Some twenty-something years ago, I was reading a book with one of my classes. It was called Granny Was a Buffer Girl by Berlie Doherty. As we reached the end of the story, one of the girls in the class squinted up at me, "Are you crying,Sir?" She said.
I wasn't the only one. the story moved me and it became one of my favourite books. So imagine my joy when I was asked to help host the Wirral Paperback of the Year at Wirral Grammar School for Girls and who should be on the longlist but Berlie Doherty with her latest chilling ghost story The Company of Ghosts!
My excitement was such that I even remembered to take my camera along. Here's me with Berlie and the wonderful Keren David. I got my copy of Granny Was A Buffer Girl signed too!
I'm not perfect, however, and forgot to charge it, so after two photgraphs, it died on me and I wasn't able to get a snap of me with Catherine Bruton and Nikki Sheehan.
The Wirral Paperback of the Year has a great format. In March, longlisted authors are invited to attend and talk to the assembled pupils of quite a few Wirral high schools. It's a lovely event where everyone gets excited about books, reading and writing. There are talks, Q&A, book-signings, tea, coffee, biscuits and everyone has a jolly time. Then everyone goes home all the better for the experience.
Later in the year, around June, after the children have read the books and voted, the winner is announced. But the authors aren't there.
It's great because there's never that sense of winners and losers. Just celebration.