I had a wonderful day yesterday, visiting a lovely little community-based preschool in Mosman. Killarney school is in a converted house on a tree-lined residential street. I loved it.
I arrived a little early and walked in on the children having a painting class, now that has to be my favourite class.
One little boy spotted me and ran over – “Are you the author?” he said excitedly. “Yes I am” I proudly replied. Well, he grabbed my hand and pulled me around the room – “The authors here! The authors here!” he shouted at everyone. I was met by a sea of smiling faces. What a beautiful start to a school visit. . . the best in fact.
One boy said that his favourite animal was the cobra. When I then told him that my next book, that I had just started writing, stars a cobra, he beamed up at me and said “Will you come and read it to us next week?” If only I was that fast at writing and illustrating that I could complete a book in a week.
I played the children a song. A beautiful song by some Zambian music legends who collaborated to perform at EleFest about protecting Zambia’s animals. Whilst it played I showed them a video of African wildlife. The song is quite long and I wasn’t sure if it would hold their interest for that long but when it finished they said “Play it again. Play it again.” We played it 3 times! The first time, the children asked me what the animals were that they didn’t know – pangolin, wild dog. The second and third time the video played they shouted out the name of each animal as it appeared on the screen. That level of excitement and interest about the lesser known African creatures was so fantastic to see. They won’t forget them now – not if they have more wildlife focused children’s books in their lives. I reckon they’ll grow up loving them too.
At the end of my visit I sat on the tiniest chair at the tiniest desk with my knees up round my ears and signed books for the children. Each child had their picture taken with me and then we had a group photo. It really was the most special day. I walked out of Killarney preschool on cloud 9, buoyed by the enthusiasm and joy of those beautiful children.