Wednesday, 5 May 2010
The making of Robert Westall
WHEN I was 12 and just starting at secondary school, my class had a session where the school librarian, Miss Larsson, introduced us to the school library.
She showed us around the building and introduced us to the Dewey Decimal system and how to find things. Most of us were pretty much bored by this.
But as a reward she sat us down and read us the first couple of chapters from a book to whet our appetites.
By the end of those chapters we were all on the edge of our seats, desperate to know what happened next.
'We only have one copy of the book, so you'll have to sign your name in the log book and wait your turn to read it,' she said. By the time I inked in my name, there were already at least a dozen names ahead of mine. I was never going to read the book at that rate!
The story that had so captivated us was Robert Westall's debut novel and Carnegie Medal-winning The Machine Gunners.
I eventually did read the book and discovered a wonderful writer who has remained one of my favourites through life. I recently read Blitzcat for the first time and was completely drawn into Westall's world.
I currently live close to where he spent the last few years of his life, Lymm in Cheshire, and a few years ago I wrote a magazine article about him, which I reproduce here. I hope you enjoy it.
I plan to write some more about this brilliant, prolific children's author shortly, so watch this space!