Saturday 13 November 2010

Author Visit Julia Jarman

In our libraries we hold ‘Chatterbooks’ sessions, these are basically Reading Groups for Children, we hold the meetings once a month and kids come along to talk about books and participate in crafts and activities.
Today, the main town library was honoured to have Julia Jarman attend as a guest speaker. Children from all groups were invited to come along and meet her.

The session was very relaxed and Julia was friendly and encouraging. She began by talking about her newest release ‘Inside’ about a young man who is in a Young Offenders Institute. It was interesting to hear about her research for this book, which included visiting some prisons and getting an inside view.
‘Inside’ is written in the first person, from the main characters point of view. And Julia had us all giggling when she told us some people were very surprised when she turned up for a book reading, as they were expecting a 17-year-old boy and not a ‘grandma’ to walk in the room. This just shows the skill and realism of her writing.

Julia also talked to us about her ‘Time Travelling Cat’ series. The idea was born when her own cat went missing for two weeks. When he returned Julia asked the question all cat owners are forever asking, “Where have you been?’ Her daughter answered for him by replying, “He’s been time-travelling, cats do that you know.”  Well, Julia thought this was a fantastic idea and the so the stories started. And we’re all glad it did.
There are now six books in the series, It starts with ‘The Time Travelling Cat and The Egyptian Goddess.” In which we are zoomed back in time with Topher and his cat Ka to Ancient Egypt, where the people worshipped the cat Goddess Bastet, this meant they treated all cats like gods in case one turned out to be the Goddess herself.
Julia then talked about what she would say was her most gruesome book in the series: “The Time Travelling Cat and The Aztec Sacrifice.” She explained how in Aztec times, they believed that in order for the sun to rise every morning they would have to sacrifice the blood of a young girl. The boys in particular, but also a couple of the girls seemed to like the idea of reading about blood and gore. Unfortunately this book is currently not easily available, but there are copies in the library, so they can get their hands on it. I hope they don’t fight over it.
Julia’s newest release in this series is ‘The Time Travelling Cat and the Great Victorian Stink.” Set in 1858 London, when the River Thames came to a standstill because of all the waste dumped into it. The smell drove MPs from the Houses of Parliament, people got very ill and died. A young man came up with ideas to get rid of the smell and clear the Thames, his name was Bazalgette, but not everyone supported his attempts, and now Ka and Topher must foil a plan to murder him. This seemed to really go down well with the kids, with giggles spreading round the room when talk turned to ‘sewage’ as Julia politely put it, but you could see they were thinking of something much ruder. With cries of ‘eugh’ ad ‘gross’ when discussing a river full of smelly ‘waste’, Julia seemed to bring the story to life.
Here’s wishing her the best of luck with this new release. I may show some slight favouritism here, as I love books set in the Victorian era, I don’t know why but I do.

Julia also talked to us about her picture books, I never realised just how many she had written. Many of her picture books have done very well, and have appeared on a TV show called ‘Bookaboo’, which is a show that promotes reading and sharing a book with your children.
Her newest release is called ‘Ants in Your Pants’, and although I haven’t read it yet, the pictures are very vibrant and colourful.

We discussed the artwork of her books, and we were surprised to learn that authors don’t get much say in who they get to illustrate their books. It depends on many different factors, who the publisher is, how busy the illustrator is, the style or content of artwork needed, these all contribute to who you get. But I have to say all of her books looked fantastic.

Time was flying away from us and we were getting ready to say goodbye. Julia quickly showed us her other books, “Peace Weavers’ which ties modern day events to the past. And ‘Hangman’ which is a moving novel about bullying in schools, which Julia says is one of her more ‘real’ books.

We then quickly discussed a scheme we run at the library every year called “Book of the Year’ and Julia encouraged us all to read and vote for our favourite books, she said ‘as an author it means a lot just to be nominated for an award. When you’re a writer you have to deal with a lot of rejection, which can get you down, but being nominated, and having your work appreciated can be a real boost.’

Julia then answered any questions the children had and agreed to sign some books for them.
It was a very successful visit, and I would like to say thank you from me and all the library staff.

So what are you waiting for, go and find one of her books, she writes “For Tots to Teens and all in Between.” So there really is something for everyone.

Photo of Julia with a variety of her books.


kel said...

Wow! she seems very cool!!

Girls with Books
Teen Bookshelf

barmybex said...

she was,
thanks for stopping by and following, i am following you too, checked out your blog. Love the Hunger Games too, amazing book!