendous difference this made to the children. They were all so eager to talk about their own reading experiences.

P.G. Bell talks to pupils at the Pathways international school

P.G. Bell talks to pupils at the Pathways international school

Just a small part of the library at Pathways international school

After a string of big school events, the tour wrapped up with a more relaxed session at Kool Skool with about a dozen children and their parents in attendance. It was the perfect end to my trip, and a great opportunity to get to know some of my readers better. There was just time for a cup of chai before heading back to the hotel to pack for my flight home.

Delhi is such an exciting city, and I feel very privileged to have visited. Even though I only got to glimpse a tiny portion of it, I really hope I’ll be back one day. Until then, I’d like to thank Nisha and Amit for taking such good care of me, and all the children, librarians and teachers who made me feel so welcome. This is a trip I’ll remember fondly for a long, long time.

The Postal Museum: Reading and Activities

The Postal Museum: Reading and Activities 1200 800 88admin

23rd October 2019 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm BST

 

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be returning to the Postal Museum in Central London on 23rd October for a day of craft and activities. From 11am, young visitors will get the chance to make their very own sliding train greetings card in the atmosphering surroundings of the subterranean Mail Rail depot. Then at 1:30pm, we’ll dive into the adventure of The Great Brain Robbery together, as I read a short extract and reveal how the story came about. We’ll finish off with a Q&A and a book signing.

This event is included in the price of your entry ticket to the museum.

Bath Children’s Literature Festival

Bath Children’s Literature Festival 1500 500 88admin

6th October 2019 @ 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm BST £7.50

The covers of The Great Brain Robbery and The Velvet Fox

The covers of The Great Brain Robbery and The Velvet Fox

I’m making my debut at Bath Children’s Literature Festival on 6th October, alongside fellow Newportonian Catherine Fisher, author of The Clockwork Crow and The Velvet Fox. We’ll be discussing our books and looking ahead to what might come next, as well as talking about our all-time favourite fantasy stories. Followed by a Q&A and book signing. Tickets are available now via the link below.

“TRAIN” ON TOUR

“TRAIN” ON TOUR 1280 720 88admin
P.G. Bell addresses a school assembly with a copy of The Train To Impossible Places in the foreground

P.G. Bell addresses a school assembly with a copy of The Train To Impossible Places in the foreground

I’ve been out on the road (and the rails) these past two weeks, taking The Train To Impossible Places on its very first tour of UK schools.It was a brand new experience for me, and a pretty nervewracking one to begin with – I’m more used to spending my days alone at a keyboard than standing in front of hundreds of eager children – but it was terrific fun from start to finish.

I spoke to more than 2000 children over six days, in schools as far afield as Bristol, Birmingham, Preston, Newcastle, Sunderland and London. I introduced them to the story and characters, explained how the whole thing came about, and encouraged them to think about their own creative processes. Then I enlisted their help in creating brand new impossible trains, crewed by some truly bizarre creatures. (My favourite suggestion was “a hollowed out pig, that uses the train to rescue live pigs from butchers’ shops.”) Everywhere I went, the children were engaged, enthusiastic, and absolutely brimming over with great ideas and questions. My very sincere thanks to them and their teachers for making me so welcome.

I was lucky enough to visit a whole range of schools, from wealthy private campuses to state schools in deprived areas, but the one thing they all had in common was a passion for reading. The teachers had been working very hard indeed to put reading for pleasure back into the school day, and it showed – most of the schools had really well curated libraries, which encouraged the children to pick up everything from classics to comic books. I really wish my primary school had had something similar!

P.G. Bell with Alicia and Miss Samantha Jones of Huntingtree Primary

P.G. Bell with Alicia and Miss Samantha Jones of Huntingtree Primary

Photo by Liz Scott PR

A highlight of the trip was meeting Alicia, aged 10, at Huntingtree Primary in Bristol. (You can read a bit more about the visit here.) She enjoyed The Train To Impossible Places so much she wrote a fantastic review, which she told me I could share. It’s simply one of the best write-ups the book has ever reveived, and certainly my favourite – it’s very nice being reviewed by adults, but it’s something else entirely to be reviewed by one of your own readers.

A review of The Train To Impossible Places by Alicia, age 10

 

My heartfelt thanks to Katarina and Jacob from Usborne, and Liz from Liz Scott PR for putting the tour together and making the whole thing go like a dream. And thanks again to every young reader and teacher who made it all so much fun.

I’ll be out and about again before long, and I’ll be adding details to the “Schools & Events” section of this site soon.

P.G. Bell addresses children in a school assembly

P.G. Bell addresses children in a school assembly

Photo by Liz Scott PR