Alexis Deacon: Children's Book Show Tour
It's Children's Book Week - a time to celebrate children's books. One of the many great events that take place this week is the Children's Book Show Tour which kicked off on 23 September with an event by 2008 Best New illustrator Alexis Deacon and will be running until 7 December. Alexis writes about his performance at the De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.
I had been a little bit nervous about this performance as I was going to be doing a lot of things on stage for the first time. This was the first time that I would read my new book, Croc and Bird (publishing in April 2012), in front of an audience of children. It was also the first time I would talk at length about my own life and work to them. I had done things like that in the past for art students and other professionals but never for children. I had devised new introductions for the stories too, that were supposed to help introduce their central themes. Last but not least, I would be drawing live on a visualiser for the first time.
I need not have worried. One of the most common causes of mishaps at live events is the technology going wrong but the facilities and staff at the De La Warr Pavillion were amazing and everything worked fine… until the end (which I will get to!).
The children in the audience were even more brilliant. They reacted well to almost everything and seemed to really like all the stories I read. Croc and Bird got a big round of applause, which was a huge relief. When it came to the live drawing segment, we no longer had time for the mini comic I had planned so we played the shape game instead.
We came up with some great characters together, using suggestions from the children: a caterpillar with an enormous nose, a heavily beautified, triangular headed woodlouse, an earthworm with a ponytail (I've drawn them again below) and an alien.
I was very happy that someone asked for an alien because it gave me the perfect chance to introduce my next story. As I began to draw I said, 'this isn't going to be just any alien. I wonder if any of you can guess?' A few voices already knew and began whispering, 'Beegu'. By the time I had finished drawing almost everybody had recognised the little yellow alien who is the eponymous star of my book. When I asked who she was they all called her name back to me. So then I asked for the presentation to switch back from visualiser to slide show so I could read the story… but for a little bit nothing happened.
Then all the children in the audience began to chant, 'Beegu! Beegu! Beegu!' until a moment later she appeared to a massive cheer. I've been doing events like this for a few years but no one ever chanted for my books before. It was awesome! Thanks to everybody who came and looked and listened to the show and to everybody who helped make it all happen.
Alexis will also be doing a further two events at the Arnolfini in Bristol on 13 October. For more details visit The Children's Book Show website.
A Place Called Home written by Alexis Deacon and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz has been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2011 in the Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under category. The winners will be announced on 8 November.