Continuing our events week interviews, we are delighted to have Irish children’s laureate PJ Lynch answer some questions about doing book events.
- What is your advice to any author or illustrator who has been asked to do an event for children?
One of the most important things to do is to be sure you’ll be talking to the right age group for your kind of book.
Insist on getting that right and then you can relax into it.
The children are always great and they really do want to know about you and your work.
- What are the main differences between doing a book festival event and a school visit event?
Most of the book festival events that I have done have a family or an adult audience.
The children’s events at schools often involve hands on drawing, and they can be really messy and a lot of fun.
Book festival events are a bit more civilised, but there’s nothing like hanging out for a day or two with lots of bookie people.
- How do you prepare for an event?
If I am showing slides I go through them a few times. It’s great to construct a presentation around strong visuals, and if I am “live drawing” I will plan what the picture is going to be and make sure I have all the right materials.
- What tips do you have for keeping children engaged?
I think it’s really important for the kids to feel that they are an active part of the event.
They love to ask questions, and I love to throw questions them too.
Get that interaction happening….when someone asks a question ask their name and try to remember it.
- What is the best lesson you have learned from doing book events for children?
It’s natural to get a bit nervous before every school visit, worrying that things won’t go well but after doing that for years I have learned that by the end of the visit I’ll be buzzing and having a great time with the kids.
PJ Lynch has worked as a Children’s Book Illustrator since leaving Brighton College of Art in England in 1984.
He has won many awards including the Mother Goose Award, the Christopher Medal three times, and the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal on two occasions, first for “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey” by Susan Wojciechowski, and again for “When Jessie Came Across the Sea” by Amy Hest.
“The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey” has sold more than two million copies worldwide, and was made into a motion picture starring Tom Berenger and Joely Richardson.
In recent years PJ has been commissioned to design posters for Opera Ireland and the Abbey Theatre. He has also designed several sets of stamps for An Post (the Irish Postal service), including four Christmas issues.
In 2006 PJ completed work on two large scale murals in oils on the theme of “Gulliver’s Travel’s” for the new Cavan County Library and in 2016 the mosaic he designed for the refurbished Basilica at Knock, Mayo was unveiled to great acclaim. It is the largest mosaic of it’s kind in Europe.
The Irish President Michael D Higgins recently announced PJ Lynch as the fourth Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s greatest honour in children’s literature.
PJ has lectured on his own work, and on Art and Illustration at the National Gallery of Ireland, The National Library of Ireland and at the National Print Museum of Ireland, as well as at numerous conferences and colleges across the U.S.
He lives in Dublin with his wife and their three children