A Bookish Adventure

I started this blog to document an extended trip to the US and UK in 2012, introducing children to my Alice-Miranda series. It's hard to believe that it's just on four years since we launched the first Alice-Miranda title - and now there are nine books out in Australia with another five still to come. When I first came up with the idea of this precocious seven and a quarter year old, I had no clue that she would take me on such an amazing journey, not only in Australia but also across the world. I visited 37 schools while we were away in 2012 and gave over 80 talks - it was fantastic. In 2013 I've been on lots of new adventures in the UK - visiting schools from London to Southampton, Lancashire, Scotland, Newcastle and back to London again. After that I headed off to meet readers in Singapore. In Australia I've been to Melbourne, Perth, Albany, Alice Springs and Brisbane. There's a new series too - about a gorgeous little girl called Clementine Rose. She and Alice-Miranda don't know each other yet, but they will soon.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Hewitt School, Manhattan

I had been looking forward to my visit to The Hewitt School for months.  From the time I met the fabulous Head of Middle School, Justine Hoffman, Coordinator of Media Resources & Research, Amy Bowllan and the Middle School girls in 2010, and then continued the friendship when we Skype launched Alice-Miranda At School with the Middle School girls in February 2011, Hewitt has held a special place in my heart.  I was more nervous about this visit than any other on the trip – and it was AMAZING!

From the moment I walked into that beautiful front foyer, it felt like home.  My photo popped up on the screen with a welcome message, Justine appeared, then Amy and it really was catching up with old friends. I met the two Grade 4 girls who were going to introduce me – they were so sweet.

We took a few minutes to get organized and then headed upstairs to the library – my favourite room in the school.  The Grade 4 girls were all there waiting and made me feel a little like a rockstar!  The girls were very excited and I was thrilled to be talking to them and sharing my journey as a writer and some more about Alice-Miranda.
I was interviewed for the school media program Hawks TV by two of the girls and then headed downstairs to have lunch with a group of Grade 6 girls who I had blogged with last year and who had helped me a lot with things I wanted to know about New York.  I was writing Alice-Miranda In New York at the time and Hewitt provided much inspiration for the school Alice-Miranda attends while she’s there with her parents for a short time. Her school is called Mrs Kimmel’s School for Girls and it’s on East 75th street.  They also have a school dog at Mrs Kimmel’s called Maisie! 
I then had time to talk to the faculty over yet more delicious food.  It was great to meet the teachers and have an opportunity to chat.

I loved having even more time to talk to Justine and Amy.  Both of them are amazing educators and you can see it in the way they interact with the girls.  Justine’s enthusiasm is infectious and Amy is a consummate professional – with so much knowledge and energy. 
After lunch we moved to the gym and I talked to the Grade 5 and 6 girls.  They were attentive, asked good questions and totally indulged my love of talking!

We followed with a writing workshop for the Grade 6 girls and book signing for Grade 4.  The day went by in a blink – and I couldn’t believe that it was over.  I wanted to go back again today – in fact I could go back every day.  I didn’t do my writing workshop justice as it was all over too soon.
Before we left I had a chance to say a quick hello to the Head of School, Mrs Joan Lonergan, who I had also met in 2010.  She’s a dynamic leader and you can tell instantly that Hewitt is a very happy place to be – for the students and the staff.

When we left the school, we headed over to the Carlyle Hotel, where Ludwig Bemelemens, the creator of Madeline painted the entire bar.  I had to see it for myself, particularly as I used it as a location for Alice-Miranda’s father to have a mysterious meeting in her New York story.  It’s gorgeous.  While we were there we met two girls, one of whom was Australian.  They are both private chefs on the Upper East side – modicums of discretion but I imagine both of them have some amazing stories – that they will never tell!

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