Bradbury School, Hong Kong

Though I’ve concluded posting about my research trip to China, I must add this one about my final stop in Hong Kong,IMG_4121where I was to visit my cousin Angela and spend a few days winding down and enjoying some r&r before catching a flight back to Newark to face the empty page. Well, that was the original plan anyway. And by now, you know something about me and original plans!

Yes, well, these original plans went out the window before I even boarded my flight to China. In September, I sat next to an author at the Princeton Book Festival named @AmeDyckman (that’s not her real name, that’s her Twitter name). Afterwards, she tweeted me @lenorelook and pointed out that @stylinlibrarian (now, that’s a name!) was holding a copy of Alvin Ho in her blog banner. Of course I had to check it out, and sure enough, there she was — her nose in an Alvin book and her bespectacled gaze admonishing us to go away and let her read! I wrote and thanked @stylinlibrarian for headlining my book (I mean that’s really something special!), and then we were friends, just like that! You can read about it here.

So that’s how I ended up dragging a ton of show-and-tell stuff for a school visit across thousands of miles through China — on and off planes, up and down buses, in and out of subways, trains, taxis, and even a couple of rickshaws — for an entire month, until I got to the wonderful Bradbury School in Hong Kong, on Thursday, 14 November 2012:IMG_3988Where the principal’s parking space was just perfect for Ruby Lu:IMG_3986_2And where the amazing Debbie Alvarez (her real name) a k a stylinlibrarian, was waiting for me at the front door:DebbieHello, Debbie and a sqillion young readers!

And good-bye, to winding down!

When you do Author Day, you have to work your butt off, honey, or else!

But first, a lovely sign welcoming me:IMG_3990A cheerful entrance to the library:IMG_3991More cheery posters to make me feel special:IMG_4009A beautiful display of my books and a lovely librarian’s assistant, Debra Perrin, who rocked a British accent and took most of the photographs that I used below. She also fortified me in the afternoon with tea and biscuits:IMG_4007But first, I had to get to work!!!

My first audience was with the very youngest students:IMG_3995They were very attentive, and got to see what kind of student I was when I was their age.

Here I am reading my grades from my kindergarten report card:DSC_0915They were stunned.

So I moved quickly to showing them how a book is made. It starts with an idea from one of my writing journals:DSC_0894After a long while, it becomes a manuscript, I explained.

Then it becomes a dummy book: dummybookThen it becomes colored galleys, such as the ones here for my next book, Brush of the Gods:DSC_0948After that, it was time for the little darlings to go 🙂

And time for me to have tea and Digestive biscuits!

Mmmmm. They taste a lot better than they sound. I was hooked from the first bite and didn’t stop to take a photo, I was eating so fast. Holding the attention of a sqillion children under six works up a tremendous appetite. I could have eaten a double-deckered bus! IMG_3968But I didn’t. Thank you, Debra!!!

Then the mid-levels (not apartment buildings, but students, this is a British school after all), came to see me next.

They were bigger:DSC_0916And somewhat more attentive:DSC_0935DSC_0919DSC_0921I gave them tips on how to keep a writer’s notebook. They asked a lot of good questions, and lingered afterwards to get a closer look at my Kung Fu shoes:DSC_0958

After a quick lunch with the grown-ups in the teachers lounge (I still can’t believe I’m allowed into teachers lounges these days), I held a writers workshop for a select group of young authors: DSC_0962We worked on how to find the best beginning to any piece of writing:DSC_0969And how to make a metaphor that will linger in a reader’s mind long after they’ve finished the book (or writing assignment).

That’s a LOT to learn over lunch!

TGTWSSITE Thank God They Were Still Smiling In The End:DSC_0970After that, I walked into the gymnasium where the upper levels were seated and waiting: DSC_0971Yikes!!! If I had known that becoming an author would mean getting up in front of big groups like this, I would have done better at math!

Actually, it’s not that bad once you get used to it. An empty stomach helps. A tummy full of Digestive biscuits helps even more. Deep breathing works, sort of.

When you’re an author, the best thing to do to calm your nerves is to remember that they’re your readers. They’d rather see you now while you’re alive, than when you’re dead and giving tours in your home.

So I talked a bit about my books, and gave them tips and helpful hints on how to become an author (SO many hands shot up when I asked, “Who wants to be an author?”).

There were many excellent and thoughtful questions:DSC_1007DSC_1009DSC_1005bradburyboyDSC_1010I felt a bit like a talk show host 🙂 !!!

There was even time for a lesson on Shakespearean insults:DSC_1017Then I got my butt kicked by the teacher in the green shirt in our Shakespearean show-down:shakespearean show-downI later found out that he’s an author too! His name is Kris Stanhope. And this is his book:IMG_4008I eat humble pie.

When you’re an author, you eat a LOT of it.

Sometimes when you do Author Day, a reader will come right out with it and say, “I wish my school had invited __________, instead.” (Fill in the blank with the name of any author who has had a book turned into a movie.) When that happens, it’s over for you. Suddenly  the entire gang will find the courage to be truthful with you too.

So getting whooped at Shakespearean insulting is nothing.

But meeting an author who is so humble he didn’t even mention his book while you talked non-stop all day about yours, is, well, very humbling.

Mr. Stanhope, Thou art a geeky, keyboard-pecking, humbler-than-cardboard-I-hope-you-win-the-Newbery-someday, Fat-ars-ky clever good egg!!! How’s that for a Shakespearean compliment?

My day at Bradbury ended with these readers asking to pose for a photo with me just as we were all leaving the school:IMG_4013Of course I said yes, but I prefer this photo of them without me. Thank you, boys, for the perfect ending to the perfect day at your school!

And thank you, Debbie, for hosting such a marvelous day for me. I had so much fun 😀 and enjoyed every minute of it, even the humble pie :).

And just so you know, dear readers, she’s not called @stylinlibrarian for nothing. Check out our matching Mary Janes when she took me shopping after school: IMG_4027Got style questions?

Don’t know what to wear to the library?

Or to a book signing?

Call us.

8 thoughts on “Bradbury School, Hong Kong

  1. Love the post! Very envious you got to spend a day with our Debbie. 🙂 Her no-longer bespectacled gaze and welcoming smile – thank goodness for the internet so we can still chat online about our books … and everything else!


  2. This brought back many fond memories of your visit to our school. Those students are so lucky that you were willing to travel so far to visit them! Loved the principal’s parking space!!!


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