Yesterday Cheryle picked me up bright and early at 7.15am and we drove to St Joseph’s International Elementary School. Only five years old, the school is lovely – and very well resourced. We met the Deputy Head, Deidre Hazlewood, a young Australian woman from Perth who has been living and working overseas in London prior to arriving in Singapore. She welcomed us warmly and we headed off to set up for my talks. We discussed which children I’d be seeing and when I mentioned that I’d be very happy to talk to more students, Deidre quickly organised things and I had a fabulous time meeting children in Grades 2, 3 and 4.
Deidre also told me about one of the girls, Claire, who is an avid Alice-Miranda fan in Grade 4. It was great to meet her later in the morning. We had a photo together and it was a pleasure to sign her book.
The children responded with much laughter to the dramatisation activity with Mr Sparks and Clementine and one little boy was a wonderful actor, remaining in character, snoring and snorting and keeping his eyes closed the whole time. He seemed to have a very good handle on the habits of the sleeping elderly male – I wonder if he’s observed a grandparent or great grandparent snoring in the sitting room from time to time!
I had the pleasure of meeting the Principal, Louise Grant, also from Australia. In fact she grew up in the suburb next to where we live. Louise has been at the helm since the school began. There is such a sense of calm and nurturing about the place. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting and hope to return there again in the future.
After signing the children’s books, Cheryle and I headed back to the city. She dropped me off at the hotel and then Ian and I walked over to The Forum a short while later to meet her for lunch. I had been really pleased that Alice-Miranda (the life sized version) was going to stay behind in Singapore and when we got to Bookaburra, she was already adorning the window display – and looked fabulous. I don’t have a photo yet – as it was one of the rare times I left the iPad and camera behind, but Cheryle has promised to send me a picture and I will add it when I can.
We had a delicious Chinese lunch including some of the best crispy pork I’ve ever eaten, among many other treats. For any children who missed out on getting a signed book from my school visits, I then signed the shop stock. While I was doing that, a little girl and her mother and grandparents came in. She recognised me from my visit to UWC and I was able to sign the first three Alice-Miranda books for her.
I have had the most wonderful week with Cheryle. She is so passionate about books and children and I know I have made a new friend. Ian and I bade her farewell to head back to the hotel and finish packing before the overnight flight to Sydney.
There are already plans afoot to return to Singapore – on my way back to the UK, where Clementine Rose is set to make her debut later in the year. I can’t believe that the five and a half weeks flew by so quickly – and I can’t wait to be back again soon.