Monday, March 25, 2013

First Workshop at the Hong Kong International Young Reader's Festival

So with my tummy full from that yummy lunch with Mio,  Susanna and I returned to our hotel in time to be picked up for our first workshop. Author Wendy McTavish kindly met us in the lobby and escorted us to the workshop's venue: the Hong Kong Central Library.
Wendy and I

On the way to the library, we discussed the difficulties of being an authors. But then when a boy or girl come up to me and say that they like my book it makes all the difference in the world. And also sometimes when you are very lucky, you get invited to terrific events like the Hong Kong International Young Readers Festival.

Our workshop room was not quite ready when we got there so I tried to calm my nerves before the workshop started. I have to be totally honest here, I'm never comfortable speaking in front of people. It reminds me the times that my teachers called on me in class to answer  questions I did not know the answers to.

Liana,  the festival manager, and Louise, the festival co-ordinator, kindly met us before the workshop. Then the kids started coming in one by one, most of them with their parents. "You better not mess this up, David Seow," I told myself.

Thank goodness for  Susanna, she's a tremendous help and calming influence. Dressed head to toe in Kermit Green, she readily hopped into her role for the workshop.

I started the workshop with a slide show about my favourite picture books and how I began writing children's picture books. Then I asked the kids if they could tell me when the first picture book was written. They all came up with very good answers before Susanna showed up to tell them about her first picture book...which was written on a cave wall. Yes, Auntie Susanna is that OLD :)! 

The very very  very old Auntie Susanna

The kids loved the very old  Susanna, who then did a quick make over and magically transformed into a younger  Susanna - The miracle of cosmetics!

Auntie Susanna transformed into her younger self

We then shared how one can get ideas for picture books. The kids quickly caught on and the workshop proper started. I'm amazed at how the kids were able to come up with complete stories in such a short time period - it's something I can't even do. Auntie Susanna moved around the room assisting  them with the accompanying illustrations to each of their stories.

Some of them were so engrossed that they wouldn't stop writing, even as the workshop was drawing to a close. 

At the end of the workshop I decided that there were three really creative pieces of work and that they deserved a book prize. And so I called them up one by one to claim their prizes. I have to say that I was impressed by all the writers there; they showed great promise and a high level of imagination. Tom, seen in the pic below, especially impressed me because his mother told me that  he's been speaking English for only two years. Amazing!

Everyone left the workshops with stickers and bookmarks and I left very happy, very satisfied and with a very hoarse throat. 
The winners and I

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